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Nations

  • ... nations decay from within more often than they surrender to outward assault.

  • What is called national prestige consists in behaving always in such a way as to demoralize other nations by giving them the impression that, if it comes to war, one would certainly defeat them. What is called national security is an imaginary state of affairs in which one would retain the capacity to make war while depriving all other countries of it. It amounts to this, that a self-respecting nation is ready for anything, including war, except for a renunciation of its option to make war. But why is it so essential to be able to make war? No one knows, any more than the Trojans knew why it was necessary for them to keep Helen.

    • Simone Weil,
    • "The Power of Words," The Simone Weil Reader ()
  • A phenomenon noticeable throughout history regardless of place or period is the pursuit by governments of policies contrary to their own interests.

  • Strong nations fight, oppressed nations sing ...

  • Nations are like individuals. They pass from doubt to faith; but the transit is the most fearful phase of a human life.

  • The basic discovery about any people, therefore, is the discovery of the relationship between its men and women.

  • A nation has character only when it is free.

  • Happy the land where the writers are sad, the merchants satisfied, the rich melancholic, and the populace content.

    • Madame de Staël,
    • in J. Christopher Herold, Mistress to an Age: A Life of Madame de Staël ()
  • There is no person, no group of people, no nation, that does not make grave mistakes. The test is: can they rectify their mistake?

  • ... there is practically no difference at all between a family and a nation, except the difference in size. A family is a nation seen through the wrong end of a telescope; a nation is a family seen through the right end of a telescope, and I don't believe it is possible to achieve a happy and successful family life, or a happy and successful national life, unless we bear this simple fact in mind and behave accordingly.

    • Jan Struther,
    • "Unity Among Americans," A Pocketful of Pebbles ()
  • Some of the best indicators of a country developing along the right lines are healthy mothers giving birth to healthy children who are assured of good care and a sound education that will enable them to face the challenges of a changing world.

  • Each country has its own style, its own customs, even its own insanities.

  • The nation is made up of all the families, rich or poor, united or separated, aware or unaware. The success of a nation therefore depends inevitably on the family.

  • ... the State only aims at instilling those qualities in its public by which its demands are obeyed, and its exchequer is filled. Its highest attainment is the reduction of mankind to clockwork. In its atmosphere all those finer and more delicate liberties, which require treatment and spacious expansion, inevitably dry up and perish. The State requires a taxpaying machine in which there is no hitch, an exchequer in which there is never a deficit, and a public, monotonous, obedient, colorless, spiritless, moving humbly like a flock of sheep along a straight high road between two walls.

    • Ouida,
    • in Emma Goldman, title essay, Anarchism ()
  • Both church and state claiming to be of divine origin have assumed divine right of man over woman; while church and state have thought for man, man has assumed the right to think for woman.

  • Civilisation makes us all as alike as peas in a pod, and it is the very uncouth — uncivilised, if you will — element which individualises nations.

  • Nationalism and extremism ... are spreading today like a cancerous growth in the fabric of people's national self-awareness.

  • The hope of any nation lies in the personal qualities of its individual members.

  • The formidable power of geography determines the character and performance of a people.