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  • Civilization is only the advance from shoeless toes to toeless shoes.

  • Civilization in certain respects is as inadequate as it was a thousand years ago.

  • No country can reach a high stage of civilization without a leisure class ...

  • ... primitiveness and civilization are degrees of the same thing. If civilization has an opposite, it is war. Of those two things, you have either one, or the other. Not both.

  • ... whatever your color or creed may be, when you get too close to civilization, you can probably expect to be done in.

  • Civilization itself is housed in the human being.

  • The glossy surface of our civilization hides a real intellectual decadence.

    • Simone Weil,
    • "The Power of Words," The Simone Weil Reader ()
  • Civilization, let me tell you what it is. First the soldier, then the merchant, then the priest, then the lawyer. The merchant hires the soldier and priest to conquer the country for him. First the soldier, he is a murderer; then the priest, he is a liar; then the merchant, he is a thief; and they all bring in the lawyer to make their laws and defend their deeds, and there you have your civilization!

  • ... somehow our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is in the way that it cares for its helpless members.

  • ... one can judge a civilization by the way it treats its women.

  • Civilization is a method of living, an attitude of equal respect for all men.

  • For the first time ever in the history of mankind, the wilderness is safer than 'civilization.'

  • ... civilization has developed executive powers far beyond its creative understanding.

  • [To the South African parliament:] I do not know why we equate — and with the examples before us — a white skin with civilization.

    • Helen Suzman,
    • in Celean Jacobson, Associated Press story ()
  • Civilization is a fiction which becomes a fact only as long as everyone can believe in it. It is the cynic, rather than the rebel, who pulls down the whole flimsy structure periodically throughout history.

  • ... there is a danger, when thinking of the earliest civilized people, of putting too much emphasis on technology. One tends to assume that if you don't have, at least, a lavatory and perhaps something that will take you a lot faster than your own feet, or a certain number of gadgets in the house, then you must be in some way, a bit backward and defective ... the important thing to remember is that technology is not necessarily the same thing as civilization.

  • Cherishing children is the mark of a civilized society.

  • Civilization is a perishable commodity.

  • In the last analysis civilization itself is measured by the way in which children will live and what chance they will have in the world.

  • The civilizing process has increased the distance between behavior and the impulse life of the animal body.

  • Godlessness invariably produces vulgarity. Civilization is the product of belief.

  • ... to certain temperaments civilization in general is a bore.

  • The choice between starving and being eaten is an exotic one.

  • Civilization, that great fraud of our times, has promised man that by complicating his existence it would multiply his pleasures. ... Civilization has promised man freedom, at the cost of giving up everything dear to him, which it arrogantly treated as lies and fantasies. ... Hour by hour needs increase and are nearly always unsatisfied, peopling the earth with discontented rebels. The superfluous has become a necessity and luxuries indispensable.