Select(ed) quotations.

‘Perhaps my best years are gone.. But I wouldn’t want them back. Not with the fire in me now’ – Samuel Beckett 1906-1989. ‘Krapp’s Last Tape’ Image from Wikipedia.

‘There are no saints in the animal kingdom, just breakfast and dinner’ – Billy Bob Thornton’s sociopathic hitman Malvo in the Coen brothers’ hit TV series Fargo.

‘It’s time that we began to laugh and cry and cry and laugh about it all again’ –  Leonard Cohen: So Long, Marianne.


It’s always the small that
gets you, a wee act
of kindness, the tiniest detail,
a stranger’s caress,
your heart, the way you react
when faced with the trials.
The gift of a bluebell, an embrace,
Oh – the yellow gorse,
the small brown foals,
the crows lined up
from the train window.
Beauty, inches close to sorrow.

Jackie Kay

‘No one has ever built a better country by always taking the easy option’ – Nicola Surgeon

‘It always seems impossible until it’s done’ – Nelson Mandela

“To gain what’s worth having, it’s necessary to lose everything else” – Bernadette McAliskey

‘There is no political system that cannot be used both for great good and great evil, and you usually only find out you’ve gone from one to the other in hindsight’ – Linda Tirado

‘If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friends, I hope I would have the courage to betray my country’ – E.M. Forster

‘It is necessary to begin where the world is if we are going to change it to what we think it should be’ – Saul Alinsky, ‘Rules for Radicals’ (1971)

“The sinister fact about literary censorship in England is that it is voluntary. Unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without the need for any official ban. At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to say this, that or the other, but it is ‘not done’ to say it” – George Orwell in his censored preface to 1945’s ‘Animal Farm’

‘To hear and see people lying in the name of fear (like Belikov, like all governments), to witness entire nations destroying their humanity, their future, and then to be called a spy, a fool, an enemy for pointing it out or even for putting up with it, is the lot of the writer, the artist, the active citizen, the voice of dissent in this brave new century’ – George Gunn

“Defenceless under the night/ Our world in stupor lies.” – WH Auden

‘The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living’ – Karl Marx: Opening lines to Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.

“Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” – John Lydon in 1978

“We are historians because the past is not dead” – E.P.Thompson

“If I die tomorrow, I’ll leave this earth with the sense of knowing that I’ve done something on behalf of my class and on behalf of my kind, and that the little I’ve done will have its effect on the future”:  International Brigader and Aberdonian John Londragan in 1991

‘I’ve only ever written about one thing in my life, which is the fact that we as human beings have a responsibility to one another, and that it’s important that we empathize with others, that we organize society so that we all become happier and we all get the life we really want. And the life that we really want is a life where we can all afford to educate our children, so they and our grandchildren can aspire to better and more productive, less aggressive, less competitive, less “rah-rah,” less nationalistic, less colonial, less supremacist lives than the lives we’re forced to live now, controlled as we are by the very few’ – Roger Waters

‘Jesus died for somebody’s sins, not mine’ – from Patti Smith’s ‘Oath’ poem (1970), a spoken introduction to the 1975 song ‘Gloria’

‘Some people spend their futures living in the past’ – Buffy St Marie

‘You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ‘em’ – Kenny Rogers singing in The Gambler

‘I’m stuck in a city, but I belong in a field’ – Strokes song, lyrics to ‘Heart in a Cage’

‘Changes and progress very rarely are gifts from above. They come out of struggles from below’ – Noam Chomsky

‘Madness slunk in through a chink in History. it only took a moment’ – Arundhati Roy

‘The price of liberty is eternal vigilance’ – Thomas Charlton in 1809

‘Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chainstores’ – George Monbiot

‘Laws, like the spider’s web, catch the small flies and let the large one go free’ – Honore de Balzac

‘. .is a dream a lie if it don’t come true? Or is it something worse?’ Bruce Springsteen, ‘The River’

‘If you fight you might lose. But if you don’t fight you will always lose’ – Bob Crow (1961-2014)

‘Expecting the Labour party to become cohesive is like trying to find one shampoo that will care for the hair of everybody in Angelina Jolie’s house’ – Frankie Boyle

‘The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk’ – Hegel

‘If you take hyphens seriously you will surely go mad’ – Benbow – — – —-

‘It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don’t want and get it’ – Eugene Debs

‘The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity’ – WB Yeats

‘The battle of people against power is the battle of memory against forgetting’ – Milan Kundera

‘Nothing is so difficult to learn as the mastery over our natural national gift’ – Friedrich Holderlin

‘‘Scotland will be reborn the day the last minister is strangled with the last copy of the Sunday Post’ – Tom Nairn

‘Oh we who wanted to bring about friendly times/Could not ourselves be friendly’ – Bertolt Brecht

‘What will survive of us is love’ – from Philip Larkin’s poem ‘An Arundel tomb’

“Poverty is caused by private monopoly. They have monopolized everything that it is possible to monopolize; they have got the whole earth, the minerals in the earth and the streams that water the earth” – Robert Tressell writing in The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (1914)

‘The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread’ – Anatole France, The Red Lily

‘I’m a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will’ – Antonio Gramsci, Letter from Prison, December 1929

‘The problem with the world is that the intelligent are full of self-doubt, while the fools are full of confidence’ Charles Bukowski

‘The readiness is all’ – Hamlet to Horatio in Shakespeare’s play

‘non omnis moriar’ – Horace. It translates as ‘Not all of me will die’

‘In these times, social imagination is a radical act, restoring personal and collective agency, shifting dominant narratives, and affirming that all of us make the future. When we have the audacity to dream in public, when we begin to unleash imagination and turn it into action, we can move the world’ – from the people-powered U.S. Department of Arts and Culture

‘When the truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie’ – Soviet dissident Yevtushenko

‘First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—

because I was not a communist;

Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—

because I was not a socialist;

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—

because I was not a trade unionist;

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

because I was not a Jew;

Then they came for me—

and there was no one left to speak out for me.’  Pastor Martin Niemöller, January 1946

‘If they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night’ – James Baldwin ends a 1971 open letter to Angela Davies

‘You’ll never fumigate the demons; No matter how much you smoke’  Pete Docherty, opening lyrics for ‘You’re my Waterloo’

‘”On a morning from a Bogart movie, in a country where they turn back time, you go strolling through the crowd like Peter Lorre contemplating a crime” – Al Stewart, ‘Year of the Cat’.

‘I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now’ – Bob Dylan, ‘My Back Pages’

‘I’ve got a bucket of shit lying on my desk and tomorrow morning I’m going to pour it all over your head’ – editor of the Sun to Prime Minister John Major in September 1992 after Black Wednesday. (Tim Bale – ‘Conservative Party: From Thatcher to Cameron’)

‘Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent: the serpent didn’t have a leg to stand on and so blamed the SNP’ – Wee Ginger Dug

‘Betrayal is the only truth that sticks’ – Arthur Miller

‘First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win’ – Gandhi

‘Don’t mourn, organise’ – Joe Hill

‘Educate, organise and agitate’ – Keir Hardie

“Our states are built around systems that are outdated, created in simpler times and for smaller societies. Today, those systems no longer serve the people but are simply self-serving and self-preserving. Welfare has been hollowed and is on the verge of collapse, often as a way to privatize it. We are running out of planet and our systems are unable to do anything about it.Draconian ‘anti-terrorism’ laws and secrecy have somehow become the norm. ‘Developed’ democracies have become a freaky mix of Brave New World and 1984. We are being manipulated every day into believing we are powerless, that there is nothing that can change these systems; but this is a lie. We have never been as connected as we are today, as able to share real-time stories of success and failure. Therefore, our learning curve is steeper than ever before. We are sharing, downloading, remixing and co-creating every day without knowing the power that lies in the abundance of information we are processing or storing.” Icelandic Pirate Party leader Birgitta Jonsdottir

‘We play orgy football. The other team know they’re going to get it, but they don’t know from who or from where.’ – Sam Hammam, Cardiff City’s former chairman

‘If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution’ – Emma Goldman

‘I was dancing when I was twelve

I was dancing when I was aaah

I danced myself right out the womb

Is it strange to dance so soon

I was dancing when I was eight

Is it strange to dance so late

Is it strange to dance so soon

I danced myself into the tomb’      T. Rex  –  ‘Cosmic Dancer’

‘On a morning from a Bogart movie, in a country where they turn back time, you go strolling through the crowd like Peter Lorre contemplating a crime’ – Al Stewart, opening lines to ‘The Year of the Cat’

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