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date: 23 February 2024


  1. There is no such thing as the State
    And no one exists alone;
    Hunger allows no choice
    To the citizen or the police;
    We must love one another or die.
    W. H. Auden 1907–73 English poet: ‘September 1, 1939’ (1940)
  2. We started off trying to set up a small anarchist community, but people wouldn't obey the rules.
    Alan Bennett 1934–  English dramatist and actor: Getting On (1972) act 1
  3. The greatest happiness of the greatest number is the foundation of morals and legislation.
    Bentham claimed to have acquired the ‘sacred truth’ either from Joseph Priestley or Cesare Beccaria (1738–94)
    Jeremy Bentham 1748–1832 English philosopher: The Commonplace Book in J. Bowring (ed.) Works vol. 10 (1843); see Hutcheson
  4. The Big Society is our big idea.
    David Cameron 1966–  British Conservative statesman, Prime Minister 2010–16: speech to voters, Swindon 18 April 2010; the Big Society formed part of the Conservative Party manifesto launched on 13 April 2010
  5. The three most important documents a free society gives are a birth certificate, a passport and a library card.
    E. L. Doctorow 1931–2015 American novelist: in New York Times 27 March 1994
  6. No man is an Island, entire of it self; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main.
    John Donne 1572–1631 English poet and divine: Devotions upon Emergent Occasions (1624) ‘Meditation XVII’
  7. Economics is all about how people make choices. Sociology is all about why they don't have any choices to make.
    James Stemble Duesenberry 1918–2009 American economist: Demographic and Economic Change in the Developed World (1960)
  8. No man can have society upon his own terms. If he seeks it, he must serve it too.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803–82 American philosopher and poet: Journal 28 May 1833
  9. Only in the state does man have a rational existence…Man owes his entire existence to the state, and has his being within it alone. Whatever worth and spiritual reality he possesses are his solely by virtue of the state.
    G. W. F. Hegel 1770–1831 German idealist philosopher: Lectures on the Philosophy of World History: Introduction (1830, tr. H. B. Nisbet, 1975)
  10. In your time we have the opportunity to move not only toward the rich society and the powerful society, but upward to the Great Society.
    Lyndon Baines Johnson 1908–73 American Democratic statesman, 36th President 1963–9: speech at University of Michigan, 22 May 1964
  11. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.
    John F. Kennedy 1917–63 American Democratic statesman, 35th President 1961–3: inaugural address, 20 January 1961
  12. Society is based on the assumption that everyone is alike and no one is alive.
    Hugh Kingsmill 1889–1949 English man of letters: Michael Holroyd Hugh Kingsmill (1964)
  13. The only way by which any one divests himself of his natural liberty and puts on the bonds of civil society is by agreeing with other men to join and unite into a community.
    John Locke 1632–1704 English philosopher: Second Treatise of Civil Government (1690) ch. 8, sect. 95
  14. From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.
    Karl Marx 1818–83 German political philosopher: Critique of the Gotha Programme (written 1875, but of earlier origin); see Blanc, Morelly, and ‘The formula of Communism, as propounded by Cabet, may be expressed thus:—“the duty of each is according to his faculties; his right according to his wants” ’ in North British Review (1849) vol 10
  15. When society requires to be rebuilt, there is no use in attempting to rebuild it on the old plan.
    John Stuart Mill 1806–73 English philosopher and economist: Dissertations and Discussions vol. 1 (1859) ‘Essay on Coleridge’
  16. There is no such thing as Society. There are individual men and women, and there are families.
    Margaret Thatcher 1925–2013 British Conservative stateswoman; Prime Minister, 1979–90: in Woman's Own 31 October 1987
  17. Wherever a man goes, men will pursue him and paw him with their dirty institutions, and, if they can, constrain him to belong to their desperate oddfellow society.
    Henry David Thoreau 1817–62 American writer: Walden (1854) ‘The Village’
  18. The Social Contract is nothing more or less than a vast conspiracy of human beings to lie to and humbug themselves and one another for the general Good. Lies are the mortar that bind the savage individual man into the social masonry.
    H. G. Wells 1866–1946 English novelist: Love and Mr Lewisham (1900)