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date: 16 December 2019


  1. First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.
    Anonymous: 20th century saying, now frequently misattributed to Mahatma Gandhi
  2. Fear not those who argue but those who dodge.
    Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach 1830–1916 Austrian writer: Aphorisms (1905)
  3. For your own good is a persuasive argument that will eventually make a man agree to his own destruction.
    Janet Frame 1924–2004 New Zealand writer: Faces in the Water (1961) ch. 4
  4. Persuasion is the resource of the feeble; and the feeble can seldom persuade.
    Edward Gibbon 1737–94 English historian: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776–88) ch. 68
  5. Making noise is an effective means of opposition.
    Joseph Goebbels 1897–1945 German Nazi leader: Ernest K. Bramsted Goebbels and National Socialist Propaganda 1925–45 (1965)
  6. There is no arguing with Johnson; for when his pistol misses fire, he knocks you down with the butt end of it.
    Oliver Goldsmith 1728–74 Irish writer, poet, and dramatist: James Boswell Life of Samuel Johnson (1791) 26 October 1769
  7. Any stigma, as the old saying is, will serve to beat a dogma.
    Philip Guedalla 1889–1944 English historian and biographer: Masters and Men (1923)
  8. It takes in reality only one to make a quarrel. It is useless for the sheep to pass resolutions in favour of vegetarianism, while the wolf remains of a different opinion.
    William Ralph Inge 1860–1954 English writer; Dean of St. Paul's, 1911–34: Outspoken Essays: First Series (1919) ‘Patriotism’
  9. I hate a fellow whom pride, or cowardice, or laziness drives into a corner, and who does nothing when he is there but sit and growl; let him come out as I do, and bark.
    of Jeremiah Markland
    Samuel Johnson 1709–84 English poet, critic, and lexicographer: James Boswell Life of Samuel Johnson (1791) 10 October 1782
  10. The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress.
    Joseph Joubert 1754–1824 French writer: Pensées de J. Joubert (1848)
  11. There is no good in arguing with the inevitable. The only argument available with an east wind is to put on your overcoat.
    James Russell Lowell 1819–91 American poet: Democracy and other Addresses (1887) ‘Democracy’
  12. He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that.
    John Stuart Mill 1806–73 English philosopher and economist: On Liberty (1859) ch. 2
  13. The Catholic and the Communist are alike in assuming that an opponent cannot be both honest and intelligent.
    George Orwell 1903–50 English novelist: in Polemic January 1946
  14. Who can refute a sneer?
    William Paley 1743–1805 English theologian and philosopher: Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy (1785) bk. 5, ch. 9
  15. The argument of the broken window pane is the most valuable argument in modern politics.
    Emmeline Pankhurst 1858–1928 English suffragette leader: George Dangerfield The Strange Death of Liberal England (1936)
  16. ‘Yes, but not in the South’, with slight adjustments, will do for any argument about any place, if not about any person.
    Stephen Potter 1900–69 British writer: Lifemanship (1950)
  17. My father used to say: ‘Don't raise your voice, improve your argument’.
    Desmond Tutu 1931–  South African Anglican clergyman: address at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Houghton, Johannesburg, 23 November 2004, in Africa News 24 November 2004
  18. I am not arguing with you—I am telling you.
    James McNeill Whistler 1834–1903 American-born painter: The Gentle Art of Making Enemies (1890)
  19. I maintain that two and two would continue to make four, in spite of the whine of the amateur for three, or the cry of the critic for five.
    James McNeill Whistler 1834–1903 American-born painter: Whistler v. Ruskin. Art and Art Critics (1878)
  20. Get your tanks off my lawn, Hughie.
    to the trade union leader Hugh Scanlon, at Chequers in June 1969
    Harold Wilson 1916–95 British Labour statesman, Prime Minister 1964–70, 1974–6: Peter Jenkins The Battle of Downing Street (1970)