Last modified on 2 November 2014, at 02:43

Walter Lippmann

Walter Lippmann

Walter Lippmann (September 23, 1889 – December 14, 1974) was an influential United States writer, journalist, and political commentator.

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  • Ours is a problem in which deception has become organized and strong; where truth is poisoned at its source; one in which the skill of the shrewdest brains is devoted to misleading a bewildered people.
    • A Preface to Politics (1913), quoted in The Essential Lippmann, pp. 516-517
  • It does not matter whether the right to govern is hereditary or obtained with the consent of the governed. A State is absolute in the sense which I have in mind when it claims the right to a monopoly of all the force within the community, to make war, to make peace, to conscript life, to tax, to establish and dis-establish property, to define crime, to punish disobedience, to control education, to supervise the family, to regulate personal habits, and to censor opinions. The modern State claims all of these powers, and, in the matter of theory, there is no real difference in the size of the claim between communists, fascists, and democrats.
    • A Preface to Morals (1929)
  • It requires wisdom to understand wisdom: the music is nothing if the audience is deaf.
    • A Preface to Morals (1929)
  • If the estimate of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs is correct, then Russia has lost the cold war in western Europe.
    • The Miami Herald (December 18, 1947), p. 6A.
  • The central drama of our age is how the Western nations and the Asian peoples are to find a tolerable basis of co-existence.
    • "Asia and the West", New York Herald Tribune (European edition; September 15, 1965), p. 4
  • The newspaper is in all its literalness the bible of democracy, the book out of which a people determines its conduct.
    • quoted by Tim Rutten in the Los Angeles Times, Saturday, October 7, 2006
  • The principles of the good society call for a concern with an order of being--which cannot be proved existentially to the sense organs--where it matters supremely that the human person is inviolable, that reason shall regulate the will, that truth shall prevail over error.
  • With exceptions so rare they are regarded as miracles of nature, successful democratic politicians are insecure and intimidated men. They advance politically only as they placate, appease, bribe, seduce, bamboozle, or otherwise manage to manipulate the demanding and threatening elements in their constituencies. The decisive consideration is not whether the proposition is good but whether it is popular—not whether it will work well and prove itself but whether the active talking constituents like it immediately. Politicians rationalize this servitude by saying that in a democracy public men are the servants of the people.
  • A large plural society cannot be governed without recognizing that, transcending its plural interests, there is a rational order with a superior common law.

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