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1. The market, whether stock, bond or super, is a barometer of civilization.

Jason Alexander (b.1959) U.S. actor and director. Philosophy for Investors (1979)


2. If civilization has risen from the Stone Age, it can rise again from the Wastepaper Age.

Jacques Barzun (b.1907) U.S. educator, historian, and writer. The House of Intellect (1959)


3. Wealth may not produce civilization, but civilization produces money.

Henry Ward Beecher (1813-87) U.S. clergyman and reformer. Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit (1887)


4. Upon the sacredness of property civilization itself depends-the right of the laborer to his hundred dollars in the savings bank, and equally the legal right of the millionaire to his millions.

Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) U.S. industrialist and philanthropist. “Wealth,” North American Review (June 1889)


5. A good civilization spreads over us freely like a tree, varying and yielding because it is alive. A bad civilization stands up and sticks out above us like an umbrella-artificial, mathematical in shape; not merely universal, but uniform.

G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936) British novelist, poet, and critic. “Cheese,” Alarms and Discursions (1910)


6. What will be more important in the 21st century-our differences or our common humanity?

Bill Clinton (b.1946) U.S. former president. Referring to problems of global terrorism, after September 11, 2001. Speech (December 2001)


7. Another existence swallowed up in the fearful rush of what is called civilization, but is very like chaos.

Marceline-Felicite-Josephe Desbordes-Valmore (1786-1859) French actor and poet. March 26, 1854. Letter to her niece, Camille. Memoirs of Madame Debordes-Valmore (1872)


8. Increased means and increased leisure are the two civilizers of man.

Benjamin Disraeli (1804-81) British prime minister and novelist. Speech to the Conservatives of Manchester (April 3, 1872)


9. Everything’s so repressive now-it’s the No generation.

Michael Douglas (b.1944) U.S. actor. Quoted in Independent on Sunday (London) (April 5, 1992)


10. Mechanics, not microbes, are the menace to civilization.

Norman Douglas (1868-1952) British novelist and essayist. The Norman Douglas Limerick Book (1965), Introduction


11. The true test of civilization is…the kind of men the country turns out.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82) U.S. essayist, lecturer, and poet. Society and Solitude (1870)


12. Bare-forced covetousness was the moving spirit of civilization from its first dawn to the present day; wealth, and again wealth, and for the third time wealth; wealth, not of society, but of the puny individual, was its only and final aim.

Friedrich Engels (1820-95) German social philosopher and political economist. The Origin of the Family (1885)


13. The civilized man is a larger mind but a more imperfect nature than the savage.

Margaret Fuller (1810-50) U.S. writer and social reformer. Summer on the Lakes (1844)


14. I think it would be an excellent idea.

Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) Indian nationalist leader and philosopher. Said when asked what he thought of Western civilization. Attrib.


15. The meek shall inherit the earth but not the mineral rights.

  1. Paul Getty (1892-1976) U.S. entrepreneur, oil industry executive, and financier. Quoted in BusinessWeek (1986)


16. In a state of nature, the weakest go to the wall; in a state of over-refinement, both he weak and the strong go to the gutter.

Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915) U.S. humorist. The Philistine (1895-1915)


17. A nation advances in civilization by increasing in wealth and population, and by multiplying the accessories and paraphernalia of life.

William Ralph Inge (1860-1954) British prelate and writer. “Our Present Discontents,” Outspoken Essays: First Series (1919)


18. Labor is the foundation of all, and those that labor are the Caryatides that support the structure and glittering dome of civilization and progress.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-99) U.S. lawyer and writer. How to Reform Mankind (1896)


19. The true civilization is where every man gives to every other every right that he claims for himself.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-99) U.S. lawyer and writer. Interview, Washington Post (November 14, 1880)


20. Commerce is the great civilizer. We exchange ideas when we exchange fabrics.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-99) U.S. lawyer and writer. Said to Indianapolis clergy. Attrib.


21. Superdevelopment, which consists in an excessive availability of every kind of material goods for the benefit of certain social groups easily makes people slaves of “possession” and of immediate gratification.

John Paul II (b.1920) Polish pontiff. Solicitudo rei socialis (1988)


22. A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization.

Samuel Johnson (1709-84) British poet, lexicographer, essayist, and critic. 1770. Quoted in The Life of Samuel Johnson (James Boswell;1791)


23. In civilized society, personal merit will not serve you so much as money will. Sir, you may make the experiment. Go into the street, and another a shilling, and see which will respect you the most.

Samuel Johnson (1709-84) British poet, lexicographer, essayist, and critic. July 20, 1763. Quoted in The Life of Samuel Johnson (James Boswell;1791)


24. Ours is not so much an age of vulgarity as of vulgarization; everything is tampered with or touched up, or adulterated or watered down, in an effort to make it palatable, in an effort to make it pay.

Louis Kronenberger (1904-80) U.S. writer. “The Spirit of the Age,” Company Manners (1954)


25. Avarice and luxury, those evils which have been the ruin of every great state .

Livy (59 B.C.-A.D. 17) Roman historian. History of Rome (26 B.C.-A.D. 15)


26. Private property being individualism, and its abolition being socialism, the two are correlative and must yield to each other just as rapidly as experience and necessity dictate. Civilization is a growth both ways-an intensification of private property in certain ways, an abolition of it in others.

Henry Demarest Lloyd (1847-1903) U.S. journalist and reformer. Man the Social Creator (1906)


27. The earth we abuse and the living things we kill will, in the end, take their revenge; for in exploiting their presence we are diminishing our future.

Marya Mannes (1904-90) U.S. essayist and journalist. More in Anger (1958)


28. We have in fact passed beyond that stage of human organization in which effective communication and collaboration were secured by established routines of relationship.

Elton Mayo (1880-1949) U.S. psychologist. The Social Problems of an Industrial Civilization (1945)


29. Civilization has developed executive powers far beyond its understanding.

Maude Meagher (1895-1977) U.S. writer. Fantastic Traveler (1931)


30. Civilization is the progress towards a society of privacy…the process of setting man free from men.

Ayn Rand (1905-82) U.S. writer. The Fountainhead (1943)


31. Out of this modern civilization economic royalists have carved new dynasties.

Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945) U.S. president. Speech accepting re-nomination for a second presidential term, Philadelphia (June 27, 1936)


32. To be able to fill leisure intelligently is the last product of civilization.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) British philosopher and writer. The Conquest of Happiness (1930)


33. Money, as a physical medium of exchange, has made a diversified civilization possible.

Josiah Stamp (1880-1941) British economist. The Money Illusion (Irving Fisher; 1928), Foreword


34. Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.

Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) British philosopher and mathematician. An Introduction to Mathematics (1911)


35. Business underlies everything in our national life, including our spiritual life. Witness the fact that in the Lord’s Prayer the first petition is for daily bread. No one can worship God or his neighbor on an empty stomach.

Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) U.S. president. 1912. Quoted in Phoenix Home and Garden (1999)


36. A few suits of clothes, some money in the bank, and a new kind of fear constitute the main differences between the average American today and the hairy men with clubs who accompanied Attila to the city of Rome.

Philip Gordon Wylie (1902-71) U.S. writer. Generation of Vipers (1942)


37. A great invention of human civilization.

Xu Jiatun (b.1916) Chinese politician who defected to the United States after the Tiananmen Square massacre. 1988. Referring to capitalism. Quoted in Wen Wei Po (Hong Kong) (March 22, 1988)