Quotes from Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Soul of Man Under Socialism’

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I’ve just finished reading ‘The Soul of Man Under Socialism,’ and Oscar Wilde really is just about the most quotable person ever.

“The Lords Temporal say nothing, the Lords Spiritual have nothing to say, and the House of Commons has nothing to say and says it.”

“It is often said that force is no argument. That entirely depends, however, on what one wants to prove.”

“The fact is, the public makes use of the classics of a country as a means of checking the progress of art.”

“A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing. And when Humanity lands there, it looks out, and, seeing a better country, sets sail. Progress is the realisation of Utopias.”

“The fact is, that civilization requires slaves. The Greeks were quite right there. Unless there are slaves to do the ugly, horrible, uninteresting work, culture and contemplation become almost impossible. Human slavery is wrong, insecure, and demoralising. On mechanical slavery, on the slavery of the machine, the future of the world depends.”

“…a community is infinitely more brutalised by the habitual employment of punishment, than it is by the occasional occurrence of crime…[O]ur criminals are…merely what ordinary, respectable, commonplace people would be if they had not got enough to eat.”

“There is only one class in the community that thinks more about money than the rich, and that is the poor. The poor can think of nothing else. That is the misery of being poor.”

“[Charity] is not a solution [to poverty]: it is an aggravation of the difficulty. The proper aim is to try and reconstruct society on such a basis that poverty will be impossible…Just as the worst slave-owners were those who were kind to their slaves, and so prevented the horror of the system being realised by those who suffered from it, and understood by those who contemplated it, so, in the present state of things in England, the people who do most harm are the people who try to do most good…”

“The fact is, that the public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except what is worth knowing. Journalism, conscious of this, and having tradesmanlike habits, supplies their demands.”
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