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Thomas Stearns Eliot
1888 - 1965

American/British poet, literary editor, publisher of The Criterion magazine of conservative and literary writing, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature (1948), author of Notes Towards the Definition of Culture (1948) and other works

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Christianity and Culture
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It is impossible to design a system so perfect that no one needs to be good.

If you find examples of humanism which are anti-religious, or at least in opposition to the religious faith of the place and time, then such humanism is purely destructive, for it has never found anything to replace what it has destroyed.

1918 - from "Humanism of Irving Babbit" published in Selected Essays
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

Most of the trouble in the world is caused by people wanting to be important.

Human kind cannot bear very much reality.

from Four Quartets
[Eliot scorned] those publicists who have impressed their names upon the public by catching the morning tide, and rowing very fast in the direction in which the current was flowing.

from his lecture "The Literature of Politics"
It is one thing to say what is sadly certain, that democratic government has been watered down to almost nothing....But it is another thing to ridicule the idea of democracy.

from his essay on Fascism
We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time.

A real democracy is always a restricted democracy, and can only flourish with some limitation by hereditary rights and responsibilities....The modern question as popularly put is: 'democracy is dead, what is to replace it?' whereas it should be: 'the frame of democracy has been destroyed; how can we, out of the materials at hand, build a new structure in which democracy can live?'

from his essay on Fascism
A political tradition in which the doctrinaire dominates the man of action, and a tradition in which political philosophy is formulated or re-codified to suit the requirements and justify the conduct of a ruling clique, may be equally disastrous.

from his lecture "The Literature of Politics"
It seems to me that in a healthy society, there will be a gradation of types between thought and action; at one extreme the detached contemplative, the critical mind which is concerned with the discovery of truth, not with its promulgation and still less with its translation into action, and at the other extreme, the N.C.O. of politics, the man who in spite of relative indifference to general ideas, is equipped with native good sense, right feeling and character, supported by discipline and education. Between these two extremes there is room for several varieties and several kinds of political thinking; but there should be no breach of continuity between them.

from his lecture "The Literature of Politics"
I don't believe one grows older. I think that what happens early on in life is that at a certain age one stands still and stagnates.

By destroying traditional social habits of the people, by dissolving their natural collective consciousness into individual constituents, by licensing the opinions of the most foolish, by substituting instruction for education, by encouraging cleverness rather than wisdom, the upstart rather than the qualified, by fostering a notion of getting on to which the alternative is a hopeless apathy, Liberalism can prepare the way for that which is its own negation: the artificial, mechanized or brutalized control which is a desperate remedy for its chaos ... Out of Liberalism itself come philosophies which deny it.

1940 - from The Idea of a Christian Society
The Conservative Party has a great opportunity in the fact that within the memory of no living man under sixty has it acknowledged any contact with intelligence. It has what no other political party at present enjoys, a complete mental vacuum: a vacancy that might be filled with anything, even with something valuable.

1929 - from an essay in The Criterion magazine
This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.

1925 - from The Hollow Men