On Politics, Politicians and Public Policy
On Politics 
On Economics
On Morality
 
On equality and inequality
'It is not only that gross economic inequalities are incompatible (or at least in practice extraordinarily difficult to combine) with respect for individual human dignity: political democracy itself ...degenerates into a sham in a privilege-ridden environment.' [1955, The Social Foundations of Wage Policy, p.176]
'Money talks: and money is hard to come by, especially when you have none to start off with.' [1941, End Social Inequality, p.18]
'It is, in fact, not so much class consciousness as class unconsciousness that is significant and poisonous.' [1941, End Social Inequality, p.35]
'The affluent society is not affluent. It derives that name rather from its esteem of affluence; and the prizes which it offers, though unequally distributed, are nevertheless not wholly unattainable.' [1963, Crime and the Criminal Law, p.30]
'I seem to have been pursuing an ideal of equality all my life but have been singularly unsuccessful in catching my prey.' [1975, In Pursuit of Equality, p.1]
 
On democracy
'...democracy demands that we take the property qualification out of schooling, as it has already been taken out of voting.' [1941, End Social Inequality, p.39]
'For most of us democracy means no more than the right to choose between alternative governments at four- or five-year intervals without recourse to force. Even on these occasions, moreover, the task of making rational choices is almost impossibly difficult.' [1971, Contemporary Britain, p.37]
 
'The trouble about democratic decisions is that they tend to be made in an atmosphere of omnipotent fantasy, rather than realistically as choices between alternatives.' [1971, Contemporary Britain, pp.64-5]
'In the last resort the only guiding principles of a democratic society are that every member counts for one and not more than one, and that, where incompatible ends are desired, minorities must give way to majorities.' [1938, Lament for Economics, p.313]
 
On isms
'A word that ends in "ism" should be a kind of shorthand. Shorthand notes are useful when they can be read back. When they cannot they are useless. Unhappily the vocabulary of politics and social affairs is littered with ism-words which are quite as useless, and considerably more dangerous than illegible shorthand.' [1942, 'A Plague on All Your Isms', The Political Quarterly, 13, pp.44-56]
'...the important thing about any exercise of the human intelligence is what it achieves rather than what it is called.' [1938, Lament for Economics, p.111]
'Watertight compartments...are the rule in ships, not in social affairs, where indeed they are quite exceptional.' [1945, Freedom Under Planning, p.18]
 
On socialism
'..a Socialist is a person who thinks that the economic resources of the world should be used to provide a good living for the population of the world....A Socialist is a person who not only thinks that ordinary people ought to have enough, but also thinks that other people, also ordinary, ought not to have too much, and who believes that equality is of value in itself...a Socialist is a person who believes that it is very unlikely that we shall get equality and very unlikely that we shall get the use of the world's economic resources for the needs of the common man, unless there is collective ownership and collective operation of those resources...most Socialists are people who think that...this kind of equality...is prevented by something that we would call a class system...a system under which a minority of people, not because of merit or superior intelligence or even superior training, but because of their possession of economic power, exercise far more than their due share of influence on the political, social and economic policies of the community.' [1940, Should Socialists Support Federal Union, pp.4-5]
'The relative merits of public or private ownership of industry must be assessed in terms of efficiency of operation and of the measure in which each is compatible with, or militates against, the functioning of a free democratic and equalitarian society.' [1967, In a World I Never Made, p.183]
'I should like also to see the end of all the wigs and gowns that are now paraded in the higher courts...the archaic appearance of judges and counsel has the effect of disassociating the ordinary public from the administration of justice ...'[1967, In a World I Never Made, p.239]
 
On consumerism
'...choice is not the same thing as informed choice.' [1938, Lament for Economics, pp.285-6]
'...the statement that the unplanned economy gives us what we want often amounts to little more than saying that it makes us want what we are given.' [1934, Plan or No Plan, p.174]
'A socialized economy, which honestly wanted to make the market as reliable an instrument as possible for recording the social valuation of alternative products, ought to get much more accurate results than capitalist society which simply assumes without further ado that what people can be made to pay for is a proper and complete indication of what they want.' [1938, Lament for Economics, p.255]
'...the market insists upon offering me a bewildering variety of alternatives from which to choose. The business of selecting between scores of varieties of cosmetics or saucepans or neckties is really very arduous, and one of which many of us would gladly be in large measure relieved. And, moreover, it is a business which most of us, most of the time, are quite incapable of conducting intelligently.' [1938, Lament for Economics, p.189]
 
On public policy
'I have always tried to exercise some function...which involves first-hand experience of the impact of social policy upon the lives of ordinary men and women.' [1967, In a World I Never Made, pp.278-9]
'The contrast between man's amazing ability to manipulate his material environment and his pitiful incompetence in managing his own affairs is now as commonplace as it is tragic.' [1950, Testament for Social Science, p.1]
'The straight road to full employment is a comprehensive and considered plan of public outlay.' [1943, Full Employment, p.15]
'Always it is easier to put up a clinic than to pull down a slum...theories which direct attention away from social conditions towards the deficiencies of individual personality are bound to enjoy a considerable practical advantage. They are very comfortable.' [1959, Social Science and Social Pathology, p.329]
'...public life is administered by people who, quite literally, know next to nothing, at first hand, about the life of the public. And these people are not even conscious of their own ignorance.' [1941, End Social Inequality, p.33]
'All this information is the raw material of intelligent social policy; but the problem is to get it intelligently used...' [1962, 'Socrates, Science and Social Problems', New Society, p.17]
'One of the cruellest absurdities of our present method of distribution is its assumption that children must be maintained out of the income of some adult who is responsible for them, coupled with a complete failure to adjust adult incomes to this responsibility.' [1941, End Social Inequality, p. 54]

On donkeys and politicians
'Miranda has been with me now for nine years, Francesca for six. As they did not bring any birth certificates with them, I cannot swear to their precise ages....Most people, I notice, who talk about their donkeys say what affectionate pets they make. I could not, however, honestly say that either of mine shows much evidence (other than cupboard love) of affection for humans. Whether this is due to unfortunate infantile experiences about which I know nothing, or to the fact that I have not been able to talk to them and play with them as much as I could wish, is anybody's guess; ...But that is not to say that either Miranda or Francesca shows hostility or aggression towards man or beast...I often think that, if some of our statesmen would model themselves upon Miranda or Francesca, the world would be a much happier place.' [1968, 'Donkeys with Famous Owners, The Donkey Magazine, pp, 2425]