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Quotes of the day: Upton Sinclair
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Published Friday, September 20, 2013 @ 1:10 AM EDT
Sep 20 2013

Upton Beall Sinclair, Jr. (September 20, 1878 - November 25, 1968), was an American author who wrote close to one hundred books in many genres. He achieved popularity in the first half of the twentieth century, acquiring particular fame for his classic muckraking novel, The Jungle (1906). It exposed conditions in the U.S. meat packing industry, causing a public uproar that contributed in part to the passage a few months later of the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act. In 1919, he published The Brass Check, a muckraking exposé of American journalism that publicized the issue of yellow journalism and the limitations of the “free press” in the United States. Four years after the initial publication of The Brass Check, the first code of ethics for journalists was created. Time magazine called him "a man with every gift except humor and silence." (Click here for full Wikipedia article)

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All art is propaganda. It is universally and inescapably propaganda; sometimes unconsciously, but often deliberately, propaganda.

American capitalism is predatory, and American politics are corrupt: The same thing is true in England and the same in France; but in all these three countries the dominating fact is that whatever the people get ready to change the government, they can change it.

An event of colossal and overwhelming significance may happen all at once, but the words which describe it have to come one by one in a long chain.

Dad, as a good American, believed his newspapers.

Fascism is capitalism plus murder.

For the game had never been fair, the dice were loaded. They were swindlers and thieves of pennies and dimes, and they had been trapped and put out of the way by the swindlers and thieves of millions of dollars.

Human beings suffer agonies, and their sad fates become legends; poets write verses about them and playwrights compose dramas, and the remembrance of past grief becomes a source of present pleasure- such is the strange alchemy of the spirit.

I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach.

I intend to do what little one man can do to awaken the public conscience, and in the meantime I am not frightened by your menaces.

I just put on what the lady says. I've been married three times, so I've had lots of supervision.

I'm going to stop squandering money for things I don't want. I'm going to stop accepting invitations, and meeting people I don't like and don't want to know.

It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

It is futile to try and win democracy abroad, while we are losing it at home.
(in a letter to President Woodrow Wilson)

Journalism is one of the devices whereby industrial autocracy keeps its control over political democracy; it is the day-by-day, between-elections propaganda, whereby the minds of the people are kept in a state of acquiescence, so that when the crisis of an election comes, they go to the polls and cast their ballots for either one of the two candidates of their exploiters.

Man is an evasive beast, given to cultivating strange notions about himself. He is humiliated by his simian ancestry, and tries to deny his animal nature, to persuade himself that he is not limited by its weaknesses nor concerned in its fate. And this impulse may be harmless, when it is genuine. But what are we to say when we see the formulas of heroic self-deception made use of by unheroic self-indulgence?

A large section of the idling classes of England get their incomes by believing that Jesus was born of a virgin and that Jonah swallowed a whale; and with the progress of science they were naturally finding this more and more difficult. A school of ingenious Bible-twisters arose, to invent symbolical and literary meanings for fairy tales, in order that people who no longer believed could continue with good conscience to collect the salaries of belief.

Now and then it occurs to one to reflect upon what slender threads of accident depend the most important circumstances of his life; to look back and shudder, realizing how close to the edge of nothingness his being has come.

One of the necessary accompaniments of capitalism in a democracy is political corruption.

The American People will take Socialism, but they won't take the label.

The first thing brought forth by the study of any religion, ancient or modern, is that it is based upon Fear, born of it, fed by it- and that it cultivates the source from which its nourishment is derived.

The supreme crime of the church today is that everywhere and in all its operations and influences it is on the side of sloth of mind; that it banishes brains, it sanctifies stupidity, it canonizes incompetence

There is one kind of prison where the man is behind bars, and everything that he desires is outside; and there is another kind where things are behind bars, and the man is outside.

They were trying to save their souls- and who but a fool could fail to see that all that was the matter with their souls was that they had not been able to get a decent existence for their bodies?

Wall Street had been doing business with pieces of paper; and now someone asked for a dollar, and it was discovered that the dollar had been mislaid.

You don't have to be satisfied with America as you find it. You can change it. I didn't like the way I found America some sixty years ago, and I've been trying to change it ever since.


Categories: Quotes of the day, Upton Sinclair


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