Quotes from The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

Robert Tressell ·  608 pages

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“Poverty is not caused by men and women getting married; it's not caused by machinery; it's not caused by "over-production"; it's not caused by drink or laziness; and it's not caused by "over-population". It's caused by Private Monopoly. That is the present system. They have monopolized everything that it is possible to monopolize; they have got the whole earth, the minerals in the earth and the streams that water the earth. The only reason they have not monopolized the daylight and the air is that it is not possible to do it. If it were possible to construct huge gasometers and to draw together and compress within them the whole of the atmosphere, it would have been done long ago, and we should have been compelled to work for them in order to get money to buy air to breathe. And if that seemingly impossible thing were accomplished tomorrow, you would see thousands of people dying for want of air - or of the money to buy it - even as now thousands are dying for want of the other necessities of life. You would see people going about gasping for breath, and telling each other that the likes of them could not expect to have air to breathe unless the had the money to pay for it. Most of you here, for instance, would think and say so. Even as you think at present that it's right for so few people to own the Earth, the Minerals and the Water, which are all just as necessary as is the air. In exactly the same spirit as you now say: "It's Their Land," "It's Their Water," "It's Their Coal," "It's Their Iron," so you would say "It's Their Air," "These are their gasometers, and what right have the likes of us to expect them to allow us to breathe for nothing?" And even while he is doing this the air monopolist will be preaching sermons on the Brotherhood of Man; he will be dispensing advice on "Christian Duty" in the Sunday magazines; he will give utterance to numerous more or less moral maxims for the guidance of the young. And meantime, all around, people will be dying for want of some of the air that he will have bottled up in his gasometers. And when you are all dragging out a miserable existence, gasping for breath or dying for want of air, if one of your number suggests smashing a hole in the side of one of th gasometers, you will all fall upon him in the name of law and order, and after doing your best to tear him limb from limb, you'll drag him, covered with blood, in triumph to the nearest Police Station and deliver him up to "justice" in the hope of being given a few half-pounds of air for your trouble.”
― Robert Tressell, quote from The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

“Every man who is not helping to bring about a better state of affairs for the future is helping to perpetuate the present misery, and is therefore the enemy of his own children. There is no such thing as being neutral: we must either help or hinder.”
― Robert Tressell, quote from The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

“No one had any right to condemn him for this, because all who live under the present system practise selfishness, more or less. We must be selfish: the System demands it. We must be selfish or we shall be hungry and ragged and finally die in the gutter. The more selfish we are the better off we shall be. In the 'Battle of Life' only the selfish and cunning are able to survive: all others are beaten down and trampled under foot. No one can justly be blamed for acting selfishly--it is a matter of self-preservation--we must either injure or be injured. It is the system that deserves to be blamed. What those who wish to perpetuate the system deserve is another question.”
― Robert Tressell, quote from The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

“The Golden Light that will be diffused throughout all the happy world from the rays of the risen sun of Socialism.”
― Robert Tressell, quote from The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

“The theories that drunkenness, laziness or inefficiency are the causes of poverty are so many devices invented and fostered by those who are selfishly interested in maintaining the present states of affairs, for the purpose of preventing us from discovering the real causes of our present condition.”
― Robert Tressell, quote from The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

“I don't believe in the Society,' observed Crass. 'I can't see as it's right that a inferior man should 'ave the same wages as me.”
― Robert Tressell, quote from The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

“He had never expected or wished to be allowed to enjoy such things; he had always been of opinion that they were never intended for the likes of him. He called himself a Conservative and was very patriotic.”
― Robert Tressell, quote from The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

“It's not possible for anyone to become rich without cheating other people.”
― Robert Tressell, quote from The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

“Much better left alone,’ chimed in old Jack Linden sagely, ‘argyfying about politics generally ends up with a bloody row an’ does no good to nobody.”
― Robert Tressell, quote from The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

About the author

Robert Tressell
Born place: in Dublin, Ireland
Born date April 17, 1870
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