Walter Lippmann Quotes

Walter Lippmann, an American writer, journalist, and political analyst, enjoyed a six-decade career. He is notably recognized for his pioneering role in introducing the concept of the Cold War, a term that would come to define a significant era in global politics. Wikipedia

“Each of us lives and works on a small part of the earth’s surface, moves in a small circle, and of these acquaintances knows only a few intimately.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“He has honor if he holds himself to an ideal of conduct though it is inconvenient, unprofitable, or dangerous to do so.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“Without criticism and reliable and intelligent reporting, the government cannot govern.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“Without some form of censorship, propaganda in the strict sense of the word is impossible. In order to conduct propaganda there must be some barrier between the public and the event.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“Many a time I have wanted to stop talking and find out what I really believed.” ~ Walter Lippmann

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“Men have been barbarians much longer than they have been civilized. They are only precariously civilized, and within us there is the propensity, persistent as the force of gravity, to revert under stress and strain, under neglect or temptation, to our first natures.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“The way in which the world is imagined determines at any particular moment what men will do.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“True opinions can prevail only if the facts to which they refer are known; if they are not known, false ideas are just as effective as true ones, if not a little more effective.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“Whereas each man claims his freedom as a matter of right, the freedom he accords to other men is a matter of toleration.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“We must abandon the notion that the people govern. Instead, we must adopt the theory that, by their occasional mobilisations as a majority, people support or oppose the individuals who actually govern.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“You and I are forever at the mercy of the census-taker and the census-maker. That impertinent fellow who goes from house to house is one of the real masters of the statistical situation. The other is the man who organizes the results.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“The thinker dies, but his thoughts are beyond the reach of destruction. Men are mortal; but ideas are immortal.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“To create a minimum standard of life below which no human being can fall is the most elementary duty of the democratic state.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“The essential discovery of maturity has little if anything to do with information about the names, the locations, and the sequence of facts; it is the acquiring of a different sense of life, a different kind of intuition about the nature of things.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“Social movements are at once the symptoms and the instruments of progress. Ignore them and statesmanship is irrelevant; fail to use them and it is weak.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“The present crisis of Western democracy is a crisis in journalism.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“There is but one bond of peace that is both permanent and enriching: The increasing knowledge of the world in which experiment occurs.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“The public must be put in its place, so that it may exercise its own powers, but no less and perhaps even more, so that each of us may live free of the trampling and the roar of a bewildered herd.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“The press does not tell us what to think, it tells us what to think about.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“The facts we see depend on where we are placed and the habits of our eyes.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“But what is propaganda, if not the effort to alter the picture to which men respond, to substitute one social pattern for another?” ~ Walter Lippmann

“We are all captives of the picture in our head – our belief that the world we have experienced is the world that really exists.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“Run against the grain of a nation’s genius and see where you get with your laws.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“When distant and unfamiliar and complex things are communicated to great masses of people, the truth suffers a considerable and often a radical distortion. The complex is made over into the simple, the hypothetical into the dogmatic, and the relative into an absolute.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“You don’t have to preach honesty to men with creative purpose. Let a human being throw the engines of his soul into the making of something, and the instinct of workmanship will take care of his honesty.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“For the newspaper is in all literalness the bible of democracy, the book out of which a people determines its conduct. It is the only serious book most people read. It is the only book they read every day.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“When men are brought face to face with their opponents, forced to listen and learn and mend their ideas, they cease to be children and savages and begin to live like civilized men. Then only is freedom a reality, when men may voice their opinions because they must examine their opinions.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“Our conscience is not the vessel of eternal verities. It grows with our social life, and a new social condition means a radical change in conscience.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“The best servants of the people, like the best valets, must whisper unpleasant truths in the master’s ear. It is the court fool, not the foolish courtier, whom the king can least afford to lose.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“In a place where everybody thinks alike, nobody thinks very much.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“The devil is merely a fallen angel, and when God lost Satan he lost one of his best lieutenants.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“One might point to the great illumination that has resulted from Freud’s analysis of the abracadabra of our dreams. No one can any longer dismiss the fantasy because it is logically inconsistent, superficially absurd, or objectively untrue.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“In government offices which are sensitive to the vehemence and passion of mass sentiment public men have no sure tenure. They are in effect perpetual office seekers, always on trial for their political lives, always required to court their restless constituents.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“When all think alike, then no one is thinking.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“The news is not a mirror of social conditions, but the report of an aspect that has obtruded itself.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“In making the great experiment of governing people by consent rather than by coercion, it is not sufficient that the party in power should have a majority. It is just as necessary that the party in power should never outrage the minority.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“Life is an irreversible process and for that reason its future can never be a repetition of the past.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“The deepest of all the stereotypes is the human stereotype which imputes human nature to inanimate or collective things.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“The smashing of idols is in itself such a preoccupation that it is almost impossible for the iconoclast to look clearly into a future when there will not be many idols left to smash.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“We are told about the world before we see it. We imagine most things before we experience them. And those preconceptions, unless education has made us acutely aware, govern deeply the whole process of perception.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“Democracy is much too important to be left to public opinion.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“Before you can begin to think about politics at all, you have to abandon the notion that there is a war between good men and bad men.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“We forge gradually our greatest instrument for understanding the world – introspection. We discover that humanity may resemble us very considerably – that the best way of knowing the inwardness of our neighbors is to know ourselves.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“The wiser a man is, it seems to me, the more vividly he can see the future as part of the evolving present. He doesn’t break the flow of life, he directs it, hastens it, but preserves its continuity.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“No mariner ever enters upon a more uncharted sea than does the average human being born in the 20th century. Our ancestors know their way from birth through eternity; we are puzzled about the day after tomorrow.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“We say that the truth will make us free. Yes, but that truth is a thousand truths which grow and change.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“Between ourselves and our real natures we interpose that wax figure of idealizations and selections which we call our character.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“You cannot endow even the best machine with initiative; the jolliest steamroller will not plant flowers.” ~ Walter Lippmann

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“The common interests very largely elude public opinion entirely, and can be managed only by a specialised class.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“The first principle of a civilized state is that the power is legitimate only when it is under contract.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“Only the consciousness of a purpose that is greater than any man can seed and fortify the souls of men.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“There can be no liberty for a community which lacks the means by which to detect lies.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“There is nothing disastrous in the temporary nature of our ideas. They are always that. But there may very easily be a train of evil in the self-deception which regards them as final. I think God will forgive us our skepticism sooner than our Inquisitions.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“The news and the truth are not the same thing.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“The unexamined life, said Socrates, is unfit to be lived by man. This is the virtue of liberty, and the ground on which we may justify our belief in it, that it tolerates error in order to serve truth.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“A really good diplomat does not go in for victories, even when he wins them.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“Most men, after a little freedom, have preferred authority with the consoling assurances and the economy of effort it brings.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“A man cannot be a good doctor and keep telephoning his broker between patients nor a good lawyer with his eye on the ticker.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“Our life is managed from behind the scenes: we are actors in dramas that we cannot interpret. Of almost no decisive event can we say: this was our own choosing. We happen upon careers, necessity pushing, blind inclination pulling. If we stop to think we are amazed that we should be what we are.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“We are concerned in public affairs, but immersed in our private ones.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“In a free society the state does not administer the affairs of men. It administers justice among men who conduct their own affairs.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“The opposition is indispensable. A good statesman, like any other sensible human being, always learns more from his opposition than from his fervent supporters.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“Ignore what a man desires and you ignore the very source of his power.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“No amount of charters, direct primaries, or short ballots will make a democracy out of an illiterate people.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“The private citizen, beset by partisan appeals for the loan of his Public Opinion, will soon see, perhaps, that these appeals are not a compliment to his intelligence, but an imposition on his good nature and an insult to his sense of evidence.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“There is nothing so bad but it can masquerade as moral.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“Men command fewer words than they have ideas to express, and language, as Jean Paul said, is a dictionary of faded metaphors.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“In the end, advertising rests upon the fact that consumers are a fickle and superstitious mob, incapable of any real judgment as to what it wants or how it is to get what it thinks it likes.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“Leaders are the custodians of a nation’s ideals, of the beliefs it cherishes, of its permanent hopes, of the faith which makes a nation out of a mere aggregation of individuals.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“Ours is a problem in which deception has become organized and strong; where truth is poisoned at its source; one in which the skill of the shrewdest brains is devoted to misleading a bewildered people.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“The world is a better place to live in because it contains human beings who will give up ease and security and stake their own lives in order to do what they themselves think worth doing.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“Robinson Crusoe, the self-sufficient man, could not have lived in New York city.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“To keep a faith pure, man had better retire to a monastery.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“Men are mortal, but ideas are immortal.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“Where love exists with self-respect and joy, where a fine environment is provided for the child, where the parents live under conditions that neither stunt the imagination nor let it run to uncontrolled fantasy, there you have the family that modern men are seeking to create.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“Creative ideas come to the intuitive person who can face up to the insecurity of looking beyond the obvious.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“The principles of the good society call for a concern with an order of being – which cannot be proved existentially to the sense organs – where it matters supremely that the human person is inviolable, that reason shall regulate the will, that truth shall prevail over error.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“The central drama of our age is how the Western nations and the Asian peoples are to find a tolerable basis of co-existence.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“While the right to talk may be the beginning of freedom, the necessity of listening is what makes that right important.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“For language is by no means a perfect vehicle of meanings. Words, like currency, are turned over and over again, to evoke one set of images to-day, another to-morrow. There is no certainty whatever that the same word will call out exactly the same idea in the reader’s mind as it did in the reporter’s.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“A useful definition of liberty is obtained only by seeking the principle of liberty in the main business of human life, that is to say, in the process by which men educate their responses and learn to control their environment.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“The unions are the first feeble effort to conquer the industrial jungle for democratic life. They may not succeed, but if they don’t their failure will be a tragedy for civilization, a loss of cooperative effort, a baulking of energy, and the fixing in American life of a class-structure.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“Without some form of censorship, propaganda in the strict sense of the word is impossible. In order to conduct a propaganda there must be some barrier between the public and the event. Access to the real environment must be limited, before anyone can create a pseudo-environment that he thinks wise or desirable.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“Only the very rarest of princes can endure even a little criticism, and few of them can put up with even a pause in the adulation.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“In a democracy, the opposition is not only tolerated as constitutional, but must be maintained because it is indispensable.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“Franklin D. Roosevelt is no crusader. He is no tribune of the people. He is no enemy of entrenched privilege. He is a pleasant man who, without any important qualifications for the office, would very much like to be President.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“Men fall into a routine when they are tired and slack: it has all the appearance of activity with few of its burdens.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“It is perfectly true that that government is best which governs least. It is equally true that that government is best which provides most.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“The true speech of man is idiomatic, if not of the earth and sky, then at least of the saloon and the bleachers.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“Ideals are an imaginative understanding of that which is desirable in that which is possible.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“We must remember that in time of war what is said on the enemy’s side of the front is always propaganda and what is said on our side of the front is truth and righteousness, the cause of humanity and a crusade for peace.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“Yet this corporate being, though so insubstantial to our senses, binds, in Burkes words, a man to his country with ties which though light as air, are as strong as links of iron. That is why young men die in battle for their countrys sake and why old men plant trees they will never sit under.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“Whatever truth you contribute to the world will be one lucky shot in a thousand misses. You cannot be right by holding your breath and taking precautions.” ~ Walter Lippmann

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“Private property was the original source of freedom. It still is its main bulwark.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“The public interest may be presumed to be what men would choose if they saw clearly, thought rationally, acted disinterestedly and benevolently.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and to shame the devil.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“The genius of a good leader is to leave behind him a situation which common sense, without the grace of genius, can deal with successfully.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“A democracy which fails to concentrate authority in an emergency inevitably falls into such confusion that the ground is prepared for the rise of a dictator.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“There are at least two distinct selves, the public and regal self, the private and human.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“The function of news is to signalize an event, the function of truth is to bring to light the hidden facts, to set them in relation with each other, and make a picture of reality on which men can act.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“The mass of the reading public is not interested in learning and assimilating the results of accurate investigation.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“The prophecy of a world moving toward political unity is the light which guides all that is best, most vigorous, most truly alive in the work of our time.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“It requires wisdom to understand wisdom: the music is nothing if the audience is deaf.” ~ Walter Lippmann

“Inevitably our opinions cover a bigger space, a longer reach of time, a greater number of things, than we can directly observe. They have, therefore, to be pieced together out of what others have reported and what we can imagine.” ~ Walter Lippmann

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