Milton S. Mayer

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The common enemy is the animality in man, and not the men here and there who are behaving like animals at the moment.

Milton Sanford Mayer (August 24, 1908April 20, 1986) was an American journalist and educator, most famous for his long-running column in The Progressive magazine.

Quotes[edit]

I Think I'll Sit This One Out (1939)[edit]

When we have produced men of reason, we shall have a world of reason, and the Hitlers will disappear. As long as we produce men of force we shall have a world of force, and the Hitlers, whoever wins the wars, will carry the day.
"I Think I'll Sit This One Out" in Saturday Evening Post (7 October 1939); republished in We Who Dared to Say No to War: American Antiwar Writing from 1812 to Now ( 2008), edited by Murray Polner and Thomas E. Woods, p. 193
  • If I believed that force would ever build a better world, I would be a Marxist revolutionary. But I have no more faith in poor men's animalism than in rich men's. And I want no proletarian revolution until the proletariat has demonstrated devotion to reason which the rich, with larger opportunities to cultivate that virtue, have so universally failed to achieve. I favor the underdog against the upperdog, but I favor something better than a dog above both of them.
  • Socialism may be all right when men are fit to be socialists. The way maybe hard and slow, but until went take it we shall find that the so-called Socialist state degenerates and Fascism as rapidly as the pacifist with warm hearts to generate into militarists with fevered brows.
    Marxism, like fascism and capitalism is materialism. The love of material goods above all others is as animal as of love of war. The love of justice above material goods must save us in the end it saved we may be.
  • Justice alone knows liberty, equality, and fraternity, and justice is a human virtue arising from man's human capacity to reason. We cannot make sense out of justice by looking at the moon or taking dope or building battleships. We can make sense out of justice by using our reason to discover that justice, like wisdom, is better than rubies.
  • It is a sensible military tactic to recognize the enemy before you shoot. The common enemy is the animality in man, and not the men here and there who are behaving like animals at the moment. Neither science nor prayer nor force will save us. What will save us is the reason that enables men, in ancient Israel and modern America, to choose between guns and butter, and to choose well. When we have produced men of reason, we shall have a world of reason, and the Hitlers will disappear. As long as we produce men of force we shall have a world of force, and the Hitlers, whoever wins the wars, will carry the day.
    Society may make many demands on me, as long as it keeps me out of the cave. It may take my property. It may take my life. But when it puts me back into the cave I must say, politely but firmly, to hell with society. My ancestors were cannibals without benefit of parliaments.

They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-35 (1955)[edit]

National Socialism did not make men unfree; unfreedom make men National Socialists.
  • The masses of the people could not be held back from Nazism, so powerful was its appeal, and this same priest, who would not leave his people, went with them to Nazism, too.
    • p. 219
  • National Socialism did not make men unfree; unfreedom make men National Socialists.
    • p. 277
  • Hitlerism was a mass flight to dogma, to the barbaric dogma that had not been expelled with the Romans, the dogma of the tribe, the dogma that gave every man importance only in so far as the tribe was important and he was a member of the tribe.
    • p. 288

Quotes about Mayer[edit]

  • Mayer was definitely a left-winger in politics, even a revolutionary. But his would be a revolution different from the one urged by the typical anti-capitalist agitator, socialist, or communist. His, an anti-materialist one, would indeed put an end to capitalism, but, he told the editors of Christian Century in 1944, it would be a moral one.

External links[edit]

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