Richard Hofstadter

Quote Topics Cited
America is the only country that believes it was born perfect and constantly strives to improve itself. States. Nations & Nationhood
Anti-Catholicism has always been the pornography of the Puritan. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
If there is anything more dangerous to the life of the mind than having no independent commitment to ideas, it is having an excess commitment to some special or constricting idea. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
It is hardly an exaggeration to say that the progressive mind was characteristically a journalistic mind and that its characteristic contribution was that of the socially responsible reporter-reformer. Media, Journalism & The Press
It is ironic that the United States should have been founded by intellectuals, for throughout most of our political history, the intellectual has been for the most part either an outsider, a servant or a scapegoat. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training ;History
It is possible that the distinction between moral relativism and moral absolutism has sometimes been blurred because an excessively consistent practice of either leads to the same practical result — ruthlessness in political life. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
Major parties have lived more for patronage than principles; their goal has been to bind together a sufficiently large coalition of diverse interests to get into power; and once in power, to arrange sufficiently satisfactory compromises of interest to remain there. Patronage & Pork Barrel
Minor parties have been attached to some special idea or interest, and they have generally expressed their positions through firm and identifiable programs and principles. Their function has not been to win or govern, but to agitate, educate, generate new ideas, and supply the dynamic element in our political life. When a third party's demands become popular enough, they are appropriated by one or both of the major parties and the third party disappears. Third parties are like bees: once they have stung, they die. Political Parties & Machines
One of the primary tests of the mood of a society at any given time is whether its comfortable people tend to identify, psychologically, with the power and achievements of the very successful or with the needs and sufferings of the underprivileged. States. Nations & Nationhood
Prohibition was a pseudo-reform, a pinched, parochial substitute for reform,, not merely an aversion to drunkenness and to the evils that accompanied it, but to the immigrant drinking masses, to the pleasures and amenities of city life, and to the well-to-do classes and cultivated men. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
Scholars know that the processes of politics normally involve exaggeration, myth making and fierce animosities. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
The [founding] fathers hoped not to create a system of party government under a constitution, but rather a constitutional government that would check and control parties. Political Parties & Machines
The idea of the paranoid style as a force in politics would have little contemporary relevance or historical value if it were applied only to men with profoundly disturbed minds. It is the use of paranoid modes of expression by more or less normal people that makes the phenomenon significant History
The paranoid spokesman sees the fate of conspiracy in apocalyptic terms—he traffics in the birth and death of whole worlds, whole political orders, whole systems of human values. He is always manning the barricades of civilization. He constantly lives at a turning point. Like religious millenialists he expresses the anxiety of those who are living through the last days…. Since what is at stake is always a conflict between absolute good and absolute evil, what is necessary is not compromise but the will to fight things out to a finish. Since the enemy is thought of as being totally evil and totally unappeasable, he must be totally eliminated—if not from the world, at least from the theatre of operations to which the paranoid directs his attention. This demand for total triumph leads to the formulation of hopelessly unrealistic goals, and since these goals are not even remotely attainable, failure constantly heightens the paranoid’s sense of frustration. Even partial success leaves him with the same feeling of powerlessness with which he began, and this in turn only strengthens his awareness of the vast and terrifying quality of the enemy he opposes. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
The United States was born in the country and has moved to the city. Miscellaneous
When a third party's demands become popular enough, they are appropriated by one or both of the major parties and the third party disappears. Third parties are like bees: Once they have stung, they die. Political Parties & Machines
A university's essential character is that of being a center of free inquiry and criticism - a thing not to be sacrificed for anything else.
The delicate thing about the university is that it has a mixed character, that it is suspended between its position in the eternal world, with all its corruption and evils and cruelties, and the splendid world of our imagination.