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Quotations From JOHN KENNETH GALBRAITH


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  • There are few ironclad rules of diplomacy but to one there is no exception. When an official reports that talks were useful, it can safely be concluded that nothing was accomplished.
    John Kenneth Galbraith (b. 1908), U.S. economist. "The American Ambassador," Foreign Service Journal (Washington, DC, June 1969).
  • All successful revolutions are the kicking in of a rotten door. The violence of revolutions is the violence of men who charge into a vacuum.
    John Kenneth Galbraith (b. 1908), U.S. economist. The Age of Uncertainty, ch. 3 (1977).
  • Commencement oratory ... must eschew anything that smacks of partisan politics, political preference, sex, religion or unduly firm opinion. Nonetheless, there must be a speech: speeches in our culture are the vacuum that fills a vacuum.
    John Kenneth Galbraith (b. 1908), U.S. economist. Commencement address, American University, Washington, D.C.. Time (June 18, 1984).

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  • Meetings are a great trap. Soon you find yourself trying to get agreement and then the people who disagree come to think they have a right to be persuaded.... However, they are indispensable when you don't want to do anything.
    John Kenneth Galbraith (b. 1908), U.S. economist. Ambassador's Journal, ch. 5, entry for April 22, 1969. Written when serving as US ambassador to India.

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  • Man, at least when educated, is a pessimist. He believes it safer not to reflect on his achievements; Jove is known to strike such people down.
    John Kenneth Galbraith (b. 1908), U.S. economist. The Age of Uncertainty, ch. 12 (1977).

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  • The man who is admired for the ingenuity of his larceny is almost always rediscovering some earlier form of fraud. The basic forms are all known, have all been practicised. The manners of capitalism improve. The morals may not.
    John Kenneth Galbraith (b. 1908), U.S. economist. The Age of Uncertainty, ch. 2 (1977).
  • All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership.
    John Kenneth Galbraith (b. 1908), U.S. economist. The Age of Uncertainty, ch. 12 (1977). On his experience of the Nuremburg trials of Nazi war criminals.

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  • Few can believe that suffering, especially by others, is in vain. Anything that is disagreeable must surely have beneficial economic effects.
    John Kenneth Galbraith (b. 1908), U.S. economist. The Age of Uncertainty, ch. 7 (1977). On the solutions proposed by politicians to ride out a recession.

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  • It has been the acknowledged right of every Marxist scholar to read into Marx the particular meaning that he himself prefers and to treat all others with indignation.
    John Kenneth Galbraith (b. 1908), U.S. economist. The Age of Uncertainty, ch. 3 (1977).
  • Wealth is not without its advantages and the case to the contrary, although it has often been made, has never proved widely persuasive.
    John Kenneth Galbraith (b. 1908), U.S. economist. The Affluent Society, ch. 1, sct. 1 (1958).
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