C. Wright Mills quotes

  • The more we understand what is happening in the world, the more frustrated we often become, for our knowledge leads to feelings of powerlessness. We feel that we are living in a world in which the citizen has become a mere spectator or a forced actor, and that our personal experience is politically useless and our political will a minor illusion.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Political #Feelings #Frustrated

  • What I am asserting is that in this particular epoch a conjunction of historical circumstances has led to the rise of an elite of power; that the men of the circles composing this elite, severally and collectively, now make such key decisions as are made; and that, given the enlargement and the centralization of the means of power now available, the decisions that they make and fail to make carry more consequences for more people than has ever been the case in the world history of mankind
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Mean #Men #Keys

  • History is the shank of the social sciences.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #History #Social #Social Science

  • Nobody talks more of free enterprise and competition and of the best man winning than the man who inherited his father's store or farm.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Business #Father #Winning

  • A society that is in its higher circles and middle levels widely believed to be a network of smart rackets does not produce men with an inner moral sense; a society that is merely expedient does not produce men of conscience. A society that narrows the meaning of 'success' to the big money and in its terms condemns failure as the chief vice, raising money to the plane of absolute value, will produce the sharp operator and the shady deal. Blessed are the cynical, for only they have what it takes to succeed.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Smart #Blessed #Men

  • It is the political task of the social scientist — as of any liberal educator — continually to translate personal troubles into public issues, and public issues into the terms of their human meaning for a variety of individuals. It is his task to display in his work — and, as an educator, in his life as well — this kind of sociological imagination. And it is his purpose to cultivate such habits of mind among the men and women who are publicly exposed to him. To secure these ends is to secure reason and individuality, and to make these the predominant values of a democratic society.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Men #Issues #Imagination

  • To overcome the academic prose you have first to overcome the academic pose,
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Overcoming #Firsts #Academic

  • Every revolution has its counterrevolution - that is a sign the revolution is for real
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Real #Revolution

  • The sociological imagination enables us to grasp history and biography and the relations between the two within society. This is its task and its promise.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Two #Imagination #Promise

  • For we cannot adequately understand 'man' as an isolated biological creature, as a bundle of reflexes or a set of instincts, as an 'intelligible field' or a system in and of itself. Whatever else he may be, man is a social and an historical actor who must be understood, if at all, in close and intricate interplay with social and historical structures
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Men #Historical #Actors

  • My plans have always exceeded my capacities and energies
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Energy #Capacity #Plans

  • For the first time in American history, men in authority are talking about an 'emergency' without a foreseeable end... such men as these are crackpot realists: in the name of realism they have constructed a paranoid reality all their own.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Reality #Men #Talking

  • People with advantages are loath to believe that they just happen to be people with advantages. They come readily to define themselves as inherently worthy of what they possess; they come to believe themselves 'naturally' elite; and, in fact, to imagine their possessions and their privileges as natural extensions of their own elite selves.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Believe #Self #People

  • Seldom aware of the intricate connection between the patterns of their own lives and the course of world history, ordinary people do not usually know what this connection means for the kind of people they are becoming and for the kind of history-making in which they might take part.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Mean #People #World

  • What one side considers a defense the other considers a threat. In the vortex of the struggle, each is trapped by his own fearful outlook and by his fear of the other; each moves and is moved within a circle both vicious and lethal.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Moving #Struggle #Circles

  • Each day men sell little pieces if themselves in order to try to buy then back each night and weekend.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Weekend #Night #Men

  • The point is that we are among those who cannot get their mouths around all the little Yeses that add up to tacit acceptance of a world run by crackpot realists and subject to blind drift. And that, you see, is something to which we do belong; we belong to those who are still capable of personally rejecting. Our minds are not yet captive.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Running #Acceptance #Mind

  • If we accept the Greek's definition of the idiot as an altogether private man, then we must conclude that many American citizens are now idiots. And I should not be surprised, although I don't know, if there were some such idiots even in Germany.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Men #Greek #Germany

  • Those in authority within institutions and social structures attempt to justify their rule by linking it, as if it were a necessary consequence, with moral symbols, sacred emblems, or legal formulae which are widely believed and deeply internalized. These central conceptions may refer to a god or gods, the 'votes of the majority,' the 'will of the people,' the 'aristocracy of talents or wealth,' to the 'divine right of kings' or to the alleged extraordinary endowment of the person of the ruler himself.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Kings #People #May

  • IBM Plus Reality Plus Humanism=Sociology
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Reality #Sociology #Plus

  • To say that you can 'have experience,' means, for one thing, that your past plays into and affects your present, and that it defines your capacity for future experience. As a social scientist, you have to control this rather elaborate interplay, to capture what you experience and sort it out; only in this way can you hope to use it to guide and test your reflection, and in the process shape yourself as an intellectual craftsman
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Mean #Past #Reflection

  • If you do not specify and confront real issues, what you say will surely obscure them. If you do not embody controversy, what you say will be an acceptance of the drift to the coming human hell.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Real #Acceptance #Issues

  • Commercial jazz, soap opera, pulp fiction, comic strips, the movies set the images, mannerisms, standards, and aims of the urban masses. In one way or another, everyone is equal before these cultural machines; like technology itself, the mass media are nearly universal in their incidence and appeal. They are a kind of common denominator, a kind of scheme for pre-scheduled, mass emotions.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Technology #Media #Fiction

  • Prestige is the shadow of money and power.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Shadow #Prestige #Money And Power

  • The life-fate of the modern individual depends not only upon the family into which he was born or which he enters by marriage, but increasingly upon the corporation in which he spends the most alert hours of his best years.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Fate #Years #Corporations

  • America is a nation with no truly national city, no Paris, no Rome, no London, no city which is at once the social center, the political capital, and the financial hub.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Paris #America #Rome

  • Let every man be his own methodologist, let every man be his own theorist
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Men

  • Power is not of a man. Wealth does not center in the person of the wealthy. Celebrity is not inherent in any personality. To be celebrated, to be wealthy, to have power requires access to major institutions.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Men #Personality #Doe

  • People with advantages are loath to believe that they just happen to be people with advantages.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Believe #People #Advantage

  • Not wishing to be disturbed over moral issues of the political economy, Americans cling to the notion that the government is a sort of automatic machine, regulated by the balancing of competing interests.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Government #Issues #Political

  • The professional celebrity, male and female, is the crowning result of the star system of a society that makes a fetish of competition. In America, this system is carried to the point where a man who can knock a small white ball into a series of holes in the ground with more efficiency than anyone else thereby gains social access to the President of the United States.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Stars #Men #White

  • To really belong, we have got, first, to get it clear with ourselves that we do not belong and do not want to belong to an unfree world. As free men and women we have got to reject much of it and to know why we are rejecting it.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Men #World #Want

  • What ordinary men are directly aware of and what they try to do are bounded by the private orbits in which they live; their visions and their powers are limited.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Men #Vision #Trying

  • In our time, what is at issue is the very nature of man, the image we have of his limits and possibilities as a man. History is not yet done with its exploration of the limits and meanings of human nature.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Men #Issues #Curiosity

  • The principal cause of war is war itself.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #War #Causes #Causes Of War

  • Freedom is not merely the opportunity to do as one pleases; neither is it merely the opportunity to choose between set alternatives. Freedom is, first of all, the chance to formulate the available choices, to argue over them -- and then, the opportunity to choose.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Inspirational #Freedom #Opportunity

  • What we experience in various and specific milieux, I have noted, is often caused by structural changes. Accordingly, to understand the changes of many personal milieux we are required to look beyond them. And the number and variety of such structural changes increase as the institutions within which we live become more embracing and more intricately connected with one another. To be aware of the idea of social structure and to use it with sensibility is to be capable of tracing such linkages among a great variety of milieux. To be able to do that is to possess the sociological imagination
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Ideas #Numbers #Imagination

  • Neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Anger #Understanding #Society

  • [O]ne could translate the 555 pages of The Social System into about 150 pages of straightforward English. The result would not be very impressive.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Pages #Social #Results

  • As a social and as a personal force, religion has become a dependent variable. It does not originate; it reacts. It does not denounce; it adapts. It does not set forth new models of conduct and sensibility; it imitates. Its rhetoric is without deep appeal; the worship it organizes is without piety. It has become less a revitalization of the spirit in permanent tension with the world than a respectable distraction from the sourness of life.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Atheism #Doe #World

  • [A]s a proportion of the labor force, fewer individuals manipulate things , more handle people and symbols .
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #People #Individual #Proportion

  • Above all, do not give up your moral and political autonomy by accepting in somebody else's terms the illiberal practicality of the bureaucratic ethos or the liberal practicality of the moral scatter. Know that many personal troubles cannot be solved merely as troubles, but must be understood in terms of public issues and in terms of the problems of history making.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Giving Up #Issues #Ethos

  • The economy - once a great scatter of small productive units in autonomous balance, has become dominated by two or three hundred giant corporations, administratively and politically interrelated... The political order, once a decentralized set of several dozen states with a weak spinal cord, has become a centralized executive establishment which has taken up into itself many powers previously scattered... The military order, once a slim establishment in a context of distrust fed by state militia, has become the largest and most expensive feature of government.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Military #Taken #Order

  • Any contemporary political re-statement of liberal and socialist goals must include as central the idea of a society in which all men would become men of substantive reason, whose independent reasoning would have structural consequences for their societies, its history and thus for their own life fates.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Independent #Fate #Men

  • According to your belief [Christian clergy], my kind of man — secular, prideful, agnostic and all the rest of it — is among the damned. I'm on my own. You've got your God.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Christian #Men #Belief

  • The market is sovereign and in the magic economy of the small entrepreneur there is no authoritarian center... in the political sphere... the equilibrium of powers prevails, and hence there is no chance of despotism.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Entrepreneur #Political #Magic

  • Here's to the day when the complete works of Leon Trotsky are published and widely distributed in the Soviet Union. On that day the USSR will have achieved democracy!
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Democracy #Unions #Leon

  • To have peace and not war, the drift toward a war economy, as facilitated by the moves and the demands of the sophisticated conservatives, must be stopped; to have peace without slump, the tactics and policies of the practical right must be overcome. The political and economic power of both must be broken. The power of these giants of main drift is both economically and politically anchored; both unions and an independent labor party are needed to struggle effective.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #War #Moving #Party

  • In the world of the celebrity, the hierarchy of publicity has replaced the hierarchy of descent and even of great wealth.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #World #Hierarchy #Publicity

  • I try to be objective. I do not claim to be detached.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Trying #Claims

  • All politics is a struggle for power; the ultimate kind of power is violence.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Struggle #Violence #Kind

  • Much work is merely a way to make money; much leisure is merely a way to spend it.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Way #Leisure #Making Money

  • The mass production of distraction is now as much a part of the American way of life as the mass production of automobiles.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Way #Entertainment #Distraction

  • Fate has to do with events in history that are the summary and unintended results of innumerable decisions of innumerable men.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Fate #Men #Decision

  • When white-collar people get jobs, they sell not only their time and energy, but their personalities as well. They sell by the week, or month, their smiles and their kindly gestures, and they must practice that prompt repression of resentment and aggression.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Jobs #Practice #White

  • Prestige is the shadow of money and power. Where these are, there it is. Like the national market for soap or automobiles and the enlarged arena of federal power, the national cash-in area for prestige has grown, slowly being consolidated into a truly national system.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Respect #Shadow #Cash

  • For the corporation executives, the military metaphysic often coincides with their interest in a stable and planned flow of profit; it enables them to have their risk underwritten by public money; it enables them reasonably to expect that they can exploit for private profit now and later, the risky research developments paid for by public money. It is, in brief, a mask of the subsidized capitalism from which they extract profit and upon which their power is based.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Military #Risk #Flow

  • The broadening of the economic order which came to be seated in the individual property owner... dramatized by Jefferson's purchase of the Louisiana Territory... "The supremacy of corporate economic power... consolidated by the Supreme Court decision of 1886 which declared that the Fourteenth Amendment protected the corporation... [the New Deal, leading to], within the political arena, as well as in the corporate world itself, competing centers of power that challenged those of the corporate directors.
    -- C. Wright Mills

    #Order #Decision #Political