Highlights from The Dispossessed

There were walls around all his thoughts.

You know how it is, what women call thinking is done with the uterus! Of course, there’s always a few exceptions, God-awful brainy women with vaginal atrophy.

“Entirely on your own initiative,” said Oiie. “It is the only initiative I acknowledge,” Shevek said, smiling, in dead earnest.

All such luxuries which if freely allowed to the public would tend to drain irreplaceable natural resources or to foul the environment with waste products were strictly controlled by regulation and taxation.

The meetings of such groups, the vehicles of both social action and sociability, were the framework of life in any small community, but here in the city they seemed much less important.

Even from the brother there is no comfort in the bad hour, in the dark at the foot of the wall.

In a human sacrifice to deity there might be at least a mistaken and terrible beauty; in the rites of the moneychangers, where greed, laziness, and envy were assumed to move all men’s acts, even the terrible became banal.

figurines and souvenirs and kickshaws and mementos and gewgaws and bric-a-brac, everything either useless to begin with or ornamented so as to disguise its use

After all, work is done for the work’s sake. It is the lasting pleasure of life. The private conscience knows that. And also the social conscience, the opinion of one’s neighbors.

“It’s always easier not to think for oneself. Find a nice safe hierarchy and settle in. Don’t make changes, don’t risk disapproval, don’t upset your syndics. It’s always easiest to let yourself be governed.”

Oiie was an ethical man, but his private insecurities, his anxieties as a property owner, made him cling to rigid notions of law and order.

You’re thirty, aren’t you? By that age a man should know not only his cellular function but his organic function—what his optimum role is the social organism is.

The individual cannot bargain with the State. The State recognizes no coinage but power: and it issues the coins itself.

The thing about working with time, instead of against it, he thought, is that it is not wasted. Even pain counts.

We left with empty hands, a hundred and seventy years ago, and we were right. We took nothing. Because there is nothing here but States and their weapons, the rich and their lies, and the poor and their misery. There is no way to act rightly, with a clear heart, on Urras. There is nothing you can do that profit does not enter into, and fear of loss, and the wish for power. You cannot say good morning without knowing which of you is ‘superior’ to

Somebody had told Bedap that Rulag was an engineer, and he had found in her the engineer’s clarity and pragmatism of mind, plus the mechanist’s hatred of complexity and irregularity.

The only security we have is our neighbors’ approval. An archist can break a law and hope to get away unpunished, but you can’t ‘break’ a custom; it’s the framework of your life with other people.

What’s the good of an anarchist society that’s afraid of anarchists?

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