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quotations about mobs

The sight of blood to crowds begets the thirst of more,
As the first wine-cup leads to the long revel.

LORD BYRON, Marino Faliero

The only difference between a mob and a trained army is organization.

CALVIN COOLIDGE, Edward Elwell Whiting's Calvin Coolidge

Only the mob and the elite can be attracted by the momentum of totalitarianism itself. The masses have to be won by propaganda.

HANNAH ARENDT, The Origins of Totalitarianism

Disruption never helps your cause. It just looks like you're afraid to have rational discussion.

BARNEY FRANK, towh hall meeting, Aug. 18, 2009

It is an easy and a vulgar thing to please the mob, and not a very arduous task to astonish them; but essentially to benefit and to improve them, is a work fraught with difficulty, and teeming with danger.


What are a handful of reasonable men against a crowd with stones in their hands?


Everything bigger than life attracts a crowd.


The sum of the crowd's IQ was far below that of its most modest single member. Mobs have passions, not brains.

DAN SIMMONS, The Fall of Hyperion

Mankind are a herd of knaves and fools. It is necessary to join the crowd, or get out of their way, in order not to be trampled to death by them.

WILLIAM HAZLITT, Characteristics

All things except reason and order are possible with a mob.


The mob is a monster with the hands of Briareus, but the head of Polyphemus--strong to execute, but blind to perceive.


One dog barks at something, and a hundred bark at him.


There is nothing more odious than the majority; it consists of a few powerful men to lead the way; of accommodating rascals and submissive weaklings; and of a mass of men who trot after them, without in the least knowing their mind.

JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE, The Maxims and Reflections of Goethe

You cannot conceive the many without the one.

PLATO, Parmenides

Mobs were ugly and vicious but they were also purposeful, congregating around a wound in the populace's psyche like white blood cells around an infection in the body. They were safety valves for frustration and dissatisfaction; they united a population against a real or imagined enemy.


The crowd has a way of being right.

LOUIS AUCHINCLOSS, The Rector of Justin

A group is extraordinarily credulous and open to influence, it has no critical faculty, and the improbable does not exist for it. It thinks in images, which call one another up by association (just as they arise with individuals in states of free imagination), and whose agreement with reality is never checked by any reasonable function. The feelings of a group are always very simple and very exaggerated, so that a group knows neither doubt nor uncertainty.

SIGMUND FREUD, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego

Over all crowds there seems to float a vague distress, an atmosphere of pervasive melancholy, as if any large gathering of people creates an aura of terror and pity.

EMILE ZOLA, The Attack on the Mill and Other Stories

The nose of a mob is its imagination; by this, at any time, it can be easily led.

ELIZA COOK, Diamond Dust

Ten thousand fools, knaves, cowards, lump'd together,
Become all-wise, all-righteous, and all-mighty.

EDWARD YOUNG, The Brothers

There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, address to the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois, January 27, 1838

Emphasizing the crowd means de-emphasizing individual humans in the design of society, and when you ask people not to be people, they revert to bad, mob-like behaviors.

JARON LANIER, You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto

When men take it in their heads to-day, to hang gamblers, or burn murderers, they should recollect, that, in the confusion usually attending such transactions, they will be as likely to hang or burn some one who is neither a gambler nor a murderer as one who is; and that, acting upon the example they set, the mob of to-morrow, may, and probably will, hang or burn some of them by the very same mistake. And not only so; the innocent, those who have ever set their faces against violations of law in every shape, alike with the guilty, fall victims to the ravages of mob law; and thus it goes on, step by step, till all the walls erected for the defense of the persons and property of individuals, are trodden down, and disregarded.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, address to the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois, January 27, 1838

The mad mob does not ask how it could be better, only that it be different. And when it then becomes worse, it must change again. Thus they get bees for flies, and at last hornets for bees.

MARTIN LUTHER, Whether Soldiers Can Also Be in a State of Grace

A crowd is not the sum of the individuals who compose it. Rather it is a species of animal, without language or real consciousness, born when they gather, dying when they depart.

GENE WOLFE, The Shadow of the Torturer


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