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
The most jaw-dropping C. Wright Mills quotes that will inspire your inner self
You can never really understand an individual unless you also understand the society,historical time period in which they live,personal troubles, and social issues
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.
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.
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.
By the power elite, we refer to those political, economic, and military circles which as an intricate set of overlapping cliques share decisions having at least national consequences. In so far as national events are decided, the power elite are those who decide them.
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!
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.
Every revolution has its counterrevolution - that is a sign the revolution is for real.
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.
Whatever sociology may be, it is the result of constantly asking the question, what is the meaning of this?
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.
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.
The principal cause of war is war itself.
Prestige is the shadow of money and power.
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.
History is the shank of the social sciences.
The mass production of distraction is now as much a part of the American way of life as the mass production of automobiles.
Fate has to do with events in history that are the summary and unintended results of innumerable decisions of innumerable men.
In the world of the celebrity, the hierarchy of publicity has replaced the hierarchy of descent and even of great wealth.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The means of effective communication are being expropriated from the intellectual worker.
Each day men sell little pieces if themselves in order to try to buy then back each night and weekend.
Let every man be his own methodologist, let every man be his own theorist
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.
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.
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
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.
The immediate cause of World War III is the military preparation of it.
To accept opinions is to gain the good solid feeling of being correct without having to think.
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.
Much work is merely a way to make money; much leisure is merely a way to spend it.
As a proportion of the labor force, fewer individuals manipulate things, more handle people and symbols.
IBM Plus Reality Plus Humanism = Sociology.
All politics is a struggle for power; the ultimate kind of power is violence.
I try to be objective. I do not claim to be detached.
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.
No one can be truly powerful unless he has access to the command of major institutions, for it is over these institutional means of power that the truly powerful are, in the first instance, truly powerful . . .
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.
My plans have always exceeded my capacities and energies
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.
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.
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.
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.
People with advantages are loath to believe that they just happen to be people with advantages.