Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., (1922-2007) American author

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Quote

“But I know now that there is not a chance in hell of America becoming humane and reasonable. Because power corrupts us, and absolute power corrupts us absolutely. Human beings are chimpanzees who get crazy drunk on power. By saying that our leaders are power-drunk chimpanzees, am I in danger of wrecking the morale of our soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East? Their morale, like so many lifeless bodies, is already shot to pieces. They are being treated, as I never was, like toys a rich kid got for Christmas.”

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
~ Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Ratings and Comments

John Stauffer, Akron, PA.

WOW! One of your BEST quotes.

Robert, Sarasota

Yes, so sadly true (e. it's also quote within a quote by Lord Acton). Last night, on a flight from Atlanta, I sat next to a returning soldier from Iraq he was a super chap but I experienced first hand essence of this quote.

Landon, Virginia

Vonnegut is the best!

Dick, Fort Worth

Having just learned there are now more than 40,000 service people who have risked prison and livelihood by deserting the war-for-greed in Iraq, Vonnegut's statement rings truer than ever. Our service people are like toys all right for the Cheney-Rumsfeld gang, and our media is the Santa Claus who produces them.

Joe, Rochester, MI

I will seldom vote for the incumbent, in an attempt to minimize their power craze.

Bob, Eugene, OR

His last book sucked too.

E Archer, NYC

Gonna go play with our toys in the sand...

David L Rosenthal

Why do Americans love dumping on America, while apparenttly ignoring the reality that, despite America's faults, it is one of the more humane and reasonable nations. People should try living in North Korea, Cuba, China, Sudan, or (without American dollars). Our soldiers signed up of their own free will. They took an oath to obey the commander in chief.

  • Reply
Anonymous    8/30/06

Yes, the power mad United States is just running around the world, helter skelter, attacking perfectly innocent, beloved Middle East dictators with no provocation at all. Hmmm, I can't seem to remember. Wasn't there some kind of provocation about five years ago? September something or other, I believe. Naw. Couldn't be. Everyone say it with me: Blood for oil....Blood for oil.

E Regan, NYC, NY

I think an 18 year old (as I was when I enlisted in 1968) believes that his/her country is good and our leaders wise. The sadness of having a power-mad, ADD driven president in charge for these past years is reflected in the body count and VA hospital rolls. We have been duped buddy and the feeling sucks.

J Carlton, Calgary

People the world over understand this..why not so much in America? I'm proud of American Ideals...just haven't seen them in a long while.

Mike, Norwalk

A good distinction between the toys and the puppeteers.

The Real Me Again

I agree with most of what Mr. Vonnegut has said with the Exception of one Important point.I think that there IS a chance in hell that America can become humane and reasonable.To say that it can not is to give up faith in the unseen power of goodness and truth that is the core of most of humanity.To say there is no chance of America to become humane and reasonable is to stop believing in the boundless potential of the spirit of mankind of which America is a small fragment.To say that Ameica doesn't stand a chance to become humane and reasonable is to give up faith,give up hope and to cease believing in the vision that OUR FOUNDERS had when they created a government "OF THE PEOPLE,BY THE PEOPLE AND FOR THE PEOPLE"MAY THEIR VISIONS,WRITINGS AND CONSTITUTION NEVER PERSH FROM THIS EARTh! To give up believing in Our Founders Vision is to give up believing in People!Period.I am not ready to give up believing in people!

patriot, liberty land

Aren't we all glad that we have the liberty to verbally trash the _source_ of that said liberty? Outrageous, ungrateful, apathetic morons. go move to anywhere else in the world and see if you can do the same.

Bob, Eugene OR

Government is about guns. Try to make it softy-huggie-wuggie, and you get death camps. Always have, always will

Mike, Norwalk

patriot, liberty land; you should sign on as loyalist or tory from lala land. I've lived in other countries that are more free than we in the US but, it is my choice to help or try (in an impossible task) to bring back this nation's founding vision, the Constitution, and a reality of freedom and liberty by education, political, court, and other positive action and to non-violently contend with tyranny and the many despots as exist in this country that I love. After much personal experience, I have found many of the once recognized sovereigns to be great and principled individuals but, concerning my dealings with the 4 branches of government (media being the PR branch) I know now that there is not a chance in hell of America becoming humane and reasonable.

Guess Who?
  • Reply
    Guess Who?    5/6/08

    When We Change The Way We Look At Things,The Things We Look At Change.

    E Archer, NYC

    Guess who, things are the way they are. Exchanging one fantasy for another does not change facts. I understand the jist, but repeating the above phrase over and over will not remove the bars one may be behind. Letting go of untruths indeed is life-changing, but things were as they always were only now we are aware of them. The truth is the truth whether we know it or not.

    Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

    I only agree with Vonnie about the toys idea. If we bring back the draft maybe soldiers will be treated with a little bit more respect and we might be more circumspect about war. However I agree with all of the thumbs down guys here. America was thrust into the role of world leader. If we stop leading and let the Husseins, Chavez', and Ahamenijabs of the world do the leading how much liberty and justice do you think we will have.

    Logan, Memphis, TN

    Waffler, I question how much "liberty and justice" we're actually taking to these other countries. If you actually look at the numbers between what casualties we've caused in Iraq versus Saddam, you'd probably be surprised. Saddam was held accountable for killing some 80,000 people (high estimate) and torturing some 120,000-150,000 people over his 20 year stint as dictator. The United States, to date, has killed (that is, US missiles, bullets, bombs, etc.) over 400,000-550-000 innocent civilians in Iraq (collateral damage) and has wounded some 300,000-450,000 more in our brief 5 year tour. What freedom did we bring? Freedom from fear? No. Freedom from oppression? No, they're still oppressed by each other (the minorities by the majority) and terrorist cells that are now recruiting beds that were never so before we went in there. Freedom to vote? Well, maybe. Of all the "freedoms" we've possibly given them, this is probably the greatest one. But at what cost? What is the purpose of voting? Basically, if you read any comparative politics text book, it is to create more legitimacy. But what does legitimacy really mean if you're country is war-torn because of it? So what that the people voted? The "Democracy" that is supposed to keep them safe is simply oppressing the minorities (which makes sense if you know ANYTHING about the middle east and sectarianism). No, we seriously have to reconsider our "leadership" that was "thrust" on us. Being a global hegemon doesn't entail being the world dictating empire.

    • Reply
    Anonymous    5/6/08

    The Problem is if the US disengaged from world, the world would get a lot worse and suffer more. We would regret it.

    Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

    Logan I don't take exception with your facts but agree with Anonymous above. The Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the Emirates, Jordan etcetera) had a problem with a threatening Saddam Hussein hegemony, just like Europe had a problem with a Hitler hegemony. Some hegemonies are better than others. We can not predict future world history exactly but most folks around the world buy in to American hegemony via their security arrangements, such as NATO and remember SEATO (does it still exist: So East Asia Treaty Organization) etcetera. Poland loves us and so does Hungary, Romania and now Turkey wants to get into NATO. So there is a big picture here if we can but grasp it.

    Grenville Rogers, Lively ON Canada

    David L Rosenthal wrote: "Our soldiers signed up of their own free will. They took an oath to obey the commander in chief." Comment. Yes, they did, and the commander-in-chief obeys Israel and the Jewish lobby.

    warren, olathe


    • Reply
    Bucky    5/13/08

    Absolutely true! However the debate on this page highlites the point that many Americans think that all the people in the countries we invade want American-style Democracy. They dont! Without the support of the populace, any form of government will eventually fail. Why are we spending billions of dollars and thousands of American lives on a lost cause unless our leaders are either stupid or have an alterior motive.

    warren, olathe

    Go ahead and hate America Bucky. Be miserable your whole life. Don't let reason or fact or truth get in the way of your ignorance. Yea Logan you really got something there. That must be why after Saddam was removed from power the most popular boys name in Baghdad for a new born was George Bush.

    Will, Dallas, TX

    Kurt was a tool. And so are you Bucky. Graduate college, get a life. Once you do you will understand what America is. We have an all volunteer military, the greatest military the world has ever seen. Every instance in which the military was left to do its job, freedom and stability reigned. Let better men than you do the thinking.

    Will, Dallas, TX

    Hey Logan, Saddam killed over 125,000 in one day dumbass.

    Dave, Lemoore, Ca

    Hey Will, right on. These people believe everything they see on the internet. I've been over there and the people love us. The news will show and do a big story about 1000 protesters but won't show the 50,000 cheering as American's open a new hospital. They will go crazy over a reporter throwing a shoe but wont show a filled soccer stadium cheering for our president.

    Fredrick William Sillik, Anytown

    America is on the humane and reasonable path. Humans are good. And the military minded are never going to be leaders, because violence never solved anything.  Socialism is the challenge of social abilities to create a humane America.


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