„Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.“
„It is visible in the publication of opinions, in the structure of sentences, and in the fidelity of citations.“
— George Henry Lewes British philosopher 1817 - 1878
Context: Men who are never flagrantly dishonest are at times unveracious in small matters, colouring or suppressing facts with a conscious purpose; and writers who never stole an idea nor pretended to honours for which they had not striven, may be found lapsing into small insincerities, speaking a language which is not theirs, uttering opinions which they expect to gain applause rather than the opinions really believed by them. But if few men are perfectly and persistently sincere, Sincerity is nevertheless the only enduring strength. The principle is universal, stretching from the highest purposes of Literature down to its smallest details. It underlies the labour of the philosopher, the investigator, the moralist, the poet, the novelist, the critic, the historian, and the compiler. It is visible in the publication of opinions, in the structure of sentences, and in the fidelity of citations.
„All Governments rest mainly on public opinion, and to that of his own subjects every wise Sovereign will look. The opinion of his subjects will force a Sovereign to do his duty, and by that opinion will he be exalted or depressed in the politics of the world.“
— Lloyd Kenyon, 1st Baron Kenyon British Baron 1732 - 1802
Trial of John Vint and others (1799), 27 How. St. Tr. 640.
„Whatever is right can be achieved through the irresistible power of awakened and informed public opinion. Our object, therefore, is not to enquire whether a thing can be done, but whether it ought to be done, to so exert the forces of publicity that public opinion will compel it be done.“
— William Randolph Hearst American newspaper publisher 1863 - 1951
Advertisement, N.Y. Herald Tribune (August 19, 1946)
„Internal improvement and the diffusion of knowledge, so far as they can be promoted by the constitutional acts of the Federal Government, are of high importance.“
— Andrew Jackson American general and politician, 7th president of the United States 1767 - 1845
First Inaugural Address (4 March 1829).
— Abraham Lincoln 16th President of the United States 1809 - 1865
Context: Our government rests in public opinion. Whoever can change public opinion, can change the government, practically just so much. Speech at a Republican Banquet, Chicago, Illinois, December 10, 1856 http://quod.lib.umich.edu/l/lincoln/lincoln2/1:413?rgn=div1;view=fulltext; see Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, vol. 2 (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1953), p. 532
„There are certain sad appreciations we have to come to about human nature on the basis of these recent wars. One of them is that suffering does not always make men better. Another is that people are not always more reasonable than governments; that public opinion, or what passes for public opinion, is not invariably a moderating force in the jungle of politics.“
— George F. Kennan American advisor, diplomat, political scientist and historian 1904 - 2005
Context: There are certain sad appreciations we have to come to about human nature on the basis of these recent wars. One of them is that suffering does not always make men better. Another is that people are not always more reasonable than governments; that public opinion, or what passes for public opinion, is not invariably a moderating force in the jungle of politics. It may be true, and I suspect it is, that the mass of people everywhere are normally peace-loving and would accept many restraints and sacrifices in preference to the monstrous calamities of war. But I also suspect that what purports to be public opinion in most countries that consider themselves to have popular government is often not really the consensus of the feelings of the mass of the people at all, but rather the expression of the interests of special highly vocal minorities — politicians, commentators, and publicity-seekers of all sorts: people who live by their ability to draw attention to themselves and die, like fish out of water, if they are compelled to remain silent. These people take refuge in the pat and chauvinistic slogans because they are incapable of understanding any others, because these slogans are safer from the standpoint of short-term gain, because the truth is sometimes a poor competitor in the market place of ideas — complicated, unsatisfying, full of dilemma, always vulnerable to misinterpretation and abuse. The counsels of impatience and hatred can always be supported by the crudest and cheapest symbols; for the counsels of moderation, the reasons are often intricate, rather than emotional, and difficult to explain. And so the chauvinists of all times and places go their appointed way: plucking the easy fruits, reaping the little triumphs of the day at the expense of someone else tomorrow, deluging in noise and filth anyone who gets in their way, dancing their reckless dance on the prospects for human progress, drawing the shadow of a great doubt over the validity of democratic institutions. And until people learn to spot the fanning of mass emotions and the sowing of bitterness, suspicion, and intolerance as crimes in themselves — as perhaps the greatest disservice that can be done to the cause of popular government — this sort of thing will continue to occur.
„The new profession of public relations has grown up because of the increasing complexity of modern life and the consequent necessity for making the actions of one part of the public understandable to other sectors of the public. It is due, too, to the increasing dependence of organized power of all sorts upon public opinion. Governments, whether they are monarchical, constitutional, democratic or communist, depend upon acquiescent public opinion for the success of their efforts and, in fact, government is government only by virtue of public acquiescence. Industries, public utilities, educational movements, indeed all groups representing any concept or product, whether they are majority or minority ideas, succeed only because of approving public opinion. Public opinion is the unacknowledged partner in all broad efforts.
The public relations counsel, then, is the agent who, working with modern media of communications and the group formations of society, brings an idea to the consciousness of the public.“
— Edward Bernays American public relations consultant, marketing pioneer 1891 - 1995
„Public opinion may sometimes direct government to do something, but it more often constrains government from doing something.“
— John W. Kingdon American political scientist 1940
Chapter 3, Outside Government, But Not Just Looking In, p. 65
„Although objectively greater demands are placed on this authority, it operates less as a public opinion giving a rational foundation to the exercise of political and social authority, the more it is generated for the purpose of an abstract vote that amounts to no more than an act of acclamation within a public sphere temporarily manufactured for show or manipulation.“
— Jürgen Habermas German sociologist and philosopher 1929
— Henry David Thoreau, Walden and Other Writings
— Warren Buffett American business magnate, investor, and philanthropist 1930
— Georg Brandes Danish literature critic and scholar 1842 - 1927
„No less a philosopher than Chief Justice Burger was outraged by Ellsberg's publication of classified documents. They belonged to the Government, Burger reasoned, and Ellsberg had no more right to give them to the people than he would have to filch another man's property off a taxicab seat.
The Government, of course, commonly leaks classified documents when it deems publication convenient to manipulate public opinion to its advantage. Only the Government, it seems, has a legal right to manipulate opinion with hot documents.“
— Russell Baker writer and satirst from the United States 1925
"Moods of Washington" (p.38)