All Time Famous Upton Sinclair Quotes

Upton Sinclair Quotes

Upton Sinclair (1878-1968) was an American author and social reformer best known for his muckraking novel “The Jungle” (1906). Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Sinclair’s impactful work exposed the harsh conditions of workers in the Chicago meatpacking industry, leading to significant food safety reforms. A socialist, Sinclair wrote extensively on social and political issues, advocating for workers’ rights. His notable works include “The Brass Check,” addressing journalistic ethics, and “Oil!” which inspired the film “There Will Be Blood.” Sinclair ran for political office, notably for the governorship of California in 1934. Despite his impact on social reform and literature, he faced challenges and controversies throughout his career. Sinclair passed away on November 25, 1968, leaving a lasting legacy in American literature and political activism.

Upton Sinclair Quotes

1. “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”
— Upton Sinclair

2. “It is foolish to be convinced without evidence, but it is equally foolish to refuse to be convinced by real evidence.”
— Upton Sinclair

3. “Fascism is capitalism plus murder.”
— Upton Sinclair

4. “One of the necessary accompaniments of capitalism in a democracy is political corruption.”
— Upton Sinclair

5. “You don’t have to be satisfied with America as you find it. You can change it. I didn’t like the way I found America some sixty years ago, and I’ve been trying to change it ever since.”
— Upton Sinclair

6. “Human beings suffer agonies, and their sad fates become legends; poets write verses about them and playwrights compose dramas, and the remembrance of past grief becomes a source of present pleasure – such is the strange alchemy of the spirit.”
— Upton Sinclair

7. “American journalism is a class institution, serving the rich and spurning the poor.”
— Upton Sinclair

8. “It appeared as if the whole world was one elaborate system, opposed to justice and kindness, and set to making cruelty and pain.”
— Upton Sinclair

9. “I am sustained by a sense of the worthwhileness of what I am doing; a trust in the good faith of the process which created and sustains me. That process I call God.”
— Upton Sinclair

10. “Pessimism is a mental disease. It means illness in the person who voices it, and in the society which produces that person.”
— Upton Sinclair

11. “There is one kind of prison where the man is behind bars, and everything that he desires is outside; and there is another kind where the things are behind the bars, and the man is outside.”
— Upton Sinclair

12. “I aimed at the public’s heart, and by accident, I hit it in the stomach.”
— Upton Sinclair

13. “The old wanderlust had gotten into his blood, the joy of the unbound life, the joy of seeking, of hoping without limit.”
— Upton Sinclair

14. “The private control of credit is the modern form of slavery.”
— Upton Sinclair

15. “They were trying to save their souls- and who but a fool could fail to see that all that was the matter with their souls was that they had not been able to get a decent existence for their bodies?”
— Upton Sinclair

16. “I say there is no modern evil which cannot be justified by these ancient texts, and there is nowhere in Christendom a clergy which cannot be persuaded to cite them at the demand of ruling classes.”
— Upton Sinclair

17. “We define journalism in America as the business and practice of presenting the news of the day in the interest of economic privilege.”
— Upton Sinclair

18. “Say the very simplest and most obvious things, say them as often as possible, and put into the saying all the screaming passion which one human voice can carry – that was Adolf Hitler’s technique.”
— Upton Sinclair

19. “The rich people not only had all the money, they had all the chance to get more; they had all the know-ledge and the power, and so the poor man was down, and he had to stay down.”
— Upton Sinclair

20. “All art is propaganda. It is universally and inescabably propaganda; sometimes unconsciously, but often deliberately, propaganda.”
— Upton Sinclair

21. “They use everything about the hog except the squeal.”
— Upton Sinclair

22. “In the twilight, it was a vision of power.”
— Upton Sinclair

23. “The great packing machine ground on remorselessly, without thinking of green fields; and the men and women and children who were part of it never saw any green thing, not even a flower. Four or five miles to the east of them lay the blue waters of Lake Michigan; but for all the good it did them it might have been as far away as the Pacific Ocean. They had only Sundays, and then they were too tired to walk. They were tied to the great packing machine, and tied to it for life.”
— Upton Sinclair

24. “But the devil is a subtle worm; he does not give up at one defeat, for he knows human nature, and the strength of the forces which battle for him.”
— Upton Sinclair

25. “An event of colossal and overwhelming significance may happen all at once, but the words which describe it have to come one by one in a long chain.”
— Upton Sinclair

26. “Man is an evasive beast, given to cultivating strange notions about himself.”
— Upton Sinclair

27. “Dieve – but I’m glad I’m not a hog.”
— Upton Sinclair

28. “All truly great art is optimistic. The individual artist is happy in his creative work. The fact that practically all great art is tragic does not in any way change the above thesis.”
— Upton Sinclair

29. “They say that the best dog will turn cross if he be kept chained all the time, and it was the same with the man; he had not a thing to do all day but lie and curse his fate, and the time came when he wanted to curse everything.”
— Upton Sinclair

30. “Jurgis had come there, and thought he was going to make himself useful, and rise and become a skilled man; but he would soon find out his error – for nobody rose in Packingtown by doing good work. You could lay that down for a rule – if you met a man who was rising in Packingtown, you met a knave.”
— Upton Sinclair

31. “If we are the greatest nation the sun ever shone upon, it would seem to be mainly because we have been able to goad our wage-earners to this pitch of frenzy.”
— Upton Sinclair

32. “I don’t know whether anyone will care to examine my heart, but if they do, they will find two words there- ‘social justice.’ For that is what I have believed in and fought for.”
— Upton Sinclair

33. “Here was a population, low-class and mostly foreign, hanging always on the verge of starvation, and dependent for its opportunities of life upon the whim of men every bit as brutal and unscrupulous as the old-time slave drivers; under such circumstances immorality was exactly as inevitable, and as prevalent, as it was under the system of chattel slavery. Things.”
— Upton Sinclair

34. “I find that all the fair and noble impulses of humanity, the dreams of poets and the agonies of martyrs, are shackled and bound in the service of organized and predatory Greed!”
— Upton Sinclair

35. “It lives and breathes in the light, because it has thousands of unfortunates toiling in the darkness. It lives and has its being in proud liberty because thousands are slaving for it, whose thraldom is the price of this liberty. This.”
— Upton Sinclair

36. “It was cold and clammy in the stone cell; they called it the “cooler,” and used it to reduce the temperature of the violent and intractable. It was a trouble-saving device; they just left the man there and forgot him, and his own tormented mind did the rest.”
— Upton Sinclair

37. “Day after day he roamed about in the arctic cold, his soul filled full of bitterness and despair. He saw the world of civilization then more plainly than ever he had seen it before; a world in which nothing counted but brutal might, an order devised by those who possessed it for the subjugation of those who did not.”
— Upton Sinclair

38. “I have not only found good health, but perfect health; I have found a new state of being, a potentiality of life; a sense of lightness and cleanness and joyfulness, such as I did not know could exist in the human body.”
— Upton Sinclair

39. “Can you blame me if I am pursued by the thought of how much we could do to remedy social evils, if only we had an honest and disinterested press?”
— Upton Sinclair

40. “In a society dominated by the fact of commercial competition, money is necessarily the test of prowess, and wastefulness the sole criterion of power.”
— Upton Sinclair

41. “He had been a reform member of the city council, he had been a Greenbacker, a Labor Unionist, a Populist, a Bryanite – and after thirty years of fighting, the year 1896 had served to convince him that the power of concentrated wealth could never be controlled, but could only be destroyed. He had published a pamphlet about it, and set out to organize a party of his own, when a stray Socialist leaflet had revealed to him that others had been ahead of him. Now.”
— Upton Sinclair

42. “The proletarian writer is a writer with a purpose; he thinks no more of art for art’s sake than a man on a sinking ship thinks of painting a beautiful picture in the cabin; he thinks of getting ashore – and then there will be time enough for art.”
— Upton Sinclair

43. “The supreme crime of the church to-day is that everywhere and in all its operations and influences it is on the side of sloth of mind; that it banishes brains, it sanctifies stupidity, it canonizes incompetence.”
— Upton Sinclair

44. “Over the vast plain I wander, observing a thousand strange and incredible and terrifying manifestations of the Bootstrap-lifting impulse.”
— Upton Sinclair

45. “There was only one earth, and the quantity of material things was limited. Of intellectual and moral things, on the other hand, there was no limit, and one could have more without another’s having less; hence “Communism in material production, anarchism in intellectual,” was the formula of modern proletarian thought. As.”
— Upton Sinclair

46. “Wall Street had been doing business with pieces of paper; and now someone asked for a dollar, and it was discovered that the dollar had been mislaid.”
— Upton Sinclair

47. “And now in the union Jurgis met men who explained all this mystery to him; and he learned that America differed from Russia in that its government existed under the form of a democracy. The officials who ruled it, and got all the graft, had to be elected first; and so there were two rival sets of grafters, known as political parties, and the one got the office which bought the most votes. Now.”
— Upton Sinclair

48. “As if political liberty made wage slavery any the more tolerable!”
— Upton Sinclair

49. “The musicians-how shall one begin to describe them? All this time they have been there, playing in a mad frenzy-all of this scene must be read, or said, or sung, to music. It is the music which makes it what it is; it is the music which changes the place from the rear room of a saloon in back of the yards to a fairy place, a wonderland, a little corner of the high mansions of the sky.”
— Upton Sinclair

50. “Dad, as a good American, believed his newspapers.”
— Upton Sinclair

51. “Study and think and improve your mind, and keep it clear of all this fog of hatred and propaganda.”
— Upton Sinclair

52. “Do not let other people invade your personality. Remember that every human being is a unique phenomenon, and worth developing. You will meet many who have no resources of their own, and who will try to fasten themselves upon you. You will find others eager to tell you what to do and think and be. But it is better to go apart and learn to be yourself.”
— Upton Sinclair

53. “The state might say that it had taken a year to write the book, and the author might say it had taken thirty. Goethe said that every bon mot of his had cost a purse of gold. What.”
— Upton Sinclair

54. “I just put on what the lady says. I’ve been married three times, so I’ve had lots of supervision.”
— Upton Sinclair

55. “They were swindlers and thieves of pennies and dimes, and they had been trapped and put out of the way by the swindlers and thieves of millions of dollars.”
— Upton Sinclair

56. “In the evening I came home and read about the Messina earthquake, and how the relief ships arrived, and the wretched survivors crowded down to the water’s edge and tore each other like wild beasts in their rage of hunger. The paper set forth, in horrified language, that some of them had been seventy-two hours without food. I, as I read, had also been seventy-two hours without food; and the difference was simply that they thought they were starving.”
— Upton Sinclair

57. “They wish to build a new and better world, and I would be glad if they could succeed, and if I saw any hope of success I would join them. I ask for their plans, and they offer me vague dreams, in which as a man of affairs, I see no practicality. Is is like the the end of Das Rheingold: there is Valhalla, very beautiful, but only a rainbow bridge on which to get to it, and while the gods ma be able to walk on a rainbow, my investors and working people cannot.”
— Upton Sinclair

58. “It was the same type of men all over the world. They tried to grab on another’s coal and steel and oil and gold; yet, the moment they were threatened by their wage slaves anywhere, they got together to fight against the common peril. Do it with the army, do it with gangsters, do it with the workers’ own leaders, buying them or seducing them with titles, honors, and applause!”
— Upton Sinclair

59. “He forgot how he himself had been blind, a short time ago – after the fashion of all crusaders since the original ones, who set out to spread the gospel of Brotherhood by force of arms.”
— Upton Sinclair

60. “Play your music, read your books, think your own thoughts, and never let yourselves be drawn into an argument! Not an altogether satisfactory way of life, but the only one possible in times when the world is changing so fast that parents and children may be a thousand years apart in their ideas and ideals.”
— Upton Sinclair

61. “Just what,” answered the other, “would be the productive capacity of society if the present resources of science were utilized, we have no means of ascertaining; but we may be sure it would exceed anything that would sound reasonable to minds inured to the ferocious barbarities of capitalism. After.”
— Upton Sinclair

62. “What, then, was the difference between America and Moscow? The “muckraker” said it was a question of who owned the state. In America the people were supposed to own it, but most of the time the big businessmen bought it away from them. “It is privilege which corrupts politics,” was his phrase.”
— Upton Sinclair

63. “Since his life had been caught up into the current of this great stream, things which had before been the whole of life to him came to seem of relatively slight importance; his interests were elsewhere, in the world of ideas. His outward life was commonplace and uninteresting; he was just a hotel-porter, and expected to remain one while he lived; but meantime, in the realm of thought, his life was a perpetual adventure. There was so much to know – so many wonders to be discovered!”
— Upton Sinclair

64. “The eloquent senator was explaining the system of protection; an ingenious device whereby the workingman permitted the manufacturer to charge him higher prices, in order that he might receive higher wages; thus taking his money out of his pocket with one hand, and putting a part of it back with the other. To the senator this unique arrangement had somehow become identified with the higher verities of the universe. It.”
— Upton Sinclair

65. “It is not the New Inquisition which is our enemy today; it is hereditary Privilege. It is not Superstition, but Big Business which makes use of Superstition as a wolf makes use of sheep’s clothing.”
— Upton Sinclair

66. “What they wanted from a hog was all the profits that could be got out of him; and that was what they wanted from the workingman, and also that was what they wanted from the public. What the hog thought of it, and what he suffered, were not considered; and no more was it with labor, and no more with the purchaser of meat.”
— Upton Sinclair

67. “All of this might seem diabolical, but the saloon-keeper was in no wise to blame for it. He was in the same plight as the manufacturer who has to adulterate and misrepresent his product. If he does not, some one else will.”
— Upton Sinclair

68. “The first thing brought forth by the study of any religion, ancient or modern, is that it is based upon Fear, born of it, fed by it – and that it cultivates the source from which its nourishment is derived.”
— Upton Sinclair

69. “Was it a fact that every man had something in his life which palsied his arm, and struck him helpless in the battle for social justice? When.”
— Upton Sinclair

70. “It is the music which makes it what it is; it is the music which changes the place from the rear room of a saloon in back of the yards to a fairy place, a wonderland, a little comer of the high mansions of the sky.”
— Upton Sinclair

71. “If you look at the people on this train, you will see that they are dressed much alike. The train itself is a standard product, and by means of it we travel from town to town selling products which are messengers of internationalism.”
— Upton Sinclair

72. “He was carried over the difficult places in spite of himself; and he went plunging away in mad career – a very Mazeppa-ride upon the wild horse Speculation.”
— Upton Sinclair

73. “If you wanted to understand a politician you mustn’t pay too much attention to his speeches, but find out who were his paymasters. A politician couldn’t rise in public life, in France any more than in America, unless he had the backing of big money, and it was in times of crisis like this that he paid his debts. X.”
— Upton Sinclair

74. “The police, and the strikers also, were determined that there should be no violence; but there was another party interested which was minded to the contrary – and that was the press.”
— Upton Sinclair

75. “Like all religious thinkers, he carries with his scholar’s equipment a pair of metaphysical wings, wherewith at any moment he may soar into the empyrean, out of reach of vulgar materialists, like you and me.”
— Upton Sinclair

76. “Hitler was calling upon Almighty God to give him courage and strength to save the German people and right the wrongs of Versailles… and then to settle down and govern the county in the interest of those millions of oppressed “little people” for whom he spoke so eloquently.”
— Upton Sinclair

77. “Here was one more difficulty for him to meet and conquer.”
— Upton Sinclair

78. “How could they find out that their tea and coffee, their sugar and flour, had been doctored; that their canned peas had been colored with copper salts, and their fruit jams with aniline dyes?”
— Upton Sinclair

79. “First, that a Socialist believes in the common ownership and democratic management of the means of producing the necessities of life; and, second, that a Socialist believes that the means by which this is to be brought about is the class conscious political organization of the wage-earners. Thus far they were at one; but no farther. To.”
Upton Sinclair

80. “What we have to do is to judge which side stands for freedom and enlightenment and which for medievalism and superstition.”
— Upton Sinclair

81. “Truly it seemed that a great people had gone mad; but it is a fact well known to alienists that you cannot convince a madman of his own condition, and only make him madder by trying.”
— Upton Sinclair

82. “Lanny, climbing the hill, carried a thought which by now had become his familiar companion: Why, oh, why did men have to make their lives so ugly? What evil spell was upon them that they wrangled and scolded, hated and feared? He.”
— Upton Sinclair

83. “He is playing a bass part upon his cello, and so the excitement is nothing to him; no matter what happens in the treble, it is his task to saw out one long-drawn and lugubrious note after another, from four o’clock in the afternoon until nearly the same hour next morning, for his third of the total income of one dollar per hour.”
— Upton Sinclair

84. “Of late years, however, since his children were growing up, he had begun to value respectability, and had had himself made a magistrate; a position for which he was admirably fitted, because of his strong conservatism and his contempt for “foreigners.”
— Upton Sinclair

85. “But it is not likely that he had reference to the kind of anguish that comes with destitution, that is so endlessly bitter and cruel, and yet so sordid and petty, so ugly, so humiliating – unredeemed by the slightest touch of dignity or even of pathos. It is a kind of anguish that poets have not commonly dealt with; its very words are not admitted into the vocabulary of poets – the details of it cannot be told in polite society at all.”
— Upton Sinclair

86. “Military men say that troops can stand twenty percent losses; more than that, they go to pieces. But we had many an outfit with only twenty percent survivors and they went on fighting.”
— Upton Sinclair

87. “What are we to say when we see asceticism preached to the poor by fat and comfortable retainers of the rich?”
— Upton Sinclair

88. “Don’t complain about our coffee; someday you may be old and weak yourself.”
— Upton Sinclair

89. “To think that in the midst of the last desperate agony of war, with several “Big Berthas” dropping shells into the city every twenty minutes, with food scarce and fuel unobtainable, more than three thousand men and women had sat at easels and maintained their faith that art could not be destroyed, but was and would remain the supreme achievement and goal of life! Lanny.”
— Upton Sinclair

90. “Lanny smiled to himself. His chief called himself a “liberal,” and Lanny had been trying to make up his mind just what that meant. He decided that a liberal was a high-minded gentleman who believed the world was made in his own image.”
— Upton Sinclair

91. “Life on board the Oriole exemplified the old-time saying: “Whose bread I eat, his song I sing.”
— Upton Sinclair

92. “In the beginning he had assumed that they did it out of the goodness of their hearts; but now that he had looked into their hearts, he rejected the explanation.”
— Upton Sinclair

93. “Dreadful, unspeakably wicked men the Nazi chieftains were, and Lanny was haunted by the idea that it was his duty to give up all pleasures and all other duties and try to awaken the people of Western Europe to a realization of the peril in which they stood.”
— Upton Sinclair

94. “Their frail human nature was subjected to a strain greater than it was made for; the fires of greed had been lighted in their hearts, and fanned to a white heat that melted every principle and every law.”
— Upton Sinclair

95. “All that men had felt and suffered had been recorded and preserved in musical sound, a heritage for those who had ears to hear and minds to understand.”
— Upton Sinclair

96. “Political slogans are like grain scattered to draw birds into a snare. Find out who’s putting up the money for a political party, and then you know what it will do.”
— Upton Sinclair

97. “All that a rich man needed to be happy was to have no heart. If he had one, then all the gifts which fortune showered upon him might turn to dust and ashes in his hands.”
— Upton Sinclair

98. “There is something in us all, he said, that is greater than ourselves, that works through us and can be used in the making of character. The central core of life is personality. To respect the personality of others is the beginning of virtue, and to enforce respect for it is the first duty of the individual toward all forms of government, all organizations and systems which men contrive to enslave and limit their fellows.”
— Upton Sinclair

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