“To make the distinction unmistakably clear: Civilization is the vital force in human history; culture is that inert mass of institutions and organizations which accumulate around and tend to drag down the advance of life; Civilization is Giordano Bruno facing death by fire; culture is the Cardinal Bellarmino, after ten years of inquisition, sending Bruno to the stake in the Campo di Fiori; Civilization is Sartre; culture Cocteau; Civilization is mutual aid and self-defense; culture is the judge, the lawbook and the forces of Law & Ordure (sic); Civilization is uprising, insurrection, revolution; culture is the war of state against state, or of machines against people, as in Hungary and Vietnam; Civilization is tolerance, detachment and humor, or passion, anger, revenge; culture is the entrance examination, the gas chamber, the doctoral dissertation and the electric chair; Civilization is the Ukrainian peasant Nestor Makhno fighting the Germans, then the Reds, then the Whites, then the Reds again; culture is Stalin and the Fatherland; Civilization is Jesus turning water into wine; culture is Christ walking on the waves; Civilization is a youth with a Molotov cocktail in his hand; culture is the Soviet tank or the L.A. cop that guns him down; Civilization is the wild river; culture, 592,000 tons of cement; Civilization flows; culture thickens and coagulates, like tired, sick, stifled blood.”
- “Episodes and Visions”, p. 308
“The tank, the B-52, the fighter-bomber, the state-controlled police and military are the weapons of dictatorship. The rifle is the weapon of democracy. Not for nothing was the revolver called an “equalizer.” Egalite implies liberte. And always will. Let us hope our weapons are never needed — but do not forget what the common people of this nation knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny.”
- Abbey’s Road (1979)
My loyalties will not be bound by national borders, or confined in time by one nation’s history, or limited in the spiritual dimension by one language and culture. I pledge my allegiance to the damned human race, and my everlasting love to the green hills of Earth, and my intimations of glory to the singing stars, to the very end of space and time.
- Confessions of a Barbarian: Selections from the Journals of Edward Abbey, 1951-1989 (1994) p. 92
“One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am — a reluctant enthusiast… a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.”
- From a speech to environmentalists in Missoula, Montana, and in Colorado, which was published in High Country News, (24 September 1976), under the title “Joy, Shipmates, Joy!”, as quoted in Saving Nature’s Legacy : Protecting and Restoring Biodiversity(1994) by Reed F. Noss, Allen Y. Cooperrider, and Rodger Schlickeisen, p. 338 ISBN 1559632488