Quote about pointless struggle against insurmountable injustice
January 25, 2008 3:01 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for a quote that I heard or read recently, something along the lines of "It is pointless to struggle against overwhelming injustice; it is worse not to struggle against it" or "You ask how it is that I can expend effort fighting against an unchangeable, unjust system? I ask how it is that you can live with not doing so." I'm looking for the exact quote, and the book or essay or what-have-you in which it originally appeared that I can read for some context.

I probably came across the quote in the past few months, on a website or radio show. The quote, if I recall correctly, was from some philosopher, politician, or social activist; not a violent person, and not a fictional character. It may be a quote from Camus or Sartre. My impression is that the speaker meant that probably-futile action/protest against a systemic wrong you can't right is preferable to accepting that you can do nothing about it. Thanks in advance...
If you don't know the source of the quote, but know a well-written book or essay that explores the idea of it, such pointers would also be welcome.
posted by mistersix to Religion & Philosophy (9 answers total)
It reminds me of a similar quote--

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)
posted by Static Vagabond at 3:08 PM on January 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

"To accept passively an unjust system is to cooperate with that system; thereby the oppressed become as evil as the oppressor." - Martin Luther King

Closer... :)
posted by Static Vagabond at 3:11 PM on January 25, 2008

'You have to fight when there is no hope of victory because it is better to fight than live in ignorance as slaves.' - Winston Churchill

That'll do-- can always trust on Winston for a powerful quote.
posted by Static Vagabond at 3:14 PM on January 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

"it is better to die on your feet than live on your knees."
-emiliano zapata
posted by thinkingwoman at 3:24 PM on January 25, 2008

Did you read this in an article about The Wire? (scroll down to the comment from David Simon) It wasn't a quote, it was something paraphrased from Camus.
posted by fire&wings at 3:33 PM on January 25, 2008

Best answer: Sorry, here is a direct link.
posted by fire&wings at 3:34 PM on January 25, 2008

That quote sounds soooo familiar to me, and I have been googling around in vain for it. I will continue to search, and if I find it, will report back here
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 3:38 PM on January 25, 2008

fire&wings found the one I was thinking of. Thank ya.
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 3:42 PM on January 25, 2008

Response by poster: fire&wings found what I was looking for; it was from David Simon's comment in that article about The Wire; I saw that article, of course, from the Metafilter link a few weeks ago. Thanks a bunch. The quote: "Camus rightly argues that to commit to a just cause against overwhelming odds is absurd. He further argues that not to commit is equally absurd. Only one choice, however, offers the slightest chance for dignity. And dignity matters."
posted by mistersix at 5:18 PM on January 25, 2008 [2 favorites]

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