It is not necessary for the politician to be the slave of the public's group prejudices, if he can learn how to mold the mind of the voters in conformity with his own ideas of public welfare and public service. The important thing for the statesman of our age is not so much to know how to please the public, but to know how to sway the public. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.
The best way to alleviate the obesity "public health" crisis is to remove obesity from the realm of public health. It doesn't belong there. It's difficult to think of anything more private and of less public concern than what we choose to put into our bodies. It only becomes a public matter when we force the public to pay for the consequences of those choices.
Don't talk to me about appealing to the public. I am done with the public, for the present anyway. The public reads the headlines and that is all. The story itself is fair and shows the facts. That would be all right if the public read the facts. But it does not. It reads the headlines and listens to the demagogues and that's the stuff public opinion is made of.
J. P. Morgan
The danger is in pleasing an immediate public: the immediate public that comes around you and takes you in and accepts you and gives you success and everything. Instead of that, you should wait for fifty years or a hundred years for your true public. That is the only public that interests me.
Public virtue cannot exist in a nation without private, and public virtue is the only foundation of republics. There must be a positive passion for the public good, the public interest, honour, power and glory, established in the minds of the people, or there can be no republican government, nor any real liberty: and this public passion must be superiour to all private passions.
Legally speaking, the term 'public rights' is as vague and indefinite as are the terms 'public health,' 'public good,' 'public welfare,' and the like. It has no legal meaning, except when used to describe the separate, private, individual rights of a greater or less number of individuals.
All buildings, large or small, public or private, have a public face, a facade; they therefore, without exception, have a positive or negative effect on the quality of the public realm, enriching or impoverishing it in a lasting and radical manner. The architecture of the city and public space is a matter of common concern to the same degree as laws and language""they are the foundation of civility and civilisation.
The bourgeois public sphere may be conceived above all as the sphere of private people come together as a public; they soon claimed the public sphere regulated from above against the public authorities themselves, to engage them in a debate over the general rules governing relations in the basically privatized but publicly relevant sphere of commodity exchange and social labor.
I think we should talk about what the objectives of the party are, whether that's restoring the Clause Four as it was originally written or it's a different one, but I think we shouldn't shy away from public participation, public investment in industry, and public control of the railways.
In a mass television democracy - which all of us nowadays have - it is impossible to take basic political decisions with long-term consequences without the public knowing it, without the public understanding at least some of it, without the public forming its judgment, heterogeneous as it may be.
A democratic public forms when citizens gather together to deliberate and make public judgments about local and national issues that affect their lives. By associating together for public discussion, citizens learn the skills necessary for the health of a democratic public; listening persuading, arguing, compromising, and seeking common ground. When these skills are nurtured within the institutions of a democratic public, citizens educate themselves in order to make informed political decisions.
To attach full confidence to an institution of this nature, it appears to be an essential ingredient in its structure, that it shall be under private and not a public direction-under the guidance of individual interest, not of public policy; which, would be . . . liable to being too much influenced by public necessity.
This is the paradox of public space: even if everyone knows an unpleasant fact, saying it in public changes everything. One of the first measures taken by the new Bolshevik government in 1918 was to make public the entire corpus of tsarist secret diplomacy, all the secret agreements, the secret clauses of public agreements etc. There too the target was the entire functioning of the state apparatuses of power.
Secularism drew a radical distinction between public and private life, in which religion, in any traditional sense, was relegated to the private sphere with no hold over public life. There are many charms in secularism, in particular the freedom to believe what you will in private. But secularism also poses a public problem. There are those whose beliefs are so different from others' beliefs that finding common ground in the public space is impossible. And then there are those for whom the very distinction between private and public is either meaningless or unacceptable. The complex contrivances of secularism have their charm, but not everyone is charmed.
The public does not like you to mislead or represent yourself to be something you're not. And the other thing that the public really does like is the self-examination to say, you know, I'm not perfect. I'm just like you. They don't ask their public officials to be perfect. They just ask them to be smart, truthful, honest, and show a modicum of good sense.
The public owns the airwaves; Congress gave them to broadcasters for free, with the understanding that they would serve the public interest while trying to maximize profit. An aspect of serving the public is to use the immense power of electronic media to reflect evolving standards of respect for other people.
Public education does not serve a public. It creates a public. And in creating the right kind of public, the schools contribute toward strengthening the spiritual basis of the American Creed. That is how Jefferson understood it, how Horace Mann understood it, how John Dewey understood it, and in fact, there is no other way to understand it. The question is not, Does or doesn't public schooling create a public? The question is, What kind of public does it create? A conglomerate of self-indulgent consumers? Angry, soulless, directionless masses? Indifferent, confused citizens? Or a public imbued with confidence, a sense of purpose, a respect for learning, and tolerance? The answer to this question has nothing whatever to do with computers, with testing, with teacher accountability, with class size, and with the other details of managing schools. The right answer depends on two things, and two things alone: the existence of shared narratives and the capacity of such narratives to provide an inspired reason for schooling.
It is a fundamental principle of American democracy that laws should not be public only when it is convenient for government officials to make them public. They should be public all the time, open to review by adversarial courts, and subject to change by an accountable legislature guided by an informed public. If Americans are not able to learn how their government is interpreting and executing the law then we have effectively eliminated the most important bulwark of our democracy. That's why, even at the height of the Cold War, when the argument for absolute secrecy was at its zenith, Congress chose to make US surveillance laws public. Without public laws, and public court rulings interpreting those laws, it is impossible to have informed public debate. And when the American people are in the dark, they can't make fully informed decisions about who should represent them, or protest policies that they disagree with. These are fundamentals. It's Civics 101. And secret law violates those basic principles. It has no place in America.
But, that's the whole point of corporatization - to try to remove the public from making decisions over their own fate, to limit the public arena, to control opinion, to make sure that the fundamental decisions that determine how the world is going to be run - which includes production, commerce, distribution, thought, social policy, foreign policy, everything - are not in the hands of the public, but rather in the hands of highly concentrated private power. In effect, tyranny unaccountable to the public.
The trouble is that privacy is at once essential to, and in tension with, both freedom and security. A cabinet minister who keeps his mistress in satin sheets at the French taxpayer's expense cannot justly object when the press exposes his misuse of public funds. Our freedom to scrutinise the conduct of public figures trumps that minister's claim to privacy. The question is: where and how do we draw the line between a genuine public interest and that which is merely what interests the public?
Timothy Garton Ash