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George Brown: In His Own Words

George Brown: In His Own Words

from oral history interviews conducted May to November 1989 by Knox Mellon, Professor Emeritus, History Department, University of California, Riverside.

Speech, 1989: Climate change:

"Science needs student-led action to alter course of future"
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Speech, 1999: For CSU graduates:

"Serve others and find new ways to apply knowledge"
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On leadership:

"I think, frankly, after a lifetime of meditation on the subject, that a leader is the one who is perceived as being the most effective servant of the people in the group one happens to be identified with."

On economic growth and environmental stewardship:

"Productivity has to be that which minimizes input and minimizes output of things destructive of the environment and human values in general. You don’t want an economic enterprise that abuses the commons, the air, water, and resources we all have to use."

On the role of government:

"A wise and prudent government will adopt those regulations that are effective and necessary. It will provide leadership. And it will utilize market mechanisms and pricing mechanisms to the fullest extent possible in order to achieve the amount and pace of the changes needed. As part of that leadership, it must also support the enhancement of knowledge and the basic research and development structure to provide reasonable solutions to problems."

On non-violence:

"My own philosophy was to set a different standard for resolving conflicts from the use of violence."
"I have been a voice for at least 50 years for looking at the world as a community in which all the nations have more in common than they differ, that most of the problems of the world can be solved better by cooperation and understanding, rather than by force and violence."

On resisting the internment of Japanese Americans, and the importance of labor unions, including in public services:

"At the City of Los Angeles, they sort of considered me a pariah for being a conscientious objector to war. But they had other reasons, as well. I had been the leader of the protest movement against the firing of the Japanese Americans who were working for the city, which occurred after Pearl Harbor. And I did some other radical things that made them think they might as well get rid of me if they could. They found out it was more difficult."

On dissent in a free society:

"I felt that it was immoral to sit by while your country committed acts that ran contrary to reason. I was aware of internal thinking in Germany. There was a resistance movement to Hitler. Some of it revolved around Catholic leaders, who lost their lives as a result."

On reason and a sense of global citizenship:

"My feeling was that one should put principle above loyalty to country, particularly in obeying the dictates of the country to engage in acts of killing and so on. On balance there was more of a strain in my thinking that rejected the irrationality of national chauvinism."

On pollution, climate change, and the challenge of environmental preservation:

"We share in the greater pollution of the entire global environment stemming from our use of fossil fuels, chlorofluorocarbons, and a number of other things that have caused acid rain, ozone depletion, and buildup of carbon leading to increases in global temperature. We’re going to face the brunt of both the global problem and a more serious localized manifestation of the same thing. And my district is right in the heart of it, particularly because of its rapid population growth and rapid land development processes taking place here."

On liberty and equal opportunity:

"Organized human society cannot succeed and excel without the full-fledged participation of every individual in that society. A society that does not allow that full-fledged participation suffers inevitable serious penalties in every aspect of what they do. Their economy suffers. Their military strength suffers. Their scientific and technical strength suffers. All these depend on the free and willing participation of motivated individuals. And when you inhibit that, you weaken your society."


Last modified: 4/11/2013 4:26 PM by D. Morita

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