by Alasdair Gray

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

You suffer from the oldest delusion in politics. You think you can change the world by talking to a leader. Leaders are the effects, not the causes of changes.

Politics and political unrest are prominent themes in Lanark. This quote discusses a misplaced idealism many harbor regarding politics. Most people believe vocalizing concerns to political officials will result in change, where Gray explains that the leaders themselves are products of the very system people wish to change.

But leaders need to be mostly dead. People want solid monuments to cling to, not confused men like themselves.

Continuing with the above theme, this quote again refers to the idealism that surrounds politics. Gray explains the desire of the general public to have infallible leaders. People want to be led by men of confidence and stability, but in reality, they are as unsure as everyone else. Gray claims the only infallible leaders are dead ones.

Life becomes a habit. You get up, dress, eat, go to work, clock in etcetera etcetera automatically, and think about nothing but the pay packet on Friday and the booze-up last Saturday. Life's easy when you're a robot.

The section of Lanark from which this quote originates echoes an Orwellian tone. A dispassionate lifestyle is often discussed in this novel, as Gray draws attention to the autopilot setting on which most people move through life.

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