The world sucks according to the famous principle. Never give a sucker an even break.

Could you explain to me the point of this aphorism? My probably false reading is as follows: Because the world is bad or injust, treat in bad manner those who are naive, stupid… Is this "cynical" reading OK?

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  • Are you asking the meaning of The world sucks, or Never give a sucker an even break? They're very different "sayings, principles", and there's no obvious reason why your two sentences should appear consecutively. Btw - I'm no great fan of "overpunctuation", but you can't really avoid the need for a comma after sucks. – FumbleFingers Jul 17 '16 at 21:01
  • Source? If I saw "The earth sucks according to the famous principle" by itself, I would assume that it was referring to a graffito common in my high school years (late 1970s/early 1980s) "Gravity is a myth. The earth sucks." (meaning, life is always unpleasant). The addition of the attrib Fields quote immediately afterward confuses the issue: is that 'the famous principle' referred to? If so, it changes the focus from 'the earth' (in general) to 'a sucker' (one person in general or in particular). – Sydney Jul 17 '16 at 23:09
  • In either case, 'suck(s)/sucker' has a different meaning in each sentence. In the first sentence 'sucks' means 'is unpleasant', in the second, 'a sucker' is a fool. – Sydney Jul 17 '16 at 23:36

The posited fame of the principle "The world sucks" is questionable; the debate over the truth of that statement predates Pangloss and Martin, and will likely never be resolved.

It is a far simpler matter to consider separately the aphorism "Never give a sucker an even break," which is commonly associated with the American vaudevillian and actor W. C. Fields. In You Can't Cheat an Honest Man (1939), Fields's character Larson E. Whipsnade expresses its complete form:

As my dear old grandfather Litvak said (just before they swung the trap,) he said "You can't cheat an honest man. Never give a sucker an even break or smarten up a chump."

However, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations attributes the saying to a remark made by Edward Francis Albee, who died in 1930. In any case, your cynical interpretation is accurate. The aphorism means "If a person is a fool, it is justifiable to take advantage of that person."

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