Status Quo

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Definition

The existing state of affairs. "status quo ante'': the state of affairs previously existing

Chronologic Samples

  • 1833 Edin. Rev. LVI. 436 The status quo was to be maintained in Luxemburg during negotiations respecting that duchy.
  • 1853 LD. J. RUSSELL Let. to Ld. Cowley 28 Jan., in H. Paul Hist. Mod. Eng.
  • (1904) I. xvii. 301 The Ambassador of France was the first to disturb the status quo.
  • 1864 Spectator 439 The country gentlemen can be satisfied with the status quo as a principle.
  • 1877 L. W. M. LOCKHART Mine is Thine xxxv. (1879) 300 His autumn plans were in the status quo ante.
  • 1884 tr. Lotze's Logic 403 The desire to protect that particular status quo on principle against all innovation.
  • 1951 W. STEVENS Let. 9 Mar.
  • (1967) 709 Everything is now proceeding in status quo ante.
  • 1965 H. KAHN On Escalation xiii. 244 It is normal that status quo nations will tend to be crisis-avoiding nations.
  • 1967 Listener 27 July 103/1 Supposing that Israel withdrew, and that the Arabs were re-supplied with arms, we should be back at a sort of status quo ante.
  • 1971 Guardian 6 Dec. 13/8 The TUC puts its money firmly on the need for a ‘status quo’ declaration by the employer. In other words, the unions insist that the employer must..abandon his authority to change a work practice or agreement without the blessing of his employees... Workers can be expected to observe procedures only if they contain a ‘status quo’ clause and the employer observes it.
  • 1976 New Yorker 24 May 115/2 There is a great move to the status quo ante.
  • 1978 R. LEWIS Inevitable Fatality vi. 163 The attempts by Sir Henry Monroe to return QWARTA [sc. a company] to a status quo position.

Description

Status quo, literally "the state in which", is a Latin term meaning the current or existing state of affairs.[1] To maintain the status quo is to keep the things the way they presently are. The related phrase status quo ante, literally "the state in which before", means "the state of affairs that existed previously."[2]

Political usage

The original phrase from 14th-century diplomatic Latin was in statu quo res erant ante bellum, meaning "in the state in which things were before the war". This gave rise to the shorter form status quo ante bellum "the state in which (it was) before the war" (indicating the withdrawal of enemy troops and restoration of power to prewar leadership), as well as other variations such as status quo itself. Arguing to preserve the status quo is usually done in the context of opposing a large, often radical change. The social movement is an example of the status quo being challenged. The term frequently refers to the status of a large issue, such as the current culture or social climate of an entire society or nation.[3]

Politicians sometimes refer to a status quo. Often there is a policy of deliberate ambiguity, referring to the status quo rather than formalizing the status. Clark Kerr is reported to have said, "The status quo is the only solution that cannot be vetoed," meaning that the status quo cannot simply be decided against; action must be taken if it is to change.

Sometimes specific institutions are founded to actively maintain the status quo. The United Nations, for example, was intended to help solidify the peaceful international status quo that immediately followed World War II.

In Israel, the term refers to an informal agreement conducted in 1947 between the secular leadership of the Zionist movement in Palestine and leaders of the Orthodox Jews, which created a framework for the establishment of the country. This agreement lays out ground rules for the relationship between state and religion in four major issues: Shabbat, education, Kashrut, and matrimonial law. It has been more or less maintained throughout the country's existence. It might also refer to the arrangement formalized in 1852 for the division of custodianship among a number of Christian communities for various important Christian holy sites of the Holy Land.

Quotations

  • "And by the way, it's not about making money, it's about taking money. Destroying the status quo, because the status is not quo." — Dr. Horrible[4]
  • "Their [the Republicans’] pledge is to the status quo, and today there is no status quo." — John F. Kennedy[5]
  • "The status quo is the only solution that cannot be vetoed." — Clark Kerr[6]
  • "Bureaucracy defends the status quo long past the time when the quo has lost its status." — Laurence J. Peter[7]
  • "Status quo, you know, that is Latin for the mess we're in." — Ronald Reagan[8]
  • "The status quo sucks." — George Carlin[9]
  • "I hate a Roman named Status Quo!" — Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451[10]