1 month ago in Quotes
Lies by their very nature have to be changed, and a lying government has constantly to rewrite its own history.
What I propose, therefore, is very simple: it is nothing more than to think what we are doing."The Human Condition"
The common prejudice that love is as common as "romance" may be due to the fact that we all learned about it first through poetry. But the poets fool us; they are the only ones to whom love is not only a crucial, but an indispensable experience, which entitles them to mistake it for a universal one."The Human Condition"
Revolutionaries do not make revolutions. The revolutionaries are those who know when power is lying in the street and when they can pick it up. Armed uprising by itself has never yet led to revolution.
Power and violence are opposites; where the one rules absolutely, the other is absent. Violence appears where power is in jeopardy, but left to its own course it ends in power's disappearance."Crises of the Republic: Lying in Politics; Civil Disobedience; On Violence; Thoughts on Politics and Revolution"
Violence can always destroy power; out of the barrel of a gun grows the most effective command, resulting in the most instant and perfect obedience. What never can grow out of it is power."Crises of the Republic: Lying in Politics; Civil Disobedience; On Violence; Thoughts on Politics and Revolution"
Violence can destroy power; it is utterly incapable of creating it."On Violence"
Generally speaking, violence always arises out of impotence. It is the hope of those who have no power.
Power and violence are opposites; where the one rules absolutely, the other is absent. Violence appears where power is in jeopardy, but left to its own course it ends in power's disappearance.
Love, by its very nature, is unworldly, and it is for this reason rather than its rarity that it is not only apolitical but antipolitical, perhaps the most powerful of all antipolitical forces.
The result of a consistent and total substitution of lies for factual truth is not that the lie will now be accepted as truth and truth be defamed as a lie, but that the sense by which we take our bearings in the real world—and the category of truth versus falsehood is among the mental means to this end—is being destroyed.
5 months ago in Quotes
Laughter helps one to find a place in the world, but ironically, which is to say, without selling one’s soul to it.
11 months ago in Quotes
The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist.
1 year ago in Quotes
Idealism, foolish or heroic, always springs from some individual decision and conviction and is subject to experience and argument. The fanaticism of totalitarian movements, contrary to all forms of idealism, breaks down the moment the movement leaves its fanaticized followers in the lurch, killing in them any remaining conviction that might have survived the collapse of the movement itself. But within the organizational framework of the movement, so long as it holds together, the fanaticized members can be reached by neither experience nor argument; identification with the movement and total conformism seem to have destroyed the very capacity for experience, even if it be as extreme as torture or the fear of death."Origins of Totalitarianism"
2 years ago in Quotes
The graduation of cynicism expressed in a hierarchy of contempt is at least as necessary in the face of constant refutation as plain gullibility. The point is that the sympathizers in front organizations despise their fellow-citizens' complete lack of initiation, the party members despise the fellow-travelers' gullibility and lack of radicalism, the elite formations despise for similar reasons the party membership, and within the elite formations a similar hierarchy of contempt accompanies every new foundation and development. The result of this system is that the gullibility of sympathizers makes lies credible to the outside world, while at the same time the graduated cynicism of membership and elite formations eliminates the danger that the Leader will ever be forced by the weight of his own propaganda to make good his own statements and feigned respectability. It has been one of the chief handicaps of the outside world in dealing with totalitarian systems that it ignored this system and therefore trusted that, on one hand, the very enormity of totalitarian lies would be their undoing and that, on the other, it would be possible to take the Leader at his word and force him, regardless of his original intentions, to make it good. The totalitarian system, unfortunately, is foolproof against such normal consequences; its ingeniousness rests precisely on the elimination of that reality which either unmasks the liar or forces him to live up to his pretense. While the membership does not believe statements made for public consumption, it believes all the more fervently the standard cliches of ideological explanation, the keys to past and future history which totalitarian movements took from nineteenth-century ideologies, and transformed, through organization, into a working reality."The Origins of Totalitarianism"
2 years ago in Quotes
There exists in our society a widespread fear of judging that has nothing whatever to do with the biblical "Judge not, that ye be not judged," and if this fear speaks in terms of "casting the first stone," it takes this word in vain. For behind the unwillingness to judge lurks the suspicion that no one is a free agent, and hence the doubt that anyone is responsible or could be expected to answer for what he has done. The moment moral issues are raised, even in passing, he who raises them will be confronted with this frightful lack of self-confidence and hence of pride, and also with a kind of mock-modesty that in saying, Who am I to judge? actually means We're all alike, equally bad, and those who try, or pretend that they try, to remain halfway decent are either saints or hypocrites, and in either case should leave us alone.
2 years ago in Zitate
Es gibt in unserer Gesellschaft eine weitverbreitete Furch zu urteilen, was überhaupt nichts zu tun hat mir jenem "Richtet nicht, auf dass Ihr nicht gerichtet werdet", und wenn diese Furcht meint, niemand solle "den ersten Stein werfen", dann trifft es die Sache nicht. Denn hinter der Abneigung, über die Taten anderer zu urteilen, lauert der Verdacht, dass eigentlich niemand ein frei handelndes Wesen ist, und somit der Zweifel, ob überhaupt jemand für sein Tun verantwortlich ist oder zumindest für seine Taten einstehen kann. Jeder, der auch nur beiläufig moralische Fragen aufwirft, findet sich sofort konfrontiert mit einem erschreckenden Mangel an Selbstvertrauen und Stolz und mit einer vorgetäuschten Bescheidenheit, die mit "Wer bin ich, dass ich richte?" sagen will: Wir sind alle gleich, gleichermaßen schlecht, und jene, die versuchen, halbwegs anständig zu bleiben, sind entweder Heilige oder Heuchler, und beide sollten uns in Ruhe lassen. Daher kommt es immer genau dann zu einem Aufschrei, wenn jemand an einer bestimmten Person eine ganz besondere Schuld festmacht, anstatt die Schuld für alle Taten bei geschichtlichen Bedingungen und dialektischen Bewegungen zu suchen, kurz: bei einer geheimnisvollen Notwendigkeit, welche sich hinter dem Rücken der Menschen vollzieht und alles, was sie tun, mit einer tieferen Bedeutung auflädt."Was heißt persönliche Verantwortung in einer Diktatur?"
3 years ago in Zitate
Es war einmal eine glückliche Zeit, als Menschen frei wählen konnten; Lieber tot als Sklav', lieber stehend sterben, als auf den Knien leben. Es war einmal eine verruchte Zeit, als schwachsinnig gewordene Intellektuelle erklärten, das Leben sei der Güter höchstes. Gekommen ist heute die furchtbare Zeit, in der jeden Tag bewiesen wird, daß der Tod seine Schreckensherrschaft genau dann beginnt, wenn das Leben das höchste Gut geworden ist; daß der, der es vorzieht, auf den Knien zu leben, auf den Knien stirbt; daß niemand leichter zu morden ist als ein Sklave. Wir Lebenden haben zu lernen, daß man auf den Knien noch nicht einmal leben kann, daß man nicht unsterblich wird, wenn man dem Leben nachjagt, und daß, wenn man für nichts mehr sterben will, man stirbt, obwohl man nichts getan hat.