Arthur Koestler Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 46 quotes)
For in a struggle one must have both legs firmly planted on theearth. The Party had taught one how to do it. The infinite was apolitically suspect quantity, the `I' a suspect quality. The Party did notrecognize its existence. The definition of an individual was: a multitudeof one million divided by one million.
What had he said to them? "I bow my knees before the country, before the masses, before the whole people...." And what then? What happened to these masses, to this people? For forty years it had been driven through the desert, with threats and promises, with imaginary terrors and imaginary rewards. But where was the Promised Land? Did there really exist any such goal for this wandering mankind? That was a question to which he would have liked an answer before it was too late. Moses had not been allowed to enter the land of promise either, But he had been allowed to see it, from the top of the mountain, spread at his feet. Thus, it was easy to die, with the visible certainty of one's goal before one's eyes. He, Nicolas Salmanovitch Rubashov, had not been taken to the top of a mountain; and wherever his eye looked, he saw nothing but desert and the darkness of night.
Our Press and our schools cultivate Chauvinism, militarism, dogmatism, conformism and ignorance. The arbitrary power of the Government is unlimited, and unexampled in history; freedom of the Press, of opinion and of movement are as thoroughly exterminated as though the proclamation of the Rights of Man had never been. We have built up the most gigantic police apparatus, with informers made a national institution, and the most refined scientific system of political and mental torture. We whip the groaning masses of the country towards a theoretical future happiness, which only we can.
Rubashov had always believed that he knew himself rather well. Being without moral prejudices, he had no illusions about the phenomenon called the "first person singular" and had taken for granted, without particular emotion, that this phenomenon was endowed with certain impulses which people are generally reluctant to admit. Now, when he stood with his forehead against the window or suddenly stopped on the third black tile, he made unexpected discoveries. He found that those processes wrongly known as monologues are really dialogues of a special kind - dialogues in which one partner remains silent while the other, against all grammatical rules, addresses him as "I" instead of "you," in order to creep into his confidence and to fathom his intentions, but the silent partner just remains silent, shuns observation, and even refuses to be localized in time and space.
Satan, on the contrary, is thin, ascetic and a fanatical devotee of logic. He reads Machiavelli, Ignatius of Loyola, Marx and Hegel; he is cold and unmerciful to mankind, out of a kind of mathematical mercifulness. He is damned always to do that which is most repugnant to him: to become a slaughterer, in order to abolish slaughtering, to sacrifice lambs so that no more lambs may be slaughtered, to whip people with knouts so that they may learn not to let themselves be whipped, to strip himself of every scruple in the name of a higher scrupulousness, and to challenge the hatred of mankind because of his love for it--an abstract and geometric love.
The life we led was a proof of man's capacity for adaptation. I think that even the condemned souls in purgatory after time develop a sort of homely routine. That is , by the way, why most prison memoirs are unreadable. The difficulty of conveying to the reader an idea of a nightmare world from which he has emerged makes the author depict the prisoner's state of mind as an uninterruped continuity of despair. He fears to appear frivolous or to spoil his effect by admitting that even in the depths of misery cheerfulness keeps breaking in.
Our White - Whites were a mixed crowd, including a well - known doctor, owner of a chateau near Versailles, an opera singer with an enormous belly and a chaplainbass; a homosexual architect with a beard, two night club porters, and a lawyer who sold Jewish refugees visas for a Central American Republic, which on arrival turned out to be non valid.
The greatest temptation for the like of us is: to renounce violence, to repent, to make peace with oneself. Most revolutionaries fell before this temptation, from Spartacus to Danton and Dostoevsky; they are the classical form of betrayal of the cause. The temptations of God were always more dangerous for mankind than those of Satan. As long as chaos dominates the world, God is an anachronism; and every compromise with one’s own conscience is perfidy. When the accursed inner voice speaks to you, hold your hands over your ears….
Only once did he remark when the starter, which he was trying to open, literally fell to pieces in his hands,:'If you would write for those filthy boulevard papers, monsieur, you could soon buy a Chevrolet'(which was quite unture: In France the prostitutes of the pen were just as badly rewarded as their colleagues on the street corners).
Ivanov: "Up to now , all revolutions have been made by moralizing diletantes. They were always in good faith and perished because of their dilettantism. We for the first time are consequent..."Yes," said Rubashov. "So consequent, that in the interests of a just distribution of land we deliberately let die of starvation about five million farmers and their families in one year. So consequent were we in the liberation of human beings from the shackles of industrial exploitation that we sent about ten million people to do forced labour in the Artic regions and the jungles of the East, under conditions similar to those of antique galley slaves. So consequent that, to settle a difference of opinion, we know only one argument: death, whether it is a matter of submarines, manure, or the Party line to be followed in Indo-China. ...