Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was a Russian novelist, philosopher, historian, short story writer and political prisoner. An outspoken critic of the Soviet Union and Communism, he helped to raise global awareness of the Gulag labor camp system.
1. “Bless you prison, bless you for being in my life. For there, lying upon the rotting prison straw, I came to realize that the object of life is not prosperity as we are made to believe, but the maturity of the human soul.”
2. “You should rejoice that you’re in prison. Here you have time to think about your soul.”
3. “Freedom or prison–what’s the difference? A man must develop unwavering will to live by faith not by sight, regardless of his outward circumstances.”
4. “You can have eyes and still not see. But a hard life improves vision.”
5. “Should one point out that from ancient times decline in courage has been considered the beginning of the end?”
6. “That which is called humanism, but what would be more correctly called irreligious anthropocentrism, cannot yield answers to the most essential questions of our life.”
7. “It is here that we see the dawn of hope: for no matter how formidably statist humanism bristles with policies and decrees, with tanks and rockets, no matter what successes it attains in smothering cultural sanity, it is doomed never to vanquish Christianity.”
8. “The concept of maximum promotion of human rights to the expense of the majority of people in fact undermines the entire concept of the human community.”
9. “To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he is doing is good or else that it’s a well-considered act in conformity with natural law. Ideology—that is what gives evildoing its long-sought justification. Thanks to ideology, modernity was fated to experience evildoing on a scale calculated in the millions. This cannot be denied, nor passed over, nor suppressed.”
10. “Hastiness and superficiality are the psychic diseases of modernity.”
11. “We always pay dearly for chasing after what is cheap.”
And… two bonus quotes.
12. “Freedom! To fill people’s mailboxes, eyes, ears and brains with commercial rubbish against their will, television programs that are impossible to watch with a sense of coherence. Freedom! To force information on people, taking no account of their right not to accept it or their right of peace of mind. Freedom! To spit in the eyes and souls of passersby with fashionable nonsense that is little more than perverse decadence. Is this really what has come of freedom?”
13. “In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.”