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Alexander Herzen

  • Russian journalist
  • Born April 6, 1812
  • Died January 21, 1870

Aleksandr Ivanovich Herzen (also Aleksandr Ivanovič Gercen; Russian: Алекса́ндр Ива́нович Ге́рцен; April 6 [O.S. 25 March] 1812 – January 21 [O.S. 9 January] 1870) was a Russian writer and thinker known as the "father of Russian socialism" and one of the main fathers of agrarian populism (being an ideological ancestor of the Narodniki, Socialist-Revolutionaries, Trudoviks and the agrarian American Populist Party). With his writings, many composed while exiled in London, he attempted to influence the situation in Russia, contributing to a political climate that led to the emancipation of the serfs in 1861.


All religions have based morality on obedience, that is to say, on voluntary slavery. That is why they have always been more pernicious than any political organization. For the latter makes use of violence, the former - of the corruption of the will.




I am truly horrified by modern man. Such absence of feeling, such narrowness of outlook, such lack of passion and information, such feebleness of thought.




What breadth, what beauty and power of human nature and development there must be in a woman to get over all the palisades, all the fences, within which she is held captive!




Unaware of the absurdity of it, we introduce our own petty household rules into the economy of the universe for which the life of generations, peoples, of entire planets, has no importance in relation to the general development.




It is possible to lead astray an entire generation, to strike it blind, to drive it insane, to direct it towards a false goal. Napoleon proved this.




We have wasted our spirit in the regions of the abstract and general just as the monks let it wither in the world of prayer and contemplation.




If nations always moved from one set of furnished rooms to another - and always into a better set - things might be easier, but the trouble is that there is no one to prepare the new rooms. The future is worse than the ocean - there is nothing there.




Science, which cuts its way through the muddy pond of daily life without mingling with it, casts its wealth to right and left, but the puny boatmen do not know how to fish for it.




There is nothing in the world more stubborn than a corpse: you can hit it, you can knock it to pieces, but you cannot convince it.




Liberalism, austere in political trifles, has learned ever more artfully to unite a constant protest against the government with a constant submission to it.




Everything in Italy that is particularly elegant and grand borders upon insanity and absurdity or at least is reminiscent of childhood.




Would it be possible to stand still on one spot more majestically - while simulating a triumphant march forward - than it is done by the two English Houses of Parliament?




You can no more bridle passions with logic than you can justify them in the law courts. Passions are facts and not dogmas.




Life has taught me to think, but thinking has not taught me to live.




Slavery is the first step towards civilization. In order to develop it is necessary that things should be much better for some and much worse for others, then those who are better off can develop at the expense of others.




Modern Western thought will pass into history and be incorporated in it, will have its influence and its place, just as our body will pass into the composition of grass, of sheep, of cutlets, and of men.




No one is to blame. It is neither their fault nor ours. It is the misfortune of being born when a whole world is dying.



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