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Andrei Sakharov (1921 – 1989)


Eminent Soviet-Russian nuclear physicist, dissident and human rights activist.
Andrei Sakharov
Government policy, legislation on the family and marriage, and propaganda should not encourage an increase in the birth rates of advanced countries while demanding that it be curtailed in underdeveloped countries that are receiving assistance. Such a two-faced game would produce nothing but bitterness and nationalism.
Sakharov quotes
I grew up in a large communal apartment where most of the rooms were occupied by my family and relations and only a few by outsiders. The house was pervaded by a strong traditional family spirit — a vital enthusiasm for work and respect for professional competence. Within the family we provided one another with mutual support, just as we shared a love of literature and science.
Sakharov
Nothing threatens freedom of the personality and the meaning of life like war, poverty, terror. But there are also indirect and only slightly more remote dangers.
One of these is the stupefaction of man (the "gray mass," to use the cynical term of bourgeois prognosticators) by mass culture with its intentional or commercially motivated lowering of intellectual level and content, with its stress on entertainment or utilitarianism, and with its carefully protective censorship.




Sakharov Andrei quotes
The inhuman character of Stalinism was demonstrated by the repressions of prisoners of war who survived fascist camps and then were thrown into Stalinist camps, the anti-worker "decrees," the criminal exile of entire peoples condemned to slow death, the unenlightened zoological kind of anti-Semitism that was characteristic of Stalin bureaucracy and the NKVD (and Stalin personally), the Ukrainophobia characteristic of Stalin, and the draconian laws for the protection of socialist property (five years' imprisonment for stealing some grain from the fields and so forth) that served mainly as a means of fulfilling the demands of the "slave market."
Sakharov Andrei
We cannot here analyze the entire contradictory and tragic history of the events of the last twenty years, in the course of which the Arabs and Israel, along with historically justified actions, carried out reprehensible deeds, often brought about by the actions of external forces.
Thus, in 1948, Israel waged a defensive war. But in 1956, the actions of Israel appeared reprehensible. The preventive six-day war in the face of threats of destruction by merciless, numerically vastly superior forces of the Arab coalition could have been justifiable. But the cruelty to refugees and prisoners of war and the striving to settle territorial questions by military means must be condemned.
Andrei Sakharov quotes
The worldwide dangers of war, famine, cults of personality, and bureaucracy — these are perils for all of mankind.
Recognition by the working class and the intelligentsia of their common interests has been a striking phenomenon of the present day. The most progressive, internationalist, and dedicated element of the intelligentsia is, in essence, part of the working class, and the most advanced, educated, internationalist, and broad-minded part of the working class is part of the intelligentsia.
Andrei Sakharov
The division of mankind threatens it with destruction. Civilization is imperiled by: a universal thermonuclear war, catastrophic hunger for most of mankind, stupefaction from the narcotic of "mass culture," and bureaucratized dogmatism, a spreading of mass myths that put entire peoples and continents under the power of cruel and treacherous demagogues, and destruction or degeneration from the unforeseeable consequences of swift changes in the conditions of life on our planet.
In the face of these perils, any action increasing the division of mankind, any preaching of the incompatibility of world ideologies and nations is madness and a crime. Only universal cooperation under conditions of intellec­tual freedom and the lofty moral ideals of socialism and labor, accompanied by the elimination of dogmatism and pressures of the concealed interests of ruling classes, will preserve civilization.
The reader will understand that ideological collaboration cannot apply to those fanatical, sectarian, and extremist ideologies that reject all possibility of rapprochement, discussion, and compromise, for example, the ideologies of fascist, racist, militaristic, and Maoist demagogy.
Sakharov Andrei quotes
The strategy of peaceful coexistence and collaboration must be deepened in every way. Scientific methods and principles of international policy will have to be worked out, based on scientific prediction of the immediate and more distant consequences.
The initiative must be seized in working out a broad program of struggle against hunger.
A law on press and information must be drafted, widely discussed, and adopted, with the aim not only of ending irresponsible and irrational censorship, but also of encouraging self-study in our society, fearless discussion, and the search for truth. The law must provide for the material resources of freedom of thought.
All anti-constitutional laws and decrees violating human rights must be
Sakharov
Is it not highly disgraceful and dangerous to make increasingly frequent attempts, either directly or indirectly (through silence), to publicly rehabilitate Stalin, his associates, and his policy, his pseudosocialism of terroristic bu­reaucracy, a socialism of hypocrisy and ostentatious growth that was at best a quantitative and one-sided growth involving the loss of many qualitative features?
Sakharov Andrei
Bertrand Russell once told a peace congress in Moscow that "the world will be saved from thermonuclear annihilation if the leaders of each of the two systems prefer complete victory of the other system to a thermonuclear war." (I am quoting from memory.) It seems to me that such a solution would be acceptable to the majority of people in any country, whether capitalist or socialist. I consider that the leaders of the capitalist and socialist systems by the very nature of things will gradually be forced to adopt the point of view of the majority of mankind.
Intellectual freedom of society will facilitate and smooth the way for this trend toward patience, flexibility, and a security from dogmatism, fear, and adventurism. All mankind, including its best-organized and most active forces, the working class and the intelligentsia, is interested in freedom and security.
Andrei Sakharov
The threat of hunger cannot be eliminated without the assistance of the developed countries, and this requires significant changes in their foreign and domestic policies.




Andrei Sakharov quotes
If direct responsibility for Vietnam rests with the United States, in the Middle East direct responsibility rests not with the United States but with the Soviet Union (and with Britain in 1948 and 1956).
Andrei Sakharov
Marx once wrote that the illusion that the "bosses know everything best" and "only the higher circles familiar with the official nature of things can pass judgment" was held by officials who equate the public weal with governmental authority.
Both Marx and Lenin always stressed the viciousness of a bureaucratic system as the opposite of a democratic system. Lenin used to say that every cook should learn how to govern.
Sakharov quotes
Three technical aspects of thermonuclear weapons have made thermonuclear war a peril to the very existence of humanity. These aspects are: the enormous destructive power of a thermonuclear explosion, the relative cheapness of rocket-thermonuclear weapons, and the practical impos­sibility of an effective defense against a massive rocket-nuclear attack.
Sakharov Andrei
Intellectual freedom is essential to human society — freedom to obtain and distribute information, freedom for open-minded and unfearing debate, and freedom from pressure by officialdom and prejudices. Such a trinity of freedom of thought is the only guarantee against an infection of people by mass myths, which, in the hands of treacherous hypocrites and demagogues, can be transformed into bloody dictatorship. Freedom of thought is the only guarantee of the feasibility of a scientific democratic approach to politics, economy, and culture.
But freedom of thought is under a triple threat in modern society—from the deliberate opium of mass culture, from cowardly, egotistic, and philistine ideologies, and from the ossified dogmatism of a bureaucratic oligarchy and its favorite weapon, ideological censorship. Therefore, freedom of thought requires the defense of all thinking and honest people.
Sakharov Andrei quotes
It is unbearable to consider that at this very moment that we are gathered together in this hall on this festive occasion, hundreds and thousands of prisoners of conscience are suffering from undernourishment, as the result of year-long hunger, and of an almost total lack of proteins and vitamins in their daily food, of a shortage of medicines (there is a ban on the sending of vitamins and medicines to internees), and of over-exertion. They shiver with cold, damp, and exhaustion in ill-lit dungeons, where they are forced to wage a ceaseless struggle for their human dignity and their conviction against the "indoctrination machine", in fact against the very destruction of their souls.
Andrei Sakharov
An extreme reflection of the dangers confronting modern social development is the growth of racism, nationalism, and militarism and, in particular, the rise of demagogic, hypocritical, and monstrously cruel dictatorial police regimes. Foremost are the regimes of Stalin, Hitler, and Mao Tse-tung, and a number of extremely reactionary regimes in smaller countries, such as Spain, Portugal, South Africa, Greece, Albania, Haiti, and other Latin American countries.
These tragic developments have always derived from the struggle of egotistical and group interests, the struggle for unlimited power, suppression of intellectual free­dom, a spread of intellectually simplified, narrow-minded mass myths
Andrei Sakharov quotes
A system of education under government control, separation of school and church, universal free education — all these are great achievements of social progress. But everything has a reverse side. In this case it is excessive standardization, extending to the teaching process itself, to the curriculum, especially in literature, history, civics, geography, and to the system of examinations.
One cannot but see a danger in excessive reference to authority and in the limitation of discussion and intellectual boldness at an age when personal convictions are beginning to be formed. In the old China, the systems of examinations for official positions led to mental stagnation and to the canonizing of the reactionary aspects of Confucianism. It is highly undesirable to have anything like that in a modern society.
Andrei Sakharov
You all know, even better than I do, that children, e.g. from Denmark, can get on their bicycles and cycle off to the Adriatic. No one would ever think of suggesting that they were "teenage spies". But Soviet children are not allowed to do this!
Sakharov Andrei
We are all familiar with the passionate and closely argued appeal against censorship by the outstanding Soviet writer A. Solzhenitsyn.He as well as G. Vladimov, G. Svirsky, and other writers who have spoken out on the subject have clearly shown how incompetent censorship destroys the living soul of Soviet literature, but the same applies of course to all other manifestations of social thought, causing stagnation and dullness and preventing fresh and deep ideas.
Such ideas, after all, can arise only in discussion, in the face of objections, only if there is a potential possibility of expressing not only true but also dubious ideas. This was clear to the philosophers of ancient Greece and hardly anyone nowadays would have any doubts on that score. But after fifty years of complete domination over the minds of an entire nation, our leaders seem to fear even allusions to such a discussion.


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