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‘The greatest criminals in history,’ Ivanov went on, ‘are not of the type Nero and Fouché, but of the type Gandhi and Tolstoy. Gandhi’s inner voice has done more to prevent the liberation of India than the British guns. To sell oneself for thirty pieces of silver is an honest transaction; but to sell oneself to one’s own conscience is to abandon mankind. History is a priori amoral; it has no conscience. To want to conduct history according to the maxims of the Sunday school means to leave everything as it is. You know that as well as I do. You know the stakes in this game, and here you come talking about Bogrov’s whimpering… .’


Rubashov shrugged his shoulders. ‘Admit,’ he said, ‘that humanism and politics, respect for the individual and social progress, are incompatible. Admit, that Gandhi is a catastrophe for India; that chasteness in the choice of means leads to political impotence. In negatives we agree. But look where the other alternative has led us… .’

‘Well,’ asked Ivanov. ‘Where?’

Rubashov rubbed his pince-nez on his sleeve, and looked at him shortsightedly. ‘What a mess,’ he said, ‘what a mess we have made of our golden age.’

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— “Darkness At Noon” - Arthur Koestler