Dostoevsky On Politics

–Just a few quotations from Fyodor Dostoevsky on politics, broadly defined, and followed by my brief comments:

Is it not possible to eat me without insisting that I sing praises of my devourer?

The answer is usually “No,” I’m afraid. Political devourers like to have their praises sung–often by the devoured.

Power is given only to those who dare to lower themselves and pick it up. Only one thing matters, one thing; to be able to dare!

Not that tenure represents all that much power, but a friend once observed that, instead of standing for tenure, he stooped for it.

Realists do not fear the results of their study.

Follow the evidence, wherever it goes.

One can know a man from his laugh, and if you like a man’s laugh before you know anything of him, you may confidently say that he is a good man.

This one intrigued me vis a vis politicians. Which politicians’ laughs, if any, do you like?

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One Response to “Dostoevsky On Politics”

  1. Wild Bill Says:

    “Is it not possible to eat me without insisting that I sing praises of my devourer?”

    Depends on the rituals and myths “in play,” doesn’t it?

    At the end of “Judgment at Nuremberg,” former Nazi judge Ernst Janning must tell U. S. judge Dan Hayward that Hayward’s condemnation of Janning was just so that Hayward can respond that Janning’s confession was needful. The ritual of adjudication is thereby completed: humanity confronts evil before an pseudo-impartial third party; evil admits it is evil; justice has been achieved. “Let justice be done if the heavens fall!”

    Tribes sing praises of the buffalo and thank the buffalo for sacrificing himself to the sustenance of humanity. The buffalo’s consent is tacit.

    Sometimes, however, coercion is coercion and encomia to the victorious need not be uttered and will not be heard.


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