Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Malcolm Muggeridge

English Editor, Writer, Journalist, Media Personality and Satirist

"The material universe it… a message in code from God."

"The orgasm has replaced the Cross as the focus of longing and the image of fulfillment."

"Few men of action have been able to make a graceful exist at the appropriate time."

"The first thing I remember about the world – and I pray it may be the last – is that I was a stranger in it. This feeling, which everyone has in some degree, and which at once the glory and desolation of homo sapiens, provides the only thread of consistency that I can see in my life."

"People do not believe lies because they have to, but because they want to ."

"There is no such things as darkness, only a failure to see."

"One of the many pleasures of old age is giving things up."

"After all, even if one or other of the twentieth century nightmare utopias will come to pass; if men prove capable of constructing their Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, with abundance ever broadening down from one Gross National Product to another; and the motorways reaching from here to eternity; and eros released to beget a regulation two offspring, like a well-behaved child at a party taking just two cakes, otherwise frolicking in contraceptive bliss, all our genes counted and selected to produce only beauty queens and Mensa IQ's ? the divergencies all thrown away with other waste products; and the media providing Muzak and music around the clock to delight and inform all and sundry; and the appropriate medicaments available to cure all actual and potential ills -- it may well be the case that Western Man has wearied of his freedom and is now consciously or unconsciously engrossed in shedding the burden it imposes on him, thereby, if he but knew it, headed inexorably for servitude. Yet in Christ, whoever cares to can find freedom, the glorious freedom of the children of God, the only lasting freedom there is. To quote once more St. Paul: ?Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.? Again, it may well be that Western man has turned away from the Cross in favor of an illusory pursuit of happiness. Yet, if the preaching of the Cross is indeed ?to them that perish foolishness,? to those who believe it continues to be the power of God whereby affliction is seen as part of His love; and out of a public execution burgeons the most perfect hopes and joys the human heart has ever attained. What then, is there to fear or dread?"

"All new news is old news happening to new people"

"Against the new leviathan, whether in the guise of universal suffrage, democracy, or of an equally fraudulent triumphant proletariat, he (Kierkegaard) pitted the individual human soul made in the image of a God who was concerned about the fate of every living creature. In contrast with the notion of salvation through power, he held out the hope of salvation through suffering. The Cross against the ballot box or clenched fist; the solitary pilgrim against the slogan-shouting mob; the crucified Christ against the demagogue-dictators promising a kingdom of heaven on earth, whether achieved through endlessly expanding wealth and material well-being, or through the ever greater concentration of power and its ever more ruthless exercise."

"A pornography of the will."

"A scene that has often come into my mind, both sleeping and waking ? I am standing in the wings of a theatre waiting for my cue to go onstage. As I stand there I can hear the play proceeding, and suddenly it dawns on me that the lines I have learnt are not in this play at all, but belong to quite a different one. Panic seizes me; I wonder frenziedly what should I do. Then I get my cue. Stumbling, falling over the unfamiliar scenery, I make my way onto the stage, and then look for guidance to the prompter, whose head I can just see rising out of the floor-boards. Alas he only signals helplessly to me and I realize of course that his script is different from mine. I begin to speak my lines, but they are incomprehensible to the other actors and abhorrent to the audience, who begin to hiss and shout: ?Get off the stage!?, ?Let the play go on!?, ?You?re interrupting!?. I am paralyzed and can think of nothing to do but to go on standing there and speaking my lines that don?t fit. The only lines I know."

"Animistic savages prostrating themselves before a painted stone have always seemed to me to be nearer the truth than any Einstein or Bertrand Russell. As it might be pigs in a crowded sty, jostling and shoving to bury their snouts in the trough; until one of them momentarily lifts his snout upwards in the air, in so doing expressing the hope of all enlightenment to come; breaking off from his guzzling to point with his lifted snout to where the angels and archangels gather round God's throne."

"An orgy looks particularly alluring seen through the mists of righteous indignation."

"All of us admire people we don't like and like people we don't admire."

"As I see it, the only pleasure of living is that every joke should be made, every thought expressed, every line of investigation, irrespective of its direction, pursued to the uttermost limits that human ingenuity, courage and understanding can take it. The moment that limits are set... then the flavor is gone."

"As far as the Incarnation is concerned, I believe firmly in it. I believe that God did lean down to become Man in order that we could reach up to Him, and that the drama which embodies that Incarnation, the drama described in the Creed, took place."

"All this was only, in my father's estimation, a means; the end was the Earthly Paradise, the translation of William Morris's 'News from Nowhere' into 'News from Somewhere.' Then Whitman's sense of abounding joy in his own and all creation's sensuality would sweep away the paltry backwaters of bourgeois morality; the horrors of industrial ugliness which Ruskin so eloquently denounced would dissolve, and die forgotten as a dream (phrases from hymns still washed about in my father's mind) as slums were transformed into garden cities, and the belching smoke of hateful furnaces into the cool elegance of electric power. As for the ferocious ravings of my namesake, Carlyle, about the pettifogging nature of modern industrial man's pursuits and expectations -- all that would be corrected as he was induced to spend ever more of his increasing leisure in cultural and craft activities; in the enjoyment of music, literature and art."

"At the 20th Congress of British Communist Party,- usual slogans spread about the building-Marxism is the science of working-class power. Those present mostly lower middle class, few working class. On platform sat the Executive Committee, really deplorable faces. Unpleasant thought that in many parts of Europe, such people already in absolute power."

"Civilization?a heap of rubble scavenged by scrawny English Lit. vultures."

"As well as the [League of Nations] delegates themselves and their suites, there were innumerable campaigners of one sort and another, male and female, clerical and lay, young and old; all with some notion to publicize, some pet solution to offer, some organization to promote. They gathered in droves, fanning out through the city, and settling in hotels and pensions, from the Lakeside ones down to tiny obscure back-street establishments. Ferocious ladies with moustaches, clergymen with black leather patches on the elbows of their jackets or cassocks and smelling of tobacco smoke, mad admirals who knew where to find the lost tribes of Israel, and scarcely saner generals who deduced prophetic warnings from the measurement of the pyramids; but one and all believers in the League's historic role to deliver mankind painlessly and inexpensively from the curse of war to the great advantage of all concerned."

"Evelyn Waugh was an antique in search of a period, a snob in search of a class."

"Education, the great mumbo-jumbo and fraud of the age, purports to equip us to live and is prescribed as a universal remedy for everything from juvenile delinquency to premature senility. For the most part it only serves to enlarge stupidity, inflate conceit, enhance credulity and put those subjected to it at the mercy of brain-washers with printing presses, radio and TV at their disposal."

"Bad humor is an evasion of reality; good humor is an acceptance of it."

"Every happening, great and small, is a parable whereby God speaks to us, and the art of life is to get the message."

"Everything Tolstoy wrote is precious, but I found this final statement of the truth about life as he had come to understand it particularly beautiful and moving. 'That is what I have wanted to say to you, my brothers. Before I died.' So he concludes, giving one a vivid sense of the old man, pen in hand and bent over the paper, his forehead wrinkled into a look of puzzlement very characteristic of him, as though he were perpetually wondering how others could fail to see what was to him so clear - that the law of love explained all mysteries and invalidated all other laws."

"Freedom is a mystical truth ? It?s expressed best in The Brothers Karamazov, the chapter when the Grand Inquisitor confronted the returned... gave the world was the freedom of being an individual, in a collectivity, of basing one's life on love, as distinct from power, of seeking the good of others rather than nourishing one's own ego. That was liberation. And the Chief Inquisitor, who speaks for every dictator, every millionaire, every ideologue that's ever been, says we can't have it. Go away. Stay away."

"For as we abolish the ills and pains of the flesh we multiply those of the mind, so by the time mankind are finally delivered from disease and decay - all pasteurized, their genes counted and re-arranged, filled with new replaceable plastic organs, a"

"Good taste and humor are a contradiction in terms, like a chaste whore."

"Greene is a Jekyll and Hyde character, who has not succeeded in fusing the two sides of himself into any kind of harmony. There is conflict within him, and therefore he is liable to pursue conflict without."

"He [Sir Anthony Eden] is not only a bore but he bores for England."

"How do I know pornography depraves and corrupts? It depraves and corrupts me."

"I can say that I never knew what joy was like until I gave up pursuing happiness, or cared to live until I chose to die. For these two discoveries I am beholden."

"I beg you to believe that life is not a process, it's a drama."

"He says of it, too, that it is the heart which is aware of God, and not reason. That is what faith is: God perceived by the heart, not be reason."

"History will see advertising as one of the real evil things of our time. It is stimulating people constantly to want things, want this, want that."

"I doubt whether the Revolution has, in essentials, changed Russia at all. Reading Gogol, or Dostoevsky for that matter, one realizes how completely the Soviet regime has fallen back on to, and perhaps invigorated, the old Russia. Certainly there is much more of Gogol and Dostoevsky in the regime than there is of Marx."

"I hate government. I hate power. I think that man's existence, insofar as he achieves anything, is to resist power, to minimize power, to devise systems of society in which power is the least exerted."

"I myself am convinced that the theory of evolution, especially the extent to which it's been applied, will be one of the great jokes in the history books in the future. Posterity will marvel that so very flimsy and dubious an hypothesis could be accepted with the incredible credulity that it has. I think I spoke to you before about this age as one of the most credulous in history, and I would include evolution as an example."

"I have never forgotten these visitors, or ceased to marvel at them, at how they have gone on from strength to strength, continuing to lighten our darkness, and to guide, counsel and instruct us; on occasion, momentarily abashed, but always ready to pick themselves up, put on their cardboard helmets, mount Rosinante, and go galloping off on yet another foray on behalf of the down-trodden and oppressed. They are unquestionably one of the wonders of the age, and I shall treasure till I die as a blessed memory the spectacle of them travelling with radiant optimism through a famished countryside, wandering in happy bands about squalid, over-crowded towns, listening with unshakeable faith to the fatuous patter of carefully trained and indoctrinated guides, repeating like schoolchildren a multiplication table, the bogus statistics and mindless slogans endlessly intoned to them. There, I would think, an earnest office-holder in some local branch of the League of Nations Union, there a godly Quaker who once had tea with Gandhi, there an inveigher against the Means Test and the Blasphemy Laws, there a staunch upholder of free speech and human rights, there an indomitable preventer of cruelty to animals; there scarred and worthy veterans of a hundred battles for truth, freedom and justice--all, all chanting the praises of Stalin and his Dictatorship of the Proletariat. It was as though a vegetarian society had come out with a passionate plea for cannibalism, or Hitler had been nominated posthumously for the Nobel Peace Prize."

"I never met a rich man who was happy, but I have only very occasionally met a poor man who did not want to become a rich man."

"I wonder whether, in the history of all the civilizations that have ever been, a more insanely optimistic notion has ever been entertained than that you and I, mortal, puny creatures, may yet aspire, with God?s grace and Christ?s help, to be reborn into what St Paul calls the glorious liberty of the children of God. Or if there was ever a more abysmally pessimistic one than that we, who reach out with our minds and our aspirations to the stars and beyond, should be able so to arrange our lives, so to eat and drink and fornicate and learn and frolic, that our brief span in this world fulfills all our hopes and desires."

"I will lift up mine eyes unto the pills. Almost everyone takes them, from the humble aspirin to the multicolored, king-sized three deckers, which put you to sleep, wake you up, stimulate and soothe you all in one. It is an age of pills."

"I suppose that every age has its own particular fantasy: ours is science. A seventeenth-century man like Blas‚ Pascal, who thought himself a mathematician and scientist of genius, found it quite ridiculous that anyone should suppose that rational processes could lead to any ultimate conclusions about life, but easily accepted the authority of the Scriptures. With us, it is the other way 'round."

"If God is dead, somebody is going to have to take his place. It will be megalomania or erotomania, the drive for power or the drive for pleasure, the clenched fist or the phallus, Hitler or Hugh Hefner."

"In my view, Jan Masaryk was thoroughly corrupt, who bumped himself off because he saw at last where his moral cowardice and ideological 'Playboyery' had led him. I vividly remember visiting him in Washington, fat, slightly tight, coming into the room looking like a broken-down butler with his master, the little Communist, Clementis, [-] and saying in a loud voice -'Has anyone seen an Iron Curtain? I haven't.' Well, he has now."


"In retrospect, all these exercises in self-gratification seem pure fantasy, what Pascal called, licking the earth."

"In his own lifetime Jesus made no impact on history. This is something that I cannot but regard as a special dispensation on God's part, and, I like to think, yet another example of the ironical humor which informs so many of His purposes. To me, it seems highly appropriate that the most important figure in all history should thus escape the notice of memoirists, diarists, commentators, all the tribe of chroniclers who even then existed . . ."

"In the end, coming to faith remains for all a sense of homecoming, of picking up the threads of a lost life, of responding to a bell that had long been ringing, of taking a place at a table that had long been vacant."