As far as I can see, from both history and ‘current events’, there’s not much evidence to suggest that the yearning for freedom can be destroyed in the cauldron of totalitarian violence, although it may be suppressed (for a while). 

This may be the weak spot in the dictator’s armoury.  However, that doesn’t stop them trying to bomb, terrorize, manipulate or torture freedom-yearning people into submission. 

Does human nature undergo a true change in the cauldron of totalitarian violence?  Does man lose his innate yearning for freedom?  The fate of both man and the totalitarian State depends on the answer to this question.  If human nature does change, then the eternal and world-wide triumph of the dictatorial State is assured; if his yearning for freedom remains constant, then the totalitarian State is doomed. 

Grossman’s magisterial Life & Fate is a study of totalitarian ideologies as against yearnings to be free.  It is more relevant than ever and utterly absorbing.  See our bestellar love-letter, peppered with illustrated quotations, to what may be, in my view, the greatest novel of the 20th century, together with our selection of other quotations on the theme of freedom. 

Source: Life and Fate, Vasily Grossman; trans. Robert Chandler (New York: New York Review Books, 2006 (1985)), p. 215

Photo credit: DeSa81 at pixabay


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