“We have so hopelessly ceded our humanity that for the modest handouts of today we are ready to surrender up all principles, our soul, all the labors of our ancestors, all the prospects of our descendants—anything to avoid disrupting our meager existence. We have lost our strength, our pride, our passion. We do not even fear a common nuclear death, do not fear a third world war (perhaps we’ll hide away in some crevice), but fear only to take a civic stance! We hope only not to stray from the herd, not to set out on our own, and risk suddenly having to make do without the white bread, the hot water heater …
“We have internalized well the lessons drummed into us by the state; we are forever content and comfortable with its premise: we cannot escape the environment, the social conditions; they shape us, ‘being determines consciousness.’ What have we to do with this? We can do nothing.
“But we can do—everything!—even if we comfort and lie to ourselves that this is not so. It is not ‘they’ who are guilty of everything, but we ourselves, only we! …
“But it will never come unstuck by itself, if we all, every day, continue to acknowledge, glorify, and strengthen it, if we do not, at the least, recoil from its most vulnerable point.
—Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Live Not by Lies, The Solzhenitsyn Reader: New and Essential Writings, 1947–2005