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- Freedom is a mystical truth — Its expressed best in The Brothers Karamazov, the chapter when the Grand Inquisitor confronted the returned Christ. The freedom that Christ 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.
- "If I get to Heaven, which I very much doubt, I will ask of God just one thing, and that is to send Shakespeare back down to earth, and make him sit a University of Madras examination in Shakespeare, just for the pleasure of watching him failing the exam."
- Ancient and Modern : A Journey through the Twentieth Century, 1935-45 BBCTV
- The first thing I remember about the world — and I pray that it may be the last — is that I was a stranger in it. This feeling, which everyone has in some degree, and which is, at once, the glory and desolation of homo sapiens, provides the only thread of consistency that I can detect in my life.
- Apologia pro vita sua (1968)
- I can say with truth that I have never, even in times of greatest preoccupation with carnal, worldly and egotistic pursuits, seriously doubted that our existence here is related in some mysterious way to a more comprehensive and lasting existence elsewhere; that somehow or other we belong to a larger scene than our earthly life provides, and to a wider reach of time than our earthly allotment of three score years and ten…It has never been possible for me to persuade myself that the universe could have been created, and we, homo sapiens, so-called, have, generation after generation, somehow made our appearance to sojourn briefly on our tiny earth, solely in order to mount the interminable soap opera, with the same characters and situations endlessly recurring, that we call history. It would be like building a great stadium for a display of tiddly-winks, or a vast opera house for a mouth-organ recital. There must, in other words, be another reason for our existence and that of the universe than just getting through the days of our life as best we may; some other destiny than merely using up such physical, intellectual and spiritual creativity as has been vouchsafed us. This, anyway, has been the strongly held conviction of the greatest artists, saints, philosophers and, until quite recent times, scientists, through the Christian centuries, who have all assumed that the New Testament promise of eternal life is valid, and that the great drama of the Incarnation which embodies it, is indeed the master drama of our existence. To suppose that these distinguished believers were all credulous fools whose folly and credulity in holding such beliefs has now been finally exposed, would seem to me to be untenable; and anyway I'd rather be wrong with Dante and Shakespeare and Milton, with Augustine of Hippo and Francis of Assisi, with Dr. Johnson, Blake and Dostoevsky, than right with Voltaire, Rousseau, Darwin, the Huxleys, Herbert Spencer, H. G. Wells and Bernard Shaw.
- Confessions of a Twentieth-Century Pilgrim (1988)
- The only ultimate disaster that can befall us, I have come to realise, is to feel ourselves to be at home here on earth.
- Chapter 1, Jesus Rediscovered (1969)
- I wonder whether, in the history of all the civilisations 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 fulfils all our hopes and desires.
- Originally in a sermon delivered at Queen's Cross church Aberdeen, Scotland (26 May 1968), later included in Jesus Rediscovered (1969)
- It is only possible to succeed at second-rate pursuits — like becoming a millionaire or a prime minister, winning a war, seducing beautiful women, flying through the stratosphere or landing on the moon. First-rate pursuits involving, as they must, trying to understand what life is about and trying to convey that understanding — inevitably result in a sense of failure. A Napoleon, a Churchill, a Roosevelt can feel themselves to be successful, but never a Socrates, a Pascal, a Blake. Understanding is for ever unattainable. Therein lies the inevitability of failure in embarking upon its quest, which is none the less the only one worthy of serious attention.
- Muggeridge Through the Microphone (1969)
- One of the great weaknesses of the progressive, as distinct from the religious, mind, is that it has no awareness of truth as such; only of truth in terms of enlightened expediency. The contrast is well exemplified in two exact contemporaries — Simone Weil and Simone de Beauvoir; both highly intelligent and earnestly disposed. In all the fearful moral dilemmas of our time, Simone Weil never once went astray, whereas Simone de Beauvoir, with I am sure the best of intentions, has found herself aligned with apologists for some of the most monstrous barbarities and falsehoods of history.
- "A Knight of the Woeful Countenance" in The World of George Orwell (1972) edited by Miriam Gross, p. 167
- 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 realise 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 paralysed 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.
- Chronicles of Wasted Time: The Green Stick (1972)
- We foreign journalists in Moscow used to amuse ourselves, as a matter of fact, by competing with one another as to who could wish upon one of these intelligentsia visitors to the USSR the most outrageous fantasy…One story I floated myself, for which I received considerable acclaim, was that the huge queues outside food shops came about because the Soviet workers were so ardent in building Socialism that they just wouldn't rest, and the only way the government could get them to rest for even two or three hours was organizing a queue for them to stand in. I laugh at it all now, but at the time you can imagine what a shock it was to someone like myself, who had been brought up to regard liberal intellectuals as the samurai, the absolute elite, of the human race, to find that they could be taken in by deceptions which a half-witted boy would see through in an instant…I could never henceforth regard the intelligentsia as other than credulous fools who nonetheless became the media's prophetic voices, their heirs and successors remaining so still.
- The Great Liberal Death Wish (lecture at Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, Michigan, USA, March 1979. Transcript in Imprimis May 1979)
- 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.
- From a video excerpt of a British TV Interview of Muggeridge with Oswald Mosley, used by Adam Curtis in Part 3 of his 2007 documentary series, "The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom".
- Animistic savages prostrating themselves before a painted stone have always seemed to me to be nearer the truth than any Einstein or Bertrand Russell.
- Chronicles of Wasted Time: The Green Stick (1972)
- There is something ridiculous and even quite indecent in an individual claiming to be happy. Still more a people or a nation making such a claim. The pursuit of happiness… is without any question the most fatuous which could possibly be undertaken. This lamentable phrase ‘’the pursuit of happiness'’ is responsible for a good part of the ills and miseries of the modern world.
- On BBC's Woman's Hour (5th October 1965)
- 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 Executve Committee, really deplorable faces. Unpleasant thought that in many parts of Europe, such people already in absolute power.
- Like It Was , p.247
- 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.
- Like It Was, p.249
- 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 Dostoievsky in the regime than there is of Marx.
- Like It was, p.252
- late news was suicide of w:Jan Masaryk - 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.
- Like It Was, p.255
- You see, when I was young, people used to say the poor had too many children. Or, at the time of the famine in Ireland, they would say that the Irish had too many children. We were taking the food from Ireland, and the Irish were starving, and we said they were starving because they had too many children. Now we who are sated, who have to adopt the most extravagant and ridiculous devices to consume what we produce, while watching whole vast populations getting hungrier and hungrier, overcome our feelings of guilt by persuading ourselves that these others are too numerous, have too many children.
They ask for bread and we give them contraceptives!
In future history books it will be said, and it will be a very ignoble entry, that just at the moment in our history when we, through our scientific and technical ingenuity, could produce virtually as much food as we wanted to, just when we were opening up and exploring the universe, we set up a great whimpering and wailing, and said there were too many people in the world. It's pitiful.
Quotes about Muggeridge
- You are one of those obsessed demoniacal creatures who ought to be avoided at all costs; they bring misfortune into the lives of others; they ruin the lives of others. The real good people are humble and silent (like your Kitty is). But beware, God sees all vanity and pride and you cannot fool him.
- Svetlana Alliluyeva, as quoted in Richard Ingrams' Muggeridge: The Biography, p.233
- The whole atmosphere [of a party hosting a pro-democracy, anti-communist Albanian National Committee] was spoilt... by Malcolm Muggeridge, who declared in a loud voice that Albania was a ridiculous country anyway that ought to be partitioned as soon as possible between Greece and Yugoslavia.
- Nicholas Bethell (1984), The Great Betrayal
- It is a frightening thought that a man as prejudiced as Muggeridge was allowed such power in an organisation such as the BBC, and in other equally powerful organs of the media. Here was a man who was known to be deeply anti-Semitic ... , whose entire life and actions were determined by prejudices, and who was openly carrying on with extramarital sexual liaisons despite pronouncing pious values. He also tried to use his position to stop other people from using contraception. He was a supporter of the war in Vietnam, and of other American war exercises. He cast doubt on the suffering in Hiroshima; he participated in CIA funded clandestine activities... He had absolutely no room in his psyche for relativism in religion, for tolerance and understanding, and he fervently believed that Christianity should go out with the sword as well as the Gospel to conquer inferior cultures. He would have no hesitation in twisting and bending facts in order to promote Christianity — in this he had an ally in Teresa.
- Aroup Chatterjee (1998), Mother Teresa: The Final Verdict
- To carry personal responsibility for keeping God alive in the modern world would be a greivous burden for anyone, even Muggeridge, whose search for the Kingdom has been fascinating to observe but who, since he found it, has been sadly in danger of becoming Christianity's most bizarre exhibitionist. Face contorted, hands clawing in the air to pantomime his inner anguish, world weary and longing for an apocalyptic end to a Naughty Age, Malcolm reviles the medium which feeds him and begs reassurance that he is still loved from the assorted personalities who gather about him like Plato's disciples. 'Why?' his strangulated cry goes up - tempting a heavenly retort 'Why indeed?'
- Colin Morris, Observer, 5 March, 1972