Quotes from The Gulag Archipelago by Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

On Good and Evil

If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were neces­sary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?

On Ideology

Ideology—that is what gives evildoing its long-sought justifica­tion and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and deter­mination. That is the social theory which helps to make his acts seem good instead of bad in his own and others’ eyes, so that he won’t hear reproaches and curses but will receive praise and honors. That was how the agents of the Inquisition fortified their wills: by invoking Christianity; the conquerors of foreign lands, by extolling the grandeur of their Motherland; the colonizers, by civilization; the Nazis, by race; and the Jacobins (early and late), by equality, brotherhood, and the happiness of future generations.

Thanks to ideology, the twentieth century was fated to experi­ence evildoing on a scale calculated in the millions. This cannot be denied, nor passed over, nor suppressed. How, then, do we dare insist that evildoers do not exist? And who was it that de­stroyed these millions? Without evildoers there would have been no Archipelago.