„Freedom in capitalist society always remains about the same as it was in the ancient Greek republics: freedom for the slave-owners.“

Source: The State and Revolution (1917), Ch. 5.

Adopted from Wikiquote. Last update July 22, 2021. History
Vladimir Lenin photo
Vladimir Lenin335
Russian politician, led the October Revolution 1870 - 1924

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„In capitalist society, providing it develops under the most favorable conditions, we have a more or less complete democracy in the democratic republic. But this democracy is always hemmed in by the narrow limits set by capitalist exploitation and consequently always remains, in effect, a democracy for the minority, only for the propertied classes, only for the rich. Freedom in capitalist society always remains about the same as it was in the ancient Greek republics: freedom for the slaveowners. Owing to the conditions of capitalist exploitation, the modern wage slaves are so crushed by want and poverty that “they cannot be bothered with democracy,” “cannot be bothered with politics”; in the ordinary, peaceful course of events, the majority of the population is debarred from participation in public and political life. The“

—  Vladimir Lenin Russian politician, led the October Revolution 1870 - 1924

Source: The State and Revolution (1917), Ch. 5
Context: Democracy for an insignificant minority, democracy for the rich – that is the democracy of capitalist society. If we look more closely into the machinery of capitalist democracy, we see everywhere, in the "petty" – supposedly petty – details of the suffrage (residential qualifications, exclusion of women, etc.), in the technique of the representative institutions, in the actual obstacles to the right of assembly (public buildings are not for "paupers"!), in the purely capitalist organization of the daily press, etc., etc., – we see restriction after restriction upon democracy. These restrictions, exceptions, exclusions, obstacles for the poor seem slight, especially in the eyes of one who has never known want himself and has never been in close contact with the oppressed classes in their mass life (and nine out of 10, if not 99 out of 100, bourgeois publicists and politicians come under this category); but in their sum total these restrictions exclude and squeeze out the poor from politics, from active participation in democracy.

Dan Savage photo

„A society in whose culture the Ancient Greeks played such an important part was bound to have a view about the Modern Greeks.“

—  William St Clair author 1937

Source: That Greece Might Still be Free (1972), p. 15-16.
Context: A society in whose culture the Ancient Greeks played such an important part was bound to have a view about the Modern Greeks. The inhabitants of that famous land, whose language was still recognizably the same as that of Demosthenes, could not be regarded as just another remote tribe of natives or savages. Western Europe could not escape being concerned with the nature of the relationship between the Ancient and the Modem Greeks. The question has teased, perplexed, and confused generations of Greeks and Europeans and it still stirs passions to an extent difficult for the rational to condone.

James Connolly photo

„The worker is the slave of capitalist society, the female worker is the slave of that slave.“

—  James Connolly Irish republican and socialist leader 1868 - 1916

in P. Beresford Ellis (ed.), James Connolly - Selected Writings, p. 191.

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Alexis De Tocqueville photo

„He who seeks freedom for anything but freedom's self is made to be a slave.“

—  Alexis De Tocqueville, book The Old Regime and the Revolution

Original text: Qui cherche dans la liberté autre chose qu'elle-même est fait pour servir.
Variant translation: The man who asks of freedom anything other than itself is born to be a slave.
Old Regime (1856), p. 204 http://books.google.com/books?id=N50aibeL8BAC&pg=PA204&vq=%22He+who+seeks+freedom%22&source=gbs_search_r&cad=1_1
1850s and later

„Without freedom, China will always remain far from civilized ideals.“

—  Liu Xiaobo Chinese literary critic, writer, professor, and human rights activist 1955 - 2017

Charter 08
No Enemies, No Hate: Selected Essays and Poems
Context: Freedom. Freedom is at the core of universal human values. Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom in where to live, and the freedoms to strike, to demonstrate, and to protest, among others, are the forms that freedom takes. Without freedom, China will always remain far from civilized ideals.

Clement Attlee photo
Barack Obama photo

„I’m under no illusion about the continued barriers to freedom that remain for ordinary Cubans.“

—  Barack Obama 44th President of the United States of America 1961

2014, Statement on Cuban policy (December 2014)
Context: I’m under no illusion about the continued barriers to freedom that remain for ordinary Cubans. The United States believes that no Cubans should face harassment or arrest or beatings simply because they’re exercising a universal right to have their voices heard, and we will continue to support civil society there. While Cuba has made reforms to gradually open up its economy, we continue to believe that Cuban workers should be free to form unions, just as their citizens should be free to participate in the political process.
Moreover, given Cuba’s history, I expect it will continue to pursue foreign policies that will at times be sharply at odds with American interests. I do not expect the changes I am announcing today to bring about a transformation of Cuban society overnight. But I am convinced that through a policy of engagement, we can more effectively stand up for our values and help the Cuban people help themselves as they move into the 21st century.

Henry David Thoreau photo

„Is it a freedom to be slaves, or a freedom to be free, of which we boast? We are a nation of politicians, concerned about the outmost defences only of freedom. It is our children's children who may perchance be really free.“

—  Henry David Thoreau, book Life Without Principle

Life Without Principle (1863)
Context: Do we call this the land of the free? What is it to be free from King George and continue the slaves of King Prejudice? What is it to be born free and not to live free? What is the value of any political freedom, but as a means to moral freedom? Is it a freedom to be slaves, or a freedom to be free, of which we boast? We are a nation of politicians, concerned about the outmost defences only of freedom. It is our children's children who may perchance be really free.

Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach photo

„Happy slaves are the bitterest enemies of freedom“

—  Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach Austrian writer 1830 - 1916

Source: Aphorisms (1880/1893), p. 77.

Rosa Luxemburg photo

„Freedom is always the freedom of the dissenter “

—  Rosa Luxemburg Polish Marxist theorist, socialist philosopher, and revolutionary 1871 - 1919

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Mahatma Gandhi photo

„There is no such thing as slow freedom. Freedom is like a birth. Till we are fully free we are slaves.“

—  Mahatma Gandhi pre-eminent leader of Indian nationalism during British-ruled India 1869 - 1948

Young India (15 December 1921)
1920s

Andrzej Majewski photo

„A slave dreams of freedom, a free man dreams of wealth, the wealthy dream of power, and the powerful dream of freedom.“

—  Andrzej Majewski Polish writer and photographer 1966

Niewolnik marzy o wolności, człowiek wolny o bogactwie, bogacz o władzy, a władca o wolności.
Aphorisms. Magnum in Parvo (2000)

Andrei Sakharov photo

„Intellectual freedom is essential to human society — freedom to obtain and distribute information, freedom for open-minded and unfearing debate, and freedom from pressure by officialdom and prejudices.“

—  Andrei Sakharov Soviet nuclear physicist and human rights activist 1921 - 1989

Progress, Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom (1968)
Context: Intellectual freedom is essential to human society — freedom to obtain and distribute information, freedom for open-minded and unfearing debate, and freedom from pressure by officialdom and prejudices. Such a trinity of freedom of thought is the only guarantee against an infection of people by mass myths, which, in the hands of treacherous hypocrites and demagogues, can be transformed into bloody dictatorship. Freedom of thought is the only guarantee of the feasibility of a scientific democratic approach to politics, economy, and culture.
But freedom of thought is under a triple threat in modern society—from the deliberate opium of mass culture, from cowardly, egotistic, and philistine ideologies, and from the ossified dogmatism of a bureaucratic oligarchy and its favorite weapon, ideological censorship. Therefore, freedom of thought requires the defense of all thinking and honest people.

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