"One does not make wars less likely by formulating rules of warfare... War cannot be humanized. It can only be eliminated..."
"An empty stomach is not a good political advisor."
"Nationalism is an infantile sickness. It is the measles of the human race."
(Einstein, The World As I See It, 1934)
"We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive."
The release of atomic energy has not created a new problem. It has merely made more urgent the necessity of solving an existing one. ~ Albert Einstein, "Atomic War or Peace," Atlantic Monthly, November 1945
Violence sometimes may have cleared away obstructions quickly, but it never has proved itself creative.
"Why does this applied science, which saves work and makes life easier, bring us so little
happiness? The simple answer runs: Because we have not yet learned to make sensible use of it."
"The discovery of nuclear chain reactions need not bring about the destruction of mankind any more than did the discovery of matches. We only must do everything in our power to safeguard against its abuse. Only a supranational organization, equipped with a sufficiently strong executive power, can protect us." (1953)
"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction."
"But could not our situation be compared to one of a menacing epidemic? People are unable to view this situation in its true light, for their eyes are blinded by passion. General fear and anxiety create hatred and aggressiveness. The adaptation to warlike aims and activities has corrupted the mentality of man; as a result, intelligent, objective and humane thinking has hardly any effect and is even suspected and persecuted as unpatriotic." ~Einstein "The Menace of Mass Destruction"
"He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, deplorable love-of-country stance, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder."
A Prayer for Understanding:
Oh, great Father, never let me judge another man until I have walked in his moccasins for two weeks. Peace cannot be kept by force, it can only be kept by understanding. ...Notes on pacifism
"Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding."
"Mankind's desire for peace can be realized only by the creation of a world government."
"Every thoughtful, well-meaning and conscientious human being should assume in time of peace,
the solemn and unconditional obligation
not to participate in any war, for any reason
or to lend support of any kind, whether direct or indirect."
"The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe."
"Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal."
"Since I do not foresee that atomic energy is to be a great boon for a long time, I have to say that for the present it is a menace. Perhaps it is well that it should be. It many intimidate the human race into bringing order into its international affairs, which without the pressure of fear, it would not do."
"In our time the military mentality is still more dangerous than formerly because the offensive weapons have become much more powerful than the defensive ones. Therefore, it leads, by necessity, to preventive war. The general insecurity that goes hand in hand with this results in the sacrifice of the citizen's civil rights to the supposed welfare of the state. Political witch-hunting, controls of all sorts (e.g., control of teaching and research, of the press, and so forth) appear inevitable, and for this reason do not encounter that popular resistance, which, were it not for the military mentality, would provide protection. A reappraisal of all values gradually takes place insofar as everything that does not clearly serve the utopian ends is regarded and treated as inferior." ~ Einstein "The Military Mentality"
"Force always attracts men of low morality, and I believe it to be an invariable rule that
tyrants of genius are succeeded by scoundrels."
As long as armies exist, any serious conflict will lead to war. It is characteristic of the military mentality that non-human factors are held essential, while the human being, his desires and thoughts, are considered as unimportant and secondary. You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war. To concentrate on the problems and aspirations which all thinking men share creates a sense of comradeship that is eventually bound to reunite scholars and artists of all nations."
"The pioneers of a warless world are the youth who refuse military service."
A large part of history is replete with the struggle for human rights, an eternal struggle in which final visitory can never be won. But to tire in that struggle would mean the ruin of society.
Only understanding for our neighbours, justice in our dealings, and willingness to help our fellow men can give human society permanence and assure security for the individual.
We scientists, whose tragic destination has been to help in making the methods of annihilation more gruesome and more effective, must consider it our solemn and transcendent duty to do all in our power in preventing these weapons from being used for the brutal purpose for which they were invented. What task could possibly be more important to us? What social aim could be closer to our hearts?
Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust; we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper. ~ Einstein, in The Saturday Evening Post, 26 October 1929
"The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them."
"Nor do I take into account a danger of starting a chain reaction of a scope great enough to destroy part or all of the planet...But it is not necessary to imagine the earth being destroyed like a nova by a stellar explosion to understand vividly the growing scope of atomic war and to recognize that unless another war is prevented it is likely to bring destruction on a scale never before held possible, and even now hardly conceived, and that little civilization would survive it." (1947)
"The real problem is in the hearts and minds of men. It is easier to denature plutonium than to denature the evil spirit of man."
"Politics is a pendulum whose swings between anarchy and tyranny are fuelled by perpetually rejuvenated illusions."
"Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism -- how passionately I hate them!"
"Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts."
When Einstein died on April 18, 1955 he left a piece of writing ending in an unfinished sentence. These were his last words:
In essence, the conflict that exists today is no more than an old-style struggle for power, once again presented to mankind in semi-religious trappings. The difference is that, this time, the development of atomic power has imbued the struggle with a ghostly character; for both parties know and admit that, should the quarrel deteriorate into actual war, mankind is doomed. Despite this knowledge, statesmen in responsible positions on both sides continue to employ the well-known technique of seeking to intimidate and demoralize the opponent by marshalling superior military strength. They do so even though such a policy entails the risk of war and doom. Not one statesman in a position of responsibility has dared to pursue the only course that holds out any promise of peace, the course of supranational security, since for a statesman to follow such a course would be tantamount to political suicide. Political passions, once they have been fanned into flame, exact their victims ... Citater fra...