Aldous Huxley: “To Be Able to Destroy with Good Conscience …”


The following famous quote about persecution is from the novelist Aldous Huxley. It is sometimes mistakenly claimed to originate from Huxley’s 1921 novel Crome Yellow. However, that is a misattribution. For one can check the whole text here.

In fact it originates from a special Introduction that Huxley wrote for a 1934 edition of Samuel Butler’s novel Erewhon.

“Men show at least as much zeal in mischief as in well doing, in folly as in wisdom. The surest way to work up a crusade in favor of some good cause is to promise people that they will have a chance of maltreating someone. Men must be bribed to build up and do good by the offer of an opportunity to hurt and pull down. To be able to destroy with good conscience, to be able to behave badly and call your bad behavior ‘righteous indignation’ — this…

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