Monday, May 21, 2012

Andrei Sakharov (May 21, 1921)

Sakharov was a very famous Soviet-era Russian physicist and human rights activist, who died in 1989. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975.

From an essay by Sakharov:
"In this pamphlet, advanced for discussion by its readers, the author has set himself the goal to present, with the greatest conviction and frankness, two theses that are supported by many people in the world. These are: 
"[1] The division of mankind threatens it with destruction... Only universal cooperation under conditions of intellectual freedom and the lofty moral ideals of socialism and labor, accompanied by the elimination of dogmatism and pressure of the concealed interests of ruling classes, will preserve civilization... 
"[2] The second basic thesis is that 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, economics and culture." -- (from the New York Times, 22 July 1968, quoted in American Institute of Physics biography)

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