Karl Kraus: Half Truths and One and a Half Truths: Selected Aphorisms on Religion, Morality, Patriotism

09 November 2019



  • Religion, morality, and patriotism are feelings that are manifested only when they are outraged.
  • Morality is a burglar’s tool whose merit lies in never being left behind at the scene of the crime.
  • Morality is the tendency to pour out the baby with the bathwater.
  • The pimp is the executive organ of immorality. The executive organ of morality is the blackmailer.
  • The triumph of morality: A thief who has broken into a bedroom claims his sense of shame has been outraged, and by threatening the occupants with exposure of an immoral act he blackmails them into not bringing charges for burglary.
  • In the struggle between nature and morality, perversity can be a trophy or a wound, depending on whether nature has taken it or morality has inflicted it.
  • Scandal begins when the police put a stop to it.
  • Squeeze human nature into the straitjacket of criminal justice and crime will appear!
  • Penalties serve to deter those who are not inclined to commit any crimes.
  • Perhaps things would be better if people were given muzzles and dogs laws, if people were led around on leashes and dogs on religion. Rabies might then decrease in the same measure as politics.
  • When someone has behaved like an animal, he says: “I’m only human!” But when he is treated like an animal, he says: “I’m human, too!”
  • There are people who can never forgive a beggar for their not having given him anything.
  • A white lie is always pardonable. But he who tells the truth without compulsion merits no leniency.
  • Prussia: freedom of movement with a muzzle. Austria: an isolation cell in which screaming is allowed.
  • Life is an effort that deserves a better cause.
  • A weak man has doubts before a decision; a strong man has them afterwards.
  • Pangs of conscience are the sadistic stirrings of Christianity.
  • The devil is an optimist if he thinks he can make people meaner.
  • The time is coming when the Golden Fleece will be furnished by the Golden Calf.
  • Keep your passions in check, but beware of giving your reason free rein.
  • To be human is erroneous.
  • Lord, forgive them, for they know what they do!

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