Who gave me the right? You gave it to me. Who gave me the power? You gave it to me. And I will cling to it with grim determination. Try to take it from me. You gave it to me—you with your malice, your ignorance, your stupidity! You with your wretched impotence! Right! Power! They have turned the earth into a sewer, an outrage, an abode of slaves. They worry each other, they torture each other, and they ask: “Who dares to take us by the throat?” I! Do you understand? I! (Rises)
You are a mere man like everybody else.
I am the avenger! Behind me follow in pursuit all those whom you stifled and crushed. Ah, they have been pursuing their wicked trade in all quietness, thinking that no one would discover them—thinking that they would get away with it in the end. They have been lying, grovelling, and sneaking. They have been cringing and abusing themselves before their altars and their impotent God, saying: “There is nothing to be afraid of—we are among ourselves.” Then comes a man who says: “An accounting—I want an accounting! What have you done? Out with it. Give me an accounting. Go on now! Don’t try to cheat, for I know you. I demand an account for each and every single item. I will not condone a single drop of blood, I will not absolve you from a single tear.”
But to destroy all. Think of it!
What could you do with them? What would you do? Try to persuade the oxen to turn away from their bovine path? Catch each one by his horns and pull him away? Would you put on a frock-coat and read a lecture? Haven’t they had plenty to teach them? As if words and thoughts had any significance to them! Thought—pure, unhappy thought! They have perverted it. They have taught it to cheat and defraud. They have made it a saleable commodity to be bought at auction in the market. No, sister, life is short and I am not going to waste it in arguments with oxen. The way to deal with them is by fire. That’s what they require—fire! Let them remember long the day on which Savva Tropinin came to the earth!
But what do you want? What do you want?
What do I want? To free the earth, to free mankind, to sweep the whole two-legged, chattering tribe out of existence. Man—the man of to-day—is wise. He has come to his senses. He is ripe for liberty. But the past eats away his soul like a canker. It imprisons him within the iron circle of things already accomplished, within the iron circle of facts. I want to demolish the facts—that’s what I want to do: demolish all facts! To sweep away all the accumulated rubbish—literature, art, God. They have perverted mankind. They have immortalized stupidity. I want to do away with everything behind man, so that there is nothing to see when he looks back. I want to take him by the scruff of his neck and turn his face toward the future.