Despite Charles Malik’s prolific career and accomplishments on the world stage, his written legacy has largely been lost to history, falling out of circulation or never making it to print. It survives in hard-to-access libraries and sometimes in languages foreign to Western readers.

The Library of Congress in D.C. holds the largest collection of Malik’s work with 114.8 linear feet of material. Below you will find the Charles Malik Institute’s ongoing effort to mine this archive, with occasional additions from other libraries, and bring Malik’s work back into public discourse.

Read these selected works by Charles Malik

Find a Charles Malik Original Quote

No man who has drunk deep from the fountainheads of Western civilization—I mean, from Plato and Aristotle, from the Roman Stoics, from the Bible, from the great saints, from Dante and Shakespeare, from the great art of Spain and Holland…

No man who has drunk deep from the fountainheads of Western civilization—I mean, from Plato and Aristotle, from the Roman Stoics, from the Bible, from the great saints, from Dante and Shakespeare, from the great art of Spain and Holland and Germany and Italy and France, from the great German thinkers, from the hymns and sacred music of the church, from Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, from the great love for liberty and man which has always characterized the heart of America—no man, I say, who has really known the West and loves it at its truest and deepest and highest, is not disturbed and pained today […] at the absence of really great leadership—political, intellectual, moral and religious. (17-19)

Source: Survival in an Age of Revolution 1

Crisis Leadership | Western Thought |

I must say in all humility that the leadership of the West in general does not seem to be adequate to the unprecedented challenges of the age. There is a tragic dearth of men, men who are so genuinely in…

I must say in all humility that the leadership of the West in general does not seem to be adequate to the unprecedented challenges of the age. There is a tragic dearth of men, men who are so genuinely in touch with the truth and with the hearts of their fellow men as to have only to open their mouths to be loved and believed and followed. The world desperately cries for masters; for it is only the voice of conviction and truth that is going to save us. 

Nor is it sufficient in this cruel century to be happy and self-sufficient. You must step forth and lead, and not only in material things. It is not enough to realize good institutions and to leave it to others to copy them. For man isn’t only an ape: he does not only mimic the good example of others. Man thirsts after ideas. If the habits and institutions of the West are not adapted for the production of a ringing message, full of content and truth, satisfying the mind, appealing to the heart, firing the will, a message on which one can stake his whole life, then in the present world, in which there is, perhaps as never before, a universal hunger for truth and justice and rest, the West cannot lead. Leadership must pass on to others, no matter how perverted and false these others might be. For the Logos prefers and can finally utilize a false prophet far better than no prophet at all. If your only export in these realms is the silent example of flourishing political institutions and happy human relations, you cannot lead. If your only export is a distant reputation for wealth and prosperity and order, you cannot lead. Nor can you really lead if you send forth to others only expert advice and technical assistance. To be able to lead and save yourself and others, you must above everything else address their mind and soul. Your tradition, rooted in the glorious Greco-Roman-Hebrew-Christian-Western-European-humane outlook, supplies you with all the necessary presuppositions for leadership. All you have to do is to be the deepest you already are. The challenge of this epoch is not Communism, but is whether Western society, conceived in the joyous liberties of the Greek city-states and nurtured on Christian charity, can still recover from the worship of false and alien gods and return to its authentic sources. The challenge of the moment is whether modern man, distracted and overwhelmed by himself and by the world, can still regain the original integrity of his soul. (31-34)

Source: War and Peace 1

Communism | Crisis Leadership | Faith | Western Thought |

[T]he need to advance the cause of human rights is more important than meeting together and securing widespread publicity. The supreme need is for vigorous moral leadership. Given such leadership, grounded not in interest but in principle and vision, there…

[T]he need to advance the cause of human rights is more important than meeting together and securing widespread publicity. The supreme need is for vigorous moral leadership. Given such leadership, grounded not in interest but in principle and vision, there will emerge a real atmosphere of expectancy and positive cooperation that will carry along the hesitant, and shame the primitive and formless into action and commitment. Where the call is absolutely clear, nations will not dare stay behind. 

The need in this field is above everything else for courageous and sustained moral leadership, for one nation to put its own house in order and so be fired by a genuine sense of mission as to have its words on fundamental human rights ring with authority. I am afraid I must observe that authoritative moral leadership in the sphere of human rights is lacking today. This is one of the deepest issues facing our undertaking. 

The crisis therefore is in national and not in individual leadership. There is no sign of national moral vocation to lead in this field. There is everything in the background and fundamental outlook of certain nations to entitle them to take a bold lead concerning the ultimate emancipation of man; and yet such a lead is not forthcoming.  

The ordinary processes of the emergence of responsible leadership in the democratic world do not seem to be tossing up at present leaders of the requisite moral stature. By the time a man reaches the top he has usually expended his soul in compromise and appeasement. The result of all this is divided and enfeebled counsel. 

We need endless rational debate and discussion; we need the bracing touch of moral leadership; but without the real political will to discover, promulgate and enforce these rights, debate and leadership will avail nothing. The will is the agency of realization, and you may know all the truth and you may know it even with passion, but unless you also will it, it is unlikely to pass into actuality. I confess that there is in fact an inadequate international will to achieve human rights. (87-95)

Source: The Challenge of Human Rights 1

Crisis Leadership | Human Rights | United Nations |

The spirit flourishes and peace supervenes when men believe in the possibility of a real, common, natural good. (29)

The spirit flourishes and peace supervenes when men believe in the possibility of a real, common, natural good. (29)

Source: The Spiritual Significance of the United Nations 8

United Nations | Western Thought |

War arises either from hatred or from fear or from greed, and all three are fundamental sins against reason. For hatred at bottom wills the elimination of the other fellow, because it is blind to the possibility that there is…

War arises either from hatred or from fear or from greed, and all three are fundamental sins against reason. For hatred at bottom wills the elimination of the other fellow, because it is blind to the possibility that there is a truth, a community of the spirit, that can bracket you both, provided both of you are humbly and practically exposed to it. Fear, on the other hand, fears precisely that the other fellow rejects such a possibility, and therefore moves to strike first. Greed does not recognize the truth of objective justice, namely, that infinite desire is the source of all evil because while there may be enough and plenty for all our need, as a matter of fact there is not enough for all our greed. (29)

Source: The Spiritual Significance of the United Nations 7

Faith | United Nations | Western Thought |

Peace is promised to men of good will, namely, in my judgement, to the men who allow for the possibility of a rational common good; but even angels, if faced with men who absolutely reject such a possibility, who teach…

Peace is promised to men of good will, namely, in my judgement, to the men who allow for the possibility of a rational common good; but even angels, if faced with men who absolutely reject such a possibility, who teach instead that the good is not determined by reason and love but by force—no matter how ingenious their dialectical interpretations of this force might be—even angels, I say, facing such a breed of men must take up arms and fight. (29)

Source: The Spiritual Significance of the United Nations 6

United Nations | Western Thought |

The promotion of larger ideals, more universal norms, elaborated, not arbitrarily, but according to the nature of things—I mean norms concerning justice and truth, concerning man and his dignity, concerning the place of material goods in human life, concerning the…

The promotion of larger ideals, more universal norms, elaborated, not arbitrarily, but according to the nature of things—I mean norms concerning justice and truth, concerning man and his dignity, concerning the place of material goods in human life, concerning the source of political power, concerning freedom of thought and conscience, concerning intercultural interaction and respect, concerning how to meet aggression, whether it comes by external invasion or by internal subversion effectively directed from without—the promotion of some binding understanding among the nations upon these fundamental things is the only hope for peace in the world. (28)

Source: The Spiritual Significance of the United Nations 5

Human Rights | United Nations | Western Thought |

…the spirit of man requires some identity of meaning if it is to live. (26)

…the spirit of man requires some identity of meaning if it is to live. (26)

Source: The Spiritual Significance of the United Nations 4

Faith | United Nations | Western Thought |

…unless Marx and his movement are adequately answered and arrested on every level—militarily, politically, economically, and above all, theoretically and spiritually—the best intentions in the United Nations will always be vitiated. (25)

…unless Marx and his movement are adequately answered and arrested on every level—militarily, politically, economically, and above all, theoretically and spiritually—the best intentions in the United Nations will always be vitiated. (25)

Source: The Spiritual Significance of the United Nations 3

Communism | United Nations | Western Thought |

…However, it can be shown that the tragic conflicts of our times are all rooted in man’s division over his own interpretation of himself—of his origin, his essence, his destiny, his place in the universe–it is evident that in the…

…However, it can be shown that the tragic conflicts of our times are all rooted in man’s division over his own interpretation of himself—of his origin, his essence, his destiny, his place in the universe–it is evident that in the human rights enterprise these conflicts come to the sharpest focus, and that not between armchair philosophers or well-meaning idealists, but among the responsible representatives of the governments and effective cultures of the whole world. (22)

Source: The Spiritual Significance of the United Nations 2

Human Rights | United Nations | Western Thought |


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