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.

Find a Charles Malik Original Quote

Great spiritual and intellectual leadership is lacking. The commanding voice, the resounding word, the towering mind, the lofty vision, the uncompromised conviction, are not in sight. The Pope alone rises now and then to these heights. But on the whole,…

Great spiritual and intellectual leadership is lacking. The commanding voice, the resounding word, the towering mind, the lofty vision, the uncompromised conviction, are not in sight. The Pope alone rises now and then to these heights. But on the whole, there is utter mediocrity in world leadership.

Source: Lebanon Between Hope and Despair 1

Crisis Leadership | Faith |

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 |

A great leader suffers in a hundred different ways, and keeps his suffering to himself. A great leader survives both his suffering and the fact that nobody knows anything about it.  A great leader loves being alone with God.  A…

A great leader suffers in a hundred different ways, and keeps his suffering to himself.

A great leader survives both his suffering and the fact that nobody knows anything about it. 

A great leader loves being alone with God. 

A great leader communes with the deepest the ages have known. 

A great leader knows there is a higher and there is a lower, and he always seeks the higher, and indeed the highest. 

A great leader fights against the spiritual forces of darkness and disintegration, both in his own soul and in the world. 

A great leader overcomes himself, rises above himself, daily, minutely. 

A great leader is very polite, but he never tones down the truth just to please others. 

Source: Crisis Leadership 8

Crisis Leadership | Faith |

The golden rule is: Expand your circle of friends, but not at the expense of those who trusted you; welcome and win the new, but also preserve the old.

The golden rule is: Expand your circle of friends, but not at the expense of those who trusted you; welcome and win the new, but also preserve the old.

Source: Crisis Leadership 7

Crisis Leadership |

Therefore, let whoever is called to lead, lead. Now the leader is sure of his stand and can argue it in full. He can therefore listen to counterarguments with patience and without fear, and when the argument is compelling, he…

Therefore, let whoever is called to lead, lead. Now the leader is sure of his stand and can argue it in full. He can therefore listen to counterarguments with patience and without fear, and when the argument is compelling, he will change his stand. But when the change comes, it must not be because the first stand was taken lightly or without due consideration; for nothing shakes confidence in the leader more than the knowledge that in the first place he was not really sure of himself, that his initial position was a veritable shot in the dark. Firmly grounded positions are of the essence of leadership. 

Source: Crisis Leadership 6

Crisis Leadership |

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. 

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. 

Source: Crisis Leadership 5

Crisis Leadership |

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…

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.

Source: Crisis Leadership 4

Crisis Leadership |

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…

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.

Source: Crisis Leadership 3

Crisis Leadership | Human Rights |


Copyright © 2023 Charles Malik Insitute. All rights reserved.

An Initiative of The Philos Project.