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Charlie Chaplin’s speech in the The Great Dictator (1940)
|| 8/10/2009 || 4:15 pm || 8 Comments Rendered || ||

The Great Dictator is a comedy film directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin. First released in October 1940, it was Chaplin’s first true talking picture, and more importantly was the only major film of its period to bitterly satirize Nazism and Adolf Hitler. In the film Chaplin plays two characters who look strikingly similar- a jewish barber and a dictator who looks like Adolf Hitler. Near the end of the film, after a series of far-flung mishaps, the dictator gets replaced by his look-alike, the barber, and is taken to the capital where he is asked to give a speech. The text below (via) is the transcription of the video above. I am posting it because I feel that it’s as relevant today as it was 69 years ago.

Hope… I’m sorry but I don’t want to be an Emperor – that’s not my business – I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible, Jew, gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another, human beings are like that.

We all want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone and the earth is rich and can provide for everyone.

The way of life can be free and beautiful.

But we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men’s souls – has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed.

We have developed speed but we have shut ourselves in: machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical, our cleverness hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little: More than machinery we need humanity; More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.

The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men, cries out for universal brotherhood for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me I say “Do not despair”.

The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress: the hate of men will pass and dictators die and the power they took from the people, will return to the people and so long as men die [now] liberty will never perish…

Soldiers – don’t give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you – who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel, who drill you, diet you, treat you as cattle, as cannon fodder.

Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men, machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts. You are not machines. You are not cattle. You are men. You have the love of humanity in your hearts. You don’t hate – only the unloved hate. Only the unloved and the unnatural. Soldiers – don’t fight for slavery, fight for liberty.

In the seventeenth chapter of Saint Luke it is written ” the kingdom of God is within man ” – not one man, nor a group of men – but in all men – in you, the people.

You the people have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness. You the people have the power to make life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy let’s use that power – let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give you the future and old age and security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power, but they lie. They do not fulfil their promise, they never will. Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people. Now let us fight to fulfil that promise. Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.

Soldiers – in the name of democracy, let us all unite!”

For a cartographic bonus, here is another clip from the film where Charlie Chaplin, playing the role of Adenoid Hynkel (Adolf Hitler), dances with a globe balloon. If you look closely, you can see how the world was mapped in 1939 when the movie was filmed.

Post Title: Charlie Chaplin’s speech in the The Great Dictator (1940)
Post Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in: Humor, Vimeo, YouTube
Last edited by Nikolas Schiller on 8/10/2009 at 4:15 pm

  1. I love this speech, it probably means just as much now as it did in the time of the Nazi party. I believe that it is now time to over throw our government that we can now see is at an ever increasing rate becoming an obvious Oligarchy, I know I am not alone in this and I hope that we can see what is happening before our very eyes, a corrupt government, a government of one of the most powerful groups, a group that preaches peace and unity but would kill thousand of innocent people for their own benefit. Stand for the new Democracy! Anti : N.O.S

    Comment by Gabriel — 1/8/2011 @ 4:25 am

  2. yes i too think this speech is strangely resonant in these times, i know that i’m not the only one who thinks there has been an attempt to pull the wool in a lot of areas, i know for a fact i am less free than i was say 15 years ago, cheers Dx

    Comment by derek — 1/31/2011 @ 7:56 am

  3. Oppressors of the world – your time is ending!!

    I love this clip. It applies to today – in fact, some of the descendents of the architects of Nazi Germany are in power in America today.

    Look at the results, or look at the methods, and you know our political system and economy are rigged to serve only the wealthy, the oligarchy.

    Eisenhower’s farewell speech warned us, and it came true – “the powers of the military industrial complex”.

    Remember when BP’s Swedish executive referred to the Gulf Spill victims as “the little people”?? Are you content to be “a little person”? {no offense, or relation, to people of small stature, he meant “poor and middle class people” of course}

    Are we not people? We are not little people!!

    WE CAN END IT!! We are the 99%!!

    {please, no violence – it will be used against us}

    Comment by Karlin Klavin — 10/29/2011 @ 5:33 pm

  4. Great Speech…

    Agree with Gabriel & Derek.

    Comment by Jezz — 11/1/2011 @ 2:28 am

  5. This speech is so poignant that I have forwarded it to a local community radio station (actually, a “YouTube” clip) for them to put on the air for a wider audience to hear. Hopefully, this will become a viral entity, truly needed in these times when candidates preach their personal morality and fear to an American populace fed the pablum of personal isolation and prejudice.

    When you hear the news from a narrow source of information, question it by hearing other viewpoints. Humans are infinitely capable of love, joy, the Light of the ONE-ness of the First Commandment. Or we can descend into the hate and fear of animals, fighting between troupes of tribes, and destroying the “Big Blue Marble” on which we live. We can do better, and this 1940s speech was prescient. We must do better and not give into the hate and fear that so many of our politicians and money/ power/ lucre/ mammon wielders disseminate in their Corporate owned commercial media. That is why they fear NPR and PBS for their inability to control the news they broadcast.

    Comment by Leon — 11/4/2011 @ 8:08 pm

  6. @karlin To compare this to the 99% is so dumb, get out of here and stop ruining a great speech for people. You understand the people in the “1%” will work 100% harder than you ever will your just lazy.

    Comment by John Smith — 11/29/2011 @ 4:15 pm

  7. This is what Ron Paul stands for. If this interests you, please research him for yourself and don’t buy in to the corporate media BS. He is leading the revolution to take liberty back.

    Comment by Jooseekay — 1/22/2012 @ 3:41 am

  8. beautiful, moving and so dead on! RON PAUL 2012

    Comment by rick — 1/25/2012 @ 4:29 pm

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Nikolas Schiller is a second-class American citizen living in America's last colony, Washington, DC. This blog is my on-line repository of what I have created or found on-line since May of 2004. If you have any questions or comments, please contact:

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