Mark Ames, of Exile fame, recently wrote about Edward Snowden on NSFW Corp (unfortunately locked up behind a pay wall). He relays a story of getting caught up in the trial of a Russian political agitator Eduard Limonov. While debating whether he should testify in the agitator’s defense, he gets advice from a friend, who says the following:
My father always told me something that I’ve only recently started to understand, and I’m going to tell it to you now: Everyone dies by their idea. Do you understand what I mean, mate? We all die by our own idea. You know my father—he was a member of the Academy of Sciences, he’s a physicist, a great physicist, and for the Soviet times, in the 1970s, to be a physicist in the Academy of Sciences was really the top of everything. But he got into a fight with a powerful clan, on principles, politics—I won’t get into that now, but my father did not back down. And he paid for it. He was kicked out. He lost his privileges. He lost everything. And he told me, many times now, ‘Everyone dies by their own idea.’ So you have to ask yourself what is your idea you’ll die by.
“Limonov—we know his idea. For some reason, mate, you like this guy. I don’t like Limonov myself, I can’t stand that motherfucker. But at least I know this about Limonov—that he’s living and he’s probably going to die by his idea. No one thinks he’ll ever get out of jail alive. I think he’s a motherfucker for taking other people down with him, but some people are weak, and those people die by someone else’s idea. You see what I”m saying, mate? I’m not going to give you any advice or tell you what to do anymore. You like trouble, you like that kind of journalism. I don’t get the point of it. You know what I think about your shitty newspaper, mate, and all fucking journalists for that matter. But you’re my friend, and I try to help my friends. I don’t like losing my friends. Now, about this Limonov trial. What his lawyers are trying to do to you, is fuck you to save their client—is this your idea, mate? Just think about what you believe in before you do something stupid or weak.
Powerful words. I wonder what is worse—having an idea that will lead to your demise, or not having one at all.