How Evil Triumphs
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
Edmund Burke (January 12, 1729 – July 9, 1797) was an Irish political philosopher, Whig politician and statesman who is often regarded as the father of modern conservatism.
This is probably the most quoted statement attributed to Burke, and an extraordinary number of variants of it exist, but all without any definite original source. These very extensively used remarks may be based on a paraphrase of some of Burke’s ideas, but he is not known to have ever declared them in so succinct a manner in any of his writings.
They may have been adapted from these lines of Burke’s in his Thoughts on the Cause of Present Discontents (1770): “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”
It also bears a strong resemblance to the narrated theme of Sergei Bondarchuk’s Soviet film adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s book “War and Peace”, in which the narrator declares “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”.