Heinlein On Democracy

Thus spake Heinlein. “The America of my time line is a laboratory example of what can happen to democracies, what has eventually happened to all perfect democracies throughout all histories.”

A perfect democracy, a ‘warm body’ democracy in which every adult may vote and all votes count equally, has no internal feedback for self-correction. It depends solely on the wisdom and self-restraint of citizens… which is opposed by the folly and lack of self-restraint of other citizens. What is supposed to happen in a democracy is that each sovereign citizen will always vote in the public interest for the safety and welfare of all. But what does happen is that he votes his own self-interest as he sees it… which for the majority translates as ‘Bread and Circuses.’

‘Bread and Circuses’ is the cancer of democracy, the fatal disease for which there is no cure. Democracy often works beautifully at first. But once a state extends the franchise to every warm body, be he producer or parasite, that day marks the beginning of the end of the state. For when the plebs discover that they can vote themselves bread and circuses without limit and that the productive members of the body politic cannot stop them, they will do so, until the state bleeds to death, or in its weakened condition the state succumbs to an invader—the barbarians enter Rome.

The parasites have long taken over.

Author: Atanu Dey


4 thoughts on “Heinlein On Democracy”

  1. “What is supposed to happen in a democracy is that each sovereign citizen will always vote in the public interest for the safety and welfare of all.”

    Not true. This is classic left wing definition of democracy. Democracy and capitalism is all about self-interest of an individual or as family as a unit. And people who create good democracies, meaning constitutions, also understand that the elected cannot be trusted to do want is in the self-interest of the majority, as individuals, who voted in the self-interest of themselves. So good democracies are designed to have inherent check and balance so one branch can block another if it becomes extreme against the wishes of the majority, as individuals.

    Only rarely does the state should wish away the majority. India is basket case precisely because of people like Heinlein, working for “greater good”, dismiss the electorates as ‘bread and circuses’.

    “Bread and Cricuses” is democracy. Of course, it’s cancer to the liberal elites who think they can run others better than they themselves can – hence they come up with quotes/reservations and transfer payments to groups of various manifestations and all kinds of economic and social controls on individuals.


  2. DEMOCRACY is indeed, a symbol of human civilization. However, it can produce optimal results only when a large majority of the voters understand the real value of their vote. Until that happens, a democracy remains dicy: “kabhi khushi kabhi gum”. The malaise of the Indian democracy is the existence of a crowd of political parties without real vision of a developed India. Their main strategy of getting into power is by dividing the already-confused aam aadmees on the lines of religion, region, caste, sex, language, tribes etc. The result is that Indians are sharply divided into multiple vote-banks to become helpless pawns in the hands of selfish and power-hungry polticians. Character and notoroity of party-candidates is largely ignored. Party-tickets are openly sold on heavy black premiums. Gentlemen feel scared to file candidature. Election commission has no powers to filter-out shady candidates. That is one major reason behind India being already kneck-deep in corruption. Even our children are getting to feel that goodness cannot work, following right-track means inviting trouble, opportunism is the only way to success, and so on. Media and internet may spread the right wisdom among young citizens, is the last hope. This hope may bring the needful change in the Indian psyche and democracy takes U-turn giving us good leaders who love India more than themselves.


  3. DChandra: “Bread and Circuses” is usually a blame on liberals because they are the ones usually associated with labor organizations and welfare state ideas. Conservatives are “conservative” and theoretically hate the idea of being doled “bread” through government, and the ones who usually complain that wealth is being transferred from producers to free loaders.

    “Even though Democracy is the best we got, it is only as good as the people in it.” I’ve heard it umpteen times but the force of it stuck me only recently, when I was watching a documentary on civil rights movement. Some years after the civil rights movement, when the politicians who fought the most to keep segregation were interviewed, one by one, all of them repeatedly said that they only did what was politically expedient at that time. It was what the majority wanted at that time; anything else would have been a political suicide, and it would take more than a politician to commit that. That’s why Lyndon Johnson said that the Democrats have lost the south permanently when he signed the civil rights bill.

    Saw this article http://www.readprint.com/work-1260/Reflections-On-Gandhi-George-Orwell , and couldn’t resist posting it in spite of being irrelevant here.


  4. CONGRESS PARTY has surely made us a democracy. its still in DEMO VERSION and it is RUN BY DEMONS!!!

    we need a FEARLESS LEADER, a modern day LORD RAMA like modiji to finish of these RAKSHASAS and move from CONgress to PROgress!!!we need ENTIRE INDIa to be shining like GUJARAT!!!


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: