International Endowment for Democracy
www.internationalendowmentfordemocracy.org    or    www.iefd.org

Democracy Quotes

"You measure democracy by the freedom it gives its dissidents, not the freedom it gives its assimilated conformists".
Abbie Hoffman


"If the concepts 'enemy' and 'fear' constitute the 'energetic principles' of politics, a democratic political system is impossible, whether the fear is produced from within or without... If freedom is absence of restraints, the restraints to be removed are many, but the psychological restraint of fear ranks first."
Franz Neumann


"If democracy is such a good thing, let's have more of it."
Dick Gregory


"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
Louis D. Brandeis (Supreme Court Judge)


"Capitalism is a system in which the central institutions of society are, in principle, under autocratic control. Thus, a corporation or an industry is, if we were to think of it in political terms, fascist, that is, it has tight control at the top and strict obedience has to be established at every level... Just as I'm opposed to political fascism, I am opposed to economic fascism. I think that until the major institutions of society are under the popular control of participants and communities, it's pointless to talk about democracy".
Noam Chomsky


"When people refuse to obey, then democracy comes alive."
Howard Zinn


"Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to befoul the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day."
Theodore Roosevelt, April 19, 1906


"And it seems to me perfectly in the cards that there will be within the next generation or so a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing...a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda, brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods."
Aldous Huxley, 1959


"The real difference between democracy and oligarchy is poverty and wealth. Wherever men rule by reason of their wealth, whether they be few of many, that is an oligarchy, and where the poor rule, that is democracy".
Aristotle


"Our form of government does not enter into rivalry with the institutions of others. We do not copy our neighbors, but are an example to them. It is true that we are called a democracy, for the administration is in the hands of the many and not of the few. But while the laws secure equal justice to all alike in their private disputes, the claim of excellence is also recognized; and when a citizen is in any way distinguished he is preferred to the public service, not as a matter of privilege, but as the reward of merit. "Neither is poverty a bar, for a man may benefit his country whatever be the obscurity of his conditions. There is no exclusiveness in our public life, and in our private intercourses we are not suspicious of one another, nor angry with our neighbor if he does what he likes; we do not give him sour looks which, though harmless, are not pleasant".
Pericles (Athenian statesman, 5th century B.C.)


"I believe democracy to be of all forms of government the most natural, and the most consonant with individual liberty. In it no one transfers his natural rights so absolutely that he has no further voice in affairs, he only hands it over to the majority of a society, whereof he is a unit. Thus all men remain, as they were in the state of nature, equals".
Spinoza


"The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy".
Montesquieu


"Democracy restores to man a consciousness of his value, teaches him by the removal of authority and oppression to listen to the dictates of reason, gives him confidence to treat all other men as his fellow human beings, and induces him to regard them no longer as enemies against whom to be upon his guard, but as brethren whom it becomes him to assist".
William Godwin (British philosopher, 18th century)


"There never was a democracy that did not commit suicide".
Samuel Adams (American revolutionary leader)


""The people who own the country ought to govern it".
John Jay (Member of the Convention that wrote the U.S. Constitution)


Democracy is "government of, by and for the people".
Abraham Lincoln


"There are but two parties; there never have been but two parties… founded in the radical question, whether PEOPLE or PROPERTY shall govern? Democracy implies a government by the people… Aristocracy implies a government of the rich… and in these words are contained the sum of party distinctions".
Thomas Benton (American 19th century stateman)


"The principal advantage of a democracy is a general elevation in the character of the people… The vulgar charge that the tendency of democracies is to leveling, meaning to drag all down to the level of the lowest, is singularly untrue, its real tendency being to elevate the depressed to a condition not unworthy of their manhood".
James Fenimore Cooper (American 19th century novelist)


"There is nothing mysterious about the foundations of a healthy and strong democracy. The basic things expected by our people of their political and economic system are simple. They are:
Equality of opportunity for youth and others;
Jobs for those who can work;
Security for those who need it;
The ending of the special privileges for the few;
The preservation of civil liberties for all;
The enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living."
Franklin D. Roosevelt


"The inevitable outcome of Democracy is the control by the people themselves, not only of their own political organization, but through that, also of the main instruments of wealth production; the gradual substitution of organized cooperation for the anarchy of the competitive struggle… The economic side of the democratic ideal is, in fact, socialism itself".
Sidney Webb (English socialist writer)


"There is only one sort of genuine socialism, the democratic sort, by which I mean the organization of society for the benefit of the whole people".
George Bernard Shaw (Irish socialist dramatist and critic)


"Democracy: a government of the masses. Authority derived through mass meeting or any other form of direct expression. Results in mobocracy. Attitude toward property is communistic… negating property rights. Attitude toward law is that the will of a majority shall regulate, whether it is based upon deliberation or governed by passion, prejudices or impulse, without restraint or regard to consequences. Result is demogogism, license, agitation, discontent, anarchy."
U.S. Army Official Training Manual No. 2000-25 (Between 1928-1932)


"The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment".
Robert Maynard Hutchins (American educator)



  
 
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