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Interesting Passages VI…

March 30th, 2009 · 3 Comments

Have I mentioned that I’m a big fan of Robert Heinlein? Even in passing? These are quotes from several articles and short stories of his that were collected in his book Expanded Universe. As usual, while reading this book, I’ve highlighted several passages that are meaningful to me and help describe my thoughts on current events. Here are a few:

“There has grown up in the minds of certain croups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profits in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute nor common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back.” – from RAH’s short-story, Life Line.

“Most liberals believe that water runs downhill, but, praise God, it’ll never reach the bottom.” – from RAH’s short-story, Solution Unsatisfactory.

Also from Solution Unsatisfactory, a passage regarding those that would prefer to see one-world government over the current situation of individual nations: “There are a lot of good, kindly people who are internationalists these days. Nine out of ten of them are soft in the head and the tenth is ignorant.”

“If two men are locked in a basement, one armed with a 50-calibre machine gun, the other with an 18th century ball-and-powder pistol, victory goes to the man who shoots first, not to the one with the better weapon.” – from RAH’s opinion piece, titled The Last Days of the United States (a .pdf of which can be purchased here for a paltry $2).  It was specifically discussing the logic of atomic weapons, yet I believe this opinion accurately describes any situation between two individuals, groups, or countries. The best defense is a good offense.

“Democracies usually collapse not too long after the plebs discover that they can vote themselves bread and circuses…for a while.” – from the afterword to RAH’s opinion piece, Who Are the Heirs of Patrick Henry? Get the .pdf of the article here (not sure whether that contains the afterword or not). I think this is very near what is happening (has happened) in this country right now. He wrote similar passages in several different articles, including this one from The Happy Days Ahead: “One chink in the armor of any democracy is that, when the Plebs discover that they can vote themselves Bread & Circuses, they usually do…right up to the day there is neither bread nor circuses. At that point they often start lynching the senators, congressmen, bankers, tax collectors…take your choice. For they know that they didn’t do it. The citizen is sovereign until it comes to accepting blame for his sovereign acts – then he demands a scapegoat.”

Also from the afterword of Where Are the Heirs of Patrick Henry? : “…the events of the last fifty years prove that anybody can sit in the Oval Office; it’s just that some are more impressive in appearance than others.”

“Spying is wise and necessary insurance against utter military disaster.” – from his travel/opinion piece “PRAVDA” Means “TRUTH, a .pdf of which is available here.

“An animal so poor in spirit that he won’t even fight on his own behalf is already an evolutionary dead end; the best he can do for his breed is to crawl off and die, and not pass on his defective genes.” – from RAH’s opinion piece The Pragmatics of Patriotism, or the James Forrestal Memorial Lecture given to a brigade of Midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy (.pdf here).

Also from The Pragmatics of Patriotism: “Patriotism – An abstract word used to describe a type of behavior as harshly practical as good brakes and good tires. It means that you place the welfare of your nation ahead of your own, even if it costs you your life.” I’m not sure we’ll ever see another generation in this country that upholds that definition of patriotism.

And lastly, here’s a quote that sums up my feelings toward our current (and most recent former) administration’s spending policies: “A trillion seconds is 31,688 years, 9 months, 5 days, 8 hours, 6 minuts, and 42 seconds – long enoughfor the precession of equinoxes to make Vega the Pole Star, swing back again to Polaris, and go on past Alpha Cephei. Or counting time the other way, it would take us to 29,708 BC! I don’t understand a trillion dollars any better than I do a trillion seconds. I simply know that we had better stop spending money we don’t have if we want to aavoid that Man on Horseback.” – from The Happy Days Ahead.

If there were a new political party created that made a platform of Robert Anson Heinlein’s philosophy and ideals, I might just hitch my cart to it for the duration.

RAH’s book, Expanded Universe, is available for purchase on Amazon.com. The topics are a bit outdated, but the philosophy can be applied to today’s world very easily.

Tags: Literature · Personal

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Marc // Mar 30, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    Sign me up for the political party too.

  • 2 Dean // Mar 30, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    The Heinleinicans. The RAH instead of the GOP.

  • 3 gcalvin // Mar 30, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    I was thinking “Heinlenites” or “Heinleinians.”

    Anyway, the party that seems to resemble his way of thinking most closely these days is the Libertarian Party, I’d say.

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