„A democracy should not let its dreamers perish. They are its life, its guaranty against decay.“

—  Louis Sullivan, Context: He who knows naught of dreaming can, likewise, never attain the heights of power and possibility in persuading the mind to act. He who dreams not creates not. For vapor must arise in the air before the rain can fall. The greatest man of action is he who is the greatest, and a life-long, dreamer. For in him the dreamer is fortified against destruction by a far-seeing eye, a virile mind, a strong will, a robust courage. And so has perished the kindly dreamer — on the cross or in the garret. A democracy should not let its dreamers perish. They are its life, its guaranty against decay. Thus would I expand the sympathies of youth. Thus would I liberate and discipline all the constructive faculties of the mind and encourage true insight, true expression, real individuality. Thus would I concentrate the powers of will. Thus would I shape character. Thus would I make good citizens. And thus would I lay the foundations for a generation of real architects — real, because true, men, and dreamers in action.
Louis Sullivan photo
Louis Sullivan
1856 - 1924
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Kurt Vonnegut photo

„Democracy owed its life to know-how.“

—  Kurt Vonnegut American writer 1922 - 2007
Context: During the war, in hundreds of Iliums over America, managers and engineers learned to get along without their men and women, who went to fight. It was the miracle that won the war — production with almost no manpower. In the patois of the north side of the river, it was the know-how that won the war. Democracy owed its life to know-how. Chapter 1 (p. 9)

James Russell Lowell photo

„Democracy in its best sense is merely the letting in of light and air.“

—  James Russell Lowell American poet, critic, editor, and diplomat 1819 - 1891
Context: All free governments, whatever their name, are in reality governments by public opinion, and it is on the quality of this public opinion that their prosperity depends. It is, therefore, their first duty to purify the element from which they draw the breath of life. With the growth of democracy grows also the fear, if not the danger, that this atmosphere may be corrupted with poisonous exhalations from lower and more malarious levels, and the question of sanitation becomes more instant and pressing. Democracy in its best sense is merely the letting in of light and air.

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David Davis photo

„If a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy.“

—  David Davis British Conservative Party politician and former businessman 1948
David Davis MP speech "Europe: It's Time To Decide" http://www.daviddavismp.com/david-davis-mp-delivers-speech-on-the-opportunities-for-a-referendum-on-europe/ ( 19 November 2012 https://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2012/11/invitation-to-david-davis-lecture-on-europe.html)

John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton photo

„That is the notorious danger of modern democracy. That is also its purpose and its strength.“

—  John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton British politician and historian 1834 - 1902
Context: The manifest, the avowed difficulty is that democracy, no less than monarchy or aristocracy, sacrifices everything to maintain itself, and strives, with an energy and a plausibility that kings and nobles cannot attain, to override representation, to annul all the forces of resistance and deviation, and to secure, by Plebiscite, Referendum, or Caucus, free play for the will of the majority. The true democratic principle, that none shall have power over the people, is taken to mean that none shall be able to restrain or to elude its power. The true democratic principle, that the people shall not be made to do what it does not like, is taken to mean that it shall never be required to tolerate what it does not like. The true democratic principle, that every man‘s free will shall be as unfettered as possible, is taken to mean that the free will of the collective people shall be fettered in nothing. Religious toleration, judicial independence, dread of centralisation, jealousy of State interference, become obstacles to freedom instead of safeguards, when the centralised force of the State is wielded by the hands of the people. Democracy claims to be not only supreme, without authority above, but absolute, without independence below; to be its own master, not a trustee. The old sovereigns of the world are exchanged for a new one, who may be flattered and deceived, but whom it is impossible to corrupt or to resist, and to whom must be rendered the things that are Caesar's and also the things that are God’s. The enemy to be overcome is no longer the absolutism of the State, but the liberty of the subject. Nothing is more significant than the relish with which Ferrari, the most powerful democratic writer since Rousseau, enumerates the merits of tyrants, and prefers devils to saints in the interest of the community. For the old notions of civil liberty and of social order did not benefit the masses of the people. Wealth increased, without relieving their wants. The progress of knowledge left them in abject ignorance. Religion flourished, but failed to reach them. Society, whose laws were made by the upper class alone, announced that the best thing for the poor is not to be born, and the next best to die in childhood, and suffered them to live in misery and crime and pain. As surely as the long reign of the rich has been employed in promoting the accumulation of wealth, the advent of the poor to power will be followed by schemes for diffusing it. Seeing how little was done by the wisdom of former times for education and public health, for insurance, association, and savings, for the protection of labour against the law of self-interest, and how much has been accomplished in this generation, there is reason in the fixed belief that a great change was needed, and that democracy has not striven in vain. Liberty, for the mass, is not happiness; and institutions are not an end but a means. The thing they seek is a force sufficient to sweep away scruples and the obstacle of rival interests, and, in some degree, to better their condition. They mean that the strong hand that heretofore has formed great States, protected religions, and defended the independence of nations, shall help them by preserving life, and endowing it for them with some, at least, of the things men live for. That is the notorious danger of modern democracy. That is also its purpose and its strength. And against this threatening power the weapons that struck down other despots do not avail. The greatest happiness principle positively confirms it. The principle of equality, besides being as easily applied to property as to power, opposes the existence of persons or groups of persons exempt from the common law, and independent of the common will; and the principle, that authority is a matter of contract, may hold good against kings, but not against the sovereign people, because a contract implies two parties.

J. William Fulbright photo

„In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. Like medicine, the test of its value is not its taste, but its effect, …“

—  J. William Fulbright American politician 1905 - 1995
Context: In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. Like medicine, the test of its value is not its taste, but its effect,... p. 25 http://books.google.com/books?id=Td-qAAAAIAAJ&q=%22In+a+democracy+dissent+is+an+act+of+faith+Like+medicine+the+test+of+its+value+is+not+its+taste+but+its+effect%22&pg=PA25#v=onepage

Letitia Elizabeth Landon photo
James Connolly photo
Corneliu Zelea Codreanu photo
H.L. Mencken photo

„Democracy always seems bent upon killing the thing it theoretically loves. I have rehearsed some of its operations against liberty, the very cornerstone of its political metaphysic.“

—  H.L. Mencken American journalist and writer 1880 - 1956
Context: Democracy always seems bent upon killing the thing it theoretically loves. I have rehearsed some of its operations against liberty, the very cornerstone of its political metaphysic. It not only wars upon the thing itself; it even wars upon mere academic advocacy of it. I offer the spectacle of Americans jailed for reading the Bill of Rights as perhaps the most gaudily humorous ever witnessed in the modern world. Try to imagine monarchy jailing subjects for maintaining the divine right of Kings! Or Christianity damning a believer for arguing that Jesus Christ was the Son of God! This last, perhaps, has been done: anything is possible in that direction. But under democracy the remotest and most fantastic possibility is a common place of every day. All the axioms resolve themselves into thundering paradoxes, many amounting to downright contradictions in terms. The mob is competent to rule the rest of us—but it must be rigorously policed itself. There is a government, not of men, but of laws—but men are set upon benches to decide finally what the law is and may be. The highest function of the citizen is to serve the state—but the first assumption that meets him, when he essays to discharge it, is an assumption of his disingenuousness and dishonour. Is that assumption commonly sound? Then the farce only grows the more glorious. I confess, for my part, that it greatly delights me. I enjoy democracy immensely. It is incomparably idiotic, and hence incomparably amusing. Does it exalt dunderheads, cowards, trimmers, frauds, cads? Then the pain of seeing them go up is balanced and obliterated by the joy of seeing them come down. Is it inordinately wasteful, extravagant, dishonest? Then so is every other form of government: all alike are enemies to laborious and virtuous men. Is rascality at the very heart of it? Well, we have borne that rascality since 1776, and continue to survive. In the long run, it may turn out that rascality is necessary to human government, and even to civilization itself—that civilization, at bottom, is nothing but a colossal swindle. I do not know: I report only that when the suckers are running well the spectacle is infinitely exhilarating. But I am, it may be, a somewhat malicious man: my sympathies, when it comes to suckers, tend to be coy. What I can't make out is how any man can believe in democracy who feels for and with them, and is pained when they are debauched and made a show of. How can any man be a democrat who is sincerely a democrat?

William Wordsworth photo
Benito Juárez photo

„Democracy is the destiny of humanity; freedom its indestructible arm.“

—  Benito Juárez President of Mexico during XIX century 1806 - 1872
As quoted by US President John F. Kennedy in a speech. (29 June 1962)

Raj Patel photo

„We are not the consumers of democracy, we are its proprietors.“

—  Raj Patel British academic 1972
Ways to Counter the Excesses of the Market (24:00) http://fora.tv/2010/01/06/Raj_Patel_The_Value_of_Nothing#fullprogram FORA.tv

Charles Evans Hughes photo

„While democracy must have its organizations and controls, its vital breath is individual liberty.“

—  Charles Evans Hughes American judge 1862 - 1948
Statement of May 1908, quoted in "Reauthorization of The Civil Rights Division of The United States Department of Justice" (15 May 2003) US House of Representatives.

Walter Lippmann photo
Abbie Hoffman photo

„You measure democracy by the freedom it gives its dissidents, not the freedom it gives its assimilated conformists.“

—  Abbie Hoffman American political and social activist 1936 - 1989
Tikkun (July-August 1989); also quoted in The Best Liberal Quotes Ever : Why the Left is Right (2004) by William P. Martin, p. 51.

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