Robert A. HeinleinRobert A. Heinlein, (1907-1988) American writer

Robert A. Heinlein Quote

“You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don't ever count on having both at once.”

Robert A. HeinleinRobert A. Heinlein
~ Robert A. Heinlein

The Notebooks of Lazarus Long

Ratings and Comments

mikal x, fernwood

he was great. shoulders of giants... grumbles on i hear. into the sunset...

grangozier, Canada

I hope people can have both. Freedom and peace are principals for making life reasonable for human beings. I do not agree with Bob Heinlein. It's my point of view...

Mark D, Annapolis, MD

A popular bumper sticker attributes to Albert Einstein the quote "You cannot simultaneously prepare for and prevent war." I must regrettably disagree. A society may be the most peace loving group of people in history, but that has absolutely no bearing on whether or not there is a despot somewhere ready to try to take it away from you. If you do not prepare to be rough if needed, you will surely get the chance to try it out. Being strong is not the same as being aggressive.

E Archer, NYC

"The meaning of peace is the absence of opposition to Socialism." -- Karl Marx

Kat, North Stonington

Heinlein was great.

S. Engel, Fredericksburg

One of the few countries that has enjoyed peace and (relative) freedom is Switzerland. But the Swiss don't COUNT on having both. They are heavily armed and prepared to defend their freedom, and that is Heinlein's point.

John-Douglas, Nassau

Perhaps America should adopt the Swiss pattern - every male from 16 to 65 is provided a rifle and ammo and is taught how to use it accurately! Thus Switzerland has maintained its freedom - with peace - for some 400 years. Maybe this is what America's freedom depends upon - not on multi-billion dollar 'Star Wars' technology and engaging in highly suspect foreign wars which, to date, have never spread democracy to other countries and have seriously jeopardized our own freedoms!..

Joel, Oxford, MI

Freedom is not about "reasonable", it's about making your own choices. And peace is not about reasonable, it's about allowing others to make their own choices. If I tell you what is reasonable, restricting your freedom, you and I are not likely to have peace.

Tammy, Miami

I disagree completely. Peace is freedom and freedom brings peace by sheer definition.

Anonymous, Reston, VA US

The key word seems to be "count", as in expect. While the two are certainly not incompatible, one must be prepared to defend freedom through non-peaceful means when necessary... and yet, once one has truely attained true freedom, then perhaps it is the case that true peace will also follow...

Joe, Rochester, MI

Freedom is doing what you want. Peace is allowing your neighbor to do what he wants. Both is carrying your rifle to defend the right of everyone to do what he wants.

  • Reply
annaylla    10/4/06

wow...good quotation huh....nice meaning, too

OrygunRod, Gresham, OR, USA

Oh so true now with the worldwide war on terror with Islamic radicals.

Ken, Long Island

Freedom is NOT Peace. Everybody can agree on freedom. Freedom is at the least being free to do as one pleases so far as it does not directly affect another. No two groups can agree on Peace. One religion claim there is no peace if a woman leaves her face uncoverred. Another claims no piece if someone works on the Sabbath. The busy body neighbor claims there is no peace if someone works on their car int he front yard. The bigot claims no peace if another race attends the same school as his child. Peace can only be fully maintained by ENFORCEMENT. That by itself runs contrary to Freedom.

John Shepard, hong kong

peace is dependent on what you believe. i believe that peace is never having to see another human that does not agree with you. if that is the case, then everyone is peaceful, provided they do not agree that everyone should wack each other in the head with clubs. freedom is also a difference of opinion. my opinion of freedom is nothing but freedom to individual people, ie, being free to go where you are at peace. you can put together my definition of freedom and peace, and get something that does not work on large scales, but is perfect when we have less than a million people on earth, and other animals are small enough or in different areas.

Gryphon, Mississauga, ON ... or somewhere near there

Peace and freedom are not universal concepts... therefore you can never have both at once. You can never have your cake and eat it too. At least not without spitting in someone else's frosting at the same time... you can only hope to be able to find a suitable compromise you are both willing to live with.

The Old Geek, Richmond, VA

I have read ALL of Heinlein's work's. He was more philosopher than writer. His observations of the human condition hit the bullseye of the modern world, be it political, social, religious - pick a topic. This particular quote obviously strikes a chord and makes people think. Peace AND Freedom are both Transient conditions. Freedom for each and all can only be maintained through a constant readiness to defend it, by violent means if necessary. Peace can be maintained by simply giving up freedom, if that's the least objectionable path; or a brief term of peace MAY be attained as the result of choosing to have freedom. But remember, History is always written by the victors.

  • Reply
    Anonymous    5/13/09

    Peaceful, or at least nonviolent, means can be employed to bring freedom.

    Mike, Norwalk

    Freedom requires an ever vigilant eye and hand. Does peace here equal inactivity ? I guess it is all in how you define freedom and peace. I would define freedom as that which is in harmony with natural law; the result would be peace. There is a peace as would be applied to an individual that is a state of tranquility or quiet which may or may not be an exemption from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions. A public peace may be the tranquility enjoyed by a political society, internally, by the good order which reigns among its members, and externally, by the good understanding it has with all other nations. Applied to the internal regulations of a nation, peace imports, in a technical sense, not merely a state of repose and security, as opposed to one of violence and warfare, but likewise a state of public order and decorum. Under such circumstances, freedom and peace are not mutually exclusive. Under most definitions above, freedom and peace are exclusive.

    Mike Murray, NM

    Too bad the politicians will not let the military win. "War" today is about contracts, pork, domestic political power and damn all what happens to the troops.

    jim k, Austin, Tx

    Zero stars for Tammy and 5 stars for Mike Murray.


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