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

Robert A. Heinlein Quote

“The human race divides itself politically into those who want to be controlled, and those who have no such desire.”

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

Ratings and Comments

Joe, Rochester, MI

Anyone who gives this quote few stars obviously wants to be controlled. I, on the other hand, "...have no such desire."

Logan, Memphis, TN

Absolutely! It seems the Democrats want to do this through Socialism, and the Republicans, while claiming "small government," are fascist. Either way, the majority of Americans seem to want to be controlled somehow, it gives them a sense of security to be a slave.

Simon, Victoria, BC, Canada

Lets not forget the third group without whom the first one can't exist - those who want to conrol. From them come the lies and the imaginary threats and the false fears that create people who think they need to be controlled!

E Archer, NYC

Unfortunately, it seems that the number of those that 'have no desire to be controlled' are far less than the number of those that want to be controlled PLUS those that are only too happy to oblige. This is the REAL crux of freedom -- the commitment to be personally responsible for oneself. Those that do not share that commitment soon try to twist the common law into some sort of feudal or monarchical system in which they will be taken care of by a benevolent lord (they hope).

Simon, Victoria, BC, Canada

So, the whole right wing system of endless war, bankrupting of the state, welfare for the already rich, destruction of the middle class, pollution of the environment, stripping away of the constitution and bill of rights, enforcement of religion, crushing and silencing of dissent is all justified because somewhere, someone is abusing the welfare system????

mikal devalia, Fernwood, PA

Heinlein was wide awake in 1942 when the Trading with the enemy act was broached by "Harriman" -- and it was in the NY Herald Tribune. I bet he was peeved -- the rage comes out so completely in for us, the's a mind blower.

David L. Rosenthal, Hollywood

There exist rational limits to what one should be permitted to do. If you are unwilling to control your own behavior, and disrespect or abuse others do to your enjoyment of limitless action, then you should be controlled by an outside force. Freedom is not the right to do whatever you please.

E Archer, NYC

Freedom IS the right to do whatever you please as long as you do not infringe upon any one else's rights. That's what you busy bodies need to get through your thick skulls. Who will be the judge -- David, Terry, Simon, me? Worry about yourselves. If the common man cannot be trusted, then no one can be trusted -- I assume that no one trusts the rich, so why hand them control over you and me? Life is a risk and we all die sooner or later -- stop trying to control it. We can hardly agree on the same music, how can we agree on the best way to live and then force others to do it? Let people grow up for goodness sakes. And for those of you that think that there are too many Libertarians around here, you might reread the site name -- and perhaps a few words of the American founding fathers. (You won't find many quotable Canadians on Liberty.)

E Archer, NYC

And where does it end once the State dictates our duties? Already the State lays claim to our bodies and what may go in and out -- what we may eat, drink. breathe. The State (i.e. the neighbors) puts itself in my bed with 'laws' on what my wife and I may be allowed to stick whatever wherever. And the list goes on and on: what religions are 'certified', what books may be permitted in the library and who is reading them. How much money do you have and where is it being spent? What are your kids IQs and SATs? Please provide your social security number if you want to work or have a bank account (i.e. buy or sell). Open your doors, we have to check if there is anything illegal going on around here. We are reading your email and keeping track of the web sites you visit...and this is just a tip of the iceberg.
Screw that and all who support all of this in the name of social welfare.

Simon, Victoria, BC, Canada

We Canadians have liberty, we don't need to iconize and capitalize the word and build statues of it and sing songs to it. You Americans seem all to eager to throw your liberty away in exchange for security from the imaginary fears that your government is threatening you with. Far more important though is that your government has no problem destroying liberty in other countries in the world, setting up represive governments, undermining democratic ones, all in the name of profits for US corporations. You only seek liberty for yourselves. As individuals we probably want the same things for ourselves, but to me you seem to be blind to what your government really stands for and what it does to you and to the world and you seem to confuse liberty with greed.

Simon, Victoria

And I'm just reading your last post and I am 100% in agreement with you and have to ask what does any of that have to do with those who want a social welfare system? Your country is doing all of that without much of a social welfare system. No liberal or moderate politician is in favour of any of your list of government offences, George Bush and his neo-fascists are, Fidel Castro and other Socialists/Communists are, lots of right wing fascist police states all over the world that your country has created and supported for decades are, Moderates and Liberals and true Democrats are not.

E Archer, NYC

Simon, once again, you assume that my challenge of the Canadian monarchy is support for the current US de facto system. I have been on this list for a few years and have only seen your name in the last few weeks, so perhaps you may wish to withold assumptions when commenting on more than the quote at hand. My comments have been consistently a plea to return to the fundamentals of Liberty as declared by the common law writs of the American founders. Since you have a Queen to look after you, and you are OK with that, our philosophies will most likely resemble those between a house slave and a field slave -- the house slave will defend his master and even scold his fellow field slaves for even thinking of 'freedom'.

Simon, Victoria, BC, Canada

I do not have a queen to look after me, she is a figure head only. If I decided I didn't want to work and I showed up at the local welfare office I would be shown the door unless there was some reason why I was unable to work. If I qualified for welfare, as a single guy it would be $450 a month, I don't know how I would survive on that. No one is looking after me and I don't want anyone to look after me, I have supported myself all my life, so what are you talking about? Perhaps I do make assumptions about those who suppor these quotes because I see these type of quotes as nothing more than empty slogans chanted by the likes of George Bush and his supporters to replace real though, I especially have problems with the words liberty and patriot as they seem to be most often used by the worst scoundrels and least interested in freedom of the lot. This quote is typical - who is going to read it and say "yes, I'm one of those who wants to be controlled", yet most who do read it think they are superior to the great mass of people out there that they believe fit that description.

Terry Berg, Occidental, CA

Simon, I think you'll like this from

"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." -
SAMUEL JOHNSON.—James Boswell, Life of Johnson, entry for Friday, April 7, 1775, p. 615 (1970).

“In Dr. Johnson’s famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer, I beg to submit that it is the first.”—Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary, at entry for patriotism, The Collected Writings of Ambrose Bierce, p. 323 (1946, reprinted 1973).

H. L. Mencken added this to Johnson’s dictum: “But there is something even worse: it is the first, last, and middle range of fools.”—The World, New York City, November 7, 1926, p. 3E.

Terry Berg, Occidental, CA

Simon, RE: "I have been on this list for a few years and have only seen your name in the last few weeks, so perhaps you may wish to withold assumptions when commenting on more than the quote at hand."

Clearly, Simon, when making assumptions, you must, unlike the choir in the cabal, take your place in the hierarchy according to how long you've been 'seen' on this site by 'longtimers'. Tsk, tsk, tsk. For shame that you should not take your place as second-class assumer as befits your clearly inferior intellect, low standing, and lack of philosophical concordance (which concordance would, naturally, confer free licence to assume all over the place, should you chose it as an option at a time convenient to yourself - hint, hint, wink, wink, hint, hint, wink, wink) with those who were here first. Please, oh please, won't you prostrate yourself to the 'elders' and not do what the 'good' newcomers are cheered on for? A hauteur cheer please!

E Archer, NYC

Ah, Terry, how NICE of you to clear things up.

Terry Berg, Occidental, CA

Ah, E., how 'NICE' of you to echo my reflection - LOL.

Parris ja Young, Alberton, MT 59820

Heinlein oversimplifies, but he is working on a clear understanding. Real and complete freedom is frightening. The enneagram, a listing of nine psychotypes, makes this clear. Every neurosis and probably every psychosis is an attempt to create a shield behind which we can hide. There are times when we need to be protected from ourselves. What government can handle that last requirement? The trick of the best government is to do what can be done to protect self-determination, to keep open the road to the attainment of the highest of ideals, both while guarding itself against the corruption of short-term agendas.

Simon Jester, Great Falls

This is a misquotation. The real Heinlein quote is much more powerful. Simon J. "The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort."

Simon Jester, Great Falls

Heinlein's perspective echoes that of the greatest American to date- Thomas Jefferson: "Men by their constitutions are naturally divided into two parties: 1. Those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes. 2. Those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise depositary of the public interests. In every country these two parties exist, and in every one where they are free to think, speak, and write, they will declare themselves. Call them therefore liberals and serviles,... Whigs and Tories,... aristocrats and democrats, or by whatever name you please, they are the same parties still and pursue the same object. The last one of aristocrats and democrats is the true one expressing the essence of all." --Thomas Jefferson to H. Lee, 1824.

jim k, Austin

Logan , Memphis, well said except that the slaves don't think that they are slaves.

Bob, Charlotte

What a wonderful site !! Simply reading the ups and downs, whether of thumbs or keyboard keys, sets the grey matter aflutter and won't let it rest. We often fuss and fume over divisiveness ... yet ... let a simple sentence be uttered and Americans -- including North Americans from Canada will tear it limb from limb. HOORAY AND HUZZAH FOR THE FIRST ( and perhaps primary ) AMENDMENT !

Ronw13, Yachats Or

Well said Bob, Charlotte. Thomas Jefferson, " Men by their constitutions are ( naturally ) divided. Fact ! Obviously Jefferson was a wise depository of truth. God calls individuals, and not a mob to rule. Unity will be reached and the call goes out for commonsense. The heart is an amazing thing.


Get a Quote-a-Day!

Liberty Quotes sent to your mail box daily.