"Does it not seem a vast waste of valuable human material that the pioneers of thought, those who by their genius dare to clear unknown paths in the arts and sciences and in government, should have to conform to the dictates of that non-creative, slow-moving mass, the majority? An appeal to the majority is a resort to force and not an appeal to intelligence; the majority is always ignorant, and by increasing the majority we multiply ignorance. The majority is incapable of initiative, its attitude being one of opposition toward everything that is new. If it had been left to the majority, the world would never have had the steamboat, the railroad, the telegraph, or any of the conveniences of modern life."
Charles T. Sprading
(1871-1959) Libertarian activist, writer
Charles T. Sprading's Introduction to Liberty and the Great Libertarians; An Anthology On Liberty; A Hand-book Of Freedom (Los Angeles: The Libertarian Publishing Company, 1913)
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Reader comments about this quote:
Talkin bout FREEDOM!!! In LESS than 100 years, we have gone from the horse, to where we are now..talk about boldy going whee no man has gone before...There are too many people now, too many laws, and too little freeedom now, HOW can a man who has lived free, change to what is now. My fellow humans, wisdom, is indeed ,the beginning of all sorrow [solomon] And in the end, al IS vanity [solomon] One fact, to all countries, respect and pride, to my forefathers, for thier great vision. America gave the world, so much. yes, we old are a proud breed, and we earned it. The twilight of life. And rage agianst the darkness. were we better off now, than then?100 years ago?/ 2000 years ago?
 -- Kimo, U S A     
    Galileo was oppressed by the masses? Nope, He was oppressed by the church at Rome. Tesla was ripped off by the masses? Nope, He was ripped off by the Robber Barons. Einstein had no support from the masses? The masses loved Einstein before they witnessed the devastation of the weapon he developed. Even then they didn't revile him, but merely remember him for his smarts and less revere his humanity. Stan Meyers (water fueled car guy) was adored by the masses and assassinated by The US Federal Empire. Chin, the first Chinese Emperor, sent his army to round up the 400 or so greatest minds in Empire China. Then he ordered his army to dig a hole deep enough that they couldn't climb out and tossed the most intelligent men in Empire China in the hole and buried them alive. This quote is so such utter bullshit. The brilliant minority is NEVER suppressed by the "majority" or the masses. Invariably throughout history the cash domineering majority oppresses intelligent and suppresses their intelligence, including their inventions and does so with the help of another minority, The Enforcers and the masses have not once in all human history been guilty of organizing to harass the lives of the brilliant. The steam engine is first century technology invented by Hero. Do you suppose if there were steam powered boats in the first century or steam engine trains, the masses would have rejected the people who gave them such? The guys name is Hero for a reason. This quote is garbage, nonsense, exactly backward from reality, it blames the masses for the work of a minority, the extremely wealthy.
     -- DanielVincentKelleyOnYT, Newport VT     
  • 1
    The "masses" always jump on the bandwagon when they see which way the wind is blowing. And please , Daniel, if you are going to spew bilge like that above, could you be a little less verbose.
     -- jim k, Austin, Tx     
  • 3
    Daniel seems somewhat angry and at least a little bit misled. His take on history is likewise rather skewed in at least the area concerning Einstein. Einstein didn't develop the "weapon". It was a group project called "Manhattan" headed by J. Robert Oppenheimer. A group Einstein wasn't involved with at all. As for the majority - greater numbers alone are meaningless only, at times, giving rule by sheer mass of people not necessarily lending to intelligence, creativity, freedom, self reliance, tolerance, progress and liberty.
     -- S. Craig, La Crescenta, CA     
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    Daniel has demonstrated well the argument against the ignorant masses. The goal of the 'majority' has always been to capitalize from the discoveries of others, and then make regulations that protect their monopoly. The inventor of the 'mouse' has gotten nothing for his invention. Tesla, too, had all of his research stolen by those protecting the monopolies of energy and communications. I believe Sprading's point is that the INDIVIDUAL is the source of innovation and that the 'majority' does everything is can to throw its collective weight to lay claim to the fruit of the laborious. I doubt Daniel has ever invented anything or even expressed an original thought -- his Marxist parroting is frankly old news and quite uninspiring. The left always tries to twist some meaning of collective ownership and control out of an individual's innovation. This is yet another example of how the government does NOT need to tax us for supposedly doing the R&D of the private sector. Government subsidy is to protect monopolies. Nothing more.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
  • 3

    Referencing “the majority” as a singularity of sovereignty is a collective exercise in an inaccurate futility (a basis for tyrannical thought and action). In the event of human endeavors, natural law particularly applies to the individual. Like fingerprints, each individual has gifts, creativity, knowledge, etc. that no other individual has. As part of Sprading’s majority, I also could not invent the steamboat, railroad or telegraph BUT, I happened to create the world’s best product in its field and made a business out of it. By far, I am not the brightest, most talented, knowledgeable or creative individual in the industry while, it was a combination of my personal self that came together for the particular product. The “masses” did not quickly purchase my particular creation but rather, after many, MANY laborious efforts, individuals slowing came to know the advantages and over time expanded in using my product(s). All most always, it is a relatively small number of self interested individuals that curtails innovation, creativity, knowledge, etc.

    Pioneers of thought who by their genius dare to clear unknown paths have found wisdom (time appropriate) in a slow-moving mass. “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” (Declaration of Independence)

     -- Mike, Norwalk     
  • 1
    I would put it in terms of modern regulations for any supposed good cause, safety, energy efficiency etc.  Once the regulation is in place it makes it difficult for someone to improve upon it.   Because it not only takes the effort and investment in making a better product but even more effort and investment to change the regulations to allow such advances.  
     -- Tony L, Silver Spring, Md     
     -- Jim G, Colorado Springs      
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