"Nothing appears more surprising to those who
consider human affairs with a philosophical eye,
than the ease with which the many are governed by the few."
David Hume
(1711-1776) Scottish philosopher, historian and economist
First Principles of Government, 1742
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Reader comments about this quote:
What is just as surprising are the methods used to attain that governorship and at the bottom of the many methods used, fear is the most prominent but least talked about.
 -- Anon     
  • 4
    I believe that people initially allow themselves to be governed in the belief that the governing body is benevolent and honest. Until one day they wake up and realize that things have "changed" and that the governors have become malevolent rulers. Keep yer powder dry!
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
  • 4
    You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, and that's usually enough.
     -- jim k, Austin     
  • 5
    As a child in school, I could hardly wait to 'grow up' and be left alone. Surprised was I that in the office I found a new slew of ego-maniacs that liked to boss people around. I never could understand the pleasure of telling others what to do. It seems our schooling merely prepared us to treat others the way we were treated. We were never taught to produce anything we could eat or trade or to be self-sufficient. We were only taught how to obey, and a select few took the hint and decided to become the person to be obeyed. I have come to realize that humans are easily domesticated. An independent, free-thinking, self-determined, and productive individual is the exception rather than the rule. Instead of being taught how to think, we are taught to obey. The majority seem to accept their lot well enough, but I for one never managed to get on board... ;-)
     -- E Archer, NYC     
  • 5
    Tactics vs philosophical views ? Hume believing himself as a Empiricist Naturalist, neglects the option of Innate Ideas. Withing the use and observation of nature, governing through experience to obtain knowledge, there is a disconnect, or effect caused, which brings about a stagnation of thought and theory. Shallow is the mind which neglects to consider the effects of that which is not seen. The system of belief which governs America is well measured. The manifold body of knowledge understood. A connection beyond empirical science. This is closely observed in class pertaining to intellectual understanding and spiritual understanding of an individual. One cannot see the forest for the trees, that is the empirical naturalist point of view. Hume might be surprised, but others are not. Semper Fi
     -- Ronw13, Oregon     
    Could it be that so many are looking for a leader to believe in and follow. Look at how many Rev. Jim Jones took out in Guyana.
     -- Cal, Lewisville, TX     
  • 2
    Lamentably, most individuals are carefully conditioned to be entirely less than Sovereign Individuals by individuals who themselves are entirely less than Sovereign.
     -- Patrick Henry, Red Hill     
  • 1
    I don't know if surprised is the right word. 'Why', might be a more accurate third person quandary. To this day, I have not come up with a good reason why the vast majority of people choose to abide a chattel existence rather than being free or individual sovereigns.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
  • 1
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