"It is the very essence of despotism that it can never afford to fail. This is what distinguishes it most vitally from democracy. In a despotism there is no organized opposition which can take over the power when the Administration in office has failed. All the eggs are in one basket. Everything is staked on one coterie of men. When the going is good, they move more quickly and efficiently than democracies, where the opposition has to be persuaded and conciliated. But when they lose, there are no reserves. There are no substitutes on the bench ready to go out on the field and carry the ball. That is why democracies with the habit of party government have outlived all other forms of government in the modern world. They have, as it were, at least two governments always at hand, and when one fails they have the other. They have diversified the risks of mortality, corruption, and stupidity which pervade all human affairs. They have remembered that the most beautifully impressive machine cannot run for very long unless there is available a complete supply of spare parts."
by:
Walter Lippmann
(1889-1974) American writer, journalist, and political commentator
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Reader comments about this quote:
Excellent article you have written here. really this quote gives an information about the topic.Quotations are a great way to inspire you to perform at your best and to remember sage advice from the smartest minds in the world. Finance Quotation http://financequotations.com
 -- Finance Quotations, u     
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    ' outlived' more like destroyed or taken over and replaced all other forms of government in the world with its constant invasion of countries who want to over through a corrupt government ie vietnam
     -- Anonymous, Australia     
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    What do we do when the "spare parts" are as old and worn out as the ones in use? When all the eggs are in one basket even with a second party...what then?
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    The entire sentiment is a fraudulent dichotomy. It is formulated from superficial perspectives, drawn from emotional prejudices and incorrect assumptions,and based on false definitions. Democracy by its very essence is despotism. Democracy and despotism are synonyms. The 2 party system is 2 sides of the same despotic coin.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Just what you'd expect from a far left liberal.
     -- Jim k, Austin     
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    The guys above obviously prefer despotism and absolutism. Their incapacity to discuss, analyse and yes think, about things shows in their thumbs down approach to this wonderful quote. Saddams's Iraq is the perfect proof of the accuracy of Lippmans analysis of democracy versus despotism.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    And once again the hysterical left prefers fantasy to reality. Never forget Saddam was financed and endorsed by the US and its wonderfully noble democratic system.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    Except that the despots have learned how to foil democracies. They have used power and control of media and minds of people to create two political sides of the same coin. After raping working people with the Republican party, they elect the Democratic (same) party to continue the raping.
     -- D, Fort Worth     
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    The party one belongs does not matter to the sense of what one says. The writer's words make sense. Even if the author meant that the other party - not his - is the despots' party, his quotation does not say that. Despotism does take place when there are no strong opposition. So true his words are that right now, while we comment on the author's quotations, the "substitutes" are getting off the bench and ready to go out on the field and carry the ball. The other way around also often happens. And that is the beauty of a true Republic.
     -- Elisabeth, Astoria, NY     
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    This may be the theory, but in a '2 party system' the 2 parties are but 1 party designed to monopolize government and keep it beholden to a financial elite ruling class.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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