"Democracy is, by the nature of it, a self-canceling business: and gives in the long run a net result of zero."
Thomas Carlyle
(1795-1881) Scottish essayist, satirist, and historian
Chartism, VI 1839
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Reader comments about this quote:
A democracy is more destructive than a zero result.
 -- Mike, Norwalk     
    I agree with Mike. If Democracies only returned the people back to zero, then there would be little problem with Democracies, because once it failed you could simply reform it and kick start it back into existence. The problem, however, comes at the cost of human lives that can never be replaced-- whenever a life is lost, the net result is always negative. The self-canceling business and suicidal process of Democracies have always come at the cost of many lost lives. Democracies always end in the negative.
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
    This is not a Liberty Quote in my opinion.It is an Apathy Quote. By action or lack of action,EVERYTHING is what we make of it or allow it to be.Including Democracy. BUT........ In it's PURE UN-Adulterated Form,Democracy is the principles of social equality and respect for the individual within a community. NOW...... What it has DEGENERATED into is another thing. Ask yourself WHY and you will be on the road to reforming the MAN-made Degenerative application of the pure meaning of Democracy.This is the Second Revolution.
     -- Anonymous     
    DITTO ABOVE!!!!!!
     -- Anonymous     
    Another great insight into the truth behind unfettered Democracy. The Greek word means rule by the people and in those days it probably had meaning as their state like so many others was ruled by other forms or government which were mostly the wealthy land barons and the military. Nothing has changed much since those early days; like the Magna Carta (The Great Charter of 1215) was brought about by the need for common law (hence the House of Commons). There are many forms of democracy it may behoove us to discuss each as a subject as the subject of DEMOCRACY alone is way too broad to have a reasonable debate on its merits.
     -- RobertSRQ     
    A democratic process is not the same thing as a democracy. A democracy denotes the people are the source of law. A democratic process does not indicate, directly or indirectly, a source of law but rather, a process by which people may associate to the law. By way of example, a governmental license is legal in a democracy, the majority setting forth the law. In a guaranteed Constitutional Republic as was the US that is based on inalienable law, no process is able to even consider the unlawful concept.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    I think we all will agree that not everything is up for vote, that the majority is not always right, and that the protection of equal rights for all means that a majority cannot gang up on a minority simply because of their numbers. In that case, a 'pure democracy' is not possible nor wanted. The protection against the abrogation of natural born rights lies with all of us -- we do not need a majority to agree as our rights are inherent. The better question is, "What are we voting on?" My complaint is that we are allowing majority rule where they have no jurisdiction. Those in the minority have little power to defend themselves against arbitrary decisions made by groups of others who have taken it upon themselves to dictate what I must do for them upon threat of force. What we are talking about here is the use of collective power. The Constitution stipulates how that power may NOT be used -- it is not up for vote, it is the foundation upon which the independent and sovereign states have agreed to confederate -- if the truths we hold as self-evident are no longer evident and subject to the will of a collective, then our Constitution is mute and without constituency -- it is a deal-breaker. One more reason why America is not a democracy -- the so-called majority is merely a fraction of the populace -- those that voted, those who got their votes counted -- those that don't vote in caucuses, primaries, elections are in fact the majority! Why then don't we throw the whole election out -- the majority chooses NONE! So get rid of them all -- the majority wants none of it! Democracy is merely politics -- and it is more easily influenced than a republican government held in check by the acknowledged laws of nature and the balance of powers and responsibilities. We vote with our money, that's how we vote -- all of us. With an honest money system, there is little the ruling class can do -- but when it is just a game of Monopoly, all the pieces eventually end up back in the box, 'democracy' or not.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
    If Carlyle is essentially correct, then judging from the post WWII consumption glut enjoyed by the US, a disintegrating Bill of Rights, precipitously crashing dollar and impending death of the middle class, a rather large tollbooth would seem to be on the horizon.
     -- JLM, Kalamazoo     
    Great quote! This is why democracy is so great. Now Hitler could not tolerate such a state of "no progress" or net zero and could not tolerate all of the European ethnicites. He had a grand solution to move society off of "net zero" into a great and grand plan for the future and he had to be a dictator to do it. The failure of democracy in Germany was a tragedy. Let us vow to protect it here. Freedom and democracy means my plans end at your nose and vice a versa. PS: Looks like the Fed is doing its fine job as usual in protecting our republic and its democratic institutions. I refer to the New York Governor expose of course. As I said earlier this is part of the "guarantee of a republican (democratic) state government" required by the Constitution.
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
    Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote. Ben Franklin And he was right too. We need an administration, not a "Govern"ment. And all that is required of that administration is a civil court system, national defense, and a civil police force....CIVIL. being the key word :)
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
    Hate to see so many agreeing with the philosophy of a fascist/totalitarian socialist. He believed that only the able should have a say in government. He believed in hero worship and thought that the ordinary man should just admire and obey. His quote is about his distaste for allowing the riffraff a say in public affairs.
     -- warren, olathe     
    Waffler you’re bringing up Hitler is apropos. Hitler admired Carlyle and his philosophy.
     -- warren, olathe     
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