He made a great contribution to the genre and raised the standards of quality. Heinlein’s favorite themes included the importance of self-reliance and individualism, difference between “physical” and “emotional” love, influence of culture, religion and government, and the relationship between an individual and society.
Robert Heinlein Quotes
War is not violence and killing, pure and simple; war is controlled violence, for a purpose.
Every law that was ever written opened up a new way to graft.
Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst.
No state has an inherent right to survive through conscript troops, and in the long run no state ever has. Roman matrons used to say to their sons: ‘Come back with your shield, or on it.’ Later on, this custom declined. So did Rome.
I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.
Obscurity is the refuge of the incompetent.
Take sides! Always take sides! You will sometimes be wrong – but the man who refuses to take sides must always be wrong.
Democracy is based on the assumption that a million men are wiser than one man. How’s that again? I missed something.
Autocracy is based on the assumption that one man is wiser than a million men. Let’s play that over again, too. Who decides?
You can have peace, or you can have freedom. Don’t ever count on having both at once.
Whether it is exerted by ten men or by ten billion, political authority is force.
When I don’t understand, I have an unbearable itch to know why.
Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors… and miss.
Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.
The future is better than the past. Despite the crepehangers, romanticists, and anti-intellectuals, the world steadily grows better because the human mind, applying itself to environment, makes it better. With hands…with tools…with horse sense and science and engineering.
Live each golden moment as if it were eternity – without fear, without hope, but with a sybaritic gusto.
There comes a time in the life of every human when he or she must decide to risk “his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor” on an outcome dubious. Those who fail the challenge are merely overgrown children, can never be anything else.
There are no dangerous weapons. There are only dangerous men.
A committee is the only known form of life with a hundred bellies and no brain.
Sovereign ingredient for a happy marriage: Pay cash or do without. Interest charges not only eat up a household budget, awareness of debt eats up domestic felicity.
War is too serious a matter to be taught by the inexperienced.
An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.
I also think there are prices too high to pay to save the United States. Conscription is one of them. Conscription is slavery, and I don’t think that any people or nation has a right to save itself at the price of slavery for anyone, no matter what name it is called. We have had the draft for twenty years now; I think this is shameful. If a country can’t save itself through the volunteer service of its own free people, then I say : Let the damned thing go down the drain!
Democracy is a poor system of government at best; the only thing that can honestly be said in its favor is that it is about eight times as good as any other method the human race has ever tried. Democracy’s worst fault is that its leaders are likely to reflect the faults and virtues of their constituents – a depressingly low level, but what else can you expect?
A generation which ignores history has no past and no future.
The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.
There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him.
Taxes are not levied for the benefit of the taxed.
Correct morality can only be derived from what man is – not from what do-gooders and well-meaning aunt Nellies would like him to be.
You can’t conquer a free man; the most you can do is kill him.
The price of freedom is the willingness to do sudden battle, anywhere, at any time, and with utter recklessness.
Democracy can’t work. Mathematicians, peasants, and animals, that’s all there is – so democracy, a theory based on the assumption that mathematicians and peasants are equal, can never work. Wisdom is not additive; its maximum is that of the wisest man in a given group.
Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.
No matter how many times you get your fingers burned, you have to trust people. Otherwise you are a hermit in a cave, sleeping with one eye open.
Beware of altruism. It is based on self-deception, the root of all evil.
“Value” has no meaning other than in relationship to living beings. The value of a thing is always relative to a particular person, is completely personal and different in quantity for each living human-“market value” is a fiction, merely a rough guess at the average of personal values, all of which must be quantitatively different or trade would be impossible.
Never appeal to a man’s ‘better nature.’ He may not have one. Invoking his self-interest gives you more leverage.
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
One can judge from experiment, or one can blindly accept authority. To the scientific mind, experimental proof is all important and theory is merely a convenience in description, to be junked when it no longer fits. To the academic mind, authority is everything and facts are junked when they do not fit theory laid down by authority.
Morals – all correct moral laws – derive from the instinct to survive. Moral behavior is survival behavior above the individual level.
The best things in history are accomplished by people who get “tired of being shoved around.”
“Die trying” is the proudest human thing.