Robert Heinlein Quotes

Robert Anson Heinlein (1907 –1988) was a popular American science fiction writer. For decades, Heinlein was among the best-selling science fiction writers.

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

“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.

— Robert Heinlein, Starship Troopers

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.

— Robert Heinlein

Every law that was ever written opened up a new way to graft.

— Robert Heinlein, Red Planet

The best things in history are accomplished by people who get “tired of being shoved around.”

— Robert Heinlein, Have Space Suit—Will Travel

Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors… and miss.

— Robert Heinlein

Taxes are not levied for the benefit of the taxed.

— Robert Heinlein, The Notebooks of Lazarus Long

An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.

— Robert Heinlein

Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.

— Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

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?

— Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

Take sides! Always take sides! You will sometimes be wrong – but the man who refuses to take sides must always be wrong.

— Robert Heinlein, Double Star

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.

— Robert Heinlein, The Door Into Summer

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.

— Robert Heinlein

Beware of altruism. It is based on self-deception, the root of all evil.

— Robert Heinlein, The Notebooks of Lazarus Long

The price of freedom is the willingness to do sudden battle, anywhere, at any time, and with utter recklessness.

— Robert Heinlein, The Pupper Masters

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.

— Robert Heinlein, The Notebooks of Lazarus Long

Live each golden moment as if it were eternity – without fear, without hope, but with a sybaritic gusto.

— Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

When I don’t understand, I have an unbearable itch to know why.

— Robert Heinlein, Have Space Suit—Will Travel

Morals – all correct moral laws – derive from the instinct to survive. Moral behavior is survival behavior above the individual level.

— Robert Heinlein, Starship Troopers

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.

— Robert Heinlein

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.

— Robert Heinlein, Life-Line

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.

— Robert Heinlein, The Romantic Manifesto

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.

— Robert Heinlein

Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst.

— Robert Heinlein, Starship Troopers

“Die trying” is the proudest human thing.

— Robert Heinlein, Have Space Suit—Will Travel

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.

— Robert Heinlein

You can have peace, or you can have freedom. Don’t ever count on having both at once.

— Robert Heinlein

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.

— Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

Whether it is exerted by ten men or by ten billion, political authority is force.

— Robert Heinlein, Starship Troopers

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?

— Robert Heinlein

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.

— Robert Heinlein, Starship Troopers

War is not violence and killing, pure and simple; war is controlled violence, for a purpose.

— Robert Heinlein, Starship Troopers

A committee is the only known form of life with a hundred bellies and no brain.

— Robert Heinlein, Methuselah’s Children

A generation which ignores history has no past and no future.

— Robert Heinlein, The Notebooks of Lazarus Long

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!

— Robert Heinlein

Obscurity is the refuge of the incompetent.

— Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.

— Robert Heinlein

Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.

— Robert Heinlein, The Notebooks of Lazarus Long

There are no dangerous weapons. There are only dangerous men.

— Robert Heinlein

War is too serious a matter to be taught by the inexperienced.

— Robert Heinlein

Never appeal to a man’s ‘better nature.’ He may not have one. Invoking his self-interest gives you more leverage.

— Robert Heinlein, The Notebooks of Lazarus Long

You can’t conquer a free man; the most you can do is kill him.

— Robert Heinlein, If This Goes On