Quotations about   autocracy

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Dictatorship is like a big proud ship — steaming away across the ocean with a great hulk and powerful engines driving it. It’s going fast and strong and looks like nothing could stop it. What happens? Your fine ship strikes something — under the surface. Maybe it’s a mine or a reef, maybe it’s a torpedo or an iceberg. And your wonderful ship sinks. Now take democracy. It’s like riding on a raft, a rickety raft that was put together in a hurry. We get tossed about on the waves, it’s bad going and our feet are always wet. But that raft doesn’t sink … It’s the raft that will get to the shore at last.

Other Authors and Sources
Richmond, Roaldus (ed.), “A Yankee Businessman in New Hampshire,” American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers Project, 1936-1940

See Ames.
Added on 8-Apr-16 | Last updated 8-Apr-16
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Monarchy is like a sleek craft, it sails along well until some bumbling captain runs it into the rocks. Democracy, on the other hand, is like a raft. It never goes down but, dammit, your feet are always wet.

Ames - feet are always wet - wist_info quote

Fisher Ames (1758-1808) American politician, orator
(Attributed)

Variant: "A monarchy is a merchantman which sails well, but will sometimes strike on a rock and go to the bottom; a republic is a raft which will never sink, but then your feet are always in the water." This variant is often attributed to a speech in the House of Representatives in 1795, but is not found in records of Ames' speeches.

This is the earliest reference I can find to this metaphor, which has also been used by / attributed to Joseph Cook, Russell Long, and Colin Powell.
Added on 1-Apr-16 | Last updated 6-Apr-16
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A well run tyranny is almost as scarce as an efficient democracy.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Friday [Dr. Baldwin] (1982)
Added on 17-Nov-15 | Last updated 17-Nov-15
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If an autocracy does not rest on the army, which leads to the chaos of praetorianism, it must rely on ‘panem et circenses.’ Hence it has some of the worst faults of democracy, without its advantages.

William Ralph Inge (1860-1954) English prelate [Dean Inge]
“Our Present Discontents,” Outspoken Essays: First Series (1919)
Added on 2-Nov-15 | Last updated 4-Jan-16
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History gives no countenance to the theory that popular governments are either more moral or more pacific than strong monarchies.

William Ralph Inge (1860-1954) English prelate [Dean Inge]
“Our Present Discontents,” Outspoken Essays: First Series (1919)
Added on 26-Oct-15 | Last updated 4-Jan-16
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If I had to choose, I should detest the tyranny of one man less than that of many. A despot always has his good moments; an assembly of despots never.

Voltaire (1694-1778) French writer [pseud. of Francois-Marie Arouet]
Philosophical Dictionary, “Tyranny” (1764) [tr. Gay (1962)]
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Added on 4-Nov-14 | Last updated 4-Nov-14
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Mr. Forster feels anxious because he dreads Theocracy. Now if he expects to see a Theocracy set up in modern England, I myself believe his expectation to be wholly chimerical. But I wish to make it very clear that, if I thought the thing in the least probable, I should feel about it exactly as he does. I fully embrace the maxim (which he borrows from a Christian) that ‘all power corrupts.’ I would go further. The loftier the pretensions of the power, the more meddlesome, inhuman, and oppressive it will be. Theocracy is the worst of all possible governments. All political power is at best a necessary evil: but it is least evil when its sanctions are most modest and commonplace, when it claims no more than to be useful or convenient and sets itself strictly limited objectives. Anything transcendental or spiritual, or even anything very strongly ethical, in its pretensions is dangerous and encourages it to meddle with our private lives. Let the shoemaker stick to his last. Thus the Renaissance doctrine of Divine Right is for me a corruption of monarchy; Rousseau’s General Will, of democracy; racial mysticisms, of nationality. And Theocracy, I admit and even insist, is the worst corruption of all.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
“Lilies that Fester,” The Twentieth Century (Apr 1955)
Added on 30-Dec-11 | Last updated 31-Mar-14
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Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) British playwright and critic
Man and Superman, “Maxims for Revolutionists,” “Democracy” (1903)
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Added on 19-Sep-07 | Last updated 26-Feb-15
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I shall be an autocrat: that’s my trade. And the good Lord will forgive me: that’s his.

[Moi, je serai autocrate: c’est mon metier. Et le bon Dieu me pardonnnera: c’est son metier.]

Catherine II (1762-1796) Russian empress [Catherine the Great]
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 21-Feb-14
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