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This is the talk page for discussing improvements to the Democracy page.

Proudhon quote for real?[edit]

  • Democracy is nothing but the Tyranny of Majorities, the most abominable tyranny of all, for it is not based on the authority of a religion, not upon the nobility of a race, not on the merits of talents and of riches. It merely rests upon numbers and hides behind the name of the people.
    • Proudhon, Demokratie und Republik, S. 10.

Proudhon means Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, right? Why did a French anarchist supposedly write a book with a German title, when every bibliography of his only has titles in French? And why is "Democracy and Republic" or its French equivalent not on any list of Proudhon works? Is this quote for real? Is the sourcing correct?

I can't speak directly to the accuracy of the source at this moment, but I found the following information:
  • The U.S. Library of Congress has 38 editions of various works by Proudhon, in French (27), Spanish (5), Italian (1), Russian (1), German (2), English (1), and Hebrew (1), so not "every" bibliography of his has only French titles. It is conceivable that someone is quoting from a German edition of a work of his.
  • However, I found no mention of a book titled Demokratie und Republik by Proudhon in the LoC. Nor did I find any book titled Démocratie et république or Démocratie et la république, by anyone.
  • I did find two similarly titled books:
    • Demokratie und Republik (1928) by Ottokar Stauf
    • Demokratie Und Republik: Tocquevilles Theorie Des Politischen Handelns (1981) by Hans Arnold Rau
None of this is definitive, but without specific publication information (or even a proper identification of the quotee, for that matter), editors cannot verify the information, so this quote should go into the "Unsourced" section with a "Possibly from" qualifier until the specific data can be found. ~ Jeff Q (talk) 07:10, 17 October 2006 (UTC)[reply]

I moved the quote in question from article to head of section here — agree that the quote is extremely dubious and seems a likely misattribution, and have removed the other insufficiently sourced quotes to this page. ~ Kalki (talk · contributions) 09:41, 13 May 2010 (UTC)[reply]

The quote seems to be in fact from "Solution du problème social", on p. 77 in this edition: In original French: "La démocratie n'est autre chose que la tyrannie des majorités, tyrannie la plus exécrable de toutes; car elle ne s'appuie ni sur l'autorité d'une religion, ni sur une noblesse de race, ni sur les prérogatives du talent et de la fortune: elle a pour base le nombre, et pour masque le nom du Peuple." (Anonymous, 13:55, 6 September 2016 (UTC)

Churchill quote[edit]

Given that the Churchill quote is unsourced, I corrected the preposition (fromfor) to reflect:

  1. proper English usage;
  2. the majority of quotations on other web pages (also unsourced).

I'd be happy to be overruled by a more authoritative source. –Cúthalion (talk) 15:16, 7 May 2007 (UTC)[reply]

From Wikipedia[edit]

I'm dumping these here from the w:Democracy article. Some of them are already in the Wikiquote article, and I don't know if those that aren't even deserve to be here. Silly rabbit 13:05, 12 June 2008 (UTC)[reply]

  • government by discussion.
-John Stuart Mill, On Liberty
  • Democracy is a system ensuring that the people are governed no better than they deserve.
-George Bernard Shaw
  • The strongest argument against democracy is a five minute discussion with the average voter.
-Sir Winston Churchill
  • I've Said it before, and I'll say it again, Democracy simply doesn't work.
-Kent Brockman
  • Democracy is more a verb than a noun.
Dr. Cornel West
  • In the case of a word like DEMOCRACY, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of régime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using the word if it were tied down to any one meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different.[1]
-George Orwell, Politics and the English Language
  • The twentieth century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.
-Alex Carey, Taking the Risk out of Democracy: Propaganda in the US and Australia


Shouldn´t the quotes be arranged in a more orderly way? Alphabetical, chronological, etc? At least the ones with a source...



Published sources should be provided before moving these back into the article
  • Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.
  • The greatest argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.
  • Democracy is the rule of the people, by the people and for the people.
  • A democracy is nothing more than an angry mob, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.
  • Apparently, a democracy is a place where numerous elections are held at great cost without issues and with interchangeable candidates.
  • Corruption ought not to be an inevitable product of democracy.
  • Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.
  • Majoritarian democracy by itself is not freedom but the rule by a larger group. … Under a victorious democracy the most important task for liberal principles is thus the protection of minorities, especially of those which do not have a chance to gain the majority for themselves.
  • No substantial famine has ever occurred in any independent and democratic country with a relatively free press.
  • The rule of the many by the few, we call tyranny. The rule of the few by the many (democracy) is tyranny also, only of a less intense kind.
  • Democracy is the only system that persists in asking the powers that be whether they are the powers that ought to be.
  • Democracy is a very admirable form of government — for dogs
  • Democracy is not a matter of sentiment, but of foresight. Any system that doesn't take the long run into account will burn itself out in the short run.
  • Democracy is ethically right but intellectually void.
  • Those who vote count for nothing; those who count the vote count for everything.

Two Wolves and a sheep[edit]

  • My definition of democracy is two wolves and one sheep voting on what to have for breakfast.

I believe this is the original. It's referred to on Usenet (e.g. here). There are no appearances of the quote on Usenet before August 30, 1991, as far as can be determined by Google group search. But Google group search has so many bugs, I don't know how much that means. Plus, I'm not sure how complete their database of Usenet postings is back then. I've sent an email to Dr. Boddie's .edu address to ask about this quote, but I don't know when/if he'll reply, especially as this is August.

Feel free to add this to the article page and/or Ben Franklin page as you wish. I'll be traveling over the next couple of weeks and don't have time to do it. —KHirsch 20:47, 3 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Good find. (I think he is more often named in the press as Richard rather than Dick.) This quote (including lamb/sheep variant) appears on several pages: James Bovard, Democracy, Benjamin Franklin, Government, Politics. I am not sure we will ever know the true origin of this modern adaptation of an ancient motif. My research turned up nothing older. I found some 21st century claims of people remembering it from the 1970s or 1960s, but they were wholly unreliable. During my search I found this amusing:
"Do stay, you don't disturb me", called the wolf.
"Thank you", the lamb retorted. "I've read some Aesop."
  • Quoted by Marketa Goetz-Stankiewicz, "The sheep in wolf's clothing – thoughts on modern variations of an ancient fable" in From Sign to Text: a Semiotic View of Communication (1989), ed. Yishai Tobin. (I don't know who is quoted because the footnotes are not previewable at GoogleBooks.)
; )   ~ Ningauble 18:54, 4 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Grammatical error in a quote[edit]

There is a grammatical error in this quote: "Democracy will prevail when men believe the vote of Judas as good as that of Jesus Christ." It should be "Democracy will prevail when men believe the vote of Judas (to be) as good as that of Jesus Christ."

John F. Kennedy quote[edit]

There appears to be a (rather amusing) typographical error in the first line of the JFK quote on the main page (right column). I believe the quote should read: "The true democracy, living and growing and inspiring, puts its faith in the people..." instead of: "The true democracy, living and growing and poop, puts its faith in the people..." ~ S.Saul, 14:10, 2 October 2015 (UTC)

I find nothing remotely amusing about this sort of childish vandalism. ~ Ningauble (talk) 14:33, 3 October 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Seeking the earliest source of "Democracy is the worst form of government except..."[edit]

We've got documentation for Winston Churchill's use of this famous line, but his use makes clear the idea had been around for a while. I was poking around to find an earlier version (difficult because there are so many synonyms for many of the words in Churchill's version), when I came across the following:

  • "A certain writer [Plato] is wrong in saying that democracy, although the worst of good constitutions, is the best of bad ones..."
    • B. Jowett, The Politics of Aristotle: Introduction and Translation, p. LXXII; Clarendon Press, 1885

We don't currently have any such quote in Plato, Aristotle, or Democracy, and I didn't find a better or earlier source in the time I had. I'm posting it here in case anyone would like to pursue it further. ~ Jeff Q (talk) 01:42, 17 October 2016 (UTC)[reply]

For what it's worth, I regard Benjamin Jowett as a frequently unreliable source that always needs to be corroborated. Notwithstanding the popularity of his translations of the classics, they are notorious for idiosyncratic interpretations and are the source of many widespread misattributions to Plato of things he never wrote. ~ Ningauble (talk) 18:59, 25 October 2016 (UTC)[reply]

Excessive obscure quotes and pov pushing , quotes from "Newsclick" website[edit]

These quotes were recently added:

  • The practice of democracy has the notorious tendency to become paradoxical. It begins in the name of the "demos" but goes on to construct the demos rather narrowly; oftentimes, sections of the population manage to ensconce themselves as "the people", they count as the public, their ideas masquerade as the people's ideas. This inevitably produces a layered citizenry. Democracy also starts off by investing agency in the individuals but sooner or later divests them of that agency as interference by the ignorant. Democracy inspires ideas of rights but allows the taming of rights for purposes of order. In short, it is these tensions between the elite and the masses, between active citizens and obedient citizens, between rights and order, that mark the life of democracies. This is not merely about the distance between theory and practice, between concept and its concrete life. It is about imagining that the course of democracy is predetermined. Democratic politics needs to be carved out with effort, rather than believing that adopting formal democracy automatically ensures vibrant democratic practice.

The quote is also in 14 other wikiquote articles. Ram Puniyani is a former professor of biomedical engineering. Newsclick is a news blog/website which has no wikipedia page. Suhas Palshikar is an Indian academic.

The topic itself is fine. But this is a high level article about quotes on democracy. This article should have more quotes from books, rather than websites or newspapers, that have timeless quotability. --დამოკიდებულება (talk) 10:08, 23 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]

There are unlimited quotes from newspapers like this quote but that are more quotable. The quotes need to be properly sourced with reliable secondary sources to demostrate notability.

The concern is of course not because the quote is from a particular country or newsblog. I would have (almost) the same concern if random quotes from the NYT are quoted. There is an overabundance of quotes from newspapers when timeless quotes from books should be preferred at least in high level articles like this one. --დამოკიდებულება (talk) 11:21, 23 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]