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Churchill's famous analysis of Democracy

The great Sir Winston Churchill said of Democracy: (paraphrase): "It's the worst system imaginable . . . except for all the others." I agree, and would also say the same for capitalism / free enterprise. Your thoughts?

  • Mar 20 2013: This quote is often misunderstood to mean that democracy is the best possible form of government.

    I believe that democracy is the best form of government man has invented so far.
    I hope that we can do better in the future.

    The founding fathers of the USA understood that they were beginning an experiment. We should continue thinking of our form of government as an ongoing experiment.
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    Mar 20 2013: A few more from Winston:

    There is no such thing as a good tax.

    Some see private enterprise as a predatory target to be shot, others as a cow to be milked, but few are those who see it as a sturdy horse pulling the wagon.

    The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.

    We contend that for a nation to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.

    Once in a while you will stumble upon the truth but most of us manage to pick ourselves up and hurry along as if nothing had happened.

    If you have ten thousand regulations, you destroy all respect for the law.

    The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is.

    A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

    Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy.

    The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

    And some how you conclude Churchill was speaking against capitalism and free enterprise. That there is a strong case of non sequitur...

    Whoops I misread what you were stating, my bad. We are on the same page.
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    Mar 20 2013: The very best form of government is the probably a benign monarchy but there are no such Benigns

    Next best is the American flavor of a Republic (not what you see today) as it is the very reason why the standard of living of the world has gone up so much.
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    Mar 20 2013: One thing I consistently notice about anyone in power who complains about a system is that they reap the benefits and provide no workable alternatives (never mind actually trying to change the system when available).

    Its not too different with people in general.
    Claim a system doesn't work and needs to be removed/replaced > ultimately end up taking benefits of the system that wouldn't be there if we listened to them.

    My thoughts is that unless people are able to
    1. Provide a workable, practical system
    2. Actually be consistent in all cases with it
    they should be disregarded until that time.

    I have to hand it to Ron Paul though, he almost managed #2, right up until he didn't want to engage in the free-market for purchasing a website domain of his name so ran to a bigger authority to try and make them get it for him.
    So close, but no dice.
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    Mar 20 2013: .
    Everything has its own optimal point.
    Too far from the point will lead us to its opposite.

    (For details, see the 1st article, points 1-3, 10, at
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    Mar 19 2013: he certainly wouldn't. his words were well understood back then, less understood today. it was not just a witty remark to get into quote books. it comes from the idea that freedom pushes mankind forward, and limiting freedom holds it back. democracy is a limit to freedom. just like socialism, dictatorship, monarchy and all other forms of oppression. churchill was a believer of the free market.
    • Mar 20 2013: I agree that at that time his words were understood much more clearly. That was in a time of turmoil, when the security of your nation's form of government was in doubt. He was not justifying his form of government, so much as explaining the problem with experimenting with other governments. So many countries did not end up as democracies by chance; there was a large amount of trial and error.
      I do, however, think he would have said the same about capitalism/free enterprise. I think he was highly nationalistic and chose the strength of the nation over the ideals of capitalism. He found other systems that worked, but when there was no impending wars or threats, he found capitalism/free enterprise to be the best option.