Parliamentary indecision

More than six people cannot agree on anything, three is better–and one is perfect for a job that one can do. This is why parliamentary bodies all through history, when they accomplished anything, owed it to a few strong men who dominated the rest.

— Professor Bernardo de la Paz, from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein

Updated: 11th July 2019 — 5:39 pm


  1. This rather assumes that it is good for “parliamentary bodies” to change the laws – to “accomplish things”

    The record of the various “legislatures” around the world over the last 150 years (since 1869) has generally been very bad – it would have GENERALLY (there have been some improvements to the laws in various countries) been much better if they had gone out to lunch in 1869 and were still at lunch now 150 years later.

    As Mark Twain pointed out “no man’s life, liberty or property is safe – when the legislature is in session”.

    And laws made by Civil Servants (or activist judges) tend to be even worse than laws made by elected politicians – so the answer would seam to be (GENERALLY speaking) to stop trying to use new laws to “accomplish things” and and allow people to live their own lives.

    As for the antics of a “few strong men who dominated the rest” – that tends to be a tidal wave of human blood.

  2. “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

    ― George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman

  3. Paul: Interestingly, in the full context of the quote, Prof is explaining his strategy in setting up Lunar parliament: to keep the idiots who want to make decisions busy arguing with each other; IOW, to *prevent* them from accomplishing things.

    Whether this turns out to be a good long term strategy I don’t recall.

Comments are closed.