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tdn
01-16-2007, 09:40 AM
I don't want to turn this into a political thread (yet). Just the facts, ma'am.

"If you're not a Liberal at the age of 25 then you have no heart. If you're not a Conservative at the age of 35 then you have no brain."

This bit of wisdom is offered by Conservatives quite a lot on this and many other boards. It is often attributed to Churchill, and many others. My question is who actually coined that phrase? And when? And what were the definitions of liberal and conservative in that time and place?

Staggerlee
01-16-2007, 09:45 AM
I'd always heard it using 'socialist' rather than 'liberal'. It's referenced at Quoteworld (?) here: http://www.quoteworld.org/quotes/1847

TheLoadedDog
01-16-2007, 09:48 AM
That's different to the version I heard, which is something along the lines of "if a man is not a communist at fifteen, he has no heart. If he is still a communist at thirty, he has no brain."

Just offered here as a Googling option.

Marley23
01-16-2007, 09:51 AM
I've never heard either of those versions before. Here's guessing that Churchill never said it.

Sattua
01-16-2007, 10:04 AM
I've always heard it as "if you are not a Communist at 18..." etc. And I've always thought it was attributed to Bertrand Russell.

tdn
01-16-2007, 10:08 AM
I should have added into my OP "What was the actual original quote?" Obviously, that as well has been obscured.

msmith537
01-16-2007, 10:11 AM
I've heard many variations (communist/liberal/rebel vs capitalist/conservative/conformist). The basic gist is that young people are supposed to challenge the system. By adulthood, you should realize that you don't get very far by working against the system and you should become part of it.

Young people have the luxury of bucking the system because they generally don't have to provide for themselves or other dependents.

tdn
01-16-2007, 10:21 AM
The basic gist is that young people are supposed to challenge the system. By adulthood, you should realize that you don't get very far by working against the system and you should become part of it.
The gist that I've normally encountered, in the context in which it was said, was that 35 (or 40) year old Liberals are idiots. But that's neither here nor there -- I just want to pin down the original quote.

Diogenes the Cynic
01-16-2007, 10:29 AM
I should have added into my OP "What was the actual original quote?" Obviously, that as well has been obscured.
The original quote is in Staggerlee's link:
"The man who is not a socialist at twenty has no heart, but if he is still a socialist at forty he has no head."
--Aristide Briand
It's not really about "Liberal vs. Conservative," so much as a about the radical political passions of youth and the moderation that comes with maturity. The specific ideology is not that important. I have no idea how or when it got perverted into the condescending, self-congratulatory platitude which has now become ubiquitous.

tdn
01-16-2007, 10:36 AM
Thanks, Dio. Do you have a cite for that? I looked up Briand in Wiki and didn't see that quote.

tdn
01-16-2007, 10:39 AM
D'oh! If you have no dictionary at the age of 25, you have no money. If you can't click the link in the 1st response at the age of 45, you have no brain.

Me? A culpa. Definitely a culpa.

John DiFool
01-16-2007, 11:20 AM
Do people tend to become more conservative as they age? If so, why? Is it purely a function
of rising income as you get established in your career (starving college student vs. rich CEO)?

mhendo
01-16-2007, 11:22 AM
I've always heard it as "if you are not a Communist at 18..." etc. And I've always thought it was attributed to Bertrand Russell.Doesn't really sound like Russell.

He does not strike me, based on his philosophy and his own political activities, as a likely candidate for criticizing those who do not become conservative as they get older. Russell was supporting nuclear disarmament and protesting against the Vietnam War when he was in his 80s and 90s.

TheLoadedDog
01-16-2007, 11:31 AM
Do people tend to become more conservative as they age? If so, why? Is it purely a function
of rising income as you get established in your career (starving college student vs. rich CEO)?
I'm not sure.

I followed the classic, boring path of abandoning leftism in my twenties, and becoming a conservative by thirty. For me, it wasn't about increased wealth (I had more disposable income then than now), but just that I found myself doing more and more mental gymnastics to remain on the left, and in the end I decided, "Hey, fuck it. Admit you're a conservative, dude." So I did.

Cervaise
01-16-2007, 12:36 PM
Do people tend to become more conservative as they age?This is probably a really good GD topic. Don't know if it would be better to start a new thread or just kick this over. Mods?

Exapno Mapcase
01-16-2007, 12:43 PM
The origin I believe is given on this page (http://lalaland.msu.edu/~vanhoose/quotes/0018.html):
first quoted by Guisot, a French monarchist statesman under Louis
Philippe:

Not to be a republican at twenty is proof of want of heart;
to be one at thirty is proof of want of head.
-Francois Guisot (1787-1874)

which was later changed by Georges Clemenceau (1841-1929) into:

Not to be a socialist at twenty is proof of want of heart;
to be one at thirty is proof of want of head.

It's since be used, adapted by, or attributed to just about everybody, but those look to be the ur-models.

And the early usages show that it was applied to contemporary notions of radicalism and how radical ideas are popular with youth but that most people grow out of extreme positions. This seems to be far more supportable than the current usage of liberal and conservative, which are positions that one can maintain regardless of age. Another good quote dumbed down to meaninglessness.

tdn
01-16-2007, 12:52 PM
The origin I believe is given on this page (http://lalaland.msu.edu/~vanhoose/quotes/0018.html):
Which looks like it was copied and pasted directly from this page (http://www.theotherpages.org/unsort05.html).

tdn
01-16-2007, 12:55 PM
Which looks like it was copied and pasted directly from this page (http://www.theotherpages.org/unsort05.html).
That page also suggests that Thomas Dekker (1577-1632) ripped off Paul McCartney (1942-).

Exapno Mapcase
01-16-2007, 01:28 PM
Which looks like it was copied and pasted directly from this page (http://www.theotherpages.org/unsort05.html).
So? I wasn't making any comments on the wonderfulness of the page I cited, just quoted it because it had my argument in concise form.

griffin1977
01-16-2007, 01:35 PM
WikiQuote (http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Communism) credits it to George Bernard Shaw:

"Any man who is not a communist at the age of twenty is a fool. Any man who is still a communist at the age of thirty is an even bigger fool."
George Bernard Shaw

tdn
01-16-2007, 01:44 PM
So? I wasn't making any comments on the wonderfulness of the page I cited, just quoted it because it had my argument in concise form.
I meant no criticism of your quote -- indeed, I thank you for it. It's just that when researching a question like this, sometimes it's useful to find a cite for the cite.

samclem
01-16-2007, 07:50 PM
The attribution of the basics of the quote to Guizot appears first in a quotation dictionary by W. Gurney Benham, published in 1948. Benham also asserted that "Clemenceau adapted this saying, substituting 'socialiste' for 'republicain."'

John Adams, the President, quoted in Thomas Jefferson, Journal, Jan. 1799 said A boy of fifteen who is not a democrat is good for nothing, and he is no better who is a democrat at twenty.

So, the Adams quote is verifiable. Guizot, at age 12 in 1799, perhaps had not spoken this sentiment as yet.

All of this is courtesy of The Yale Book of Quotations (2006)by Fred Shapiro. This is the most accurately researched of all quotation dictionaries.

Exapno Mapcase
01-16-2007, 09:51 PM
Note that the Adams quote stays in the same mode as the others. Not a distinction between liberal and conservative, but a distinction between youthful radicalism* - the problems of the world are so severe that they must be solved now and by any means necessary - and older repudiation of radicalism. You don't have to be conservative to think that an extreme or violent solution is not the answer or that the world is more complex than simple black/white solutions can accommodate.


*For Adams, "democrat" was a dirty word, for it referred to the politics of the anti-federalists, which he thought extreme, radical, and dangerous.

samclem
01-16-2007, 10:01 PM
*For Adams, "democrat" was a dirty word, for it referred to the politics of the anti-federalists, which he thought extreme, radical, and dangerous. Hey! I just find 'em. It's up to you to interpret them. And you do damned fine work. :)

Eurograff
01-17-2007, 09:36 PM
Here also the quotation usually speaks of communists, rarely socialists. Sometimes the point is emphasized by using instead of any specific political ideology just the word radical or idealist. At least this popular form comes probably from French politics. It seems using it towards liberals is a recent American invention.

Some of these attributions are interesting. Aristide Briand probably wouldn't have said the exact words (well, translated words, that is) that are attributed to him in that one link, as at forty he was in fact one of the most important socialist leaders. However Briand is indeed a good example of youthful radicalism turned moderation: in his youth he was close to anarchists and radical socialists, then followed syndicalism, but in his thirties became an independent socialist and progressed to become a successful prime minister and Nobel peace prize laureate. So I guess Briand's political career would be very much like what the quotation means: idealism with a heart at twenty, rationalism with a head at forty.

Wikiquote is a very problemous source for stuff like this. Take for example the George Bernard Shaw quote: article history (http://en.wikiquote.org/w/index.php?title=Communism&diff=177212&oldid=161628) shows it was added without any source or explanation by an anonymous user with no edit history. So how can we know that user didn't just invent the quote themselves? It's not that Shaw couldn't have said it, but even if he did, it would have been just a parody of the other, already famous, quote.

As for whether Winston Churchill said something like this, why not check what the Churchill Centre has to say? In the page "quotes falsely attributed to him" (http://www.winstonchurchill.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=112) it says: "If you're not a liberal when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the time you're 35, you have no brain." There is no record of anyone hearing Churchill say this. Paul Addison of Edinburgh University makes this comment: "Surely Churchill can't have used the words attributed to him. He'd been a Conservative at 15 and a Liberal at 35! And would he have talked so disrespectfully of Clemmie, who is generally thought to have been a lifelong Liberal?"So those American right-wingers who insist WC said this once again show their poor knowledge of history, as he indeed was a young Conservative, a middle-aged Liberal and finally an old Conservative, while his wife Clementine remained Liberal. Man with no heart and no brain, that Winston. Not to mention that Liberals and Conservatives are British parties and at least in Churchill's time did not resemble what is commonly though to be liberal or conservative ideology in today's United States, or here in Europe where liberalism is a right-wing ideology. Finally, Winston Churchill apparently did not think that his own political views would have changed during the years, in his view it was the parties that changed, which seemingly justified his inter-party moves.

samclem
01-17-2007, 11:05 PM
Shaw did actually say something akin to the original, in 1933, in a speech at the University of Hong Kong.

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