The Keystone of Tyranny

“I began to sense faintly that secrecy is the keystone of all tyranny. Not force, but secrecy … censorship. When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, ‘This you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know,’ the end result is tyranny and oppression, no matter how holy the motives.”
—Robert A. Heinlein, Revolt in 2100 (1953)

Heinlein was not “just” a writer: in 1980 he was a member of the Citizens Advisory Council on National Space Policy, which met at the home of writer Larry Niven to write space policy papers for the incoming Reagan Administration. The chair: Jerry Pournelle. His published works, both fiction and non-fiction, express admiration for competence, and emphasize the value of critical thinking.

Illustration: Heinlein’s portrait from the April-May 1953 issue of Amazing Stories (unknown artist).

(#2 of 2: see previous for the first.)


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Randy Cassingham is best known as the creator of This is True, the oldest entertainment feature on the Internet: it has been running weekly by email subscription since early 1994. It is social commentary using weird news as its vehicle so it’s fun to read. Click here for a subscribe form — basic subscriptions are free.

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