Acton Institute Powerblog

Young Socialist Hearts, Old Conservative Heads, and Correctly Attributed Quotes

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conversation-mark-interface-symbol-of-circular-speech-bubble-with-quotes-signs-inside_318-56572In the recent Iowa Caucus, young Democrats favored the socialist Bernie Sanders by a margin of six to one, while older voters went overwhelmingly for the more traditionally progressive Hillary Clinton.

The support of an old socialist by young voters and socialism should remind us of that old quote . . . you know the one, the one by . . . Churchill?

When it comes to citing famous quotations, a good rule of thumb is to attribute any unknown saying either to Anonymous or to Winston Churchill. Churchill’s eloquence and wit is second only to that great proverb maker Anon., so one is generally on safe ground by claiming him as the original source. Most people won’t know any better anyway.

Alas, one particular quote of relevance today that is often mistakenly attributed to the great Brit is,

Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has no heart; and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains.

While the sentiment is certainly astute and wise, the saying did not originate with Churchill. In fact, that wording is a variation of, “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.” — a quote which belongs to the former French Prime Minister Aristide Briand, who was himself a recovered socialist.

Briand, however, appears to have cribbed the saying from another French statesman, Francois Guizot (1787—1874), who originally said, “Not to be a republican at twenty is proof of want of heart; to be one at thirty is proof of want of head.”

Naturally, the term Republican had a different meaning in Guizot’s day and was not synonymous with the GOP as it is today. Young socialists and progressives, however, will probably prefer this version to all the others.

The History of Freedom

The History of Freedom

Lord Acton's two most famous essays, with an introduction by Acton scholar and Acton Institute Advisory Board member Professor James C. Holland.

Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).

Comments

  • Trouble is, too few young people grow a head as they put on weight.