There is a semi-famous quote by a science fiction writer that basically asserts that peace, prosperity, industry and maybe democracy are a fluke in history and poverty and violence is pretty much the norm. There is also a reference that humans won't really appreciate the former when it's occurring. What's the quote and who said it?

  • 1
    I know this isn't the answer, but my first thought was Thomas Hobbes: "The life of man [by nature is] solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short [...] The condition of Man is a condition of war against every one" Commented Nov 22, 2016 at 13:44
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    The quote is Hobbesian in effect. But it's definitely not Hobbes
    – K Dog
    Commented Nov 22, 2016 at 13:46
  • Agree the inspiration was Hobbes - sounds like something Jerry Pournelle or Orson Scott Card would say... maybe the Ender Saga?
    – Stone True
    Commented Nov 22, 2016 at 18:19
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    I think it was Heinlein.
    – K Dog
    Commented Nov 22, 2016 at 18:42

1 Answer 1


Was indeed Heinlein (Goodreads link):

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded—here and there, now and then—are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as "bad luck.”

This is from "Notebooks of Lazarus Long" by Robert A. Heinlein, in Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, June 1973, p. 77.


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