Jan, This statement is often mistakenly attributed to Winston Churchill, but if you look at his life, this certainly wasn’t the model he followed. He was a soldier at 20 and a conservative member of Parliament at 25 – hardly a socialist. A few years later he did switch to the Liberal Party, which was not ‘liberal’ in the modern sense but did later return to the Conservatives. As far as Somerset Maugham (1874–1965), English novelist, dramatist, and short-story writer goes, I have no idea how he would have even remotely be associated with this quote (among other things, being bisexual and having written on homosexuality wasn’t exactly a conservative topic in his day).
"If a man is not a socialist in his youth, he has no heart. If he is not a conservative by the time he is 30 he has no head." So said Georges Clemenceau (1841–1929), French statesman, journalist, editor, and French premier 1906–09, 1917–20, and one-time radical.
There are several versions of this saying and it has been attributed to several different people but Clemeceau apparently appropriated the idea from the original statement made by mid-19th French
historian and statesman Francois Guizot, who said:
"Not to be a republican at 20 is proof of want of heart; to be one at 30 is proof of want of head".
He was referring to the controversy over whether France should be a republic or a monarchy. Guizot was a staunch monarchist in Louis-Philippe's reign and defender of conservative policies and enemy of the liberals and republicans who were pushing for such radical reforms as suffrage (even universal suffrage) not based on land ownership and wealth. So perhaps it appeared to Guizot that foolish young people with a lot of heart and enthusiasm had liberal thoughts and pipe dreams in their ardent but frivolous youth, but once the wisdom of age and experience kicked in they would realize the foolishness of their ideas and concede that the monarchy was the better system.
Some variations on the statement are:
"If you're not a socialist at the age of 20, then you have no heart. If you're not a conservative at the age of 40, then you have no brain."
“If you are not a socialist at the age of 20 you have no heart, if you are still a socialist at the age of 40 you have no brain.”
“If you are not a leftist at 20 you have no heart, but if you are still a leftist at 40 you have no brains.”
“Anyone who isn't a socialist at the age of 20 hasn't got a heart and anyone who isn't a capitalist at the age of 50 hasn't got a head.
Ken G – March 3, 2004
Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)