The wit and wisdom of H.L. Mencken

  • All government, of course, is against liberty.
  • Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.
  • Democracy is only a dream: it should be put in the same category as Arcadia, Santa Claus, and Heaven.
  • Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.
  • For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.
  • I believe that all government is evil, and that trying to improve it is largely a waste of time.
  • I confess I enjoy democracy immensely. It is incomparably idiotic, and hence incomparably amusing.
  • If a politician found he had cannibals among his constituents, he would promise them missionaries for dinner.
  • It is inaccurate to say that I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office.
  • The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out… without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, intolerable.
  • The worst government is often the most moral. One composed of cynics is often very tolerant and humane. But when fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression.
  • When a new source of taxation is found it never means, in practice, that the old source is abandoned. It merely means that the politicians have two ways of milking the taxpayer where they had one before.
  • Unquestionably, there is progress. The average American now pays out twice as much in taxes as he formerly got in wages.
  • The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. The have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office.
  • Under democracy each party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule – and both commonly succeed, and are right.

 

(ed. – This is repost of an original post in By George Journal from December 2010.)

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