Saturday, August 05, 2006

H.L. Mencken Quotes

The brilliant Henry Louis Mencken.

Puritanism - The haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy.

Immorality - The morality of those who are having a better time.

Platitude - An idea (a) that is admitted to be true by everyone,and (b) that is not true.

Red - Any man who advocates or believes in any political idea not commonly accepted. In America Nietzsche and John Stuart Mill would be Reds.

The natural tendency of every government is to grow steadily worse - that is, to grow more satisfactory to those who constitute it and less satisfactory to those who support it.

The only kind of freedom that the mob can imagine is freedom to annoy and oppress its betters, and that is precisely the kind that we mainly have.

If x is the population of the United States and y is the degree of imbecility of the average American, then democracy is the theory that x X y is less than y.

Philosophy consists very largely of one philosopher arguing that all other philosophers are jackasses. He usually proves it, and I should add that he also usually proves that he is one himself.

The fact that I have no remedy for all the sorrows of the world is no reason for my accepting yours. It simply supports the strong probability that yours is a fake.

I have long been convinced that the idea of liberty is abhorrent to most human beings. What they want is security, not freedom. Thus it seldom causes any public indignation when an enterprising tyrant claps down on one of his enemies. To most men it seems a natural proceeding.

I think the United States should mind its own business. If it is actually commissioned by God to put down totalitarianism, let it start in Cuba, Brazil, Mexico, Santo Domingo and Mississippi.

Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies totrying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule--and bothcommonly succeed, and are right... The United States has neverdeveloped an aristocracy really disinterested or an intelligentsiareally intelligent. Its history is simply a record of vacillationsbetween two gangs of frauds.

Metaphysics is almost always an attempt to prove the incredibleby an appeal to the unintelligible.

The typical lawmaker of today is a man devoid of principle--a merecounter in a grotesque and knavish game. If the right pressure couldbe applied to him he would be cheerfully in favor of polygamy,astrology, or cannibalism.

Demagogue: one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.

All government, in its essence, is organized exploitation, and in virtually all of its existing forms it is the implacable enemy of every industrious and well-disposed man.

Unquestionably, there is progress. The average American now pays out twice as much in taxes as he formerly got in wages.

The idea that the sole aim of punishment is to prevent crime is obviously grounded upon the theory that crime can be prevented, which is almost as dubious as the notion that poverty can be prevented.

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