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H.L. Mencken Quotes - Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)

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(Journalist, essayist, magazine editor, satirist, acerbic critic of American life and culture, and a scholar of American English. He is regarded as one of the most influential American writers and prose stylists of the first half of the 20th century. Wikipedia)

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

The only good bureaucrat is one with a pistol at his head. Put it in his hand and it's good-bye to the Bill of Rights.

The New Deal began, like the Salvation Army, by promising to save humanity. It ended, again like the Salvation Army, by running flop-houses and disturbing the peace.

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

No one in this world, so far as I know—and I have researched the records for years, and employed agents to help me—has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.

Government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advance auction in stolen goods.

And what is a good citizen? Simply one who never says, does or thinks anything that is unusual. Schools are maintained in order to bring this uniformity up to the highest possible point. A school is a hopper into which children are heaved while they are still young and tender; therein they are pressed into certain standard shapes and covered from head to heels with official rubber-stamps.

The kind of man who wants the government to adopt and enforce his ideas is always the kind of man whose ideas are idiotic.

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.

It is the fundamental theory of all the more recent American law...that the average citizen is half-witted, and hence not to be trusted to either his own devices or his own thoughts.

The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it.

To wage a war for a purely moral reason is as absurd as to ravish a woman for a purely moral reason.  

The ideal government of reflective men, from Aristotle onward, is one which lets the individual alone.

Democracy, too, is a religion. It is the worship of jackals by jackasses. 

As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.

"The state-or, to make the matter more concrete,
the government-consists of a gang of men exactly
like you and me. They have, taking one with another,
no special talent for the business of government;
they have only a talent for getting and holding
office. Their principal device to that end is to
search out groups who pant and pine for something
they can't get, and to promise to give it to them.
Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing.
The tenth time it is made good by looting 'A' to
satisfy 'B'.  In other words, government is a broker
in pillage, and every election is a sort of advance
auction sale of stolen goods." ~ H.L.Mencken  1936

H.L. Mencken Quotes
Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)

 The man of ideas (From Wikipedia)

In his capacity as editor and man of ideas, Mencken became close friends with the leading literary figures of his time, including Theodore Dreiser, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Joseph Hergesheimer, Anita Loos, Ben Hecht, Sinclair Lewis, James Branch Cabell and Alfred Knopf, as well as a mentor to several young reporters, including Alistair Cooke. He also championed artists whose works he considered worthy. For example, he asserted that books such as Caught Short! A Saga of Wailing Wall Street (1929), by Eddie Cantor (ghost-written by David Freedman) did more to pull America out of the Great Depression than all government measures combined. He also mentored John Fante.

Mencken also published many works under various pseudonyms, including Owen Hatteras , John H. Brownell, William Drayham, W. L. D. Bell, and Charles Angofff.[17] As a ghost-writer for the physician Leonard K. Hirshberg, he wrote a series of articles and (in 1910) most of the book about the care for babies.

Mencken frankly admired Friedrich Nietzsche—he was the first writer to provide a scholarly analysis in English of Nietzsche's writings and philosophy—and Joseph Conrad. His humor and satire owe much to Ambrose Bierce and Mark Twain. He did much to defend Theodore Dreiser, despite freely admitting his faults, including stating forthrightly that Dreiser often wrote badly and was a gullible man. Mencken also expressed his appreciation for William Graham Sumner in a 1941 collection of Sumner's essays, and regretted never having known Sumner personally.

Mencken recommended for publication the first novel by Ayn Rand, We the Living, calling it "a really excellent piece of work". Shortly after, Rand addressed him in correspondence as "the greatest representative of a philosophy" to which she wanted to dedicate her life, "individualism", and, later, listed him as her favorite columnist.[18]

Mencken is fictionalized in the play Inherit the Wind as the cynical sarcastic atheist E. K. Hornbeck (right), seen here as played by Gene Kelly in the Hollywood film version. On the left is Henry Drummond, based on Clarence Darrow and portrayed by Spencer Tracy.

For Mencken, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was the finest work of American literature. Much of that book relates how gullible and ignorant country "boobs" (as Mencken referred to them) are swindled by confidence men like the (deliberately) pathetic "Duke" and "Dauphin" roustabouts with whom Huck and Jim travel down the Mississippi River. These scam-artists swindle by posing as enlightened speakers on temperance (to obtain the funds to get roaring drunk), as pious "saved" men seeking funds for far off evangelistic missions (to pirates on the high seas, no less), and as learned doctors of phrenology (who can barely spell). Mencken read the novel as a story of America's hilarious dark side, a place where democracy, as defined by Mencken, is "...the worship of Jackals by Jackasses".

As a nationally syndicated columnist and book author, he famously spoke out against Christian Science, social stigma, fakery, Christian radicalism, religious belief (and as a fervent nonbeliever the very notion of a Deity), osteopathy, antievolutionism, chiropractic,[19][20][21] and the "Booboisie", his word for the ignorant middle classes. In 1926, he deliberately had himself arrested for selling an issue of The American Mercury that was banned in Boston under the Comstock laws.[22] Mencken heaped scorn not only on the public officials he disliked, but also on the contemporary state of American republicanism itself: in 1931, the Arkansas legislature passed a motion to pray for Mencken's soul after he had called the state the "apex of moronia".[23]

1 Comments in Response to

Comment by Powell Gammill
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What quotes...a wiki page?


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