Mencken on Government
Some of my Facebook friends are celebrating H.L. Mencken’s birthday with their favorite quotes from Mencken. One that pops up again and again is this one:
Democracy is the theory that the common man knows what he wants and deserves to get it, good and hard.
That’s my second-favorite Mencken quote on democracy. Here’s my favorite:
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.
Here is another favorite:
Government is actually the worst failure of civilized man. There has never been a really good one, and even those that are most tolerable are arbitrary, cruel, grasping and unintelligent.
In looking up quotes from Mencken, I was surprised to find this one, which I’m used to seeing on bumper stickers of cars driven by relatively left-wing people:
If you want peace, work for justice.
I like it even though I don’t totally agree with it. I think a better way of working for peace is to work for freedom. So here’s my quote, not from Mencken but from Henderson:
If you want peace, work for freedom.