Thursday, April 29, 2010

H. L. Mencken wrote this in 1925..........

".....a deep sense of fundamental antagonism between the
government and the people it governs. It is apprehended,
not as a committee of citizens chosen to carry on the
communal business of the whole population, but as a separate
and autonomous corporation, mainly devoted to exploiting
the population for the benefit of its own members."

"The intelligent man, when he pays taxes, certainly does not
believe that he is making a prudent and productive investment
of his money; on the contrary, he feels that he is being mulcted
in an excessive amount for services that, in the main are
useless to him, and that, in substantial part, are downright
inimical to him. He may be convinced that a police force, say,
is necessary for the protection of his life and property, and that
an army and navy safeguard him from being reduced to slavery
by some vague foreign kaiser, but even so he views these things
as extravagantly expensive- he sees in even the most essential
of them an agency for making it easier for the exploiters
constituting the government to rob him. In those exploiters
themselves he has no confidence whatever. He sees them as
purely predatory and useless; he believes that he gets no more
net benefit from their vast and costly operations the he gets
from the money he lends to his wife's brother...."

I wonder what he would think eighty-five years later.

Mencken (1880-1956) was a prolific writer, with a libertarian
bent and a caustic wit. I first learned about him in high school,
reading Inherit the Wind. The cynical reporter, E. K. Hornbeck,
covering the trial was based on Mencken, who in fact did cover
the Scopes "Monkey" trial.

My daughter says that her school won't let her use Wikipedia,
apparently because of accuracy issues. However, accurate or
not, they do have some great stuff there, like this excerpt
from their post on Mencken:

"Mencken heaped scorn not only on the public officials he
disliked, but also on the contemporary state of American
democracy 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."[

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting Steve. In truth, Mencken heaped scorn on everyone.