Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mencken on Democracy.

Next time you wondering why government sucks and why they can't do anything right, ponder these thoughts by H.L. Mencken:
The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most easily adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum.

The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. 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.
In a democracy, the fools that govern us have earned their right by popular assent. The morons in government are the mirror of the people. The people stink.


Neo-Victorianist said...

All too true!

Will S. said...

And yet, so, too, do the elites stink. {Sigh...} The societal rot crosses all lines, all boundaries of socio-economic class...

The Social Pathologist said...

And yet, so, too, do the elites stink

It depends on how you define the elite. What Joe Public considers the elite certainly do stink.

The Social Pathologist said...

And another thing.

Mencken, (and I for that matter) defined the superior man as the man of character and intelligence. He could be a street sweeper provided he was honest and upright, membership to my aristocracy is open to all men provided they're honest and upright and reasonably intelligent. Frequently their station in life will belie their nobility.