Ms. Dominique

Ms. Dominique
Ms. Dominique

Friday, April 13, 2007

Mencken "On Government"

Mencken "On Government"

H.L. Mencken's essay is even more relevant today, in the wake of
9/11, than it was when it was first written. Everyone can
benefit from these sentiments:

"The great pox of civilization, alas, I believe to be incurable,
and so I propose no new quackery for its treatment. I am against
dosing it, and I am against killing it. All I presume to argue
is that something would be accomplished by viewing it more
realistically--by ceasing to let its necessary and perhaps useful
functions blind us to its ever-increasing crimes against the
ordinary rights of the free citizen and the common decencies of
the world. The fact that it is generally respected--that it
possesses effective machinery for propagating and safeguarding
that respect--is the main shield of the rogues and vagabonds who
use it to exploit the great masses of diligent and credulous men.

"Whenever you hear anyone bawling for more respect for the laws,
whether it be a Coolidge on his imperial throne or an humble
county judge in his hedge court, you have before you one who is
trying to use them to his private advantage; whenever you hear
of new legislation for putting down dissent and rebellion you may
be sure that it is promoted by scoundrels. The extortions and
oppressions will go on so long as such bare fraudulence deceives
and disarms the victims--so long as they are ready to swallow the
immemorial official theory that protesting against the stealings
of the archbishop's secretary's nephew's mistress' illegitimate
son is a sin against the Holy Ghost. They will come to an end
when the victims begin to differentiate clearly between government
as a necessary device for maintaining order in the world and
government as a device for maintaining the authority and
prosperity of predatory rascals and swindlers...."

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