Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Mencken Makes Mincemeat of Politicians

Monday's Bit of Wisdom almost sneaking under the wire, but not quite, of the Monday deadline - must do better, must do better...

I found these thoughts of the American journalist H.L. Mencken. Famous for his biting wit, I had no idea he was a seer as well - how else could he, writing in the early part of the 20th century, be describing political life in 2008? Plus ca change...

A couple of salvos in the general direction of politicians first:

A good politician is as unthinkable as an honest burglar. 1925

If there had been any formidable body of cannibals in the country he would have promised to provide them with free missionaries fattened at the taxpayer's expense. (of Harry Truman's success in the 1948 Presidential campaign)

He could (and I'm sure would) have been writing these two today:

The worst government is often the most moral. One composed of cynics is often very tolerant and humane. But when fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression. 1956

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. 1923

And my favourite:

Puritanism. The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.


Have a great week everyone, and remember - "There is always a well-known solution to every human problem - neat, plausible and wrong" (Mencken, 1920)

1 comment:

Selma said...

I always wondered if the puritans frowned on happiness. What a classic.