H.L. Mencken was a newspaperman back in the days when most reporters and commentators were insufficiently cynical about politics. Mencken was certainly not insufficiently cynical.
Indeed, one wonders what Mencken would have thought of today. Four years ago Washington Blog started with a quote:
“I believe that it is better to tell the truth than a lie. I believe it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe it is better to know than to be ignorant.” – H.L. Mencken
H.L. Mencken was a renowned newspaper columnist for the Baltimore Sun from 1906 until 1948. His biting sarcasm seems to fit perfectly in today’s world. His acerbic satirical writings on government, democracy, politicians and the ignorant masses are as true today as they were then. I believe the reason his words hit home is because he was writing during the last Unraveling and Crisis periods in America. The similarities cannot be denied. There are no journalists of his stature working in the mainstream media today. His acerbic wit is nowhere to be found among the lightweight shills that parrot their corporate masters’ propaganda on a daily basis and unquestioningly report the fabrications spewed by our government. Mencken’s skepticism of all institutions is an unknown quality in the vapid world of present day journalism.
The Roaring Twenties of decadence, financial crisis caused by loose Fed monetary policies, stock market crash, Depression, colossal government redistribution of wealth, and ultimately a World War, all occurred during his prime writing years. I know people want to believe that the world only progresses, but they are wrong. The cycles of history reveal that people do not change, just the circumstances change. How Americans react to the undulations of history depends upon their age and generational position. We are currently in a Crisis period when practical, truth telling realists like Mencken are most useful and necessary.
Mencken captured the essence of American politics and a disconnected populace 80 years ago. Even though many people today feel the average American is less intelligent, more materialistic, and less informed than ever before, it was just as true in 1930 based on Mencken’s assessment:
“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.”
You can make your own judgment on the accuracy of his statement considering the last two gentlemen to occupy the White House. His appraisal of U.S. Senators and citizens in our so-called Democracy captures the spirit of the travesty that passes for leadership and civic responsibility in this country today.
“Democracy gives the beatification of mediocrity a certain appearance of objective and demonstrable truth. The mob man, functioning as citizen, gets a feeling that he is really important to the world—that he is genuinely running things. Out of his maudlin herding after rogues and mountebacks there comes to him a sense of vast and mysterious power—which is what makes archbishops, police sergeants, the grand goblins of the Ku Klux and other such magnificoes happy. And out of it there comes, too, a conviction that he is somehow wise, that his views are taken seriously by his betters — which is what makes United States Senators, fortune tellers and Young Intellectuals happy. Finally, there comes out of it a glowing consciousness of a high duty triumphantly done which is what makes hangmen and husbands happy.”
People still read newspapers in the 1930s to acquire credible information about the economy, politics and economy. Today’s corporate owned rags aren’t fit to line a bird cage. The mainstream media is a platform for the lies of their corporate sponsors. Each TV network or newspaper spouts propaganda that supports the financial interests and ideology they are beholden to. Does anyone think they are obtaining the truth from Paul Krugman, Chris Matthews, Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh? Evidently the answer is yes. The upcoming presidential campaign will be a nightmare of endless negative advertisements created by Madison Avenue maggots and paid for by rich powerful men attempting to herd the mindless sheeple towards their ultimate slaughter. … Fear has worked for 100 years in controlling the masses, as Mencken noted during his time:
“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.”
In the 1930s you needed to count on newspapers for the truth. The purpose of those who wield power is to keep the masses dumbed down and paranoid regarding terrorist threats and artificial enemies. By convincing the dense public that acquiring material goods on credit was a smart thing to do, they have trapped them in a web of debt. By making life an inexhaustible bureaucratic nightmare or rules, regulations, forms, ID cards, registrations, and red tape, those in power maintain control and accumulate power. H.L. Mencken would be proud:
“Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.” …
An informed, interested, questioning public would be a danger to the government as described by H.L. Mencken:
“The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out … without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, intolerable.”
There were already two fiscal hurricanes of unfunded liabilities and current deficits churning towards our shores before Obama and his non-critical thinking Democratic minions launched a third storm called Obamacare. No matter how many intellectually deceitful mouthpieces like Paul Krugman and Rush Limbaugh misrepresent the facts, the fiscal foundation of the country is crumbling under the weight of unfunded entitlement promises, out of control government spending and far flung military misadventures. Only someone who is intellectually bankrupt, like Krugman, would declare the National Debt at $8 trillion as a looming disaster when George Bush was President, but declare that a $15.6 trillion National Debt headed towards $20 trillion by 2015 isn’t a danger now that Barack Obama is President. The intellectual and moral credentials required to write for a major newspaper have fallen markedly since the days of Mencken. …
H.L. Mencken understood the false promises of democracy 80 years ago:
“Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of Jackals by Jackasses. It is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”
We deserve to get it good and hard, and we will.