Friday, June 10, 2005

Political science, H. L. Mencken

One little known fact about me is that I have an M. A. degree in political science. I didn't pursue it farther than that, as I realized that I was simply studying a branch of psychopathology. But that's a story for another time....

What I really wanted to talk about is H. L. Mencken, as I came across this really wonderful H. L. Mencken page. It shows, I think, that Mencken's understanding of political science was as astute as that of anyone in the halls of academe today.

I've accumulated many good quotes from Mencken myself, but I haven't organized them, so I'll just offer a few political science gems right now, and leave the rest for other occasions.

A Galileo could no more be elected president of the United States than he could be elected Pope of Rome. Both high posts are reserved for men favored by God with an extraordinary genius for swathing the bitter facts of life in bandages of self-illusion.

For every difficult question there is a simple answer -- and it's wrong.

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with anendless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

The men that American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest the most violently are those who tryto tell them the truth.

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

A good politician, under democracy, is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.

Democracy is the art of running the circus from the monkey cage.

I do not believe in democracy, but I am perfectly willing to admit that it provides the only really amusing form of government ever endured by mankind.


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