18 November 2011

H. L. Mencken on politicians

Germany has drawn up secret plans to prevent a British referendum on the overhaul of the EU

As the sinister ambitions of the European political elite become ever more visible, we need someone over here like H. L. Mencken to cut through it all. Here are some of his observations on politicians and their henchmen and lickspittles.

... politicians of all parties, despite their superficial enmities, are really members of one great brotherhood. Their principal, and indeed their sole, object is to collar public office, with all the privileges and profits that go therewith. They achieve this collaring by buying votes with other people’s money. No professional politician is ever actually in favor of public economy. It is his implacable enemy, and he knows it. All professional politicians are dedicated wholeheartedly to waste and corruption. They are the enemies of every decent man.

The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos.

Civilization, in fact, grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.

Government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.

Suppose two-thirds of the members of the national House of Representatives were dumped into the Washington garbage incinerator tomorrow, what would we lose to offset our gain of their salaries and the salaries of their parasites?

The only good bureaucrat is one with a pistol at his head. Put it in his hand and it’s good-bye to the Bill of Rights.

One hears murmurs against Mussolini on the ground that he is a desperado: the real objection to him is that he is a politician. Indeed, he is probably the most perfect specimen of the genus politician on view in the world today. His career has been impeccably classical. Beginning life as a ranting Socialist of the worst type, he abjured Socialism the moment he saw better opportunities for himself on the other side, and ever since then he has devoted himself gaudily to clapping Socialists in jail, filling them with castor oil, sending blacklegs to burn down their houses, and otherwise roughing them. Modern politics has produced no more adept practitioner.

No government as such is ever in favor of the freedom of the individual. It invariably seeks to limit that freedom, if not by overt denial, then by seeking constantly to widen its own functions.

The chief difference between free capitalism and State socialism seems to be this: that under the former a man pursues his own advantage openly, frankly and honestly, whereas under the latter he does so hypocritically and under false pretenses.

When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental — men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or be lost... All the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most 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.

1 comment:

Tayles said...

It's long been obvious to me that people get into politics out of a lust for power, masked by faux concern that gives their ambitions a patina of respectability. Politicians come to believe in this phoney compassion and use it to justify seizing ever more power.

They are supported in their actions by many people who don't benefit from the gifts these politicians sprinkle on their favoured groups. These are often middle-class people who are largely immune from the culture of dependency these politicians create and can afford the tax hikes that pay for it. Nevertheless, it's the approval of these people, rather than the clamour of needy voices from below, that informs public policy. The question is: what's in it for them?