I'm not going to say this book is for everyone but it is definitely for those of us out there that watch the news and listen to certain groups or leaders thinking, "Seriously are there people out there buying this?" Then we come into contact with those who are in fact subscribing whole-heartily to an idiotic brainl ...more
On the whole, I found the book unimpressive, predictable and boring. The one salient observation Mencken makes is th ...more
It was long ago observed that plain people, under democracy, never vote for anything, but always against something
The mob, in common practice, sticks to thieves as their leaders, it is only because their words are words it understands and their ideas are ideas it cherishes. It has the power to throw them off at will, and even at a whim, and it also has the means.
The typical ...more
A bit tongue in cheek, of course, but clever and bitingly written. We won't see newspapermen this great again, alas!
This edition is nicely annotated. Some of the period references are obscure.
And democracy is highly overrated. Just watch some of Jay Leno's interviews with men-in-the street, and then tell me with a straight face how great universal suffrage is and we ought to encourage more people to vote ...more
Henry Louis Mencken: a contrarian and master writer, it must be said. The book itself is not only bold in its aim (to discredit and attack that most cherished political institution) but also in the way Mencken goes about it—through a kind of rhetorical violence, an artillery barrage of wit, eloquence and scathing criticism.
Does he succeed? Modern democracts would hope not. If my opinion is any indication, however, I would say that Mencken does succeed in his broadest aim: to make the reader thi...more
First, his language is at times awkward. It's deliberately provocative and fraught with hyperbole.
Second, having been written in 1923, it is very dated; that said however, his attacks upon the foolishness, corruption and knavery of the politicians of his day are equally true of the gang we are saddled with today.
Third, he states that "The average man doesn't want to be free. He wants to be safe." But this d ...more
Mencken wrote in the age before public choice theory was developed, and before regulatory capture became a recognized concept. He certainly did, however, anticipate some of their lugubrious findings. The problem of who will watch the watchmen dates back to the Satires of Juvenal, but was a concern even to the ancient Greeks.
Mencken aims his fire at democracy. He never questions his tacit assumption of a natural el ...more
Mencken is a beast. Everybody should read his writings. He clearly had his finger on the pulse of what is wrong with both the US governmental system as well as the general populace and their role in "democrac ...more
H.L. Mencken was always one of my father's favorite writers, but until now I'd never read his works. I found he was witty, snarky, sarcastic, educated, iconoclastic and always willing to exaggerate a point for maximum impact (much like my father). Even now, some fifty years after his death, Mencken is still a controversial figure, capable of raising strong emotions in his readers.
"Notes on Democracy" is Mencken's commentary on the ...more
Also, I found the last section very prescient, considering I finished it shortly after the Boston Marathon bombings: "I have spoken hitherto that democracy may be a self-limiting disease, like measles. It is, perhaps, something more: it is self-devouring. One cannot observe it objectively without being impre ...more
He points out the obvious, which is that man within a democracy spends much of his time trying to strip the liberty and happiness away from his fellow man; that a system of government supposedly designed and set up to give absolute liberty to each person living within it, is being constantly assailed by the very people it is mean to aid. Very witty. Very astute. Can't recommend i ...more
At the height o ...more