Quote Of The Day: H.L. Mencken on Democracy

From the article Last Words:

I have spoken hitherto of the possibility 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 impressed by its curious distrust of itself—its apparently ineradicable tendency to abandon its whole philosophy at the first sign of strain. I need not point to what happens invariably in democratic states when the national safety is menaced. All the great tribunes of democracy, on such occasions, convert themselves, by a process as simple as taking a deep breath, into despots of an almost fabulous ferocity. Lincoln, Roosevelt and Wilson come instantly to mind: Jackson and Cleveland are in the background, waiting to be recalled. Nor is this process confined to times of alarm and terror: it is going on day in and day out. Democracy always seems bent upon killing the thing it theoretically loves.

I think the name Bush can be added to the above list, and if he gets his way, Giuliani.

  • Ray Harmon

    People forget that historically a democracy was considered to be the equivalent of mob rule. It was for that reason our nation was intended to be a constitutional republic. The democratic process was to be limited so it wouldn’t get out hand and trample the rights of the individual.

    Even the language has changed and the US is now almost primarily referred to as a “democracy” by the same politicians who have sworn an oath to uphold our Republic’s Constitution.
    ” A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.

    Great nations rise and fall. The people go from bondage to spiritual truth, to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back again to bondage. ” -attributed to Alexander Tytler

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    I found this essay by Gordon Phillips that lists the failings of democracy as a form of government even more thoroughly.