H.L. Mencken Quotes

“No matter how happily a woman may be married, it always pleases her to discover that there is a nice man who wishes that she were not.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

“I know some who are constantly drunk on books as other men are drunk on whiskey.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

“The older I grow, the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. 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.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

“Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

“An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it makes a better soup.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

“Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

“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. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable…”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

“In the present case it is a little inaccurate to say I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible to any public office of trust or profit in the Republic. But I do not repine, for I am a subject of it only by force of arms.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

“A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

“Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. No one in this world, so far as I know—and I have researched the records for years, and employed agents to help me—has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

“If, after I depart this vale, you ever remember me and have thought to please my ghost, forgive some sinner and wink your eye at some homely girl.”
― H. L. Mencken

 

 

“The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naïve and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

“On one issue, at least, men and women agree: they both distrust women.”
― H. L. Mencken

 

 

 

“Conscience is the inner voice that warns us somebody may be looking.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

You may think I spoof. That I invent the names. I do not. Ask the rector to lend you any good treatise on comparative religion: You will find them all listed. They were gods of the highest standing and dignity-gods of civilized peoples-worshiped and believed in by millions. All were omnipotent, omniscient and immortal.

And all are dead.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

“A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

“The best teacher is not the one who knows most but the one who is most capable of reducing knowledge to that simple compound of the obvious and wonderful.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

“We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

“Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong. All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant, in this field as in all others. His culture is based on “I am not too sure.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

“Truth would quickly cease to be stranger than fiction, once we got as used to it.”
― H. L. Mencken

 

 

 

“Happiness is the china shop; love is the bull.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

“Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

“I am suspicious of all the things that the average people believes.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

“You can’t do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about its width and depth.”
― H. L. Mencken

 

 

“The most erroneous assumption is to the effect that the aim of public education is to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence, and so make them fit to discharge the duties of citizenship in an enlightened and independent manner. Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States, whatever the pretensions of politicians, pedagogues and other such mountebanks, and that is its aim everywhere else.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

“It is often argued that religion is valuable because it makes men good, but even if this were true it would not be a proof that religion is true. That would be an extension of pragmatism beyond endurance. Santa Claus makes children good in precisely the same way, and yet no one would argue seriously that the fact proves his existence. The defense of religion is full of such logical imbecilities. The theologians, taking one with another, are adept logicians, but every now and then they have to resort to sophistries so obvious that their whole case takes on an air of the ridiculous. Even the most logical religion starts out with patently false assumptions. It is often argued in support of this or that one that men are so devoted to it that they are willing to die for it. That, of course, is as silly as the Santa Claus proof. Other men are just as devoted to manifestly false religions, and just as willing to die for them. Every theologian spends a large part of his time and energy trying to prove that religions for which multitudes of honest men have fought and died are false, wicked, and against God.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

“All government, in its essence, is a conspiracy against the superior man: its one permanent object is to oppress him and cripple him. If it be aristocratic in organization, then it seeks to protect the man who is superior only in law against the man who is superior in fact; if it be democratic, then it seeks to protect the man who is inferior in every way against both. One of its primary functions is to regiment men by force, to make them as much alike as possible and as dependent upon one another as possible, to search out and combat originality among them. All it can see in an original idea is potential change, and hence an invasion of its prerogatives. 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. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are.”
― H. L. Mencken

 

 

 

“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

“Civilization, in fact, grows 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. Wars are no longer waged by the will of superior men, capable of judging dispassionately and intelligently the causes behind them and the effects flowing out of them. The are now begun by first throwing a mob into a panic; they are ended only when it has spent its ferine fury.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

“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.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

“The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

“The kind of man who wants the government to adopt and enforce his ideas is always the kind of man whose ideas are idiotic.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

“When somebody says it’s not about the money, it’s about the money.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

“A philosopher is a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat that isn’t there. A theologian is the man who finds it.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

“We are here and it is now. Further than that, all human knowledge is moonshine.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

 

“Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

“The trouble with Communism is the Communists, just as the trouble with Christianity is the Christians.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

“Misogynist: A man who hates women as much as women hate one another.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

“Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.”
― H. L. Mencken

 

 

 

“The plain fact is that education is itself a form of propaganda – a deliberate scheme to outfit the pupil, not with the capacity to weigh ideas, but with a simple appetite for gulping ideas ready-made. The aim is to make ‘good’ citizens, which is to say, docile and uninquisitive citizens.”
― H.L. Menchken

 

 

 

“Equality before the law is probably forever unattainable. It is a noble ideal, but it can never be realized, for what men value in this world is not rights but privileges.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

“Giving every man a vote has no more made men wise and free than Christianity has made them good.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

“Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule—and both commonly succeed, and are right.”
― H. L. Mencken

 

 

 

“No one in this world, so far as I know—and I have searched the record for years, and employed agents to help me—has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

“The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

“the average man does not want to be free. he simply wants to be safe.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

“Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey-cage.”
― H.L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy

 

 

“The older I get the more I admire and crave competence, just simple competence, in any field from adultery to zoology.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

“Democracy is the worship of jackals by jackasses.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

“A newspaper is a device for making the ignorant more ignorant and the crazy crazier.”
― H.L. Mencken

 

 

 

“Love is like war: easy to begin but very hard to stop.”
― H. L. Mencken

 

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