H. L. MenckenH. L. Mencken, (1880-1956) American Journalist, Editor, Essayist, Linguist, Lexicographer, and Critic

H. L. Mencken Quote

ā€œGovernment is actually the worst failure of civilized man. There has never been a really good one, and even those that are most tolerable are arbitrary, cruel, grasping and unintelligent.ā€

H. L. MenckenH. L. Mencken
~ H. L. Mencken


Ratings and Comments


David L Rosenthal

Not overly hyperbolic. Perhaps slightly exaggerated, but only slightly.

Mike, Norwalk

I guess we would have to define 'civilized man' before we could actually determine his worst failure.

Robert, Sarasota

Sad but true - there is no enemy worst than ourselves.

Mike, Mount Holly, NC

The problem is not "government". We need government to provide order, to provide for the common defense, to enforce just laws and meet out justice in society. Without government, it would be survival of the fittest. The only rights we would have are those we could take for ourselves by force. The problem is that government is run by man and what man brings to government. As Jesus said, "But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man."

Anonymous, Reston, VA US

A cesspool of negativism...

E Archer, NYC

Government is the systematic organization of hatreds.

me again
  • Reply
me again    10/24/06

I believe there is some truth to this statement. H.L.Mencken was a great writer.He has other quotes that I am fond of,also.

Joe, Rochester, MI

We certainly have way too much government! But you are foolish to think those in government are unintelligent. Kennedy, Schumer, Feinstein and other officials are smart enough to steal our money for their own power and glory. They don't care about the people, only themselves ... wolves in sheeps clothing.

David L. Rosenthal

Both Houses of the Congress of the United States receive large, automatic pay raises, every year, legislated by themselves. Republicans and Demogogues alike receive this raise of several thousand dollars (each) per year. It is practically the only thing they agree on. If your auto mechanic cannot repair your car, you don't pay him. If Congress cannot fix the issues plaguing the nation, you give them a raise.

jim k, Austin

Mencken nails it, as he usually does.

Ronw13, Yachats Or

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it ? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. There are seven abominations which reside in the heart. Seven notes in the scale. Wisdom has hewn out her seven pillars. She stands at the gates. The eye gate, and the ear gate. God has put his law in our hearts, now the conscience bears witness to all thoughts and actions of man. These are as the days of Noah to me. " Let not an evil speaker be established in the earth : evil shall hunt the violent man to overthrow him ". Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips. Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties. Let the wicked fall into their own nets, whilst that I withal escape.

E Archer, NYC

For goodness sake, Ronw13, are you speaking in tongues or what?

Ronw13, Yachats Or

I always like your unknowing, Archer. It can be likened unto speaking two languages at the same time. One the one hand some know and read, spiritually, by the spirit. Communicating application of the spirit, in understanding of current events. On the other hand, it is for those who have never experience the Ear of the spirit, to considers things, they have never heard. These words above, spoken by king David, a man after God's own heart. Governments and their battles do not change. The love of money is the root of all evil, your money and their love of it ! There were two things established and given to all those that would follow in his steps. Washington knew these things well enough. To stake it all, on Liberty and a Free Republic. When the Old Farmer and I spoke in public after class, he spoke of a pasture where he could go and play ball, take a right at the cross roads and then just a bit down the road. The pasture I speak of, is a bit larger.

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