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

H. L. Mencken Quote

“The urge to save humanity is almost always a false-face for the urge to rule it.”

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

Ratings and Comments

Mike, Norwalk

We hold this truth to be self evident

Guess Who
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    Guess Who    5/7/08

    Hmmm.That would seem to be true.On the other hand,there are people who genuinely want to save humanity.At least give all people a symbolic hug.Remember that song:"I'd like to teach the world to sing and furnish it with love.Grow apple trees and honey bees and snow white turtledoves"?Pretty flowery images from eyes that wish to embrace humanity with a loveing kindness.Yes,there are people like that out there in life.I say:"God Bless them".

    E Archer, NYC
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    E Archer, NYC Guess Who 6/9/21

    And that song became a jingle to sell Coca-Cola  "the real thing."  Saving the world, one Coke at a time.

    J Carlton, Calgary

    No excuse for tyranny other than "for the good of the people" has ever been given.

    E Archer, NYC

    Ain't that the truth. Saving humanity from itself is nothing but control fueled by fear. Have courage -- death comes to all sooner or later.

    jim k, austin,tx

    When I read, Guess who, above, my blood sugar whent up 200 points. These "flowery image" people will eventually turn on you if you don't do it their way. I'm sure that Karl Marx "genuinely wanted to save humanity" and look what it got us. Those save the world folk can stand in a circle and sing their pollyanna songs all day long, but keep them away from me.

    Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

    I downgraded from five stars because on its' face it is a great quote. We all I believe want to rule for the sake of our own little corner of the world and rightfully so and as we spread our wings into our community, county, state, nation, and world and see how these also impact our little corner we feel a need to rule them also. So what is new? Humanitarianism is still alive Jim, I don't know how you can avoid it.

    Jessica, Michigan

    Every true book from the Bible to books written by founders of civilizations shows this truth in it's most open nakedness. Just look at 1917 in Russia and the communist take over...

    Logan, Memphis, TN

    Among many of our rights, in our Republic, is the right to be left alone. This right, in a Democracy, does not exist, because society's majority is forced upon the individual. We have moved towards being a Democracy (away from what our founders originally intended), but still have some semblances of Republican (form of government, not the party) virtues wherein such societies as the Amish are largely left alone. We can get into the whole Rousseau transcendence of how society both frees and enslaves us, but the fact remains that we have freedom to be left alone. We've all heard it before, but the scariest 9 words ever uttered are "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help." The sincerity of those leaders who wish to help the people is quite real, this is to be sure; however, sincerity does not equate to knowledge of how to keep freedom and liberty alive. Even Caesar's attempt to create a moral government ended in him proclaiming himself the "magnus parens mundi" (the great parent of man) and the "virtutum rector" (director of virtue). His sincere attempt to save his empire from moral degradation is praiseworthy, but his forced virtue served to further the actual destruction of his empire. Such examples from history are nearly endless.

    Ken, Allyn, WA

    Those who are so arrogant that they believe they can save humanity will always end up as tyrants, stealing freedom of self-determination away from those they say they want to save. Humanity cannot be saved. Individual human beings can be saved and not by nosy dictators.

    E Archer, NYC
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    E Archer, NYC Ken, Allyn, WA 6/9/21

    Just look at how many governors used the ChiCom virus to seize emergency powers "for the good of the People."  With such power, now permission is required to do anything  and the micro management has no end.  They are drunk with power  and loving it.

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    RobertSRQ    5/8/08

    What a load of Codswallop; there are those who have good intensions and those who don't, PERIOD. Unfortunately, the many with good intensions are duped by believing those with bad intensions who espouse for their own agenda, family values, security, and Christianity (or any other religion), etc. etc.

    Ken, Allyn, WA

    Like I said, "arrogant."

    warren, olathe

    Adolph Hitler and Al Gore come to mind.

    Sam, Ottawa, Ontario

    Interesting quote and comments. "Humanity cannot be saved. Individual human beings can be saved and not by nosy dictators." Ken, Allyn, WA

    Greg Hruby, Roseville, MN

    No urge addressing the scope of humanity was ever undertaken by one solitary individual. It always presente to a committee, and we all know what committees do to goals. Jesus, if he truly existed, started by walking around neighbor to neighbor, village to village. The Romans got ahold of it, sorted out a few written details and some 2 millenia later its a multi-billion dollar enterprise. Funny that.

    Bill, Pleasant Valley, NY

    This guy is right on!

    stooben, high point, nc

    Mencken is talking of those who enact (or seek to enact) broad policies to "save humanity." He's not talking about brightening the corner where you are.

    Mary - MI
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    Mary - MI    5/24/12

    It is one thing to be a good Samaritan wishing to help your neighbor. It is another thing when the government steals the fruits of one's labor to give to another what is unlawfully not government's right to give - OR STEAL!

    tadchem, Amarillo, TX

    Heinlein went into more detail: "Political tags such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort."
    Some of us DON'T want to control others - or to be controlled.

    Bruski, Naples FL

    More true today than ever.

    Mick, Manchester

    Almost always? Be interesting to know what examples do not have an ulterior political motive and save humanity from what? The belief that a faith in science and god leads to collective and individual salvation?

    Ronw13, Oregon

    Nothing new under the sun, "The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel."


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