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

H. L. Mencken Quote

“People constantly speak of 'the government' doing this or that, as they might speak of God doing it. But the government is really nothing but a group of men, and usually they are very inferior men.”

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

Ratings and Comments

Anonymous, Reston, VA US

"The government" is not just a "group of people" (implying that it is no more than people), it is also an instrument of society as well as subject to the interesting dynamics of groups... that groups really can be/are more (or in some cases less ;-) than the sum of those who make it up. The other key to this quote seems to be the word "usually", for we all know that there are some who are superior within their ranks, as well as many who are inferior... as is the case with all groups (mathmatics of averages & medians asside ;-). So, while the words may be true in some sort of exactness, the sense of the quote still seems to be very off the mark... and when quotes are subject to misinterpretation they get low ratings.

Joe, Rochester, MI

Again you missed the point. Government is a few people controlling the many. The more rules and laws they create, the less freedom people have.

E Archer, NYC

SO true. Stop expecting government to solve our problems.

me again
  • Reply
me again    9/8/06

Another true statement.

David L Rosenthal

To the extent that Government is nothing more than a group of men is the fault not of that group of men, but of every other person who does not oppose that group of men when called for. That group of men is just doing what comes naturally to predators and parasites.

Mike, Norwalk

The U.S. was a Constitutional Republic recognizing the perfect sovereignty of each and every, any and all individuals. Democratic oligarchies, and other collectivist tyrannies are illogical religions that move to minimize competing religions (imagined or otherwise) while eliminating the rights and freedoms of the individual. I don't get socialism. What is the magical number where the individual gives up his right(s) to the ethereal phantasm that is the group, usurping all that which was inalienably the individual's by birth. And if the individual didn't have the right, authority, etc. to give to the group (society) from what source did the group get such. In court, I've ask to examine this ever elusive society or government that has rights that I do not; I've never been able to get society or government on the stand.

Mike, Norwalk

This ever elusive entity that man gives the title 'government' is even more a figment of imagination than a beyond human experience Creator. The Creator can at least be associated with absolute law; by way of example: gravity, science, life, etc. Only when government is considered a representative servant of the sovereign can there be a logical explanation for its existence. When government is perceived to be the creator of right(s), it becomes a very oppressive god. Compelled compliance, victimless crime, license, etc. are all evidences of a cruel god.

jim k, Austin

So true.

E Archer, NYC

Politicians playing God  nothing new here!  The whole point of the American Common Law and a republican form of government is to protect against the seekers of power and would-be rulers over the people.  America is built upon the ideals of natural-born Liberty  no other nation with a statist form of government comes close.  Any form of authoritarianism is anathema to personal liberty and responsibility  authoritarianism is anti-American.


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