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February 19, 2011

"Hangmen and Husbands Happy" Mencken on "The Mob"


The mob man, functioning as citizen, gets a feeling that he is really important to the world -- that he is genuinely running things.
Out of his maudlin herding after rogues and mountebanks there comes to him a sense of vast and mysterious power -- which is what makes archbishops, police sergeants, the grand goblins of the Ku Klux and other such magnificoes happy. And out of it there comes, too, a conviction that he is somehow wise, that his views are taken seriously by his betters -- which is what makes United States Senators, fortune tellers and Young Intellectuals happy. Finally, there comes out of it a glowing consciousness of a high duty triumphantly done which is what makes hangmen and husbands happy. All these forms of happiness, of course, are illusory. They don’t last. The democrat, leaping into the air to flap his wings and praise God, is for ever coming down with a thump. The seeds of his disaster, as I have shown, lie in his own stupidity: he can never get rid of the naive delusion – so beautifully Christian – that happiness is something to be got by taking it away from the other fellow. -- Last Words on Democracy | The American Mercury

Posted by Vanderleun at February 19, 2011 11:11 AM. This is an entry on the sideblog of American Digest: Check it out.

Your Say

There is nothing Christian in the idea that happiness is something to be gotten from the other fellow.

That's against the tenth commandment, which is, Thou shalt not covet.

Posted by: Marie at February 19, 2011 2:26 PM

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