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Notes on Democracy 1st Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
"[Mencken is] . . . still castigated as un-American, `anti-democractic,' even `a near anarchist.' His independent and realistic thought is sternly censured; in more liberated circles, it is simply regarded with unease. When every phrase must be examined for political correctness, many find it impossible to enjoy Mencken without apology."
For first-time readers, yes, Mencken is pugnacious. Yes, he adopted indefensible positions for their shock value, but he knew in his bones that thick heads need a good hard whack to break up the cobwebs. And when it came to words versus action, he followed the good advice that was once given to children: "sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me." Today, our culture of hypocrisy and false-civility has completely reversed that bit of wisdom. On one hand, we enforce politically correct speech to avoid hurt feelings. On the other, we institutionalize the genuine victimization of our fellow citizens through idiotic laws, prohibitions, and progressive taxation. Even worse, we celebrate as heroism the slaughter of impoverished civilians in far-away locations by our military establishment--no matter how implausible the "threats" they pose.
As an antidote for our perverse zeitgeist, there is no better medicine than this readable and entertaining book by one of the most influential writers of the 20th century.Read more ›
1 - Democratic Man: His Appearance in the World; Varieties of Homo Sapiens; The New Psychology; Politics Under Democracy; The Role of the Hormones; Envy as a Philosophy; Liberty and Democratic Man; The Effects Upon Progress; The Eternal Mob
2 - The Democratic State: The Two Kinds of Democracy; The Popular Will; Disproportional Representation; The Politician Under Democracy; Utopia; The Occasional Exception; The Maker of Laws; The Rewards of Virtue; Footnote on Lame Ducks
3 - Democracy and Liberty: The Will to Peace; The Democrat as Moralist; Where Puritanism Fails; Corruptions Under Democracy
4 - Coda: The Future of Democracy; Last Words
Annotations by Marion Elizabeth Rodgers; Afterword by Anthony Lewis
There's enough material in this rather short book to make for a multipage college paper, so it's a bit hard to condense it down to a short review. Mencken feels that democracy is really nothing more than mob rule. The uneducated masses are not looking for freedom and liberty, as those concepts are uncomfortable and laced with the very real possibility of failure. Instead, they want to be safe, well-fed, and entertained. In order to get those three items, they're willing to give up most of their civil liberties thinking that those who rule have superior power to make decisions.Read more ›
I'm not going to say this book is for everyone but it is definitely for those of us out there that watch the news and listen to certain groups or leaders thinking, "Seriously are there people out there buying this?" Then we come into contact with those who are in fact subscribing whole-heartily to an idiotic brainless existence. Left dumbfounded we trudge along wondering if there are any 'real' people left in the world.
The world was a completely different place in 1926 when Mencken originally wrote this but it doesn't' take long to realize despite our innovations and advancements nearly 100 years later we've made no real progress in terms of democracy. Mencken's insights serve as a reminder to that fact and while the organizations may have changed and the leaders all have new names they are in essence the same.
"Public policies are determined and laws are made by small minorities playing upon the fears and imbecilities of the mob-sometimes minorities of intelligent and honest men, but usually minorities of rogues." Hmmmm, rogues you say? Remind you of anyone?
If you are of a thinking mind I highly recommend this book but be warned it reads like a philosophy book so if you think you can just pick it up and read a few chapters you're wrong. It will have you thinking and a buzz with every paragraph so make sure you have a good sounding board to bounce ideas off of after reading.
(I received this book as part of a giveaway on [...] I was not in anyway encouraged to give a review that didn't reflect my genuine feelings towards the book.)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A little jaundiced on the ability of the masses to improve themselves. Still, a good review of the inherent flaws of democracy.Published 8 months ago by DBHouston
A true pleasure to read. Mencken writes in a style that combines the insightful analysis of an Alexis de Tocqueville (Democracy in America) with the biting and sarcastic... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Clearpoint
Had me laughing and nodding in agreement from the first page. Mencken could have written this today. The characters haven't changed.Published on November 27, 2013 by will2be
While his illustrations are by now quite dated, Mencken's message is hardly anachronistic, and his delivery is superlatively witty. Read morePublished on October 23, 2013 by Frederick J. Woods
- Why I Read This Book
The Mises Institute was selling this for $1. I have of late been questioning whether a democratic republic is a viable governmental form. Read more
For most of the first half of the twentieth century, H.L. Mencken was one of this country's foremost social commentators. Read morePublished on September 1, 2012 by Eric Mayforth
This book could have been written last year. He was insightful into the politics of his time. The footnotes reveal a time in our history that most of us were not aware of... Read morePublished on January 15, 2011 by Willoughby
Any page of this book tells you more about the American illusion/delusion of having rights, than thirty years of earnest or evil politicans ever could. Read morePublished on May 23, 2010 by tierny
His argument of the ignorant masses still holds up today just by the simple fact that most people have never heard of the hugely influential Mr. Read morePublished on April 23, 2010 by Franklin the Mouse