HL Mencken and the Occupation of Wall Street by Kaiser Leib

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“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”

-H. L. Mencken

In the etymological sense, all societies are democracies. No government could remain in power, even with the support of the police and the military, if every citizen were simply to pick up a rock and throw it. Therefore, any government which remains in power has the tacit consent of the people, or at least a plurality of motivated people.

It seems that the American government is losing this tacit consent. The Occupy Wall Street protests and the copycat movements across the country are evidence of that. These protesters are not a majority of the people. They are not a plurality of the people. They do, however, represent one majority opinion: that the nature of the present relationship between government and high finance is intolerable, and must be changed.

The rest of the protesters’ message is unclear, because it is unfocused. Polling would indicate that the protesters want more government regulation, but determining the nature of that regulation would be left to existing powers – leaving us exactly where we are now, albeit with shiny new lipstick on our pig of a financial system. And what of the wars, against “terrorism” and “drugs?” Have those been forgotten, or are the prison-industrial and military-industrial complexes simply a smaller threat to our well being than the undefined greed of the “1%”?

The Occupy Wall Street movement is composed of people who have every reason to be angry. Their property has been appropriated, their opportunities are repeatedly limited by government interference. They’ve been sold a package of unjust wars, useless education, and dubious protection from threats less real than the Bogeyman. To be sure, crony corporatists and congressman have colluded to commandeer the future of this country, and of the entire world. But OWS doesn’t seem to be about that. OWS asks for more regulation, more government meddling in our affairs. They ask evil to protect them from evil, and don’t understand the similarity between the 1% of high finance and the 1% of government.

Mencken’s snide dismissal of democracy is too kind. These common people, these “99%,” don’t really know exactly what they want. Unfortunately, the getting will be just as “good and hard” regardless.

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6 thoughts on “HL Mencken and the Occupation of Wall Street by Kaiser Leib

  1. “They ask evil to protect them from evil….” That’s the old Biblical example of trying to cast out Beelzebub in the name of Beelzebub. It simple doesn’t happen.

  2. Someone said “Revolutionaries do not know what they want, they just do not like what they have.”
    How many of these turkeys know the name of their congressman or the name of their senators? How many do you think have ever written to their representatives ever expressing a cogent thought?
    Most are the product of a very sorry school system that has in the past and continues to do so in the present, teaches them exactly what you see today. The constitution gave us a Representative Republic and until the war between the states, it functioned rather well. The kiss of death was the creation of the Federal Reserve and the passing of the 16th and 17th Amendments. Have any of you ever written to your senators and asked if not for the 17th amendment, do they think they would be where they are.
    Gentlemen, we bought the farm. Home schooling may help to save it, but not by itself. Talley ho.

  3. Pingback: Zero Gov - Anti-Government, Pro-Liberty » Blog Archive » I Recant: Confessions of an OWS Opponent

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