A thought for today

“The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself…  Almost inevitably, he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable.”

That, from HL Mencken (1880-1956), journalist, fierce defender of personal liberty and critic of the establishment. A lot of what he wrote seems particularly apt for the age — not just India, but also for the larger world around us. More samples:

“It is the invariable habit of bureaucracies, at all times and everywhere, to assume…that every citizen is a criminal.  Their one apparent purpose, pursued with a relentless and furious diligence, is to convert the assumption into a fact.  They hunt endlessly for proofs, and, when proofs are lacking, for mere suspicions.”

“Every election is a sort of advance auction of stolen goods.”

“The storm center of lawlessness in every American State is the State Capitol. It is there that the worst crimes are committed; it is there that lawbreaking attains to the estate and dignity of a learned profession; it is there that contempt for the laws is engendered, fostered, and spread broadcast.”

“A professional politician is a professionally dishonorable man. In order to get anywhere near high office he has to make so many compromises and submit to so many humiliations that he becomes indistinguishable from a streetwalker.”

“The kind of man who wants the government to adopt and enforce his ideas is always the kind of man whose ideas are idiotic.”

“[Government’s] great contribution to human wisdom…is the discovery that the taxpayer has more than one pocket.”

“The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naive and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.”