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Quotation of the Day…

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… is from pages 53-54 of the 2009 edition of the incomparable H.L. Mencken’s 1926 book, Notes on Democracy: The fact is that liberty, in any true sense, is a concept that lies quite beyond the reach of the inferior man’s mind. He can imagine and even esteem, in his way, certain false forms of liberty – for example, the right to choose between political mountebanks, and to yell for the more obviously dishonest – but the reality is incomprehensible to him. And no wonder, for genuine liberty demands of its votaries a quality he lacks completely, and that is courage. The man who loves it must be willing to fight for it…. DBx: Today the term “inferior man” is anachronistic. By it, Mencken means what we today call – or, what some of us today call – a person who lacks good character. Such

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… is from pages 53-54 of the 2009 edition of the incomparable H.L. Mencken’s 1926 book, Notes on Democracy:

Quotation of the Day…The fact is that liberty, in any true sense, is a concept that lies quite beyond the reach of the inferior man’s mind. He can imagine and even esteem, in his way, certain false forms of liberty – for example, the right to choose between political mountebanks, and to yell for the more obviously dishonest – but the reality is incomprehensible to him. And no wonder, for genuine liberty demands of its votaries a quality he lacks completely, and that is courage. The man who loves it must be willing to fight for it….

DBx: Today the term “inferior man” is anachronistic. By it, Mencken means what we today call – or, what some of us today call – a person who lacks good character. Such persons – and they do exist – are identified not by race, sex, religion, place of birth, occupation, age, wealth, or any other such superficial marker. Instead, such persons are identified merely because they lack good character – a feature of one’s personality that is a result of the likes of culture, upbringing, and education, but emphatically not of genetics.

Regardless of the source of cowardice, a society of cowards is destined to be a society of slaves. The slavery might not be formal, and the slaves might be unaware of their chains. But slaves cowards will be. Cowards put far too high a value on safety, real and imagined, to be free.

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Don Boudreaux
He is a professor of economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Previously, he was president of the Foundation for Economic Education.

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