All government, in its essence, is a conspiracy against the superior man: its one permanent object is to oppress him and cripple him. If it be aristocratic in organization, then it seeks to protect the man who is superior only in law against the man who is superior in fact; if it be democratic, then it seeks to protect the man who is inferior in every way against both. One of its primary functions is to regiment men by force, to make them as much alike as possible and as dependent upon one another as possible, to search out and combat originality among them. All it can see in an original idea is potential change, and hence an invasion of its prerogatives. The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are.H. L. Mencken, Smart Set (December 1919)
…the riposte to this should go something like “who determines what quantity makes a superior man?” I think the jury is still out on exactly what that is. Hopefully it will remain permanently hung on that verdict. Knowing what makes someone superior is to grant those who hold that quality unquestioned authority over you.
I’m currently listening to Mencken: the American Iconoclast: The Life and Times of the Bad Boy of Baltimore