Thursday, May 31, 2007

H.L. Mencken's Prescient View

Reading up on H.L. Mencken, an American social satirist from the 1920s, and came upon this oddly prescient view that could be applied to blogging and Web 2.0:

[D]emocracy gives [the beatification of mediocrity] a certain appearance of objective and demonstrable truth. The mob man, functioning as citizen, gets a feeling that he is really important to the world - that he is genuinely running things.

Out of his maudlin herding after rogues and mountebanks there comes to him a sense of vast and mysterious power—which is what makes archbishops, police sergeants, the grand goblins of the Ku Klux and other such magnificoes happy. And out of it there comes, too, a conviction that he is somehow wise, that his views are taken seriously by his betters - which is what makes United States Senators, fortune tellers and Young Intellectuals happy. Finally, there comes out of it a glowing consciousness of a high duty triumphantly done which is what makes hangmen and husbands happy.

Mencken, being an elitist of sorts, took a sarcastically bemused outlook towards democracy -- not so much as a political structure but as a thoroughly egalitarian system. One should not make too harsh a judgment of the man, though; he was actually more colorful than that.

Still, such a view as represented above is in line with my thoughts on blogging nowadays: are we really making a difference? Or has blogging become a mere palliative to keep us happy in the thought that we are -- when we aren't, really?

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