Hobgoblins on Parade

dinosaur eye web

(With the usual thanks to H.L. Mencken)

He brushed aside the brush and peered into the clearing, not sure he could trust his eyes. Oh, nothing was wrong with his eyes, it’s just that they presented him with a sight that would be unbelievable except for the fact that, undeniably, the sight was there and his eyes were delivering an accurate picture of the clearing.

Plainly, he could see – well, the plain fact was that hobgoblins were swarming.

He couldn’t tell how many there were – after a certain quantity the actual number became irrelevant. It was enough to constitute a swarm, and perhaps five hobgoblins would be enough to subdue the average person. When five is enough, then it didn’t matter whether the clearing contained a platoon, a brigade or a regiment: It was simply more than enough to overcome his solitary soul. He was toast if he entered the clearing. He was toast if they saw him in the underbrush. He was, quite simply, toast. Continue reading “Hobgoblins on Parade”

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Hobgoblin Watch: Old Joe’s vindication

mccarthy

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. — H.L. Mencken

For more than 70 years now, politicians have managed to frighten the populace with the hobgoblin of the Red Menace. It faded after the fall of the Soviet Union but has made a full-fledged revival in recent years, although now it’s at the hands of the party that spent most of my lifetime previously pooh-poohing the notion. Continue reading “Hobgoblin Watch: Old Joe’s vindication”

Hobgoblin Watch: Navigating the floods of crises

floods.jpg

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. — H.L. Mencken

One of the biggest issues in the famed 1960 presidential debates between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon was the fate of Quemoy and Matsu, two islands off the coast of China. The future of democracy and freedom rested on whether those two islands were controlled by Communist China or Nationalist China, Beijing or Taiwan.

I had to look up the names of those two islands to complete this post, because they are essentially lost to history. It’s not hard to find a clear example of what H.L. Mencken called “hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” All you have to do is see what issues were tearing us apart 60 years ago, or 25 years ago, or last year, or last week, or today. Continue reading “Hobgoblin Watch: Navigating the floods of crises”

Hobgoblin Watch: All of them imaginary

beware of hobgoblins

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. — H.L. Mencken

I’m going to begin with a broad statement that I believe to be true: The practical politician doesn’t really believe Russian agents and Donald Trump conspired to thwart the will of the American electorate; that evil people have amassed at the borders to steal our jobs, drain our social programs, and/or blow up our cities; or even that measles is a deadly threat to our children.

What they do believe, as Mencken observed a century ago, is that if you are sufficiently alarmed, you will pay no attention to the man behind the curtain who is working tirelessly to keep you in chains and grateful for “your freedom.”

I do believe there are two sides, but it’s not a case of left and right – not rich and poor – not men and women – not black and white – not straight and gay – none of those divisions the state uses to pit people against each other. No, the two sides are the state and the rest of us: the ruling class and the ruled. Continue reading “Hobgoblin Watch: All of them imaginary”