H.L. Mencken

The Alt-Right Loves H.L. Mencken. The Feeling Would Not Have Been Mutual.

Happy birthday to the Sage of Baltimore, who would never have tolerated his white nationalist fanboys.


Everett Collection/Newscom

Libertarians and conservatives have always admired H. L. Mencken, the 20th century journalist and satirist famous for his literary and political commentary. Now the Baltimore author and editor, whose heydey lasted from the 1920s to the late 1940s, has become a hero to the alt-right, who have cherry-picked his views to support their white supremacist vision. For white nationalist leader Richard Spencer and fellow enthusiasts, Mencken embodies "worthy ideals," namely, a questioning of "the egalitarian creed, democratic crusades, and welfare statism" that American democracy has become since the New Deal. Such is the essence of humor: It is hard to believe that Mencken would have ever given his worshippers the time of day.

Animated by Mencken's prose, Spencer and his colleagues inaugurated the Mencken Club in November 2008, with the aim of "building an independent intellectual right" to resist "the left-wing takeover of our society" which conservatives seem not to oppose. "Like Mencken," they declared, "our enemies are ignorance [and] wishful thinking."

Why did Mencken become catnip to the alt-right? They seem to be attracted to the author's isolationist views during both World Wars and his opposition to the New Deal, which Mencken called "the most stupendous dysgentic enterprise ever undertaken by man" and one that had "only one new and genuinely novel idea: whatever A earns really belongs to B. A is any honest industrious man or woman; B is any drone or jackass." For Mencken, Roosevelt's "Forgotten Man" was not some poor fish requiring charity; the truly forgotten man was the self-reliant American who paid his bills.

Unlike the Mencken Society—a scholarly organization founded in 1976 in Baltimore that hosts talks on Mencken's life and works by such luminaries as the late Christopher Hitchens, Arnold Rampersad, and Alfred Kazin—the Mencken Club holds pseudo-academic conferences ranging in themes as "The West: Is It Dead Yet?" or "The Right Revisited." In 2016, the club focused on the populism of Donald Trump and the preservation of white Christian heritage through anti-immigration policies. White House speechwriter Darren Beattie spoke to members alongside Peter Brimelow, white nationalist and founder of the anti-immigrant website Vdare.com—a gig that ultimately cost Beattie his job.

Speakers rarely mention Mencken's name at their meetings, except for random recitals from Chrestomathy or his earliest works: The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche (1908), whom the alt-right see as a great visionary, and from Men Versus the Man: A Correspondence between Rives La Monte, Socialist, and H. L. Mencken, Individualist (1910), an epistolary debate where Mencken explores Social Darwinism, eugenics, heredity, and race. In the most offensive passage, Mencken defines "the American negro" as "a low-caste man," and that the "superior white race will be fifty generations ahead of him." In its podcast, club members touted Men Versus the Man as "a fun book" and asserted "race realists, anti-globalists, educational reductionists and immigration restrictionists can draw nourishment from Mencken…and his disdain for the low-caste man."

In reality, Mencken would have shunned the white identity politics of the alt-right. To Mencken, Nietzsche's "superior man" was the enlightened individual of honor and courage, regardless of race, creed, or social background. Soon after 1910, Mencken reversed his views of white superiority and began calling for civil rights for African Americans. Despite the fact that his Diary contains racial slurs and ethnic slang, Mencken rebelled against "the Aryan imbecilities of Hitler" and stated: "To me personally, race prejudice is one of the most preposterous of all the imbecilities of mankind. There are so few people on earth worth knowing that I hate to think of any man I like as a German or a Frenchman, a gentile or a Jew, Negro or a white man."

He was especially contemptuous of white Anglo-Saxon Southerners, describing them as "shiftless [and] stupid," and extolled African Americans as "superior to the whites against whom they are commonly pitted." Unique for the mid-1900s and into the '20s and '30s, he collaborated with black intellectuals and was the first white editor to publish their work in his magazine, The American Mercury, and energetically promoted their writings in his books and columns and to his publisher Alfred Knopf. He was relentless in his campaigns against the Ku Klux Klan, and he joined forces with the NAACP to testify against lynching before the U.S. Congress. He repeatedly wrote against segregation; behind the scenes he discussed strategies with African-American leaders to promote civil rights.

Living in a port city, Mencken refused "to fall into the sentimental fallacy that all immigrants are worthy of pity." Nonetheless, he consistently praised their many contributions to American culture, and battled against their deportation: "What becomes of the old notion that the United States is a free country, that it is a refuge for the oppressed of other lands?" During the 1930s, in a departure from popular opinion, including that of fellow journalist Walter Lippmann, Mencken argued for the admission of Jewish refugees into the country and personally sponsored a Jewish family's emigration to the United States.

When, in 1933, the leader of one of the first pro-Nazi societies in the United States chose to award Mencken an honorary membership, he rejected the offer outright. Any defense of Hitler and Germany was impossible, "so long as the chief officer of the German state continues to make speeches worthy of the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, and his followers imitate…the monkey-shines of the American Legion at its worst." To friends in Germany, he expressed distress at the reappearance of anti-Semitic feeling in the United States, and elsewhere lamented that Nietzsche would be misinterpreted as "the inventor of all the deviltries of Hitler."

If Richard Spencer chanting "blood and soil" at the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville ever imagined his idol might have approved of such lunacy, then he should read Mencken's reaction to the German American Bund rally held at Madison Square Garden on February 20, 1939. On that date 20,000 American Nazis shouted slogans and denounced Roosevelt and Jews as 1,500 police kept 100,000 counterprotesters at bay.

The New York Nazis, Mencken wrote in the Baltimore Sun, were "morons." He went on: "Like all other fanatics they show a vast development of what Nietzsche used to call 'the delight to stink,' and are thus less interested in propagating their idiotic ideas than in annoying those who object to them." Despite his outrage, Mencken defended their right to protest. While it was "unpleasant…to be deafened day in and day out by the agents of preposterous and usually dishonest arcana…it would be far more unpleasant to live in a country wherein even the meanest and stupidest man was forbidden to disseminate his delusions. If we can stand having hordes of quacks engage in endless exchanges of imbecility in Congress and the State Legislatures, then I see no reason why we should fear to let other quacks make a din outside for Communism, Naziism, or, for that matter, even cannibalism."

Such is the price of living in a country where the rights of free assemblage and free speech are constitutional guarantees, Mencken concluded. "Perhaps the easiest way to resolve the dilemma would be to herd all the known Communists and Nazis into Arkansas, North Dakota or some other such wilderness, arm them with artillery, and let nature take its course."

NEXT: Meet the Good Soldier Švejk, Patron Saint of Malingerers and Saboteurs

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  1. Straw man article based on many false assumptions. Not worth reading.

    1. She heard the phase “alt-right” and built the whole scarecrow out of her imagination – then associates them with a leftist Democrat movement like the National Socialists.

      1. You can’t really be so stupid that you think the alt-right is anti-Nazi. I guess that’s why alt-right rallies are always full of National Socialists (like the Traditionalist Worker Party)

        1. Yes, the stupidity among the Trump-tards is legion. They actually believe Aryan Supremacist Nazis are lovey-dovey Marxists.

          1. Those nuts at the Federalist have bought into the whole National Socialists are socialists thing too.


          2. Different flavor of the same Lefty ice cream (Socialism with nuts).

          3. Nobody thinks Marxists are lovey dovey.

          4. They actually believe Aryan Supremacist Nazis are lovey-dovey Marxists.

            Look into what they want for government and you will see it is totalitarian socialism – MUCH more in line with what libtards want than Trumpsters.

            1. The racism stuff has always been more with the demoncraps than the Republicans.

          5. @Sarah Palin’s Buttplug So supporting nationalized medical care, putting big companies into cartels that the government directs and regulates etc. is socialist? Read some history you fucking idiot, Nazi stands for “National SOCIALIST” deny it all you want, leftard, scum bag shit fuck.

        2. Well, in all fairness the “white nationalist” category is a big tent at this point. There ARE people with socialist, or outright Nazi leanings, but the vast majority would be more correctly described as right leaning people who happen to believe that white countries should remain majority white. Basically some people see that as a more important issue than what the income tax rates are, so they’re willing to tolerate differing views on other things. They figure they can sort out the other stuff after they’ve taken care of priority 1.

    2. The title alone gave it away.

  2. The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
    H. L. Mencken

  3. He was especially contemptuous of white Anglo-Saxon Southerners, describing them as “shiftless [and] stupid”

    The Trump/GOP base.

    1. Except for the Democrat voters in the South, which you love.

    2. You are boringly predictable. If you ever decide to post something that might under scrutiny pass as an original thought, please announce that in caps at the start so rational people might be inclined to read it.

    3. Most of the biggest Trump cultists I know aren’t actually stupid. This does make it really hard for me to figure out why they insist on buying Trump’s snake oil.

  4. Uh-oh. This article is sure to trigger our resident Reason Republicans.

    1. And Reason libertarians.

      Who know that it wasn’t Roosevelt’s ‘forgotten man,’ but William Graham Sumner’s.

      Roosevelt stole it, and tried to change it around to the polar opposite.

      Mencken understood this, even if the author does not.

    2. Our Reason/Trump Republicans will just call Mencken a communist/socialist. They do that to everyone they don’t like – even our best capitalists.

    3. So it’s Republicans who like Mencken?

      You really have become one of the dumbest commentators here by far. You’re defending another “purge the libertarians of yore, because of make believe” because what? You’re an unoriginal thinker and profoundly susceptible to group think?

    4. Clearly this article triggered our Lefty and Anarchist residents.

  5. “For Mencken, Roosevelt’s “Forgotten Man” was not some poor fish requiring charity”

    If it belongs to B, then giving it to them is not charity, it is justice. This is the failing in those opposed to these programs. They fail to address the arguments of their opponents.

    1. Mencken was aware that “The Forgotten Man” was an essay by Sumner, this explicitly in Treatise on Right and Wrong. Sumner did several versions of this: https://preview.tinyurl.com/2hezth

  6. “Perhaps the easiest way to resolve the dilemma would be to herd all the known Communists and Nazis into Arkansas, North Dakota or some other such wilderness, arm them with artillery,

    Please make this happen.

    All the Bernie-bros/Antifa vs the Trump/NAZI fascists dual to the death.

    1. Civil war is a bad idea. For all of us.

      1. Even the Founders knew that America would bathe in blood sooner or later.

        You cannot have freedom and protected dissent speech and then expect those 5th Element types to play nice. They will undermine and destroy your way of life, while you cannot do much about it until its too late.

        At some point the duly elected tyrants get too oppressive and Americans water the Tree of Liberty with blood.

  7. “The Jews could be put down very plausibly as the most unpleasant race ever heard of. As commonly encountered they lack any of the qualities that mark the civilized man: courage, dignity, incorruptibility, ease, confidence. They have vanity without pride, voluptuousness without taste, and learning without wisdom. Their fortitude, such as it is, is wasted upon puerile objects, and their charity is mainly a form of display.”
    – H. L. Mencken

    “Socialist: A man suffering from an overwhelming conviction to believe what is not true.”
    – H. L. Mencken

    1. Yeah, these guys are purely cherry-picking him.

      1. HL Mencken eliminated the quote about Jews from a reissue of the book it appeared in. I think that kind of indicates a change of heart on Mencken’s part and in no way refutes the point that, while he held some fucked up personal ideas, he still advocated on behalf of Jewish refugees

        If anyone’s cherry picking surely it’s the person using one quote from Mencken which Mencken later deleted from the text

        1. I’m guessing it was less a change of heart than a change in what was considered acceptable public discourse.

          1. From the article:

            “During the 1930s, in a departure from popular opinion, including that of fellow journalist Walter Lippmann, Mencken argued for the admission of Jewish refugees into the country and personally sponsored a Jewish family’s emigration to the United States.”

          2. Antisemitism remained perfectly respectable and socially acceptable in the US through the 30’s. It was only after the war and the revelations about the Holocaust that public Jew-bashing went out of fashion. Mencken’s views changed well before those of the general public and polite society, so it seems highly unlikely he was merely following the herd.

        2. Mencken was a complicated thinker who was not unwilling to let his views evolve and did not mind reversing his prior expressions publicly and openly. In other words, he was intellectually honest and therefore almost impossible to understand in our present era.

  8. If we can stand having hordes of quacks engage in endless exchanges of imbecility in Congress and the State Legislatures, then I see no reason why we should fear to let other quacks make a din outside for Communism, Naziism, or, for that matter, even cannibalism.

    Great stuff.

  9. “How dare Reason imply that the alt-right is pro-National Socialism just because Richard Spencer says he’s a national socialist, Nazis attend all their rallies, and one of their premier podcasts is called the Daily Shoah” – actual human beings in this thread

    1. There is nothing more libertarian than defending the good name of socialism and trashing HL Mencken, because the word “libertarian” literally means nothing

      1. Is anyone here defending socialism or attacking Mencken?

    2. 1. Richard Spencer has never claimed to be a National Socialist.
      2. The Daily Shoah predates the alt-right. Ironically, it’s actually a holdover from when therightstuff.biz was a libertarian site.

  10. Mencken would have objected to all sorts of things about Spencer, not least his populism.

    The closest he got to populism was defending jury trials during Prohibition – the government tried to sidestep jury trials in favor of trial by judge, in order to put more bootleggers in prison, and Mencken knew that juries would be “wetter” than judges – also Mencken even expressed human sympathy for the poor workingman who wants a drink after work.

    If he didn’t drink, I don’t know if Mencken would have had much in common with the masses of people he despised.

    He suggested that (IIRC) chiropractic “medicine” be legal in hopes that those dumb enough to rely on it died off.

    As noted in the post, he saw welfare not only as a bad idea, but as “dysgenic” – that is, encouraging the wrong sorts of people to propagate their supposedly defective inherited traits.

    His coverage of the religious believers in Dayton, Tenn was so contemptuous that it inspired even the creators of *Inherit the Wind* to portray him negatively.

    1. Mencken would be what the Trumptards derisively call an “elitist”.

      1. A *real* elitist, not simply a member of an elite the critic doesn’t like, but a believer that a minority of humans (including himself) were just *better* than the masses.

        1. And in that core belief he and Spencer are in total agreement.

          1. A superficial comparison, because Spencer would embrace the broad white masses (which Mencken wouldn’t), and Mencken would have been happy to be hang out with elite nonwhites (I’m not sure Spencer would). Also, Spencer rejects the Founders, while Mencken seems to have honored them and their work, especially the Bill of Rights.

            I’m not a Mencken-worshipper, but that doesn’t mean I’d tar him with the Spencerian brush.

            1. Spencer would embrace the broad white masses (which Mencken wouldn’t), and Mencken would have been happy to be hang out with elite nonwhites (I’m not sure Spencer would).

              Rhetorically, maybe. But based on certain off-the-cuff responses I’ve seen from him, that just reeks of rank opportunism to me. Every salesman needs to avoid pissing off his customer, after all.

              I do agree with the second and third points, and actually think that points to Spencer being an even bigger elitist than Mencken.

          2. Also he and that Rev Kirkland guy here.

    2. Now, there can be little doubt of his sincerity in supporting civil liberties – of course, he was a dissenting journalist who had a few brushes with censorship himself and promoted Theodore Dreiser who was also censored. So Mencken would naturally come to realize the benefits of a robust Bill of Rights.

      1. Mencken referred to Dreiser as the most ignorant man he’d ever met, according to correspondence released after his death. Apparently Mencken had a way with being on both sides of every issue.

        1. Or at least of seeing both sides of every issue. He could defend Dreiser against censorship while at the same time considering him ignorant. Only in today’s atmosphere where nobody does nuance could this kind of ability to make such distinctions be considered a sign of intellectual degeneracy

  11. “monkey-shines of the American Legion ”

  12. Mencken was an aristocratic prick whose primary political position was a hatred of virtually everyone he considered intellectually unenlightened. This included a huge portion of the alt right’s base, as well as most people the alt-right dislikes.

    It’s pretty easy to cherry-pick a misanthropist and paint his universal hatred of everyone as some sort of targeted prejudice when really it’s just aristocratic disdain for the proletariat. He said some nasty things about blacks and Jews despite supporting civil rights for both, but he also said some nasty things about poor whites, the British, Catholics, the working class, conservative government censors, all Southerners (see: The Sahara of the Bozart), and protestants

    I don’t even think he’s much of a libertarian given his love of Kaiser Wilhelm and support of the German military dictatorship during WWI. As late as the early ’30s he said the British should have joined WWI on the side of the Germans

    1. Perhaps our greatest gadfly for sure.

  13. Nazis are Socialists, which makes them Lefties.

    Lefties are not fooling anyone and they hate that fact.

    1. Shut up you idiot Trumptard.

      1. it is always good to see the level of discourse raised by terms like “Trumptard”, especially in response to the outrageous notion that the Nazis were socialists and Fascism a romantic movement that rejected classical liberalism and hated capitalism.

        Do you work on being this stupid or does it come naturally?

        1. It’s both, like all the greats.

        2. Nazis are your right-wing brethren, you idiot. You can’t change 80 years of scholarship because you don’t like it.

          Far-right politics are politics further on the right of the left-right spectrum than the standard political right, particularly in terms of more extreme nationalist,[1][2] and nativist ideologies, as well as authoritarian tendencies.[3]

          The term is often associated with Nazism,[4] neo-Nazism, fascism, neo-fascism and other ideologies or organizations that feature extreme nationalist, chauvinist, xenophobic, racist or reactionary views.[5] These can lead to oppression and violence against groups of people based on their supposed inferiority, or their perceived threat to the native ethnic group,[6][7] nation, state[8] or ultraconservative traditional social institutions

          1. I’m one of the big Wikipedia citers here, but I wouldn’t rely on Wikipedia to resolve key debates in political philosophy, such as whether the National Socialist German Workers Party was socialist.

            1. You wouldn’t, but you would if you were a complete moron.

            2. Wikipedia sources, Eddy. See all those little numbers? They are primary sources.

              John and LoveTrump are too stupid to understand sourcing but you might get it.

              1. This is such a stupid argument. You really should read Just Sayin’s reply to you above. Yes, Nazi’s were of the Right in the context of interwar Germany: they were expansionist and militaristic, like the old Prussians. They are absolutely not of the right in the context of the postwar US, where left v. right has primarily been defined by the degree and kind of economic interventionism by the federal government.

                I love Wikipedia as a resource, but their sources just aren’t on point here. This whole argument also gets into the stupidity of a single-axis political spectrum, since it’s far too complex of a concept to be whittled down that way.

                This debate incurs the instant problem of ideological labels. They are malleable and messy, and partisans constantly distort them. They also change over time. President Trump’s particular political brand muddies the scene further, in rhetoric if less in policy.

                “Conservative” and especially “liberal” have changed over time and have different meanings in the United States and Europe. Hayek himself, who had a more European view of conservatism, was wary of labels. He spurned both “conservative” and “libertarian,” and dedicated his most famous book “to the socialists of all parties.”

                1. Bingo KDN.

                  The subject here is socialism. And the axis we are talking about is socialism versus enlightenment capitalism. In that axis, fascism falls squarely on the side of socialism. What our resident troll is doing is taking points made about a different political axis, militarism, and nationalism versus internationalism, and trying to apply them to our axis. Yes, on the axis of nationalism versus internationalism, the Nazis were “rightwing”. But that does not mean they were economic leftists and left wing in the context we are talking about.

                  1. Lefties can be Nationalistic too.

                    Nazis have always been Socialists because they wanted the state to control the means of production. The Nazis used state power to control business via threats but did pay them. By the end of WWII, all military industries were state owned and controlled.

                    Controlling the means of production does not necessarily mean own. Hitler liked many of the parts of Socialism in Russia but not the aspects of International Communism, seizing all industry, and not using race as a power play.

                    Communist states own all property and persons.

                2. In American political debate, each side tries to foist the Nazis off onto the other side, invoking the American political spectrum.

                  On the American political spectrum, national socialists are most certainly on what is traditionally defined as the right or conservative side of American politics.

                  There are big differences with the American left, as well, fortunately.

                  1. *not* on what is traditionally defined as the right or conservative side of American politics.

                    One little word is key.

                3. The Wikipedia vandals point and shriek “atheist” at Tara Smith, but not Lenin, Trotsky or Stalin. One such entity has a blog titled hitlerwasacapitalist and becomes apoplectic at the sight of National Sozialismus all spelled out.

              2. Shriek the hicklib still thinks citing the commie-approved version of fascism is what fascism actually was.

          2. A bunch of unsupported statements doesn’t help your cause, you moron. You are just repeating the same bullshit lie that the difference between the left and right is about nationalism and race. It is not. That is the difference between fascism and communism. If you were an international socialist, you were a communist. If you were a national socialist, you were a fascist.

            As I explain below, they both reject the primacy of the individual and embrace collective guilt and the total state as a means to cleanse society of undesirables. They just disagree about who the undesirables are; the inferior races according to fascism or the capitalist exploiters according to communism. But they share the underlying assumption essential to all leftist thought that society can be perfected if it is cleansed of its inferior elements. That is what makes them both leftwing.

            That is how they were viewed at the time. It was only later that socialists dreamed up the lie that Nazis and fascists were somehow rightwing enlightenment types. So, go lie to someone stupid enough to believe you.

            1. They are completely sourced, you idiot Nazi Trumptard.

              1. No they are not. Moreover, they are completely unresponsive to my points. Stop wasting people’s time. If you are not smart enough to understand the arguments, and you clearly are not, don’t muck up the thread with cut and paste talking points that you don’t understand.

          3. Even Mussolini said fascism was of the Left

            1. Left-Right is a meaningless binary that attempts to reduce the infinite complexity of human thought to a single spectrum so plebs can self identify and parrot their worldview to something that conforms to a larger population.

              1. The Left-Right political spectrum is a generality tool for politics.

                Libertarianism is in the Center having the most Liberty and small and limited government. The Left and Right extremes have the least Liberty and most government.

          4. Nazis are your right-wing brethren, you idiot. You can’t change 80 years of scholarship because you don’t like it.

            Well, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich A. Hayek said they were Socialists and I’ll take them at their word instead of asshole “scholars” who want to make sure to keep Socialism “pristine” by ignoring/downplaying all its evil.

            1. Mises has been “un-personed”. Don’t you even woketarian?

            2. “Mises and Hayek said” is an appeal to authority. If we’re to take the definition of socialism as the workers/state owning the means of production then fascism and national socialism are not socialist. Granted, the workers/state owning the means of production may be more akin to bolshevism in our modern understanding while socialism is merely a regulated market economy with a welfare state safety net. In such cases, anyone other than an ancap is a socialist with the difference being only degrees, rendering the term utterly meaningless. Perhaps Hitler’s own description of national socialism is worth considering:

              “‘Socialist’ I define from the word ‘social; meaning in the main ‘social equity’. A Socialist is one who serves the common good without giving up his individuality or personality or the product of his personal efficiency. Our adopted term ‘Socialist’ has nothing to do with Marxian Socialism. Marxism is anti-property; true socialism is not. Marxism places no value on the individual, or individual effort, of efficiency; true Socialism values the individual and encourages him in individual efficiency, at the same time holding that his interests as an individual must be in consonance with those of the community. All great inventions, discoveries, achievements were first the product of an individual brain. It is charged against me that I am against property, that I am an atheist. Both charges are false.”

              1. Fascists and Nazis controlled the means of production.

                In Nazi Germany, many industries were owned by powerful families but output was controlled by the Nazis. The industries either made weapons of war or were shut off from resources to make anything else.

                Socialism does not require ‘owning’ the means of production, only controlling the means of production.

                Regulation is a control of business that is used to identify minimal government rules.

                Where that line between regulation and socialism is, is a grey area. Banning products and services and controlling what is made is beyond the scope of regulation.

          5. The term is often associated with Nazism,[4] neo-Nazism, fascism, neo-fascism and other ideologies or organizations that feature extreme nationalist, chauvinist, xenophobic, racist or reactionary views.[5]

            Communism checks all of those boxes. Nothing said about Hitler wasn’t equally true of Stalin or Lenin.

            Just think: German Communists survived at a higher rate in Nazi Germany than in Soviet Russia.

            These can lead to oppression and violence against groups of people based on their supposed inferiority, or their perceived threat to the native ethnic group


            1. Hitler gave German Socialists and Communists a chance to join the Nazi party. Those that refused, were sent off to concentration camps.

              Its why most of the SA, joined the ranks of the German Army or SS. They could easily fit in with Nazis since they were all socialists.

          6. Forget about the Marxist/Leninist notion of the “commune” or the “soviet” being the central form of grass roots control of society by the poor or working class. That never really happened and (I can say this as a genuine former Marxist) was never more than idealistic hooey. Aside from that, I ask anyone to identify any clear distinctions between socialism as we know it since the end of WWII and fascism. I can assure you that it will be a very short list, if it has any entries at all.

        3. Wait, there are two Johns now?

    2. Buttplugger the moron knows its true and hates that Nazis are Socialists.

    3. Keep flogging that horse.

      1. It is true, Zeb. The Nazis were not communists but they absolutely were socialists. One of the primary reasons they hated the Jews was that they saw them as capitalist exploiters of the German people. To the Nazis, capitalism was a decadent system that allowed Jews and other inferior races to oppress and exploit the German people. Their economic program such as it was, was a return to German war socialism for the benefit of the German people financed by the money they stole from the Jews. Indeed, one of the biggest and perhaps biggest motivations behind Hitler’s attempt to conquer a larger and larger area of Europe was that he kept running out of other people’s money. The money he stole from the German Jews only went so far. So, he moved onto the Austrian Jews and so forth.

        Fascism and Nazism were leftwing ideologies. They came right out of the French Revolution’s rejection of the enlightenment. Nazism was steeped in Darwinism and the fake scientific nonsense that came out of it. It was just Marxism’s romantic cousin. Where Marxism embraced internationalism, crude materialism, and a quasi-scientific approach, fascism embraced blood and soil and romanticism. But both rejected the enlightenment. They both embraced the concept of collective guilt, hated capitalism and saw the total state acting for the benefit of the favored classes and in revenge against the disfavored classes as the way to Utopia.

        1. Zeb just wont admit that the horse is not dead.

          It was saddled up in this article and is daily…really.

          Not a day goes by that propaganda machines that are the MSM try and deflect that Nazis, Neo-Nazis, Alt-Right racists are ALL Lefties. They are all Socialists who want to get into power and use the government to control the means of production. For racists reasons evidently.

          In the end though, even Nazis had brown people and Muslims in their ranks of the SS. I guess racism is just a tool to gain and keep power. When you need ‘useful idiots’, anyone will do.

        2. It is true, Zeb. The Nazis were not communists but they absolutely were socialists.

          If one wishes to be REALLY technical, the USSR was Socialist, not Communist as workers did get paid some money there.

          But that is some splitting hair levels of technical.

          There is zero critique of Nazism that does not apply, equally, to Soviet-style Socialism/Communism.

          1. You are correct Damikesc. Socialism is the transformation state to get to Communism.

            Off the top of my head, only NK and China have become Communist states. China bounces back and forth and especially with their pseudo-open market. NK is 100% a Communist state, with the Kim’s adding a God feature. The USSR had many Communist parts but never achieved a 100% Communist state. Its likely that was why it imploded in 1989.

            1. “NK is 100% a Communist state”. Not hardly. If you truly think so, identify any instance in which the workers directly control the means of production there. They do not and never will.

              Even assuming that Lenin actually and sincerely wanted a true communist state, any hopes one might have had died (literally and figuratively) with Lenin’s death and Stalin’s assassination of Trotsky. The death knell was WWII, which allowed Stalin to assert that the exigencies of war justified centralization of power in Moscow, the suppression of non-Russian nationalities, pogroms against Jews, gypsies and homosexuals, not to mention the canonization of Stalin as the wisest, greatest man to walk the earth since, oh I don’t know, Abraham maybe.

        3. Rejecting the enlightenment doesn’t make you left-wing. FFS the original right-wing were anti-Enlightenment monarchists (who were also by no means fans of free-market capitalism for those who think left and right are defined solely by how much one opposes or supports government involvement in the economy).

          1. And the modern right is decidedly anti-monarchist.

            While the modern Left seems fond of the idea of an unaccountable ruler of all people.

            1. Yeah, the modern right is absolutely thrilled by the idea of executive accountability. Are you kidding me?

              I wasn’t arguing that most modern right-wingers are monarchists (in the US), I was pointing out that being anti-enlightenment or anti-free market does not make one left-wing. There is a long history of such views on the right.

            2. The extreme of conservativism is a monarchy/oligarchy/theocracy.

              In the USA, Republicans are Right of Libertarians but nowhere near the extreme of Conservative politics, or ‘right wing’.

              Most lefties are ‘Left-Wing’, as they are mostly Socialists. You will find rare Lefties between Socialism and Libertarianism in the Center.

        4. It’s not capitalism, or rather, market economics, that the fascists argued against. It was international finance. Capitalism is a useful surrogate term for that since it takes its name from merely one aspect of the means of production and is thusly focused and concentrated on only benefiting the financiers.

      2. Its fun to keep the National Socialist German Workers Party discussion alive.

        Just like its fun to remind everyone about the Anarchists who run Reason and love to undermine Libertarianism.

        1. These two groups hate the Constitution and America and everything that it stands for.

        2. Far-right politics are politics further on the right of the left-right spectrum than the standard political right, particularly in terms of more extreme nationalist,[1][2] and nativist ideologies, as well as authoritarian tendencies.[3]

          The term is often associated with Nazism,[4] neo-Nazism, fascism, neo-fascism and other ideologies or organizations that feature extreme nationalist, chauvinist, xenophobic, racist or reactionary views.[5] These can lead to oppression and violence against groups of people based on their supposed inferiority, or their perceived threat to the native ethnic group,[6][7] nation, state[8] or ultraconservative traditional social institutions

          1. I’m gobsmacked. Not only does our resident buttplug know how to put things in italics, he even seems to know what numbers in parentheses mean, something his hot mama Hillary never could figure out. Of course, the buttplug could have gone directly to the sources themselves, but that would have required some work and we know how that would turn out.

        3. Oh buttplugger, no citation? I assume that is wikipedia, which as we all know is a hotbed of truth and apolitical fact.

          As you can see from this Nazi propaganda pamphlet, Goebbels discusses the Nazi Socialist and why they hate the other Socialists and particularly the Marxists.
          Nazi propaganda pamphlet by Joseph Goebbels

    4. Left and right are relative terns. The main competitors to the National Socialists were the communists. So, yes, relative to the communists, the National Socialists were indeed a party of the right.

      1. Nazis and Communists are both lefties. They were fighting not as polar opposites but as slightly different ideologies fighting over who has the power.

        Most of the Communists in Germany at that time were run by Moscow. The USSR could not built its military up to a strength that was good enough for decades, so Stalin decided to try and control Germany via politics.

        That plan failed.

        Then Stalin tried to control Germany with the Molotov-Ribbertropp Pact.

        That only worked for less than 2 years.

        Even after Germany has decimated the Russian Western Front Armies, Stalin refused to admit that Germany had broken their Pact. Stalin was upset that Hitler had beaten him to the treachery.

    5. Actually, national and international socialists all fit inside the same bubble of altruists on a Venn diagram, the discernible difference being altruistic sacrifice for Christ and tribe versus sacrifice to The Political State. Even Orwell confessed Hitler’s mixed economy took from the other looter socialism those elements which made it more efficient at war.

      1. Nazi Germany was not efficient at war until 1944.

        Do you know that Germany produced more fighter planes in 1944 than all the other years of WWII combined?

        German aircraft production WWII

        Hitler refused to put Germany on a total war economic footing until 1943.

        German industry was many things, but efficiency was not one of them.

        The US war machine was about as efficient and effective as any nation has had in human history. It was started a few months into 1942 and supplied every allied nation with materiale.

  14. I dream of a day when HL Mencken and Murray Rothbard are purged from libertarian history, therefore ensuring that the word means literally nothing other than endless virtue signaling. In the future, the only libertarians acceptable to the beltway crowd will be “newly woke” Matt Welch (his previous work will be memory-holed) and Julian “I heart the CIA” Sanchez. Thus ensuring that there will be exactly zero libertarians in the future.

    Keep on virtue signaling over make believe!

    1. Mencken wanted to leave the masses alone in hopes they’d die earlier and not reproduce as much.

      Libertarians want to leave the masses alone on the idea that, if left alone, they’d improve their lives more than if the state got involved.

      1. Plus, plenty of Beltway types professed to like Mencken, until they professed to be shocked – shocked! – at the diaries, which were actually more innocuous than his published stuff.

        1. The Beltway types loved specifically what was elitist in Mencken – particularly 1920s Mencken when his targets were Prohibitionists, literary censors, creationists, and others who are assessed as “conservative” in modern political analysis.

          You know, conservatives like William Jennings Bryan.

    2. Who’s trying to purge Mencken?

  15. Mencken is a curious choice for an alt-right society. My guess is that at the time, 20 years ago now, they needed somewhat of an intellectual heavy-weight to name themselves after, Mencken was little-known and his writings can be construed to be generally anti-authoritarian, not specifically-left or right. Now, no doubt, quoting him now will be considered hate speech.

    1. Menken was a misanthrope and really more of a Progressive than anything else. He hated average people and thought them too stupid to govern themselves or manage their own lives. Menken was skeptical of Progressives’ ability to manage people’s lives for them, but he absolutely agreed that most people were inferior and not capable of acting in their own interests. Menken was really just an asshole. I have never understood why so many people on the Right think so much of him

      1. Menken mentions that immigrants deserve ‘pity’. Sign of a true progressive.

        Immigrants need American help because uprooting their lives and settling in America is a sign of a person who needs opportunist scraps of pity.

      2. Sometimes an asshole is exactly what’s needed.

        As much as he was skeptical of peoples’ ability to run their own lives, he was even more vociferous about their ability to run others’ lives in groups.

        He’s the kind of Progressive other assholes readily tolerate.

      3. He and Christopher Hitchens are a lot alike. Basically assholes and curmudgeons, but very witty and therefore entertaining.

        1. I’ve always found Hitchens self-defeating, petty, and dishonest. Maybe I haven’t had enough zeitgeist with Mencken but I get a general impression that Mencken, when called out for being an asshole, would respond, “What of it?” while Hitchens would reply, “*Was* I being an asshole? I didn’t realize I was. Can you explain why I was being an asshole?”

          Again, maybe I’m projecting or haven’t read/experienced both personalities equally but Hitchens acted like every word that came out of his mouth was brilliant until you called bullshit and then he feigned ignorance. Mencken, OTOH, just seemed jaded to the core.

          1. Mencken was smart, and knew he was smart. Hitchens was smart, but not as smart as Mencken, thought Hitchens obviously considered himself a genius.

      4. He did not have much patience for progressives, actually, as this story describes his criticisms of the New Deal. He also did not have nice things to say about puritan prohibitionist types, religious or secular. He was kind of the George Carlin of his day.

        1. Except that he wasn’t that funny. Menken never built a set of beliefs of his own. He just tore down everyone else’ beliefs. it takes a certain intelligence to do that. But, I do not consider Menken any kind of a genius. I think you have to create something to be a considered a genius. And Menken never did that.

        2. Nor do I think Mencken went out of his way to be caustic just for the hell of it, which is pretty much where Carlin (bless his memory) went, especially in his later years as he just became bitter and isolated.

      5. He did not have much patience for progressives, actually, as this story describes his criticisms of the New Deal. He also did not have nice things to say about puritan prohibitionist types, religious or secular. He was kind of the George Carlin of his day.

  16. Unmentioned by Reason’s new affirmative action hires are Mencken’s two treatises on ethics: “Treatise on Right and Wrong” and “Treatise on the gods.” Picture the impressionable young Ayn Rand agonizing over her hero’s agnosticism as to the objectivity of ethics, setting herself to the task of tempering a defense of individual rights heated in the flames of the ovens at Auschwitz, then quenching it to steely hardness in the liquid evasions mumbled at the judgments in Nuremberg.

    1. Menken wasn’t Ayn Rand’s hero. God you are a fucking moron.

      1. Readers are doubtless aware of “Dear Mr Mencken… July 28, 1934” which gets under weigh with “I hope you will understand my hesitation in writing to one whom I admire as the greatest representative of a philosophy to which I want to dedicate my whole life.” It is signed “Gratefully yours.” Nothing but Judy Garland’s “Dear Mr Gable” even comes close as a crush letter. But illiterate mystics here to draw the Gestapo onto Reason and pilfer votes in support of warriors-for-the-babies fail even when it comes to the most basic infiltration homework. That there is a moron present, any reasonable person will grant.
        Here’s Judy, 1938… https://preview.tinyurl.com/y7s2jjez

  17. alt-right?

  18. When did Reason Magazine differentiate their red-meat brand of Libertarianism from the Alt-Right? They’re one and the same.

  19. There is an episode of the radio program “Biography in Sound” produced in 1956 about Mencken available for free download from the Old Time Radio Researchers (otrr.org) Library:

    http://otrrlibrary.org/OTRRLib/Library Files/B Series/Biography In Sound/Biography in Sound 56-07-10 (55) H L Mencken.mp3

  20. I think it is entirely possible that the author may not be getting some of the possibilities here, simply because of viewing it all through a modern lens.

    Almost every person who advocated for the abolition of slavery was without a doubt a white supremacist. You can go all the way back to Thomas Jefferson if ya like. He unambiguously stated repeatedly in his writings that he thought black people were vastly inferior to whites in basically all ways, that there was no way we could live side by side with freed black men, hence they should be sent back to Africa, after we freed them of course! Because he also unambiguously thought slavery was an evil institution.

    This same thing carried through to almost all later abolitionists. Few thought them equal, but still thought it was wrong. Lincoln wanted to send them all back to Africa after the war too!

    I’ve not read much Mencken beyond some of his awesome quotes, and I think one or two articles… But he may well have simply been another principled supremacist, who perhaps also accepted that there were exceptional blacks who were worthy of respect as well.

    There’s nothing contradictory about thinking whites are superior on average, but that that doesn’t mean you should shit on inferior people. I imagine it would take a far more thorough reading of his stuff to really figure out what his overall opinion may have been.

    1. Many modern white nationalists essentially have that very view actually. Very few want to do anything more than change immigration laws to favor whites, get rid of affirmative action, and maybe restore freedom of association. So if that is the general opinion of his views one might glean from a more thorough reading of his stuff, it would be unsurprising if they were still perfectly happy with him overall.

  21. “then I see no reason why we should fear to let other quacks make a din outside ” just exactly like Mencken and the rest of the fellowes in his circle of excellence.

  22. Lets see how many times Libertardarians are at odds with what their idols are. Adam Smith, Hayek, these people are not the clowns that most liberatardians are themselves. I don’t know or care what H. L. Menchen said or thought. Would he have rejoiced in diverse Dearborn and Detroit? Would he have agreed to endless wars for Israel? Would he have rationalized a 300 BILLION dollar trade deficit with China? I’m guessing “no” on all counts. Sounds pretty alt-right to me.

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