Notes on Democracy  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Notes on Democracy is a 1926 book by American journalist, satirist, cultural critic H. L. Mencken.

The initial print run was only 235 copies; another edition was printed later in 1926. A number of reprints of the book have continued to be issued, with editions released in 2008 and 2012.

Synopsis and impact

Notes on Democracy is a critique of democracy. The book places political leaders into two categories: the demagogue, whom "preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots" and the demaslave, "who listens to what these idiots have to say and then pretends that he believes it himself." Mencken depicts politicians as "men who have sold their honor for their jobs."

The book contains the notable quotes from Mencken that "Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance." and that "Democracy, too, is a religion. It is the worship of jackals by jackasses."


Writing for The Saturday Review of Literature Walter Lippmann described the book as a "tremendous polemic" which "destroy[s] by rendering it ridiculous and unfashionable, the democratic tradition of the American pioneers" and likens Notes on Democracy to The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Notes on Democracy" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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