Any man who is an individualist and a libertarian in this day and age has a difficult row to hoe. He finds himself in a world marked, if not dominated, by folly, fraud, and tyranny.
He has, if he is a reflecting man, three possible courses of action open to him:
(1) he may retire from the social and political world into his private occupation: in the case of Mencken’s early partner, George Jean Nathan, he can retire into a world of purely esthetic contemplation;
(2) he can set about to try to change the world for the better, or at least to formulate and propagate his views with such an ultimate hope in mind; or,
(3) he can stay in the world, enjoying himself immensely at this spectacle of folly.
To take this third route requires a special type of personality with a special type of judgment about the world.
He must, on the one hand, be an individualist with a serene and unquenchable sense of self-confidence; he must be supremely “inner-directed” with no inner shame or quaking at going against the judgment of the herd
He must, secondly, have a supreme zest for enjoying life and the spectacle it affords; he must be an individualist who cares deeply about liberty and individual excellence, but who can – from that same dedication to truth and liberty – enjoy and lampoon a society that has turned its back on the best that it can achieve.
And he must, thirdly, be deeply pessimistic about any possibility of changing and reforming the ideas and actions of the vast majority of his fellow-men.
He must believe that boobus Americanus is doomed to be boobus Americanus forevermore.”