The Devil’s Dictionary: Politics, Politicians, and PACs

Every now and then, it is good to revisit a classic, or even a curiosity from the past. The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce was originally published in newspaper installments from 1881 until 1906. You might be surprised how current many of the entries are.

For example, here is a definition for the words politics and politician. The Old definitions are Bierce’s. The New definition is mine. From time to time, just as it was originally published, we will come back to The Devil’s Dictionary, for a look at it then and how it applies today. Click on Devil’s Dictionary in the tags below to bring up the other entries.

Old definition
Politics, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.

Politician, n. An eel in the fundamental mud upon which the superstructure of organized society is reared. When he wriggles, he mistakes the agitation of his tail for the trembling of the edifice. As compared with the statesman, he suffers the disadvantage of being alive.

New definition
There is no need to update these old definitions. But to them, one could add (since they did not exist in Bierce’s time) these two words:

PAC, n. a gathering of money and people, like wolves, in pursuit of political prey to tear apart in the conduct of public affairs for private advantage. Unlike wolves, they don’t have to carry any sort of coloration to identify themselves. They have no natural enemies to keep them in check.

Super-PAC, n. an even larger gathering of a PAC. Bent on complete destruction in the name of conducting public affairs for private advantage. They have no natural enemies to keep them in check. One can only hope for a sufficiently large enough political meteor to crash into politics and kill them.

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Filed under Ambrose Bierce, Devil's Dictionary, political humor, politicians, politics, rocket scientist

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