A young Ambrose Bierce
In our continuing quest to revisit a classic, or even a curiosity from the past and see how relevant it is, we continue with The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce. 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 Corporation and Congress. 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.
Corporation, n. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.
Congress, n. A body of men who meet to repeal laws.
Corporation, n.The only think I could add to corporation is: An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility. Peopled with overcompensated executives whose sole purpose is to privatize the profit and socialize the debt. In the vernacular: heads, I win (I get to keep the profit); tails you lose (You have to cover the bad debts).
A fine example of a place where congressing takes place. A place where good governing goes to die.
A body of men and women who meet to repeal laws, generally at the behest of a corporation. This is now true of both the federal Congress and the state Congresses throughout the U.S.
Lobbyist, n. Paid influence peddler, bag man for the corporation, general thief in the night whose sole purpose on behalf of corporations is to see that Congress understands which laws are to be repealed or weakened, and how this should be done, particularly since too many lobbyists are former elected officials. Lobbyists can promote on behalf of other entities and not only corporations, but the goal is generally the same.
Tea Party, n. Cult subset of the GOP, and thus a subset of Congress. Money fueled by extreme right wing corporations and billionaires. Known for lack of ability to get what it wants, so it succeeds at punishing everybody, especially the GOP, of which it is supposedly part. Claims to be for personal responsibility, except when taking responsibility for its actions. Then it blames the media and the Washington establishment.
[Editor’s note: lobbyist and Tea Party were not terms in use when The Devil’s Dictionary was created. This entry was originally listed in 2012, but is updated to include the Tea Party. ]
“It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.” –MARK TWAIN