"The average man does not want to be free. He simply wants to be safe." How much merit does Henry Louis Mencken's interpretation hold? To what extent does Mencken's conclusion pertain to modern society?

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This is a very controversial saying, as actually what is being debated is the value of freedom and whether people are willing to trade in that freedom for an illusion of safety. The quotation is really all about politics and liberties. Are we willing to trade in our freedom for being controlled by some kind of Orwellian government? Many would consider this a price that is too high.

I've seen that quote attributed to Mencken, but I've never seen it in its context. Certainly the 1930s, when he was a very active writer, were a period when many were questioning what freedom meant- the New Deal, after all, was one expression of FDR's conviction that people had a right to live free from fear. Many of the policies enacted in response to the Depression were attempts to provide basic security. Most of the responses above have to do with physical safety from attack, but if you put it in economic terms, what good is freedom without some kind of security? Are they mutually exclusive? 

I would tend...

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