Oct 21, 2009


The first written occurrence of the phrase "We have met the enemy and he is us" was on a 1970 Earth Day poster written and illustrated by Walt Kelly, featuring Pogo and Porkypine. Below is the 1971 version.

The history of the phrase goes back farther than that. In the forward to The Pogo Papers, 1952, Walt Kelly wrote - “In the time of Joseph McCarthyism, celebrated in the Pogo strip by a character named Simple J. Malarkey, I attempted to explain each individual is wholly involved in the democratic process, work at it or no. The results of the  process fall on the head of the public and he who is recalcitrant or procrastinates in raising his voice can blame no one but himself."

"There is no need to sally forth, for it remains true that those things which make us human are, curiously enough, always close at hand.  Resolve, then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tiny blasts of tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us."

As years passed, the final paragraph was reduced to, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” How prescient he was, back in the old Okefenokee Swamp.