We should stop going around babbling about how we’re the greatest democracy on earth, when we’re not even a democracy. We are a sort of militarised republic.

Famed American author, playwright, essayist, screenwriter, critic, provocateur and political activist, Gore Vidal, has passed away at the age of 86 years old. Vidal died at his Hollywood Hills, California home at about 6:45 p.m. on July 31, 2012, of complications from pneumonia.

Vidal was a stately man but a sardonic intellectual. Always observing the socio-cultural-political climate with a keen eye, he almost held a certain appreciation and amusement of what he deemed was the crumbling of our civilization; the end is nigh. He was scathing and caustic when it came to critiquing our American cultural milieu. Just peruse The Guardian‘s compilation of Gore Vidal’s 26 best quotes to quickly understand his biting potency.

A political activist (he ran for office twice, for Congress in New York and for governor in California), Vidal relished being a public figure as much as his American contemporaries, Norman Mailer (see the video with Mailer, above) and Truman Capote.

The world has lost a muscular wag and a robust mind; with the upcoming presidential election, Vidal will be especially missed during these politically-charged times.