What Are We Laughing At?
Almost everything that passes itself off as intelligent comedy today — particularly that of the “social criticism” or “political humor” variety — is in fact nothing but helpful compliance and submission to the oppressive ruling class, exactly as genuinely intelligent humor can never be.
A true satirist aims his sharpest spears at the established powers and attitudinal norms, and says precisely the thing that makes the leading voices of the day most uncomfortable. By contrast, a commercial satirist — i.e., a fraud — plays to the ascendant power, flattering the establishment for being so sophisticated as to join him in laughing at the fading minority that is currently on death row awaiting execution. When an alleged humorist is saying — but with a smirk! — the same thing that appears on the op-ed pages of the most “respected” newspapers and magazines, the same thing scrolling across the bottom of the screen all day on the establishment news networks, the same thing emblazoned on all the trendy corporate T-shirts and chanted by all the cool kids and their cool professors on every university campus, then that humorist is a fraud, just another tool of the establishment. His role, which he has willingly accepted, is to help the ruling class keep the masses in line, laughing happily in their cages. He is just another volunteer propagandist.
If Swift, for example, had brandished his somewhat maleficent pen in favor of the self-satisfied Enlightenment vanguard, skewering the dying classical sensibility with its moderation, heroism, and poetry, while praising the de-poeticizing impulses of the modern scientific reasoners hubristically reducing the human world to their logical formulae and microscopic examination, he would not be remembered today as a great man, but merely a great slave.
If ever there was a moment for humorists to stand up for freedom in the manner that comedy can, namely by poking a million subtle holes in the all-too-serious totalitarian vanguard’s balloon for all to see, surely this is that moment. Instead, what passes for comedy today is uniformly slavish, obedient, doctrinaire — giggling fellow travelers of the progressive zeitgeist, amusing the mob with tyrant-friendly laughter, and thus playing their part in the thugocracy’s efforts to shovel dirt onto the bodies of the dying resisters.