Hodgart on The Conditions of Political Satire Richard Hodgart's Satire points out that "political satire requires special conditions for its appearance in strength:
First, a degree of free speech either through design as in Greece or England, or through inefficiency as inlate eighteenth-century France and even in Czarist Russia.
Secondly, there must be a general readiness of the educated classes to take part in political affairs; this need not imply the existence of a democracy, but it does mean the spread of democratic ideas.
Thirdly, there must be some confidence on the part of writers that they can actually influence the conduct of affairs; and
Fourthly, there must be a wide audience that enjoys wit, imagination and the graces of literature, and that is sophisticated enough to enjoy their application to serious topics.
According to Hodgart, such conditions "existed to the full in England from about 1680 to 1820, and they have reappeared since in other parts of Europe, usually in pre-revolutionary rather than revolutionary situations; and as commonly associated with nationalistic as with social conflict" (77)
Ireland - Early 1700'sThe century opens with the death of King William III of England and Scotland in 1702. His legacy in Ireland is a Protestant Nation where his supporters in the religious battles of the last decade are now in the ascendancy, and his Catholic opponents are the targets of marginalization and penalization. The Irish parliament is also under William's thumb, and they must disavow themselves of Catholic doctrines. For their allegiance to Catholic King James II, the Irish Catholics were disarmed, their bishops banished. Penal laws were introduced to strengthened the position of the English Protestants in power, and reduce the Irish Catholics to impotent servants.
In this era, Catholics are not permitted to vote, marry a Protestant, join the armed forces, bare arms, even for protection, or be educated as Catholics abroad. They make up 70% of the population of around 2 million, yet own only 5% of the land. Farming in Ireland, although overseen by the advantaged English Protestants, is farmed by the greatly disadvantaged Irish Catholics and is woefully inefficient. Protestants can will property to their one eldest son, maintaining the large estate size, whereas Catholics are forced to divide properties among all male heirs and over time their lands shrink into tiny plots. Protestant land owners often live in England, lease their farms to 'squireens' who further subdivide the expensive yet unimproved land to Catholic tenants. There is little incentive to make land improvements as this increases the value and therefore the rent. The result is frequent food production shortfalls. In 1729 Jonathan Swift, Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral and anonymous pamphleteer, publishes "A Modest Proposal" -- a sharp satire of the Irish predicament, suggesting the rich should eat the children of the poor, to the benefit of both parties. His works lead economic criticism from 1713-1745.
4. Talk about satire and where you see it on tv or online.
5. Start reading "A Modest Proposal"
Austin High School teacher