Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

Believeable Satire? Now, That Is Scary

Recently, I posted on this blog an essay, thinly disguised as a news report, entitled “Bush Declares War on Ivory-Billed Woodpecker.” The premise was that our president had placed a $10,000 bounty on the head of each specimen of this magnificent, newly rediscovered creature, thought for 60 years to have been extinct, because he didn’t want to add another animal to the Endangered Species List. The post was, of course, a satire — one of the oldest forms of literature, with a pedigree dating back at least to Aristophanes. Satire has long been a weapon of choice for scribes targeting entrenched, corrupt, criminally belligerent power elites, and it was in this spirit that I invoked the form. One reader, not amused, described my post as “shameful” and “so ridiculous it doesn’t deserve to be in print.” I won’t summon a defense against the common premise that an attitude disagreed with is inherently offensive and better left unexpressed; being human, I know I have felt and spoken similar sentiments many times, and presumably will do so again. The writer added, “I feel sorry for the less educated reader who might very well believe what has been posted.” For starters, the notion that anyone could find credible, on the basis of what he or she knew of the man, that George Bush would try to exterminate a species is a more damning indictment of his character and monstrous environmental record than my post was. How pathetic and frightening that anyone could find such bogus news believable. And this may sound downright baroque, but I cling to the old-fashioned belief that each citizen of a republic has a duty to know what the administration in power — that is, the public servants who hold in temporary stewardship that republic’s governing machinery — are up to. The truth is out there, and I won’t feel sorry for someone whose mind is empty and yet so agile that it can dodge the evidence, on every hand, of the ruthlessness with which the Bush administration is openly — defiantly, even proudly — desecrating the environment, human rights, international law, fiscal responsibility, and on and on and on. (It’s not on too many front burners right now, but I believe the main thing for which posterity will remember George W. Bush is that he was the only president in history to propose a constitutional amendment intended to deny one segment of society rights that are enjoyed by the rest of us.) So — sorry, no; inexpressibly disheartened, yes. To me, a hypothetical citizen so gullible and clueless as to believe my story was true is an accessory after the fact of George Bush’s crimes. In 1729, Irish satirist Jonathan Swift (Gulliver’s Travels) published an essay titled “A Modest Proposal: For Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland From Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public.” Largely due to negligence on the part of the island’s English occupiers, most of the Irish population was desperately poor, and starvation was systemic and widespread. Swift suggested that the problem could be solved if the Irish would simply eat their children. Fewer mouths to feed, you see, and all the grownups would be fat and happy. ”I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London,” Swift wrote, “that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled … ” Much of British society was appalled by Swift’s literary mischief, completely missing his intent: to skewer their own indifference to human suffering. The possibility of someone believing, on the basis of something I wrote, that Bush would try to wipe out an endangered species is a poor reason to get mad at me. It’s a good reason for you to be scared to death — and to weep for the Republic.


Author Petra Kuenkel: The Art of Leading Collectively

More than ever before, there is a focus on new, collective forms of leadership—and an urgency to get collective change processes underway, all over the world. What’s behind the recent push to move collective leadership to the fore? Whether we find ourselves in societal or organizational change, it requires collective energy and drive to bring […] Read More

10 Books to Curl Up With This Winter

William Wordsworth was right when he said, “Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.” Nevertheless, the cold, dark days of winter can still get the best of even Nature’s most tenderhearted admirer. What’s one to do? We here at Chelsea Green have concocted the perfect cabin fever remedy with our suggested winter reading […] Read More

Top 8 Chelsea Green Books the Self-Styled Oregon Militia Should Read

The ongoing armed militia occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon is showing no signs of ending — so, rather than send them snacks, or sex toys, we had an idea: Send them a book! Better yet, send them several Chelsea Green books. Don’t worry, we’ve picked five key titles that we think […] Read More

Author David Stroh: First Steps to Becoming a Systems Thinker

Systems thinking is often seen as something relegated to scientific and business analysis – economics, resource depletion, and climate. However, Systems Thinking for Social Change focuses on how to use systems thinking to make breakthrough progress on intransigent social problems. We asked author David Stroh how this approach can make an impact, and how readers […] Read More

Use Systems Thinking to Make Lasting Social Change

What can be done when our best intentions create unintended problems—such as temporary shelters increasing homelessness or food aid accelerating starvation?After decades of helping change-makers in the nonprofit, public, and private sectors address tough social problems, systems-thinking expert David Stroh shares the pioneering framework that both demystifies systems thinking and shows how it can lead […] Read More
Follow us
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By WPFruits.com