The Revolution Will Not Be Satirised: The Revolutionary Potential of Stephen Leacock’s Satire
Is satire revolutionary? This question brought satire theorists Leonard Feinberg and Robert C. Elliott to an impasse. The Revolution Will Not Be Satirised uses Stephen Leacock’s satire to find an answer. Feinberg would contend that Leacock’s underlying conservatism keeps his satirical critique from being revolutionary. Elliott would contend that Leacock’s critique is revolutionary because it tears down societal foundations. Revolutions, however, are more than a critique: they hinge upon implementing a new ideology. Because ideology has three components—critique, ideal, and agency—and because satire, as a critique, emphasises only one of ideology’s three components, satire lacks the ideological roadmap to guide a revolution. Arcadian Adventures and Sunshine Sketches reflect this: they critique western democracy, but they lack ideological alternatives to revolve into. Given that Adventures’ and Sketches’ critiques remain valid, it appears that Leacock’s two greatest satires failed to spawn revolutionary change, but succeeded in diagnosing intractable human conditions.
Master of Arts (M.A.)