In Jonathan Swift’s renowned novel Gulliver’s Travels, Swift expressed several issues in human civilization and especially criticizes British society. Due to the observing eyes of Gulliver, Swift established meaningful satire on European communities which pokes fun at the problems within humanity. The author displays religious controversy between Catholics and Protestants, flawed court systems, and the ridiculous idea that a small island like England can control larger territories. If Jonathan Swift had lived in our current time, his satire would touch such topics in America as the National Debt, dependency on oil, and on a global level, nuclear war. Had he observed theses themes in the modern world, Swift would consider writing a satire on America and global issues. Swift would certainly satirize these subjects, not only because these issues not been resolved, but the fact that they inflict stress on everyday lives.
Swift’s first target issue on America would be the ever increasing National Debt because of the absurd debt that our country faces. Most National Debts around the world don’t exceed into the trillions of dollars, but America has found a way of wasting more than 9 trillion dollars into the National Debt. A modernized Gulliver would marvel at the debt that the United States has endured and would reason that money in American society is expendable. The problem that Swift would scrutinize is the government’s inability to stop spending on definite projects within the government. “As of November of 2004, 60% of the national debt is held by individuals, corporations, states, and foreign governments like Japan ($580 billion), China ($390 billon) and the United Kingdom ($320 billion)”(Hall). Swift would recognize the situation, and use satire to identify the internal problems within the governments spending. He would most likely blame the deficit on the war costs and the false promises of government officials; and seizing the opportunity to condemn politicians, he would create a satire about the corruption of such individuals. He might refer to Cicero, who in ancient times stated, “The budget should be balanced; the treasury should be refilled; public debt should be reduced; and the arrogance of public officials should be controlled.” Through the eyes of Gulliver, Swift would question citizens of the country and discover that ignorance of the growing debt is ubiquitous. The National Debt would be a prime example of modern satire that Jonathan Swift would employ on America.
If Swift had lived in our time period and asked any American, “What is the largest growing issue that affects ones life?”, almost half of the people would answer oil prices. Citizens in the United States are constantly depending on cars and gas in order to relocate themselves to their businesses or schools. Swift would immediately notice the problem with humans depending on materials that are of limited quantities. Swift might create a situation where Gulliver encounters a race of beings that depend on the most meaningless of things such as three-leaf clovers and he intends to mock our society that relies on precious oil. Swift would also satirize the vehicles that use up the oil. For example, he would be outraged that individuals would drive such massive trucks and SUVs and squander the valuable resources. Although Swift would find it admirable that government officers would try and reduce our need for this natural resource, he would also note that some officials state that “In order to keep the United States of America in competition with surrounding nations, the United States needs a source of fuel” (Think Progress). Swift’s satire about oil and the United States’ dependency on such fuels would help the way people view such foolish ideas, and it might even change the way the world uses oil.
One issue that Swift would undoubtedly tackle would be nuclear warfare and the harmful effects that it has on humanity. Swift already despises weapons used in Gulliver’s time such as gunpowder and cannons. He would react with the utmost concern in knowing the devastating effects of nuclear bombs. Swift would clearly satirize nuclear warfare because of the inhumane destruction that a bomb causes, and he might choose to place Gulliver again on an island with gigantic people and threaten them with nuclear warfare. Swift would also reason that it seems illogical to have stockpiles of nuclear weapons just to prove ones power over another nation. Swift would satirize the stockpiles which the United States and Soviet Union had during the Cold War; where according to USA Defense Secretary, in 1981 the USA had 9,000 strategic nuclear warheads while the USSR had 7,000 (Union). Swift would conclude that nuclear warfare demonstrates ruthlessness towards humanity and will ultimately end with the annihilation of the human race.
Overall, Swift, if he were alive in today’s society, would satirize and mock many of civilizations issues. The United States would be a key target for the issues in which Swift would mean to satirize. He might include a more peaceful means to solve the problems within the world and neutralize the irrational ideas of humans in modern society. In playful satires about important issues, Swift would satirize three predicaments within the present. A few satires that Swift might write about would be the ever increasing National Debt, the reliance on fossil fuels, and the constant threat of nuclear warfare.
Hall, Ed. “National Debt Clock FAQ.” National Debt Counter 6 February 2008.
Swift, Jonathan. Gulliver’s Travels. New York: Barnes & Noble Classics 2003
Think Process. 23 February 2008
Union of International Associations. 23 February 2008