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Is political satire useful in a non-democratic society?

Dear all,

I am currently researching my Masters dissertation / thesis on 'Chinese Satire', and the obstacles in the way of Chinese satirists.

One obstacle that I am particularly interested in is whether or not political satire has any use in a non-democratic society, such as China, and, speaking more broadly, any society, democratic or otherwise.

I would love to hear some opinions on the matter.

Thank, Andrew.

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  • Gord G 50+

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    Dec 4 2013: Satire is entertainment. It's a persuasive easily comprehended meme that helps drive a billion dollar global entertainment industry that can supplant endemic cultures. I think this is clearly understood in countries such as China and North Korea.

    Both countries control media. So I think the question is rhetorical because many non-demoncratic countries don't tolerate it. And the ones that do, only tolerate satire that reflects their ideology.

    I feel political satire in a democratic society is an affective way to engage the general population. It's sugar coated dogma. Easy to swallow and not too filling. I'd like to see a study done on the impact of satire in the acceptance or rejection of complex political issues. I wouldn't be surprised if they found comprehension of an issue is based on a small collection of satirical aphorisms gleaned from pundits trying to attract an audience...or worse, from political ad campaigns that spin the most entertaining sound bite.
  • Dec 9 2013: Is political satire useful in a non-democratic society - of course it is - but if you and anyone else who laughs out loud, be prepared for summary execution. Also be prepared for a military crackdown, as well as your neighbors spying on you.

    All you need to do is look at quite a few countries both past and present to see that's the outcome. The dictatorial message is one bad apple can ruin the barrel - so destroy the barrel.
    • Dec 9 2013: You know not all autocratic governments are like that.
      Granted, quite a few are, but its hardly universal. Non-democratic doesn't automatically make some place a hell hole. Some dictatorships are surprisingly reasonable.
      • Dec 10 2013: and how exactly will you know... until it's too late.

        "Some dictatorships are surprisingly reasonable." Sure and freedom is not really necessary either, is it.
  • Dec 4 2013: Assuming it doesn't lead to summery execution or some such for the satirist, it can have plenty of room.
    Change can happen in non-democratic societies. It often doesn't come as easily, and the initiative belongs to different groups of people, but social commentary has its place in motivating it.

    Honestly, executing satirists doesn't sound like a very good idea. When you begin to systematically ignore the people whose job it is to tell you something's wrong, bad things start happening. That criticism is usually there for a reason.
    Ignore civil engineers, bridge start coming down. Ignore doctors, your health deteriorates. Ignore satirists, and you end up with civil unrest.
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    Dec 4 2013: well, doesn't Communism claim to be the ideal end of human development? Therefore, communists would frown at any satirization of themselves? They might like to see non-communists satirized.