Caricature and satire

Humor is when you laugh anyway, says Wilhelm Busch. This most mature form of world-view is based on mild resignation, skepticism, and profound insight into the inadequacy and questionableness of all that is human, that is, superior wisdom. The humor always sees both sides, and since it has a balancing and reconciling effect, it often offers the last possibility of life, namely: to accept the given as it is. Humor is an aging phenomenon. And also a rarity. Because drooling alone does not prove any humor.

The satirist does not have him. He does not want to accept, he is by no means inclined to accept the given as final. He wants to change it. And so, first of all, he is critical of any authority he should bow to. Woe if, instead of relying on mental and moral superiority, it relies on externals or the law of the fittest. It inevitably falls into the ridicule. Laughing is often the only weapon to get at an opponent with superior powers. For it is said that ridicule kills.

No wonder that caricature and satire have always been among the harshest political weapons. And it was always the opposition that led these weapons with particular virtuosity. That may be because something already existing or realized, such as a social order, a form of government or a government program, naturally offers much more scope for attack than a theory that has not yet been realized. Thus, caricature and satire of the opposition are always directed against the existing, by taking from him the semblance of the immutable and God-willing, irreverently vivisecting it, undermining its foundations: authority and value-theory, showing the downside of the coin, in short, making it ridiculous. And since the two turn to one of the most elementary impulses, the lust for laughter, which people always prefer to satisfy at the expense of others, these political means of conflict are much more immediate than any objective-theoretical convictions.

Theories and systems are a bit dead. They only live by the people who represent or embody them. Therefore, when satire seeks to hit a system or a class, it attacks its typical representative, for example: the officer, the judge, the deputy, the pastor, the man of letters, the bigwigs, the star, the pike, or the police servant. In all these types, less the human usually uninteresting individual should be met, rather than the class or institution whose significant representatives are these figures. It is conceivable that even the most corrupt system can still have one or more reputable representatives, which is therefore wrong. But here is: go along, hang on! Objectivity has never been the strong side of satire. It is deliberately one-sided, it generalizes, exaggerates and coarsens, because it wants to be as obvious as possible in order to be understood by all. She wants to evoke criticism. Justice, generally taken for granted, is not to be expected of her, any more than photographic resemblance to the caricature. And yet the two are both just and similar in a higher sense, for they give the essential.

Often one hears from peace-loving people the objection: certainly it is so, but one must not express it so sharply; the personal should stay out of the game. Voila - the famous calf with two heads! With us, man always decays into the "personal" and something else. What does that mean: politically he is a crook, but human is he a decent guy? So he's a crook. And what if we leave the "personal" with our rulers from the game? At best, a title and a party book. Because they are mostly personal zeros, they are also political. A small Skatspielender magistrate is really not very interesting from the point of view of the satirist. But when the little magistrate suddenly becomes President, his "personal" interests in the satirist, who can draw conclusions about the nature of his class, which has chosen him and even considers him an ideal.

Dogs barked. Especially loud with us. For most of our victims are neither as smart nor as humorous as the late Stresemann, who is said to have been a collector of all his caricatures. In general, against ridicule and wit, they offer all the ponderous apparatus of their power. That just hails from fines and jail sentences, prohibitions, seizures, oppressions, and other stick actions. Which makes one suspect that the masters do not trust their godlike nature. True, real authority does not suffer from being shown that nothing human is alien to it.

It should also be noted that the nature of the satire, which offers opportunities for judicial intervention, is not always the best. Because that is one of the main incentives for the satirist to say something without actually saying it. And if you forbid him to sing, he whistles. This is usually less harmless. Wickedness at the back sounds more and more ugly, bilious and sharper than public mockery. The French are smarter. They know that governing public opinion is a harmless outlet for the government's dissatisfaction. Violent repression always leads to hysteria, according to Freud.

Satire must be, my prosecutor assured me, as he knotted me. And he has to know what he needs.