Stone Washington
Gulliver and the misguided travels of America
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By Stone Washington
June 23, 2015


"But as to honour, justice, wisdom, and learning, they should not be taxed at all; because they are qualifications of so singular a kind, that no man will either allow them in his neighbour or value them in himself."

~ Gulliver's Travels (1726)

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) born in Dublin, Ireland. He was a poet, political pamphleteer, and satirist. Swift was educated at Trinity College, Dublin. Later became ordained as a protestant minister. Supported the Irish cause against English oppression. Some of Swift's other notable works include A Tale of a Tub (1704) and "A Modest Proposal" (1729).

Voyage 1: Lilliput

The long journey begins in Lilliput, after being shipwrecked, Lemuel Gulliver, an English physician and ship's surgeon awakens to find himself tied to the ground surrounded by multiple six inch people called Lilliputians. Although the tiny people notice Gulliver's kind hearted nature, they begin firing arrows at him to force his surrender. Next they begin to entertain him with games, such as their tradition of politicians balancing on tight ropes to win public office. Gulliver is freed after swearing allegiance to the Emperor but an admiral amongst the Liliputians, Skyresh Bolgolam, dislikes Gulliver. Gulliver explores the toy-like city and the people's customs which he finds admirable, though strange. For example, ingratitude is a serious crime, people are rewarded for keeping the law, and both sexes are treated equally. Lilliput's political system is divided against itself on the premise of meaningless topics and there is an enemy island called Blefuscu.

The emperor of Lilliput seeks to destroy Blefuscu, but Gulliver does not want to enslave any innocents or get entangled with war. Gulliver soon finds that the two prime ministers and many other citizens take a disliking to Gulliver which grows even more when Gulliver pees on one of their fires in attempt to quench the flame, greatly insulting everyone. The two Lilliput prime ministers accuse Gulliver of treason and the Emperor secretly orders his execution. Gulliver manages to escape the island and is found by an English merchant ship that takes him back to England.

Voyage 2: Brobdingnag

Two months later Gulliver returns to sea and is abandoned on a mysterious island by fellow sailors seeking fresh water. Soon Gulliver spots a 60 foot giant running straight for him. In a panic he runs the opposite direction only to bump right into another giant who grabs the frightened traveler, and presents him to his master: a giant wealthy farmer. After he is fed the giant farmer places Gulliver on a bed surrounded by enormous rats, leaving him to fight against them with his sword. During this struggle the farmer's daughter, Glamadalelitch (meaning "little nurse") takes care of him in her dollhouse. Afterwards the farmer shows Gulliver his kingdom of Brobdingnag which is 12 times the size of England. Dualism and irony are reoccurring themes in Gulliver's Travels. Here, the Queen purchases him as a toy, humiliating him despite enjoying the Queen's company.

Gulliver entertains the King by his talk of England and its people. The King insults Gulliver's people, remarking that virtue and ability appear to have little to do with advancement, "I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth." Gulliver views the King's pacifism as ignorant and explains to him more about England's weaponry which horrifies him with its "inhumanity," since the society of Brobdingnag is governed by common sense and reason in absence of force. Later besides the seashore a giant eagle swoops up Gulliver and drops him into the ocean, where he is once again rescued by an English ship.

Voyage Three: Laputa, Balnibarbi, Glubbdubbrib, Luggnagg, Japan

Gulliver returns to his daily duties as a ship's surgeon. Soon Gulliver is ambushed by pirates believed to be Dutch speaking Japanese men. He is set adrift on a canoe with limited resources. Eventually he awakes on an island called Laputa, a land mass that amazingly floats in the sky. The native Laputians, made up of mathematicians and musicians, are not at all curious about Gulliver's world yet constantly lost in speculative thought. Like the Greeks and Romans of antiquity, they are all absorbed by philosophical abstractions. The island is governed by a bizarre science that includes it being hoisted into the air by a large magnet, and its many buildings having no right angles as practical geometry is to be regarded with contempt. Laputa hovers over another island called Balanibarbi, blocking out its sunlight in rebellious towns thereby maintaining dominion over it. The houses located in Lagado, the capital city are bleak and depressing where the people there are impoverished.

Despite Gulliver staying in his host Munodi, the former Governor's lush and pleasant home, reminiscent of Homer's Odyssey where Odysseus is a voluntary captive on the Island of Ogygia, Gulliver soon grows tired of it and journeys off to Glubbdubdrib, an island of magicians. Gulliver is miraculously able to speak with many famous dead figures conjured back into the realm of the living. Through debating these famous individuals from all ages he finds that many heroes and statesmen were corrupt or did not deserve their great reputations. Gulliver then ventures out to the island of Luggnags and finds it amazing that some inhabitants are immortal, but do not have eternal youth or health. The land has a strange custom where one must crawl on the ground and lick the floor when approaching the throne. Soon after visiting he departs to his homeland, passing through Japan on the way while posing as a shipwrecked Dutchman. Because the Emperor is cordial, Gulliver requests exemption from the requirement of trampling the crucifix, blasphemous toward Christianity. He then departs for home on a Dutch ship.

Voyage 4: Houyhnhnmland

Gulliver sets out to sea again, only to be marooned on an unknown island by pirates hiding amongst his crew. Roaming around the island are filthy and deformed animals. As the animals pester Gulliver a pair of horses scares off the animals and begins talking to Gulliver. A horse called "The Gray One" leads Gulliver into a thatched house where horses called Houyhnhnms perform domestic chores. Gulliver finds that the "filthy animals" are actually human beings called Houyhnhnms, who are supposed to have a hairy naked appearance and live in barns. The horses believe Gulliver is a Yahoo when his clothes are removed. Gulliver then consults with the Yahoos and learns their language as he tells them of his voyages. The master, Gray One is skeptical of there even being any existence beyond the sea.

The conversation is difficult since the Houyhnhnm's language doesn't include words for ideas like, power, governance, lust, malice, and crime. Politics and medicine seem strange and warfare seems scary since the Houyhnhnms live by reason and nature. Gulliver explains the economic system in England of how a few rich citizens live off the labor of thousands of poor people. The Houyhnhnms state that class identification exists among the people through natural excellence, to which Gulliver relates to his classification of wealth stating that European noblemen are lazy, ignorant, and diseased. The Gray One relates many of these qualities to his Yahoos, including how they hoard worthless shining stones (equivalent of gold and silver). The Houyhnhnms live in complete nature loving all other animals equally, ignorant of the concepts of controversy, opinions, and ambiguity. Gulliver is in tranquil harmony on this island and denies a chance of ever going back home since he feels distinguished from mankind and loathes his own values. But the Yahoos soon banish him fearing the trouble a rational Yahoo may cause. Gulliver is smuggled into a Portuguese ship with the captain Don Pedro de Mendez showing great kindness to Gulliver, clothing, sheltering, and caring for the voyager. At home Gulliver's wife misses him dearly but Gulliver denies her affection. Although later reconciling with his family, he adores horse society and believes he is forever changed to the point where he can never be acquiescent with the human race.

Message for Modern times

Jonathan Swift wrote Gulliver's Travels intentionally as a satirical message to last for the ages to come. Focused on exposing the gross indifference and lack of sophistication and outside knowledge of European society, Swift intended not to present a humorous children's novel poking fun at individuals but to essentially pop the bubble of enlightenment ideals encompassing European government, military, and overall livelihood in contrast to the many bizarre cultures Gulliver encountered on his quests. These journeys within this novel present characters and ideals aligned with various groups of people in America such as in Voyage 1 the little people of Lilliput represent the poor class that are viewed as the helpless "little guys" in the eyes of liberal. Initially Gulliver is portrayed as the ignorant nationalist, whose worldview is limited to the myopic scope of his own country of England. Liberals despise the patriotism and love of the U.S., believing that we as a nation have done nothing but trample over others successes in life while living in a fantasy of misguided glory that we are the greatest nation on earth. The Liberals wonder how the poor people, the little Lilliputians, can love a country that disregards its poor while rewarding only the wealthy few. Perhaps Swift was disgusted by the negligence of England's sphere of influence over smaller, lesser nations

Voyage 2 to the land of giants: Brobdingnag is a classic representation of pacifists in America, who believe the only successful system of governance is through common sense and mutual understanding, absent of violent force. The King of Brobdingnag believes he is larger and more advanced than Gulliver's people, just how pacifists hold a superiority complex above others as a way of securing that their path to peace is perfect. England's use of weaponry to maintain dominance as a nation is viewed with disgust as inhumane way of keeping peace by the King. Perhaps Swift is attempting to give England a wakeup call to how there are possibly larger nations in the world with a more efficient mission of securing peace.

Voyage 3 where Gulliver journey to Laputa, the floating island exposes the ironic ignorance of the scientific society on the island, believing they have a perfect understanding of the world merely through mathematics, science, and the arts. Yet they disregard the existence of Gulliver's country and other people outside of their own island as they are trapped in a world of their own speculative thoughts. This seems to criticize the scientific theories that revolutionized enlightened thought in Europe (Francis Bacon (1562–1626), René Descartes (1596–1650), John Locke (1632–1704 etc.), suggesting that Swift believed it to be nothing more than a distraction speculative thought, oblivious to other worldly philosophies. Laputa holding dominance over the island of Balnibarbi reminds me of how Socialists and Progressives using the worldview of Cultural Marxism despise America and systematically seek to destroy her Judeo-Christian traditions. The skewed representation of past famous figures resurrected at Glubbdubdrib is reminiscent of how the portrayal of History isn't always truthful, especially in the eyes of a typical Democrat Socialist who often resort to historical revisionism and a Cultural Marxist critique when expressing how modern day America is a result of European exterminations and subjugations of native people inhabiting the land prior to the zealous, thieving Whites. The act of licking the floor at Luggnagg and trampling the crucifix in Japan is similar to how Progressive Democrats seek to appease to other nations and "respect" their cultures despite insulting their own nation's pride, i.e. when President Obama bowed to Saudi King Abdullah, on April 1, 2009 in London, along with the alleged seven other times Obama has bowed before world leaders. Lastly Voyage 4 to Houyhnhnmland, land of the intelligent horses, was an attack on humanity, attempting to portray man as more animalistic then actual animals, which in comparison, live in "perfect harmony" pertaining to the laws of nature. Liberal ideology supports the irrational evolution atheism, and radical environmentalist or transanimalist beliefs that animals have equal rights to humans which contradict our Judeo-Christian traditions and institutions.

In conclusion, we as people must prove the satirical allegories of Swift and Progressive and Cultural Marxists wrong. We are not a warmongering nation that dominates its poor to the advantage of the rich, or a glory seeking nation benefiting from the colonization of European countries, or a nation of Noble Savages reminiscent of the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau or slaves to our inescapable, evolutionary animalistic qualities, like Darwinian evolution falsely claims. Or Princeton Professor Peter Singer's radial ideas on animal rights. We are created in the image of God and therefore must maintain our rich Judeo-Christian heritage as the mightiest, most prosperous nation in history. To do less, would be to betray the wonderful, sublime legacy of our Founding Fathers and the glorious Republic integrating legality and morality, bequeathed to us by the constitutional Framers.

*N.B.: This essay is based in part on a synopsis of Swift's Gulliver's Travels contained in Dr. W. John Campbell, Book of Great Books: A Guide to 100 World Classics (Fall River, 2000), pp. 319-327

© Stone Washington

 

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Stone Washington

Stone Washington is a PhD student in the Trachtenberg School at George Washington University. Stone is employed as a Research Fellow for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, focusing on economic policy as part of the Center for Advancing Capitalism. Previously, he completed a traineeship with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He was also a Research Assistant at the Manhattan Institute, serving as an extension from his time in the Collegiate Associate Program. During this time, he worked as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in Clemson's Department of Political Science and served as a WAC Practicum Fellow for the Pearce Center for Professional Communication. Stone is also a member of the Steamboat Institute's Emerging Leaders Council.

Stone possesses a Graduate Certificate in Public Administration from Clemson University, a Juris Master from Emory University School of Law, and a Bachelor of Arts in History from Clemson University. While studying at Emory Law, Stone was featured in an exclusive JM Student Spotlight, highlighting his most memorable law school experience. He has completed a journalism fellowship at The Daily Caller, is an alumnus of the Young Leader's Program at The Heritage Foundation, and served as a former student intern/Editor for Decipher Magazine. Some of Stone's articles can be found at EllisWashingtonReport.com, which often provide a critical analysis of prominent works of classical literature and its correlations to American history and politics. Stone is a member of the Project 21 Black Leadership Network, and has written a number of policy-related op-eds for the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, The College Fix, Real Clear Policy, and City Journal. In addition, Stone is listed in the Marquis Who's Who in America and is a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society. Friend him on his Facebook page, also his Twitter handle: @StoneZone47 and Instagram. Email him at stonebone20@att.net.

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