January 9, 2012
By, Samira Shackle
The NS Interview — P J O’Rourke
You’re a well-known libertarian but had a communist phase . . .
To say I had a communist stage would put me at the level of intellectual seriousness of, say, Christopher Hitchens. I had a confused early hippie phase, which was like a cafeteria tray of sloppy, semi-Marxist thoughts, absorbed second-hand. Have you ever actually tried to read that crap? I was a communist but I would spell that with a small “k”.
Do you have a serious side?
I do, but I try to keep it under control.
Are there any topics that are beyond satire?
As I get older, all sorts of things become less funny. Once one has children, any cruelty involving children becomes far less amusing than when one was at the mercy of one’s friends’ and relatives’ children.
What do you think of the likes of The Daily Show and the Onion?
The quality of the jokes is extraordinary. We could have gone months, back in the Seventies, without generating that many good jokes.
Is satire a tool for bringing about change, or a way of blowing off steam?
The latter. Satire doesn’t effect change. The most brilliant satire of all time was A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift. You’ll notice how everything got straightened out in Ireland within days of that coming out.
Does Washington have any redeeming factors?
We need a government, alas, because of the nature of humans. We [also] need the rule of law. Politics is a necessary evil, or a necessary annoyance, a necessary conundrum. [But] we need to turn as few things as possible over to it.
Are there any politicians that you like?
I rarely meet a politician that I don’t like personally. They are generally well endowed with charm. Therein lies the danger.
Do you have a favourite in the Republican primary race?
I really don’t feel like I have a dog in that fight.
What do you think about the Tea Party?
Their hearts are in the right place. All previous populist movements were demanding things from governments, whereas the Tea Party is saying give us less, go away. That’s heartening to see. Whether it means anything or not, I wouldn’t bet your savings.
What do you think of the Occupy Wall Street protesters?
The useless in pursuit of the pointless. I have no idea what they are on about and apparently neither do they.