Summary and Analysis Part III: Chapter 6



Gulliver tells us that the political scientists he visits are quite insane. They have proposed that administrators be chosen for their wisdom, talent, and skill; that ability and virtue be rewarded; and that ministers be chosen for their love of public good. One scientist proposes to improve state business by kicking and pinching ministers so as to make them less forgetful. Another says that he would expose treasonous plots by examining excrement because people are most thoughtful on the toilet. Two measures for raising taxes are also advanced. The first would let one's neighbors decide on one's vices and follies and then set a tax on each offense. The second measure would allow each man to decide how seductive, witty, and valiant he was; and, each woman would decide how beautiful and fashionable she was. Then a tax would be imposed on seductiveness, wit, valor, beauty, and fashion. It is obvious to the Balnibarbians that all the professors are as mad as March hares.


Here Swift lets the Balnibarbians condemn certain of their own people. The "insane" political scientists actually outline some of the moral remedies that Swift would recommend. In particular, Swift censures human vanity and malice by means of the methods devised to assess taxes. Swift also relates Balnibarbian politics to English politics. The theory that treason can be discerned by reading signs in excrement finds its English parallel in the trial of Bishop Atterbury for treason. Some of the evidence introduced against the bishop was taken from papers discovered in his bathroom.


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