Humor is, as the reaction of dictatorships shows, an effective weapon.
Political jokes are more than expressions of vitriolic wit. Consider such jokes to be a sub-form of an art. It thrives in communities that are in a “prone position”, therefore powerless to strike back with other means. Accordingly, totalitarian dictatorship has been the context for the best political jokes. National-linguistic factors have enabled subjugated peoples to produce in their own way attacks on tyranny. At least in Hungary –whose case the writer knows best- the collapse of communism has ended the era of hilarious political jokes.
The reader that has not experienced totalitarianism will fathom only with difficulty the cultural-emotional dimension of humor used as a weapon of last resort. The exposure to such material is therefore an intellectual submergence in an alien culture. While humorless, totalitarians grasp that jokes are weapons and for that reason, they do not find fun funny. The case of a full railway compartment illustrates this. Someone makes funny remarks, folks smile, and then the mood gets better. Carried away, someone injects a political joke. The smiles freeze. However, one guy laughs loudly. “This one is great. I must jot it down. What is your name?”