There is a close relation between satire and secularism as the latter came to emerge in Europe.
Secularism, as is well-known, gained strength historically as a reaction to an era of European
interreligious violence and massacres. It was not only a desire for the separation of church and
state, as the classical formula has it. It was also an attempt to keep religious affect out of politics.
This was in the belief that religion, because it is faith rather than reasoned thinking, produces
too much of a narcissistic affect—that the faithful are unable to ‘keep their distance’ from what
they believe in. It was thought that this narcissism was behind the murderous intensity of religiously
driven conflicts. Being able to laugh at yourself literally means being able to not take
yourself overly seriously. This, in turn, is crucial for the deintensification of the affects generated
by the defense of what one believes in and for the relativization of one’s personal beliefs. Such
relativization, as Claude Lévi- Strauss argued, is crucial for thinking oneself comparatively and
in relation to others (the opposite of narcissism).
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