Stephen Leacock’s own Manifesto is contained in the millions of words that he wrote. The following, a work in progress, aspires to be a credible summary of its essence.

Stephen Leacock’s Manifesto: An attempt to summarize his own ideas, not necessarily in his own words

  1. The First Responsibility of the State is to sustain our Heritage of Liberty, to make of itself in all its branches, twigs and convolutions a True State of Liberty.
  2. The Second Responsibility, equal to the First, is to ensure that every person in the State is able to live in dignity and equality of opportunity, and where Liberty does not so provide of its own accord, to make up the deficiency through actions of the State.
  3. The means to a True State of Liberty are and always will remain an Unsolved Riddle, or rather an interlocking, nesting set of Unsolved Riddles.
  4. Politics and Citizenship in the True State of Liberty are the arts of responding to the Unsolved Riddles with perpetual Conversation, Negotiation, and Adjustment. Conversation is the means of discovering just how unsolved they are. Negotiation and Adjustment are the processes of adapting rightly to their unsolved condition.
  5. Tyranny is the rule of those who think they have answers to the Riddles. Prohibitionists are one example, and all who think like them.
  6. Sustenance of the True State of Liberty requires constant application of Knowledge, Imagination, Compassion, and Humour. These are the mingling waters on which the True State of Liberty sails.
  7. The Ship of the True State of Liberty is a trimaran. The middle hull is a Liberal Economy founded on the principle of Liberty and motivated by the simultaneous and deliberate pursuit of private and public enterprise, national development, production, consumption, investment, trade, innovation, efficiency, fair wages, and honest profit. Greed has no place in the pursuit of honest profit.
  8. The Liberal Economy is not a natural phenomenon, self-regulating. It is a rough and evolving human construct, large, multifarious and complex, requiring Regulation by the State in pursuit of the economic dimensions of Social Justice, which are an Unsolved Riddle.
  9. One outer hull is a Social Safety Net, necessary to Social Justice, able to care for those who are excluded from or pushed aside by the Liberal Economy.
  10. The third hull is life-long Education for everyone, dedicated to the cultivation of Knowledge, Imagination, Compassion, and Humour. This is what is meant by a Liberal Education. The balance between a Liberal Education and training for participation in the Liberal Economy is an Unsolved Riddle.
  11. Systemic imbalances among these three hulls will sink the Ship of the True State of Liberty which, once sunk, will be re-floated only with much difficulty, sacrifice and suffering.
  12. As we sail these perpetually agitated waters we must remember always to Talk, Drink, Laugh, Fish, and stay true to our families and friends.

This Manifesto is dedicated to All People of Good Will whose Hearts are in the Cause.

Interpreted by Paul W Conway
Northern Bruce Peninsula, Ontario
March 11, 2019