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In the third part of Swift's Gulliver's Travels, the title character is taken up onto the flying island of Laputa. The inhabitants of this flying island, however, rule over a country below them on the earth. In Part 3, Chapter 3, Swift describes a variety of possible punishments that the Laputian king had available to him if their subject country were to rebel against the flying island. All of these methods would result in severe destruction for the country below.
The king's most lenient punishment would be to position the flying island over the rebellious people in such a way that the rebels would be deprived "of the benefit of the sun and the rain, and consequently afflict the inhabitants with dearth and diseases."
As an added punishment, the Laputian king might also have the offending people "pelted from above with great stones", an action which would cause the rebels to take refuge in "cellars or caves, while the roofs of their houses are beaten to pieces". Such a phrase reminds one of the fallout shelters that were built during the Cold War between the United States and Russia during the mid-twentieth century.
The final and most extreme punishment available to the Laputian king would be to let the flying island fall upon the rebels below, which would cause "a universal destruction both of houses and men." The king, however, was very reluctant to inflict this punishment because their subjects would hate them, they would damage some of their own property, and it would cause damage to the island itself. One can imagine that such reasons would also be considered by a modern leader who was contemplating unleashing an atomic bomb upon someone.
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