8.16.2009

The Political Discourse of the King of the Harbor.
The gentleman with whom I am staying, who is a fourth-generation lobsterman, gave me a copy of this book look to look at, and this quote resonnated with me. It reminds me sooooo much of some people I know both in my own family and through business connections.
(The "king" is the kingpin or leader of the local lobster gang. Sort of equivalent to the head of the family in the Mafia context.)
Many followers are attracted to the king by his very conservative ideology. Any conversation with him is likely to lead to discussions or long monologues on such topics as blacks, the federal and state governments, hippies, welfare, Russians, Jews, bureaucrats, Arabs, and Iran. It is fair to say that the king is against them all. The government is the favorite topic. Among major themes that keep cropping up in his conversations are the waste of tax money, excessive government control over the lives of private citizens, the incompetency of government employees, and the waste and immorality of social programs. These ideas are pressed on others, who are expected to agree; arguing against them is considered very bad form. To some of the king’s followers, his political opinions are among his most attractive features, and they sit with him for hours discussing such matters. The fact that many of these people will accept any kind of government subsidy available is somehow beside the point.
It is easy to conclude that people like the king recall a time of greater individual freedom and are threatened by social and economic changes. This conclusion, however, misses the essential point. When the king expresses such ideas, he is advertising his adherence to some of the highest moral precepts in the culture; when he presses them on other people, he is deliberately manipulating these critical symbols with political advantage in mind. It is a very effective ploy, if we can judge by the “moral following” [Frederick G. Bailey, Stratagems and Spoils (New York: Schocken Books, 1969), p. 42ff] it has produced.
James M. Acheson, The Lobster Gangs of Maine (Hanover: University Press of New England, 1988), p. 61.

2 comments:

Eric said...

Josh - Can you send me an e-mail? Thanks, Eric Ortlund

Joshua N. Wiley said...

Sure!