Two decades before The Christmas Story, I entered the world of Jean Shepherd’s imagination.
I spent two semesters at Westminster seminary in Philadelphia. Philadelphia was within the range of WOR in New York City. Every week night, beginning at 10:15, I would listen for 45 minutes to Jean Shepherd’s monologue. Those were the most imaginatively creative 45 minutes that ever went out nightly over the airwaves. I don’t know how he did it.
We would not get a nightly story about northern Indiana in the 1930’s, but we would get one often enough to make it worth listening to the show every evening, just in case. It was then that I entered the world of Flick, Schwartz, Miss Shields, the Old Man, and those two malevolent trolls, Scut Farkas and Grover Dill.
As most Americans remember from The Christmas Story, Grover Dill was a toady. Whatever influence he had, it was entirely dependent upon his association with Farkas. Farkas had power; Grover Dill also had power, but only as a subordinate.
The world always has plenty of Grover Dills. The number of Scut Farkases is not nearly so great. There is a Pareto distribution of bullies.
THE BULLY THEORY OF THE STATE
There are lots of theories of the origin of civil government. Mine is very simple. I believe in the bully theory of government. I don’t believe there was any social contract between citizens and rulers. But there were always bullies. There will always be some guy who likes to push other people around. He will attract people who also like to push other people around, but at reduced risk. They need a bigger bully to back them up.
Civil government is an operation like a gang, but it has legitimacy. People put up with government bullies because of the rules that have been worked out between the bullies and the citizens. Citizens want predictability in their lives. They do not want bullies with arbitrary power interfering in their lives. When they are walking home from school, they do not want to be challenged by Scut Farkas and Grover Dill. So, they work out an arrangement. Scut Farkas gets a percentage of people’s lunch money, but he doesn’t get all of it. He gets it on a predictable basis. He shares some of it with Grover Dill.
(For the rest of my article, click the link.)