“The old feudal system of Massachusetts politics,” writes Edgar Litt, “is crumbling along with the political hegemony of the core cities and small towns that nurtured it.” In Massachusetts today, old and new cultures, institutions, and politics are in shifting conflict. The outcome of that conflict will determine the Commonwealth's ability to govern itself effectively.
In this book an experienced observer and active participant in Massachusetts politics offers an analytical and historical assessment of Massachusetts politics, relating internal state policies with the cultural changes in both state and nation that impinge upon it. The book is based on the assumption that politics in the Bay State is neither politically unique nor “exotic” in its processes, corruption, or supposed alienation; rather, it can be understood only in historical perspective and in proximity to structural transformations in the American political economy. The ambiguous image of Massachusetts politics—on the one hand, propriety born of the Puritan tradition; on the other, a persistent reputation for excessive political corruption—are analyzed on three levels. The first level is concerned with shifting economy and the increased dependence of state government on federal policies; the second provides a historical and behavioral analysis of specific political processes; the third level examines the dominant political subcultures and the linkage between each one.
Combining the use of behavioral materials with keen insight, the author presents a number of clearcut though provocative conclusions on the subject of state politics. The Political Cultures of Massachusetts is well worth thorough consideration by the interested general reader as well as by specialists in politics.