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The Viking Ship Analogy

Our society is a Viking ship. 100 of us are in the bowels of the ship, with oars in our hands, tasked with moving the ship forward.

In the front of the ship, about five people are constantly rowing very hard, sweating, sore, teeth gritted. They row endlessly, diligently, every day.

Next to them is one guy who isn’t rowing at all. He’s sitting on his fat butt eating a cheeseburger and relaxing.

Behind them are about 64 people who sometimes row, and sometimes don’t. When they actually row, its with inconsistent intensity. Some row hard for a while, some row softly. It depends on the day and how they feel.

Behind them are about 30 people who not only are not rowing, but they’re jamming their oars into the ship and keeping them stationary in the water. This drags the entire ship, making it that much more difficult to propel forward. It makes those who are rowing work harder to keep the ship moving.

These 30 people look at the front of the ship, see the one guy relaxing with the cheeseburger, and start insulting not only him, but the five guys next to him who are constantly rowing. The 30 call all six of these guys greedy, criminal, and the cause of all their problems. According to them them, it’s these six guys’ fault that the 30 are in the back of the ship.

The one guy with the cheeseburger just shrugs, ignores it, and keeps eating and enjoying himself.

The five hard rowing guys every once and a while look back while they’re rowing and say, “Why are you yelling at us? Can’t you see how hard we’re rowing? If we weren’t rowing this ship wouldn’t even be moving.”

The 30 respond, “Screw you! You’re not rowing! You’re just sitting on your asses eating cheeseburgers!”

“What?” the five respond, “Hello? That one guy over there is doing that. Clearly you can see we’re not eating, we’re rowing. We’re rowing harder than you. You’re not even rowing! Why don’t you guys start rowing a little and helping out? Or hell, at least pull your damn oars out of the water to make it a little easier on the rest of us rowers.”

At this, the 64 moderate rowers scream at the five hard rowers and say, “Hey! Shut up! How dare you attack the 30! You guys are racist, sexist, bigoted, homophobes! It’s not their fault they’re shoving their oars in the water! As a matter of fact, it’s your fault!”

The yelling gets louder and louder, as the 30 and the 64 combined continue to insult the five. The five try to respond while rowing, but can’t do much else. They’re too busy rowing.

Next to them, the cheeseburger guy chuckles, relaxes back in his chair, and has another sandwich.

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  1. Felix

    And that is the reason why some of the 5 rowers are jumping ship. There’s no point in staying. Just get out before the other idiots sink the ship due to their ridiculous ideas which don’t work but matter more than actually doing something.

  2. Dude x

    Help me out. Who does hamburger guy represent?

  3. Caleb Jones

    Who do you think it represents?

  4. A Man

    Hamburger guy is you?

    I figure the 64 are the everyday middle class people. The 30 are on welfare or other govt handout programs and are bleeding the operation dry. The 5 guys are representing the upper class.

    The only one I couldn’t figure out was hamburger guy

  5. Caleb Jones

    You think the hamburger guy is ME?

    Looks like I need to improve my writing skills then.

    The hamburger guy is the elites, the upper half or fourth of the one percent. The rest you got right.

  6. A Man

    IDK if it is your writing skills or not. You do have to admit that your successful location independent businesses, your non consumerist oriented attitude, your plate spinning skills and non monogamy lifestyle would easily put you in the less than 1% category. There are just not that many people who have the energy, time management skills and independent attitude and what-else-have-you to pull that off. You always tend to laugh about the idiots in society trying to keep up w/ the Joneses. So yeah, I could picture you being hamburger guy.

  7. Caleb Jones

    You do have to admit that your successful location independent businesses, your non consumerist oriented attitude, your plate spinning skills and non monogamy lifestyle would easily put you in the less than 1% category.

    Correct. In terms of lifestyle, freedom, and happiness, I’m unquestionably in the upper 1%.

    But I’m not receiving this lifestyle by having other people provide it for me while I sit around eating cheeseburgers. I work very hard, seven days a week. There have been many years I worked 80-90+ hour weeks. I’ve done this all myself, and continue to do so.

    That’s why I’m not the hamburger guy in the viking ship. I’m one of the five hard-rowers.

    The difference is I’m not on the ship. I’m in my own speedboat.

    The ship is headed for a waterfall and I want to get as far away from it as I can.

  8. Alejandro

    loved the analogy, but I also did not understand at first who the hamburger guy was supposed to be.

  9. Marcin

    The Cheesburger Guy is Trump

  10. Boris Pischflaup

    … and the Viking ship (the “Ragnarök”) was running out of Hamburgers after about three weeks. Hamburger guy just disappeared one night with the lifeboat and the last of the burgers. Some people (not many) were a bit annoyed at first but gradually everyone found that the ship just moved a little easier and there was more food to go around. The “Ragnarök” was not breaking any speed records but everyone had just learned to take their turn and get on with the job. The “Ragnarök” kept sailing on its plodding way for centuries. The ship was a moving, grooving example of folks just getting on with things and keeping things moving. Fish were caught. Supplies of water were loaded at each landfall and perpetual Youth and Health shone on the merry crew.
    One day the “Ragnarök” struck one of the hundreds of thousands of tethered incendiary mines left by the US Military on oceans around the world. The USA had been on a 70 year Worldwide Mission of Peace and Generosity to all nations who wouldn’t accept Diners Card or Petrodollars in payment for goods. Since the late 1940s those stick-in-the-mud nations were all bombed with Uranium-primed incendiaries and poisonous Phosphorous so that nothing could grow there ever again and the lands were ruined forever. Additional landmines were buried around towns and villages so that no-one could ever go back home. Those countries cities and administrations were bombed back to the Stone Age.

    The survivors of the “Ragnarök” managed to make landfall on a small, pleasant craggy island off the West Coast of Ireland. One day they saw a strange boat drifting into the harbour. There was a fat guy at the back gunning the little engine. “I need some Hamburgers to eat and some petrol for my engine. Can you help? I can pay with these Petrodollars – or Diners Card if you like.“. There was a massive barbecue on the island that night and no-one ever saw the fat guy again. The singing and dancing went on for weeks. I was there playing the Harp for them.