Has anyone had success with investigating peasant mentality? Maybe I’m not exploring it or understanding it deep enough. My issue is that I am suffering from this mentality of ‘oh how life would be so much better if I didn’t have to work or if I was able to retire now and just travel the world’. I have a lot of resentment at having to work at all. Even if I make a lot of money it feels like such a drag. I don’t want to work. I want to travel and do other things. Is this even related to peasant mentality? But I am curious about others’ experiences.
What would you say? Does it seem like this is what a peasant would dream for? Retirement? To be happy some other time once the decades of work is done?
I would say so. But I’ve also found that peasant mentality has to do with how I feel my place to be in the world. It goes hand-in-hand with feeling like a victim. Somethings include:
Feeling beneath wealthy people or beneath bosses
Feeling as if my lot in life is fated to be normal and unremarkable
Feeling as if I had been cheated or that things aren’t fair
Lately I relate more to the idea that this world is a playground and you can navigate your way through it anyway you like with the resources you currently have on hand. You know the rules, have fun be safe. (And let’s be real, this is way more fun than starving in the wilderness).
I think it’s one specific thing that can have nfinite aspects. The one specific thing is a mentality where the rich own all the resources. We work for them and they in turn protect us. And that’s the way it should be. That mentality, however, can create an infinite number of complexes for individuals.
I’m not sure. It may depend on why one is working. If one works because one feels one ought to but resents that compulsion then I’d say: Maybe. Does one feel the need to stay ahead of the lower classes? Or does one feel the need to display a work ethic. That latter is definitely peasant mentality in action. The former is more about the social hierarchy. Obviously social hierarchy and peasant mentality are related though since peasant is a social class. If one is working to survive and save then I’d say that’s more resentment at being alive even if much off that resentment is directed at the nobles - the owner of capital and materials.
I think peasant mentality is pretty easy to discard. Social hierarchy is deeper. Does one have to abandon all social status concerns before VF or AF? I wouldn’t know. But I’m inclined to think: Yes.
My current working theory is that money is just an arbitrary way of distributing labor. As humans we generally achieve things through mutual cooperation, which is why participation in the labor force is mandatory for all able-bodied and able-minded people. All poverty is essentially an arbitrarily-created way of forcing people to work. Speaking for the U.S., if healthcare, higher education, housing, and so on, were not arbitrarily expensive, people wouldn’t work. The threats of debt and eviction are somehow needed to grease the wheels.
For example, free healthcare doesn’t kick in in the U.S. until you pass the age of 65. So this is simply one way in which people are motivated to participate in the productive economy whilst they are young enough to do so.
Sometimes it is said that older generations have all the money; but this kind of makes sense, because we don’t want elderly people to working into their old age.
This is also an interesting thought experiment: if we alleviate poverty by giving people vast quantities of money, enabling people to quit their jobs—which is what money truly buys: freedom—then money in general will become meaningless, because there will be no Amazon.com, no grocery stores, trash on the streets, and so on.
Basically my point is that poverty is intentional. Just to be clear I’m not making a value judgment on any of the above that I wrote, I’m only trying to explain why things are the way they are and why they don’t seem to change despite concerted political effort. It’s because we enjoy many of the benefits of this kind of system without knowing it, probably.
Basically, we’ve never solved the problem of how to distribute labor in society. Money just obfuscates it, but it’s been theoretically attacked in the past. For example: the Hindus proposed a caste system where essentially a portion of society was forever consigned to menial jobs. Plato came up with a system where people were allocated a category based on their disposition, and one of those categories was the productive category.
These two latter propositions eliminate the hold of money, but it still seems like there is a category of people doing something they… don’t want to do?
But speaking personally, I can’t say at the moment that I resent my job or my employer, though I don’t think I can attribute this to any kind of personal introspection or development of any kind. It would probably be more accurate to say that I have simply harmonized more with my job or environment, somehow. I have had employers who seemed unpleasant to work with, so I can certainly empathize.
“The made-redundant person (or a person unable to gain paid employment in the first place) who buys into such epithets a ‘dole-bludger’ and the ilk – and dutifully self-castigates – is thus another example of a person with a ‘peasant-mentality’.“
This seems a clue of if you’re peasant-ing in your mentality… have you internalized it? Perhaps wishing you were elsewhere in the system is just another way it’s internalized.
By coincidence I came across this comic which seems to sum it up well
Reminds me of
“To put it into a physical analogy, it was as if I were to gather up my meagre belongings, eradicate all marks of my stay on the island, and paddle away over the horizon, all the while not knowing whence I go … and vanish without a trace, never to be seen again.”
What has helped me has been taking a factual-historical approach to my situation
It’s a fact that we exist, it’s a fact that we have to eat and shelter ourselves one way or another, and it just happens that a lot of historical factors have led to the particular arrangement that I have now, which is the result of the best set-up that I, my ancestors, and everyone else have managed to accomplish thus far. Of course that has meant a lot of suffering and cruelties along the way, but those are all a part of the human condition, which is just one of the conditions we live with.
So then wishing to be elsewhere in the system (eg, to be rich) is mere fantasy, of no use to me at all… from there I can set about improving my situation via whatever practical direction I can come up with. That for me has meant a lot of trial and error, but a general improvement in my circumstance. And of course there is always more that can be improved or optimized.
What is not going to happen is for the entire arrangement to disappear overnight! To spend my energy wishing for that is to waste my time on fantasizing, while nothing changes.
A concrete example might be thinking about travel, as you mention.
Peasant mentality would be, “Oh, I would like to travel! But I can’t, because of those mean bourgeoisie! Grr, how I hate them… oh well, back to my miserable job…”
Where it would be so much useful to think in concrete terms about a vacation:
If you were to go on a vacation, where would you go? How long would/could you go for? Where would you stay? How much would it cost? What do you need to do to save up that money? Where can you make cuts to save up that money faster? Do you need to budget?
Where answering those questions brings you closer to something actual occurring.
That’s very much how I look at it myself. This is the best possible outcome despite the human condition interfering all the time. It’s pretty good if one compares it with people being born in the past. We live more luxurious life’s than all the kings in the past.
Another big one is that all the fantasies either depend on everyone magically getting along (eg communism) or imagining that if no one else were around that everything would be so great (eg homesteading or hunter-gathering), when really the homesteading life is an incredible amount of work and hunter-gathering there is the perennial risk of starvation or in the state of nature, one’s neighbor attacking.
I work a normal 9-5 job because after some various investigating, it’s the best option that I can see available to me. Credit to you if you can find a better option for yourself! It mostly comes down to taking it from being a grim situation one has been forced into, to a fun & interesting game to solve.
This has been great for me to contemplate on everyone’s replies. It helps my mind loosen up that tightly wound edifice of this mentality. In particular, it highlights how much I uncritically take on board from reading various topics and comments online regarding working and the social hierarchy (primarily from Reddit). Seeing this, it also shows prevalent this peasant mentality is.
I think that it could be, but it also seems like something anyone would dream for. To not have to work and be able to follow their dreams. Although I’d say I wouldn’t want to wait for decades for that to happen; I’d want it now.
This is very interesting as I’d say I relate to almost all of these instances. I think a lot of them I simply picked up mindlessly from others and not from my own experience. I’ve never thought of the feeling of being a victim as being related to peasant-mentality so I’d have to give that more thought. But it does make sense.
Is that the way it should be? Wouldn’t that be an instance of peasant mentality to think that way? Why have this system where almost all of the wealth “automatically” goes to the top? It happens naturally due to the instinctual passions in operation within the population. But is that the way it should be?
I’d say that I relate to this more than having to display any sort of work ethic. I can chalk this up to my parents always emphasizing as something worthy of striving towards. To not be at a “lower” level class so that I don’t have a miserable life. That is, to be of a “lower” level class is to be living a miserable life. I wouldn’t say that I’m living a miserable life or am in a “lower” level class, but that fear of falling there does exist and does drive me at some level.
That’s an interesting way of looking at it and I haven’t thought of it that way. My thoughts/feelings were that if that dream scenario were the case, then things would be so much better and free. Somehow, people would just act better and be more happy. Maybe that’s that feeling of disfranchisement? When I reflect on it I can see that that wouldn’t be the case. The instinctual passions would still be functioning and stuff up that scenario as well. Then there would be something else to be resentful about. The counter to this that I am feeling is that I am being cynical in some way. There’s a whole mass of beliefs going down that line of thought too.
The more I read your explanation and reflect on what could possibly be the solution in such a scenario, the more silly my belief seems. My counter thought was that then there would be a focus on making most things automated so that those people would no longer have to work those types of jobs. That may be another instance of the feeling of disfranchisement. The feeling of being disfranchised from that utopia-like society due to the rich commandeering so much wealth and resources. When I reflect on that more, there’s a feeling of anger and sadness at such a state of affairs.
I wouldn’t say that I resent my job or employer either. But within the context of feeling like that I have to work alienates me from that dream of feeling free and traveling, etc. That’s kind of where I feel stuck. If I reflect on this explication of peasant mentality and my current circumstances, it makes me feel a sort of resentment that ‘oh so I should just not believe this peasant mentality and I should just be content where I am’. It seems more clear to me now though that I’ve turned the explication of peasant mentality itself into a belief system
I do wish that I were somewhere else in the system. There’s the belief that if I were one of the rich, then I would be “free”. This probably relates to my belief that I wrote about earlier about how being of the lower class means living a miserable life.
This was a fun read haha. Classic peasant mentality on that first panel.
What you say sounds sensible to me. Now something else I note is that if I abandon this belief/dream that being rich and/or somewhere else being “free” means then I would have to simply accept my current state of affairs. And that causes me to feel a feeling of disappointment and dejected. Yet my current state of affairs (my job, living situation, etc.) is nowhere near miserable. Something else for me to reflect over more.
It certainly does and I do agree on what you’ve written. Yet… I’ll get to the bottom of this feeling! lol
I’ve never thought about this, but it’s certainly true. So much has been improved yet many people still can be sour (including me haha).
This perspective grounded in facts certainly helps with the distorted feelings of peasant mentality. I forget that the instinctual passions are still in operation everywhere. We know of no other time in human history where they did not exist. I’m already feeling better from thinking on this!
I got some useful grounding last winter, I met a girl who knew many very rich people, but they were very unhappy people… their affairs were filled with dramas, depression, control, suicides… these were people with millions of dollars and always going on vacations, but they were extremely wrapped up in status concerns and desires to control things. It was good because it was something I knew conceptually, but hearing the stories first-hand killed off that belief considerably.
She said she went on a vacation with them on a cruise but it was a terrible time, the whole time everyone was upset, unhappy, controlling and manipulating one another.
I do think having money is nothing to be sneezed at, it can be very useful! But it certainly isn’t enough by itself to be happy.