The New Dark Ages: The Employment (Peasant) Class

            Sir Brian, a small land owner stepped out of his house to check on the work.  “Giles,” he shouted.  “Get that wagon packed.  Success in the market depends on timely arrival.”  Giles nodded.

            He stepped over to Mary’s table where she was looking over the crop situation.  She had to figure out what went to various overlords in taxes and tithe, what went to the owner, what got divided between the workers and what, if any, might be left over to save for the proverbial rainy day.

            “It is barely enough to make ends meet,’ she said.  Sir Brian smiled to encourage her.  He knew it was barely enough.

            He stepped to the field where the workers, tools in hand were hard at it.  They looked up at him when he spoke.  “Do a good job, people.  We will need the winter harvest to make it to the other side of spring.

###

            Brian, a small business owner stepped out of his office to check on the work.  “Giles,” he shouted.  “Get that box packed.  Success in the market depends on timely arrival.”  Giles nodded.

            He stepped over to Mary’s desk where she was looking over the financial situation.  She had to figure out what went to various governments in taxes and regulatory fees, what went to the owner, what got divided between the workers, and what, if any, might be left over to save for the proverbial rainy day.

            “It is barely enough to make ends meet,” she said.  Brian smiled to encourage her.  He knew it was barely enough.

            He stepped to the room where the workers, tools in hand were hard at it.  They looked up at him when he spoke.  “Do a good job, people.  We will need the Christmas sales to make it to the other side of spring.

###

Welcome to the New Dark Ages.

 

            The employee (peasant) class comes in many forms: middle and lower management, small business owners, merchants, accountants and bookkeepers and workers (not far from serfs).  People need to work, and to be sure, some do well enough and perhaps very well.  Most, though, just make a living, and many of them, only if both spouses are working.  Children are more on their own these days than ever – apart from the middle ages.

            Some workers have to belong to unions – not unlike the guilds in the first dark ages.  If you were not a member of the local but did that work, your property would be vandalized and threats would be made against your person and maybe even your family back then, too. 

            True, there is theoretically more movement these days.  People are not tied to their companies the way they were tied to the land, but the truth is many feel they are tied, especially in poor economic times when they feel lucky to have a job.  For those who do make a move, it is generally lateral movement and only some rare upward mobility.  Auto mechanics, burger flipping, used car selling, assembly line work are all valid skills, but where can you really go with them?

            These days, the better paying jobs require education, certification, even licensing that puts them out of reach of most people.  While licenses and certifications might help protect the public from the average cranks, it makes it hard to become a doctor, lawyer, teacher, or any profession.  The cost of the education alone is prohibitive for most, so the numbers have not increased significantly for the population and it will not be long before certain professions will be lean or wanting in a variety of times and places, just like the first time the dark ages came around.

            Yes, promotions still happen up to a point, but even in the first dark ages if a serf showed the right skills and some leadership qualities, they could get promoted out of the fields as well.

            For our Dark Ages there are two things to consider which in some ways will make our Dark Ages worse that the first time around.  They will have to wait until the next post, however, when we talk about the Beggars: the Permanent Underclass.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “The New Dark Ages: The Employment (Peasant) Class

  1. While I really enjoy your writing style and metaphors, I doubt I get the points you are trying to make in “Dark Ages” series of posts.

    1) Human society was always organized as groups and teams. And it will always will be. Every group has it’s leader and it’s followers.
    Followers, who don’t want to lead for their own reasons, tend to organize around leaders. This is natural.
    The huge difference between Dark Ages and Today is that now followers have unlimited number of leaders around to choose. While in Dark Ages there was often the only one.
    Another huge difference is that almost every follower can start his own leadership with no risk to be punished for this. Imagine the peasant in Dark Ages, who said to his lord, that he will start his own business…

    2) Today entry costs for good education is not so prohibitive, as we all tend to assume.
    In US, where Internet penetration is pretty high, the cost of good education is no more cost of Stanford college.
    It is monthly ISP fee.
    I do believe, with Internet, if one is in need to learn some new info or skill – he can do it.
    He will not get diploma, but he will get portfolio of his accomplished works, which describes you quite better.

    3) Today the amount of time parents spend with kids depends not on how much parents have to work. It depends on how much parents tend to watch TV in the evening, instead of being with their kids.
    Amount of free time parents have now is quite bigger, than in Dark Ages. They just don’t know, what to do with it.

    Metaphor with Dark Ages is quite good and interesting to read, but devil is in details.
    And details, I see around me, make huge difference with Dark Ages.

    • Yury,
      Sorry for the delay. I actually stayed off the internet for a couple of days. (Yeah for me).

      Certainly there are differences between now and then, and some are huge. As has been said, you can’t walk in the same stream twice.
      But there are also great similarities and new twists on old themes, and I (for one) am not thrilled with the idea of sliding back into dark times.

      Rather than respond to your three points, allow me to continue to write and explore this thesis in the (no doubt) months to come. I hope you will continue to read and maybe find some of your questions answered in the process. I may even use your points as a jumping off place for posts in the future.

      Let me also say this: No civilization ever anticipates its own collapse. And I am not saying that is the direction we are necessarily headed. But I am saying if that should happen, we are not exactly setting the stage for a new enlightenment.

      -Michael

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s