From Serf to Merchant

This is a random rant that I did once in a stream, with no editing for content and I even left in some typos… because I just wanted to do something quickly. If it were an article for a magazine or something like that, I would edit it a lot, but, this was totally spur of the moment. I’ll revisit the concepts presented later, but in the meantime, it might be interesting so I left it as is….

The Not So Distant Past

A lot of video-games are based in worlds which are based roughly on the not so distant past, where the world was ruled by kings and most people were pesants… of course, in the games, people can run about with swords fighting monsters of some sort, typically getting paid for each kill auto-magic-ally, and other distortions from what the reality would have been in that time.

One of the things which was common was the concept of a “serf”, or a skilled person who was owned by an estate. An estate would be a tract of land overseen by a “lord”, and this lord would be sort of the lowest level of the royal hierarchy.

Well, the terms would vary from place to place… I used English words, but Japan, China, and even back into maybe the Inca, ancient Egypt, and so on… were based on this “feudal” system or whatever.

The Rise Of the Merchant

The industrual revolution, which gave rise to the concept of a massive corporation, eventually, came about because of the “merchant revolution” before it. This is when, instead of skilled people being attached to land, and at the mercy of lords, they were able, by way of profitable trade coupled with the ability to retain wealth, to gain mobility and a meta-geographical wealth.

That is, their wealth was no longer proportional to the amount of real estate that they owned (although owning more real estate was still better), but now, was measured in coins, goods, and trading power.

From long-term trades came the concept of a corporation, and in more recent times, versions of this concept have been used for various things. Banks, even central banks/federal reserves, are types of corporations… and the money they produce and maintain is actually a good (or product) that they sell, based on our belief in its value.

If you doubt that money is a product, try buying something with Japanese yen in a store (assuming you don’t live in Japane), or other foreign currency… the stores don’t accept it because they don’t believe it has value. On the other hand, the banks would accept and convert it, because they can trade it for something valuable (money of another currency, most likely).

The Rise of the Employees

So, we have a progressions in time, from past to current day:

serf -> merchant -> factory owner/mass producer -> corporation shareholder

peon (with “common abilities”) -> general labour (still a peon) -> technical labour (still a peon) -> employee (still a peon, generally with “consumer sense” replacing abilities)

The first chain shows what happens to the skilled persons, the second chain, to unskilled.

The concept of being an employee, I would argue, is more dangeous now than being a “peon” was much earlier. Due to low levels of technology, everyone had developed some sort of basis self-sufficiency skills, such as cultivating food and raising lifestock. However, nowadays, such basic skills are both rare and less useless (how many people can raise pigs in their living quarters, for example), for the most parts.

Instead, we have a “consumer sense” that is based on finding sales and otherwise avoiding losses.

However, there have always been paths to move “up the ladder” from peon class to leadership, but this is different from the the path to develop more skills.

Moving On Up

This is just theory for me so far, but, in order to create a better life with more self-reliance, you need to refocus into a direction which is perpendicular to the general trend. Most people would probally say that you’re wasting your time, but…

We need to develop leadership skills. At the very least, self-leadership.

Although we might think we are adults, we know ourselves, we have all this ability, in truth, we often live within a very narrow focus, and move along a predescribed path (the way of the serf/employee) and do not take time to really develop an ability to construct even mental models of our individuality, much less make major changes.

The Good Thing About Bad Times

Hopefully, the recent widescale layoffs and abuses of financial systems will help to propell more people to become leaders, and not just complain about “how bad the system is”. The truth is that it is a lot better now that it really would have been under lordship/strongly hiearchial royal rule.

The rights of people are much more strongly protected now, and for people who understand the financial systems, it is still possible to retain some of the fruits of your labour (you need to spend some in food, and other other lifestyle maintenance).

So, I would like to encourage people to think like billionaires, even if they are not (I’m not, for sure): what can I do to build wealth, not “it sucks being poor and rich people are bullingy me”. I mean, I honestly don’t think any one can help a complainer very much, but if we open our eyes and look, we’ll see that we can build bridges from self-as-poor-peon to self-as-rich-person.

Well, I encourage myself, mostly, because I’m finding it hard to build such bridges, but, I am determined to do so.

Recommended Reading

“Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert T. Kiyosaki et al(or any of the richdad books)

– basics of living like a rich person, and how thinking poor becomes a self-made prison, basically.

“The Magic of Thinking Big” by David J. Schwartz

– about how you need big thinking more than big skills

“The Mastery of Love” by Don Miguel Ruiz

– about how to create and maintain independent, strong minds, even within hostile environments and a world with widespread emotional sickness

I’ve read thos books at least once, but I am re-reading them now because it took a lifetime to build a peon, and thus, it might take a while to undo the mental damange and build better ways of thinking, acting, earning, living.


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