Friday, February 10, 2012

The noise made by people

Anton Chekhov, Peasants:
During the summer and winter months there were hours and days when these people appeared to live worse than cattle, and life with them was really terrible. They were coarse, dishonest, filthy, drunk, always quarreling and arguing amongst themselves, with no respect for one another and living in mutual fear and suspicion. Who maintains the pubs and makes the peasant drunk? The peasant. Who embezzles the village, school and parish funds and spends it all on drink? The peasant. Who robs his neighbor, sets fire to his house and perjures himself in court for a bottle of vodka? Who is the first to revile the peasant at district council and similar meetings? The peasant. Yes, it was terrible living with these people; nevertheless they were still human beings, suffering and weeping like other people and there was nothing in their lives which did not provide some excuse: killing work which made bodies ache all over at night, harsh winters, poor harvests, overcrowding, without any help and nowhere to find it. The richer and stronger cannot help, since they themselves are coarse, dishonest and drunk, using the same foul language. The most insignificant little clerk or official treats peasants like tramps, even talking down to elders and churchwardens, as though this is their right. And after all, could one expect help or a good example from the mercenary, greedy, dissolute, lazy people who come to the village now and then just to insult, fleece and intimidate the peasants?
While greater in absolute terms, the treachery of having someone direct your productive activity through the course of a day's employment nevertheless becomes routine. Hey, something is expected of you, something is expected of them; this is how we all get through the day. It's a betrayal, but nothing personal. This is the good business model; it preempts disruption very well, in my view.

But the betrayals that come from others subordinated by the same set of circumstances; really, these are a marvel to behold! Perhaps the bosses, by virtue of their position, enjoy the luxury; or else they observe the advantage which derives from not making things too personal. Only the idiots risk their salaries for their subordinates. But what the contemporary serf wouldn't do to brandish his rank to the rank-and-file. Yes, it is terrible working with these people; nevertheless you know what they contend with on a daily basis, and there is little in their lives which does not provide some excuse ...


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