John Berger on peasants and history (from 1979)

For John Berger, in Pig Earth (New York: Pantheon, 1979), peasant culture is a ‘culture of survival” and bourgeois culture is a “culture of progress”:

p. 203

“Modern history begins-at different moments in different places-with the principle of progress as both the aim and the motor of history.. Cultures of progress envisage future expansion. They are forward-looking because the future offers ever larger hopes… A culture of survival envisages the future as a sequence of repeated acts for survival. Each act pushes a thread through the eye of a needle and the thread is tradition. No overall increase is envisaged.”

p. 212

“If one looks at the likely future course of world history, envisaging either the further extension and consolidation of corporate capitalism in all its brutalism, or a prolonged, uneven struggle waged against it, a struggle whose victory is not certain, the peasant experience of survival may well be better adapted to this long and harsh perspective than the continually reformed, disappointed, impatient progressive hope of an ultimate victory.”


One thought on “John Berger on peasants and history (from 1979)

  1. Peter J. Taylor Post author

    “A vast human experiment is under way: What happens to humanity when it is cut off from the anchors of rural life?”

    “The problems arising from this rapid transformation are usually framed in economic terms — water and energy supply, transportation challenges, housing. But the deeper question is moral.”


Leave a Reply

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

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

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ 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 )


Connecting to %s