By James C. Scott
This ebook examines a few of the "everyday" methods peasants might withstand their oppressors. particularly, the writer studied a small Malaysian peasant village within the overdue Nineteen Seventies. This electronic version used to be derived from ACLS Humanities E-Book's (http://www.humanitiesebook.org) on-line model of an analogous identify.
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Extra info for Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance
Of California Press, 1970), 170. Page xvii peasantry—a class scattered across the countryside, lacking formal organization, and best equipped for extended, guerrillastyle, defensive campaigns of attrition. Their individual acts of foot dragging and evasion, reinforced by a venerable popular culture of resistance and multiplied many thousandfold, may, in the end, make an utter shambles of the policies dreamed up by their wouldbe superiors in the capital. Everyday forms of resistance make no headlines. But just as millions of anthozoan polyps create, willynilly, a coral reef, so do the multiple acts of peasant insubordination and evasion create political and economic barrier reefs of their own. It is largely in this fashion that the peasantry makes its political presence felt. And whenever, to pursue the simile, the ship of state runs aground on such reefs, attention is usually directed to the shipwreck itself and not to the vast aggregation of petty acts that made it possible. For these reasons alone, it seems important to understand this quiet and anonymous welter of peasant action. To this end, I spent two years (1978–80) in a Malaysian village. The village, which I call Sedaka, not its real name, was a small (seventyhousehold), ricefarming community in the main paddygrowing area of Kedah, which had begun doublecropping in 1972. As in so many other "green revolutions" the rich have gotten richer and the poor have remained poor or grown poorer. The introduction of huge combineharvesters in 1976 was perhaps the coup de grace, as it eliminated twothirds of the wageearning opportunities for smallholders and landless laborers. In the course of two years I managed to collect an enormous amount of relevant material. My attention was directed as much to the ideological struggle in the village—which underwrites resistance—as to the practice of resistance itself. Throughout the book I try to raise the larger issues of resistance, class struggle, and ideological domination that give these issues their practical and theoretical significance. The struggle between rich and poor in Sedaka is not merely a struggle over work, property rights, grain, and cash. It is also a struggle over the appropriation of symbols, a struggle over how the past and present shall be understood and labeled, a struggle to identify causes and assess blame, a contentious effort to give partisan meaning to local history. The details of this struggle are not pretty, as they entail backbiting, gossip, character assassination, rude nicknames, gestures, and silences of contempt which, for the most part, are confined to the backstage of village life. In public life—that is to say, in powerladen settings—a carefully calculated conformity prevails for the most part. What is remarkable about this aspect of class conflict is the extent to which it requires a shared worldview. Neither gossip nor character assassination, for example, makes much sense unless there are shared standards of what is deviant, unworthy, impolite.