Before there were kings

I'm going to take you back to the day it all started. The day before I found myself locked up in this hell hole at the whim of the people. The beginning, when things were good.

It was only a small village with a hundred or so people. It was new and we were just finding our feet. We had nothing to speak of and everyone was working their fingers to the bone in order to survive.

The huts were built, the crops were planted and watered, people had shelter and enough to eat but times were hard. Ploughing the fields and planting the crops was back breaking work. All the water needed to be carried down from a nearby hill, in buckets, to the crops. People worked from dawn to dusk.

We helped each other out. One person might fish for two hours for another, and in exchange, that person might fix the others roof. I would gather firewood for one family while they would husk coconuts for me. We had  a free exchange of manpower to benefit each other.

I had a bit of an idea. Rather than bringing buckets of water down from the hill, could we not build some kind of piping system to do it. So for the next few months, after the days work was done, instead of relaxing I went up the hill and built my system of pipes out of tree bark and bamboo. It was a hard slog but when it was done the rewards were great. I no longer had to spend two hours per day walking up the hill for water. I had worked hard during the time that should have been my rest period in order to make my life a little easier.

Others in the village saw my piping system and wanted a piece of it. I asked them' if they could have water from my pipes in five minutes rather than spending two hours collecting it from the hill, would they be willing to work for one hour on various tasks for me. They were more than happy to say yes. By using my system they saved two hours work per day, used one of those hours working for me and had the other as free time.

Myself, I now had two hours free per day because I didn't need to collect water and I saved a few hours more because others were working my fields. This gave me plenty of time to work on my next invention, the horse drawn plough.

By renting out my plough for more hours work, I managed to invent a water driven millstone, amongst other things. People used my technology to save them time and in trade they spent some of that time working for me.

In return for my initial effort and ingenuity, I managed to become a wealthy man. I now had twenty families all working one hour a day for me so I could retire. I managed to free myself from ever needing to work again. Of course there was no money in our village but money is only a reflection of the value of human labour. My inventions freed me of the need for labour and freed many of the villagers of much of theirs.

My example should have inspired the villagers to do more of the same with the free time that I provided for them. Maybe one of them could have spent their free time making boats to sail out to where the fishing is more plentiful. Then by renting his boats to others, he would have no more need to fish.
But no. The people soon began to get jealous. They saw me doing no manual work when they still had to, even though it was much less. They decided that my inventions should not be owned and directed by me alone. They wanted them to be owned by the collective so everyone could be equal.

They broke into my hut and dragged my off to prison. They took control of my piping system, my millstone and my ploughs and declared that they were available for the use of the whole village equally. They decided that they didn't want to work for me, but wanted use of my labours for free, to be distributed throughout the collective.

What about the guy who might have built the boats? Well he saw what happened to me and decide not to bother. It was better for him to just keep his mouth shut in case he suffered my fate. He also saw what happened to my supporters. They were intimidated, threatened and beaten up. To avoid the same wrath falling on him, he just shouted along with the crowd.

Eventually the equipment started breaking down because no one knew how to maintain of fix it. I could not do anything because I was in prison as an enemy of the people. No one wanted to try and fix the equipment because it was not their responsibility and they did not understand it anyway.

None of my other planned inventions ever came to fruition because I was languishing in prison. The society we had created came to a halt. Progression stopped.

The downward spiral that followed takes us to the next part of the story, told by Captain Ranty.

2 Comments:

Captain Ranty said...

Bucko said...