Friday, 29 November 2013

Crevecoeur and the 'Land'... Is work what it used to be?

A clear sense I got from Crevecoeur when I read Letter III 'What is an American' is a freedom and ability to work for yourself, to live off your own private owned land, to farm and feed yourself and the rewards you would get from this would be incredible.

'They receive ample rewards for their labours: these accumulated rewards produce them lands: those lands confer on them the title of free men.'

'The American is a new man, who acts upon principles; he must therefore entertain new ideas a opinions. He has passed to toils of a very different nature, rewarded by ample subsistence. This is an American.'

My view on these quotes is that both similarly use the word 'reward,' working off the land will earn you something worthwhile, something you want, it will earn you something that will make you feel happy. 'Labours,' 'lands,' 'nature,' all seem to point to a view that Americans will work one on one with nature and the rewards and freedom that come out of it are blissful. Many moved from Europe to America to be free men, to work for themselves and not others and personally this seems to me to be idealist. You gain your own rewards, you do not have to share your hard work with others, just yourself and your family. If America was founded upon these philosophies I believe America is more 'European' than Europe. For example: 'The US Government breaks employment into groups, for example there are 235,086 Civilian noninstitutional employees as of 03/31/09' ( This shows me that a very small percentage of Americans do not work for others or their society or companies, showing that very few Americans work for themselves any more or off of the land. As America has developed it has become the super power Crevecoeur's ideas of what Europe was like, work is not for yourself anymore, nature is unimportant and working off the land is not the first choice of livelihood anymore. Personally I think this is a shame.

Reading further into this thought I looked at how an American could go about living off the land and looked to a website called 'EHow' a website which helps people to be more creative and artsy and live for themselves, at first glance at this instruction website there was no mention of any permanence. 'Ever gotten the urge to quit the rat race and live in the wilderness? In
fact, it's very difficult for a solitary person to live comfortably off the
land.' (
From the offset it tells you it would be 'difficult' to live comfortably off the land and almost tries to put you off not living within society. All of the points also point towards buying things from society to help you to live independently, like going on a course within the wilderness and buying many tools to help you in the process or even point 11) 'Keep an apartment in Manhattan for those times when you need to get away from it all.' This all points to consumerism that even if you want to escape society and live for your self you should still give to society to help you towards it.

Nowadays Crevecoeur's idea of living off of the land is null, people will buy from supermarkets, work for society and not for themselves and their family will most likely continue this chain further. Thus showing that work and the 'land' are not what they used to be.

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