Tuesday, November 08, 2005

My general theory of modern neo-feudalism

[NOTE: Yes, this is actually something current I'm posting from my
little newsgroup....feel free to forward/link it on, with due
credit/blame of course.]

In hyperlucidity, "K. Aurencz Zethmayr" wrote:

Yes, there has been a lot of stuff going on in the world, despite the
fact that I've posted on very little of it.

Take, for example, Bush's proposal of a pan-American free trade area,
which met with loud popular protests and a more or less tacit
division of political leaders at the recent summit in Buenos
Aires....the idea is still not settled, and it is one that bears
careful examination before being adopted, especially considering the
current state of these economies and the typical "flight patterns" of
corporations trying to maximise their profits and cut labour costs.
Unless there is an effective and relevant trade union presence in the
U.S. and a majority of other countries that might be disposed to
side with the Bush administration and sign onto this (Mexico, for
example, or anywhere else significantly dependent on the goodwill of
the U.S.), it would be a very convenient reason to outlaw
trade/employee unions altogether as an untenable obstacle to
the 'flexibility' (upward for the big guys, downward for the small)
of economic activity and interaction. That's something that bears

My general take on the direction of things is that the Bush
administration and its allies are trying to implement a neo-
-- and in case we all haven't had a thorough grounding in
medieval socioeconomics, I'll summarize:

Feudalism is a hierarchy of authority and allegiance in which the
common worker (peasant or landed serf/slave) is utterly beholden to
his direct employer, who in turn is under the thumb of a larger state
or corporate entity, who in turn (possibly skipping a few levels up
the food chain) is under the utter authority of a political,
commercial or religious leader, who are at the top all bound in a
more-or-less common collusion of interests to keep everyone else
under control
--though if they are in conflict, all persons involved
are supposed to act with total loyalty and obedience to their lords
and masters. There's no appealing to anything like a universal democratic
process or outside authority
(or outside judicial or legislative
trend, as Bush and some of the Supreme Court justices want to
solidify firmly, as the world gets more socially progressive in
Canada, Australia, Europe, etc.)...there's no effective standard of
values besides that which those in power choose to implement and
(and may or may not follow themselves). There's not even the
assumption that a ruler of one country is actually 'loyal' to that
country and its needs--he may just be playing it as a pawn for
increase of territory elsewhere, or perhaps for a nice fat golden
parachute (in the business world)--or guaranteed security for life if
he lets the corporations have their way in all things at the people's

Things like the oft-cited code of chivalry, in modern or medieval form (loyalty to lord and Church, compassion to the poor, protection of women and children, etc.), are policies (just like every set of rules and policies, pragmatically speaking) designed to officially address known, existing and commonly-accepted behaviours in their time--not to set up anything like a standard of social equality. And in the olden days, the peasant or serf did have the right to depend on the protection of his lord's fortress against raids and warfare--these days, to the contrary, there is no sense of "noblesse oblige", no responsibility in authority. The peasants are sent off to be cannon fodder in war (okay, persuaded to by circumstance--afterall, it is a volunteer army these days), and bear the brunt of every downturn that the rich can absorb and/or avoid for themselves -- and yet they are expected to remain loyal and diligent and compliant.

The communications and transportational infrastructure (*cough*
Amtrak funding *cough* HDTV conversion *cough* FOX News...)
typically eroded or rudimentary in feudalism, making the common
populace in general dependent on the opportunities,
knowledge/attitudes and social structure of their home areas
, with
radically low opportunities for regional mobility except in wholesale
moves/migrations. In addition, the 'social welfare' function in
feudalism is completely delegated to religious or private interests,
enforcing arbitrary moral standards
of acceptability/compliance for
any shelter, food, medical attention or job assistance -- "parish
work", in short. This is what dismantling and/or privatizing/de-
secularizing the entire social security/welfare structure means in
end result.

Other typical social symptoms of feudalism (though not limited to it)
are: massive insularity within communities, fear/hatred of minorities
and foreigners, repression of deviancy or difference within their own
(even/especially superior deviance), low education as a norm (with
accompanying mistrust of the overeducated), early marriage/breeding,
generalized social/political/religious inferiority of women
(with a
few token decoys to keep the rest in line), and blind belief in
whoever's setting the religious/political rules
-- because that's all
they've got to depend on.

So....if this sounds familiar to anyone, I think I'd suggest you read
up on the Middle Ages and the things that brought about the gradual
end of the feudal system in Europe -- like religious heterodoxy,
sudden decreases of population/birthrate (thank you, Black Death and
birth control...), world exploration and broader cultural
contact/learning, widespread scientific inquiry, increases in
education and literacy, diverse sociopolitical philosophies, the
expansion of trade and commercial structure to enable small merchants
and artisans to become a solid middle class rather than dependants to
a lord (or unprotected itinerants), and the erosion of religion-based
social determinism in justifying injustice (as in "divine
right", "subhuman" races, etc.).

And support all those things at their best that stave off the "Dark
Ages" from our lives. History's still going on, and there are a lot
of ways that some people and entities are trying to turn back the
years on the rest of us...the unnerving thing, really, is how close
they are already to accomplishing it.

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