In Brief— America is becoming the modern equivalent of medieval feudalism consisting of the federal government controlled by an oligarchy, the military and the citizenry that are the equivalent of the medieval king, the warrior class and the peasantry all dressed up in modern finery: Neo-Feudalism.
Feudalism with a Modern Face—
Feudalism, which existed between the ninth and fifteenth centuries, primarily in Europe but also in Japan, was a rigidly structured autocratic society that was basically made up of three groups: the sovereign or king, the warrior nobility, and the peasantry. Substitute the political state and its allied corporate powers, a powerful military and the mass of the common citizenry and you have the United States of today, what can be referred to as Neo-feudalism.
Just as the water containing an unsuspecting frog is brought slowly to a fatal boil, the erosion of democracy has not come about suddenly but has come about gradually and unobtrusively largely since the end of World War II. Bit by bit, the increasingly right-wing American government has expanded its power with the generous help of the oligarchical corporate money showered on compliant politicians of both major political parties and with the partisan assistance of the Supreme Court conservatives who have removed major roadblocks through their holdings in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission and McCutcheon vs. Federal Election Commission.
The Citizens United and McCutcheon cases permit giant corporations and the currently moribund union movement as well as wealthy individuals to contribute huge sums to causes designed to advance their selfish interests…and it’s getting much worse as the Republicans take over in 2015 and democracy has given way to oligarchy.
We know that the big corporations and obscenely rich elite have money to burn while the union movement is dying in America since the Reagan administration destroyed the air traffic controllers’ union. The Supreme Court’s five partisan conservatives pretend that the Citizens United and McCutcheon cases level the playing field. Money equals free speech according to their warped political view. Thus, the five Court conservatives deliberately put a thumb on the scale in favor of giant corporations and wealthy individuals. Such is the modern equivalent of the nobility of feudal times.
The Warrior Class—
What of the warriors in this new feudalism? It’s the American military that’s made up of a bloated professional class of right-leaning officers and the common soldiers under their command, the equivalent of feudal peasants. The Bush administration was a perfect example of the powerful government waging a war of choice under false pretenses resulting in the deaths of thousands of common American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. It was an illegal war that has spawned an uprising that now feeds America’s desire for perpetual war. The government, hand-in-hand with the military, chooses the wars and the little folks bleed and die for it.
Conservative religion deserves mention here. According to well-informed sources, the fundamentalists of America have found a home in the American military (and Congress) and have succeeded, with the help of politicians bought with Big Money, in militarizing great swaths of American society. This has made it easy to recruit cannon fodder for the government’s plan of world domination through its approximately 1,000 bases spread around the globe. No big wars are required, just little wars and unmanned drones directed from afar are all that is required for domination. Those who oppose the military actions, are neutralized and investigated as “terrorist sympathizers.” This is facilitated by the pervasive surveillance revealed by courageous whistleblowers like Edward Snowden as well as a mass media that conditions the public through fear and misinformation.
Finally, there is the modern equivalent of the medieval peasantry, the common citizen. Even as this is being written, the once-thriving middle class and the lower levels of the grossly unequal and growing socioeconomic classes are finding their salaries and the social safety net attacked and gutted by the right-wing government supported by oligarchic wealthy donors who want their perks to remain or expand. This is Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine writ large although the inequities have been around for at least two centuries and are now accelerating.
Whole books are written about the dire economic situation now spreading like cancer throughout American society, but the government, regardless of which party is in power, continues catering to its rich patrons unimpeded by the widespread suffering. Banks grow larger, wealthy executives who brought about the meltdown walk free and grow obscenely richer while the nation’s crumbling infrastructure continues to deteriorate. It’s the notorious Gilded Age of a hundred years ago.
Regardless of petitions and protests, outcries from the masses are largely ignored or, when their outraged cries cannot be ignored, crumbs are being offered to placate them while the loaf is retained by the powerful interests atop the Neo-feudalist pyramid.
Though simplified and omitting the scent of dressed-up fascism that’s in the air, not to mention the dire threat of global climate change, this is why America is becoming the modern equivalent of medieval feudalism, the Neo-feudalist society.
It’s time for citizens to assert themselves and do something besides petitioning to stop the accelerating slide and restore what little is left before it’s too late.