Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Emerging Corporate Feudalism

..or Didn't We Have a Bloody Revolutionary War
to Get Rid of This Mindset?

Remember the Declaration of Independence? Sure you do. Back in the day when there was such a thing on this continent as 'a decent respect to the opinions of mankind' a bunch of upstarts had the radical idea,
"..that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.."
Let's just consider for a moment how truly radical that sentiment was from an historical perspective. Because the rulers of Europe saw things in the exact opposite way. They believed themselves to have been endowed by their Creator (the same creator, BTW) with exclusive 'rights' not extended to their subjects. The Hapsburgs, Hannoverians, Saxe-Coburgs, Romanovs and Bourbons (to name just a few) were, by virtue of their lofty bloodlines, chosen by God to enjoy virtually unlimited authority over their fellow man, no questions asked.

In fact if I pull a Canadian coin out of my pocket right now it will be inscribed on the obverse (heads) side with the words "D.G. Regina" - D.G. standing for Dei Gratia, which translates to Queen by the grace of God. The tradition lives on. And needless to say these two views of God's grace, one general and one exclusive are mutually irreconcilable.

The thing is, the United States of America that came about because of this radical declaration seems to have switched sides. The current ruler professes himself to be (and I'm afraid that he really believes it) 'chosen by god' to rule over his 300,000,000 subjects, ignoring all contrary opinion and limited by nothing but his own petulant will.

WE, THE PEOPLE has apparently devolved to this:
So let's look at the situation under feudalism. Feel free to make comparisons to the way things are now, and especially the way they are heading.
  • Under the feudal system, a very small number of people have control over vast resources, while everyone else is left the scraps.
  • The children of privilege inherit the wealth and are responsible for its preservation regardless of their lack of talent or effort, and even despite any mental illness they may have.
  • The legal system protects the privileged from prosecution for the most egregious of crimes, up to and including torture and murder - especially when the victims are from the disenfranchised lower classes.
  • Unalienable rights? Forget about it. You can be arrested, imprisoned, even tortured or murdered on the whim of the powerful - with no recourse whatsoever.
  • The rich keep get richer without earning it. Everybody else can sweat their balls off and get nothing.
  • Having no restrictions placed on them but their own whim, many of the 'noble class' degrade to a system of ethics centered solely on their own immediate gratification.

Sound familiar? All too familiar if you ask me. and sadly, one of the most devastating long-term consequences is economic. Because the idea of inherited wealth and power is completely detached from the idea of sober competence. If anything the spoiled brats who get the spoils have been trained to be irresponsible and lazy. Get caught DUI? - let Poppy take care of it. Don't want to show up for the National Guard? - Don't worry, the underclass will never dare to question the nobility. Want to spend money like it's going out of style on an illegal war, while reducing taxes? - - -

- - WAIT, that has consequences! But Dumbya isn't in the habit of thinking that way. He can't even see the deaths of thousands of American soldiers as anything but a minor inconvenience. Guess we'll have to increase the bonuses, lower our standards, and recruit some more. They're just peasants anyway. It's like the shameful performance of William of Orange at the battle of Waterloo. He treats soldiers like they were so many wooden toys.

I've said this all before, quite a while ago, on another blog, where I argued that the new feudalism is demonstrably worse than the one that caused the Revolutionary War.
Conditions in the US are becoming far worse than those that precipitated the American Revolution. An arrogant privileged overclass are allowed to rewrite the rules that govern society to their benefit, with no regard to the harm caused to others. The concentration of wealth and power equals or exceeds that of feudal Europe, while opportunities for social advancement have declined to an all-time low. And yet the peasantry remains blithely complacent, apparently waiting to give their attention to this crisis only when it comes out in a movie starring Tom Hanks.

One distinction differentiates the modern corporate baron from the Peers of Olde England in the 18th century. The peers' capital was tied up in land, and could not conveniently be transferred to another country, whether that be a bank in the Caymans or a factory on the low-wage island of Saipan. This forced a noblesse oblige on the ruling class that is not in effect in this brave new world.
In this globalized, 'we'll just move our capital to Paraguay' environment that THEY CREATED FOR THEMSELVES, there is all of the noblesse (privilege) with none of the oblige (responsibility.) Which is why they're so blithe about flushing America's economy down the shithole. Or Dubai, or Bahrain - whatever. And did you know that Dick Cheney's investment portfolio has been betting on the failure of the American dollar? Well it has.

I thought this kind of selfish crap was what the Revolutionary War was fought to eliminate. Apparently not.

And one other thing. This new class structure isn't limited to the Republican party or even the U.S.A. It's global, and unless we do something about it real soon, it's going to be the reality of the future. Think for instance about how much influence the Australian billionaire Rupert Murdoch has on the American discourse. See? Money knows no borders.

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