Mutation of Medieval Feudalism Into Modern Corporate Capitalism: The Rise of Neofeudalism in Corporate Governance…

Feudalism is still alive and well in today’s modern corporate world, in spirit and intent… Question: What is the most enduring and stable system of economic and social order the world has ever known? It’s not capitalism, or socialism, or dictatorship: It’s feudalism… 

Feudalism was primary political system of the Middle Ages (9th to 15th Centuries). The system came about, for the most part, because the reigning king had two major woes; he couldn’t keep the people from rebelling and he couldn’t take care of all his land. In order to solve these problems, the king created the feudal system, in which he would give sections of land, called fiefs, to his most important nobles, barons and bishops in exchange for their services and their loyalty…

Peasants or ‘serfs’ were considered to be the lowest of the lower class, and rather than being given land in exchange for loyalty, they were forced to work the land, and the lord of that land would offer them protection… The brilliance of this system is that it ‘killed two birds with one stone’, solving both of the king’s problems– he now had control over both, people and land…

Though brilliant in its conception, feudalism was a biased hierarchy of authority, rights, power… that extended from monarchs downward, creating an intricate network of obligatory situations that infringed on almost every basic human right…

Thus with growth of commerce and industry, feudalism gradually gave way to the class system as the dominant form of social ranking…  Feudalism means different things to different people and its origins depend on its meaning: Narrowly defined, feudalism is a system in which a weak central government distributes its power to people who support it…

The strength of such a system is that a problem that develop at a local level can be dealt with faster than it could be if the central government had to mobilize to deal with it… According to Dredd blog; feudalism– feudal society was a military hierarchy in which a king or ruler offers a fief, a unit of land to control in exchange for a military service…

The feudal society was constructed for one reason: Security… The nobles wanted the security for maintaining control over their far-reaching kingdoms, and like wise the peasants who worked the land for the nobles wanted security from robbers, marauders, barbarians. However all this came at great expense for the common man: He gave up his many freedoms for security… 

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According to JacobSloan; everything old is new again– make note of the growing belief that modern sociopolitical structures increasingly resemble those that were found in feudalist societies– a concept called neofeudalism: Among the issues claimed to be associated with the idea of neofeudalism in contemporary society are class stratification, globalization, immigration, open borders policies, multinational corporations, and ‘neo-corporatism’…

According to Scott Powell; the fundamental feudalism relationship was the basic form of barter, which defines every feudal relationship– ‘land for loyalty’… In this barter arrangement, a vassal was granted territory (a fief or feud) by his lord in exchange for various expressions of loyalty. Whenever the lord required an army in defense of broader objectives, the vassal was to provide a levy of knights and fighters from his land, and in exchange the vassal’s claim to his land was sanctioned and protected by his lord.

If one landholder’s claim was threatened by another it was the lord’s obligation to arbitrate the relative claims of his vassals and to interpose his military might when needed. This type of relationship existed at every level in the medieval social hierarchy, from serfs and farmers to knights, barons, counts and dukes, all the way up to kings and emperors…

In the article Modern Feudal State? by Aglaya writes: Feudalism is the system whereby political and economic power is held by a relatively small group of capital owners who permit their capital to be worked or used by the large majority of landless people for subsistence. The landless have little or no political power of their own, but in a stable system are guaranteed a basic set of rights… Europe through most of its history, since the Dark Ages, was a series of feudal states, which remained remarkably stable for hundreds of years, until power was slowly devolved to larger and larger groups of people… Also, the very stable Asian societies in Japan, and especially China have long been feudal in nature…

The basic contract in the feudal state is the majority of the population will be content to remain relatively uneducated, unsophisticated, and unambitious. They will demand little more than a job through which they can feed, clothe and house their families. They will expect a basic level of fairness within their class, guarantees of protection by their lords, and perhaps some government entitlements, e.g.; healthcare, free education, and the ability to retire before death (although these last three are mostly represented in a modern feudal state, they are not historically traditional one).

In return, the holders of capital are allowed to be wealthy, comfortable and separated from the majority, so long as they provide the basic measures of subsistence to the landless… Although to most people’s psyche this social contract may appear grossly unfair and extremely repressive, it has, nonetheless, proven unequivocally to be the most successful in history, in terms of pure longevity…

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In the article Corporate Feudalism: The End of Nation States by Steve Lovelace writes: Feudalism developed in the medieval ages when communication and transportation were both scarce and unreliable. Kings had little control over the day-to-day affairs of their kingdoms, and most of the power was held by the lords and barons. Borders, as we know them, did not exist and instead there was property and allegiances… Then over time, advances in technology allowed nation states to form, and national borders became much more rigid. To this day, people still think in terms of nations and borders, but times are changing…

The same technological advances that built the nation-state are now leading its demise. The Internet and modern communications allows companies to have employees and suppliers anywhere in the world. Container shipping allows goods to be made in the cheapest places possible. Air travel allow people across the earth to have the same cultural experience, the same points of reference.

This means that a company can incorporate in Delaware, design goods in California, produce them in China, ship them on a Norwegian ship registered in Liberia, and sell them all over the world. Tech support can be based out of India, and the executives making the money can keep their money in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.

This kind of thing happens everyday, and the ramifications are just beginning to be felt. Ultimately, this will lead to the return of feudalism… As the power of multinational corporations grows, you will find a weakening of nation states: Corporate oligarchy will be the new norm…

In the article Feudalism in America? by absurdistan dan writes: The term ‘feudalism’ elicits images of kings in their vast, fortified castles, knights in their armor defending the land, and poor peasants working their land from dawn to dusk. Feudalism was a strict social hierarchy in Medieval Europe and was certainly an oppressive political and economic system from the tenth century that disappeared after the fifteen century…

Except that it hasn’t disappeared: Feudalism’s success wasn’t due purely to the strict separation between different social classes, but rather the fact that the population accepted their class standing in society… The American dream’s selling point is that hard work over a long period of time allows people to support their family and allow them the benefits of home ownership… Except serfdom was often defined as serfs who were bound to the land which they worked to pay taxes to their lords…

Then fast forward to modern times; as an intelligent person I keep asking myself: Why do I work as I do? A part of me knows that the only reasons I’m still working is because of the large bonus everyone in the industry looks forward to at the end of the year. The bonus that one day will release me from the tyranny of corporate slavery and allow me to do something more enjoyable like running my own business or investing in other people’s businesses.

Basically, it will grant me the freedom to one day be able to live my life on my own terms, and not be stuck in the office late into the early morning, on weekends and be subject to menial tasks… Little did we all know that we were actually signing our lives away to serfdom. But if anything, this was the job that gave me the best chance to one day free myself from modern-day serfdom… A prominent politician once said; in today’s modern world corporation is the lord and master, and most of its employees have been desensitized much as were the medieval peasants who never knew they were serfs…

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In the article Corporations Are Feudal Manifestations by Russ writes: Contrary to popular belief, there’s nothing modernistic about the corporation. On the contrary, they’re a carryover phenomenon from feudalism… The corporation originally arose out of medieval guilds and the monopoly charter. This charter was also called a ‘searching and sealing patent’ and it had nothing to do with production of goods or services. The charter-holder, who generally was some royal crony, did not produce or do anything…

So corporations were one form in which elites tried to continue their feudal prerogatives into the 19th century… According to Ted Nace;  what is not as well-known is that, long after ratification of U.S. Constitution and the adoption of the Bill of Rights, most aspects of employer-employee relations continued to be regulated by a common law legal structure that continued to enforce the principles of privilege and hierarchy derived from the feudal society of the late Middle Ages…

As explained by political scientist Karen Orren; The original, mainly landholding, masters had long since been overtaken by business owners and managers; however, their privileges remained and passed on to their successors largely intactThe power of employers over their workers was considered a private relationship, where normal constitutional rights did not necessarily apply. Thus, common law also permitted measures of enforcement that were unacceptable in other social realms… This is the atmosphere in which feudal practices were being carried over into modern age of nominal capitalism and democracy…

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Few political systems have shown the adaptiveness and longevity of feudalism. The system that was based on personal relationships, local administration and defined hierarchies, touched several continents for more than 1,500 years. Feudalism grew out of practice, precedent and code of values and aesthetics that developed into ‘chivalry’ in the West and ‘bushido’ in the East… According to Lynn Nelson; feudalism has transcended many centuries that even in the modern society there are institutions that have retained strong feudal elements… Keep in mind the basic characteristics of feudalism, one can easily observe, is what has passed on to society in modern times…

According to Victor Baines; modern life seems to have ‘de-evolved’ into a strange and difficult to define state of economic existence; if you are wealthy person and or successful business owner, you might be doing well (in economic sense) but, if you are a ‘former member of the working middle class’– it should be easy for you to relate to questions that I raise:

What the F%#K happened to all the jobs? Where the F@*k did they all go to? How the h#$L am I suppose to make a living these days? These are the questions that many people are asking! So much for saving for retirement– people are simply trying to make it week-to-week, and month-to-month! This is the unspoken state of economic existence… its modern-day feudalism…