Feudalism is very much alive

Is feudalism, marketing itself as democracy, the underlying operating system for modern civilization’s social, economic and political systems? This is the hypothesis of those who describe current systems of governance, militarism and global economics as a mutated form of feudalism.

If such assumption were true, it would help to explain why, for over 2,000 years, Western civilizations have perpetuated certain distinct characteristics — such as class systems, extreme wealth inequality, power elites, racism, militarism, prison systems and human trafficking.

It would help to explain why the guiding social systems and cultural programing of modern civilizations appear to be rooted in feudalism — focused on the concentration of power and wealth — and appear not to have changed significantly over time. Feudalism has been continuously “repackaged” and “updated” over time, transforming itself into imperialism, colonialism, industrialism and, most recently, into corporate capitalism and globalization.

Over the past few thousand years, human history has been one long story of empire building, predatory colonialism and military conquest. Even now, the majority of people on our planet are either extremely poor or in debt, while the wealthiest few have absolute control over the way those people live.

Our educational systems use standardized tests to sort, rank and classify children, while indoctrinating them with an incomplete understanding of history and manufacturing obedience. Test scores determine society’s winners and losers, and a child’s future social status will depend on their willingness to follow orders and do as instructed.

Our political systems are set up by those with the greatest wealth, allowing powerful individuals and corporations to make laws and wage wars, occupying offices far away from most “common people”, and ruling over the rest of us.

Our modern military campaigns sent young men off like pawns on chess boards to kill people in faraway countries that have resources our corporations want to control. Expensive weapons systems cost trillions of dollars, while back home there is little money left for the education or health care of our “peasant” classes.

Our prison systems are set up so as to see that poor people who violate laws are locked up in cages. In the United States, more African Americans are currently incarcerated than were forced into slavery 200 years ago.

All around us, we can see the old feudal systems transformed into modern versions of the same archaic patterns, resulting in the same social problems and dysfunctions.

It’s a system kept in place by propaganda that is fed to the masses by the media and schools, telling us that our world is based on “progress,” that we are more advanced and “developed” than primitive tribal cultures of the past. When in truth the feudal paradigm of civilization — focused on the social dominance of others and the acquisition of wealth by a small power elite — is in many ways barbaric, authoritarian and unsustainable.

Crime, war, racism, slavery, addiction, human trafficking, environmental destruction and extreme poverty are all symptoms of an underlying systemic imbalance, of a world where predatory and feudalist systems of social organization still dominate our lives.

Such criticism and understanding is not new. Jesus saw the evils of this system, and spoke out against it. Buddha refused to participate in his father’s kingdom, walking off and choosing to live in poverty instead. From Lao Tsu to Gandhi to Martin Luther King, there have been a chorus of voices that have spoken out across the ages. Albert Einstein wrote about this problem over 60 years ago, describing how modern political, economic and media systems were perpetuating oligarchy and manipulating democratic systems.

As we moved into the modern industrial age, large peaceful social movements have risen up to challenge the system – from the abolitionists and women suffragettes to the civil rights movement, anti-war protests, ecology movement and Occupy Wall Street. The old feudal ways of doing things has created endless misery, destroying Nature’s fragile ecosystems and leading the human race to ruin.

The time has come for our species to grow wiser, evolve our thinking and change the way we live upon this planet.

Christopher Chase


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