Monday, September 20, 2010

Creating a healthy feudalism in America

A segment of what passed for the Southern intelligentsia in the 1840s and 1850s wanted to create European feudalism in America. But as the historian Louis Hartz said more than fifty years ago in his classic The Liberal Tradition in America, “When we penetrate beneath the feudal and reactionary surface of Southern thought, we do not find feudalism; we find slavery.” He went on to say, “Fraud, alas, was the inevitable fate of Southern social thought.”

A new feudal America

Yet, after 150 years from the start of the American Civil War, is it possible that a unique American feudal society is taking shape, not just in the South but throughout the country?

Will we create a distinct American peasantry (while naturally denying its existence) protected by the self-proclaimed lord of the manor … who may be an investment banker, a coal magnate or possibly an arms dealer. As we've already invented our own Magna Carta—U.S. Constitution—we'd need an assembly of lords. The collection of empty vessels called the U.S. Congress will likely suffice for the time being. This potpourri of feudalism and the early nation state will be our teachable moment.

The Census Bureau reported last week that million of Americans are racing into poverty, in many cases people having no place to live and needing food banks to avoid real hunger. A report by the International Monetary Fund and the International Labour Organization state that nearly half of unemployed workers in the U.S. have been out of work for more than six months and the average duration is nine months. The trends are not encouraging.

The report, Projection of Jobs and Education Requirements Through 2018, offers a glimpse of America's decaying educational system in an increasingly competitive world. The report claims that the U.S. will fall short of the needed number of people requiring postsecondary degrees by 2018, state-by-state.

At the same time, as the article Infrastructure, Deficits, and Global Recovery points outs, the global economy will require high levels of infrastructural spending for economic growth, at a time when governments are calling for deficit reductions and reduced spending.

A year or so ago the American Society of Civil Engineers estimated that $2.2 trillion will be needed over the next 5 years in the United States to get our infrastructure up to “acceptable” standards.

Creating dynasty trusts

For a basic primer on wealth and power in America read Wealth, Income and Power. The lord of the manor is waiting for its peasants, and for all intent and purpose we Americans are dutifully shuffling up the hill waiting for instructions in a gloomy, less democratic economic scenario--which leads finally to the people's representatives in Washington, DC.

The degree of irrelevancy of the U.S. Congress can be debated, but while the feckless Democratic party is largely a nuisance the Republican party has turned into a bizarre cult, where seemingly its combined brain power couldn't light a broom closet.

Not even a good novelist could have created a cast of character like the Republican senators and their stand on climate change. See Grand Old Deniers-Nearly All GOP Senate Candidates Deny Global Warming. In fact, as we have learned, Representative Mike Castle, who was running for the senate in the Republican primary in Delaware and who was one of the few Republicans that publicly stated his belief in the science of climate change, was defeated by a strange woman that wandered out of an old Monty Python sketch.

And finally, an op-ed piece by Tom Friedman of the New York Times.

We're lucky to be working for such a good master....

We could hang the bastard once and for all and start over again....

Some Sources:

The Challenges of Growth, Employment and Social Cohesion

The Angry Rich

Photo credit: Ruined Castle by Simon Howden/

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