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Statist And Anarchist #034: Feudalism

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"A man is none the less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in a term of years. Neither are a people any the less slaves because permitted periodically to choose new masters. What makes them slaves is the fact that they now are, and are always hereafter to be, in the hands of men whose power over them is, and always is to be, absolute and irresponsible." - Lysander Spooner

Whenever I hear some statist claim that libertarianism will lead to feudalism, it’s a good indicator that they have little to no understanding of basic political theory, or history, or economics. This isn’t the least bit surprising as many statists also insist that Somalia and Honduras are “libertarian”, China is “communist”, and Scandinavia is “socialist.”

Statists claim that, if free-market capitalism were truly practiced, and the market was entirely free of government intervention, that all wealth would be unfairly distributed to a select few oligarchs and thus lead to an era of “neo-feudalism”—because rolling back a heavily-centralized government which economically props up a select few oligarchs will ultimately create a heavily-centralized government which economically props up a select few oligarchs. Makes sense!

Seriously, the only time the words “feudalism” and “capitalism” even belong in the same sentence together is if they are in the following sentence: “Feudalism inevitably dissolved and made way for capitalism through the economic system of mercantilism, which helped divert wealth and resources from the monarchs to the merchant (working) class through voluntary trade and labor, inevitably leading to a boom of economic prosperity among the lower classes.”

As Ludwig Von Mises explained in his essay, “The Rise of Capitalism”, prior to capitalism, all wealth was accumulated by the monarchy, whom controlled the means of production and forced the serfs under them to meet their economic needs. This all changed under capitalism, which helped reverse the roles of the classes as production shifted from the demands of the wealthy elite to the lowly consumer:
“Capitalism is not simply mass production, but mass production to satisfy the needs of the masses. The arts and crafts of the good old days had catered almost exclusively to the wants of the well-to-do. But the factories produced cheap goods for the many. All the early factories turned out was designed to serve the masses, the same strata that worked in the factories. They served them either by supplying them directly or indirectly by exporting and thus providing for them foreign food and raw materials. This principle of marketing was the signature of early capitalism as it is of present-day capitalism.

The employees themselves are the customers consuming the much greater part of all goods produced. They are the sovereign customers who are "always right." Their buying or abstention from buying determines what has to be produced, in what quantity, and of what quality. In buying what suits them best they make some enterprises profit and expand and make other enterprises lose money and shrink. Thereby they are continually shifting control of the factors of production into the hands of those businessmen who are most successful in filling their wants.”
Or as Walter Williams poignantly summarizes in his column, “Capitalism and the Common Man”:
“Capitalism is relatively new in human history. Before the rise of capitalism, the way people amassed great wealth was by looting, plundering, and enslaving their fellow man. Capitalism made it possible to become wealthy by serving one’s fellow man. Capitalists seek to discover what people want and then produce and market it as efficiently as possible.”
This isn’t merely the postulating of two “wacky” Austrian economists. History has proven, time and again, that capitalism, rather than leaving the powerless “without any means of escape”, as Pope Francis claimed, instead provides such a means of escape from crushing poverty and oppression:

As this chart shows, global poverty has been on a rapid decline over the past century, especially within the past 30 years under the "neoliberalism" and globalization spawned by Reagan and Thatcher.

The Economist elaborates:
“In 1990, 43% of the population of developing countries lived in extreme poverty (then defined as subsisting on $1 a day); the absolute number was 1.9 billion people. By 2000 the proportion was down to a third. By 2010 it was 21% (or 1.2 billion; the poverty line was then $1.25, the average of the 15 poorest countries’ own poverty lines in 2005 prices, adjusted for differences in purchasing power). The global poverty rate had been cut in half in 20 years.

The country that cut poverty the most was China, which in 1980 had the largest number of poor people anywhere. China saw a huge increase in income inequality—but even more growth. Between 1981 and 2010 it lifted a stunning 680m people out poverty—more than the entire current population of Latin America. This cut its poverty rate from 84% in 1980 to about 10% now. China alone accounts for around three quarters of the world’s total decline in extreme poverty over the past 30 years.”
With all this in mind, it should come as no surprise that economic freedom correlates heavily with high living standards, as countries with the most economic freedom also have the lowest corruption and highest living standards.

But, of course, it's easier to ignore the facts and claim that free market capitalism (and, by extension, libertarianism) creates feudalism.
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Seattleskeleton's avatar
This comic may be old, but is painfully inaccurate
SilverStarApple's avatar
Hold on, you don't want a system that enables corruption, but you support Anarchy? Under Anarchy, anyone who wants is free to attack you, shoot at you, rape you, and do whatever the hell he wants to you. Bandit gangs can band together and hold some source of resource (Food, water) hostage to gain absolute control over those who need it, and there will be no governing body to keep the Wasteland a "Fun" place where you can live out your "Han Solo the Lone Wanderer" fantasies. If a governing body ever does form out of the collective, it will be swift, brutal, violent, and ready and willing to execute any layabouts and dissenters (even whiny anarchists claiming the sucky world around them isn't real anarchy) before said anarchists damage their public support and power base.

And before you say "Well I'll have a gun too", there will be more starved and maddened people under Anarchy in the world than there will ever be bullets in your gun and pockets. If you kill a hundred raiders without taking a single bullet wound (And I doubt you can), there will be no publically-funded hospitals. Or any form of hospitals. You can hope you can wait Anarchy out in some shitty little hamlet with some pigs and hopefully a doctor hanging around and getting free food in return for healing people when they need it, but who manufactures the medical supplies? Who forces doctors to give them to you, and not anyone else that could offer to pay more? Why would a doctor live in a shitty hamlet with shit defenses when he could live in a better-defended bandit fortress or cleaner neo-government building?

Anarchy isn't a system. Anarchy is the lack of a system, and Anarchists only survive in this world because there's a system in place right now that says "You get jail time for shooting people in the face. Yes, even if they're stupid. Yes, even if they're communist, anarchist, or any other form of terminal stupid".
bneathanaprlmoon's avatar
The lack of sense being made in this comic is somewhat impressive.  A president and parliament, who are paid a fixed salary who administer basic social services, are not even remotely analogous to feudalism, wherein the line is blurred between your government, your landlord, and your employer.  A social-democratic head of government does not own the country, and he does not employ all his citizens (nor does he personally employ any).  Taxes paid don't go into his personal bank account, they go into the national treasury to be used to fund services.  The citizens vote both for the people in power, and the range of functions the government can carry out.  UNLIKE in mediaeval feudalism, and in a hypothetical 'anarcho-capitalist'(sic) society, where wealthy landowners control  the vast majority of land, natural resources, and industry.  Every fedora-tipping 'an'-cap thinks he's going to become a petty lord ruling a several acre 'crisis garden' grown from 'survival seeds' ordered from Alex Jones.  Try looking into what actually happened to such petite bourgeoisie lordlings in the middle ages.  Rich men generally get that way through pathological greed, and owning *almost* everything won't satisfy it.  No amount of appeal to the 'non-aggression principle' will make them leave you alone, and your AR-15 won't be of much use against your not-so-benevolent neo-feudalist overlords.  
squidwardfan101's avatar
1. Are you implying that all of those morons are MRAS?! I'm Pro Bernie Sanders, and I'm an MRA.
2. On a more important topic, Amen. Also, the social Democratic politician supports his people and helps them. There was no education for peasants in the middle ages, but it's affordable in a social democracy. Wanna try feudalism?! Go to Singapore or North Korea?!
Americarules1776's avatar
Cochegara's avatar
Common folk weren't protected by feudals...
SilverStarApple's avatar
Nice touch on making Bernie the politician here. The elections are so rigged, I'm amazed people aren't rioting at the overwhelming BS levels.
Gouachevalier's avatar
Thoughts on anarcho-monarchism?
BlameThe1st's avatar
Oxymoron. Anarchism is against any form of government. Monarchism is a form of government. The two contradict each other.
Gouachevalier's avatar
Fair enough; though the phrase does bring to mind the old saying, "every man's home is his castle" and whatnot.
TravisRetriever's avatar
I'm reminded of a meme on facebook picturing a hipster dipshit with him saying: "I don't know what libertarianism is, so I'll just call it feudalism (or fascism) because I have no idea what THAT is either!"
GoodThinker's avatar
No, monarchy is "Give me all your shit and then I won't have you executed." Democracy in the US is "Vote for the guy you want to have great influence on the country's politics and depending on their plan it will either help or hurt the economy, the school system, military, etc. And over the course of four years we'll see what direction he's going in, and if we like that direction we can vote him for office again. If we don't we can get someone who isn't an asshole to hopefully not fuck it up."
AshZeCat's avatar
I guess once again, I'll say to look up libertarian socialism.

Summed up:
In the workplace, everyone takes part in the decision-making process. There's no boss to be obeyed.
Schools are run democratically with teachers acting more as guides than drill instructors.
Government decisions are made like they are in the workplace. There are no presidents and everyone is their own representative.

There can be free markets as well in the case of Mutualism and Left-Wing Market Anarchism.

As such, I don't have that much hope for Bernie Sanders and electoral politics in general. Seeing what happened to SYRIZA, I think it's pretty safe to say now that electoral politics cannot be used for significant social change.
Zeonista's avatar
"Capitalism leads to feudalism." Facepalm Facepalm Facepalm  ('Cause sometimes one Facepalm  isn't enough.) 

Capitalism was instrumental in leading the West out of the Medieval period and into the Modern era. Feudalism was a true zero-sum game for economics because any surplus went to strengthening the feudal lord. The merchants (later assisted by nobles) who invested money in trade and industry lifted Europe and later the USA out of subsistence agricultural existence and created the urban societies that were the basis for the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the Spirit of 1776. They could do this because the profits from their investments could be used to expand their businesses and take on new ventures, while coincidentally allowing them to live just as good as the feudal lords. Adam Smith just invented a name to describe a model of commerce that he had observed had real beneficial results for individuals...and the nations who had those individuals as citizens. on the other hand, heavy-handed government control of trade between a nation-state and its colonies and other nations, under the policy name of mercantilism, was a primary cause of the war between Spain and England in the days of Elizabeth I. Later on mercantilism became one of the primary causes of the American Revolution. (Also at the same time a major cause of tax dodging in Great Britain due to smuggling to avoid mercantilist import taxes. ;))

Freedom of commerce leads to the promotion of other freedoms. Curtailing the freedom of commerce leads to the curtailing of other freedoms too. It doesn't matter if the curtailing power is a king, a president, or a supreme soviet.  
RedAmerican1945's avatar
You're making Bernie sound like he's apart of a protection racket. And heres the difference, a monarch in the Feudal ages would take most for himself and give the people just the bare necessities. Berries ideas on the other hand can get American students tuition free college and affordable healthcare. He's what this nation needs in the presidency. 
Americarules1776's avatar
Ah but tuition free is not really free and the next generation have to pay off the debt eventually plus the rich would most likely leave the Nation after being hounded about tax raises. I'm more for a truly free market. I still believe in Healthcare,but only for the old and working.
RedAmerican1945's avatar
We had the same in the 50s and till the 80's the rich never left when they were taxed at nearly 90% in the 50's too.

So would you allow a homeless man to die? Or have a system where all could be treated regardless of income.  
Americarules1776's avatar
No but first i think we need to have the Nation working again we need factories jobs and more peace and less war if were going to get anywhere. I always believed in affordable healthcare for the working class if that homeless man can work then i see no reason to deny a worker health coverage if he needs to get off an addiction to get back in the work force then we can help him i'm just saying if you work then society should benefit you since your keeping everything going and the rich should reward their hard workers for protecting them too.
GoseiWonder's avatar
Pretty sure Fuedalism has more to it than "straw autocracy in exchange for straw international defense."
kyrtuck's avatar
Well yeah, for starters there's numerous classes and titles in between the peasant people and the monarch asshole.
Graeystone's avatar
People live and die at the whims of what is basically a 'mayor' of a very small town.
Diaperpuff's avatar
Sanders and his entire faction, under my rule, would have no ability to get his ideas out.

His ideology would be seen as no different than Nazism.
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