25 thoughts on “Feudalism, Indentured Serfdom, and Upward Mobility”

  1. “The United States leads the race towards a banana republic.”

    Only because the banana is stronger than the dollar just now.

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  2. I think that we are headed toward feudalism, as I understand the term. If present trends continue (or worsen, if Libertarians and repubenrons have it their way) the vast majority of people will be unable to live on what it is possible for them to earn. Common folk will be able to survive only by swearing absolute loyalty to a member of the Romney class (read: Lord) who will take care of their needs in return for being available to his, or rarely, her, every whim. This cedrtainly seems feudal to me.

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    1. If we’re going back to feudalism I want a baronecy and a coronet. I’m good at being useless and accepting kowtowing while wearing an elaborate hat.

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    2. But this will only work for as long as the Americans insist on preservation of their standard of living (by the way, I loved the piece on the revolt of the salaried bourgeoisie Clarissa linked some days ago). One can sacrifice some standard of living for more independence from the republilords. So the commoners still actually will have the choice which feudal serfs did not have.
      The issue of why allegedly so freedom-loving Americans are so unwilling to pay for their freedom by a reduction of their living standards is somewhat different, and not directly related to feudalism…

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      1. You mean like giving up their cars, and walking 30 miles to work? Or giving up the idea of families living in separate dwellings? Or perhaps their two weeks vacation, for the few that still get a paid vacation in this country? What is this unreasonably high standard of living you are talking about? Are we back to “spoiled American” bashing again?

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      2. Isabel, I am not into bashing anybody. The following is a completely value-free argument: In a globalizing world the situation where the productivity of an average Westerner is, let’s say, two times larger than the productivity of an average Chinese, and an income of a Westerner is five times larger than the income of a Chinese, is unsustainable in the long run. Since the World’s natural resources are limited, it fairly unlikely that this disproportion will be reduced by Chinese standards of living increasing by a factor of 2.5. (or by a factor of 5 if they increase their average productivity). It is much more likely that the living standards of the Chinese will increase somewhat, while the living standards of the Westerners will decrease significantly. What the Westerners do with this information is up to them. They may insist on preserving their lifestyle, or they may, for example, move out of the 20-mile away suburbs back into the cities. And from single-family houses into apartments. Change SUV to Focus. Etc.

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    3. You spend so much time looking over your shoulder at the evil conservatives that you’ll be completely surprised when the progressives take away all your civil liberties. Beware of anyone in, or in pursuit of, power.

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  3. V :

    The issue of why allegedly so freedom-loving Americans are so unwilling to pay for their freedom by a reduction of their living standards is somewhat different, and not directly related to feudalism…

    That’s a very good question. let’s try to figure it out together. The way I’m seeing it is as follows: who are the people who will have to sacrifice some of their living standard for the cause of a strong welfare system? It will be high-earners, right?

    Now, who are considered high earners? Families with income over $125K? Or even $250K?

    Now, which freedoms are they likely to lose with Republicans in power? Abortion? Not really, because they can hop on a plane any time they want and go to a private clinic to get an abortion. What else do they really stand to lose in exchange for higher taxes? Public education? Like they need it. Freedom of speech? Not really.

    Do people agree with where I’m going here?

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    1. I am not sure you understood me correctly. I was responding to David Bellamy and neither me not him were directly speaking of the “strong welfare system” here. I, in fact, was referring to one particular form of enslavement, putting people into additional dependence on their employers, which is consumer debt. And unlike the need to work for somebody to just earn some money, the consumer debt is to a large extent a product of free choice, and of the unwillingness to reduce one’s standard of living in order to become more independent. And all strata of the American (and Western in general) society participate in it. Both proletarians and “salaried bourgeoisie” alike. And, by the way, I count all middle class into “salaried bourgeoisie”, including the university professors. 🙂 🙂 Not just people earning 125K+.

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  4. Patrick :

    You spend so much time looking over your shoulder at the evil conservatives that you’ll be completely surprised when the progressives take away all your civil liberties. Beware of anyone in, or in pursuit of, power.

    Progressives are not widely known for taking away civil liberties. It’s the conservatives who reject freedom of religion and have introduced the Patriot Act, no?

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    1. It was a Democratic congress and house that didn’t repeal the Patriot Act (which is still in full force, is it not?)

      It was a progressive president that recently signed into law the ‘held without cause’ law (which has received scant coverage in the press)

      It was liberal gov’ts that interned Japanese citizens during WWII.

      Hugo Chevaz is a darling of the political left in North America, but his actions are questionable at best.

      My point – don’t assume that because your on the same side of the political spectrum that they aren’t capable of the same atrocities you imagine the other side wants to inflict.

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      1. “My point – don’t assume that because your on the same side of the political spectrum that they aren’t capable of the same atrocities you imagine the other side wants to inflict.”

        – Oh, yes. That, I believe, nobody who has been watching the Obama presidency unfold can disagree with.

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    2. “It’s the conservatives who reject freedom of religion and have introduced the Patriot Act, no?”

      Here we go again. Meanwhile Clinton and Obama push the Drug War envelope all they want.

      Loss of civil liberties began with the Bush Patriot Act! Obama really cares about our civil liberties!

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      1. Yeah, I just need to concentrate on your misleading question.

        “Progressives are not widely known for taking away civil liberties. ”

        The key phrase here is “not widely known”. That part is correct.

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  5. Even educated people play fast and loose with words. With respect to “indentured servitude”, here’s an article in Inside Higher Education:

    http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/more-indentured-servitude

    Special interests are people who don’t agree with you. And for those with some understanding of the humanities – liminality, paradigm, ergodicity, sous rature etc. to be thrown into the mix when useful. Let’s bump up the Gunning fog index to pull the wool over people’s eyes.

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  6. Isabel :

    You mean like giving up their cars, and walking 30 miles to work? Or giving up the idea of families living in separate dwellings? Or perhaps their two weeks vacation, for the few that still get a paid vacation in this country? What is this unreasonably high standard of living you are talking about? Are we back to “spoiled American” bashing again?

    It is very obvious that we are talking about people who will be asked to pay higher taxes. Please start paying attention. The group we are discussing makes over $250K per year and doesn’t walk anywhere.

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    1. It’s not obvious when you say “Americans”. Furthermore, V specifically said:

      “One can sacrifice some standard of living for more independence from the republilords. ”

      This makes it clear that the people who are dependent on the overlords are the ones who are too spoiled to sacrifice. The people making over 250K are not the ones dependent on the overlords.

      I don’t think I am the one who is not paying attention.

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      1. This makes no sense. How would low-income people sacrifice anything in a society with a stronger welfare safety net? Have the Dems suggested raising taxes on welfare recipients to get them to pay for their own welfare? This just makes no sense at all.

        The point is that in welfare states upper income people are taxed more heavily to pay for the welfare systems.

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  7. the quality of life your master(s) allow you to have in no way justifies a social order. people do not own the fruits of their labor, therefore they are indentured serfs, if they own land, they must pay endless, arbitrary rent. what you are allowed to keep in income in perpetually devalued by the federal reserve. modern technology doesn’t excuse our non-free monetary and tax policies.

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