Is Corporatism Really Modern-Day Feudalism?
By: Marcus Perriello | Our Voice Contributor
If one sorts through the details of our current economic system, what is revealed is a nearly-direct parallel between Corporate Capitalism and Medieval Feudalism. These two economic infrastructures have so much in common, one might almost consider them twins. Both require a strictly defined hierarchical social structure. Each system is Rigidly Authoritarian. For the majority of the citizens exists very little means of advancing in status and lifestyle. And of course, the most lopsided income and wealth distribution as can be managed without fear of retribution or reprisal. There are a few noticeable differences, however, in that the peasantry/working class can buy nicer things on a scale not even conceivable during the Middle Ages. Additionally, healthcare has become far more efficient and the array of opportunities from which the peasantry has to choose is far more diverse. This is due to industrialization and the incentivized advancement inherent in a Capitalist system.
But it is equally important to note the similarities residing within these differences. While the peasantry does have more wealth compared to those of Feudalistic societies, the cost of goods and services has been spiraling out of control to the point where their purchasing power is in sharp decline. Healthcare may be more evolved, but the cost of healthcare is so outrageous that it can easily be described as economic cruelty. And while there are a wider range of economic opportunities for the peasantry to choose from, corporate and political corruption has been working tirelessly to rig the entire economic and political infrastructure against average people – favoring only the Rich. These are direct echos of Medieval Feudalism, coupled with the growing brutality of Law Enforcement towards both economic and political dissidents.
Structurally speaking, corporations and feudal kingdoms are all-but identical. The CEO is a Monarch. The Board of Directors is the Monarch’s Inner Circle. Those in Field Management are Feudal Landlords. Ground-Level Management are Overseers and Local Law Enforcement. The Peasantry are the Ground-Level workers. Both institutions are highly undemocratic, with a few exceptions scattered throughout their respective economic landscapes.
The entire purpose of both of these ways of life is to enrich those residing at the top of the economic and/or political pyramid. The humanity is completely stripped away from everyone except the ruling class in these types of arrangements, and throughout history, only extreme or cataclysmic events have resulted in deviation from traditional institutions. Another similarity with most corporate figureheads is that they are traditionally passed on down the family bloodline, just as a king would pass his throne on to his eldest son. That prince would inherit the kingdom and all those who work within its borders, the new CEO would inherit the territory, materials, and workers that make up the corporate infrastructure. So it is pretty apparent that the rise of Corporatism is merely a carryover from the Medieval concept of Feudalism.
Like the Feudal Lords of yore, the established power structure values its own wealth and power more than anything else. Said powerful parties have proven they will defend their own interests at all costs. Despite the massive crackdown on dissent against traditional Feudalism from 1347 to 1350, the Black Death proved to be too socially and economically debilitating to allow those Feudal Lords the strength they needed to keep their system intact. Similarly, during the Industrial Revolution, working conditions were horrendous and inhumane – creating a space for the rise of unions and the long struggle that led to the emergence of the Middle Class. There is always this perpetual tug-of-war going on between the powerful and the powerless; those with sufficient means, and those without. The most successful solutions have often been what we would call things like “Democratic Socialism”, or “Social Democracy.” It is a proven fact that the more voices our society gets to hear from – and take seriously – the more peaceful and prosperous that society becomes.