The Perpetual Curse of Feudalism, Reinvented

“Washington has become our Versailles. We are ruled, entertained, and informed by courtiers — and the media has evolved into a class of courtiers… We are captivated by the hollow stagecraft of political theater as we are ruthlessly stripped of power. It is smoke and mirrors, tricks and con games, and the purpose behind it is deception.” ~Chris Hedges, Manufacturing the Illusion of Democracy


Is Feudalism (marketing itself as Democracy) the underlying operating system (OS) 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 neo-feudalism.

If true, it would help to explain why (for over 2000 years) Western civilizations have perpetuated certain distinct characteristics- such as class systems, extreme wealth inequality, power elites, racism, militarism, prison systems (that put people in cages) and human trafficking (aka, slavery).

The guiding “parameters” (social systems and cultural programing) of modern civilizations appear to be rooted in feudalism- focused on the centralized concentration of power and wealth-  and have not changed significantly, over time.


In school, most of us learned that feudalism was abandoned long ago, that our world is now more democratically organized. While that is true (to some extent), those who study neo-feudalism suggest that instead of being discarded, the centralized power dynamics and social patterns of early empires are still very much with us.

These systems have been continuously repackaged and “updated” over time (like new versions of Windows software) morphing into imperialism, colonialism, industrialism and (most recently) corporate capitalism and globalization. (See: Mutation of Medieval Feudalism Into Modern Corporate Capitalism)

This would explain the “disconnect” many of us feel between the ideals of democracy (that we had been taught in school) and the reality of the world we see and experience all around us. And also the attraction millions of people feel to the ideas of politicians like Bernie Sanders in the United States, who has highlighted these problems, demanding radical, evolutionary and compassionate change.

If one looks carefully, human history (over the past few thousand years) has been one long story of empire building, predatory colonialism and military conquest. In Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, we are presented with the prevalent themes of class systems, crime & punishment, poverty, prostitution and peasant labor that have not changed to this day.
Even now, most people on our planet are either extremely poor or in debt, while the wealthiest 1% surround themselves with an elite class that live behind the walls of their mansions, like royalty.
Look at our educational systems, where standardized tests are used to sort, rank and classify children (while indoctrinating them with an incomplete understanding of history and manufacturing obedience). Where test scores determine society’s winners and losers, where a child’s future social status will depend on their willingness to follow orders and do as instructed. (And where the children of the wealthy receive a “private” education much more advantageous and enriched than anyone else.)

See how our political systems are rigged 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,” ruling over the rest of us, like kings.
Look at our modern military campaigns, where young men are sent off like pawns on chess boards, to kill people in far-off nations (that have resources our corporations want to control). Where 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.
Notice how our prison systems are set up, where poor people who violate laws are locked up in cages (sometimes for years), a barbaric system of punishment that has not changed since the days of the Roman empire. And where, in the United States, more African Americans are currently incarcerated than were forced into slavery 200 years ago.

In America, a revolution led by wealthy slave owners (in 1776) deposed one set of power elites, but set up another. All around us, we can see the old feudal systems- mutated or morphed 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 selfish feudalistic thinking (and 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 (see: Beyond Capitalism). He described how modern political, economic and media systems were perpetuating oligarchy and rigging democratic systems.

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 10.28.05 PM

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.

Recently, Bernie Sanders has been speaking out, asking millions to join him. It’s way past time to shift paradigms, to evolve and update civilization’s materialistic values, antiquated systems and predatory methods.

The old feudal ways of doing things has created endless misery, destroying Nature’s fragile ecoystems 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
Creative Systems Thinking


Capitalism pyramid

“Those who study the nature of colonial rule offer the best insights into the functioning of our corporate state. We have been, like nations on the periphery of empire, colonized… It is an old, old game.” ~Chris Hedges, Colonized by Corporations

Photo by Linda Kristine. In Ghana, children pan for gold in water poisoned by mercury from the extraction process.

About Christopher Chase

Co-creator and Admin of the Facebook pages "Tao & Zen" "Art of Learning" & "Creative Systems Thinking." Majored in Studio Art at SUNY, Oneonta. Graduated in 1993 from the Child & Adolescent Development program at Stanford University's School of Education. Since 1994, have been teaching at Seinan Gakuin University, in Fukuoka, Japan.
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15 Responses to The Perpetual Curse of Feudalism, Reinvented

  1. Mikele says:

    Thanks Christopher for this effective critique of democratic ideologies. Usually things change to stay the same, as the famous saying from the movie The Leopard points out.
    Thanks for sharing:)

  2. Fran says:

    Just because people don’t post a reply, that doesn’t mean they haven’t read this. I am simply speechless. Excellent piece. Should be on the front page of every major newspaper in The US.

  3. Celina says:

    Thank you very the information.

  4. Complicity in Neoslavery: Chris Hedges Calls Out Corporate America for Exploiting Prison Labor

  5. Val Boyko says:

    Brilliant! Even if Bernie isn’t elected he will be powerful force for bringing about a new era of a hopefully more democratic and kinder world.

  6. John says:

    Аhaa, its good converѕatіon on tthe topic of tһis post
    at this place at hіs weblog, I hae read alⅼ that, so at this time me alѕo commenting at this place.

  7. Pingback: The Perpetual Curse of Feudalism, Reinvented | ...

  8. It’s true! Neoliberal economic theory is really just neo-feudalism.

  9. Pingback: The Perpetual Curse of Feudalism, Reinvented — Creative by Nature | thoughts i think

  10. Pat says:

    No crony capitalism nor feudalism could ever have existed without the oppression of women in any society afflicted! It is the shortest route to complete control – hance, the battle of the sexes lives on.

    Islam driven ISIS has seen numerous undercurrents of sexism beneath its shield of religion and its cultural attachment to its financial system disguise. It’s time the west and east had this monumental showdown of Darwinian proportions among humans.

  11. Hosea Jemba says:

    I believe you.

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