Monday, August 26, 2013

American Feudalism - 3

Don Quixote was Indoctrinated
In the first and second posts of this series we quoted several sources indicating that war produced the feudal king as well as feudalism itself (American Feudalism - 2, American Feudalism).

We also looked at the basic essence of feudalism.

In today's post we will take a closer look at some of the results that a feudal mentality has on America.

This will include its impact on general domestic and foreign policy, and its impact on some aspects of American economy.

But before we look at the results of reliving the ghastly society feudalism always produces, let's review the core essence of feudalism:
Feudal lords were warriors plain and simple. Manual labor or trade was shunned as degrading to men of such high stature. There was only one vocation and that was fighting. Combat demonstrated a lord's honor and his reputation. It was also a measure of his wealth and influence in feudal society. But what does a warrior do when there was no one to fight? By the 12th century the nobility began to stage tournaments in which knights engaged each other in battle in order to prove their skill, courage and honor. The victors in these "celebrations" gained prestige and honor in the eyes of fellow nobles and peasants alike. A code of behavior, chivalry, evolved from these feudal contests of skill. A worthy knight was expected to exhibit the outward signs of this code of knightly behavior: bravery, loyalty, respect and courage.

Over time, a religious element was introduced into the warrior culture we have just described. The Church sought to use the fighting spirit of the feudal knight for Christian ends. So, to the Germanic tradition of loyalty and courage was added a Christian component: a knight was expected to honor the laws of the Church in the service of God. A knight was supposed to protect the weak and defend the Church against heretics of all shades. It is no accident that the very ceremony of knighthood was now placed within a Christian framework.
(Feudalism and the Feudal Relationship, emphasis added). The warrior class is another way of putting it:
Feudalism may be conceived of as a form of society possessing well-marked features which can be defined without difficulty. They may be summarized as follows: a development pushed to extremes of the element of personal dependence in society, with a specialized military class occupying the higher levels in the social scale; an extreme subdivision of the rights of real property; a graded system of rights over land created by this subdivision and corresponding in broad outline to the grades of personal dependence just referred to; and a dispersal of political authority amongst a hierarchy of persons who exercise in their own interest powers normally attributed to the State and which are often, in fact, derived from its break-up ... ‘feudalism’ may be regarded as a body of institutions creating and regulating the obligations of obedience and service -- mainly military service -- on the part of a free man (the vassal) towards another free man (the lord), and the obligations of protection and maintenance on the part of the lord with regard to his vassal.
(Feudalism Resources. emphasis added). Hmmm ... a specialized military class occupying the higher levels in the social scale --but it can't happen here, heh heh:
Then-defense secretary Robert M. Gates stopped bagging his leaves when he moved into a small Washington military enclave in 2007. His next-door neighbor was Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time, who had a chef, a personal valet and — not lost on Gates — troops to tend his property.

Gates may have been the civilian leader of the world’s largest military, but his position did not come with household staff. So, he often joked, he disposed of his leaves by blowing them onto the chairman’s lawn.

“I was often jealous because he had four enlisted people helping him all the time,” Gates said in response to a question after a speech Thursday. He wryly complained to his wife that “Mullen’s got guys over there who are fixing meals for him, and I’m shoving something into the microwave. And I’m his boss.”

Of the many facts that have come to light in the scandal involving former CIA director David H. Petraeus, among the most curious was that during his days as a four-star general, he was once escorted by 28 police motorcycles as he traveled from his Central Command headquarters in Tampa to socialite Jill Kelley’s mansion. Although most of his trips did not involve a presidential-size convoy, the scandal has prompted new scrutiny of the imperial trappings that come with a senior general’s lifestyle.

The commanders who lead the nation’s military services and those who oversee troops around the world enjoy an array of perquisites befitting a billionaire, including executive jets, palatial homes, drivers, security guards and aides to carry their bags, press their uniforms and track their schedules in 10-minute increments. Their food is prepared by gourmet chefs. If they want music with their dinner parties, their staff can summon a string quartet or a choir.

The elite regional commanders who preside over large swaths of the planet don’t have to settle for Gulfstream V jets. They each have a C-40, the military equivalent of a Boeing 737 ...
(Washington Post, Petraeus Scandal, emphasis added). It is doubtful that the public would approve of the 1% being composed of generals, especially the one commanding the military NSA which is spying on them, including their sex lives (Informed Comment).

Which brings us to the bread and to the circus.

The quasi-feudalism in The Western Roman Empire, prior to the Holy Roman Empire, had a social dynamic called Bread and Circus:
"Bread and Circuses" (or bread and games) (from Latin: panem et circenses) is a metaphor for a superficial means of appeasement. In the case of politics, the phrase is used to describe the creation of public approval, not through exemplary or excellent public service or public policy, but through diversion; distraction; or the mere
satisfaction of the immediate, shallow requirements of a populace, as an offered "palliative." Juvenal decried it as a simplistic motivation of common people. The phrase also implies the erosion or ignorance of civic duty amongst the concerns of the common man.
In modern usage, the phrase is taken to describe a populace that no longer values civic virtues and the public life. To many across the political spectrum, left and right, it connotes a supposed triviality and frivolity that characterized the Roman Republic prior to its decline into the autocratic monarchy characteristic of the later Roman Empire's transformation about 44 B.C.
(Wikipedia, "Bread and Circuses"). That essence had somewhat of a counterpart in later years of Holy Roman Empire feudalism:
A knight could bring in additional wealth by competing in jousting tournaments. These tournaments offered a substantial purse to the winner. Winners of such jousting tournaments became the Medieval 'superstars' of the Middle Ages. Knights became rich and famous. The tournaments were a necessary part of feudalism as they acted as a necessary training ground for the knights. The most successful and therefore wealthy knights were able to increase their land holdings and acquire their own soldiers to whom he might grant lands and who in turn swore an Oath of Fealty to the knight. Powerful knights under feudalism were therefore able to acquire their own substantial fighting forces. This in turn led to the construction of castles by knights - the great power bases of the Middle Ages.
(Feudal Games, emphasis added). Some of our modern hangover, things still in our national DNA if you will, are military rituals and flyovers at football, baseball, soccer, hockey, and other games.

Eventually, as many of our founders pointed out, the power of the public is exhausted and the society declines (A Decline Of The American Republic).

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

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