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Thursday: Lords, Serfs and Change!

By the time you read this, I’ll be on my way to an overnight camping trip with 100 7th graders.  I know your prayers will be with me that I will survive the night.  I’m just not sure prayers will be enough.  Needless to say, I won’t be posting tomorrow morning.

Now, to follow up on the post from yesterday about misinterpretation of Darwin.  The feudal system derives its power from violent struggle and getting the other guy before he gets you. And many of our fronteir ancestors had an opportunity to practice a sort of fedalism in isolation as they scooped up resources.  As James Burke pointed out, those pioneers turned out to be the forerunners of our modern business culture where there is a wild west, anything goes brutality about the way things are done.  But feudal, stratified societies have been toppled before.  Let’s take a look at medieval Europe for example.

Back in the middle ages, the population was divided into three basic food groups: the aristocracy, the clergy and everybody else.  The lords owned everything that wasn’t owned by the church.  Everyone else was left to scrabble over what was left.  If you were a serf back then, you couldn’t leave the manor without permission.  Even free born people could be expected to put in a certain amount of work for the lord, with a meager pay.  If you did manage to end up in town on business and remain there for a year and a day, theoretically, the lord couldn’t force you back on the farm.  But the grim reality was that the lords could get away with a lot.  The clergy’s role was to maintain the status quo and keep everyone’s eyes on the prize- the afterlife.  That kept the peasants in their place and the monasteries fat and happy.

Back then, Aristotle was king.  The clergy prevented a lot of scientific discovery because they tended to revere the old classics.  Besides, why ruin a good thing?  The status quo was working out so well.  Back then, a craftsman or someone with a smidgeon of book learning who had a good idea based on direct experience was the butt of ridicule and a menace to society.  Change happened very slowly because there was no need to change.  Everyone in the aristocracy and the clergy were perfectly content to keep things as they were.  It was all tickety boo.

Then the bubonic plague hit and wiped out a great big chunk of the population.  Oh, how the worm had turned.  Suddenly, there weren’t enough people to till the lord’s land and the damn serfs started to get all uppity.  They demanded higher wages.  Well, the nerve!  But it was to get worse for the clergy and academicians.  All of the sudden, there were craftsmen all over the place doing things their way and experimenting.  Well, who was going to stop them?  Before you knew it, the seeds of the Renaissance had been planted and a century later, great works of art and architecture were all over Europe.

So, a catastrophe does have the potential to work in our favor, at least in one case.  But were there other examples?  Yep.  In the 18th century, in France, the aristocracy got a little careless.  There was also a major financial catastrophe as well.  I can’t remember all of the details but it involved some CFO that France hired who got them way over their heads in debt.  The end result was higher taxes for the working guy, followed by bad weather, that lead to the average French literally starving for bread. The bourgeousie started to get restless.  It all came to a head when they directed their frustration on the Bastille, symbol of the state’s power over them.  Before they knew it, they were marching on Versailles and dragging their monarchs out of their silk stockings.  It got very nasty for several years as the sans coulottes purged the countryside of their aristocracy.  And there was a second revolution about 50 years later to adjust for the failures of the first.

The Great Depression was a  catastrophe of sorts.  It also transformed society but in our case, the government stepped in to reform itself.  This is somewhat unusual.  We had Hoovervilles and protests and life was grim.  But there wasn’t a revolution.  Roosevelt just barely nipped that in the bud.  We came very close though.  But what FDR demonstrated was that it was possible to make adjustments to the system that would dampen the disparities in income and social stratum and prosperity followed for many decades.

Um, that’s not what we have with the Obama administration.  No, these guys seem to be focussed on keeping the aristocracy fat and happy, at your expense.  We are very much back to the feudal model.  The bankers get all of the taxpayer money.  You, the taxpayer, get nothing.  And Obama is coddling the religious right as well, making sure that entrenched attitudes regarding gender and sexuality remain firmly in place, limiting the ability of women and the gay community from making contributions to society, and focussing our attention once again on the afterlife.  As we have seen from Dakinikat’s earlier post, Obama and his finance guys are getting failing grades from economists.   They have failed to get tough with our lords and make demands of them.  Therefore, the recession/depression is expected to last longer and have a significant impact on employment levels and GDP for an extended period of time.  And THAT is going to have an effect on Social Security, which is dependent on a growing economy to keep the system solvent.

Now, some of you may wonder if this is by design.  Maybe the lords have unlimited power to keep us all in a state of serfdom.  The loot at will and terrorize us with lack of income while they plunder the world’s human resources looking for the next cheap source of labor.  Well, yeah!  Of course they would- if they could get away with it.  And so far, our society has told them that such a thing is not only possible, it is desirable.  We reward these people lavishly and are vulnerable to the propaganda that if they don’t have their taxbreaks and perks, they won’t be able to create jobs.  The newest propaganda is a doozy.  See, if you are laid off, don’t despair.  You are being sacrificed for the greater good!  The company/corporation wouldn’t be able to grow if you were still employed.  If you still want your job, you are just being selfish and depriving one of your still employed colleagues from having a paycheck.  You are a martyr for the cause!  Feel good about your joblessness.  Embrace it.  Think of it like a wildfire in the forest, restoring the environment with new life.  You will find another job in the new economy.  Oh, it doesn’t pay as much?  Well, we never promised you a rose garden.  Loooooser.

The bad part of that model is that we will probably plunge ourselves into a new Dark Ages.  If all of the resources belong to the corporations and new aristocracy and the consultant class continues to drive research, we can look forward to a long period of stagnation.  That doesn’t mean there won’t be discoveries.  It’s just that the only ones that will be developed are the ones the owners decide they want and their stinginess can afford.  We’ll start to resemble those countries where there are a lot of very creative people who are kept in their places by the people who do not desire change because it might upset their way of life.  Come to think of it, the Villagers are the most visible representation of this class of people and they were gung-ho over Obama.

I would just caution Obama and his team to be careful how they handle this crisis.  Those French bakers had no idea that storming the Bastille would turn into a rout. It’s just that irresistable force met immovable object and something had to give.  It’s the nature of Change!™  and there are more serfs than there are lords.

99 Responses

  1. You’ve given us a lot to think about with this post, Riverdaughter. I’ve started to quote something from just about every paragraph — that’s an amazing feat.

    • Yes, RD is really something, able to knock off a longish, cogent, entertaining commentary in between showing up at the office and heading off into the (freezing?) wilds with over a hundred, energy abundant charges. I have no idea how shes does this. Gotta be something in the water up there.

  2. Hammer, nail, bang! :mrgreen:

  3. We have a history of forgiving our Presidents for almost anything, maybe because unlike popes and kings, we have a vote (as of the last century at least) and we elect them into office. We may object vehemently, but we don’t do revolution, much. There is Lincoln and Nixon. In Lincoln’s case, he had such a strong mandate from the people that he overcame a war of secession and oriented the nation in a better path. In Nixon’s case, he was the master of not letting a good crisis go to waste. But unlike Lincoln, Nixon lost his mandate by the second term, because he cheated. Obama has cheated to get into the WH, and Americans don’t suffer cheating well. His mandate is weak and getting weaker as the towers crumble. Who knows. Janet Napolitano might need to brush up on rules of engagement for the domestic side of her Homeland Security job.

    • Don’t worry, the military is setting up liasons with police departments all over the country. They are getting ready to put down any rebellions. If we don’t like going without food, we can complain and go to the FEMA camps where we’ll at least get gruel a couple of times a day.

      • That’s the really scary part, BB – the secrecy with which the government is operating in the interest of quashing any signs of rebellion against that which merits, even needs, loud and public opposition.

        • p.s. Is the O-administration capable of going so far as to redefine our First Amendment right to “peaceful assembly”? I believe it is. I believe that, given Obama’s utter arrogance and disdain towards the dignity and real needs of others, towards integrity in governance, not to mention his predilection for sacrificial goats, we are in danger of predeterminations of “clear and present danger” or “imminent incitement of lawlessness”.

  4. If the TARP money keeps going down the tubes, will people wake up? If those Wednesday night soirees keep getting a lot of gossip press, will people wake up?? It may be he “entertainment” sort of press that finally does it!! Although the news of Obama’s “awesome” full-court basket may erase any negatives.


    Now, in light of the Citigroup/our money going to Chinese business, there’s this other story which involves Citigroup that I’ve been researching…note how RE/MAX is already getting ready to cash in…This is the final segment of our accidental focus on the North American Community…which has turned into the sort of research nobody reads (like you said yesterday RD, some of the big research pieces flop..and that’s sad, too!!)

    Mexico Plans World’s Third Largest Seaport, Will Impact U.S. Ports on West Coast; Citigroup to Help Finance?


  5. “They have the guns, but we have the numbers.” — Jim Morrison

    • This week the Texas legislature is debating requiring photo ID at the polls. Of course the Dems are against it as it would “disenfranchise” voters. Wonder what they call the set up of the Democratic primary? At one time I might have been against this but now, not so much.

      • I have no problem with the photo ID requirement. If you treasure your vote, you’ll find a way to get a picture of yourself incorporated with a verifiable address on a piece of paper.

        • only thing Kat is in some states like (WI) you are only issued a photo ID every 9 years to keep down administrative costs, and they discourage you from getting a new ID per change of address. Now they require that you just mail in your change of address.

      • Swann, just like you I used to oppose this, but after seeing this past election’s outright and obvious fraud, I believe we need photo ID. We need photo ID for everything — to get a job, SS benefits, etc. [and I think to pick up an absentee ballot?] So I think the state has a compelling interest to make sure everyone has a photo ID to vote, and to pick up an absentee ballot if you are issued one. For the real poor who can’t afford to get one, IDs could be issued for free.

  6. All I know is, something’s got to give. The workers are getting restless. I can’t begin to tell you how much I am enjoying this series Riverdaughter.

    • Excellent article-show it to RD when she gets back from the camping trip. It seems to echo all she’s been saying re Pharma.

  7. I think one of the big questions is how they’ve been able to get away with it all this far.

    There are a few new opiates of the people, since isn’t really doing it any more.

    One is TV, and the soporific media in general. TV, especially has brught the dumbing down. Including maybe, hypnotic or subliminal techniques to keep us in place.

    Then, there’s all those drugs, starting with legal ones like prozac, xanax, etc. Even alcohol. In addition, to all those illegal ones that so much of the population sedates themselves with every night, if not in the daytime, too.
    Will someone on prozac or zoloft ever rebel? World’s too upsetting, had too much. Up the dosage, turn on some mindless TV, and feel better.

    So is any kind of real rebellion even possible any more? Remember all those marches that got so little coverage in the sixties and seventies? At least people were out there. Now, not so much. Actually, not at all.
    We’re truly on the brink of another depression and no one is out there protesting.

    I do think “They’ll” (powers that be) will do as little (or as much) as they get away with. And of course, the role of Obama, is the great enabler.

    • Speaktruth,

      You’re misrepresenting what anti-depressants like Prozac do. They don’t numb emotions or reduce motivation. Depression does that. Added serotonin in the brain does the opposite.

      • I respect your opinion, bb, and I remember you really believe in anti-depressants. I respect that they’ve helped many people, so my position isn’t to do away with them. I do think they’ve been both overused, and used incorrectly at times.

        According to Dr. Amen, who wrote Magnificent Mind at Any Age, a great book, btw, (he’s on PBS, too) each anti-depressant works differently on different people, depending on brain chemistry. Many doctors prescribe incorrectly, because they don’t check or know about the subtle differences, or use trial and error approach.

        Yes, serotonin is a great thing, and know several people who won’t live without their prozac. Better than the alternative in many cases. But it takes away anger and angst. That’s mostly a good thing, but also can be an opiate. Rebellion requires great anger, frustration, despair, and hopelessness. Otherwise, why would people go out there and risk their lives? People, at all times of great rebellion, had to be totally fed up, enraged and hopeless. Prozac prevents this.
        And I do believe powers that be are aware of this, and use this.
        In addition to all the more harmful opiates.

        btw, sorry about the typos. I can’t proofread because ends of sentences are not visible. Is it only my computer? Is there anything to do?

        • I agree with this. I have situational anxiety attacks and my doctor wanted to prescribe prozac. My response was, “Why not just remove myself from the type of situation that creates this anxiety?”

          There is just too much medicating and if you can’t feel anger or sadness, how do you when you are truly happy?

        • Are you using Firefox as your browser?

          • No, to Firefox. I use Safari – have a Mac. Is that the problem?

            Sorry, I’m SO technology challenged. Mostly it’s a matter of having or making the time it takes to get better at it. And the patience. Impatience is a big problem for me.

            Hmm, is there a drug for that?

          • I saw problems with internet explorer-no spaces between commenters.
            With firefox and opera -fine.

      • I’m with you, BB. I don’t have much first-hand experience with antidepressants, but I certainly have met wonderfully engaged and committed activists who successfully battled chronic clinical depression with the use of antidepressants. The use of these medications actually enabled their political activism–it was their depressions that sidelined them from time to time.

    • speaktruth, I think about this alot. The culture we’ve got going here. I was thinking about how in school
      we were taught about the “benevolent leader”– prez always good guy to the under 12 crowd–unless they’re paying attention. Also the possiblity of a double depression– an economic one, but also a populace headed into a downward spiral caused by a failure to address social ills and a zealous medical construct which pours medication down the throats of all without intelligent discrimination. “Hey, you been down for a week or more? Here, try this.” And now the drugs are aimed at children… perk up their mood, ratchet down their mood. And our poor culture which still thinks
      that anyone with a degree in anything has somehow got more answers than those who stand back, look at what’s going on and have common sense.
      Looking downthread, of course would not discount BB’s thoughts. Yes, medication for some is probably essential and life saving. But medication to alter mood
      thrown at a populace is downright terrifying and has become way too commonplace.

      • Yes, I agree, angelasmith, “throwing” the drugs at children is especially terrifying. Drugs like Ridilin are creating a nation of addicts, from childhood. Aside from this making tons of money for drug companies, it seems that there’s more to it. Keep everyone sedated.

        Otherwise, what else would explain the lack of outrage of a populace that’s been and continues to be so screwed over.

        There was a great movie about this, it might have been Monty Pithon, around mid-nineties. Someone here probably knows the name. A musical, actually. Very funny. But it’s never shown on TV. Like Bullworth, another wonderful movie that you never see on cable. I wonder why. Hmmm.

  8. Of course its by design. Grover Norquist laid out the plan a long time ago.

  9. “Um, that’s not what we have with the Obama administration. No, these guys seem to be focussed on keeping the aristocracy fat and happy, at your expense. We are very much back to the feudal model.”

    Obama just doesn’t care about the welfare of the entire country.

    “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence,[1] promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

    He’ll go for the “domestic Tranquility” over the “general welfare” through some palliative or intimidation. He won’t restore confidence and, therefore, he will fail.

  10. I keep thinking of Lord Du Barry’s South Side constitutes from back in the day . They froze in unheated apts as he partied with thier slumlord.

    So what has changed?…only the scope. Barry is Barry. People kept thinking if he’s given a bigger role, he will kick start into a responsible public official


  11. OMG! I just logged in and my new “screenname” has been changed from Pat Johnson to democratline. How can I go back?

  12. OMG I just watched the video of Hillary and MO at the International Women’s Awards Ceremony. I muted some of her remarks about Obama. Hillary as always was nice towards BO and MO but MO – OMG! First the witch starts by saying how she loved calling Hillary Secretary Clinton. She emphasized Secretary then the mother of all lies. 😯 She said that Hillary who is such a committed person has ALWAYS been a FRIEND (Yes, friends who can’t be president because they couldn’t stop their husbands from cheating on them) and SUPPORTER (the supporter whom she wasn’t sure she would vote for if her husband didn’t succeed in stealing the nomination) to her. She couldn’t find anything nice to say about her.


  13. Aux barricades!

  14. Meanwhile, the FDIC is broke because the BANKS (!) did not pay their premiums for years…you can’t make this stuff up.

    Now-needy FDIC collected little in premiums
    With fund going strong, banks didn’t pay for decade

    The federal agency that insures bank deposits, which is asking for emergency powers to borrow up to $500 billion to take over failed banks, is facing a potential major shortfall in part because it collected no insurance premiums from most banks from 1996 to 2006.

    The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which insures deposits up to $250,000, tried for years to get congressional authority to collect the premiums in case of a looming crisis. But Congress believed that the fund was so well-capitalized – and that bank failures were so infrequent – that there was no need to collect the premiums for a decade, according to banking officials and analysts.


  15. And the honeymoon countdown has begun…

    Obama’s honeymoon bliss fading

    Members of Congress and old political hands say he needs to show substantial progress reviving the economy soon.


  16. One last post: this one is full of hypotheticals, but one can dream right???

    Hillary 2016!

    It seemed unfathomable that the ambitious Clinton, far too young (61) to be excluded from ’16 conversations, would do anything that might seriously jeopardize the possibility of running for president again some day, but already, less than two months after taking her new job, the logic behind Clinton’s move is coming into focus: A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released last week found that 59 percent of voters now have a favorable opinion of Clinton, with only 22 percent viewing her unfavorably – “an all-time high” for her, as the newspaper put it.


  17. Downticket, on March 12th, 2009 at 9:37 am

    So you are saying that the only thing MO could think of to say about Hillary was how she was a friend and supporter to THEM?? Lordy. Well that is the greatest thing about anyone in thier world.

    Pat, I think you have to go your wordpress account page. You should be able to get back your to Pat that way.

  18. fif, on March 12th, 2009 at 9:56 am

    Don’t believe those polls. With enough bashing, the media can make them go down.

    • the media is going down, all of them, papers, tv, magazines … their revenues are down, their stocks are down, most of them are going belly up and they don’t seem to get that no one reads them any more because they really don’t do real journalism any more

      • I was listening to some news man the other day, can’t remember who, but, he was saying that the on line newspapers should give nothing for free since they, the reporters, had done the extensive research for the article. I almost died laughing. Most to the public has figured out that they are a bunch of blowhards. If real in depth stories were being done I think people would be more willing to pay to read. Saw him on C-Span. My brain caught up with my mouth.

        • well, they can’t get enough ad revenues at all anymore because the circulations are bad, I heard on NPR today that even local tv stations are hurting badly. But really, they all use the same silly reports from the AP, reuters, etc. so folks are going to the web to pick it up.

  19. Hi All!!

    Wow, more trouble for another BO appointee.. FBI searching office now, not many details though…


  20. Sorry to be OT, but I was just watching BO on teevee, and he has this new technique- someone got the memo to make him look more natural, so they placed the teleprompters at a lower level, preventing his characteristic nose in the air posture, and he has begun this head bobbing, a la Reagon, to appear more conversational. I wasn’t fooled, though, as the usual left/right rhythm had not changed. Soon, they will adjust the metronome down to andante, in an attempt to fool the masses.

    • yeah, i just noticed that. he never looks down the middle, it’s always left right and it is almost rhythmic.

      if i were the press, i would pull back and show the teleprompters.

      if i were a republican senator, i’d knock the teleprompters over

  21. woops, Reagan

  22. in moderation.. maybe the link? @10:33

  23. This is the best I could retrieve from changing the user name. But it is still me.

  24. So Bernie Madoff is going away for 150 years for ripping people off for 65 billion. That seems a bit light to me. Let’s see, losing 65 billion dollars, that’s like waking up one day and a State the size of New Mexico is gone, poof, forever. And god love our legal system, but why does Bernie now get to go back to his penthouse while the lawyers bicker about bail. He pleaded guilty. Take him to the slammer already.

    The scary thing about all this is that as big as 65 billion is, Bernie Madoff was a skilled scammer, but he wasn’t one of the deep inside players, the ones with the secret handshakes and ritual bonds that go way back. Those guys are still out there, diligently shuffling the decks with what’s left of OUR money at the banks (pensions, retirement savings, home equity, insurance, etc). And Geithner is standing lookout, buying them time with these stress tests. Hurry it up, he’s saying to them.

    And where the hell is the sheriff and his posse. Better question, who is the sheriff. Andrew Cuomo? Chris Cox? Chris Dodd? Please. You need a serious Clint Eastwood leading a calvary regiment to take down these guys, and the tres amigos Obama/Geithner/Orszag ain’t it. We continue to be fubar.

  25. http://hotair.com/archives/2009/03/12/obama-tech-appointee-office-raided/

    “”An official in the D.C. government’s office of the chief technology officer has been arrested in a federal bribery sting, according to law enforcement sources. The FBI has raided the technology office this morning and agents are continuing to search for evidence, sources said.””

  26. As some have voiced before, taking into account the company he chooses, it’s not at all paranoid to think a downfall of America is wanted.

    Interesting writing, thanks, RD.

    OT – elsewhere I just came across an Opod saying it was a vicious prank, haters giving an F-grade to O, and so they should get to it and give him an A to counter it all. So serious *g*

  27. OT, but I only watch local news for weather, etc. until last night, when my local station decided that Bristol Palin’s break-up was newsworthy. When did two teenagers breaking up become newsworthy? Have I lost my mind, are we living in a Tiger Beat country?

  28. I know I haven’t been around for a while, but I have been lurking.

  29. I found it, I don’t know it the quality of my writing is good enough for here, and I can’t do a damn link to save my life. I have a blog and I have been here so long, I haven’t written anything in months. It is on the blogroll though, Kirafa’s Revolt.

  30. With Obamanation’s oppressive tactics to silence criticism, we entered the Dark Ages during the primary.

  31. Right now there is this show on about the Vikings RD & Co.

    It’s a pagan thing. Always has been, always will be.
    Oh that last sentence. Have fun tonight with all those kids!

    Ah Wilderness! hot chocolate and campfire stories…..


  32. This just in: Obama to vets – “Time to start taking responsibility for those sacrifices”


    • Such bullsh!t. Why did Shinseki even take that job. Everything Barry touches is just awful.

    • Wow. *speechless*

    • Everyday it’s clearer why Hill got out of of the domestic side. Even Hillary working 24/7 could not conteract this tsunami of theft and incompetency . It pisses my off that WHEN the American people finally pick up that pitchfork, they will be looking for Dem rump to stick it in, thanks to Du Barry and the Vichy Dems

  33. Meredith Whitney on credit cards.


    Inevitably, credit lines will continue to be reduced across the system, but the velocity at which it is already occurring and will continue to occur will result in unintended consequences for consumer confidence, spending and the overall economy. Lenders, regulators and politicians need to show thoughtful leadership now on this issue in order to derail what I believe will be at least a 57% contraction in credit-card lines.

    Bear rally continues today. The bulls are beside themselves everywhere, breathlessly proclaiming that we’ve hit the bottom, we’ve found the bottom. Yeah, right. And that gigantic asset hole in the hull (or heart), any progress on that?

    Cramer is going on Stewart tonight. I won’t be watching. Cramer slammed Whitney and Roubini today for being such downers. The fact is you cannot cheerlead a sick market back to health. You must address the ailment.

    I’m not sure this market has a bottom. I’ll pay attention when dakinikat says we’re close. I’ve said this before, and I’ll remind again. In 1990 the Nikkei was at 38,000, today it is around 7,000. Fix the problem, or keep taking on water.

    • This reminds me of this anecdote from Jack Bogle:

      Everyone asks your advice. What’s the best investing advice you’ve ever received?

      It was the best advice and the earliest advice. I was working at a brokerage house one summer while in college, and one of the guys who was another runner at the firm delivering securities said, “Let me tell you all you need to know about the investment business.” I said, “What’s that?” He said, “Nobody knows nuthin’.” That sounds cynical, but we don’t know what the markets hold, certainly not in the short run. We have no idea.

      Nobody knows nuthin.

  34. Hello. Anybody there?

  35. Jane is right, listen to her.

  36. Riverdaughter,

    I’m a lefty Obama opponent. The Confluence and Cannonfire are the two main blogs I read these days (along with Anglachel, but she hasn’t been posting much recently, and Arthur Silber’s site). I may not always agree with Joseph Cannon, but I respect his desire to get to truth (even at the cost of having to revise his own beliefs, etc.), and I agree with his general ideological orientation (liberal-lefty). He also frequently promotes The Confluence on his site. I see that The Confluence continues to list No Quarter on its blogroll – though it seems to me that Cannonfire is much closer in political orientation to The Confluence (than No Quarter is).

    I was wondering why Cannonfire was removed from your blogroll.

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