I had been updating one of my useful (not earth-shatteringly important) slide shows a couple months ago in an effort to help explain to my fellow Airmen what had been transpiring in the larger economy and to try to help them understand where we were likely to go. In the process of looking forward I wanted to give a quick look back. I ran them all the way back to feudalism. In the process of researching what I thought would be a bullet that amounted to an historical footnote, I ran across a blog article on Mises.org called The Return of Feudalism that I thought I’d check, just in case we really did end up running the clock all the way back.
Is it possible we could be running all the way back full-circle to feudalism (either through or bypassing mercantilism on the journey)? I can’t say I’m fully confident in the direction we’re heading. It seems like there are too many people who have departed from smart game-playing who keep saying we’ll be able to fix the big problems via gimmicky (nuanced!) trick plays; as though one could get to and win the Super Bowl not with a West Coast offense but by making the fake field goal/punt or reverse handoff their standard tactic. Sometimes I wonder if we aren’t headed toward some sort of feudal version of the information economy. Some people, I’m sure, never doubted we’d left it (didn’t Marxists equate industrial capitalists with medieval robber barons? Why robber barons and why not the prior established aristocracy? I digress).
In the feudal era, those hardy souls who were mightier than the others of their tribe rose to prominence to become chieftains through the divine right of might. These gave way over time to landowning aristocrats who swore fealty to those with the divine right of kings. That age was largely overcome by industrialists wielding the divine right of capital backed by court-enforced contracts. Not satisfied with material wealth, or not appreciating it, we seem at the dawn of the information age to be also entering the age of the divine right of intellect. Who will be the gatekeepers and the power-wielders of this age? So far they seem to be folk so shrewd that they’re fooling no one but themselves.
Good luck plowing the land with your high IQ, fellas!