I must admit my embarrassing ignorance on an obsession amongst what is apparently a rather substantial majority of people. I humbly admit that I do not watch, and aside from about a ten minute segment, have never watched Game of Thrones. So, please be compassionate of my ignorance when I say that I would assume that there is a good deal of royal intrigue and that many of the characters are in positions of rule and exercise absolute power over their people.
Popular TV shows aside, feudalism was once (and in some places still is) the predominant form of government throughout the world. The majority of people in our modern world recognize the dramatic shortcomings of that particular system of rule and that particular system of government. There is an obvious inherent wrong to placing final say and near-absolute power into the hands of a few, and then subjugating people into various classes of diminishing power until a class is reached that are slaves (or serfs). In reality, all in this system are slaves – just to varying degrees. They all have sworn fealty to the rulers above them.
One of my primary annoyances is when people exaggerate to make a point. It typically means that the person lacks confidence in the point they’re making and feel the need to add to it to make it sound better. A good and solid argument of sound logic requires no exaggeration. However, it is my belief that comparing today’s governments to feudalism and having its own portion of slavery is not an exaggeration at all. I would contend that it is an appropriate comparison, and much more than a metaphor. I think it’s really just more of the same, disguised as giving people more power. Game of Thrones may be a work of fiction, but modern feudalism is not.
The management chart might be a little bit flatter than it used to be. There may be fewer levels of royalty, but they do exist. In the US, there are the President, Speaker of the House, and Majority Leader in the Senate. Other countries have similar royalty at the top. Then, there are other legislators, then a class of regulators, as well as the heads of large corporations and large lobby groups. At the bottom are willing serfs who might not even realize their own serfdom. They have a little more freedom than the serfs and slaves of centuries ago, but they are still, in many forms, property of the state.
If you doubt your own serfdom, consider this:
Government holds your ability to freely travel through passports and visas. You are not allowed to keep all of what you work to obtain with your labor. Government promises protection, like the kings and royals of old, but requires fealty and service in exchange, while also limiting your own ability for self-protection. Oftentimes, government confiscates by force resources from some people and some regions to redistribute. In most cases, your political leaders extract taxes to enrich themselves from your labor and the labor of the working class. Oftentimes, they create favorable trade situations for their friends and allow the interests of the powerful to sway and influence their laws. Make no mistake that you are a serf, and no matter where you go in the world, your government has much control over you.
Things have changed a whole let less than we’d care to admit since feudal times. We like to think we have progressed so far, and we like to think that we can progress so much further by giving our royals more power over us. For some unknown reason, socialists in particular tend to ignore this. Why people so willingly go running toward what we’ve tried for so long to escape baffles me. It also baffles me that people can be so willing to supply greater power to a ruling class through economic protectionism, and supplying advantages and subsidies to ruling corporate interests. I don’t know why people seem to seek loss of their own personal freedoms to advance their own slavery.
Sometimes what can be scoffed at as hyperbole, is actually reality. Just a reality so many wish to ignore so as to believe in the facade of freedom. Your slavery and your rulers are no exaggeration. If you prefer a system of socialism, you’re asking for greater servitude and only believe the lies that it will bring greater control to the people. Your ruling class will take full advantage to solidify your place as a serf and property of the state. You really think you can trust a handful of power-hungry royals with your freedom? By the same token, if you are under the false assumption that tariffs, favorable regulations, and corporate welfare will further the goals of free markets, can you truly trust your government and their cronies not to take advantage? What would be their incentive?
When you ask people how they came to the ideology of libertarianism, many will have similar answers, but all will prioritize their reasons. For some it’s about seeking a more peaceful world. For some, it’s about wanting to do as they wish, so long as they aren’t hurting anyone else. For me, the most motivating factor is the idea of having to submit to rulers as a serf. It is the idea that others have laid claim to me and my labor as their own.
Unlike the feudal ages of times past, we actually have, in most cases, the tools to rid ourselves of our own serfdom by means of a vote. It’s difficult, but not impossible. Royals don’t easily and willingly give up their royalty, but in places where representative governments exist, all it really takes is enough people united to take back their freedoms. It sounds overly simplistic, but it is not. The hard part is convincing people that they have lost their freedoms and continue to do so. The hard part is getting people to shed their dogged desires to believe in the falsehood that royals can be trusted not to serve their own interests. It’s incredibly difficult, but not impossible.
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