Corporate Feudalism is a concept that I have been thinking about a lot. The basic theory is that we have replaced Kings with CEOs, Dukes with Executive Vice Presidents and Counts with Regional Managers. Of course, playing the role of the Serf, well you know. The government now plays the role of the church at the time to allow us some sense of power (voting and perceived control over the Kings) but as we have seen through the economic crisis that is not really true but it makes us feel good to think so. We are happy to think some ‘higher power’ is creating rules that the rulers must follow but like the age of feudalism enough dollars would surprising changes the rules to their benefit.
A few differences are present of course. In feudal times the primary goal was to acquire property and land. Today, they are more interested in acquiring profit and market share. Once again, they will let us have the perception of ownership (see: 30 year mortgage) to make us happy and credit to further indemnify us to our corporate kings through our acquisition of stuff (which goes to make our kings even more profit). All of this makes for a nice circular pattern that causes the rabble to produce profits for the kings because of our addiction to stuff and need to pay off our credit for fear of losing it.
At least they provide us our jesters (movie stars and sports heroes). It is through those people that they can make the rabble average person happy while using them as perfect vehicles to sell us stuff and to convince us that our corporate kings are indeed looking out for our best interests. Heck, many of the kings let the jesters be their spokespeople and thus deal with all of the pressure that comes from being in the public eye.
Another prime difference is that in the feudal capitalistic model, anyone conceivably with the right idea can become a king. They just need the current kings to provide capital and start up (thus approving your membership into the club). In all, maybe this is the way man was meant to be. In fear of being called a cynic (though I am in this respect), and with this being Labor Day, where we celebrate the serfs workers (unless there is profit to be made then you are working today), I say 'All Hail' Kings Semel (Yahoo! $23.0 million last year), McGuire (United Health Group $8.8 million) and Fairbanks (Capitol One Financial $5.6 million) (please see the Forbes 500 list to worship all of our kings). It is because of you, that we can have our stuff (on credit of course).
Happy Labor Day all,
Post Script – I do hope the kings realize that their power is based on our addiction to stuff and that by eliminating the middle class, it will eventually lead to their downfall as our addiction will be broken by not being able to acquire stuff.
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