Medieval America

Does economic plutonomy mean the US has become economically more medieval than modern? Consider: Characteristic Large economic interests exercise control over people and property, demand loyalty and service, and control the terms of service. Medieval society Lords of the manor granted vassals, peasants, and serfs various degrees of participation in the manor’s economic activity with varying levels of commitment and reward required. Many, if not most, lords operated largely free of interference from the monarchy – which in most places for most of the Middle Ages was weak, nonexistent, or unable to project its power geographically. Serfs remained tied to the manor, unable to earn enough to create other options. Modern society Large corporations grant executives, salaried workers, and hourly-pay workers various degrees of participation in the corporation’s activities and decisions.

Central government is too weak to control economic interests and must negotiate power-sharing arrangements.

Majority of workers earn enough to survive but not enough to become independent. Upward mobility comes from talent and connections. Geographic mobility comes from possessing portable skills.

Workers’ organizations build skills in their members and create barriers against the entry of new practioners.

Intermediate elites provide labor, services to economic powers.

Large corporations act globally, independent of any effective control. In the U.S. large corporations are powerful enough to prevent the government’s attempts to regulate their activities. Most wage-earners earn enough to subsist or even reach modest material comfort without becoming economically secure/independent. Peasants with useful talents might Some talented individuals can rise to rise to a higher level of subsistence become more prosperous as loweror even prosperity. or mid-level managers. Workers with portable skills might Workers with portable skills in enjoy the relative freedom of the information trades like software itinerant tradesman, fighter, engineering, benefits administration, troubadour, or criminal. and accounting, or in the traditional construction or machine trades (“material” trades), might enjoy the relative freedom of free-lancing. Guilds trained their members in the • Consulting firms control means various crafts and trades, and, until and methods in information the rise of corporations, negotiated trades. favorable work and compensation • Professional associations operate conditions for their members. training and certification programs based on each information trade’s “book of knowledge.” • Trade unions operate training and certification programs for the material trades. • Collective bargaining organizations negotiate via for favorable work conditions and compensation. Vassals provide labor and materiel to Consulting and staff augmentation lords. firms mediate access to labor and employment opportunities.

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