Joel Kotkin’s book The Coming of Neo Feudalism – A Warning to the Global Middle Class (2020) explores a phenomenon now developing in the global political economy. We are returning to the social arrangement, legal and economic cultural structure known historically as feudalism. I place an exclamation point after the title of this post not to cheer for the return of feudalism*, rather to exclaim our newfound understanding of the phenomenon, knowledge that secures our family’s well-being against threats from cultural change.
Kotkin’s book is divided into 7 sections, each with 3 chapters in them:
Part 1 – How Feudalism Came Back – why it arose and is returning to replace liberal capitalism
Part 2 – The Oligarchs – a fascinating examination of their belief system
Part 3 – The Clerisy – arrogant academic and media pundits who legitimize oligarchy
Part 4 – The Embattled Yeomanry – that’s us!
Part 5 – The New Serfs – poor slobs victimized, exploited and subordinated by feudalism
Part 6 – The New Geography of Feudalism – gated communities and a totalitarian future
Part 7 – A Manifesto for the Third Estate – is feudalism inevitable? Can we change it?
Next week, we begin a War Chest journey into the regressive arc of history being bent by Tech Oligarchs and their Clerisy, who impose ever tightening control over the flow of information and the shape of culture. This is the perfect time to explore these ideas, as the Slate Star Codex fiasco, cancel culture absurdity and societal decadence unfold before our eyes in real time.
* There is a small abhorrent group of thinkers who actually do openly advocate for the purposeful restoration of feudalism and racial hierarchy (“neoreactionary” views). They work for the intellectual normalization of “alt-right” ideology. Here is a New Yorker article about Scott Alexander and the dangers of giving legitimacy to vile views:
Nonetheless, brave thought explorers like Scott Alexander actually confronted them head on in his famous The Anti-Reactionary FAQ (2013), which will not be accessible on the internet until The New York Times pulls its head out of its ass. Sometimes, a willingness to confront, explore and refute objectionable, offensive concepts is better than just letting them accrue to the status of what the article author calls “forbidden knowledge”.