Category Archives: Feudalism

A Constitutional Anniversary to Forget

constitutionstupid

While not a jubilee year, last week marked the 230th anniversary of the US Constitution.  Naturally, most of its devotees enthusiastically praised the document which by now is seen on a par with Holy Writ itself.  An editorial from Investor’s Business Daily provides an example of such hagiography:

The Constitution’s beauty is that it not only delineates our rights

as Americans, but expressly limits and defines government’s ability

to interfere in our private lives.   This equipoise between citizens’

duties, responsibilities and rights makes it the defining document

or our nation’s glorious freedom.

 

But America is wonderful largely because of the Constitution and

those who framed it . . . .

 

What we have is too precious to squander . . . .*

Most of the piece laments about the widespread ignorance of its sacred contents among the denizens in which it rules over and encourages the unlearned “to bone up a bit on your constitutional heritage . . . .”  The editorial fails, as do most others on the Right, to understand that it is not a lack of knowledge of the Constitution’s contents among the populace which lies at the heart of America’s social, economic, and political problems, but the very document itself.

One of the main reasons why the Constitution continues to be so widely venerated is due to the deliberate distortion of history that its “founders” promoted and that generations of its sycophants have continued to perpetuate to this very day.  The official narrative runs that the Constitution was enacted because of widespread popular support for a change to the supposed inadequacies and deficiencies of the Articles of Confederation.

This is a myth.  Instead, the Constitution was a coup deliberately schemed by the leading political and mercantile classes to set up a powerful central government where ultimate authority rested in the national state.  The use of the term “federal” to describe what was created in Philadelphia in those fateful days was a ruse much like the banksters and politicos used “Federal Reserve” to describe the central bank created in 1913.  It was neither “federal” – a decentralized monetary order – nor a “reserve” of gold, but a monetary institution which could create money out of thin air and eventually eliminate the gold standard.

It was a similar political maneuver 230 years ago as a new American national state was established and touted as a decentralized form of government where power was evenly divided between state and national levels and between the different branches of the government itself  – “separation of powers.”  In actuality, however, the “federal system” was the elevation of central power at the expense of local authority which had previously existed.  Section VI of the Constitution says it all:

The Constitution and the laws of the United States  . . .

shall be the supreme law of the land; and the

judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the

Constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

Elementary political science has shown and plain common sense knows that any person or institution given “supreme authority” will misuse and abuse such power.  Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely is an undeniable dictum of human nature.  A truly decentralized system of governance would not contain a plank as “supreme law of the land” as part of its foundation.  Instead, real federalism would be dispersed, as it existed in the past in such political arrangements as confederacies, leagues, and, certainly, under the much maligned feudal social order.

Even the Constitution’s celebrated Bill of Rights is flawed and has proven to be ineffective in protecting basic human freedoms.  It is the federal government which enumerates and interprets what freedom individuals should possess.  Thus, the meaning and extent of individual liberties will be in the hands of federal jurists and courts who will invariably rule on cases in favor of the state.  The ensnaring of individual rights within the central government’s authority did away with the venerable common law which was a far greater defender of liberty than federal courts.

Just as important, the enactment of the Constitution, which brought all the individual states under it suzerainty, did away with one of the most significant checks on state power – “voting with one’s feet.”  When there are multiple governing authorities, if one jurisdiction becomes too oppressive, its subjects can move to freer domains.  This still happens on a local level as high tax and regulatory states such as California and New York have lost demographically to freer places like Nevada and Texas.  Yet, from the Federal Leviathan there is no escape, except expatriation.

Unless and until Americans and all the other peoples of the Western world who live under constitutional rule recognize that it is the type of government which is the cause of most of the political turmoil, social unrest, and economic malaise  which they face, there is no hope of turning things around.

*”Sturdy Constitution, ” Investor’s Business Daily, Week of September 18, 2017, A20.

Antonius Aquinas@AntoniusAquinas

https://antoniusaquinas.com

Feudalism: Was it so Bad?

feudal system

One of the biggest misconceptions held among the independent and alternative media is that of feudalism and the political, economic and social arrangements which characterized that unfairly maligned epoch.

Derogatory language is often used to describe feudal times with commentators often suggesting that today’s political and financial elites seek to return mankind to such a supposedly depressed, stagnate and repressive condition.

Those who receive the most animus from alternative media pundits are the authority figures and institutions which reigned throughout the period – knights, dukes, kings, princes, popes, priests, bishops, churches, monasteries, and cathedrals.

Yet, was this the case; was feudalism which existed throughout much of the Middle Ages really that bad?

Politically, despite the distortions found in contemporary history books and political science texts, state power in feudal times can be categorized in one term – decentralized – which in reality meant a considerable amount of individual liberty and freedom for all, including serfs.

Naturally, feudal political conditions across Europe varied, however, a look through Carl Stephenson’s classic work, Mediaeval Feudalism, is instructive:

So far as eleventh-century France is concerned, we may disregard

the royal authority altogether.  The kingdom of the West Franks,

which had never been more than a political makeshift, now seemed

on the point of final dissolution. . . . The ancient rights of the crown

had long since passed to such men as were able, with or without

legal authorization to organize and defend a local territory. . . .

The greater of the king’s alleged vassals never came near his court,

whether to perform homage or to render any other service.  What

respect could they have for a theoretical lord who was defied with

impunity by petty officials on his own domain?1

Professor Stephenson continues with words that should warm the hearts of anti-statists everywhere:

France, obviously, had ceased to be a state in any proper sense

of the word.  Rather, it had been split into a number of states

whose rulers, no matter how they styled themselves, enjoyed

the substance of the regal power.2

In Germany, too, power was radically diffused as Professor Stephenson describes:

. . . in various other ways the rulers of Germany sought to

maintain the Carolingian tradition of a grandiose monarchy.

They even revived the imperial title and made brave efforts

to reign on both sides of the Alps.  But the task was an

impossible one.  The Holy Roman Empire became a mere

sham; and as the prolonged contest between the royal

and the princely authority ended in the complete victory of

the latter, Germany. . . was resolved into a group of feudal

states.3

Despite their aggrandizing efforts, the German kings could never succeed in establishing absolutist rule:

Vainly trying to be Roman emperors, the successors of

Otto I . . . became [as kings] purely elective, degenerated

into a sort of decoration to be borne first by one local prince

an then by another.4

Germany remained, for the longest time, an area of decentralized political authority as Professor Stephenson explains:

From the Rhineland to the Slavic frontier, armies were

made up of knights, society was dominated by a

chivalrous aristocracy, the countryside was dotted with

motte-and-bailey castles, and governments were

organized on the basis of feudal tenure.5

Political and economic theory have demonstrated that power which is diffused typically leads to low levels of taxation.  In the case of medieval feudalism, this certainly was the case:

. . .  if the lord needed military service or financial aid beyond

what was specifically owed by his vassals, his only recourse

was to ask them for a voluntary grant.  He had no right to tax

or assess them arbitrarily, for his authority in such matters was

determined by feudal contract.6

Likewise, law was not “made up” by legislative acts, but was that of custom and tradition based on the natural law which kings, lords, vassals, and commoners were all obliged to live by:

Nor does he [the king, or lord] have a discretionary power

of legislation.  Law was the unwritten custom of the country.

To change or even to define it was the function, not of the lord,

but of his court.  It was the vassals themselves who declared the

law under which they lived; and when one of them was accused

of a misdeed, he was entitled to the judgment of his peers, i.e.

his fellow vassals.7

Warfare, too, was limited in scope compared to the massive human slaughter and destruction of property which has taken place over the past two centuries:

    The general character of feudal warfare may be easily

deduced from what has already been said about

vassalage and chivalry. . . .  when two feudal armies

met, each knightly participant was apt to conduct

himself as he saw fit.  The final outcome would depend

on a series of duels in which the determining factor was

individual prowess.  But battles on a large scale were

rare in feudal Europe.  The characteristic warfare of the

age consisted rather of pillaging raids into the enemy’s

territory, of skirmishes between small bands of knights,

and of engagements incident to the siege of castles.

[Emphasis mine.]8

While there used to be a debate about the conditions of serfs compared to that of modern day wage earners, the argument is now falling apart with studies showing that real wages and corresponding standards of living have actually contracted over the past half century for most.  Where there can be no debate, however, is the moral condition of the people of the feudal past compared with contemporary times where “gay marriage” and other abominations have now been given legal status.  No right-minded person could argue that marriage, the family, and child rearing are in better shape today than they were in the supposed “Dark Ages.”

In nearly every aspect of societal appraisement, medieval feudalism was a far superior social order than anything which has come in its wake.  Those who denigrate it not only show their historical ignorance, but play into the hands of their elite oppressors who understand that a return to such a social order would be a much greater threat to their power than any presidential candidate or his “movement.”

1Carl Stephenson, Mediaeval Feudalism, Ithaca, NY.: Great Seal books, 1942; 1960, pp. 77-78.

2Ibid., p. 78.

3Ibid., 92-93.

4Ibid., 93.

5Ibid.

6Ibid., p. 31.

7Ibid.

8Ibid., pp. 66-68.

Antonius Aquinas@AntoniusAquinas

https://antoniusaquinas.com/