Embrace The Suck: Debt-Serdom and Our Neofuedal Status Quo

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

Democracy (i.e. political influence) and ownership of productive assets are the exclusive domains of the New Aristocracy.

I have often used the words neoliberal, neocolonial and neofeudal to describe our socio-economic-political status quo. Here are my shorthand descriptions of each term:

1. Neoliberal: the commoditization / financialization of every asset, input (such as labor) and output of the economy; the privatization of the public commons, and the maximizing of private profits while costs and losses are socialized, i.e. transferred to the taxpayers.

2. Neocolonial: the exploitation of the domestic populace using the same debt-servitude model used to subjugate, control and extract profits from overseas populations.

3. Neofeudal: the indenturing of the workforce via debt and financial repression to a new Aristocracy; the disempowerment of the workforce into powerless debt-serfs.

Neofeudalism is a subtle control structure that is invisible to those who buy into the Mainstream Media portrayal of our society and economy. This portrayal includes an apparent contradiction: America is a meritocracy--the best and brightest rise to the top, if they have pluck and work hard-- and America is all about identity politics: whomever doesn't make it is a victim of bias.

Both narratives neatly ignore the neofeudal structure which disempowers the workforce in the public sphere and limits the opportunities to build capital outside the control of the state-corporate duopoly.

The book The Inheritance of Rome: Illuminating the Dark Ages 400-1000 shed some light on the transition to a feudal society and economy. While the author is a fine writer, the subject matter doesn't lend itself to light reading. The transition from the Roman legacy of centralized governance (empire, monarchy, theocracy, etc.) to feudalism (governance by local lords / aristocracy) was complex and uneven, and the author takes pains to describe the process and many variations that arose in a highly fragmented post-Roman Europe.

(Note that the Eastern Roman Empire, a.k.a. Byzantine Empire, endured until 1453 AD. I've written often on both the western and eastern Roman empires: The "Secret Sauce" of the Byzantine Empire: Stable Currency, Social Mobility (September 1, 2016)

Don't Diss the Dark Ages (October 26, 2016)

In the Footsteps of Rome: Is Renewal Possible? (July 24, 2017)

Neofeudalism is not a re-run of feudalism. It's a new and improved, state-corporate version of indentured servitude. The process of devolving from central political power to feudalism required the erosion of peasants' rights to own productive assets, which in an agrarian economy meant ownership of land.

Ownership of land was replaced with various obligations to the local feudal lord or monastery--free labor for time periods ranging from a few days to months; a share of one's grain harvest, and so on.

The other key dynamic of feudalism was the removal of the peasantry from the public sphere. In the pre-feudal era (for example, the reign of Charlemagne), peasants could still attend public councils and make their voices heard, and there was a rough system of justice in which peasants could petition authorities for redress.

Of course peasants usually lost to the aristocracy and monasteries, but at least the avenue of redress was at least partially open. This presence in the public sphere was slammed shut in feudalism.

From the capitalist perspective, feudalism restricted serfs' access to cash markets where they could sell their labor or harvests. The key feature of capitalism isn't just markets-- it's unrestricted ownership of productive assets--land, tools, workshops, and the social capital of skills, networks, trading associations, guilds, etc.

Our system is Neofeudal because the non-elites have no real voice in the public sphere, and ownership of productive capital is indirectly suppressed by the state-corporate duopoly. Various studies have found that politicians ignore the bottom 99.5% who don't contribute to their campaigns or crony-capitalist wealth (five quick speeches for $200,000 each is $1 million. Rinse and repeat.)

The vast majority of incumbents are re-elected, as they leverage their power to vacuum up enormous sums of campaign contributions that then buy the compliance of a cowed public.

As for ownership of assets-- small business startups have been crushed by soaring costs, heavy regulations and the dominance of cartels and quasi-monopolies enforced by the state.

Income growth is now the exclusive domain of the Financial Aristocracy:

The so-called middle class owns little to no productive capital; what it "owns" is a house, which is ultimately a form of consumption. I say "owns" for two reasons: one, most households have a mortgage, so their ownership is still contingent on making monthly payments to a lender, and two, the government collects property taxes on the home regardless of the owner's income or ability to pay.

Compare this to taxes levied on business income: if the business has no net income, it owes no taxes. Not so with property taxes--they are the modern equivalent of "rent" paid to the feudal lord.

Note that the aristocracy owns productive assets while the serfs own housing and debt. This is not a flaw in the system, it's a feature of the system.

Democracy (i.e. political influence) and ownership of productive assets are the exclusive domains of the New Aristocracy. This is Neofeudalism in a nutshell.

"Under a scientific dictator, education will really work -- with the result that most men and women will grow up to love their servitude and will never dream of revolution."


"The nature of psychological compulsion is such that those who act under constraint remain under the impression that they are acting on their own initiative. The victim of mind-manipulation does not know that he is a victim. To him, the walls of his prison are invisible, and he believes himself to be free. That he is not free is apparent only to other people. His servitude is strictly objective."


-Aldous Huxley

source of quotes (read the entire thread)

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Brazen Heist Thu, 09/21/2017 - 10:10 Permalink

Withdraw your consent from this sick system in whatever way you deem necessary. Boycott their products and challege their ideas and bullshit if you don't agree with them. Be prepared to fight for your liberty and take a stand against the empire when they come for your guns, rights and freedom of speech. And if they're watching and reading this: fuck you assholes!

shovelhead Brazen Heist Thu, 09/21/2017 - 10:30 Permalink

They seem to be doing fine without your consent.The simple fact is that we simply do not matter because they control the money which is the energy of the system.Lol. Turning off your bathroom light won't bring the utility company to it's knees.Sorry but there it is. At least withdrawning your consent will make you feel better like virtue signaling but that's all it is.

In reply to by Brazen Heist

rejected Thu, 09/21/2017 - 10:15 Permalink

Neofeudal: the indenturing of the workforce via debt and financial repression to a new Aristocracy; the disempowerment of the workforce into powerless debt-serfs.should beNeofeudal: the indenturing of the workforce via debt and financial repression to a new Aristocracy; the disempowerment of the workforce into worthless debt-serfs.

Deep Snorkeler Thu, 09/21/2017 - 10:16 Permalink

Sad AmericansVictims of predictive algorithms,morally doomed, too slow to catch upto the modern world. Willfully uneducated.Bombarded by disinformation,the political-economy is interlockedagainst them.

Ghordius Thu, 09/21/2017 - 10:17 Permalink

one caveat, folks:"3. Neofeudal: the indenturing of the workforce via debt and financial repression to a new Aristocracy; the disempowerment of the workforce into powerless debt-serfs"this is an excellent definitionnow, A) what makes debt-serfs powerless? B) what creates this indenturing? C) what is the very definition of serf?C: serf = can't walk awayB: indenturing: can't walk away from debt, i.e. can't default and have a clean slate againA: that very thing, not being able to defaultconclusion: the epitome of debt serfdom is an American phenomenon only recently trying to put a foothold in the UK:Student Debtabolish this abomination. abolish prison for debt, while you are at it. all very un-American, btw

TeethVillage88s Ghordius Thu, 09/21/2017 - 10:54 Permalink

We see all the authority figures, we see power players, we see Byzantine Taxes, Regulations, Rules, Policies... and we can see the result of globalism is additional authorities in Trade and International Organizations and Banking institutions... and as State Capitalism emerges in the USA in the 1980s we see Big 3 Auto Super Stars, emergence of Finance and Tech Corporate Super Stars, TBTF Super Stars, cross border cooperation to help Western Corporations with Discount Window

- Just a new kind of Royalty
- I like the definitions, vocabulary, this helps thinking
- Fake National Economic Statistics like CPI, GDP, Unemployment... while paying no attention to where money is created... no attention to where money ends up and is hoard... this is truly "Royal Behavior", neofeudal

In reply to by Ghordius

malek Ghordius Thu, 09/21/2017 - 13:05 Permalink

Another winded way of Ghordius saying "everything in Europe is great!"

However, you somehow missed one key point: nobody is forced to take on student loans.

And even more telling is you don't even touch on the solution, which is still in line with free market capitalism:
Allow student loan discharge through personal bankruptcy again.

In reply to by Ghordius

Consuelo Thu, 09/21/2017 - 10:19 Permalink

  Typical CHS day:- Wake up.- Aw shit, what am I going to re-hash today?- Ah - here we go...!   A little Fed, a little neo-whateverism, a dash of inequality clap-trap...- Whew...!!!- Sell my $$$book

GunnerySgtHartman Thu, 09/21/2017 - 10:24 Permalink

I say "owns" for two reasons: one, most households have a mortgage, so their ownership is still contingent on making monthly payments to a lender, and two, the government collects property taxes on the home regardless of the owner's income or ability to pay.Glad to see someone else saying this.  Property taxes are a dinosaur and as confiscatory as any tax (and more than most).

GunnerySgtHartman shovelhead Thu, 09/21/2017 - 11:42 Permalink

"shitty schools," lol ... don't get me started on the local school board.  They're getting ready to build a $20 million elementary school to replace a building that they ALLOWED to fall apart.  The school board keeps saying that they cannot afford to maintain their buildings (even with a revenue levy to fund maintenance), but they can always put another tax increase on the ballot to pay for new buildings - and find enough idiots to believe their lies and vote for it.  I keep voting against whoever is currently sitting on the board each election.And then there's the free breakfast (available to everyone regardless of income), free lunch, free bus transportation (available to everyone), and free/reduced price books.  Not to mention all of the other freebies/reduced prices on things that the parents get, all courtesy of those of us who don't have kids ... I'm tired of subsidizing other people's progeny!

In reply to by shovelhead

vato poco GunnerySgtHartman Thu, 09/21/2017 - 14:25 Permalink

you GO, gunny. ya know, speaking of schools and Fun With Math, here's a math problem to solve that they never EVER seem to want to talk about. take whatever the avg. cost per student spent is (in yr state) let's call it $10K for simplicity. now take avg. class size, let's say 35 kids. that's $350,000 in incoming tax money per classroom, year after year. subtract let's say $80K for teacher salary & bennies, that $270K/room net. now we multiply THAT times the avg # of classrooms in an avg school ... 25? 40? let's say 35, and we get .... carry the 6... we find ourselves with a cool $9,450,000 perschool. subtract a million five for a principal, 2 vices P's, counselors, office staff, librarian (LOL), janitors, etc., and we're left with just about $8 million bucks per school after salaries. and STILL they cry "we're broke!", year after year while providing absolute shit results.odd how that never comes up ...

In reply to by GunnerySgtHartman

HRClinton GunnerySgtHartman Thu, 09/21/2017 - 13:59 Permalink

Genuine property ownership exists in other countries, where there are NO PROPERTY TAXES.For example... in ISISRAEL, SAUDI ARABIA, JORDAN. There are other ways for everyone to pay their fair share of taxes for common Infrastructure, Education, Policing and Utilities.The intent of the (((Usurpers))), who have citizenship and tax-free property in these places, is to milk, shear and carve all Equity out if you by the time you are buried. But you may continue to keep taking it, while your Stockholm Syndrome amplifier is cranked all the way to 11, and you bless and forgive your (((Abusers))). It's what makes you "#1".

In reply to by GunnerySgtHartman

Son of Captain Nemo Thu, 09/21/2017 - 10:30 Permalink


Let me give you some personal insight as to how pernicious it's getting these days and how desperate the revenue collectors in your Country of origin in fact "ARE"...

I have a very dear friend who was worth a fortune that has been declared a ward of the State and his own family "allegedly" because of the way his will and POA was assembled has been deemed unfit to take care of him so he now has a court appointed guardian supervising his estate!

Let me know if you need any additional literature on this topic (http://aaapg.net/) of how bad this type of scenario is playing out in every hamlet across this Great Land of Opportunity you can't seem to lose in!

In addition to civil asset forfeiture by State and local police this guardianship dilemma is yet another example of how far reaching State and local governments are going to usurp the authority of binding legal agreements that HAVE ALWAYS served to protect a family's business and personal wealth interests now off the table and "fair game" as yet another means of income through the outright theft of both our rights and property!

Son of Captain Nemo shovelhead Thu, 09/21/2017 - 11:35 Permalink

Well sh

I guess we can collectively look at the glass "half full" by telling ourselves we no longer need costly attorney's fees for the purposes of estate planning.

Now we can replace the lawyer with a much cheaper form of "legal protection" in the shape of a long barrel and multiple rounds of "double 00" with a "Welcome" mat in front of our door for the County and State police when they arrive to confiscate our loved ones!

In reply to by shovelhead

ConnectingTheDots Thu, 09/21/2017 - 10:39 Permalink

Another fascinating article by Charles Hugh Smith. Hopefully as more and more people hear this message they will wake from their slumber and rid themselves from the yoke of the elites.

As you work to free yourself, focus on building self-sufficient, resilient local communities.

Grow as much of your own food as you can.
What ever else you need, buy from local producers.

Shop at your local merchants.
Go to the big corporate outlets only when your needs cannot be met locally. Any money made by the corporate outlets leaves your community impoverishing it, local merchants recycle money back into the local community.

Eat at local restaurants, not the big chains. Same concept as previous, keep the money in your local community, instead of shipping it to the Wall St types.

Get your energy from solar panels as much as possible.
Small locally and privately produced power is far superior to centrally produced power protected by government issued monopolies.

Be mindful of how you spend your money and who you give it to. Your money represents your energy and do not give it to people or corporations who are working against your best interests.

Become involved in local politics. Know your school board, town council, police chief, and commissioners. It is difficult to have sway on the national level, but local control can be achieved.

Use your power at the local level to establish a local/regional currency that is independent of the Central Banking cartels. This will shield your community from their ability to manipulate economic crises and "force" compliance of the masses.

Establish a public bank where the focus is the community needs, not the profits of Wall Street.

TeethVillage88s Thu, 09/21/2017 - 10:45 Permalink

Inflation destroys the Social Contract, Social Security, Higher Education, Medicare/Medicaid/Health Care that is affordable, Rents, Affordable Housing, New Car Prices, Transpo & Parking Costs, Public Transpo, Restaurant Prices, Restaurant Food Quality...

But yeah... we have affordable Electronics, phones, computers.

Authorities & Advertising tells the kids... accept debt, accept a bleak future of payments & low wages and we outsource your parents/grand parents jobs, automate, and install robots & AI

So yeah this is one of the 800 lbs gorillas in the room 1) Middle Class wealth & income losses 2) 1 out of 3 still haven't recovered from 2008-2009 3) Jobs are sent overseas or given to foreigners both legal & illegal, automation is displacing many workers, black market economy exists for certain, Tax Base has shrunk & will continue to shrink due to loss of bread winner jobs 4) Boskin Commission Reforms on CPI in 1996

- Middle Aged & Elderly face retraining or re-location to gain needed income
- Citizens struggle to get income from savings, must consider riskier type assets
- Cost of Living raises cost of Training & College
- Cost of Living raised Medical Costs at time when many have to look at retraining & getting kids through college
- Cost of Living raises the cost of Re-Location for better Jobs to Prohibitive Level

TeethVillage, Federal Reformer

MedicalQuack Thu, 09/21/2017 - 11:02 Permalink

We can't do a thing to regulate unless we identify the players first, been saying this since 2010, index and license ALL the data sellers, who are they, what are they selling and to who?  It is a big, big jungle of profits and corporate profits.  I call it the "One Trick Algo" world out there, back end is doing much more than you think while the front end gives you something.  Well except in the case of Equifax now...you get nothing there.  You can't regulate unless you know who ALL the players are, simple as that.  Would you buy stock from an unlicensed broker?  Hairdressers with much less risk have to be licensed..think about it.http://ducknetweb.blogspot.com/2017/04/one-trick-algo-world-needs-to-be…

govtsucks Thu, 09/21/2017 - 11:20 Permalink

Many, not all, middle class people are in the position they're in because they spend money on a lot of shit they don't need. Lack of self-control, keeping up with the Joneses, whatever the reason. If I could take strict control of these people's household budgets, the debt would disappear and the equity side of the equation would increase. I have no pity for people who squander their money.

Faeriedust jughead Thu, 09/21/2017 - 20:34 Permalink

Stuff it.  Smart-phone because required in order to get my last job.  NO TV.  One car, needed to commute, paid for in cash.  But income is limited to the national median by my karmic contract, meaning I have only 50% equity in my house and thousands of dollars in new debt for having the main drain line replaced two days ago.  Sure, I could be a millionaire if I had been willing to 1) become a CIA torture specialist or 2) go into business selling sexual services or 3) take a long-term contract for the same known as "marriage".  Since I refuse to sell my honor, I'm limited to occupations where pimping, maiming, lying and killing for The Company are not required, which if you look closely you will discover REALLY limits the options.  So with all due respect, STUFF YOUR SANCTIMONY.  Most honest people cannot get free of all debt unless they start out with inherited capital, even if they live like monks for decades.  Apollo is my witness, I have tried that route. 

In reply to by jughead

Daryl Zero govtsucks Thu, 09/21/2017 - 16:54 Permalink

But do you pity those who lost their money to engineered or planned inflation and recessions, in addition to loss of most jobs? You know, how the dollar is only worth 2 cents of what it used to be and good jobs being waiters or bartenders until people cant afford to eat out anymore?  Even Mickey-D's is in the middle of deep losses and debt.  Is it ok for the sheeple to eat at the cheapest restaurant in town?Dont forget the poor television-watching sheeple have also been brainwashed & mind-controlled (paperclipz'd) to trust their governments and the uber-wealthy aristocrats since they were 5 years old in Prussian kindergarten. The entire system just doesnt work anymore, and It seems the consumers are more the victims than the cause of that problem.  Thats all pretty pitiful to me.

In reply to by govtsucks

Rex Andrus Thu, 09/21/2017 - 12:22 Permalink

No problem. Never take the welfare cheese and you'll not only never be a serf, you'll be highly motivated to storm the castles and lynch the bastards.

brushhog Thu, 09/21/2017 - 12:51 Permalink

All my life Ive been searching for freedom. It has lead me to where I am, sitting on my farm, no debt, everything is owned outright. Yet I am the servant of this week's weather forecast.In moving towards freedom, every breakthrough lead me smack into the next containment wall. Break thorugh that wall and find the next one which was supporting the first. Ultimately, you can strip the confines of man's artificial barriers but often ( not always ) find that they were only the bulwarks to those imposed by nature.So I rise everyday, 7 days a week with the sun. I milk my cows, clean their stalls. Cut hay when the sun tells me, cut wood when the season changes, hide from the cold and rain, and sleep with the moon. My boss is consistent, and FAIR...she plays no favorites. BUT she is completely ruthless and completely insensitive to your personal issues. You show up and  get it done...you profit. You don't...you get nothing.This is freedom FROM MAN"S imposed prison, but there is no freedom from the human condition in this life.

HRClinton brushhog Thu, 09/21/2017 - 14:25 Permalink

"FREEDOM!"  WTF is that?  Ask 100 peeps and you get 50-99 different answers.I always thought that Freedom is "the pursuit of living your life, in a way that you apply your skills, efforts and devotion, to give your life meaning, context and purpose."Guess what, kiddies? You do NOT need much to live such a life. Don't bother with changing or fighting Externalities, until you have your Internalities in hand.Improve and change the world, by improving and fixing yourself and your small corner of it. All else is delusion, vanity or imperialism.

In reply to by brushhog