Both capitalism and democracy are a shakedown, but you’re selling yourself into a completely different kind of shakedown if you think that a return of late feudalism is going to make things better. Chances are you can do just as well without it– maybe better.
For the people who have already sold themselves on the #LateFeudalism campaign, I want you all to stop a moment and ask yourself why you’re interested in it. Is it because of castles, and kings, and the glorified agrarian lifestyle? Don’t get me wrong, I think I could be very happy living on a farm, but I want you to stop thinking of a political system that strikes your fancy and political biases. I want you to look at your ends, or your objectives, and then critically look around to see if those ends are achievable where you are now.
The late feudal period gets a lot of props from its supporters because of some supposed 4 – 6 hour workday. That sounds a whole lot better than the mythological eight-hour workday that contemporary labor union supporters boast about. Last I checked, most people who get an eight hour work day aren’t making enough money support a family, let alone themselves. The ones that do earn enough on an eight hour workday are probably doing two jobs at once, or they’re one of the lucky few who landed a white collar corporate executive job. But, let’s not get wound up around the axle arguing about how many hours a day is the “right” number of hours to work. That would be like arguing over whether or not the 7 Minute Abs program is better than the 15 Minute Abs program, and it would just as worthless because nobody likes doing crunches.
Do you know what that other thing is that nobody likes? Work. I will always choose to do less work instead of more if I can help it, and so should you. Saying that you’re happy with an eight hour workday is like saying that you’re happy with walking only halfway down the plank. A pirate doesn’t need for you to walk all the way to the end of the plank, a pirate only needs for you to walk far enough to get past the tipping point. Don’t be a moderate who settles for eight hours a day, you’re still losing.
What if I told you that you could work only four to six hours a day, still have enough money to eat high quality food, and also have enough time to pay attention to the things in that actually matter? As usual, it’s those damn hipsters who are showing the rest of us how to do things better. Or, at least they’ve been unwittingly forced into a lifestyle that’s showing them how to opt-out of the capitalist wage-slavery altogether.
I generally loathe Salon, but you can’t really argue with this older article about hipsters on food stamps. This 2010 article highlights the problem of under-employed or unemployed 20-something hipsters who left college and found out that there’s no market for their passions. Despite not being able to do the kinds of jobs that they expected their college degrees to get fro them, they’re working less than eight hours a day and living at a higher quality of life than you.
So what if hipsters are on food stamps? So what if they buy healthy food with it? That’s what people are supposed to do with food stamps. How they perform their class status is irrelevant to their earning level, and if you think that people should only use food stamps for packaged goods found in big-box grocery stores then you’ve really gone off the deep end. Government welfare programs are not an “unnecessary social program”, they’re one of the government’s primary purposes. But, where does it stop?
Should the government also pay for your house? That’s what New York is debating, and also what NPR writer Amanda Aroncyzk is cheering for. The woman in the article, whose housing is paid for by the State of New York, is living in a managed apartment building with all manner of modern amenities and with professional health workers on-hand to help her. Would everybody’s quality of life be improved if they received a monthly rent voucher from their state government? That’s one way to do it. Did late feudalism do all of that for its great masses of peasants? I doubt it.
I could be perfectly cynical about it all and just say that the great masses of lazy people are just finding ways to game the system. Just like Brett Stevens has observed, that’s the kind of attitude that doesn’t develop until the Average Joe reaches retirement age.
“Such people inevitably face a rude shock when they retire. First they miss their job and title; after a while, they cease caring. And then they notice was has happened to the world while they have been in the jail of being busy. It has crumbled further; destruction and perversity normalized with social standards destroyed empowers the stupid and selfish to not only act like idiots but get subsidized for it, all the while eroding every vital organ of civilization from within.”
Those vital organs within the state aren’t going to die because they were over-taxed and eroded by hipsters and mentally or physically impaired black people whose housing is paid by the state. Those vital organs that compose the state will die because of dis-use and atrophy. There is nothing that the government does better than regulating, and it’s my prediction that those programs will only work more efficiently and will provide higher quality of service the more that they are used. Exactly who qualifies for those programs is a different argument entirely, but my regular readers can probably guess how I’d answer that.
The kinds of living conditions that you’re pining for under late feudalism would actually be worse than what you can have right now. Stop defining your quality of life by the amount of money that you make, or that you can work eight hours a day. You can have time to practice your craft, enough money to eat healthy food, and if you’re really lucky the state will also pay for your housing. The 4 -6 hour workday didn’t die with late feudalism, we gave it up for the fever dream of capitalism.