Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Obama Apologist Admits Neo-Feudal World View

Tries to explain that the State already owns everything

So, on twitter, Matt Yglessias, a supposed journalist/pundit, had this to say about the President's "I believe in redistribution" remarks:
@mattyglesias - The concept of "redistribution" falsely implies that the existence of property is prior to the existence of the state. #mythofownership

Okay, so parsing this barely literate piece of crap, the best I can come up with is this: Matt Yglessias believes that complaints about redistribution are flawed because they take as a premise the idea that property (I'm going to be kind and suppose he means "private ownership of property"- Twitter is only 140 characters, after all) did not exist before government existed.

This passes for an explanation of SCOAMT's comment: that Redistribution is the natural state of things, since the State inherently owns all property. 

Nice of them to admit that, I guess.

I know it won't get through Mr. Yglessias's plutonium-dense skull, but maybe I can reach a few people here, so I'll explain exactly why he's wrong.

Private property is one of the Natural Rights of Man.  That is, if there were no government, I would still have the ability (and, therefore, the right) to amass for myself property of various kinds.  I could make/purchase/steal a home.  I could make/purchase/steal money.  As long as I could hold it, I would have a right to it. 

As friend-of-the-blog, and one-time AoSHQ Moronette (we miss you) Dagny once stated (this may be a paraphrase): "we enacted a government so we didn't have to spend all our time using our spear to protect our women and our meat, not so they could ban our spear, take our meat, and tell us how to take care of our women."  That is, man invented government to take that "steal" portion of the "make/purchase/steal" option off the table.  Man enacted government, giving away some of our freedom (the freedom to coerce others, mainly) in return for the security that anyone trying to coerce us would be punished.  We did not enact government to take our stuff and give it to someone else.  Or, as Matt Yglessias would have you believe, so that we could have stuff in the first place.

Indeed, what he says is the acme of neo-feudal thought.  I can no longer call it Marxist, because they're no longer even pretending that Government is a "necessary evil;" they've come right out and admitted that they believe Government is morally superior to individuals.  Which Marx did as well, but he hid it better.

It was the feudal mindset that said all property- all property- belonged to the crown, and was granted via fiefdoms and leases as temporary private property.  The land a Duke or Baron or Knight "owned" was not his, but his lord's.  And, unless that lord was the King, it didn't even belong to the lord, but rather his lord- right back to the Crown.  The prices the serfs and peasants paid to grind their grain, or cross a bridge, or weave their wool was not a tax, it was payment for property that was rightly the lord's.

This is the mindset of Obama and his minions.  And they believe they will be the new lords, and you will be the new peasants and serfs.


  1. It's worth noting that stupid stupid man also wrote an article saying that the CTU union got a "modest raise" in this contract.
    Really? Modest? I'd kill for 3% each year over the next 3 years.
    He's clearly off his rocker.

  2. Allen, this is a good post, except that you are widely off the mark when it comes to historical feudalism. First, feudalism allowed for the existence of hereditary ownership of land ("allodial holdings"), so the king did not own everything by any means. Also note that it only applies to land, not chattel. Second, feudalism imposed a set of obligations on both sides - the vassal owed military service in return for land otherwise owned by the lord ("enfeoffed") and was expected to support his lord in other various ways, but the lord was obligated to respect and protect his vassal. In the event that a lord failed to do this, a vassal occassionally did go find himself another lord - one reason why the Angevin Empire lost most of its French holdings was because King John (yeah, the baddy in Robin Hood) married a girl who was betrothed to one of his vassals, who promptly defected to the French monarch. Even serfs had some protection due to the reverence for tradition at the time you could oppress your serfs easily, but oppressing them more than your grandfather did was much harder. Finally, because of this, kings were not absolute - for anything that required resources beyond their own immediate holdings they had to get the cooperation of their vassals, who were not legally obligated to give more than about forty day's service and as a result had to be cajoled into helping beyond this. A monarch's authority was very dependent on his own personality.

    In sum, Medieval Europe had limited monarchy and an almost federalist governmental system, without too much interference in daily life from the monarch. I don't think that it is a coincidence that the beginning of contract theory appeared in the 15th century, as the feudal system is replaced by the modern state. (No, the idea that kings owe a duty to their subjects and can be replaced if they abuse their powers is not an Enlightenment idea - it shows up briefly for the first time in 1071, is picked up again by the Burgundians in the late 15th century, and completed by the Huguenots in the 16th century in the Vindicaea Contra Tyranos. Hobbes and Locke were relative latecomers. Oh, and the colonists were definitely reading the Vindicaea, published in translation as A Defense Against Tyrants, on the eve of the American Revolution.)

    I really hate the term "neo-feudalism", because, while it is certainly catchy, it doesn't do justice to actual feudalism.

    Grey Fox

    1. Yes, I'm simplifying. However, a few things: Even Allodial holdings reverted to the crown if the person holding the land died without heir (I would say "without issue" but wills existed even then). Additionally, the Crown could just take your land, and there wasn't a whole lot you could do about it, so while "Law" and "Tradition" might say that land was yours, it was only yours while the Crown suffered it to be so.

      And, as ever, possession was nine points of the law.

      Serfs certainly had protection, but they had few (if any) real "Rights." And the extent of their protections varied from one lord to another. Certainly the serfs (as opposed to the more free peasants) were considered chattle- part of the land.

      Kings were not absolute because human nature prevented it, and the legal/traditional structure enshrined that. Not because the legal/traditional structure made it so.

      The reason I like "neo-feudalism" is that "Marxism" is thrown around so much that no one pays it any attention. It has become as cliche as likening your opponents to Nazis; no matter how accurate it is, you're assumed to have "lost" if you use that word.

      Further, Marxism at least pretended that "The People" ruled. It lied, of course- it believed in Divine Right of Rulers far more than Western European Feudalism ever did, but neo-feudalism is much better at conjuring the appropriate ideas in people's minds that the Government will see them as subjects to be ruled than people to be governed.

      It's not supposed to be a treatise on actual Medieval-to-Early Modern European Societal structures.

  3. Good post Allen. I find his #MythOfOwnership hashtag to be the most disturbing part of what would otherwise simply be a nonsensical tweet.