MY favourite historical era is the Middle Ages. Everything about it is so romantic and beautiful – castles, cathedrals, sword fights and jousting knights. I am particularly fascinated by the elaborate horse armour from late in the period, some of which you can now view as recently acquired by the Wallace Collection in London.
One thing the Middle Ages isn’t celebrated for is upward mobility. There were no self-made millionaires or billionaires like Jeff Bezos. Serfs toiling on rural lands in return for protection or a share of the crops led dreadful lives with no hopes of raising their status. The better-off in towns could start to learn a craft as unpaid apprentices from as young as 12 but could not even marry until they became journeymen and then there was no guarantee of acceptance into a guild or the right to open a shop.
These days for most urban dwellers under 40 not living with their parents there is no realistic prospect of owning property in the near future. Like landless peasants, we till the fields of open plan offices or toil from small flats, either in the bedroom or, if fortunate enough to have a sitting room, from the same space as in the evenings we watch mindless programmes on Netflix about people killing each other.
I’ve just finished a book called The Coming Neo-Feudalism: a Warning to the Global Middle Class by Joel Kotkin, who presents the idea that we are reverting to a similar structure as in the Middle Ages, with bureaucrats and academics forming a priest class and modern wage slaves as the new serfs.
Kotkin’s main premise is that current market and political forces are driving wealth concentration further into the hands of a ruling minority of technocratic oligarchs. A hierarchy based on the new religious system is being entrenched with today’s nobility espousing the key virtues of wokery, climate alarmism and a warped reparation-based interpretation of social justice. At the top of the food chain are those grandees who have nothing to lose from espousing the new rules of equity, and everything to gain from virtue signalling to the adoring masses. One case in point being actual royalty – our future king, the young Prince George who has been led aboard the climate emergency express, reportedly becoming very upset about the state of the planet. It is particularly cruel to use a child in this manner, for promoting the eco-fascist agenda. St Greta is of an age where she can presumably make up her own mind but Prince George is only eight. Surely he should be allowed to just go outside and play without worrying about impending ecological disaster?
In one key respect, the modern-day peasantry are even less well off than their feudal counterparts. Whereas medieval serfs were for the most part dependent on the goodwill of their noble benefactors and such divinely driven forces as the weather and an absence of pestilence to sustain their meagre living standards (which they could pray to God for) we, the urban landless poor, are completely dependent on the structures created by the technocracy, the obvious examples being the internet and wireless connectivity.
I was made acutely aware of this dependence recently when the WiFi went out in my building due to some restoration work. I was completely unable to carry out any meaningful work, as were the other residents roaming around desperately searching for a signal. In the end I gave up and went to a friend’s house, setting up my office in her kitchen as she has a separate room for working from home. Most people in such circumstances would be relegated to the local Starbucks.
Whether categorised as zoomers, boomers, millennials or generation Xers, one thing we post-industrial working masses have in common in the neo-feudal technocratic era is a total reliance on ‘the cloud’ for connectivity to the world around us. Neil Oliver addressed this issue in a talk about the Carrington Event in 1859, when a blip on the sun caused a geomagnetic storm which took out communications and electrocuted telegraph operators.
According to Wikipedia, were a similar natural event to occur today it would ‘cause widespread electrical disruptions, blackouts, and damage due to extended outages of the electrical grid’.
Pretty heavy stuff, and good reason to consider overstocking one’s wine fridge.