The Approaching Neo-Feudal Word.
Newell Farm Windham NH. Baldwin Coolidge Photograph. SPNEA
Prior to America’s Golden Age, in the mid-twentieth century, when national wealth exploded and a wide swath of the population was lifted into middle class, half the people lived in poverty. According to the Foundation for Economic Freedom, 56% of families in the United States were poor in 1900 compared to 13% in 1967. Today, the trend is moving in the opposite direction. There is a fascinating new book, “The Coming of Neo-feudalism” by Joel Kotkin in which he explores this ongoing phenomena occurring all over the world. “Following a remarkable epoch of greater dispersion of wealth and opportunity, we are inexorably returning towards a more feudal era marked by greater concentration of wealth and property, reduced upward mobility, demographic stagnation, and increased dogmatism. If the last seventy years saw a massive expansion of the middle class, not only in America but in much of the developed world, today that class is declining and a new, more hierarchical society is emerging…The new class structure resembles that of Medieval times. At the apex of the new order are two classes―a reborn clerical elite, the clerisy, which dominates the upper part of the professional ranks, universities, media and culture, and a new aristocracy led by tech oligarchs with unprecedented wealth and growing control of information.” Solving this difficult dilemma and reversing this trend is the challenge of 2020. America must come to grips with this unfolding problem or the middle class will slowly disappear and the social safety net will break, leaving the poor and newly poor to eke out an existence in some bleak place like Miss Newell’s farm.