Anything that has happened before can happen again. So said historian turned politician, Democratic House Majority Whip James Clyburn. Whatever someone’s political beliefs, or lack of them, may be – Clyburn is demonstrably correct on that point. History does not precisely repeat. But once something has occurred in human history, something similar is obviously capable of re-occurring. Biblically, history was and is important to believers too. Much of the Bible, both Jewish and Christian, is a historic record. While some stress that aspects of the Bible include allegories, that in no way diminishes the reality that the Bible is a historic record. Scriptural (biblical) stories often record the importance of even details of family history and family life. That is why ‘who begat whom’ (who was the parent of whom) are relevant in Scripture. With that brief but important understanding of history in the secular and spiritual realms, some insights on Joel Kotkin are relevant to understanding the value of his thesis.
According to author Nitay Arbel, “Joel Kotkin is a well-known “urban geographer” and futurologist, grandson of Russian[-Jewish] immigrants. (His brother, Stephen Kotkin, is an academic historian of Russia: I have been reading his two-volume Stalin biography with great interest.). Joel is no conservative: he was a registered Democrat until very recently changing his electoral registration to Independent. In many ways, he’s an unreconstructed old-school liberal…”
Note that a ‘futurologist’ – which may at first sound like anything but history – actually is properly grounded in authentic history, as opposed to weaponized or agenda-driven history.
Arbel says “I read his [Koktin’s] book back when it came out: it’s probably the best single volume to help you understand what is going on now — all the more compelling because it is not written by an ideologue or a movement conservative.” The book Arbel referred to is “The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class.” The title should not be misread to think that the lower middle class workers, those on various degrees of public assistance, or seniors on fixed income are not in the mix. They are all impacted. Properly understood, the vast majority of the population is impacted by what Kotkin details.
MHLivingNews has cited Kotkin at length before, because what he has to say matters to affordable housing advocates.
Kotkin was a Washington Post reporter. The Washington Post has been a left-leaning publication for decades. Kotkin comes with a long Democratic pedigree. Left-leaning Wikipedia says that “Joel Kotkin is a fellow in urban studies at Chapman University in Orange, California. He writes about demographic, social, and economic trends in the U.S. and internationally. He is a regular contributor to The Daily Beast and Forbes.com and is on the editorial board of the Orange County Register.” While Forbes is seen by many as being on the political right, it has arguably been moving left since Steve Forbes sold it.
So, Kotkin is a longtime former Democrat who is a liberal but not from the far left. He recently switched from being a Democrat to being a registered Independent. As MHLivingNews previously noted, Kotkin and his research colleague have described the push, exemplified by California’s experience, of America toward a new class feudalism.
Note that Bing’s dictionary defines feudalism: “the dominant social system in medieval Europe, in which the nobility held lands from the Crown in exchange for military service, and vassals were in turn tenants of the nobles, while the peasants (villeins or serfs) were obliged to live on their lord’s land and give him homage, labor, and a share of the produce, notionally in exchange for military protection.” This was in some measure the system that America’s founder fought to free themselves from when they broke from the English king and the British crown’s monopolies.
The Rise of Corporate-State Tyranny is the title of the video above.
Arbel insightfully describes Kotkin this way,
The “left is pushing society toward neo-feudalism, is fundamentally anti-democratic (preferring rule by executive order and administrative regulation because “the poor dears don’t know what’s good for them” [my paraphrase]), and is fundamentally contemptuous of the working and middle class it used to champion.
The tech oligarchs he sees as the new feudal nobility; the media-educational complex as the new clerisy. The shrinking old middle class is the yeomanry, while an increasingly larger underclass living hand to mouth from menial jobs (or on the dole) are the new serfs. The serfs get to foot the bill for the climate and “equity” obsessions of the oligarchs and the clerisy (who buy themselves indulgences or grant them to each other).
This process started many years before COVID, but has been accelerated by the pandemic and its attendant restrictions.”
Note that this warning from Kotkin and Arbel fits what former Democrat turned Republican, Ronald Reagan. Before Reagan became president, he too warned that facism – a wedding of big business to big government – was coming from the political left. Fast forward to 2020, and leftist attorney- turned- award winning author Glenn Greenwald has raised a similar alarm. What makes Kotkin fascinating is that he is pulling together interest from the left and the right. He does it with facts and evidence. Something similar is occurring with Greenwald, Kennedy, and others that similarly rely upon facts and evidence.
Kotkin’s concerns also fit the warnings that have come from lifelong Democrat Robert F. Kennedy Jr. RFK Jr. is an accomplished attorney, health and human rights advocate that leads a nonprofit and publishes the Defender. Further below, you will note that Kennedy has warned Americans against the Great Reset, something that Kotkin does too. Again, this matters to not only affordable housing advocates, but to anyone who believes in individual liberty instead of top-down control of society by a de facto ruling elite.
The book Arbel referred to written by Kotkin – “The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class.” – has this summary, per Amazon.
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. These two classes correspond to the old French First and Second Estates.
Below these two classes lies what was once called the Third Estate. This includes the yeomanry, which is made up largely of small businesspeople, minor property owners, skilled workers and private-sector oriented professionals. Ascendant for much of modern history, this class is in decline while those below them, the new Serfs, grow in numbers—a vast, expanding property-less population.
The trends are mounting, but we can still reverse them—if people understand what is actually occurring and have the capability to oppose them.”
Some reviews of the book, per Kotkin’s website, are as follows.
Our society and economy is no longer progressing but regressing into a kind of “neo-feudalism.” As Joel Kotkin describes it, our once-great middle class is being eviscerated and America is dividing into a small group of uber-wealthy oligarchs who have colonized luxury cities like San Francisco and New York. A gripping cautionary tale by one of the most provocative and original thinkers of our time, this book is a must read for all those concerned about the future of our cities and our society.
Richard Florida – Author of The Rise of the Creative Class and The New Urban Crisis
Kotkin has written an essential and critical study of emerging class structures at the intersection of technological determinism and post-industrial capitalism. He suggests that technological oligarchs are already controlling our economic future while creating a high-tech neo-feudal society that undermines democracy and economic mobility for the middle and working classes.
John Russo Visiting Scholar, Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and Working Poor at Georgetown University, Co-editor, Working-Class Perspectives
Why in the supposedly enlightened time of 2020 does the United States feel like a kingdom of hopeless serfs who must obey their hypocritical lords without dispute? If there was ever a time when we needed an investigation into the economic and social conditions that have literally and metaphorically fanned the flames of the riots, that enabled the hypocritical abandoning of lockdowns, and that set the stage for urban anarchy, it’s now. And thankfully, Joel Kotkin’s latest, The Coming Age of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class, is one such book. Among the books that could end up defining the times in which we find ourselves here in the United States and throughout the world — from South America to Italy to the South China Sea — Kotkin’s work is not as widely read and discussed. But it ought to be.
Read the rest of the book review at National Review
John Loftus, National Review.”
With that background, Kotkin published the following article on UnHerd on July 5, 2021. The highlighting is by MHLivingNews, but the text is otherwise as published. A brief commentary will follow Kotkin’s article, which will also include additional links and resources.
It is entitled “How the Democrats fell for Mussolini” – via UnHerd. The featured image is from that website.
America’s elite has adopted the fascist dream of a corporate oligarchy
BY JOEL KOTKIN 7.5.2021
There’s a tendency today to see Benito Mussolini as a pathetic sideshow, an incompetent blusterer who went from Adolf Hitler’s idol to his lapdog. Yet in many ways, Mussolini’s notion of fascism has become increasingly dominant in much of the world, albeit in an unexpected form: in the worldview of those progressives who typically see “proto-fascism” lurking on the Right.
Mussolini, a one-time radical socialist, viewed himself as a “revolutionary” transforming society by turning the state into “the moving centre of economic life”. In Italy and, to a greater extent, Germany, fascism also brought with it, at least initially, an expanded highly populist welfare state much as we see today.
Indeed, Mussolini’s idea of an economy controlled from above, with generous benefits but dominated by large business interests, is gradually supplanting the old liberal capitalist model. In the West, for example, the “Great Reset,” introduced by the World Economic Forum’s Klaus Schwab, proposes an expanded welfare state and an economy that transcends the market for the greater goal of serving racial and gender “equity”, as well as saving the planet.
Wherever it appears, whether in the early 20th century or today, fascism — in its corporate sense — relies on concentrated economic power to achieve its essential and ideological goals. In 1922, for instance, large corporations and landowners helped finance Mussolini’s Black Shirts for their March on Rome. Confindustria, the leading organisation of Italian industrialists, was glad to see the end of class-based chaos and welcomed the state’s infrastructure surge.
Elsewhere, the German cartels and Japanese zaibatsu both kowtowed to and benefited from fascist state support and contracts. Even today, China, in many aspects the model fascist state of our times, follows Il Duce’s model of cementing the corporate elite into the power structure. Since 2000, a hundred billionaires sit in the country’s Communist legislation, a development that Mao would never have countenanced. 1
Capitalist countries have historically resisted such concentrations of power, but this process seems inexorable after a pandemic which devastated small businesses yet saw the ultra-rich grow richer and the largest firms record eye-watering profits. A handful of giant tech corporations now account for nearly 40% of the value of the Standard and Poor Index, a level of concentration unprecedented in modern history.
Companies like Amazon are our zaibatsu, with influence over a vast array of industries, from online retail to cloud computing, the health food business, media and even space travel. Once such firms may have adhered to free market capitalism, but they have increasingly grown to see the value of a larger, more centralised and pervasive state.
This parallels with the alarming transformation of the US Democratic Party, the putative “party of the people” , now increasingly a subsidiary of the corporate elite. Among financial firms, communications companies and lawyers, Biden outraised Trump by five-to-one or more. Today’s oligarchs are particularly keen on the progressive non-profit sector, which provides important support for their political and social advocacy — a means for them to make politically correct statements about climate change, gender and race, while still obtaining enormous profit margins and unprecedented wealth.
But whereas the old fascism sought greater prosperity, its new form, at least in the West, supports only an expanded welfare state that keeps the beleaguered middle and working classes both quiescent and stripped of aspiration. Worthies such as former Bank of Canada and Bank of England chief Mark Carney even embrace “de-growth,” a conscious slowing of the economy and embrace of declining living standards.
Indeed, the widely hailed Club of Rome report in 1972 — “The Limits to Growth” — was financed not by green activists but by the Agnelli family from Fiat, once a linchpin of Mussolini’s original corporate state.2 The Report predicted massive shortages of natural resources, slower economic growth, less material consumption and ultimately less social mobility.3
Fast forward to today’s new economic order, and it’s clear that not all economic animals are equal. There are opportunities galore for Wall Street investors, Silicon Valley tech oligarchs, cobalt miners, electric car manufacturers and renewable energy producers through the massive subsidies for producing green.
And these woke oligarchs, like their fascist counterparts before them, see little use for democracy. Eric Heymann, a senior executive at Deutsche Bank, suggests that to reach the climate goals of Davos, corporations will have to embrace “a certain degree of eco-dictatorship”.4 After all, it would be difficult to get elected officials to approve limits on such mundane popular pleasures as affordable air travel, cars, freeways and suburbs with single-family houses, unless they were imposed by judicial or executive fiat.
Unsurprisingly, the biggest losers will inevitably be the poor. Wherever the conventional green policies central to the “Great Reset” have been imposed — California, Britain, Canada, Australia, Greece, Germany, France — the result has been to create high levels of “energy poverty”; the Jacques Delors Institute estimated that some thirty million Europeans were not able to adequately heat their homes during the most recent winter.
But then there are many hypocrisies at the heart of today’s incarnation of Mussolini-style fascism. Our new elites, for example, see no contradiction in supporting claims of “systemic racism” and “social justice” at home, while cooperating with Chinese authorities who abuse basic human rights in Hong Kong or to impose forced labour in Xinjiang. Boldly progressive firms like Airbnb have no problems sharing customer data with China’s security state; nor does Apple show compunction in relying on Uighur labour to build their products.
But in the battle between the two emergent fascist systems, China possesses powerful advantages. Communist Party cadres at least offer more than a moralising agenda; they can point to the country’s massive reduction of extreme poverty and a huge growth in monthly wages, up almost five-fold since 2006. At a time when the middle class is shrinking in the West, China’s middle class increased enormously from 1980 to 2000, although its growth appears to have slowed in recent years.
Like Mussolini, who linked his regime to that of Ancient Rome, China’s rulers look to Han supremacy and the glories of China’s Imperial past. “The very purpose of the [Chinese Communist] Party in leading the people in revolution and development,” Xi Jinping told party cadres a decade ago, “is to make the people prosperous, the country strong, and [to] rejuvenate the Chinese nation.”
In contrast, the tired capitalism of our corporate elite — who seem to have given up on broad-based economic growth — seems increasingly detached from the interests and aspirations of their own citizens’ needs.
Apple’s Tim Cook, for example, waxes enthusiastically about a “common future in cyberspace” with autocratic China. Wall Street also actively lobbies on behalf of Beijing, hoping to cash in on investments that strip America’s productive capacity but enrich them. Oligarchs like Michael Bloomberg describe China, a country of business opportunity for his firm, as “ecologically friendly, democratically accountable, and invulnerable to the threat of revolution”.
How do we combat this trend towards fascist structures? The answer is straightforward, if unprescriptive: to resist them with liberal ideals and a renewed commitment to upward mobility. That won’t be easy. As of today, the consolidation of oligarchic power is supported by massive lobbying operations and dispersals of cash, including to some Right-wing libertarians, who doggedly justify censorship and oligopoly on private property grounds.
Yet despite their riches and technical know-how, the oligarchic elites face widespread and growing scepticism towards both the traditional and social media outlets under their control. Similarly, it’s also unlikely many in the middle class will embrace their programme of race indoctrination, or accept a marked decline in living standards.
But building a coalition against the new fascism requires avoiding destructive nativism and instead focusing on how to restore competition and protect consumers from the overweening power, and vast wealth of the corporate elites.
Will a citizenry, dependent on transfer payments and increasingly voiceless, still put up a fight? To slow fascism’s spread, either from China or from within, requires a re-awakening of the spirit of resistance to authority that has long marked human progress and now seems far too rare.
- See Richard McGregor, The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers (New York: Harper, 2010), 206–8; David S. G. Goodman, Class in Contemporary China (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2014), 26, 86.
- See “Club of Rome a Worldwide Organization,” New York Times Archives, February 27, 1972; Enclycopedia Britannica Online, s.v., “Agnelli, Giovanni,” accessed May 11, 2021, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Giovanni-Agnelli-Italian-industrialist-1921-2003.
- Norman Yoffee, “Orienting Collapse,” in The Collapse of Ancient States and Civilizations, ed. Norman Yoffee and George L. Cowgill (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1991), 4–5.
- Eric Heyman, “What We Must Do To Rebuild,” Deutsche Bank Research, November 2020.”
MHLivingNews Note: the following were by the persons named were among the comments published on UnHerd, which requires a sign in and acceptance for comments.
Welcome to the club, Joel. Thanks for putting aside the gratuitous anti-Trump, anti-deplorables nonsense and taking notice of the obvious.
I myself am editing a volume about the implementation of competition policy (antitrust policy) in this new age of “stakeholder capitalism”. The issues are not new, and they weren’t even new in the 1930’s.
Covid has been an opportunity too good to miss for this “oligarchy”, which is why it has been hyped up to be the new Black Death, with measures promoted by a campaign of fear.”
It is worth mentioning that UnHerd’s mission statement begins like this:
As you may have guessed from our strange spelling, UnHerd aims to do two things: to push back against the herd mentality with new and bold thinking, and to provide a platform for otherwise unheard ideas, people and places.
We think this approach is more needed than ever. Societies across the West are divided and stuck, and the established media is struggling to make sense of what’s happening. The governing ideologies of the past generation are too often either unquestioningly defended or rejected wholesale.
It’s easy and safe to be in one or other of these two camps – defensive liberal or angry reactionary – but UnHerd is trying to do something different, and harder.
We want to be bold enough to identify those things that have been lost, as well as gained, by the liberal world order of the past thirty years; but we strive to be always thoughtful rather than divisive…”
MHLivingNews Commentary and Analysis in Brief
Kotkin does not specify in the article above the names of specific oligarchs and billionaires. Nor does he describe the “castle and moat” methods championed by Warren Buffett and his longtime partner in Berkshire Hathaway (BRK), Charlie Munger. While Kotkin is correct in saying that there has to be a push to return upward mobility, it is useful to understand that the castle and moat methods preached by Buffett and deployed by other billionaires and their corporates interests specifically thwart upward mobility in a variety of ways. This is done by dominating or monopolizing a market. Look carefully at how Buffett ally Gates described Buffett’s methods as parasitic. A parasite feeds off its host without killing it. The parasite benefits, while the host is harmed.
That noted, what Kotkin describes broadly as well as specifically fits several contentions that our MHProNews and MHLivingNews sister sites have been presenting evidence for over a period of years.
That evidence comes from a range of political voices, that span the left and right. This writer is a political independent, perhaps for reasons not too dissimilar from Kotkin’s.
Kotkin is not alone in his warnings, as is evidenced by some of the linked reports posted above that preceded his article on contemporary Democrats and their wedding themselves to oligarchs and billionaires.
A valuable takeaway is this. This warning about the coming of a new feudalism and domination by a financial, economic, and information dominating elite is real. Concerns about the ‘weaponization’ of COVID19 should not be shrugged off. It isn’t that COVID19 was fake, it was and remains a real coronavirus. But that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t used to drive our country and many others by a hyped-up fear into lockdown. Those lockdowns have made the ruling elites stronger and wealthier.
Kotkin is perhaps being strategic in largely avoiding discussion about the 45th President, Donald J. Trump. But let’s be clear. President Trump, in a secular sense, has been the target of the attacks by these oligarchs. What left-leaning and pro-Democratic Time writer Molly Ball called a “cabal” and “conspiracy” is a pretty good description of the Civic Alliance. It is a group of largely dominating corporations, big tech, media, and other nonprofits that cheered their ousting of President Trump from the White House. Sometimes you are known by your enemies, not just by your friends.
It remains to be seen what will happen with the various post-White House efforts by President Trump. But in a pragmatic sense, he is the practical leader of the movement that is pushing back against this dark Democratic ‘rainbow’ alliance with billionaires that Kotkin, Kennedy, Greenwald, and others have described.
But in this writer’s view, the changes necessary will require prayer blended with rational effort. There is a keen need to understand our nation’s founding, because the legal tools already exist that could undo this threat peacefully. If people of good will do not inform themselves and then act in an organized peaceful resistance, it is entirely possible that far more bloodshed will occur that has been witnessed since MHProNews published the report linked below.
Here and on MHProNews we focus on facts, evidence, reason, and mix that in grounded in historic and spiritual realities. It is not bragging to say that doing so has allowed us to ‘get it right’ when far larger media brands have gotten it wrong. Because frankly, we are but passing on what we have learned from others, blended with our own experiences and insights.
In order to understand what has gone wrong in the affordable housing field in general, and manufactured housing more specifically, someone has to understand this bigger picture that Kotkin and others have factually laid out.
Let’s draw to a close with a quotable quote from the Epoch Times this morning, and one from Scripture.
“God has put something noble and good into every heart his hand has created. So while living on earth we must always remember to learn from yesterday, live for today, and hope for tomorrow because time will only show what has mattered throughout our journey.” ~ Melanie Klein
Per Bible Hub and the New International Version translation, this from John Chapter 8: “30 Even as he spoke, many believed in him. 31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
It is the truth, and only the truth, that is liberating. It is only the truth that begins the process of freedom. But that freedom does not come without our effort or our cooperation. Be it Jesus or Moses, specific efforts were asked of the people of God. Anyone that thinks that freedom comes with a snap of the Divine fingers has not read the Good Book closely enough. God wants humanity’s cooperation in their liberation from all forms of enslavement, but is sin, bad habits, or systems of injustice.
Ronald Reagan was correct when he said that the loss of freedom is never more than a generation away. We are living in a time when our freedom can be lost to a group of de facto rulers who have teamed up with mostly Democratic, but some Republican politicos too. That doesn’t mean that every Democrat is bad. It doesn’t mean that every Republican is good. In a sense, the political parties are just vehicles. It is what moves people beyond the party label that matters. If that movement is not inspired by Godly truth, it is difficult to see how any political or corporate leader can yield good fruit.
To learn more, see the report linked above. In conclusion, Kotkin is making a case quite like that of former Democratic Governor of California from 1996. He essentially predicted this feudalistic movement was coming in a frank interview with a non-mainstream media platform. It will require a coalition of people of good will that will set aside mere party label in order to push for the truth that alone will set us free. The article linked below arguably compliments Kotkin’s reasoning. It is pragmatic, peaceful, and achievable.
We lay out the facts and insights that others are too lazy, agenda driven, or are otherwise uninformed to do. That’s what makes our sister site and this location the runaway leaders for authentic information about affordable housing in general, the politics behind the problems, and manufactured homes specifically. That’s a wrap on this installment of “News through the lens of manufactured homes and factory-built housing” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (Affordable housing, manufactured homes, reports, fact-checks, analysis, and commentary. Third-party images or content are provided under fair use guidelines for media.) (See Related Reports, further below. Text/image boxes often are hot-linked to other reports that can be access by clicking on them.)
By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHLivingNews.com.
Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing. For example, he earned the prestigious Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member and co-founder of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com. This article reflects the LLC’s and/or the writer’s position, and may or may not reflect the views of sponsors or supporters.
Connect on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach
Recent and Related Reports:
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