Growing up, I heard a lot of talking heads use the terms “capitalism”, “socialism”, and “communism”. They’d speak the terms as if there was a universally understood meaning of those words and all of their listeners exactly understood the meaning and agreed with them. However, I got older, read up on those words, and now understand that the capitalist owned media companies speak as if one of those terms is universally “good” in all quarters, and the other two universally “bad”, and correctly believe that their watchers will not disagree with them.

As a result of knowing that American media had successfully bamboozled me as to what these concepts meant, I’ve tried to learn more about their histories and meanings.

Drifting into my RSS feed came a piece by Roderic Day for (I’m unfamiliar with both the author and the site beyond this piece.) that included a passage that I found thought provoking:

Let’s have a closer look, then, at this transition from feudalism to capitalism.

Both feudalism and capitalism involve widespread suffering and oppression, but this does not make them identical. The feudal lord had the duty to protect the land tilled by his serfs (hence, for example, the British head of state long being known as the “Lord Protector”), whereas the capitalist has no duty whatsoever to workers other than fulfilling the contract and paying wages. The serf was bound to their lord, whereas the proletarian is at liberty to choose their master. The term “private property,” when brought up in a context where “common” feudal property was still dominant, immediately conveyed the character of social change through implicit juxtaposition. The proletarian and capitalist really were more free than the lord and serf before them. Social mores centered around the link between master and slave (a thick, involved, and even ritualistic relationship) had given way to a more minimal and flexible feudal link between lord and serf (through the land), and this in turn was giving way again to absolute minimalism: one single periodic transaction (a wage) between formally independent persons.