Capitalism and Feudalism

Guinevere Ellison-Giles

Washington Post

The United States is a prime example of capitalism. Our country’s industries and trade is controlled by private owners for profit. The government does not have much of a say in how these private industries attain their profit as long as they work within the law. The owners of these industries have been treating their workers worse and worse, forcing employees to sign non-compete agreements and paying them as little as possible.

Unfortunately, people are so desperate for work as the unemployment rates are so high that workers are willing to agree to these terms. The industry owners and bosses are very much capitalists but they “don’t believe in capitalism. They believe in profits. There’s a difference. Capitalism is about free competition, while profitability, taken to the extreme, is about the lack of it.”

This treatment the bosses are forcing upon their workers is so dreadful that they have been compared to the treatment Monarchs forced upon the peasants and vassals in the Medieval Ages. The “society” of their work is divided into different classes; the bosses and the workers; the bosses being the Monarchs and the workers being the peasants and the vassals. And just like the Monarchs severely mistreated the vassals and peasants, the bosses severely mistreat and take advantage of their employees.

The progression our nation has made since the feudalistic times are very important.  Monarchs, vassals, and peasants should no longer play a part in our society. This unfair treatment of employees by their bosses is unacceptable and should be terminated. Capitalism is important to the United States’ economy, however feudalism is not. The idea that “bosses want capitalism for themselves and feudalism for their workers” is intolerable.

The Declaration of Independence was written in 1776 and declared the colonists’ independence from Britain and established the basic laws and rights for our government. This Declaration reflects many different views, ideas, and beliefs, the most prominent being natural rights from John Locke’s and Thomas Hobbes’ Social Contract Theory and classical republicanism philosophies.

The Social Contract Theory is the view that a persons’ moral and/or political obligations are dependent upon a contract or agreement among them to form the society in which they live.  These ideas are strewn throughout the Declaration of Independence. John Locke wrote that “all men are born with certain natural rights” such as “life, liberty, and property.”

The founding fathers wrote that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Locke also stated that “governments are created for the sole purpose of protecting one’s natural rights.”

The Declaration states, “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” Locke also wrote that “People have the right to change their form of government if it is deemed inept or no longer protects the natural rights” and in turn the Declaration also states, “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness.”

Though Social Contract Theory’s natural rights extremely influenced the founding fathers in the ideas they wrote in the Declaration, the ideas of classical republicanism philosophies greatly influenced them as well.

Classical republicanism holds that the best kind of government is one that promotes the “common good” and the welfare of an entire society. The founding fathers respected this idea because they learned from experience that a government should not be too distant because it is too difficult to govern.

The colonists’ recognized that Parliament was too distant to be a good leader for their government and promoted the idea of a tight-knit society where the government encourages the practice of “civic virtue.”  The Declaration insists that Governments are instituted by Men, by a community, and that the main reason for writing it was to protect the people for the benefit and interest of all; for the “common good.”

Both classical republicanism and the Social Contract Theory greatly affected the thoughts of the founding fathers and what they wrote in the Declaration of Independence. These ideas are very important in structuring our laws and the government and without them we would not have the same rights as we do now. Thankfully the founding fathers realized how important these ideas were and wrote them in to the Declaration.


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