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Dehumanisation of Humanity:
Feudal Period

by Munayem Mayenin

In this phase of the system of civilisation we see the zeal of the system of power continued, and it carried on its efforts to expand its boundary as wide as possible. In slavery the system established its authority and imposed its rules and regulations and ownership on human beings and turned them into slaves. Not only had it been able to put in place mechanism and apparatus to sustain its dominance and maintain it. Now in the feudal system it went on to expand its dominance on the land and tie the slaves and lands together and thereby establish its power even more strongly and forcefully. In doing so it went on to enhance the mechanism and apparatus to support that power.

Here we see another effort to take humans even further away from nature. The slaves were uprooted and placed onto a different environment. In the Feudal system the people were first uprooted and then placed onto lands that somebody else owned. Slavery began the concept of ownership of people as slaves. Feudalism expanded it to ownership of land while people working on it are treated as a mechanism that comes with the land. It is like buying a plant which has fruits on it. The fruit is a free buy.

The people became attached to the land and lost their identity as humans. But they did not become part of nature, rather the were cut out of it. They were uprooted from nature so that the sense of belonging to the land that they used to feel could be eliminated. Somebody else owned that land and they had laws protecting their ownership.

Different parts of the world developed different forms of this land-based system of power. However, in essence they are the same. This system imposed the authority over lands and people. People had no ability or opportunity to feel a sense of belonging to the house where they lived, the garden which they cultivated or the fields where they laboured and produced foods. They lost their connection with the very environment in which they lived. They could not even treat the rivers or the woodlands or the sky as their own. Thus people were left in an open prison. They could not go and fish in the lakes or river or ponds as these belonged to another.

In countries like the Indian subcontinent before colonialism we see a land system which tried to impose that ownership in a way that still acknowledged some degree of people's connection with the land. The lands belonged to the people who ploughed them and the produce also belonged to them.

As soon as British East India Company took the British Crown to India and imposed it on the people of that subcontinent they created a system of ownership whereby no one who was ploughing had any rights over the land or its produce. They became lease-holders paying tax to the owner who allowed them to live and produce on the land. There was a series of sub owners as the land in theory belonged to the Crown. By the time the people who lived and ploughed the land came into the picture they were merely the means to pay taxes and work to produce so that all these tenants and sub tenants got their share that would reach up all the way to the Crown.

Having made the land and the people on it nothing but the means of paying land tax and producing food the system in return offered them the "rights" to live on the land and get to have enough food and drink. However, if flood or drought affected the produce they had no choice to keep food for themselves as they had to pay the taxes. The taxes went to the owners who had to pay a part of it to the government who then paid part of it to the British Treasury. Thus people continued to die of hunger and famine.

Moreover, the people, who were working on lands as virtual slaves, had no access to education, health care or entertainment. They were supposed to learn farming and pass that on to their offspring. They had no comprehension of the power and its apparatus. They did not have the education and means to see or understand how the power system worked.

In a Feudal system, the monarchs or kings are on top. In principle all the lands are owned by the monarch or king or emperor which they then distribute to the people who supported them in acquiring their thrones, or who have promised their allegiance to the throne as and when required. These people contribute funds to pay for an army to help maintain order or fight wars. These are the second owners of the land, who pay a tax direct to the throne. They then give the lands out to small landlords who in turn distribute it to people who will live and work on the lands and produce and pay taxes to the landlords. The landlords pay part of this it to their superior who will support them in case of farmers standing up against them. All these layers of people will have people to enforce that system. They will have a private army to make sure their control is established and respected and obeyed.

This system again is nothing but broadened slavery. However, the system still lacked sophistication and had not yet taken universal form or design. The peasants or the land labourers had no education at all apart from their understanding of their village or locality or community gained from their illiterate family, friends and community. The question of literacy and institutional education comes into play as these people were now living in a system of power. People needed to be educated about it in a system which conveyed the understanding of it in a positive way. Thus the educational system of these people remained the same as the one that people at 'zero ground' used. However, these peasants or land labourers could not benefit that education system at all, since whatever values they could gain through their own old system related directly to nature. Moreover, the arrogance and brutality of power and omnipresent danger of threat, the continuous culture of fear of losing life, losing land, going to prison, torture and fear of getting their women tortured or raped, all created a blind degree of obedience and compliance.

There were peasants' upheavals at different times but they had always been small scale, short lived and brutally suppressed. For the power was not there to exercise humanity. People existed because the system needed labourers who could provide food and allow money to be made out of the land so that taxes could be paid, which in turn could pay for the services rendered to protect the system of power.

Feudalism not only expanded and enhanced slavery, but finalised and in a way normalised it so that no one could any longer find it 'offensive'. The most horrible phenomenon that goes with this system is that people have finally been cut out of nature. This is the death of the value system that still continued through slavery. The values that were born in nature and nurtured by humanity had been totally crushed, killed and replaced by the imposed values of the system. People now lived near nature but could not be further apart. It is like the prisoners shut up in a prison beside a green field.

The measure of sheer power of this system was how far one's land goes. Power wants to see how far its hands of power can extend. That is the root from which the colonial aspiration to a feudal system grew. The colonial powers wanted to expand the reach and acquire more power. The furthest they could reach, the more power they would have. Most importantly, once they established the principle that power could not only enslave people and but also land and thus nature there would not be any problems of going for the rest of the lands that were waiting to be occupied and enslaved. The land included the land and anything and everything on it, under it and over it.

One other situation to be considered is that by then the system had invented another means to show off and measure power, in the name of Money. There were fortune hunters ready to try and earn their fortunes, as everybody wanted a piece of power. If they would not get it in their countries than they would go out and seek where there were lands to be gained to own by force, and thus we have all these colonialists spreading around the world in the hunt for fortunes - for a little share of power. In this process is sown the seeds of capitalism to follow the feudal system. We shall be looking at it in greater detail later on.

There were no questions about the naturality or normality of power in the Feudal system. Everybody had a place cut out for them. The classes and subclasses and their subclasses were all taught to accept their station. Some religions had caste systems, which was very much supported by those in power as it served their purpose.

What fundamental human values can be found here?

There was no natural justice in India being occupied by British Empire and its people being put under subjugation. There was no natural justice about Australia being occupied by the Europeans and its original inhabitants being made homeless. There was no natural justice in the massacre of Africa by Europeans and black people turned into slaves. There was no natural justice in the original Americans being made foreigners in their own country.

As the ruthless development and expansion of the feudal system around the globe continued in the name of colonial expansion, we see genocide, wars and massacres on a phenomenal scale. We never had so great a killing of humankind by humankind as we would have in this period. Countless wars took place and countless millions of people died. In peace time soldiers were paid to train and be ready to go to fight and kill or get killed, and in war time to keep killing and slaughtering until they got killed. They seemed to be the gladiators of this period, although they were not there to entertain the masses, rather they were the real entertainers of the powerful. Not only wars for gaining territories and lands but also keeping them under their control as well as expanding domination through religion, and thus we had all these religious killings as well. That was not all. The powerful continued to kill each other in scrambling to the top. Kings killing kings, queens killing queens, princes killing princes - or princesses for that matter. Enemies of power got killed as well as those seeking the enjoyment of power. It was a ruthless affair. Do not worry, our modern liberal reader. This happens today, now and happening before our very eyes. Yes, we do not and cannot do a thing about it! Whoever is reading this, I can bet my life on it, is against any wars. And now count how many wars have we been able to stop. When the powerful want a war (to them they need a war) they will have a war! It is easy for us to see and analyse the past and even easier not to see or get used to not being able to see.

It could not have been natural justice. As a consequence the power had to try and establish order over its subjects by using sheer force and brutality.

These people could not have been able to live in peace, as the basis of rationality had been broken in many ways. They had first lost themselves to their power system. They had been cut out of their nature and sown with the land as a part of it. Then they finally had been sold to foreign powers and now they are not only slaves, but imprisoned in their own country.

There were no equals among these people. There was and could be no liberty. When Europeans banned black people from breathing near a white person who could talk about liberty and human rights!

Human beings were no longer humans except in their physical form as they had no natural justice, nor did they have liberty, equality or a purpose. Slavery had already dealt an effective blow against rationality and there was no way feudalism would be weak enough to allow it back. Power could share with Satan but not with rationality! Oh, no! Power can not afford to be moral. It had to show people who was in control. Most importantly, it had to establish order and suppress opposition and continue preaching the divinity of power. Order is not a natural phenomenon. It is a by-product of power. You can not have power without first destroying peace and the rationale and basis of it to grow and survive. That is why power lives sleepless nights and worries sick endless days and tries its hardest to keep order as it is scared to death like Macbeth in case the ghost of King Duncan turn up and face him for what he has done. You cannot have peace in power. Humanity can only grow where there is no power but peace. There would not be any peace until power is destroyed and people are back at peace with Mother Earth. They were already far away from that in feudalism and as we shall see that they went even further away from that point.

© Munayem Mayenin 2002


[Continued from Dehumanisation of Humanity: Zero Ground and Dehumanisation of Humanity: Slavery.]