Feudalism from natural law?

Elizabeth Anderson thinks that properly free markets based on Natural Law would lead to feudalism. I cannot figure out where she gets this idea. The historical record is that feudalism rests on two claims of ownership - right by conquest and divine right. Feudalism came to England in full force with the conquest of England by William the Bastard. His claims to ownership of England lie in divine right (he carried the Papal banner into England) and right of conquest (he won at Hastings). Likewise with the claims descended from Charlemagne's Holy Roman Empire, or the various kingdoms established by conquering (or reconquering) Muslim lands. Natural Law as based on Locke's insights is clear - conquest and divine right are illegitimate claims. For William the Bastard to claim ownership of all England he must violate the property rights of the Anglo-Saxons (who in turn violated the rights of the Celts, and so on).

With the idea of company towns, we again have the problem of a set of legislation that violates the natural law. Contrary to the typical textbook treatment of American history, there has never been a period of laissez-faire free markets in the U.S. Always, there have been rights violations legislated to the benefit of some at the expense of others. In the earlier parts of U.S. history the laws were established as pro-business/anti-laborer. Many of these laws were to keep certain classes of people in their place, others were just continuing puritanical paternalism, yet others were privileges granted to politically connected business owners. All of these were violations of natural law. It is these violations that insulated companies from normal market constraints thus enabling some companies to treat laborers as serfs including establishing company towns. The existence of company towns cannot exist long in the free-market due to the socialist calculation problem. The companies that try to establish and maintain company towns as described by Anderson will be at a serious disadvantage to those companies that do not run company towns.

Free markets do not produce feudal social organization, and in fact all the historical evidence suggests that feudalism can only exist where Lockean Natural Law is not respected. Further, free markets and natural law actually encourage social welfare by imposing costs on those who engage in anti-social behaviors.

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It's avoidable abuse, far

It's avoidable abuse, far moreso than that of the pervasive governmental variety.

There's not necessarily

There's not necessarily anything wrong with a company town.

For example, mineral extraction in an undeveloped, inhospitable area may need lots of employees. With no existing infrastructure, the project could only proceed if the company builds it all. Agree the socialist calculation problem is important to avoid in these cases.

Think offshore oil platforms.

There’s not necessarily

There’s not necessarily anything wrong with a company town.

Agreed. Unfortunately there was (is?) abuse.

[...] 2/2005 Natural

[...] 2/2005


Natural law causes Feudalism
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This post caught my eye,

This post caught my eye, since I've heard the opinion that feudalism is capitalism before. This is a little off topic, but I'm curious about something. The same person who told me that feudalism is capitalism also agreed with one of the people on the comment thread after Anderson's post. One of the posters asserted that there's really no foundation for saying "I earned this, it's mine", because you've never really earned anything without the help of other people. Without others, you would never have gotten to the point where you have the capability to earn anything (you wouldn't be educated, etc), so there really is no such thing as "I did this myself." The particular person I was tossing this around with pointed out that I owe anything I've acheived in life to parents, teachers, professors, and others who have helped me along the way. Therefore, saying "I earned this" is simply a groundless assertion, beacause your accomplishments and the fruits of those accomplishments belong partially to others. Anyone else encountered this before? Thoughts?