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A Latter Day Peasants' Revolt

A Latter Day Peasants' Revolt

In this section, I will outline my argument about the sorts of events that will likely kick off a coming People vs. Corporations crisis in America. In the predictions section of this blog, I have already indicated the two categories of events that I'm predicting will kick off this crisis: (1) a pandemic; and (2) a financial crisis. This section will explain these predictions in more detail.

But first, this initial posting will discuss some events from English history that culminated in what is known as the "Peasants' Revolt" of 1381. I just finished reading a book by John Kelly entitled The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time. I found it to be an excellent read.

The book describes the bubonic plague that raged throughout Europe between 1348 and 1350, killing about one third of the continent's population. In some towns and cities, the mortality rate exceeded 50%.

One result of this sudden drop in population was a severe labor shortage. This labor shortage in turn caused a number of changes, including the invention of technologies that served to replace human labor with the operation of machines. Another significant change concerned the cost of labor which skyrocketed because there were fewer laborers to go around.

Back in those days in England, the laborers were the peasants. The peasants who survived the great plague suddenly found themselves empowered, with their services in high demand. While this energized and excited the peasantry, it alarmed the nobility who paid for their labor.

So in the decades that followed the Black Death, the nobility in England created laws to freeze wages, curtail peasant freedoms, and impose new taxes on the peasantry. Having tasted a bit of power and freedom following the Black Death, the English peasants chafed under these restrictive laws. Accordingly, a rebel peasants' movement emerged.

This movement culminated in the famous Peasants' Revolt of 1381. The peasants revolted against the nobility, and stormed London. They executed a number of the nobility and made demands upon the King. The last straw that had pushed the peasants to this revolt was the poll tax of 1380 that was levied against the peasants. Although the revolt was eventually repulsed by the nobility, as one site says: "no late medieval Parliament ever tried to impose a poll tax upon the Nation again." So it can be concluded that the Peasants' Revolt was successful in increasing the relative power of the peasants over the nobility in England.

Now, referring back to the theory of Strauss and Howe, notice that 1381 is 78 years prior to the start of the War of the Roses. That war is the first in the series of Anglo-American wars and crises that form the backbone of the Strauss & Howe theory. I'm not sure why they started with the War of the Roses, rather than with the earlier Peasants' Revolt. The 78 years between these two wars certainly fits their model tightly . The Black Death of 1348-1350, followed by peasant unrest, culminating in the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, also makes for a tidy 33-year crisis or "winter" season fitting their theory.

Even more persuasive to me is the nature of that crisis. As I explained earlier in the analysis section, all the crises identified by Strauss & Howe share one common feature: they all concern a battle between distributed power and concentrated power and in each crisis, distributed power gained on concentrated power. The Peasants' Revolt of 1381 certainly satisfied that criterion.

Now all of this brings us to the present day. I am predicting that the next American crisis will involve a battle between People and Corporations. Since, as I argue, Corporations dominate People today, this battle can be seen as a latter-day Peasants' Revolt.

In fact, if my prediction about a coming pandemic proves correct, the parallel will be even tighter. Back in the 1300s, it was the bubonic plague that decimated the ranks of peasants, clergy, and nobility. One effect of this "equal opportunity" plague, argues author Kelly, was to lessen the peasant reverence toward the ruling class. While God had not protected them from the plague, He certainly didn't protect the clergy either, nor did He intercede on behalf of the nobility. So through the Black Death, the idea took hold among the peasantry that egregious inequity between themselves and the nobility was untenable.

Back in the 1300s, the plague years, followed by the period of peasant unrest, and ultimately culminating in the peasant revolt, spanned 33 years. Today, with history moving at the speed of broadband, I predict this road to be traveled much quicker. If Americans begin to die in surprising numbers from a pandemic, I predict the People will, in short order, come to see the Corporations as they really are: irresponsible anaerobic organisms that feed on money. And when they see that, I predict that the People will get busy.

The next sections will describe why I believe a pandemic is likely, and why that event is likely to result in a "Peoples' Revolt" against the Corporatocracy.

[posted: 04/13/05]

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