Monday, September 6, 2010

In Defense of Feudals

I wrote this in agreement to an article written by Ayesha Siddiqa (link) in defense of feudalism. I need to expand this further by highlighting bourgeois class revolutions and their effects on agriculture and poverty.

I would actually go a step further in out rightly supporting feudalism. Traditional systems are robust and natural. Any tinkering with feudalism has only left people with more misery, Mao’s China or Stalin’s Russia are an example of how the agricultural base of the country was ruined and millions had to die of starvation.

India after Independence, eradicated feudalism to quite an extent. The result was that the feudal landowners were replaced with corrupt civilian bureaucrats which were much worse than their feudal counter parts. These educated civilian bureaucrats have no knowledge of agriculture which is why indian agriculture is a complete mess. Farmers are committing suicide by the hundreds daily where as the indian agricultural growth has only dwindled around 0 and 2%. Millions of rural poor have been pushed into urban cities in India which is why Indian cities are now known as slum capitals of the world. Poverty in India is 43% (UNDP 2009) even when its economy is growing by 10% thanks mainly to the few educated IT elites which has led to gross income inequalities in the country meanwhile the rest of the country is stuck in rural poverty.

Compared with India, Pakistan has fared better with only 17% poverty (UNDP 2008) and lesser income distribution and higher growth in the Agricultural sector (around 3-4%). The feudal base provides the traditional support system which props up and fights for the rural population. Any replacement of this system would only serve to prop up the urbanized elites and tilt the power balance away from the rural population.
There are cases of harsh landowners, but most landowners are far more benevolent and the share of the tenants is much more than what is generally highlighted in the press. Its about time that the urbanized elites who probably have never experienced a feudal system should start learning something from this system. Most feudals do not only lease their lands but also take responsibility for their people. They have to take care of people if anyone goes hungry on their lands. Bad press has made feudals synonymous with tyrants which definitely isn’t the case.

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