In the late 12th century, England and Scotland became the first European countries to begin freeing the serfs. But what sort of freedom was it? An assortment of nobility still held the real power and wealth. The new working class were rarely starving, but neither did they earn enough to save. That situation remained largely unchanged for another six centuries.
Then, the honest money of the 19th century Classical Gold Standard, coupled with a degree of market freedom unimaginable today*, unleashed a huge pool of pent up ambition and talent that for thousands of years had been smothered by the class system. It was the dawn of capitalism.
Workers began to save and then invest. They bought their own houses and set up their own businesses. The result was the greatest burst of prosperity in the history of the world. The ‘old money’ of the aristocrats became dwarfed by the ‘new money’ of the worker capitalists’. The capitalists outbid each other to get the best workforce available. By 1881, the total earnings of the working people in the UK were estimated to be on a par with what the whole country had earned in 1851. In those thirty years, worker’s wages had doubled at the same time as the price of goods had tumbled**.
More and more working people began to start their own businesses. As competition continued to grow, so wages continued to rise and prices continued to fall.
The all-powerful feudal system, which had operated in different guises since the time of the Old Kingdom Pharaohs, was finally broken. Gold powered worker/capitalists had turned the course of history on its head.
Less than one hundred years later, working people began voting to reverse the revolution. They turned on their own – the capitalists. What they hoped to gain is difficult to fathom. What they did gain was easily predictable; a gradual return to poverty, homelessness, ignorance and an all-powerful aristocracy. The only advance was that the aristocracy was now popularly elected to privilege, not born to it.
In the 21st century, the workers of the world are united – determinedly marching back down the path to feudal serfdom.
* Also, the Industrial Revolution, facilitated by the firming up of Britain’s patent laws in the late 18th century
** W.H. Mallock, in an extensive analysis of British wages