The Ancient Future
Between the devastation of the Plague and the evictions from the manors, perhaps a quarter of England's people would be on the road, without a place of permanence, without a place of belonging. The civil courts of England had long before, in the early part of the century, decided that those who were not noblemen had no standing to plead their cases. In so doing, the crown had left the peasants with the full understanding that they were beneath the protection of law.
Perhaps the angry mob that day knew ownership was for the wealthy, while rage is forever the last comfort of the masses.
These angry men were led by one named Wat Tyler. With his righteous act of murdering a tax collector who had stripped his daughter naked, he was undoubtedly the one who started that awful day of bloodshed in the streets of Kent; but his act was really only a touchstone: his was merely the spark set to the dried kindling of resentment that had been festering for years like rotting flesh in the grave. His act was one of those "tipping points," where a physical system, long past the point where it should have done something, finally does so with just the slightest nudge. For so long, so many wrongs had been committed that the humiliation of Tyler's child was perhaps terrible, but certainly not unusual.
In the hours and days after Wat had made himself forever a wanted man, his sympathizers set upon the merchants, the judges, the lawyers; and all of these men reviled for their ways would pay, some with their very heads in an orgy of spontaneous and unreserved violence.
Some times of anarchy last for years, some for only moments. Wat Tyler brought focus to the Peasant Rebellion so that it could last and be used to set the unfree free, to demand of their king that he see them, that he understand their fury, that he change the ways of the world that he surely mastered.
King Richard II bravely went to the mob as it gathered and began to be a coherent beast, a force with its own leader, perhaps even a body with its own threads of vision about what should be, what could be, if only the king would first listen, then agree or die.
Richard met Wat and swiftly had his throat slit. As Wat lay gasping in the horror of his own death, Richard spoke to the mob, exhorting those desperate and now leaderless men to believe him when he said that he was of their mind, that he was of their nature and beliefs about the rights they had so long been denied by the merchants, the judges, and the noblemen. Richard told the stunned and wanting army of the lost that they should go home and await his commands.
They did so.
And in the days that followed, the king sent his soldiers to their places of life and squalor; and these rebels were taken to the streetssome fifteen hundred of themand they were hanged for their women, for their children, for their neighbors, and for every manner of voyeuristic scum to see.
That was the settlement after the morning that had breathed the fire of the Peasant Rebellion of 1381.
After all, Richard could not change the future: he could ensure only that it would come.
In this 21st Century, the United States will become a militarized, industrial-political state, setting loose upon the world an imperative to respond in kind or be subjugated by the engine of resource control. Giant nations that insist upon another way will starve for want of the raw resources of production. Small nations that resist will be called "failed states," and they will, indeed, fail under the crushing burden of sanctions and, finally, intervention.
Within America, the tax burden will swiftly, if perhaps somewhat fitfully, shift entirely away from income generated by capital, and the burden will move almost entirely to income generated from labor. The arguments will seem reasonable: certainly, profit is only to the end of providing people with jobs and income, so the taxation of corporate earnings is nothing less than a deterrent to the creation of the jobs that ultimately produce the income that is the real heart and soul of the wealth of a nation.
Surely, if people are to invest money for their retirement, how could it be reasonable to impose upon them a tax for earning capital gains? Surely, it is so much more the average person who receives dividends and rents and estates. To tax income earned by capital is to cut right to the marrow of what it means to be a society of owners.
Workersthose with skills that cannot be replaced by the thinking and the brute machines of the new worldwill be welcomed to the ranks of the employed only when they are needed. They will be sent to the roads when they are not; and they will be infused of an understanding that their lot is their own, that they have bootstraps that they can use to lift themselves up, if only they would try harder, be better, have more education, act more responsibly.
As in every age since His time, Christ will give expression to the suffering of life; yet, as in every age since His time, He will offer no more. But it will be enough; and enough will be abundance to the faithful, whose ranks will grow ever larger as the harshness of this world becomes unbearable without the promise of the next.
And then someday, the flashpoint will come.
That lazy, opportunistic philosopher mentioned earlier, whose name was Karl Marx, pointed to what comes: from his professor Georg Hegel, he came to understand what we call "historical inevitabilities": just like the well-order universe of all things inanimate, societies will come to the same ends when presented with the same predicates.
Those who say they are for the working people must do what is necessary: even as they cannot change the future, they can certainly ensure it. Those who rebel in that moment of future fury will come to their end as their loved ones, their children, their neighbors, and the voyeuristic scum watch, all of them in some curious way relieved that the world will stay ordered, even as that order commands them to their chains.
And so the future will come; and it will come, once again.
The Dark Wraith has spoken. May you rage against destiny.