The Road to Corporate Feudalism

corporate feudalismI was introduced to Dennis Marker by a mutual acquaintance who encouraged me to read Marker’s recently published book, “Fifteen Steps to Corporate Feudalism – How the Rich Convinced America’s Middle Class to Eliminate Themselve”.

Although the title sums up the premise of the book, I was surprised that the author set out to make the case that “the rich” have consciously and intentionally taken up the mantle to destroy the middle class. The notion seemed like an easily dismissable conspiracy theory – one I’d heard before. Had the recommendation to read the book not come from someone whose opinion I respect, I wouldn’t have taken the time.

As I tried to get through the first couple of chapters, my inner thoughts kept whispering, “conspiracy theory”. The main premise – that the rich have specifically targeted the middle class for economic annihilation – was just not believable to me.

To be clear, I’ve been aware for quite some time that our economic policies favor the rich and that corporate interests generally win out over the public interest in this country. But, like most, I assumed the shrinking of the middle class was a by-product of greed on the part of  powerful interests and a lack of a coordinated counter-effort on the part of those affected – the 99%.

I figured that it was in the best interest of everyone, including the top 1%, to have a healthy middle class. Somehow I just expected there would be a course correction of sorts and perhaps the Occupy movement was going to be the engine that drove that correction. The notion that the rich had implemented a diabolical strategy to erase the economic power of the rest of us just didn’t compute.

I needed to contact the author, if I was going to get through the book at all.

I called Dennis Marker not knowing what to expect. To my delight, he is an affable guy who has spent the last few years of his life raising his now teenage son. But before that, Marker was an “insider” in the Beltway. He spent years in D.C. establishing a successful career. He worked for U.S. Congressman Stan Lundine, served as in-house consultant to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Doug Costle, and was special assistant to Jim Wallis of Sojourners Magazine among others. [You can hear Dennis Marker being interviewed in this YouTube clip]

Marker told me that the years he spent in Washington helped to clarify his vision. Initially, early in his career, before the damage to the middle class had taken such an exacting toll, Marker was content working in the Beltway – earning a decent living. But he says that the policies that began to surface during the Reagan Administration gave him pause. Expecting these policies to fail, Marker thought he’d see a reversal over time but, he said, “the bad policies were never reversed, in fact, over the past 30 years, beginning with the Reagan administration, the middle class has been fighting a losing battle.”

Emphasizing that these policies were specifically designed to hurt the middle class, Marker first reminded me and the reader that the American middle class is a relatively new phenomenon,  prior to the Industrial Revolution, an employee-based middle class didn’t exist. Speaking from an historical perspective, Marker points out that people working for someone else have typically been bound in some type of economic servitude where the worker has had little to no value.

Then, the labor movement that came about as a result of the Industrial Revolution helped to establish value in labor and a healthy middle class was born. But, says Marker, the rich never wanted the establishment of a middle class – they fought against policies that supported it every step of the way. As he spoke I could see where he was going and I was reminded of the Frederick Douglass quote, “Power concedes nothing without a demand”. Marker was beginning to open my eyes.

dennis marker

Dennis Marker

As I listened, I too started to get some clarity on this issue but I continued to hold to the notion that, like the rest of us, the rich have benefited from having a strong middle class, in spite of their opposition to the policies that created it — why would they want to get rid of it? I asked Dennis what would motivate the top 1% to get rid of the middle class when it is clear that they need it – who’s going to buy the goods that are manufactured?”, I asked.

Conceding that my point was a good one, Mark went on to explain that 30 years ago the question of who would buy the goods protected the middle class but today, he said, technological advances in communications, transportation, automation and the like have changed the mutual dependencies that once existed between the American middle class and the super rich. They just don’t need America’s middle class the way did in an earlier era. Those days are gone.

According to Marker, in the rich’s grand scheme of things, the American middle class has become an unessential element. They’ve outlived their purpose because they’ve been replaced by a world market.

Marker set out to make a point I initially found difficult to swallow, but as our conversation continued, he began to give me an overview of fifteen policies that set the stage for the demise of the middle class. This helped me to see the importance of his book. We talked a bit longer but I wanted to end the conversation because I was now ready to read the book – this time giving it my full undivided attention and so should you.

He explains that the failure of the US middle class is the direct and intentional outcome of fifteen separate policies first advocated during the Reagan administration and implemented over thirty years. He discusses how and why this is happening, which gives the reader the information needed to counter this attack.

Florida Congressional candidate, Alan Grayson asks, “Can’t find a decent job: Can’t afford to see a doctor when you’re sick? In danger of losing your home? Can’t save for retirement? Have no idea how to pay for your children’s college? The right wing says it’s all your fault, but it’s not, and this book explains why.”

sharon kyle

Sharon Kyle

As we look at our country and wonder how we could have gotten into such a sad state, laden with economic injustice and inequality — ironically, it’s good to know we didn’t get here by accident. We are involved in a planned attack. Understanding the plan, or at the very least — understanding that we are being attacked puts us in a better position to do battle.

I strongly encourage everyone reading this article to click this link to learn more about 15 Steps to Corporate Feudalism

Sharon Kyle
Publisher, LA Progressive


  1. penman1 says

     Well, what you say is true, Gary. But the stuff that “summaries” present originates usually with the marketing department of the publisher. Why do you think the New York Review of Book pays big bucks for book reviews (not reports of phone conversations?). The author is expected to report on and develop the theme of the book. Unfortunately, we know nothing about Marker’s book here, probably because the author of this “essay” doesn’t know anything about feudalism, “the road to feudalism,” or perhaps didn’t even read the book itself, hence, the “phone call,” which, bla, bla, bla, tells us nothing.

  2. penman1 says

    Is this a book review? Or a report on a phone conversation with the author? Did you actually read the book? If so, why don’t you summarize a bit of it? I mean we readers all don’t have time to read everything. I suspect the concepts might be too big to handle. What IS “the road to corporate feudalism”? Duh …. yeah, man. “Feudalism?” Explain, please, if you can. And if the author talks about “bad policies,” what bad policies are you talking about? I mean, I’m just asking. I know you write fast, and gotta lotta work to do otherwise.

  3. Hstewart10 says

    Haven’t read the book but I will add this if it isn’t already in the book.  Even with the industrial revolution there was no real development of a working middle class for about 150 years or so and it took a long time to develop.  The industrial workers were not wealthy and still aren’t except for the threat that developed because of the idea of socialist/communist thought and organizing that brought the power of the capitalists under duress.  The capitalistic system realized, especially with WWI and the subsequent revolution in Russia, that appeasement of the working class was better than more revolutions and the union movement was grudgingly allowed to develop. After WW2 is when the working middle class really took off during the Cold War as the working people were rewarded for staunch anti-communism by wage increases and other benefits that have come to be viewed as the benefits belonging to the working middle class. As soon as it was clear by the Reagan era in the White House that neither the USSR nor the People’s Republic of China were set upon another world war and the anti-war and progressive movement here at home had declined with the end of the Indo-China War the rich went on the offensive so take back as much wealth as they able and this effort continues to the present.  With capitalist hegemony riding in the saddle the middle class can be reduced as far as possible and the savings with transfer to the owners of the economy increasing their capital/wealth and they will take it where ever in the world that they believe to be in their interests and the rest of us can just shove it if we do’t like it. 

  4. -Nate says

    I’m amazed that anyone didn’t see this to be a fact long ago .

    Maybe my rubbing elbows with millionairs made me see it at an early age but I applaud you for spreading this fact , hope fully it is not too late .


  5. Gary100dm says

     I think it’s all true. The rich do not need the middle class anymore, and  they deliberately strategize to eliminate the middle class and shrink the public sector. I don’t want to believe it. It’s an idea than can easily encourage hopelessness. However misguided those feelings may be. But very it is frightening. How do the lower class AND the middle class join together to fight this if the super rich financial powers – who do not make products but trade money (I think Kraft, Colgate Pamolive, Procter and Gamble, Hewlett Packard and the KOCH brothers are the exception) do not need us consumers?  – Gary

    • Arline Mathews says

      We must publish lists of some of the Super Corp. giants that have their products made elsewhere and to ask consumers to not buy until they capitulate and bring their manufacturing home.  We don’t need to be suckers and that is what they take us for, Sharon, Gary, Brad Parker, and all who care.

  6. Ilene Proctor says

    Thank you so much Sharon.  When I first came upon Dennis Marker’s formidable book, I too scoffed at the premise. But now I find that the book should be a primer for the 99% on how to intelligently and wisely and strategically overcome the fierce 1% of the  opposition.Thanks again, Sharon. Ilene PRoctor

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