Feudalism in the Modern Day
Most people view feudalism as being just a hairs breadth away from slavery, but that isn’t true, in fact, insome cases we still have aspects of feudalism that we don’t even notice. I hope this might go some small distance in showing why slaves in America were a violent group, killing their owners and participating in the odd rebellion every so often and why feudal Europe was pretty much devoid of this kind of behavior, with a few exceptions.
Today we pay taxes to the government and we don’t have any more choice in the matter than a serf did when it came to his feudal obligations*. A slave of course also has taxes/feudal obligations to pay, but generally that is 100% of their labor or earnings and the slave holder in question has no obligations whatsoever to the slave. With taxes and feudal obligations (very much the same thing in the essentials, a portion of your labor is due to your overlord/government at some point) it’s a two way street, regardless of the rights and wrongs or what one thinks is the proper role of a lord/government is, you are due something in return for the taxes/labor you provide. Now, another important difference is we are free to leave if we don’t like it and slave are not, but what about our serfs?
If I were to pack up and leave the US right now, I would still owe taxes and the government would try, for a time, to get me back and try me in court to get those taxes from me. Serfs were similarly not just free to up and leave, but after a time, generally 1 year plus one day, of living in a town after running away made them a freeman, rather than a serf with obligations. Slaves of course, even if they have run away, usually are never considered free. They may go to another country and live free, but if their home country ever got a hold of them they are always going to be guilty and a slave.
So much as we may see the level of taxes we pay as ridiculous or unfair and the way those taxes are spent, we get something back, as did serfs. Not even do we just get something back, it is owed to us. If you pay taxes, you are due services, just as serfs were. Rebelling means you are shunning those services and would suffer the enmity of your government today, or your lord in medieval times. That is a large part of reason slaves throughout history regularly rebelled and medieval serfs did not and why we do not today. Serfs are often depicted as slaves but they were no more so then we are, although you might still be thinking we are talking about shades of grey, and you might be right. Something to think about at the very least.