Mar 02, 2021  
2012 - 2013 Graduate Catalog 
2012 - 2013 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

LAW 646 - The New Feudalism

This short course will survey a number of long-term legal developments to argue that, despite modernist trappings, developed economies paradoxically are evolving in the direction of feudalism. We will begin with the disappearance of the Rule Against Perpetuities, which has enabled wealthy citizens (the new nobility) to maintain dynastic trusts over arbitrarily long horizons. We will then examine laws facilitating the creation of gated communities (modern castles) that enable the wealthy to live at greater separation from the rest of society (the new serfs). Other legal changes along with economic fundamentals have created a growing gap in wealth between the new nobility and the new serfs, making society more class-like, along with declines in social mobility and the aforementioned dynastic trusts. Finally, we will study legal rules that have fostered the growing influence of money in politics, and how it enables the new nobles to have inordinate influence in government, just as they had as attendees at the royal court in medieval times. We will assess the extent to which we may be well into the process of creating an upper caste that will have immobile wealth, high income, and influence on government that could last for centuries, like the barons and lords of feudal Europe.