Billionaire warlords: Why the future is medieval

The world's next superpower might just resurrect the Middle Ages.

  • Russia? China? No. The rising world superpower is the billionaire class. Our problem, says Sean McFate, is that we're still thinking in nation states.
  • Nation states have only existed for the last 300-400 years. Before that, wealthy groups – tribes, empires, aristocracies, etc – employed mercenaries to wage private wars.
  • As wealth inequality reaches combustion point, we could land back in the status quo ante of the Middle Ages. Who will our overlords be? Any or all of the 26 ultra-rich billionaires who own as much as the world's 3.8 billion poorest. What about Fortune 500, which is more powerful than most of the states in the world? Random billionaires, multinational corporations, and the extractive industry may buy armies and wage war on their own terms.
Keep reading Show less

Top 5 anarchist plots in American history

Throughout history, anarchists have been responsible for bombings and assassinations, including some very recent ones.

Flickr user Adam Cohn
  • Anarchism isn't always violent, but there's a reason why that stereotype has stuck.
  • Throughout history, anarchists have tried to bomb and assassinate different targets – including Barack Obama.
  • Here are 5 notable anarchist plots, ranging from centuries-old bombings to modern-day assassination attempts.
Keep reading Show less

What is socialism like in Scandinavia?

We keep hearing that Scandinavia has perfected socialism, but is that true?

JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images
  • The American left and right often point to Scandinavian countries as examples of what government regulation can do, for good and bad.
  • But are they actually socialists? How do their economies work?
  • While stealing their social structures and trying to implement them elsewhere probably won't work, they do offer an example of a kinder, gentler capitalism.
Keep reading Show less

Why sex behind the Iron Curtain was better for women

A new book about life under communism reveals an unexpected benefit.

Kozarčanka ("Woman from Kozara"), a World War II photograph that became iconic in Socialist Yugoslavia. (Image: Public Domain /Big Think)
  • A new book by Kristen Ghodsee argues that women had much better sex in communist Eastern Europe than in the West.
  • She attributes this to steps those states took to empower women and their resulting economic independence.
  • While rebuilding the Iron Curtain isn't called for, the author suggests we can learn ways to empower women from these communist regimes.
Keep reading Show less

What was socialism like in the United States during the 20th century?

Think America would never elect a socialist? Think again.

Keystone/Getty Images
  • While America seems like a haven for capitalists, socialism has a long and often successful electoral history here.
  • Milwaukee had socialist mayors until 1960.
  • Today's resurgence of interest in socialism has nothing on the red tide of 1912.
Keep reading Show less