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Difference Between Federalism and Feudalism

kingFederalism vs Feudalism

Federalism refers to the political philosophy where a group is bound together with a representative head that is responsible for governance. It is also a system in which sovereignty is divided constitutionally between a central governing body and constituent political units, provinces or states. The word ‘federalism’ originated from the ‘foedus’ which is Latin for covenant.

Feudalism can be said to be the opposite of federalism in the sense that it is a decentralized socio political structure in which the monarchy weakly tries to exert control over land by an agreement with regional chiefs. Feudalism today is more of a concept that brings to mind the political scenario of Medieval Europe comprising fiefs, vassals and warring lords. Feudalism as a concept originated from the term ‘fief’ or fee and was not taken as a formal political system by the people.

In federalism, power is shared between the national and state governments, in the process of creating a federation. The proponents of federalism are known as federalists. The European Union is a modern day federation. The political philosophy may not always refer to a strong centralized government. In the absence of a modern acknowledgment of the concept of feudalism, it can be said that this theory was in practice in the early modern period (1600s) with manorialism and other forms of peasantry bonds. In the 20th century, feudalism can be traced to African countries like Ethiopia and the shoguns of Japan.

In the government structure of federalism, it can be said that independent states or geo political entities assemble on grounds of common defense and protection of common interest, whereas this is not at all the case in a feudal structure, where the priority is more on individual power and strictly defined hierarchies and vested interests. The entities of a feudal system are dependent on the feudal lord or chief. In fact, an independent body of literature had developed around the feudalism theme like the King Arthur and the Round Table stories. Arthur was the King of Camelot, to whom the lords paid homage and often engaged in blood feuds or vendettas.

In stark contrast, federalism is a very modern philosophy or system where the entities agree in mutual support for fulfilling the needs of a common union like defense, currency, government etc.

1. Federalism is a system where members are conglomerated with a representative head, while feudalism refers to a decentralized sociopolitical structure with a weak monarchy
2. Federalism advocates principles of a federal government with division of authority, while feudalism practices the norms of a feudal system where power rests with the potent lord
3. Federalism is characterized with modernity, while feudalism is obsolete

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1 Comment

  1. Feudalism is monarchist proto-federation of local monarchs and they had the one King who was boss of all bosses.

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