Guildsmen Trap Us in the Middle Ages
Rivals for Power, Part One. An ancient "apartism" is with us still.
July 5, 2021
Society will never be the same again. The Covid phenomenon has reshaped life, from work habits to gatherings, from schoolrooms to public parks. The five freedoms, including religion, and to speak and petition, have not faced such a challenge for centuries. Whatever comes after Covid, even if we succeed in defence of our rights, will not look like 2019.
What turned society upside down, inverting former certainties and opening the door to ways of living unimaginable to most people? Something caused all the world’s governments to choose the same path and it was not the advice of the World Health Organisation. The scale of the changes are broader, deeper and more coordinated than could possibly follow from the medical advice of an intra-governmental body, or from simple force majeure leading politicians to think the unthinkable.
This supra-national lock step, of identical response to the unknown — not so much Covid but the unknown consequences of the novel vaccine — reflects not a tactical response but an entire way of thinking. This article is the first in a series to seek its roots.
Are we to believe all politicians came to the same conclusion? That they hit upon vaccine passports, the shuttering of economies, the elimination of whole industries and job categories (if we listen to the City of London Green Horizon proposals) with no apparent need to educate the next generations. Add to that the abolition of private ownership for the masses (if we take the World Economic Forum’s words at face value), a new agricultural revolution including an insect-plant diet and the conversion of food production to biofuel, energy rationing, travel restrictions, and clampdowns on orthodox and traditional worship.
What if these mandates are the visible part of an iceberg, representing a greater system of reasoning? First you must swap your tinted spectacles for polarized shades and see through the (post) modernist reflections at what looms beneath the waves, and then you must drill an ice core that is at least a thousand years old. But preferably much older, since we’ll have to address the climate in a later article.
The antagonists in this epic we are living through are variously called technocrats, billionaires with their foundations and the military-pharma-tech-media complex but that does not address the mindset that unites them. The search must be broad. I begin with the guilds because authorized history tells us the corporation is a modern insititution, no older than 150 years in its modern form. As a legal individual entity, that is correct, but many aspects of the corporation are many centuries older, including its moral, instructional and social engineering functions.
When the guilds set up the universities in place of the monasteries they created a curious beast that lives among us today. It is all consuming and self-perpetuating. Perhaps you could say it preys upon us.
After the Crusades the universities could graze more broadly upon languages and texts brought home by the trader-soldiers. They also instituted a process of codifying thought which they called science, though it was mystical and still bound to religion. The codifying is important, for its practical result was to be a production line of functionaries. The universities may have supplanted the monasteries as the pinnacles of learning but, like the guilds, they still worked closely with the church. Gradually, however, their paths diverged as the process of inquiry meandered and the service of mammon called as aristocratic feudalism evolved into the early modern world of trade and state.
The guilds of masters and scholars emerged at the same time in Paris, Oxford and Bologna in the late 12th century. The word universitas originally meant an incorporated guild. These were some of the earliest corporations and, as such, were not entitled to own property nor to have permanent financial endowments as did the church. Their only power was to award degrees which bestowed upon the recipient a position in society. That was to prove unexpectedly influential. 
Today we hear “How corporations are forcing their way into America’s public schools" and “How American Universities Turned Into Corporations.” It’s nothing new. Bill Gates played a key role in Common Core, just as Rockefeller, Carnegie and Guggenheim had gained control a century before of what was taught in medical schools and then in broader academia, and with the teaching of history in particular, as Norman Dodd chief investigator on the Congressional Reece Committee of the mid-1950s, attested .
The corporate mindset has even greater impact upon the way we think, however, and owes its influence to the origin of guilds and the early ancestors of The Organization Man characterized in 1956 by William H. Whyte.
GUILDS AND THE REFORMATION
We see in the present moment the sidelining of legislatures populated by our equivalent of the bishops and gentry and the seizure of power by the incorporated guilds. In their modern guise they comprise elements of several institutions: the corporations, unions, secret societies, the professional organizations and the ever present puppeteers, the oligarchs and their tax-exempt foundations.
In the medieval religious sphere guilds increasingly took on social functions previously conducted by the church. Many people could not afford to buy papal indulgences and the guilds, through their web of connections, supplanted the church in organizational terms on the ground, writes Gary Richardson in Craft Guilds and Christianity in Late-Medieval England .
“The laity financed the endless expansion of intercessory prayers and, by choosing the recipients of their expenditures, reallocated resources from monasteries and other segments of the secluded clergy... Scholars have long argued that these trends played large roles in the run up to the Reformation (Harper-Bill 1989: 75).
Guilds could not have contributed to these trends without their complex structure, which encouraged members to contribute to collective endeavors. Therefore, complexity was an essential institution underlying the transmogrification of the medieval church and emergence of modern Christianity.”
The role the guilds in the Reformation needs further study in the light of current events. Half a millennia ago it seems that corporations saw supplanting the church as a victory for their interests. Getting the church “off the back of business” and replacing it as a fount of instruction, knowledge and moral guidance won for the guilds a more influential role in society and state. Note, however, as P.J. Broadhead writes in Guildsmen, Religious Reform and the Search for The Common Good, the guilds did not act as one. .
“Poor weavers were attracted to the call to enforce communal principles as a means of defending their status and incomes. To this end they welcomed evangelical teaching, for it provided scriptural and ethical endorsements of corporate action.
In contrast, members of the butchers’ guild, who were involved in a capital-intensive occupation, resisted communal restraints on their freedom to trade and make profits. The butchers’ opposition to the Reformation rested more on their rejection of “sacral corporatism” as advocated by reformers in Augsburg, than on support for catholicism.”
Is it a coincidence that one of the high profile targets of The Great Reset/Fourth Industrial Revolution is the meat industry? The superficial argument is that cows make carbon but the facts simply do not support that (For a quick take watch the video Eating less Meat won't save the Planet). Could the real reason be that, as 500 years ago, meat producers are a cohort likely to resist sacral corporatism. For further parallels, look at the Tudor famines that Malthusians once blamed on population (less than 3 million at the time) but which really reflected economic policy — the expansion of aristocratic landholdings.
The economist and historian G.D.H. Cole noted a century ago that the medieval guild system had evaded study as a whole-societal mechanism. When it was studied, it was generally with the biased eye of acolytes. In his forward to the translation of Georges Renard’s Guilds in the Middle Ages, Cole follows the conventional view of the early guilds as “industrial democracy” but notes that by Tudor times the guilds were developing an oligarchic tendency and were no longer run by those whose work they claimed to regulate. The guilds were soon co-opted to the bidding of the state .
“The Elizabethan Statute of Artificers, passed in 1563, laid down elaborate provisions both for regulating the flow of labour into various classes of occupations and for prescribing the conditions under which the work was to be carried on…
It rested upon the principle of compulsory labour for all who were not in possession of independent means and its basis was the obligation upon every one who could not show cause to the contrary to labour on the land.”
The authors Richardson and Cole note the financial and social power of the guilds, and that by Tudor times the state was doing battle with the guilds for supremacy. It is perhaps understandable that most historians should underestimate the significant influence of the guilds since it affects so deeply their own academic institutions.
What is missing is the role of guilds as one of the earliest forms of incorporation and thus forebear to our modern corporation. What is even more pertinent to today is the primary role of guilds in regulating knowledge.
It is only 500 years since the guilds supplanted the monasteries in so many areas of life. Monasteries had been repositories of scientific learning and invention. As major land owners they played a key role in the agricultural revolution.
Yet the overthrow of the monasteries is presented by historians as simply Henry VIII’s ploy for divorce, the dissolution as revenge, and all very long ago and far away. That is what today we call narrative. The Tudors banned the religion, the daily routine, the belief system and the world view of almost the whole population. The textbooks tell you they were Puritans or Protestants. They were not. Most had been born and baptised Roman Catholics and the proportion of activist Reformants was tiny. An honest account of the Reformation must recognize that two generations were subjected to a sociopolitical purge that bears comparison with China’s Cultural Revolution.
When the monasteries were destroyed they were not only looted for stone and masonry to build secular temples; many of their great libraries were burned. As books were among the most valuable treasure of the day, one has to ask who would go out of their way to burn them. Unlike the questionable burning of the library of Alexandria, the burning of the great libraries of Britain is documented.
Library records survive, such as a recommended reading list from Reading Abbey and Leominster Priory, dating from the 1190s, advising monks and nuns of 196 titles. Books were lent between monasteries for copying, often over great distances. Benedictine monk Lupus of Ferrières (805- 862) wrote many letters asking to borrow books, including from Einhard ((775-840) the biographer of Charlemagne. Lupus’ transcription of De Oratore by Cicero survives in the British Library 
It was this world that the guilds eventually came to deconstruct, quite literally. The guildsmen narrowed and directed thought with several aims in mind: to extract and distil knowledge that served their mutual prosperity and their corporations; and to codify knowledge so they could more easily transmit it among themselves.
To this day the process of codifying knowledge continues along ever-narrower lines through a host of methods: patents proclaim ownership of whole areas of research closing them off to students; academic journals operate a protection racket, demanding huge fees to publish academics and closing research done at public expense behind paywalls that only corporations and institutions can afford; and an increasingly Woke academia acts as thought police in the remaining areas of research and free speech.
Codifying knowledge has reached the point where Nobel laureate for physics Robert Laughlin, felt moved to publish in 2008, The Crime of Reason: And the Closing of the Scientific Mind. How is it that bodies that make a fetish of knowing can have closed society’s mind?
MORAL GUARDIANS AND SOCIAL ENGINEEERS
Arriving in Britain with the Normans, these organizations already had a history dating back hundreds of years (outside the scope of this article). They called themselves “egalitarian” because once inside, behind Truth's Protective Layers, in Neil Armstrong’s enigmatic phrase, knowledge was shared between confrères on the basis of openness between apprentices, journeymen and masters. How that secrecy and rival hierarchy was tolerated by the Normans remains an open question. Quite likely, as the Tudors, they co-opted it. This is where the paradox begins of guilds being a challenge to the status quo and yet an integral supporting column.
Though originally religious in character, the guilds soon fell foul of the church. Their secret oaths raised suspicion. They created new mysteries to inculcate their adepts, rituals which they dressed in the symbolism of old, employing the hypnotic techniques they borrowed from the monastic chants and revelation — a continuity trick that makes the cultural programming go down like a spoonful of jam. Egyptomania followed soon, as documented in the Hallliwell Manuscript of 1440.
It is out of this system of craft guilds that speculative masonry emerged. Freemasonry is widely explored elsewhere so I will stay on the angle of corporatism and social engineering while acknowledging that there are many points of connection.
With the monastic inheritance of the wealthier guildsmen and with the rise of trade and finance, the crafts gained influence. Producers gave way to oligarchs. The monastic bequest included the social role of moral guardian. The modern idea that corporations have a moral role is perhaps a throwback to their origin in the guilds. This now came with the challenge of being “wealthiest guy on the block.”
Abbots and bishops had long been mocked for their outward priggishness while living lavishly behind their monastic gates. With few exceptions like Cardinal John Fisher this was the case. Such wealth ensured that most bishops sided with King Henry.
It is likely the Templar’s adventures brought home, to borrow Sasha Baron Cohen’s comedic phrase, "Cultural Learnings for Make Benefit Glorious Nation" and these learnings included those of Sabbateans and Gnostics.
Thus the new oligarchic guildsmen no longer lived in the monastic duality of good and evil but in a multipolar world. It was no longer a matter of closet gluttony, indulging the predictable impieties and peccadilloes, but also the idea that evil can be expunged only in the act.
Historians are miserly with the term decadence. They would have us think it rare that apples rot by the barrel-load. It only happens when the civic order is upended and society consequently falls into decline, they caution us. This is the historians in their role as defenders of the status quo, hagiographers to the powerful, prating as an old uncle that you must know your place and do what you’re told.
What textbooks don’t tell is that kakistocracy is as common as aristocracy; that many a time the bad oust the good, especially when great wealth is at stake. In the movies a Bond villain is randomly evil. Step back and you will see a network and a logic.
Money and power corrupt. Together with the introduction of new “heresies,” insights or thought systems — depending on one’s perspective — they constituted means, motive and opportunity. The new corporatism inherited the monastic moral bully pulpit but it was also exposed to “progressive” influences from the continents, from trade, from bankers and Templars, from religious refugees, and from that thousand year-old network of guilds.
This social force embraced codified knowledge and the ability to annoint its adepts with social status through the guilds and the universities. It formed a growing network that rivaled and overlaid the state, and whose connections — in some cases, interests and loyalties, also — were international.
As the man said, “the very word, secrecy, is repugnant in a free and open society”.
FROM TOILING TO LITERACY
What has changed for the peasants? Not much. Working the fields they had not needed to read and write. When it became necessary to raise a nation of clerks they were taught from texts of moral improvement to populate the rows of desks that serviced the ships and the factories at home and abroad.
This was, in the Western era, a period of no more than 250 years. From 1900 mass production, automation and eventually computing reduced the need for clerks. The stop sign was raised in the crowded traffic lanes of education.
It was not possible to halt literacy but it would be undermined. Advised by corporate foundations like those of Rockefeller, the state supplanted private and church schools, and workers’ institutes, and disparaged home schooling. Then the methods that had produced literate workers were undermined by people like John Dewey with his "Look, Say" method that created the new ailment of dyslexia.
Progressive guildsmen would look with satisfaction as workers were bent to the needs of corporations but would not say or admit that this was to the detriment of education in general. The teaching profession was a driving force in making humanity submit to corporate needs. Teachers and their guilds were essential in giving this corporatist progressive agenda an intellectual, leftish, forward-thinking gloss.
Each progressive "improvement" compounded the destruction of education until the only answer was to inflate grades. Soon many pupils struggled to grasp even this low-hanging fruit so in 2020 the test-blind movement proposed to completely ignore exam scores when assessing a student's application. A growing number of colleges and universities are abandoning ACT and SAT scores as a way to allocate places.
It has taken a century for teachers to corner themselves into irrelevance. We hear little of the private-school-bashing of the past or of the rival virtues of state education. The educators simply declare that after you have spent 12 years in school the results don’t matter. In fairness to teachers, this proposal does seem to originate with the critical theory brigade but they’re in charge and the “good” teachers are silent.
Young people seem to have taken it badly. They prefer online role-play games to reading, doing or making and enter adulthood often choosing virtual friends over the embarrassing two steps forward, one step back of acquiring social skills and friendships. Dating sites struggle with the phenomenon of violent “sex games" because online seekers of hook ups bring their mindset of role play to physical encounters.
Those hooked must be neither smelly nor hairy but carry their online perfection into the slightly-more-real outer world. This means they must spend money and hours shaving and preening to look like their online avatars. Corporations profit mightily from all those plastic bottles of gel and make up — not only as short-term sales: it is the brain that's being washed as well as the body.
If it is wrong to lay these evolutions at the door of corporatism and the “apartist” mindset of the social engineer I have yet to find another plausible protagonist. If you are chilled enough to believe the changes in your lifetime were happenstance, you need to look at the historical parallels. They are irrefutable.
The guildsmen have created a populace of sinners and lost souls to feed their version of the priest complex. If the corporations will not tend their souls, they will at least relieve them of the burden of earthly possessions — “you will own nothing and you will be happy,” in the phrase of the World Economic Forum.
The need for personal responsibility will be lifted, along with half of the 10 Commandments: the state will replace “honour your father and mother,” and Artificial Intelligence will anticipate crime before it happens, doing away with adultery, murder, stealing, bearing false witness and perhaps even coveting. Universal Basic Income will leave the Sabbath free so what remains is graven images and blasphemy. The red line for many will be obedience to God, though if scientists shut down the medial frontal cortex they may succeed in forcibly converting waverers. 
The guild of apothecaries did not come into being until the early seventeenth century. As for pharmacology and allopathic medicine, that owes more to Rockefeller, his takeover of the medical schools, the petrochemical base of many drugs and his ownership of much of the pharmaceutical industry. Except that the guilds probably did bequeath the exalted status of the physician as secular priest to a debased population of sinners.
It would be remiss to ignore what this means in the context of Event Covid: in the eyes of the guildsmen, the people have been tested and found wanting. Hospitals and care homes are liberal with “Do Not Attempt Resuscitation” notices. There are increasing personal reports that suggest Covid shots possibly are being assigned on grounds of ethnicity and mental capacity. Many more people seem to be on a second list, one that is only just emerging into the light. Pharmacists have been seen consulting online databases of personal information before delivering the appropriate shot. Annecdotal reports suggest it goes further than a courtesy check of name and address because it is followed by, “you get this shot and you get that.” Members of the U.S. military also report being assigned a different shot based on their ethnicity.
While the VAERS and MHRA Yellow Card systems are months behind in their reporting — and capture 10 per cent or less of adverse reactions and deaths — the pharmacrats are likely using less-known databases like the one for which MHRA issued a tender in 2020 .
Several months ago a French injection center recalled more than a hundred patients after vials were found to contain saline. No explanation has ever been given for why certain lots of vaccine should be saline . In the background like a sombre chant we hear, “equity, equity,” as they shoo the minorities to the front.
Disregard, as you wish, the exaggerated allegations of hidden intent but it is hard not to see just another round of social engineering. There have been so many: from the Reformation and the mental reframing of the inhabitants of Britain; the police state that the Tudors imposed, with the full complicity of the guilds; soon followed by the first of the Enclosure Acts that redistributed one fifth of the land of England to the wealthy. If we are witnessing another round of social engineering it likely has a connection to the almost 1,000 year history of the guilds.
We must not overlook their influence in overturning the universal belief system that the monasteries, for all their faults, represented. The guilds defined the moral order that took its place, including the value placed on one’s contribution, or social credit, assessed by the earthly community of confrères.
They live on today in numerous guises including the City of London Corporation, Freemasonry and the many introduction-only (mainly business) organisations that take the heritage of the guilds as their model. The universities they created play an influential role, having inherited the model of faculty, features like tenure, and most crucially the tendency to codify and constrict the flow of knowledge in the name of revealing it.
The guilds are the kernel of the modern corporations, not just as early examples of incorporation, but in their contribution to corporatist ideology, their assumption of a leading role in structuring the social order, of assigning social status and, through their role in society’s elite and secret instititutions, apportioning society’s rewards. Their story continues.
 History of Information - Guilds and universities
 Norman Dodd on the Reece Committe into tax-exempt foundations
 Gary Richardson - Craft Guilds and Christianity in Late-Medieval England
 P.J. Broadhead - Guildsmen, Religious Reform and the Search for The Common Good
 G.D.H. Cold in Georges Renard’s Guilds in the Middle Ages
 British Library - Monastery libraries
 PsyPost - Scientists reduce belief in God
 PharmaPhorum - MHRA tender for adverse reaction database
 Teller Report - French saline