According to Political Economy: The Contest of Economic Ideas by Frank Stilwell, European feudalism and capitalism are both systems of social provisioning. What features do they share in common?
European feudalism was established to address the issues brought about by a weak central government after the fall of the Roman Empire. Kings had limited power to protect their territories hence formed alliances with local powerful lords by offering them support and land. These powerful lords in turn provided land and support to lesser lords who did the same for their knights. The knights were in charge of the peasant community of workers who offered military and farming services in exchange for their own smaller parcel of lands. They were not to leave their territories and opportunities to improve their social status were limited.
Capitalism involves the establishment of free markets with minimal to no government involvement in economics. The government’s responsibility is to ensure civil stability, security and protection of the peoples’ unalienable rights. In a capitalistic system, wealth and social status are determined by an individual’s access to the factors of production. Although it is a free society, individual access to the factors of production is limited and so a person in the lower classes of the society may find it difficult to change their standing.
The similarities between capitalism and European feudalism are expressed through power and social structures. They both have an established working class with conditions that are unfavorable for this class to change their standing. The people in the upper classes of the society are more focused on protecting their positions and maintaining the status quo. Power to make decisions and influence policies is concentrated at the top of the social structure.