I have a political science problem in my story.
I reduced this to a simple binary choice to prevent opinions, abiding by the perfect question checklist. If this question is confusing, I am on chat and can work on it. Please let me know how this question may be unfit for political science. I respectfully ask you at least inform what your confusion is before a blind close vote.
I need to create vassal states in the USA, it can generally be done by removing one of two pillars of democracy: Energy and information. I need expert advice on which of my story lines gets me closest to my American feudalism goal. I hope that the problem is clear.
pillars of democracy
In determining the path our world took to a new Superpower, I am looking for the most feasible path a fallen American empire needs to follow to return as a fundamentally feudal society.
All empires must fall, eventually. The American empire fell, and in its destruction, the liberty of the common man vanished nearly overnight. The American dollar was no longer the global currency, and a new superpower left the United States barely united, and a second world economy. Menial, unskilled labor jobs evaporated to the point where you either had a job by your status, or were a nobody. Names are what we trust. Names, and connections. Why this happened? That is beyond this question. This is the premise in my world. What happened next, during a reformation, is given below, followed by two hypothetical paths to this end: Sequester of public access to information, or sequester of public access to energy.
The weaker members of powerful families took up residence with their successful relatives, hoping to leverage their name to acquire a bit of freedom. Houses became manors. Manors became castles. Castles became enterprises beyond what a feeble government could secure; so castles raised their own militia armies.
The foundation of every family empire is and will always be supply of resources. The government floundered, and in the gardens and courtyards lay the only proof of your credit that another empire could trust. An empire in disrepair would never secure any contract for fear of default. American Empire family castles formed the economies of entire towns. The American Dream for the commoner became gaining the favor of your Lord; the American nightmare for the wealthy became disavowal by your family name. Family castles went ever further to provide jobs in cooking, turning beds, serving coffee, butlering, maintaining grounds, keeping books, stocking pantries and maintaining vehicles and aircraft and watercraft.
Two possible paths are suggested
Any democracy rests on several essential pillars. Getting from the fall to feudalism, I have knocked out two of them. For reality check:
Sequester of public access to information: For reasons not fully understood, the weakened American government could no longer provide postal service to the country, and it became legally privatized, and then monopolized by a logistics delivery mogul. Powerful lobbying money prevented legal protections, and blocked enforcement of what few laws did protect the rights of individuals to do commerce. Digital media kept a shallow grip on markets, but the failure to protect against highly advanced digital pirates with quantum computers kept electronic correspondence relegated to administrative functions of no importance. Any transaction that went through the air, or over a wire, was a calculated risk. Pen and paper was the only possible secure way to manage large contracts and accounts. But paper moves at the pace that the mail determines, and serves only those who pay its monopolizing overlord.
Sequester of public access to energy: An emergency declaration created an energy police force who monitored thermal output of citizens and corporations, taxing their outputs. An energy credit scheme was invented to promote industries with lower energy costs, where taxes could be paid by energy credits. These credits became a currency, where entrepreneurs created "low energy" industries and collected credits to exchange for currency. Filthier and "hot" industries gave the consumer market what they craved, without regard for the thermal cost. They simply bought energy credits and paid their fines, passing the cost of credits along to a hungry public. As the energy ponzi scheme played out, the middle class evaporated under energy moguls who hoarded all of the market demand and became too big to fail. But empires as large as America are too vast to manage. Regional distribution lords were given power and authority over parcels of the country. Their favor with the corporate energy empire was measured by their ability to keep their region consuming and dependent on products of this empire. Again, powerful lobbying blocked a weak government from enacting laws, and enforcing what protections already existed.
After the fall of the American government, the failures of foreign intervention, and destruction of the middle class, for whatever reason
Which scenario brings the remnants of a fallen America closer to the Feudal Lords of America?
No, this can not be answered with an opinion, or your favorite doomsday scheme. There is a reason postal mail is guaranteed in the United States Constitution, a good answer shows an understanding of why it's there. An energy crisis is the crisis du jour today and seems to have many experts. I don't know which path will get a recovering America closer to the feudal society I am trying to build. If you are new to subjective questions, here is the site policy on how they work. If you do have an opinion, it should share a source or reference to back it up.