I recently read a book called "The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class" that speculated that a large drive for democracy was the equalizing power of guns.
The idea is that feudalism was sustainable because the military technology of the time (calvary) allowed for a warrior class to support the nobility, and that modern technologies are once again allowing for this concentration of power. AI and drones are much less democratic forms of weaponry and allow for more complicated controls of the populace like what China is doing with their algorithms.
I read a similar book called "The Dictator's Handbook" which put democracies and autocracies along a spectrum of what percentage of the populace's consent you need to rule, and I also read Robin Hanson's "Elephant in the Brain" which similarly tends to attribute everything to power and self-interest.
What are the limits of this style of "cynical-economic" political theory? Do you think the neo-feudal assessment is accurate?
I think if the neo-feudal theory turned out to be untrue, it would be most likely to be because it's incorrect in its assessment of the democratic leanings of new technologies and not because it misunderstood human psychology.