If you think about the British Isles of Alfred's time, you can imagine it as a bunch of ambitious chief executives, each with his own propaganda machine and inheritable titles quarreling over who owns what. Then if you look around the world today, you can kind of think of the whole world as a bunch of ambitious chief executives each with their own propaganda machine quarreling over who owns what and if you fudge the definition a little you can still come up with something very akin to the "inheritable titles" of Alfred's time.
Now whether or not this is the lot of our species, I don't know. But
always worth remembering that Alfred himself was of Saxon tribes whom the
Romans had for several hundred years used as mercenaries. When the Roman
military left Britannia, or Albion as they called it in France, Romanized Celts,
or the Britons, were instructed by their chief executive in Rome to take care of
their own defense. The Britons finally asked the Saxon tribes for help,
and when the Britons failed to pay them, the Saxon tribes kind of pushed the