By James Macdonald

ISBN-10: 0374171432

ISBN-13: 9780374171438

These days, the concept the best way a rustic borrows its cash is hooked up to what sort of govt it has comes as a shock to most folk. yet within the eighteenth century it was once usually accredited that public debt and political liberty have been in detail similar. In A unfastened country Deep in Debt, James Macdonald explores the relationship among public debt and democracy within the broadest attainable phrases. He begins with a few primary questions: Why do governments borrow? How will we clarify the lifestyles of democratic associations within the historic international? Why did bond markets come into lifestyles, and why did this ensue in Europe and never elsewhere?Macdonald unearths the solutions to those questions in a sweeping historical past that starts off in biblical instances, makes a speciality of the most important interval of the eighteenth century, and maintains right down to the current. He levels the area, from Mesopotamia to China to France to the U.S., and unearths facts for the wedding of democracy and public credits from its earliest glimmerings to its swan track within the bond drives of global battle II. this present day the 2 are, it kind of feels, divorced--but realizing their 1000s of years of cohabitation is essential to appreciating the democracy that we now take with no consideration.

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Athens lent to its allies on several occasions, as when it made a loan of triremes to Calcis in 334 B. c. Its famous orator Demosthenes lent one talent to Oreos in 340 B. c. as part of his struggle against the growing power of Philip of Macedon. The following year Tenedos lent money to Athens during its siege by the Macedonian king. During the years 394-340 B. , the temple of Delos, at that stage under Athenian control, made a number of loans to allied cities at an unvarying interest rate of 10%.

State formation of such magnitude and velocity could be accomplished in no other way than by conquest. The empires of the Bronze Age, too, had been formed in the fire of war, especially those of Mesopotamia. The wave of barbarian migrations gave new impetus to the phenomenon. It was now possible, and indeed increasingly normal, to see empires whose rulers were far less civilized, at least at first, than those they ruled. The laws of ancient warfare were simple: The winner takes all. Not only did the goods and possessions of the defeated pass to the victors; so, too, did their lives.

The jewels in the crown of the Persian Empire were undoubtedly the provinces that had been at the center of the great Bronze Age states. * Egypt was the second highest contributor at 700 talents. 22 Impressive as they are, these figures represented only the surplus: Herodotus states that the governor of Babylonia disposed of total revenues more than eight times the amount that was sent to the imperial treasury in Persepolis. 23 In such a sprawling empire, local conditions varied considerably, and it was inconceivable that a semipastoral tribe on the periphery could be taxed in the same way, or to the same extent, as the well-drilled cultivators of the great river basins.

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A Free Nation Deep in Debt: The Financial Roots of Democracy by James Macdonald


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