Rome. After the Republic stagnation? - Page 2 - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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Rome, Greece, Egypt & other ancient history (c 4000 BCE - 476 CE) and pre-history.
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#14004969
AVT wrote:The problem with dictatorships is they inevitably depend greatly on one person, yes there were some good dictators (Caesar, Octavian, Trajan etc) but there were many terrible ones too (Nero, Caligula etc). In the end the constant political warfare and civil strife decimated the Roman leadership and slowly caused its gradual decline.


Again there is a huge difference between 'dictator' in the Roman sense, and 'Emperor'. It is foolhardy to talk of Caesar or Sulla in the same vein as the Emperors that followed them.
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By KlassWar
#14005000
Kman wrote:Yes they did stagnate after they enacted dictatorship as a form of rule, the fact that Ceasar could become a dictator was just a sign of how rotten Roman culture had gotten, a virtuous people would not have tolerated some schmuck naming himself dictator.


Actually, Caesar was far from a tyrant. Throughout his career, he enjoyed consistent popular support (man never lost an election), and he didn't destroy his political opponents. He did fix consular and praetorial elections during his dictatorship, but the Roman electoral system was corrupt to begin with and he didn't try to fix every election. (quaestor, aedile and tribune races were more or less clean).

As a governor, he was a progressive reformer, probably one of the most progressive Roman heads of State ever: He redistributed land, commissioned enormous public works, expanded the franchise and the Senate to the provincial elites (temporarily breaking the Roman oligarchy's stranglehold on power), rewrote and codified law and did other lots upon lots of cool shit in Rome.

Octavian was more reactionary than Caesar, and he did strive for absolute power. Caesar's reforms aligned with the interests of the Roman masses, Octavian made the Caesarian system serve the very conservative oligarchy that had stood against every step of the long fucking way towards making Rome stop being a shithole.

Kman wrote:I view the early republican days of the Roman era to be its good period, it was the period when currency debasement did not exist and government taxation on the economy was virtually non-existant, it was only after they started debasing the currency (like the US did in 1933) and enacting dictatorship that Roman culture really started decaying and falling apart.


The early republican days of the Roman era were probably the worst. If you want to find Rome's golden age, you probably need to go to the mid-Republic (when Roman plebeians basically acquired equal rights to patricians). The Roman Empire wasn't an all-encompassing totalitarian tyranny, either. There were looong periods of the Roman Empire where a free Roman citizen could basically do whatever the fuck they wanted without government interference (as long as they paid their taxes and minded their own business).

For example, Trajan and Hadrian were progressive, reform-minded, not-particularly-despotic Emperors.
#14005080
AuContraireVoltaire wrote:Dictatorship had existed during the Roman Republic long before Caesar, and it did not have the same connotations it does today. Dictatorship was decreed by the Senate in times of emergency; one man was given sole power, for an ephemeral period, to save the Republic from an immediate danger. (See Cincinnatus in 5th century BC; Sulla in 1st century BC)


Yes but this type of dictatorship was an exception to the rule in early roman culture, it was like only for wartime that it was enacted. The rest of the time there was no one man with tremendous power in Roman society.

AuContraireVoltaire wrote:And the Republic was far from virtuous as most Senators cared only for two things: their auctoritas, and their dignitas. A career in public life was a fiercly competitive and, especially in the later Republic, bribery was endemic, as was shameless gossiping, intrigue, machinations and manipulation.


Sounds exactly like modern politics, scumbags are a plenty in our modern political system also, that tends to be the nature of political classes in general.

AuContraireVoltaire wrote:Politics in Rome was even more putrid than it is today.


I doubt they could one up the scumbags we have now.

AuContraireVoltaire wrote:Sure there were exceptions in men like Cato and Cicero, but on the whole very little was virtuous about Rome's governance.


If government intervention was very limited then they were virtuous during this period since virtue is closely linked to how much a people resort to the use of government and force in general.

KlassWar wrote:There were looong periods of the Roman Empire where a free Roman citizen could basically do whatever the fuck they wanted without government interference (as long as they paid their taxes and minded their own business).


Lol you make it sound like taxation is a harmless thing that doesnt harm society, that is not reality and it was precisely taxation and round about taxation via a printing press that destroyed and corrupted Roman society. Without this taxation the Roman empire would not have collapsed because then it would be providing efficient political rule and that would have made people more willing to support their political rulers (when the Roman empire collapsed popular support for the politicians in Rome had virtually collapsed and people often preferred to be ruled by barbarians than the thieving romans).
#14005104
Taxation was inevitable. Rome annexed lots of backward territory that required irrigation. Aqueducts, roads, harbors and bathhouses had to get built. Once Rome ran out of neighboring tribes to conquer, plunder just didn't cut it no more.

Rome's stagnation and decay actually began in the late 3rd century CE. At any rate, it wasn't taxes that did Rome in: It was probably monetary policy. Seriously. Some emperors had monetary policies that were downright disastrous. Using hard-metal-currency, a particularly braindead Emperor actually minted denarii with less gold and pretended they were regular denarii (instead of introducing a new unit of currency). Of course, moneychangers promptly realized the scam: Cue crisis-of-confidence and utter monetary chaos. (When coins have intrinsic value, making coins of the same denomination with different intrinsic values is sheer craziness)

He was not the only Emperor to do stupid shit like this. Eventually they managed to kill trade for good. Social mobility became a thing of the past, Roman identity stopped granting meaningful advantages: The ideological appeal of Romanness was bound to collapse as well. Once Romanitas lost both material incentive and political appeal, it was a matter of time before local warlords and elites cut deals with the barbarians.
#14005113
KlassWar wrote:Taxation was inevitable. Rome annexed lots of backward territory that required irrigation.


Who the fuck says a highly developed region has to pay for backwards savages to develop? Let them develop on their own dime instead of punishing successful people and rewarding losers.

KlassWar wrote:Aqueducts, roads, harbors and bathhouses had to get built


No.

KlassWar wrote:At any rate, it wasn't taxes that did Rome in: It was probably monetary policy. Seriously.


Money debasement/money printing and taxation are almost identical in effect, both methods enrich the government and the army at the expense of the private sector. Roman dictators used money printing to tax people and it was this taxation via the mint/printing press that was by far the biggest reason for the fall of the Roman Empire.

KlassWar wrote:Some emperors had monetary policies that were downright disastrous. Using hard-metal-currency, a particularly braindead Emperor actually minted denarii with less gold and pretended they were regular denarii


Yes they debased the coins by putting various cheap metals into the silver and gold coins in order to enrich themselves and pay off their fellow parasites.

KlassWar wrote:Of course, moneychangers promptly realized the scam: Cue crisis-of-confidence and utter monetary chaos.


Yes and this debasement also diverted huge amounts of resources away from productive uses and into the pockets of lazy and unproductive bureaucrats and soldiers, effectively acting as a tax on people and eventually destroying Roman civilization.

KlassWar wrote:He was not the only Emperor to do stupid shit like this. Eventually they managed to kill trade for good. Social mobility became a thing of the past


Yes that is what happens when you raise taxes too much either by debasing the currency or straight up taking the money you want from the private sector workers.
#14005153
At any rate, it wasn't taxes that did Rome in: It was probably monetary policy. Seriously. Some emperors had monetary policies that were downright disastrous. Using hard-metal-currency, a particularly braindead Emperor actually minted denarii with less gold and pretended they were regular denarii (instead of introducing a new unit of currency). Of course, moneychangers promptly realized the scam: Cue crisis-of-confidence and utter monetary chaos. (When coins have intrinsic value, making coins of the same denomination with different intrinsic values is sheer craziness)

Precisely. If one looks at the historical record, it quickly becomes clear that rulers in the ancient world lacked even basic knowledge about economics. Even such a relatively simply concept as inflation seems to have been beyond their intellectual grasp. And it wasn't just the Romans either - the Chinese emperor (actually usurper) Wang Mang's deranged currency reforms of the mid-Han period almost destroyed the Chinese economy and led to civil war and his own spectacular death. The problem was not high rates of taxation, but lack of even basic economic competence.
#14005156
The effect of debasing and devaluing are somewhat different.

Let's say you print money. The money supply grows and inflation occurs for a while. If you don't print loads of money at once, you'll probably get to avoid a hyperinflation spiral. Perhaps the money-printers have their credit ratings suffer, that's all. At every point in the process any dollar is equal to any other dollar.


Let's say you're stuck with commodity money but you're in the mood for some stimulus. You proceed to devalue the currency, and tell the money minters to mint denarii with half the silver. You have the gall to pretend they're worth as much as old denarii. Suddenly your units of money are not units of money at all, since one denarii and another denarii have different worth at the same time. In addition to the usual ill effects of printing money, you get all sorts of weird shit:

-> Some merchants will stubbornly refuse to accept new coin.
-> Unscrupulous traders will try and mix old and new money up. Previously smooth transactions become labor-intensive.
-> Under commodity money, trusted currencies have added-value from the plain gold. Debasing messes with all that.
-> Debase hard enough, and people will either hoard old money (wrecking demand) or melting it to get multiple new coins (destroying value).

With a (more or less honest) public exchange rate of old money for new money, these effects could be mitigated to the point where debasement resembles mere money-printing under fiat money... But if you try to pass off debased currency as legit, you got instant meltdown just add water.
#14005196
Wang Mang's deranged currency reforms of the mid-Han period almost destroyed the Chinese economy


Thanks for that :lol:

I have done some reading and many lulz were had. Moving from an economy based on one type of coin to one based on 28 types of coin without expecting it to cause chaos and widespread counterfeiting. :lol:
#14005475
KlassWar wrote:The effect of debasing and devaluing are somewhat different.

Let's say you print money. The money supply grows and inflation occurs for a while. If you don't print loads of money at once, you'll probably get to avoid a hyperinflation spiral. Perhaps the money-printers have their credit ratings suffer, that's all.


Hyperinflation is created by creating large amounts of money, whether you do this over 1 month or over 1 year doesnt matter that much, if you lets say triple the money supply then you will have hyperinflation coming and prices will rise roughly 200% or more (depending on whether people lose faith in a currency completely and expect more debasement). Inflation is a function of money supply growth, it can be controlled or not controlled and even if you print low amounts of money you will still have inflation since there will be more money in the economy compared to the goods being traded, it is a simple question of conversion ratios really.

KlassWar wrote:At every point in the process any dollar is equal to any other dollar.


Yes but a person that creates coins out of thin air is increasing his wealth and ability to pay others, he is essentially siphoning off the purchasing power that other non-money printers have in their notes or coins (if you have legal tender laws). This means it works like a tax because it takes away purchasing power from people in the private sector and gives it to the people in the government.

KlassWar wrote:Let's say you're stuck with commodity money but you're in the mood for some stimulus. You proceed to devalue the currency, and tell the money minters to mint denarii with half the silver. You have the gall to pretend they're worth as much as old denarii. Suddenly your units of money are not units of money at all, since one denarii and another denarii have different worth at the same time.


They are still money, the old denarii will just be worth aproximatly twice than the new denarii (ignoring the value of the filler metals).

KlassWar wrote:In addition to the usual ill effects of printing money, you get all sorts of weird shit:

-> Some merchants will stubbornly refuse to accept new coin.


Merchants will still accept the debased money if they are not forced to treat the 50% silver coin as a 100% silver coin, if merchants are allowed to simply say to you ''sorry but with those coins you will have to pay double prices'' then they wont refuse new coins because they will still be earning a profit on their business, it is when they are forced to accept 50% silver coins as 100% silver coins that trade breaks down since that means the trader in question is losing money doing his business and no person works in a job that costs them money.

KlassWar wrote:-> Unscrupulous traders will try and mix old and new money up. Previously smooth transactions become labor-intensive.


Well I am sure you can still check silver coins for their purity with various methods like weights and visual inspection, I am sure a coin with 50% copper in it has a different color than a 100% silver coin.

KlassWar wrote:-> Under commodity money, trusted currencies have added-value from the plain gold. Debasing messes with all that.


A tiny amount, not anything substantial, people can trade in raw gold or raw silver np, I doubt it was allowed in the later roman era though.

KlassWar wrote:-> Debase hard enough, and people will either hoard old money (wrecking demand) or melting it to get multiple new coins (destroying value).


Gresham's law (hoarding higher value money) only comes into effect if the government doing the debasement price fixes the monetary unit and forces merchants to accept the newly created money at old 100% silver prices instead of the 50% price that they are worth now, if the government simply prints money and does not engage in regulation of the value of each coin then the old 100% silver coins will still circulate in the economy, they will just be worth double of what the new coins are worth.

I also dont see how melting down a silver coin destroys value, the value is in the silver and the copper, it doesnt disappear just because you melt it down into a different form.

KlassWar wrote:With a (more or less honest) public exchange rate of old money for new money, these effects could be mitigated to the point where debasement resembles mere money-printing under fiat money... But if you try to pass off debased currency as legit, you got instant meltdown just add water.


Well if they are honest about exchange rates then there is no point in doing debasement since then you are just wasting your time splitting up 100% silver coins into 50% silver coins and getting half the price, the whole reason why debasement worked in the roman world is because they forced people to accept coins with low silver value at much higher prices than the metal in the coin was worth and if you did not follow their evil scheme and tried to exchange these corrupt coins at their true market value then you would be punished with the death penalty.

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