Peter Chardon Brooks Adams (1848 1927) historian and a critic of capitalism. …
Originally posted by Brook Adams:
The wielders of government under the Republic were landowning farmers and husbandmen. These “citizen soldiers ill-fitted to endure the strain of the unrestricted economic competition of a centralized society. Consequently decay set in. This “decay” was the rise of slavery.
Landowners hired the poor and their debts increased, with sons taking on their father’s debts. [I wonder if he explains how.] The debts became perpetual bondage to usurers. The entire system, judicial and fiscal, was structured the debt of the plebeians and then keeping in debt forever.
[So that's how feudalism got started?
Unlikely to have been just that.]
Usurers, through the courts, could buy, sell, and execute the debtors, just as any slave would be treated annihilating economic capital and undermining the ability of the landowner to pay taxes, and thus ruining the best source of income in the Republic.
[I'm not sure how that worked.]
Another source of income was found in conquest. But military expansion could only delay, never alleviate, the decline. It is a great irony, perhaps, that Rome could only bring peace by being at war. Increasing centralization and the rise of the Emperors exacerbated the rift between plebian and publican, slave and free.
More territory meant more foreigners reduced to slavery.
An hierarchy formed in the Roman Empire. Capital was increased in the hands of a few, and landowners had barely enough to subsist in good times. At the slightest disaster, bankruptcy and debt occurred. The Roman husbandman and soldier was doomed, for nature had turned against him.
Another factor was the devaluation and centralization of currency. Under the Emperors, coins were steadily increased, causing inflation and devaluation. Rome became dependent on its far holdings for money, supplies, food, workers, and slaves. Bankers and the monied elite replaced the citizen-soldier landholder, and mercenaries replaced the Roman legions.
I think the man's work has suffered at the hands of the Wikipedia. Maybe I aught to read some of it?