Currency Debasement and Social Collapse


Comment by Jim Campbell, Citizen Journalist

Excellent historical read from the Mises Institute on how currency collapse lead to the end of empires. 

As Washington is about to go up in flames, be sure the current leader of the progressive movement is out golfing.

One thing certain, Paul Krugman hasn’t had a new idea in 50 years.  The socialist Krugman still wants the reader to believe that his love affair with the failed debunked economic policies of John Maynard Keynes are viable.  It would be nice for him to be sent to one of those FEMA reeducation camps frequently mentioned in the media.

Rome burns as today’s Krugman  the modern day  Nero plays the violin.

In a sense he’s correct those principles of deficit lead to the horrific deficit and interest the taxpayer must pay one day.  All the while Rome is burning while the United States continued to be “governed” by inept politicians.  Think it’s time for term limits?

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it, I’m J.C. and I approve this message.

 Mises Daily
The showdown came when in the political troubles of the 3rd and 4th centuries the emperors resorted to currency debasement. With the system of maximum prices, the practice of debasement completely paralyzed both the production and the marketing of the vital foodstuffs and disintegrated society’s economic organization. The more eagerness the authorities displayed in enforcing the maximum prices, the more desperate became the conditions of the urban masses dependent on the purchase of food.

Commerce in grain and other necessities vanished altogether. To avoid starving, people deserted the cities, settled on the countryside, and tried to grow grain, oil, wine, and other necessities for themselves. On the other hand, the owners of the big estates restricted their excess production of cereals and began to produce in their farmhouses, the villae the products of handicraft which they needed. For their big-scale farming, which was already seriously jeopardized because of the inefficiency of slave labor, lost its rationality completely when the opportunity to sell at remunerative prices disappeared.

As the owner of the estate could no longer sell in the cities, he could no longer patronize the urban artisans either. He was forced to look for a substitute to meet his needs by employing handicraftsmen on his own account in his villa. He discontinued big-scale farming and became a landlord receiving rents from tenants or sharecroppers. These coloni were either freed slaves or urban proletarians who settled in the villages and turned to tilling the soil.

A tendency toward the establishment of autarky of each landlord’s estate emerged. The economic function of the cities, of commerce, trade, and urban handicrafts, shrank. Italy and the provinces of the empire returned to a less advanced state of the social division of labor. The highly developed economic structure of ancient civilization retrograded to what is now known as the manorial organization of the Middle Ages.

The emperors were alarmed with that outcome, which undermined the financial and military power of their government. But their counteraction was futile as it did not affect the root of the evil. The compulsion and coercion to which they resorted could not reverse the trend toward social disintegration which, on the contrary, was caused precisely by too much compulsion and coercion.

No Roman was aware of the fact that the process was induced by the government’s interference with prices and by currency debasement. It was vain for the emperors to promulgate laws against the city dweller who “relicta civitate rus habitare maluerit.”

 

The system of the leiturgia, the public services to be rendered by the wealthy citizens, only accelerated the retrogression of the division of labor. The laws concerning the special obligations of the shipowners, the navicularii, were no more successful in checking the decline of navigation than the laws concerning grain dealing in checking the shrinkage in the cities’ supply of agricultural products.

The marvelous civilization of antiquity perished because it did not adjust its moral code and its legal system to the requirements of the market economy. A social order is doomed if the actions which its normal functioning requires are rejected by the standards of morality, are declared illegal by the laws of the country, and are prosecuted as criminal by the courts and the police.

The Roman Empire crumbled to dust because it lacked the spirit of liberalism and free enterprise. The policy of interventionism and its political corollary, the Führer principle, decomposed the mighty empire as they will by necessity always disintegrate and destroy any social entity.
~~~~~~~~~

Ludwig von Mises was the acknowledged leader of the Austrian School of economic thought, a prodigious originator in economic theory, and a prolific author. Mises’s writings and lectures encompassed economic theory, history, epistemology, government, and political philosophy. His contributions to economic theory include important clarifications on the quantity theory of money, the theory of the trade cycle, the integration of monetary theory with economic theory in general, and a demonstration that socialism must fail because it cannot solve the problem of economic calculation. Mises was the first scholar to recognize that economics is part of a larger science in human action, a science that Mises called “praxeology.” See Ludwig von Mises’s article archives.

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One response to “Currency Debasement and Social Collapse

  1. Well, DC IS burning, while Congress fiddles and obama-soetoro is still plotting and planning his next course of devastation.

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