Yves here. Unlike our regular lineup, below is promotional material for Michael Hudson’s latest book, The Collapse of Antiquity. Enjoy!
The collapse of antiquitythe sequel to Michael’s”…and forgive them their debts,is the second and final book in his trilogy on the history of debt. It describes how the dynamics of interest-bearing debt led to the rise of annuitant oligarchies in classical Greece and Rome, causing economic polarization, widespread austerity, revolts, wars and ultimately Rome’s collapse into serfdom and feudalism. This collapse bequeathed to later Western civilization a creditor-friendly legal philosophy that led to today’s creditor oligarchies.
In telling this story, The collapse of antiquity reveals the strange parallels between the collapsing Roman world and the now indebted Western economies.
“In this monumental work, Michael Hudson overturns what most of us have learned about Athens and Sparta, Greece and Rome, Caesar and Cicero, even kings and republics. It exposes the roots of modern debt bondage and the crises in the greed and violence of the creditor oligarchs of antiquity, rooted in their laws, which ultimately destroyed the civilizations of classical antiquity.
– James K. Galbraith, author of Welcome to The Poisoned Chalice: The Destruction of Greece and the Future of Europe.
“In this fascinating book, Hudson explores the rise of the predator annuitant oligarchies of classical Greece and Rome. It presents a fascinating and compelling case that the debt trap led to the destruction of the peasantry, states, and ultimately even these civilizations.
– Martin Wolf, Chief Economics Commentator, FinancialTimes.
“Michael Hudson is a classic, old-school 19th century economist who puts facts before theory. To read his new book, The collapse of antiquity, is to learn why and how we came to live in a world where money owns people, not people who own money. Hudson’s clarity of thought is like water in a desert, so his history lesson is a sad story that is a joy to read.
– Lewis Lapham, editor of Lapham Quarterly.
The collapse of antiquity is vast in scope, covering:
- the transmission of interest-bearing debt from the ancient Near East to the Mediterranean world, but without the “safety valve” of periodic royal Clean Slate debt cancellations to restore economic balance and prevent the emergence of creditor oligarchies;
- the rise of creditor and landed oligarchies in classical Greece and Rome;
- the debt crises and revolts of classical antiquity, and the suppression, assassination and ultimately failure of the reformers;
- the role played by greed, lust for money (wealth addiction) and pride, as analyzed by Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and other ancient writers;
- Rome’s “end times” are collapsing into serfdom and the creditor-friendly oligarchic legacy that continues to shape the West;
- the transformation of Christianity as it became the state religion of Rome, supporting the oligarchy, abandoning early Christians’ revolutionary calls for debt cancellation, and changing the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer and “sin from a focus on the economic sphere to the personal sphere of the individual egotism;
- how pro-creditor ideology distorts recent economic interpretations of antiquity, showing growing sympathy with Rome’s oligarchic policies.
From back cover
The collapse of Rome was the precursor to the debt crises, economic polarization and austerity caused by Western oligarchies that followed. Western creditor-friendly laws and ideology inherited from Rome make repeated debt crises inevitable, transferring control of property and government to financial oligarchies. The great transition from classical antiquity to the modern world was to replace kingship not with democracies but with oligarchies with a creditor-friendly legal philosophy. This philosophy allows creditors to pull wealth, and therefore political power, into their own hands, without worrying about restoring economic balance and long-term viability as happened in the ancient Near East through at Clean Slates. Rome’s legacy to later Western civilization is therefore the structure of creditor oligarchies, not democracy in the sense of social structures and policies that promote widespread prosperity.