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

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

by James Macdonald
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691126321

ISBN-13: 9780691126326

Pub. Date: 05/02/2006

Publisher: Princeton University Press

For the greater part of recorded history the most successful and powerful states were autocracies; yet now the world is increasingly dominated by democracies. In A Free Nation Deep in Debt, James Macdonald provides a novel answer for how and why this political transformation occurred. The pressures of war finance led ancient states to store up treasure; and

Overview

For the greater part of recorded history the most successful and powerful states were autocracies; yet now the world is increasingly dominated by democracies. In A Free Nation Deep in Debt, James Macdonald provides a novel answer for how and why this political transformation occurred. The pressures of war finance led ancient states to store up treasure; and treasure accumulation invariably favored autocratic states. But when the art of public borrowing was developed by the city-states of medieval Italy as a democratic alternative to the treasure chest, the balance of power tipped. From that point on, the pressures of war favored states with the greatest public creditworthiness; and the most creditworthy states were invariably those in which the people who provided the money also controlled the government. Democracy had found a secret weapon and the era of the citizen creditor was born. Macdonald unfolds this tale in a sweeping history that starts in biblical times, passes via medieval Italy to the wars and revolutions of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and ends with the great bond drives that financed the two world wars.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691126326
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
05/02/2006
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
576
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.40(d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: THE FINANCIAL ROOTS OF DEMOCRACY 3

CHAPTER 1. TRIBES AND EMPIRES 10
Rags to Riches 10
Barbarians at the Gate 18
The Free Men Fight Back 24
Greeks and Their "Gifts" 31
Civic Debt 36
Kings and Tyrants 42
The Carthaginian Wars 45
Imperium Romanum 51
Breakdown 56

CHAPTER 2. CITIZEN CREDITORS 67
The Return of the City-State 67
La Serenissima 72
La Superba 77
The Monte Comune 81
The Twilight of Repayable Taxes 84
San Giorgio 94
Selfish Citizens 100

CHAPTER 3. SOVEREIGN DEBT 105
Kings and Merchants 105
The Treasure of the Indies 115
Antwerp and Lyons 122
Serial Bankruptcy 128
Folie des Offices 138

CHAPTER 4. RESISTANCE TO THE HEGEMON 148
The League of Cities 148
Regicide 157
Glorious Revolution 166

CHAPTER 5. THE CHIMERA 179
Le Roi Soleil 179
Post-bellum Depression 185
The Chimera 190
The Bubble 205

CHAPTER 6. THE DILEMMA 220
Mopping Up 221
The Ruling Class 227
The Dilemma 239
The Limits of Absolutism 255
Aristocratic Revolution 266

CHAPTER 7. REVOLUTION 272
A New World 277
The First and Second American Revolutions 289
Enemies of the People 307
The Elephant and the Whale 334

CHAPTER 8. BOURGEOIS CENTURY 347
Pax Britannica 348
The Heyday of Bourgeois Finance 355
Ties of Identity 366
A Nation of Rentiers 377
Greenbacks and 5-20s 384

CHAPTER 9. NATIONS AT ARMS 400
Total War (Part I) 400
The Settlement of Accounts (Part I) 413
Total War (Part II) 435
Totalitarian War 445
The Settlement of Accounts (Part II) 456

Epilogue: THE END OF THE AFFAIR 465
A Note on Currencies 477

Glossary 483
Notes 487
Bibliography 523
Acknowledgments 545
Index 547

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >