The other day I came across the story from the Voronezh region which said that the top seller in the local villages is old bread. Villagers, in the plot the elderly people, buy old bread not only for cattle, but also for themselves. On my Vkontakte page inflamed a debate about whether the residents of these villages can do anything to be able to buy fresh bread or not. My friends Ilyas and Tatiana defended the point of view that people are masters of their own destiny, and that these residents have the opportunity to earn fresh bread; I and other opponents – that everything is not so simple. The dispute ended when Ilyas said he didn’t understand me, and Tatiana converged with her opponents on a frequent occurrence in such cases, which can be described by the phrase “you’re a fool – you’re a fool yourself”. On this occasion, I had the need to systematically present my arguments, to look at the situation more broadly and to highlight the phenomenon to which Ilyas and Tatiana showed clear disdain (that, in my opinion, was the essence of their conclusions) – lumpenization. To do this, we will try to answer the question: what could the Romans do to save the Roman civilization?
*(italics – google translate, you can skip it) The historical way of ancient Rome can be divided into three periods:
- Royal, lasted until 509 BC, when Rome was ousted last king Tarquinius Superbus;
- Republican, lasted until the accession to the throne of the first Roman emperor Octavian Augustus in 27 BC .;
- Imperial, lasted until 476 AD, when the throne was expelled last Roman emperor Romulus Augustulus.
Originally, in ancient Rome there was a patriarchal slavery – a relatively mild form of slavery, among predominantly subsistence farming. Slaves served in the homes of the nobility, being a part of their family. The main producer is a farmer and his land allotment, depending only on the government, but personally is free.
Owned by wealthy Romans-slaveholders farms provide them with everything necessary to meet vital needs first, and then more sophisticated. However, the notorious “law of increasing demands” led to the fact that over time, the rich Romans-sybarite this has proved insufficient: many luxuries you can only buy. It’s a different spice, incense, gold and its products, silk fabrics, articles made of bones, gems and jewelry, some wines, rare birds and animals, exotic plants, porcelain, weapons, etc. For all these pleasures and “frills” we needed the money, and natural-patriarchal economy began to be converted to commercial farms. Slaves began to produce for their masters are not commodities and personal services, and money. Thus, slavery came to replace the patriarchal slavery, which historians call “classic”.
In the second half of the republican period to replace the classic patriarchal slavery slavery comes, which is characterized by a high degree of exploitation of slaves. The growth of industry and trade contributed to the demand for labor, which could produce goods for export. Slave labor is used to produce marketable products. About 400 years BC. slaves constituted a third of the population of Athens. In Rome, slavery has spread so widely that even ordinary people were slaves. classical slavery in ancient Rome, reached its peak in 2-1 centuries. BC, when it pushed the free peasant and craft work by the wayside.
There has also been mental, moral and even physical degradation of the Roman elite – because of its idle existence. Those profits and capital, which received the Roman officials, the landed aristocracy, the tax collectors – the horsemen, went to consumption and enjoyment, in extreme cases – for the production of objects of pleasure and luxury. If there were still any arrived, they were for the purchase of land, which meant the expropriation of the peasantry, the substitution of free labor in agriculture slave, creation of an army of lumpen-proletarians of yesterday’s peasants.
Production, based on the use of hired labor, as historians say, was largely limited to the mining industry and the production of certain luxury goods, which required skilled labor. Over time, the scope of the use of increasingly narrowed wage. For example, the same luxuries become fully imported. Is not that a lot like modern Russia?
Free citizens of the Roman Empire simply did not want to work, relying on “social assistance” from the government. Why work, if only in the capital of the empire under the free distribution daily “bread and circuses” to fall within an average of about a third of the city’s population? Thus, in ancient Rome, instead of the proletariat had such an ugly phenomenon as the lumpenproletariat.
Kautsky, for instance, says: “When the Roman democracy lumpen proletarians were ready to provide all kinds of services to wealthy gentlemen. If they had the right to vote, including those services that customers could have, could not be more important service than the vote on Mr request, chuck. Every rich Roman, each possessed a rich family, so many voices in the meeting, which they managed in the interests of his clan. Several of these clans wealthy families seized this way the state administration in their hands, sought the election of its appointees to senior positions, and for those in the Senate. When Caesar in Rome was not less than 300,000 Roman citizens, who received the gift of bread from the state, almost as large it was to be the number of sales of the vote. You can imagine what sums were absorbed elections. In 56 BC buying of votes caused such a demand for money, that lending rate quickly climbed the hill and financial crisis broke out. ”
Theodor Mommsen in his “History of Rome” often repeats: “extravagance and sensual pleasures – such was the common slogan”. Describing life in Rome II. BC, he notes: “In Rome, evolved not the elegant luxury, which is the color of civilization, and that a luxury product that was sloped to the decline of Greek civilization in Asia Minor and Alexandria. This luxury of relegating all that is beautiful and high level on a simple decoration; pleasure to look with such petty pedantry, with such far-fetched pretentiousness that it sickened every man, not corrupt the soul and the body. ”
The luxury and the search for sense gratification manifested in everything: dinner parties and banquets, clothing and wearable jewelry, sculptures and interior architecture and gardens unit, organization shows, gladiator games, circuses, theatrical performances, funerals, generous sacrifices to pagan temples etc . Incredibly spread of gambling, prostitution and other vices, which required a lot of money. In ancient philosophy, these painful passion of society are reflected in the doctrine of hedonism. That’s what they say in the encyclopedia of the doctrine: “Hedonism – a philosophical and ethical teachings, justifying pleasure supreme goal of human existence. It originated in ancient society based on slave labor, and then revived in the late feudalism and early capitalism. ”
In the era of emperors, when some of them tried to restore basic order in economic life and limit the unbridled profligacy elite, this norm “integrity” was an empty slogan. The real standard of life was the presence of large debts from the aristocracy. Moreover, the aristocracy felt this situation was “normal” and not particularly worried about this. Emperors themselves often lived in debt. Suetonius, for example, wrote about Julius Caesar, “Caesar enthusiastically gathered works of art and the beautiful and scientists slaves to pay such unheard-of prices, that even he forbade them to make economic reports. Near Lake Nemi, he built a villa for a lot of money, but he did not like, and he ordered to raze it to the ground. Plutarch says that Caesar before being awarded the first position, obviously police headquarters, had debts 1,300 talents (or 8 million denarii). However, this did not affect the wider image of his life, and on the generosity of its expenditure in the near future ”
Most of the slaves engaged in heavy physical labor. A small portion is directly served the elite – “house slaves.” A very small part was even involved in governance: immersed in a process over time, consumption and enjoyment elite has lost the desire and ability to engage in public affairs, reassign their slaves. The scope of the slaves we can read in Mommsen: “Slave labor was used in all sectors of activity: slaves sang handicraft work, slaves were vast enterprise of their masters, managed banking operations, taught children”. I recall the origin of the word “teacher”: teacher (. Greek παιδαγωγός, «leading child”) – a slave whose care was entrusted the boys to the age of seven. On duty guards lay teacher pupil from the physical and moral hazards, and to the boy’s school enrollment – and basic literacy.
“Domestic servants”, as well as their owners, were obsessed with the passion of enrichment and enjoyment and for this were ready to go to great lengths. Karl Kautsky wrote in this regard: “If the barbarians gave to the plantations and mines, the more educated, especially Greek, slave ranked as” urban family “, ie urban home. Among the slaves were not only cooks, scribes, musicians, teachers, actors, but also doctors and philosophers. In contrast to the slaves, who served for making money, are slaves in most cases carried not particularly burdensome service. ” And then He goes on: “The vast majority of them were the same robbers as their masters.”
The basis of the Roman legions were free peasants who had land ownership. The consequence of landlessness was to weaken the military power of ancient Rome. According to the census 154 BC the number of adult males fit for service in the legions, ie had land and Roman citizenship, was 324 thousand. According to the census 138 BC, these men were already 318 thousand. man. When you dial into the army acted census principle, and, if a man is deprived of land ownership, he has retired from the military contingent. The weakening of the military capabilities of Rome created problems with the arrival of “fresh” slaves who were caught in military campaigns. The armed forces and the economy of Rome is slowly but surely came to a standstill.
Roman civilization collapsed, and the language people spoke in it, Latin, became dead. This means that all the Roman society, from top to bottom, passed through lumpenization.
What could the Romans do to save their civilization?
The most radical attempt to save it undertook Roman emperor Sulla. He made an attempt to build such a power hierarchy in the metropolis and in the whole empire which would be most free of corruption and mismanagement, which would fully rely on the law and only the law. Therefore Sulla struck many members of the elite of both the estate of riders and the estate of senators, who had long ago made the state their feeder. He killed up to 1,600 riders, representing the class of the financial oligarchy, and up to 50 senators. Their land and property were confiscated. 120 thousand people from Sulla’s army received plots of land for free. In this way, Sulla contributed to the increase in the number of small property owners in Italy and tried to stop the process of lumpenization of the society. Part of the lands were sent to the treasury, part acquired the status of state property, which along with the abolition of gratuitous distribution of grain significantly improved the state of public finances. But Sulla was unable to get rid of the most important thing which led the Roman civilization to its logical end – of hedonistic ethics.
Could the Romans abandon it? It seems impossible. To abandon pleasure and extra comfort? Weren’t neighboring nations conquered for that? And isn’t it the very essence of the Roman civilization, and civilization in general?
In order to see the purpose of civilization it’s enough to raise your head and look at the starry sky, in the vast expanses of which dies another obsolete star. One day our Sun will also start to die, and the Earth civilization together with it, if by that time humanity won’t have found a way to travel between the stars and galaxies. The purpose of human civilization is Salvation. For it, we need such an organization of society that searches for Salvation in the most efficient manner. No one knows how long it will take to search and whether this way exists at all or not, but I don’t think that the descendants will forgive us for squandering time and resources if they would lack only a bit on their way to Salvation. And I don’t think that at the time of the meeting with Hell they will bother about the question of receiving pleasures.
But let’s return to the Roman civilization. Very often slavery is called the cause of the death of the Roman civilization. But, as we can see, the development of slavery was the consequence, and not the cause. Similarly, slavery begins to develop in European civilization since the XVI century, when in the Age of Discovery greed embraced Europe. The same applies to the usurious activities, an outright ban on which was initially included in Christian ethics (and it didn’t include slavery), which can be considered a response to the degradation process of Rome. Usurious activities are the consequence of a consumer society.
Well, the Romans couldn’t stop the collapse of their civilization, but what can we do to prevent further lumpenization of our developed consumer society, having 2000 years of experience in the development of civilization and of various social experiments? First let’s note what exactly won’t help. It’s democracy itself that won’t help, on which many people lay their hope as a means of saving and actively promote it in this capacity. Ancient Rome had developed democracy, and it didn’t save it in any way.
We see on the example of the Roman civilization that decaying of the society begins with the decaying of power. In this context the call not to change over-robbing people in power, because they have already robbed a lot, and the new people in power will rob again, sounds very funny. On the contrary, by virtue of the law of increasing needs in a consumer society, an over-robbing official will rob in a larger scale, and the change of him will at least reduce the size of the theft, but, unfortunately, won’t free us from it for all times.
We need a completely undemocratic approach, not use until now, which will make the power healthy. We can organize power in which theft is impossible in principle. For this purpose, the officials should not be paid salary, they should not be allowed to have any cash accounts, touch money, and everything they need they and their families should receive from the state for free according to certain standards, or the state should provide them special rights controlled by law. This will facilitate the control of power by the people and will close the way to power for corrupted people. Of course, there is a desire to transfer the officials to those minimum standards of consumption that they have managed to register for the people, but our goal is not to express cruelty.
* History of Roman Civilization is compiled according to the book by V.Y. Katasonov “Capitalism. History and ideology of “money civilization”.