A Free Nation Deep in Debt: The Financial Roots of Democracy
James MacdonaldISBN: 0691126321;
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...