viernes, 21 de abril de 2017

Unmaking inequality: a history of violence Walter Scheidel (Stanford University) Borgerhoff Mulder et al., Science

Unmaking inequality: a history of violence Walter Scheidel (Stanford University) Borgerhoff Mulder et al., Science 326 (2009): study of intergenerational wealth transmission and dynamics of inequality in 21 small-scale societies (type of wealth/wealth transmission) Growing resource inequality in England and Wales Share of the richest 1% in national net worth 1700 39% 1740 44% 1810 55% 1875 61% 1911/13 69% Summary of the argument Development tends to increase resource inequality Agrarianism; Industrialism Violent shocks are the only factors capable of significantly reducing resource inequality (for a while) Violence Mass-mobilization wars Transformative revolutions State collapse Demographic contraction Pandemics Other factors are exotic or ineffective (abolition of slavery, migration, financial crises) Only a particular type of war generally lowers inequality! Requires mass mobilization that • raises state demands on the rich (to pay for war) • raises redistribution to the poor (army service, more general commitment to war effort) • favors state centralization and growth (to organize war) • disfavors elite entitlements (e.g. feudal rights) • favors entitlements for the poor (e.g. property rights, protections) Mass mobilization is a fairly modern phenomenon (especially since the French Revolution) – but there are earlier historical antecedents From the 5th to 3rd centuries BC, longterm inconclusive and symmetrical warfare between Warring States relying on ever-larger conscript infantry armies led to: suppression of hereditary nobility and feudal rights; direct taxation for war-making; periodic population registration; property rights for peasants; re-allocation of conquered land to conscripts; legal codification >> lowering overall inequality Only a particular type of war generally lowers inequality! In the historically common environment of tributary empires, successful wars: • raise inequality on the winning side (inflow of resources captured by elite >> rich get richer; inflow of captives/slaves >> more poor people) • lower it on the losing/conquered side (in percentage terms, the rich stand to lose more from being defeated than the poor) BUT: both groups become part of a larger system that is more unequal overall Ancient Rome as the quintessential tributary empire Annual income figures for ‘middling’ aristocrats reported in Roman sources: 100,000-600,000 sesterces (mid-first century BC; Cicero) 1,000,000 sesterces (late first century AD; Pliny the Younger) 6,000,000-9,000,000 sesterces (late fourth century AD; Olympiodorus) Summary of the argument Development tends to increase resource inequality Agrarianism; Industrialism Violent shocks are the only factors capable of significantly reducing resource inequality (for a while) Violence Mass-mobilization wars Transformative revolutions State collapse Demographic contraction Pandemics Other factors are exotic or ineffective (abolition of slavery, migration, financial crises) Revolutions Russia, China, Cuba, Cambodia… French Revolution: French inequality was high in 18th century, fell 1790-1815 due to: • Abolition of regressive tax (dime) & feudal rights (corvee, etc) • Confiscation of church and aristocratic properties, acquired by people at different income levels >> share of land held by elite dropped from 42% in 1788 to 12% in 1802, share held by paysans rose from 30% to 42% • Salaries of urban workers rose by 62% from late 1780s to c1800, against 28% rise of the price of wheat • Inflation benefited tenants who paid rents in depreciated cash >> overall decrease in income share of upper class BUT: inequality again rises afterwards, esp. with industrialization from c1830 BUT: only transformative revolutions lower inequality Civil wars as such do not lower inequality Study of civil wars in 128 countries from 1960 to 2005 finds that inequality rises both during civil wars and especially right afterwards Why? Because civil war: • allows uncontrolled profiteering by small minority • interferes with access to market for the poor • interferes with state taxation and redistribution including social spending (Bircan, Bruck and Vothknecht 2010) Summary of the argument Development tends to increase resource inequality Agrarianism; Industrialism Violent shocks are the only factors capable of significantly reducing resource inequality (for a while) Violence Mass-mobilization wars Transformative revolutions State collapse Demographic contraction Pandemics Other factors are exotic or ineffective (abolition of slavery, migration, financial crises) Summary of the argument Development tends to increase resource inequality Agrarianism; Industrialism Violent shocks are the only factors capable of significantly reducing resource inequality (for a while) Violence Mass-mobilization wars Transformative revolutions State collapse Demographic contraction Pandemics Other factors are exotic or ineffective (abolition of slavery, migration, financial crises) The impact of a massive exogenous mortality shock (plague) on real wages: the case of the Black Death (Pamuk 2007) Black Death 0 2 4 6 8 1 0 1 2 260/50 210/180 120/90 BCE 100/160 CE 190/270 400/550 570/720 780/850 1000/1050 Daily wheat wage Daily wheat wages for unskilled rural laborers in Egypt, 260 BC – 1050 AD, in liters of wheat (Scheidel 2012) Plague! 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 1 0 1 1 1 2 1 3 1 4 1 5 1 6 1 7 Centuries CE Heigth in cm Mediterranean Center-West Mean body height in Mediterranean and Central/Western Europe (Köpke and Baten 2005) Plague! Plague! Summary of the argument Development tends to increase resource inequality Agrarianism; Industrialism Violent shocks are the only factors capable of significantly reducing resource inequality (for a while) Violence Mass-mobilization wars Transformative revolutions State collapse Demographic contraction Pandemics Other factors are exotic or ineffective (abolition of slavery, migration, financial crises) Share of assets owned by richest 1% of adult men, United States 1774 13.2% 1860 32.7% (Civil War 1861-5, abolition of slavery) 1870 27% Summary of the argument Development tends to increase resource inequality Agrarianism; Industrialism Violent shocks are the only factors capable of significantly reducing resource inequality (for a while) Violence Mass-mobilization wars Transformative revolutions State collapse Demographic contraction Pandemics Other factors are exotic or ineffective (abolition of slavery, migration, financial crises) Summary of the argument Development tends to increase resource inequality Agrarianism; Industrialism Violent shocks are the only factors capable of significantly reducing resource inequality (for a while) Violence Mass-mobilization wars Transformative revolutions State collapse Demographic contraction Pandemics Other factors are exotic or ineffective (abolition of slavery, migration, financial crises) Financial crises only very temporarily reduce inequality (unless they are linked to major shocks such as wars: Germany, France after World War I) 9/11 Financial crisis Or are there built-in ‘checks’ – i.e., does rising inequality generate countervailing forces, such as violent internal resistance? Large body of scholarship on whether inequality is a cause of civil wars: • Earlier literature tended to confirm relationship • Most comprehensive recent surveys fail to find clear relationship • 2013 study of proxy feature (deprivation) again suggests strong relationship BUT: remember that civil wars per se do not lower inequality and may actually raise it! Where do we go from here? The traditionally effective mechanisms • mass-mobilization wars • transformative revolutions • major epidemics • abolition of slavery are no longer available to us today ( – nor should we want them to be…) Other types of events, such as civil wars and financial crises, do not solve the problem History does not determine present or future actions and outcomes but it casts doubt on the prospects of policy measures that are not contextualized within these historically effective processes… … especially in an environment of ongoing globalization

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