History is littered with the wrecks of nations destroyed by the growth of power & wealth of their aristocracies at the expense of the common man and the central government. Examples are the Roman republic, Byzantium, the Mameluke empire, and the Commonwealth of Poland-Lithuania.
My recent readings on ancient Sparta show it to be another victim of them. To be a full citizen of Sparta, a man had to be able to contribute a fixed amount to the common mess - essentially his military-social unit. Originally land was held in common by the state and worked by state slaves called Helots. A male child deemed healthy was given a plot of land to support him and his family. The slaves worked the land while he trained as a full time soldier.
Over time, this land became inheritable. Through marriages and attrition in wars, the rich families gained control of more and more land. Casualties in war left wealthy widows and removed that land from the support of soldiers. Fewer and few men could make the required contribution to the mess, resulting in fewer and fewer full citizens of Sparta. Land and citizenship reform could have solved this serious problem, but the aristocracies prevented it to keep their power.
Around 490 BC at the time the Persian wars began, there were 8,000 Spartan soldiers. A bit over 100 years later, there were only around 1,000. This was a disastrous decline in manpower of group that sustained the "Spartan way of life". Weakened, Sparta was defeated for the first time in battle by Thebes and lost control of one half of its territory and eventually its allies melted away.
Sparta was destroyed by the greed and lust for power of its own aristocracy.
One "unintended consequence" of this financial crisis has been a serious weakening of the growing wealth and power of the nascent US aristocracy. That class began to grow in the 1990s in the technology boom. Tech billionaires began to buy up all the beautiful land and sites, often fencing them off from the common man. And in this last boom, the hedge fund billionaires were doing the same thing. They lobbied for repeal of laws preventing perpetual trusts so they could create family dynasties. This was a serious, developing problem. Perhaps now some changes can be made to prevent them from seriously damaging US social cohesion.
I am doing nothing. Je ne fais rien. The futures are bouncing a bit this morning. On a further drop to 950 for the S&P, I'll build a list of re-buys.
Word of the Day
"Oliganthropy" - noun [$1000]; from the Greek combining form, "Oligo-"
Oligo- means small, little, few in forming nouns.
Oliganthropy means the state or quality of having few men.
Sentence: Growth in power of the aristocracy in ancient Sparta created increasing oliganthropy over the decades for the fifth and early fourth centuries BC, eventually fatally weakening the nation.