Ancient World and Eastern Despotism - Economic History

The Ancient World and Eastern Despotism

Before we proceed to consider a new stage in the development of European economic history, let us examine the subtle question of how much the ancient empires influenced the socio-economic life of the eastern despots.

And the ancient Greek conquerors, and the ancient Roman emperors turned their eyes to the East with lust. Especially succeeded in "mastering" East Greeks. Alexander the Great, a young man by modern concepts (he lived only 33 years, from 356 to 323 BC), came as far as the Indus. He wanted to create a new Hellenistic world, a world and "eternal" the rule of the Greeks. And to a certain extent he succeeded. After the death of Alexander the Great in Europe and Asia, several Hellenistic states were formed on the territory of Egypt, Mesopotamia, Syria, Iran, the ruling elite of which for almost a thousand years (!) Spoke in Greek and considered themselves the heiress of the great Macedonian. The Greek language was also widespread in the Roman Empire, which also constantly sought to the East. Naturally, in Byzantium - in a country with Greek-Christian traditions - Greek was a state language.

It would seem that such a glorious history of Hellenism should have left an indelible mark on culture, socio-economic structure, ways of managing at least in West Asia and North Africa. But no, it did not happen. There was, in the final analysis, not only the "scorches" and the romanization of Asia, there was not even a socio-economic synthesis of Asian and European structures. I will quote a major United States researcher of the history of the East L. S. Vasilieva : "The Islamization of the West Asian region in a historically short time has clearly demonstrated that the fundamental foundations of the eastern structure and after a thousand years of experiment have been virtually unshaken. Moreover, all of the above applies to those centers of the ancient Eastern civilization that did not have a marked openness to innovation and were much more obvious than the West Asian civilization, developed at the expense of predominantly their own internal potencies on the basis of the same fundamental eastern structure.

The relatively rapid spread of Islam in the Hellenistic states is explained not only by the powerful aggression of the Arab caliphs, but also by the clear socio-economic policies of the conquerors. The conversion to Islam automatically absolved from class slavery. Muslims paid only one tax in favor of the poor - zakat, "pagans" they also contributed the cushion to the treasury. Expansion of Muslim Arabs was stimulated by the general principle of the distribution of military extraction: 4/5 - to soldiers, 1/5 was distributed among the needy Muslim population on behalf of the prophet. Initially, the policy of religious tolerance was conducted in the occupied territories, since forcible conversion to Islam was not profitable: Muslims did not pay taxes. Caliph Omar (634-644) was the first in the world to nationalize the land, and water made common property; reduced taxes; has achieved an equal distribution of state profits among the Arabs. The first caliphs, after wars and destruction, took care of the intensive population growth, the restoration of destroyed irrigation structures, the introduction of untreated and temporarily abandoned lands into circulation.

As a result (it's hard to believe!), there was an almost voluntary Islamization and Arabization of territories from Spain to Central Asia. The poor population of the conquered states often welcomed the invaders with joy and turned to their side.

Thus, while at the turn of the ancient and medieval epochs the West could not, with all the tremendous successes, realize cultural and economic expansion to the East. Separation of the two super worlds - the East and the West - was promoted by world religions. Despite the fact that borrowings from Jewish and Christian traditions are easily revealed in Islam, this did not become the basis for the search for "bridges of unity". God is one, but the prophets are different. The West was more susceptible to Christianity, and the East - to Islam.

Two spirals crossed, undoubtedly, influenced each other, but never merged into a single world civilization and, even more so, into a single world economy.

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