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Raubwirtschaft, or The Fall Of The Roman Empire

Raubwirtschaft is German for plunder or robber economy, a form of economy where the goal is to plunder the wealth and resources of a country or geographical area.

Raubwirtschaft is often used to describe some late 19th-century colonial and post-colonial practices during the Scramble for Africa. The Congo Free State of Leopold II of Belgium is frequently described as a raubwirtschaft.

Many believe that the economy of the Roman Empire was based on raubwirtschaft. Rome basically plundered the conquered territories and milked the provinces dry; there was little cash flow from Rome to the provinces. The internal economy was based on slavery, and unpaid work had no purchase power, which effectively also prevented the rise of a middle class and capitalism since there was no volatile capital to accumulate. Since there was no production of market goods for export, there was no cash flow into the empire either from outside. The economy could be maintained only as long as the Empire was expanding; once the era of conquests ended on Pax Romana, the empire was doomed.

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