“With the rarest of exceptions, great reductions in inequality were only ever brought forth in sorrow.”
The Only Thing, Historically, That’s Curbed Inequality: Catastrophe.
Plagues, revolutions, massive wars, collapsed states—these are what reliably reduce economic disparities. | WALTER SCHEIDEL | The Atlantic, FEB 21, 2017
“Inequality has been written into the DNA of civilization ever since humans first settled down to farm the land. Throughout history, only massive, violent shocks that upended the established order proved powerful enough to flatten disparities in income and wealth. They appeared in four different guises: mass-mobilization warfare, violent and transformative revolutions, state collapse, and catastrophic epidemics. Hundreds of millions perished in their wake, and by the time these crises had passed, the gap between rich and poor had shrunk.”
WALTER SCHEIDEL is a professor of classics and history at Stanford University and the author of The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality From the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century
© The Atlantic