Monopoly and empire: Ancient China’s Debate on Salt and Iron

posted by
May 2, 2016
by Anthony Comegna  
Posted in Commentary

"Responding to popular calls for lower taxes, Han rulers gradually lowered duties and in their place erected a series of state commodities monopolies. The architects of the new monopoly system erected dozens of iron foundries and salt mines outfitted with the latest technological wonders. Emperors later expanded the system to monopolize copper, bronze, all money production, and elements of the liquor trade. Prices soared alongside government revenues, prompting popular outrage and reformist desires to abolish the monopolies. In 81BC, sixty Confucian 'learned men' convened to debate the Court faction over the wisdom of standing policy. The subsequently-published Debate on Salt and Iron contains valuable ancient commentaries on the hidden costs of Empire, including the health of popular ethics ..." (05/02/16)  

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