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Ibn Khaldun, pure awesome 14th century economics

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Ibn Khaldun, pure awesome 14th century economics

The dirham and the dinar differ in value and weight in different regions, cities, and provinces. The religious law has had occasion to refer to these (coins) and has mentioned them in connection with many laws concerning the charity tax, marriage (fees), fixed legal fines, and other things. Therefore, the religious law must have its own (dirham and dinar) with a specific value given to them by (the religious law itself) and agreeing with the intention of (the religious law). These coins are then the ones to which the laws refer. They are different from the non-legal (coins).
~Ibn Khaldun on Islamic Monetary Economics

As you can see, Khaldun is talking here about chartalism. ^_~ I can grant him attenuating circumstances vis-a-vis his metalism since he lived in a region with fewer trees than European countries or China. Born in Tunis, died in Egypt.
And let's be fair, anyone writing that long ago has to be given a pass on metalism considering it is still going strong today in popular mentality.
Also, from what little I know of history, the religious authority didn't desire muslim rulers to have power over the currency (over the unit of account). That was their turf. So having the government record its IOUs in a precious physical medium also served this political purpose, the currency's value being the subject of higher powers, the clergy would have insisted. This is also corroborated by another muslim philosopher of the past, whose name escapes me now. He talks about how the Bazaar (the marketplace) had to be protected against the potential excesses of kings (secular government interfering with the status quo).

One should then look at the world of creation. It started out from the minerals and progressed, in an ingenious, gradual manner, to plants and animals. The last stage of minerals is connected with the first stage of plants, such as herbs and seedless plants. The last stage of plants, such as palms and vines, is connected with the first stage of animals, such as snails and shellfish which have only the power of touch. The word "connection" with regard to these created things means that the last stage of each group is fully prepared to become the first stage of the next group.
The animal world then widens, its species become numerous, and, in a gradual process of creation, it finally leads to man, who is able to think and to reflect. The higher stage of man is reached from the world of the monkeys, in which both sagacity and perception are found, but which has not reached the stage of actual reflection and thinking. At this point we come to the first stage of man after (the world of monkeys). This is as far as our (physical) observation extends.
~Ibn Khaldun on Evolution

As you can see, pure genius.

Concerning the discipline of sociology, he conceived a theory of social conflict. He developed the dichotomy of sedentary life versus nomadic life as well as the concept of a "generation", and the inevitable loss of power that occurs when desert warriors conquer a city. Perhaps the most frequently cited observation drawn from Ibn Khaldūn's work is the notion that when a society becomes a great civilization (and, presumably, the dominant culture in its region), its high point is followed by a period of decay. This means that the next cohesive group that conquers the diminished civilization is, by comparison, a group of barbarians. Once the barbarians solidify their control over the conquered society, however, they become attracted to its more refined aspects, such as literacy and arts, and either assimilate into or appropriate such cultural practices. Then, eventually, the former barbarians will be conquered by a new set of barbarians, who will repeat the process. Some contemporary readers of Khaldun have read this as an early business cycle theory, though set in the historical circumstances of the mature Islamic empire.

This post was last modified: 04.01.2016 23:54 by Helsworth.

04.01.2016 21:02
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Ajay Alcos

Post: #2
RE: Ibn Khaldun, pure awesome 14th century economics

Wow you brought back some memories. I remember in high school when I read excerpts from the Prolegomena and decided to get the modern appended English edition of his book. But yeah I believe his quotation on the concept of governance is the most simple yet accurate description ever made: "Government is an institution which prevents injustice other than such as it commits itself."

13.01.2016 07:37
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