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Raubwirtschaft (German for "plunder economy," "robber economy," or "rapine") is a form of economy where the goal is to plunder the wealth and resources of a country or geographical area. Raubwirtschaft is synonymous of colonialism, where there is no intention of developing the colony economically more than strictly needed for exploitation purposes. The term is also used in a non-geographical sense, somewhat similar to the term "rapine."
The term 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.
One form of Raubwirtschaft is to start war against one's neighbours and then either plunder their national property and assets, or extort them as war reparations.
Arnold J. Toynbee has stated 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 purchasing power.
This effectively also prevented the rise of a middle class with the accompanying growth in domestic consumption and spending by a larger percentage of the population. The economy could be maintained only as long as the Empire was expanding; once the era of conquests ended in the Pax Romana, the empire was doomed. However, the economic and political power of the Western Empire lasted some four centuries after the establishment of the Pax.
- MacMullen, Ramsay. Corruption and the decline of Rome. ISBN 0-300-04799-1 Yale University Press, 1988. Pp
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