One of the hallmarks of a successful society is an open, growing, and thriving middle class. You can tell a lot about people’s political views from their attitude toward the middle class. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:
If we want social / economic renewal, we have to make it easy to climb the ladder to middle class security for anyone willing to adopt the values and habits of thrift, prudence, negotiation, and hard work.
Let’s stipulate that the rise of the middle class is the core driver of expansion, innovation and democracy and the decay of the middle class is the core source of economic / political / social disorder and decline.
The pathway to middle class security has profound social, political and economic consequences. As people acquire means, they can afford more education, and they have a stake in the system that needs to be defended / advocated. This advocacy nurtures a diversity of views, democratic / legal institutions and a free press.
As the book The Inheritance of Rome detailed, the egalitarian aspects of Roman rule continued to influence everyday life for hundreds of years.
It took centuries for feudalism to eradicate these holdovers from Roman rule (for example, peasant ownership of land).
The rise of ths middle class broke the stranglehold of feudalism by encouraging free movement of labor and capital, and strengthening weak central governments to the point that feudal fiefdoms answered to the central government again, as in the Roman and Carolingian eras.
The key factor that determines the rise of a middle class is the relative ease of laborers becoming middle class. In the classical Roman era, freed slaves often ended up doing very well for themselves and becoming middle class, as the class boundaries were porous enough to enable craftworkers and small merchants to improve their lot in life.