This Lawfare podcast with Mike Duncan, author of The Storm Before the Storm: The Beginning of the End of the Late Republic, is well worth a listen if you’re interested in how even a very powerful state can be undermined by growing inequality, populism, and political violence.

What caught me was the fact that the competition between the poor— whose formerly stable lives were being upended by land seizures and other changes— were in competition with a growing population of slaves, and that politicians tried to buy off the poor with something that sounds a bit like a combination of universal basic income and distracting entertainment. The parallel between that period and today— when a growing number of us worry about losing our jobs to automation, and when UBI schemes are discussed in both left-wing and right-wing circles— is not perfect, of course, but still worth exploring.