The Slave-Holding System
The basis of economic production in the countries of which the, Roman Empire was constructed was agriculture, besides which artisan industry and trade in commodities were practiced on a much smaller scale. The production tools required by an independent establishment were not so extensive that a competent family could not acquire them as a rule. While patriarchal domestic slavery is perhaps the mildest form of exploitation, slavery in the service of greed is surely the most abominable. Large-scale production in agriculture did not yet involve the same condition for higher efficiency as in mining. The fertility of the soil was also going down. Stall-feeding was as yet little used, and necessarily was little resorted to under the slave-holding system, as here it meant bad treatment of the cattle. The necessary stock of numerous peasants, economically solvent, was lacking, and in addition, private property in land was an obstruction.