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Who is the most powerful person of all time? Show more Show less
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Throughout history, many people have lived their lives pursuing power. While many fail, some become successful beyond their wildest dreams and wield levels of power unimaginable to most people. From heads of state to business leaders, religious leaders, and intellectual leaders, who was the most powerful person of all time?

Mayer Amschel Rothschild is the most powerful person of all time Show more Show less

Mayer Amschel Rothschild was a German banker and one of the founders of the modern financial system. His family played a central role in building the modern economical and political landscape.
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Mayer Amschel Rothschild invented modern banking

Mayer Amschel Rothschild is the patriarch of the internationally renowned Rothschild family. He has been credited with inventing modern banking.

Context

Born in the Jewish Ghetto of Frankfurt am Main in 1744, Mayer Amschel Rothschild grew up to become a revered businessman and patriarch of the internationally renowned Rothschild family. Arising from humble beginnings, he took on an apprenticeship at a bank before creating his own banking business which serviced wealthy and aristocratic clients. His five sons were instrumental in enhancing his legacy, setting up banks in London, Paris, Vienna, Naples, and Frankfurt and thus wielding financial power throughout Europe.

The Argument

The link between money and power is well documented. Through the connections and prestige it provides, money gives a person the ability to do what they wish and influence others. As Alicia Glen, an American politician and former Goldman Sachs managing director has said, “Political power is ephemeral...People can just wait you out. But if you’re the richest person on the planet, there’s no waiting you out.”[1] Mayer Amschel Rothschild can lay claim to creating the Rothschild banking dynasty, which has been at the forefront of the European financial scene since the 18th century. Although he was not born into wealth, Mayer Amschel Rothschild soon established his own financial practice after taking on a banking apprenticeship. He had five sons, Amschel Mayer, Salomon Mayer, Nathan Mayer, Karl Mayer, and Jakob Mayer, who all extended their father's business into Frankfurt, Vienna, Naples, and Paris respectively. This geographic expansion of the Rothschild enterprises meant that the family wielded considerable power in Europe. Mayer Amschel Rothschild is also credited with being the founding father of modern banking and international finance. He used diversification, rapid communication, and confidentiality in order to create a multi-layered financial empire.[2] The Rothschild fortune today is so great, that it cannot be accurately valued due to its diverse nature.[3] The financial success instigated by Mayer Amschel Rothschild had tangible effects on the social standing (and therefore power) of his descendants. Firstly, he ensured that the Jewish citizens of his hometown of Frankfurt would be granted equal voting rights to the non-Jewish citizens [4]. It was his family, however, who directly benefitted from his financial success. Five of his sons were ennobled in the Austrian Empire, the first Jewish man to enter British Parliament was a Rothschild, and the first Jewish man to be ennobled in Britain was also a Rothschild.[5]

Counter arguments

Although incredibly wealthy, many claims that Mayer Amschel Rothschild was the most powerful person in the world have antisemitic origins. The Rothschild family's Jewish heritage has made it the target of anti-Semitic conspiracies over the years, with attacks made on it that are not made on other wealthy Christian banking families or dynasties. These conspiracies run as far back as 1846 when an antisemitic French pamphlet titled 'Rothschild 1 King of the Jews' was circulated, which depicted the family as blood-hungry financial speculators.[6] Power through money is ensured only as long as there is a financial means to ensure it. Mayer Amschel Rothschild's financial empire has waned considerably since its conception in the 18th century. Although the family is still wealthy, it is estimated that they lost a significant portion of their wealth in the 20th century.[7]

Proponents

Premises

[P1] Money is the way to power. [P2] Mayer Amschel Rothschild was the founder of modern banking and therefore invented the ways money is used today.

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/10/sunday-review/women-money-politics-power.html
  2. https://www.forbes.com/2005/07/21/rothschild-banking-international-cx_0721bizmanrothschild.html#37fa40492e39
  3. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/27/25-richest-families-in-the-world-are-worth-more-than-1-trillion.html
  4. https://dbs.bh.org.il/luminary/rothschild-mayer-amschel
  5. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Rothschild-family
  6. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/rothschild-family-runs-the-world-an-age-old-conspiracy-theory-mbl6n0cfh
  7. https://www.finance-monthly.com/2018/09/rise-of-the-rothschilds-the-worlds-richest-family/
This page was last edited on Wednesday, 22 Jul 2020 at 17:50 UTC