In those days it wouldn't have worked for him. It would have been hell for him.
Now we have millions of people, a lot poorer than him, doing what he tried. And the state doesn't give a damn. They did send in people trying to recuperate debts, all over the country, and those people got killed by the mobs. Then the state gave up on it.
They just tax the small percentage of people who do pay a lot more.