China the first Industrialized country over 1,000 years ago? - Page 2 - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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End of Roman society, feudalism, rise of religious power, beginnings of the nation-state, renaissance (476 - 1492 CE).
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By fastspawn
#562053
[quote=Jina]Black Death didn't isolate Europe but Mongols camping in their door step did.[/quote]

At the greatest height of Mongol Power, it opened up to an influx of European travellers.

It was the lead cause of the Renaissance with inland trade for Oriental goods increasing by careful policing of the newly-reopened silk road. (an exchange never occured though, the chinese failed to send people to Europe)

Think Marco Polo.
By Jim G
#562176
Explain again how the mongols were the lead cause of the renaissance--I assume you're referring to the italian renaissance. If you are, it certainly isn't even a proximate cause, and a spike in the spice trade is not what characterized the renaissance, at least to my knowledge.
By fastspawn
#562490
Jim G wrote:Explain again how the mongols were the lead cause of the renaissance--I assume you're referring to the italian renaissance. If you are, it certainly isn't even a proximate cause, and a spike in the spice trade is not what characterized the renaissance, at least to my knowledge.


OK, Firstly the idea behind this is of my opinion, but is backed up by solid fact, so i wouldn't say all other ideas that there are other causes of the Renaissance are wrong, since it is just a matter of opinion.

The reasoning goes.

An oft overlooked aspect of the renaissance that we always choose to overlook is the concept of banking and the rise of the wealthy non-aristocrats. This would lead to the repellation of sumptury laws in the 16th/17th century (300 years after the renaissance).

Truthfully when we look at the renaissance we only remember the art or the artifacts. But really the main thrust for modernization (IMO) was the idea of private ownership of wealth. There was a sense of private ownership in the middle ages, but it was only limited to landed gentry, and even they had to pledge fealty. But with increase in trade, the idea of actually owning luxuries grew. The wealthy merchant class rose in influence and with that they could commission or patronize artists. As much as we like to think that genius pays for itself, if Michelangelo was never paid to do the fresco or David, would he have done it?

Anyway, it wasn't spices they traded. Paper gunpowder block printing, all these ideas and inventions stem from the east, and only when it was safe to use the silk road were these ideas spread.
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By Ombrageux
#563839
Exploitation of America? What did America bring? Gold, Coffee, Sugar and Tobacco? Are any of those useful? They're luxuries that were profitable but in no way help your civilization. The proof is that Spain and Portugal didn't industrialise until 10 years ago.

The key to any question as of why Europe conquered the world, and not China, is to be found in Britain, and later, France and Germany.

Shall we speculate? Because no one really knows what happened. I would speculate, that a big part of it was a change of mentality in Europe. The nations stopped thinking in terms of 0 sum games. The old economic system, mercantilism, and the doctrine that weakening your enemies is strengthening yourself prevailed.

With the discovery of America, increasingly Europeans began making INVESTMENTS rather then spending money on armies for conquest of other Europeans. This change of mentality can be seen particularily in the writers of the Scottish Enlightenment. I think this new thought was crucial to Britain's industrialisation and the subsequent European domination of the world.
By Jim G
#564107
OK, Firstly the idea behind this is of my opinion, but is backed up by solid fact, so i wouldn't say all other ideas that there are other causes of the Renaissance are wrong, since it is just a matter of opinion.

The reasoning goes.

An oft overlooked aspect of the renaissance that we always choose to overlook is the concept of banking and the rise of the wealthy non-aristocrats. This would lead to the repellation of sumptury laws in the 16th/17th century (300 years after the renaissance).

Truthfully when we look at the renaissance we only remember the art or the artifacts. But really the main thrust for modernization (IMO) was the idea of private ownership of wealth. There was a sense of private ownership in the middle ages, but it was only limited to landed gentry, and even they had to pledge fealty. But with increase in trade, the idea of actually owning luxuries grew. The wealthy merchant class rose in influence and with that they could commission or patronize artists. As much as we like to think that genius pays for itself, if Michelangelo was never paid to do the fresco or David, would he have done it?

Anyway, it wasn't spices they traded. Paper gunpowder block printing, all these ideas and inventions stem from the east, and only when it was safe to use the silk road were these ideas spread.


Fastpawn, I certainly don't disagree with you on the fact that one of the main sparks of the renaissance was economic. Although 'thought' at the time was changing, there is no way it could have gained the widespread diffusion it did without the support of wealthly patrons. Thus, it's important to look into the underlying causes of this growth in wealth.

The italian renaissance was, of course, the first of many 'rebirths' in european countries, and historians have isolated the merchants of italians coastal cities--such as venice--as the ones to get this accumulation of wealth started. But how did this wealth come to them? You mentioned one possible reason--the opening up of china--but the Renaissance, which IMO is almost too big and complex to characterize as a single period, demands a wide scope of causes.

So, going back to the question: what brought this wealth (and ideas, as you mentioned) to italy? I think one would have to begin with the wars with the east (middle east). Starting with the expulsion of the Mulsims from Sicily in (circa) 1012, and continuing on into the first crusade of 1095 and the later crusades, the christian west slowly opened up the mediterannean, which for years had been a de facto muslim lake, for her ships and tradesmen. After the first crusade, indeed, the europeans gained a foothold in the middle east as well. The merchants now had a sea to play in, and they were further helped by the vast influx of wealth paid to them by crusaders and normal pilgrims who needed to be transported to the holy land, byzantium, or simply across the adriatic.

This now established the connection with the east that your theory demands. Moreover, some of the intellectual basis comes from this, like you mentioned, with intellectual remnants from the great classical ages being brought back from byzantium.

The europeans gradually pushed eastward more into the middle east, and I guess you could say the mongols 'met them half-way'. However, i always saw the connection between the west and china as an indirect one, with merchants of the middle east linking the two. Of course, we all know about marco polo, but i'm not sure of the extent to which european travellers went into china--I don't necessarily deny it, i just haven't researched much into it, so perhaps you could tell me more about it.

Anyways, i think the major accumulation of wealth came, at least at first, from the merchants and shipsmen of italy, not the travellers and traders of the middle east and china. Moreover, the middle east was quite wealthly at the time, so it's hard to say whether or not europe needed china for the renaissance to happen. Also, could you tell me a little more about the time period during which china opened up to the middle east/europe? I'd like to see it in relation to the dates of the growth of the renaissance in italy and the rise new wealth.

What you also mention are a lot of the innovations and ideas that came from china to europe. But i see the renaissance as more of an intellectual growth, and a changing of a way of thinking, rather than a technological development. Guttenberg's printing press made ideas widespread, but are we certain that he got his idea from china? (I know it existed in china before, but that doesn't mean guttneberg didn't invent it independently). Moreover, the development of printing came much after the beginnings of the renaissance, so printing wasn't probably wasn't necessary, although without it the Renaissance wouldn't have been nearly as far-reaching. Also, gunpowder helped, but a change in warfare didn't do much to impact the renaissance.

Anyways, another factor on which the economic causes of the renaissance are based is the economic and societal changes that occured during the period. What i mean is the growth of an actual money economy. During the middle ages, the only real form of wealth was land, but by the start of the renaissance there appeared a money economy, one that made it much easier to make transfers and to gain wealth. This in turn contributed to new private ownership, which you mentioned. Moreover, in some places, cities began to grow and opened up whole new industries, in place of than the old agragrian society. All of these led to the growth in wealth of the patrons and more trade and idea diffusion. But the underlying causes of these things are even more difficult to assess...

I've outlined only a very limited amount of what i think to be the causes of the renaissance, neglecting ones such as the decline of the church, competition among city states, etc. The Renaissance is an extremely difficult period to assess, and any attempt to (IMO) requires an array of causes, chain reactions, etc. I think your theory had something to with causing the renaissance, but i don't see it as a proximate cause, i don't know if the renaissance depended on its happening, and, like i said, IMO the renaissance as a period requires an array of causes. That said, i think you have an interesting idea, one that doesn't get too much coverage, and i'd certainly like to hear more about it if you're willing. :)

Also, if i misunderstood your ideas, then let me know, because i personally hate when other people just ignore or misunderstand my thoughts and go on to post whatever they think as their response, even if it doesn't deal with my post at all. I wouldn't want to be one of 'those guys'. ;)
By fastspawn
#564394
Basically too sum up my thoughts

Renaissance-->Italian Banking and Trade --> Trade with Muslim Lands--> Trade with China via Silk Road.

The Silk Road was a very dangerous place before the Mongols managed to unite the lands from China to the Middle East, but they managed to do that.


My point about printing was more holistic than printing per se, but actually the exchange of ideas. Paper is an extremely influential symbol of intellectual exchange. Before the advent there were 2 methods, Leather and Papyrus. Leather as we know needs to be cured before being used and the process is long-drawn. Papyrus is extremely expensive mode of writing. All these modes were suddenly superseded with the introduction of paper, made from bark. Knowledge is dispersed mainly through writing, and one can see how this creates a rapid ascendency towards intellectual pursuits.

Gunpowder, although we might only look as it being for guns and not really very important early on, we must realize that gunpowder is used for cannons too. Cannonry was first used on the battlefield in the Hundred Year's war (Metz). to devastating effect on men. But later on, with machination, larger balls were used that could blow chunks of forts and castle walls. One can say that 1453 is the end of the medieval era, when Constantinople fell to the Grande Cannon that Mehmet commissioned.


Also, i do not understand what you mean the Europeans pushed into the Middle East. The Crusades had just ended and the Holy Land belonged to the Muslims. The Eastern Roman Empire was a remnant that would fall 200 years later to the Ottomans.

Question on when European Travellers went into China. Since time immemorial. It was based upon whether the Emperor wanted to close or open the country. Jesuit Missionaries were almost always welcome thanks to the knowledge they imparted (but that was later on). But traders were welcome mostly until the Han Dynasty fell, then the Tang Dynasty welcomed traders, but Europe was in the Dark Ages, and really had no concept of trade outside 50 miles. After that the Sung Dynasty saw a strange phenomenon of isolation+expansion. But it was relatively short-lived, being carved by the xixia, liao, jin people before finally capitulating to the Mongols.
Amount? I don't know, I also can't tell you of the top of my head how many europeans travelled to China last year.

I am not saying that Europe needed China to undergo the renaissance, what i am saying is that trade with a rich faraway country with strange produce like silk and gunpowder and paper and incense and spices and other non-European Stuff led to an increase in affluence for certain members of the merchant classes This in turn, allowed them to enjoy the pleasures in life, and allowed them to create a system of banking. Also thanks to the idea of leisure, they turned their eyes towards studying the classics to emulate what was past. the Artists, the NewBankers, the Scholars all contributed to the Renaissance, but of course that wouldn't be possible without wealth.
By Tangerine
#566806
" -The History Channel is correct here. China was FAR AHEAD of the West in the 1400´s. They built a fleet that was much more powerful than those built by Western powers 100-200 years latter. That fleet included ships that were more or of less the same size of a WWII Destroyer. They "discovered" Africa with this fleet, which was commanded by Admiral Zhen He, a Muslim eunuch. Chinese decline started in mid 1400´s, but the country was still powerful in early 1800´s, and was probably the biggest economy worldwide. I think western (and then Japanese) imperialism did a lot of damage to Chinese economy (the Opium was, the unequal treaties, and so on, China became essentially a colony in all but name in the 1800´s). However, that powerful country was probably weakened by internal factors to become a so easy prey to imperialism. You must also consider that China lived a sequence of disasters in the 1800´s. There was the Taiping rebellion, the bloodiest civil war in history, there were also the two devastating famines of 1876-78 and 1896-98. Those three events may have killed up to 30-50 million people. From 1820-1949 China´s per capita GDP declined almost withouth interruption. Some recovering only happened after the Communist revolution (even before market reforms, and despite the excesses of garrison state, China´s economy was growing at 4-6%/year). For an interesting (and unconventional) approach to the causes of European supremacy in 1800´s, look at Kenneth Pommeranz (The Great Divergence). Jared Diamond (Germs, Guns and Steel) also gives us some hints on Chinese decline. He argued that interstate competition in Europe resulted in technical progress, while the Chinese technology stagnated because they had no serious challenge in their geographic area)." --
Gothmog

Don't forget that Zheng He's fleet also allegedly discovered the Americas, Australia, crossed the top of Russia all the way down around Greenland and actually crossed the Straight of 'Magellan'. Simultaneously they charted the entire world incredibly accurately and set up a few colonies. There is evidence suggesting that Magellan and Columbus both used Chinese maps to navigate to the Americas.

Some interesting sources:
CNN
Asiawind
Amazon result for '1421' The Year China Discovered America or 'The World' (UK edition has the different name, funnily ;)).
By Diplomat
#577353
Europe's victory over China is just like what happened in the Cold War. Europe's industrialism beat out China's agriculturalism. US beat USSR with its capitalism over communism. Rome's fall is due to in large part, cultural and "natural" reasons, but remember, that in the modern era, this invention of industrialism by Europe is the most important catalyst shaping the entire history of it, including the demise of traditional China.
By Watermoon
#13070799
Until the late 19th century, the Chinese regarded all other peoples as inferior 'barbarians', and simply didn't take them seriously.

Yes, I hate history books wirte other peoples as inferior "barbarians" until those "barbarians" beated Qing dynasty and suddenly become modern, with science and democracy. How come if they were really all inferior "barbarians".
I heard conspiracy theories that China wants to invade Siberia in Russia for its vital resources. I doubt it, since China was never imperialist in it's entire history. That's why they build the great wall as defense.

Right, we have no interest in Russia land. But we doubt Russia.
-All of us agree on this, question is: Why China wasn´t able to offer any meaningful resistance against western barbarians (compared for instance, with Zulus and sikhs)? What factors weakened the Middle Kingdom to make it such an easy prey? You don´t need to be imperialist to resist imperialism, and the Chinese had essentially all the conditions to fight the British Army.

None cares the country at that time. A famous saying " I'd rather give the country to invaders but not the inner slaves." -- I think it is said by Cixi, a woman who ruled China at that time. People hate the late Qing dynasty becuase the she kissed the westerns' ass to maintain her rule. She didnot care the future of China. She spent lots and lots and lots of money on fun when China was invaded. But I dont know why she did that, becuase during early period, she protested to fight with the west while all men officials even the emperor were scared to wage a war. If it was all her fault, why men couldnot beat a woman at that time? And when a country need strong men, the history gave us a extravagant and cunning woman. So I would think its fault of our system. Look back the history, after Wuzetian --one and only woman empress in Chinese history killed nearly all the nobles alone (becuase she was from low-class and she was one of the woman of the (late) emperor, but the (late) emperor's son fell in love with her and nothing could stop him to marry her, so all nobles anti their marriage, but finally she won and killed all of them and become the emperor's wife and after the emperor died she become the great empress). I think after she did this, China began to weak and weak one by one day. We can compare Ming dynasty and Tang dynasty.
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By Potemkin
#13070823
Yes, I hate history books wirte other peoples as inferior "barbarians" until those "barbarians" beated Qing dynasty and suddenly become modern, with science and democracy. How come if they were really all inferior "barbarians".

I remember reading about a Chinese scholar who was sent to England in the early 19th century to investigate what the European 'barbarians' were getting up to. He witnessed the early Industrial Revolution, and saw steam engines working in huge factories to mass produce commodities. He wrote about how shaken he was by what he witnessed, and asked how the Chinese could continue to call these people 'barbarians' when they were capable of creating such things? He began to have an inkling of what China would face in the 19th and 20th centuries, and it shook him to the core of his being. Unfortunately, nobody in China listened to him.

None cares the country at that time. A famous saying " I'd rather give the country to invaders but not the inner slaves." -- I think it is said by Cixi, a woman who ruled China at that time. People hate the late Qing dynasty becuase the she kissed the westerns' ass to maintain her rule. She didnot care the future of China. She spent lots and lots and lots of money on fun when China was invaded. But I dont know why she did that, becuase during early period, she protested to fight with the west while all men officials even the emperor were scared to wage a war. If it was all her fault, why men couldnot beat a woman at that time? And when a country need strong men, the history gave us a extravagant and cunning woman. So I would think its fault of our system. Look back the history, after Wuzetian --one and only woman empress in Chinese history killed nearly all the nobles alone (becuase she was from low-class and she was one of the woman of the (late) emperor, but the (late) emperor's son fell in love with her and nothing could stop him to marry her, so all nobles anti their marriage, but finally she won and killed all of them and become the emperor's wife and after the emperor died she become the great empress). I think after she did this, China began to weak and weak one by one day. We can compare Ming dynasty and Tang dynasty.

The Empress Dowager was originally a rather admirable person. She was clever and resourceful and she genuinely tried to make China stronger, at least in her early reign. However, as time went on, her cleverness became cunning and her resourcefulness became treachery. During the last part of her reign, she brought disaster on China and doomed the Qing Dynasty.
By Watermoon
#13070831
Unfortunately, nobody in China listened to him.

During Qing dynasty, UK officals wanted to show Qing official how guns shoot. The Qing official refused and said "No possible for those barbarians have something better than us." Chinese is a proud nation, even today, totally beatened, still very proud. If I praised a lot about the west on our fourms, then lots of people would call me "traitor".
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By Potemkin
#13070835
During Qing dynasty, UK officals wanted to show Qing official how guns shoot. The Qing official refused and said "No possible for those barbarians have something better than us."

We later gave a practical demonstration of how our guns work to the Qing officials a few years later. :D

Chinese is a proud nation, even today, totally beatened, still very proud. If I praised a lot about the west on our fourms, then lots of people would call me "traitor".

A nation's citizens have to be proud. If a nation becomes completely demoralised and ashamed of its own identity, then it is finished. It has become a nation of slaves.
By Watermoon
#13070839
Potemkin, here is a good book, though some are a bit exaggerate.
The Ugly Chinaman and the Crisis of Chinese Culture
by Bo Yang (Taiwan Author)
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By Potemkin
#13070915
Thanks, watermoon. :up:
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By Dave
#13072999
We fucking owned China

We're so good 8)

But now we're collapsing :(
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By Igor Antunov
#13091335
China had the resources and technology to colonize the entire world long before Europe rose up, but it didn't. Why? Arrogance, leading to isolationism and disinterest in expansion. Probably the biggest example of wasted potential in history.

China is in the beginning stages of rising back up to it's natural position, and it does so peacefully, important lessons were learned.

The present technocratic rulers of china are seeking growth through absorption of foreign ideas and resources. Investing in foreign economies and buying up debt to keep foreign economies (such as the US) from collapsing in order to spur trade for as long as possible, buying technology where they can, in short engaging in the act of stabilizing long-term economic growth through the utilization of soft diplomatic and existing economic power.

Africa is an interesting front at present. China is spending unprecedented amounts (tens of billions a year) in resource rich African states. Thousands of Chinese workers are being pumped into Africa every month. China begins to tap into the largely untapped teet of Africa, and begins to put an emphasis on a blue-water navy to guard it's present and future sea based trade-routes.

Having made significant amends with it's immediate neighbours india (a comparatively fractured and weak country) and Russia (a large, porous, massively underpopulated country ripe for trading with due to it's massive resource reserves) Chinas only threat is the US empire. All China needs to neutralize that threat is time. With time the US will experience total relative decline and China will be free to prance around the pacific as if she owns it, much as the US does today. When China starts gearing it's economy for military development after achieving sufficient economic growth, Game Over for the west. The middle kingdoms days of isolationism are over. US occupied chief puppet Japan will be the first victim of China's future imperialist drive. Too much bad blood there, and Japan has much to answer for.
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By starman2003
#13279436
I wouldn't write off the US completely. Its present decline owes much to the weakneses of democracy e.g. popular social spending leading to massive debt. But that could change. :) IMO the upshot of crises will be the end of democracy, which will enable the US to rebound, and then some. Moreover, when the present US system cracks, China will lose its best customer, and be hurt as well. And you got to take into consideration that the Chinese masses are just as dumb as Americans. Although authoritarianism is one of China's great strengths vis a vis the US, the Chinese masses might again clamor for democracy, in which case imperialism would be hampered. Lastly, I don't perceive any expansionist, imperialist movement in China.
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By Potemkin
#13307355
Moreover, when the present US system cracks, China will lose its best customer, and be hurt as well.

I have no doubt that the Chinese government has contingency plans in place for just that eventuality (which they probably regard as inevitable at some point in the future). China has no intention of being brought down by the collapse of the USA. And the Chinese have a tendency to regard crises as also moments of opportunity. As Homer Simpson said, they even have a word for it - "crisitunity!" :D
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By BurrsWogdon
#13480817
Exploitation of America? What did America bring? Gold, Coffee, Sugar and Tobacco? Are any of those useful? They're luxuries that were profitable but in no way help your civilization. The proof is that Spain and Portugal didn't industrialise until 10 years ago.


There's been a book about for a few years entitled Cod. Since I read it I amuse myself by substituting God with Cod. Yup, dried fish was that significant. Anyway, I recall the book chronicling a triangular trade that involved slaves, rum and cod. Sugar = rum right? Was a ration I think. Sailors liked rum. Indies slaves ate salted cod. Something like that, I've like as not butchered it but maybe you get enough of an idea.
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