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EH.R: FORUM: Re-thinking 18th Century China
================= EH.RES POSTING ================= I believe it would help the discussion if we establish whether we are rethinking 18th Century China from the standpoint of current economic history with its emphasis on the Industrial Revolution? Or are we rethinking 18th century China from the standpoint of standard Chinese history.I have a standard Chinese history text _China:Tradition and Transformation_ by Fairbank and Reischauer. They describe China's standard historiography, resulting from Confucian philosophy, as an endless cycle of dynastic birth and overthrow where supermen achieve the Mandate of Heaven from "evil and debauched men of the previous dynasty." This historiography itself is fundamentally different from Western historiography which writes of human progress as happening, as long as we get something right, enevitably. For our purposes Fairbank and Reischauer describe a dynastic cycle (usually lasting 300 years, itself a humbling thought) as being explained "in terms of fiscal stability, administrative efficiency, and military power." First a new dynasty is founded after the old one is overthrown, the slate is wiped clean, the country prospers "in its newly established peace." Second, government grows, builds great palaces, roads, canals and walls. "More and more lands and their peasent cultivators were used for the personal support of the ruling class and fewer and fewer tax-paying contributors remained to support the central administration." Every dynasty began to experience serious financial difficulties within a century of its founding. Economic reforms (and discussions around them) are carried out which sometimes halts the decline. Example: 18th Century China under the Manchu dynasty. Reforms prove ineefective, tax base shrinks, peasents avoid taxes by selling themselves to members of the ruling class who don't have to pay taxes. Revenues decline, expenditures on public works and military declines. Military becomes ineffectual, barbarians invade or chinese rebel, "interesting times" ensue. Dynasty is overthrown. Within this cycle great economic progress can occur, innovations happen, but the window is a two hundred year period. (About what we have gone through since the industrial revloution). Moral of the story: Truly long term economic growth is not sustainable because reasonable governence cannot be achieved over truly long periods. I was curious if I had missed a post, was this discussed? Bill Boyd Center for Labor Education and Research University of Hawaii at Manoa ============ FOOTER TO EH.RES POSTING ============ For information, send the message "info EH.RES" to firstname.lastname@example.org. >