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 Post subject: Re: Ming dynasty mercentile/naval trade post Zheng He PostPosted: 2012-11-11 11:58pm
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The Reformation was primarily a threat against the Vatican and the Catholic Church, not the Hapsburg power base. Again, the whole conflict ended with the Hapsburgs basically granting religious toleration for the Protestants anyway (which could have been achieved peacefully), but instead it was achieved only after decades of bloodshed that drained the Hapsburgs of much of their wealth and power.


Doesn't make the original 'decision' any less that of a rational actor acting in their national best interest as they saw it; granting religious tolerance is also a rational decision after determining it to be a fruitless struggle, again they do not have to be correct one.

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And like Pain Rack I am really not getting your point about the Ming.


The OP had detailed the historical fact of the Ming's significant trading networks, while also detailing that the Ming's ambitions in SE Asia, were too costly and had to be abandoned in part due to Mongol pressures in the North; and this detailed the 'limits' of the Ming's ability to project power.

I observed however that the Ming did not make effective use of their potential, and that the trade was never a matter of national interest like it was for Europe, and that overall the Ming did not make effective use of their nation for their ambitions leading to their eventual decline relative to Europe. I then wondered whether if it were possible for the Ming to have earlier on 'made the correct bets' in such a way as to be irreversible.

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 Post subject: Re: Ming dynasty mercentile/naval trade post Zheng He PostPosted: 2012-11-12 12:31am
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You may want to look at the mindset of Hapsburg rulers like Philip II of Spain, whose maniacal attempts to achieve central control over all of his dominions (To the point that almost every decision made in Manila had to get his personal signature for approval - ridiculousness to such an extent that local Spanish officials would glumly joke that "If death came from Madrid, then we shall live to a very long time") was in no way rational by any objective measure. And that insisting every subject remain a good Catholic was just yet another of his attempts to rule everything and everyone under his specific grand vision.

Saying "it's rational from a certain point of view", which isn't useful. From the point of view of an ideologue, it made sense, but from the point of view of actually retaining power, it was idiocy.

You're also wrong about the general idea of trade = power BTW. The most aggressive of the trading powers in the 1500 were the Dutch, but they never came to dominate Europe. That title went to France, who never aggressively entered the East Indies trade but was still the strongest single power in Europe for much of the post-Thirty Years war period.

Attributing how well a nation managed its trade as the sole (or even primary) factor of the Ming's decline vs Europe is not supported by the fact that the strongest trading powers did not necessarily become the strongest powers in Europe at all. Trade generates wealth, which is why England was able to counter France's power for a long time even though France had a much larger population and therefore stronger tax base. But trade alone cannot make up for real and devastating strategic issues or blunders. England traded much more than France, and stopped French expansion, but it could never remove France as a major player in the European scene entirely until they came up with the (correct) policy of simply trying to maintain a balance of power in Europe to avoid war.

In the case of the Haps, their blunder was refusing to enter into political compromises because of religious wrong-headedness, resulting in the squandering of their wealth and ending up with a much smaller empire. It's worth noting that the Haps actually lost in the end because Catholic France entered the war on the Protestant side - a sound strategic move by the Bourbons that rested entirely on rational thinking.

For the Ming, while some of their policies went against free trade, you're forgetting that the Spanish were limiting their free trade too, coupled with the fact that the Dutch of this period were simply absolute genocidal bastards that most people literally would not trade with unless threatened with cannon fire. It's truer to say that the Ming exploited the SE Asian trade routes as best they could, but their focus had always been to the threat of the Mongols and the northern barbarians. The dynasty was founded on the premise of throwing off Mongol domination, and it ultimately fell to another invasion from the north.

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 Post subject: Re: Ming dynasty mercentile/naval trade post Zheng He PostPosted: 2012-11-12 01:45am
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Quote:
Saying "it's rational from a certain point of view", which isn't useful. From the point of view of an ideologue, it made sense, but from the point of view of actually retaining power, it was idiocy.


Sorry but that's the definition.

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The practitioners of strict rational choice theory never investigate the origins, nature, or validity of human motivations (why we want what we want) but instead restrict themselves to examining the expression of given and inexplicable wants in specific social or economic environments. That is, they do not examine the biological, psychological, and sociological roots that make people see the benefits encouraging them to kiss another, cheat on a test, use cocaine, or murder someone. Instead, all that is relevant are the costs of doing so—which for crimes, reflects the chance of being caught.


(From Wikipedia)

Whether or not you personally felt the choices were correct matter zilch to the discipline. Your basically making this a choice between either you are wrong or all of the political sciences are wrong.

Look up "Rational choice theory" and "Rational actor model" which is based on the former. Essentially a rational actor will with perfect information make the best possible decision and maximize utility, since we are dealing with practicality in which it is fact that no nation-state as a rational actor can act with perfect information, decisions, even "irrational" ones as you define it, are still rational.

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You're also wrong about the general idea of trade = power BTW. The most aggressive of the trading powers in the 1500 were the Dutch, but they never came to dominate Europe. That title went to France, who never aggressively entered the East Indies trade but was still the strongest single power in Europe for much of the post-Thirty Years war period.


I never claimed it equals power, only that it was crucial to maritime states; and your demonstrably wrong regarding France, it heavily relied on its maritime trade for revenues and as a source of skilled sailors for its fleet (which it needed to defend its maritime and colonial holdings, they reinforced each other). In fact France's maritime holdings and fisheries were absolutely crucial to its landbased ambitions because fish is important for maintaining large standing armies. I also feel your entirely ignoring the stimulative role maritime trade had on driving european economic growth.

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Attributing how well a nation managed its trade as the sole (or even primary) factor of the Ming's decline vs Europe is not supported by the fact that the strongest trading powers did not necessarily become the strongest powers in Europe at all. Trade generates wealth, which is why England was able to counter France's power for a long time even though France had a much larger population and therefore stronger tax base. But trade alone cannot make up for real and devastating strategic issues or blunders. England traded much more than France, and stopped French expansion, but it could never remove France as a major player in the European scene entirely until they came up with the (correct) policy of simply trying to maintain a balance of power in Europe to avoid war.


You are nearly entirely wrong.

England was the most powerful European state due to its wealth from maritime trade; but it also got more out of its taxes than France did. Also France's population matters much less in the context of the 1800th century is marked by coalition struggles in which it was France and its allies fighting England and its Allies. Suggesting it to be a one versus one struggle as you did, and not a succession of coalition wars paid for by England is really generalizing it.

Here's the thing, and this is the point Kennedy drives for most of his work, that for as long as the political will is about equal, victory in any armed protracted military struggle will likely go to the coalition with the largest economy and population base. England's ultimate victories over France in the War of Austrian Succession, the Seven years war, and the Napoleonic Wars all rested on England's vastly superior economy that largely depended on its maritime trade and the demand such trade placed on England's extensive manufacturies of good; and the considerable armies England's allies could mobilize once the costs were subsidized by Britain... Which brings us too...

The Ming, who had a massive population (150 million I think in 1500?) and huge potential domestic markets; maritime trade could complement the domestic, driving economic growth and innovation in such ways as to stimulate and encourage the domestic economy and vice versa, driving demand which drives innovation. For Ming maritime trade is important in hindsight because it would've kept Ming competitive even as the Westerners continued to technologically advance and extend their dominions further into Asia.

Also, logic, just because England was never strong enough to dominate France "alone" from its trade and smaller population base does not in anyway imply that Ming could not likewise with its considerably larger share of world GDP (31%!!!!) and population do better with its considerably weaker neighbours. The point of drawing comparisons to Europe (and England) is to show that Ming COULD have accomplished at a minimum had they remained dynamic, not that Ming would automatically be limited by Europe's limitations that clearly don't apply to the Ming.

The Ming maintained its relative maritime wealth, and then expanded upon it, the sky's the limit; this is a matter of economic realities and pressures.

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In the case of the Haps, their blunder was refusing to enter into political compromises because of religious wrong-headedness, resulting in the squandering of their wealth and ending up with a much smaller empire. It's worth noting that the Haps actually lost in the end because Catholic France entered the war on the Protestant side - a sound strategic move by the Bourbons that rested entirely on rational thinking.


See my earlier point, rational state actors can make rational decisions even if in hindsight (which is what you are talking about) the decision wasn't the best one due to incomplete information (which you claimed was "might as well be an irrational decision" which isn't true).

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 Post subject: Re: Ming dynasty mercentile/naval trade post Zheng He PostPosted: 2012-11-12 02:32am
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Blayne wrote:
Sorry but that's the definition.


Nobody cares about such pendantry when it ignores the actual strategic situation. You may as well argue that terrorist attacks by Islamic Fundamentalists are totally sane because it makes sense from their perspective.

It is also not, despite your attempts to potray the contrary, about my "personal feelings" on the matter. Political power could have been maintained by granting religious freedoms instead of forcibly trying to convert everyone back to Catholicism. This is not a fucking new thing. Part of the reason why the Roman Empire lasted for so long was because of its religious tolerance.

You're wasting everyone's time by your "If I think it's right, then it's right" uselessness when clear strategic facts are already present for all to see. Rational decisions made with the wrong premise are not rational decision. States make them all the time.

Also, again: The Ming DID trade extensively. The Ming also had a much bigger problems in the northern front. That's the important bits which you keep blithely ignoring with your vain attempts to say "MING TRADE MORE, RAR".

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I never claimed it equals power, only that it was crucial to maritime states;


Then stop making a big deal of this "MIng could have saved themselves via maritime trade!" when they were engaging in Maritime trade extensively AND there were other demonstrably bigger issues at hand (like a Manchu invasion).

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and your demonstrably wrong regarding France, it heavily relied on its maritime trade for revenues and as a source of skilled sailors for its fleet


That is because you can't tell the fucking West and East Indies apart. French interests never expanded to the East Indies in a meaningful fashion. Their trade was around the New World (the West Indies). The big players in SE Asian trading were the Ming, the Spanish (plus the Portugese, who were under Spanish rule for a good bit of this time), then the Dutch. The English only expanded to this area much, much later, exemplified by Singapore. The French never really got there in a big way, their links generally stopping at India.

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You are nearly entirely wrong.

England was the most powerful European state due to its wealth from maritime trade; but it also got more out of its taxes than France did. Also France's population matters much less in the context of the 1800th century is marked by coalition struggles in which it was France and its allies fighting England and its Allies. Suggesting it to be a one versus one struggle as you did, and not a succession of coalition wars paid for by England is really generalizing it.


You're a complete idiot.

We are talking about the trade during the Ming period, which is the 1500s. This is why I pointed to the Dutch's massive trading power, which reached its height in this period (but was still nothing compared to France).

The English weren't even trading in the fucking East Indies during this period, and the best they could manage was a couple of solo privateering missions in the Pacific!

But even then...

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Here's the thing, and this is the point Kennedy drives for most of his work, that for as long as the political will is about equal, victory in any armed protracted military struggle will likely go to the coalition with the largest economy and population base. England's ultimate victories over France in the War of Austrian Succession, the Seven years war, and the Napoleonic Wars all rested on England's vastly superior economy that largely depended on its maritime trade and the demand such trade placed on England's extensive manufacturies of good; and the considerable armies England's allies could mobilize once the costs were subsidized by Britain... Which brings us too...


England did not win any of those wars in a meaningful sense, and more importantly did not win any of those wars alone.

France did not cease to exist after any of those wars. It did not lose any significant portion of its national territory or population in any meaningful sense save for overseas colonies, and even then their biggest and riches colonial claim (the Lousiana territory) was actually sold to America and not lost in any "defeat".

France was actually kicking Europe's ass for much of the 1700-1800s. To the point that everyone basically had to gang up on France in order to prevent her from completely dominating Europe. And even then, she actually secured Spain as a (virtually) permanent ally after the War of Spanish Succession. England on its own was completely helpless to stop French aggression - and had to rely on allies to do the ground fighting for them (i.e. Prussia in the Seven Year's War, which fought the lion's share of the land war, not England). Heck, Napoleon's defeat can be attributed more to the Russians than anyone else, despite the British blockade the French were still able to raise an army of, what, 600,000 men that was only ultimately destroyed by the Russians?

English trade kept it in the war. It gave the Brits a surplus to help fund other warring powers. But British trade in no way equalled the simple power of the French population and war machine, that's why they needed allies.

"Trade automatically wins!" is a very poor thesis by Kennedy et al, and the British vs France conflicts was in no way a validation of this idea because the Brits never actually fought the French alone, and they never actually "won" against them. And the secret to their success was ultimately alliance-building and maintaining a balance of power.

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 Post subject: Re: Ming dynasty mercentile/naval trade post Zheng He PostPosted: 2012-11-12 04:29am
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Quote:
Nobody cares about such pendantry when it ignores the actual strategic situation. You may as well argue that terrorist attacks by Islamic Fundamentalists are totally sane because it makes sense from their perspective.


Terrorists are not state actors and are not defined under either realism or neorealism and not even by neomarxism.

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It is also not, despite your attempts to potray the contrary, about my "personal feelings" on the matter. Political power could have been maintained by granting religious freedoms instead of forcibly trying to convert everyone back to Catholicism. This is not a fucking new thing. Part of the reason why the Roman Empire lasted for so long was because of its religious tolerance.


The definition that does not care about what you think was the correct decision (Due to incomplete information). You are essentially just making up a definition that is only true to you and is undefined virtually everywhere else.

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You're wasting everyone's time by your "If I think it's right, then it's right" uselessness when clear strategic facts are already present for all to see. Rational decisions made with the wrong premise are not rational decision. States make them all the time.


Contradicted by the definition, you are stating what is to you, an intuitive observation based on your subjective understanding; but it doesn't make it true.

Your definition seems to be "any correct state decision that I agree with."

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Also, again: The Ming DID trade extensively. The Ming also had a much bigger problems in the northern front. That's the important bits which you keep blithely ignoring with your vain attempts to say "MING TRADE MORE, RAR".


Your now ignoring my entire argument, that the problems in the north, were minor in the greater scheme of things, the mongols were eventually absorbed by the gunpowder wielding Qing. So the Ming with their superior economy and GDP would have eventually done the same had they continued to grow relative to the rest of the world and continued to advance technologically. Had the Ming traded more extensively and not saw fit to ultimately relinquish their trade (per Kennedy), or to prevent the rising of the bourgeoisie as a social force, then they would've most likely continued to make significant economic and technological strides that would eventually allow them to finish off the Mongols at a time of their choosing.

Which the Muscovites wielding gunpowder armies had no problems doing during this same time period from the opposite side of Eurasia.

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Then stop making a big deal of this "MIng could have saved themselves via maritime trade!" when they were engaging in Maritime trade extensively AND there were other demonstrably bigger issues at hand (like a Manchu invasion).


The Manchu invasion is what finished off the Ming who were already too far gone in their decline. They could have saved themselves by not declining (sounds like a tautology, but bear with me) through the methods Kennedy outlines that I paraphrased.

Also it is demonstrably false your statement regarding Ming trade; it was mostly in luxury goods and mostly did not affect the domestic economy and was unlikely to act as a stimulus in its state. Ming's trade is not really comparable to British and French trade for instance. Only with rapid expansion, and by actively seeking out markets for manufactured goods along the pacific and indian oceans would it affect the Ming economy in the direction we wish it too; (Until then it provides revenue, but not market stimulation).

Again, I state had the Ming not declined relatively in economic and military factors they would not been conquered, but would have instead done the conquering inevitably; just as how Europe came to inevitably dominate 3/4 of the globe. It was just a matter of time, this is a matter of historical record.

Also the Manchu invaded much later than the duration of that extensive trading.

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That is because you can't tell the fucking West and East Indies apart. French interests never expanded to the East Indies in a meaningful fashion. Their trade was around the New World (the West Indies). The big players in SE Asian trading were the Ming, the Spanish (plus the Portugese, who were under Spanish rule for a good bit of this time), then the Dutch. The English only expanded to this area much, much later, exemplified by Singapore. The French never really got there in a big way, their links generally stopping at India.

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hat title went to France, who never aggressively entered the East Indies trade but was still the strongest single power in Europe for much of the post-Thirty Years war period.


Is what you said, I assumed you made the argument that "France was not a maritime trader but was a significant european power regardless" as that's the only argument you could've made that was understandable here. My mistake, you actually are not actually making any sense here. What are you responding to? Definitely not my argument. As the geographical spheres of influence for the maritime states at the time you specified (1500 was it?) means nothing in the context of this discussion, as economic power and influence are relative, see below.

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You're a complete idiot.


Your entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts.

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We are talking about the trade during the Ming period, which is the 1500s. This is why I pointed to the Dutch's massive trading power, which reached its height in this period (but was still nothing compared to France).


You should've been more clear because clearly this doesn't make all that much sense; as my thesis uses comparisons to just how powerful maritime states like England would eventually become stretching into the 19th century (hence my emphasis on the importance of the bourgeoisie and the Opium Wars); and thus how powerful at a minimum the Ming could have become. If your specifically pointing out the Dutch of the 1500's purely because of "They were a maritime state but weren't that powerful" Then your entire argument is invalid because its clear you don't actually understand what I am trying to say and we're just talking past each other.

Sure pick the Dutch of 1500 (despite the fact they didn't set up a trade post on Taiwan until much later), but the Ming were clearly the most powerful nation in the world then and could've easily crushed the dutch. When your studying the rise and fall of nations snapshots taken at specific dates are not instructive, you need to examine the interaction of historical economic, political and social forces and try to fit together a theory as to why over so many years did the Ming decline.

Also the rate in which trade forms a large share of GDP increases with time, in 1500 oceanic trade was still in its infancy; but by the mid 1700's it was a crucial share of GDP of the leading maritime states. And for Britain and France crucial to their ambitions.

However in 1500 the Ming had over 1000 warships of much larger size and tonnage than anything Europe had, so 1500 doesn't matter so much. What matters is that they slowly declined due to bad decisions (made for rational, reasonable reasons), when if they had maintained consistent investment ala the British and French who slowly pooled more and more of their national income into their fleets and the resulting arms race. The Ming could have likely maintained technological parity, kept growing the size of their trade, and by the 1800's would've been far stronger than they were previously relative to everyone else; this is just basic economic theory.

Technological parity, as well as seamanship, are accumulative. It takes centuries to build up a naval tradition, China today has problems building up a blue water fleet because it has to catch up over a huge gap. The Ming of 1640 weren't going to address a 2 century long problem in under a decade, they needed to be working on it seriously continuously at least beginning from when they noticed problems arising from their previous bad decisions.

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England did not win any of those wars in a meaningful sense, and more importantly did not win any of those wars alone.


England decisively defeated France during the Seven Years War and the Napoleonic Wars, and won considerably in the war of Spanish succession, and forced France towards a compromise peace during the war of Austrian succession (which is really just a precursor to the Seven Years War anyways).

However your claim that England "did not win alone" is irrelevant, what does this have to do with the Ming? The Ming is far larger, has over a hundred million people and Indian/Pacific trade potential at least as potentially profitable as the entire British empire during that period; where England required allies by paying for it the Ming could entirely raise its own levees as home. Why do you keep ignoring my argument here?

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France did not cease to exist after any of those wars. It did not lose any significant portion of its national territory or population in any meaningful sense save for overseas colonies, and even then their biggest and riches colonial claim (the Lousiana territory) was actually sold to America and not lost in any "defeat".


The claim that France wasn't annexed is just being pedantic and doesn't substantially address my argument, I could go into detail as to what France lost but to what end? What point are you trying to make, how does this at all relate to my argument?

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France was actually kicking Europe's ass for much of the 1700-1800s. To the point that everyone basically had to gang up on France in order to prevent her from completely dominating Europe. And even then, she actually secured Spain as a (virtually) permanent ally after the War of Spanish Succession. England on its own was completely helpless to stop French aggression - and had to rely on allies to do the ground fighting for them (i.e. Prussia in the Seven Year's War, which fought the lion's share of the land war, not England). Heck, Napoleon's defeat can be attributed more to the Russians than anyone else, despite the British blockade the French were still able to raise an army of, what, 600,000 men that was only ultimately destroyed by the Russians?

English trade kept it in the war. It gave the Brits a surplus to help fund other warring powers. But British trade in no way equalled the simple power of the French population and war machine, that's why they needed allies.


See above, what does this part of the Anglo-French rivalry have to do with the Ming's economic potential?

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"Trade automatically wins!" is a very poor thesis by Kennedy et al, and the British vs France conflicts was in no way a validation of this idea because the Brits never actually fought the French alone, and they never actually "won" against them. And the secret to their success was ultimately alliance-building and maintaining a balance of power.


Have you ever read the book? And again, you've entirely misunderstood my argument.

Also, apologies I missed a paragraph as its late so here's my late reply to it:

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For the Ming, while some of their policies went against free trade, you're forgetting that the Spanish were limiting their free trade too, coupled with the fact that the Dutch of this period were simply absolute genocidal bastards that most people literally would not trade with unless threatened with cannon fire. It's truer to say that the Ming exploited the SE Asian trade routes as best they could, but their focus had always been to the threat of the Mongols and the northern barbarians. The dynasty was founded on the premise of throwing off Mongol domination, and it ultimately fell to another invasion from the north.


This isn't a matter of free trade vs mercantalism, that's a false choice and not my argument. What matters is how the two nations make the best use of their trade. My argument rests in that all advantages and disadvantages are relative, so that even if the total volume of Ming trade was larger, or if the Spanish also had some anti-capitalistic practices the difference is that the Ming's feudal order prevented them from benefiting from theirs as well as the Spanish or the Dutch could from their trade.

Again, to point out here, the Mongols aren't the threat people keep making them out to be, over the long term and would've been absorbed with an energetic and dynamic Ming; just as how they got absorbed by the Qing two centuries later.

I am going to ask you two questions, and I think its more important that you answer these than to continue to play Quote-Block games:

1) What do you consider to be the cause of the Ming's decline and eventual absorption by the Manchu.
2) What do you consider to be my argument, and I ask you to give a substantiated explanation as to what you believe it to be, so we are on the same page and not talking past each other. It is insufficient to state "More trade rar", explain why you think I believe trade to be important as well.

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 Post subject: Re: Ming dynasty mercentile/naval trade post Zheng He PostPosted: 2012-11-12 09:45pm
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Blayne wrote:
I do not believe this to be the case, I am consistent in my point in that Ming did not make consistent effective use of its resources, and declined because of it; using academic sources I have provided. In your rebuttals you usually respond with an example, to which I disputing the example does not mean I changed the goal posts because I still stick to my original argument.

You have not, to my understanding reasonably put forward an argument why the Ming declined; while bizarrely seeming to argue that the Ming couldn't have competing with Europe on equal terms and it was the 'smart money' to not even try? While also arguing that they had this super awesome trading network that made lots of money and was good for the economy; okay, but which is it? If it was awesome why didn't they use it for national interest and defend it like such?

I'm not sure if you realise that virtually all the arguments you made are either factually wrong or utterly unsupported. Similarly, we were talking at cross purposes for a time.

For one, you asked for an example where decisions to reverse mercentile trade/naval power would had been reversed, to the extent that a merchant class/self sustaining upward thrust be maintained. The Fujian ban, along with OTHERS proved it. Even bans on trade with Japan, the version of their naval embargo+scorched earth failed as merchants became smugglers.

Do you UNDERSTAND what those examples mean? It mean that your thrust, the argument that there didn't exist any counter-weight to government restrictions is false.
Similarly, I'm not sure if you're making a blanket statement or not, but those examples show that the 'decline' of Ming power was relative. What it simply meant was that the Ming didn't put in the water the largest ships with the largest number of ships, and thus couldn't project power as powerfully as Zheng He did. But this ISN"T unexplainable. The Ming treasury was bankrupt with the war in Vietnam, Mongolia as well as the crippling costs of building/maintaining such a fleet. They pruned it back, using Confucian ideology with regards about how the Ming should conduct itself.

To put it simply, imagine the difference between Clinton Peace dividend and Reagan Evil Empire. Clinton scaled down the USN dramatically, but that didn't mean it was incapable of meeting its mission. The Ming similarly realigned its military, withdrawing expensive assets away from the coast and Imperialism, a costly state venture which was unprofitable and risked entangling the Ming in local politics such as negotiations between the Malays and Siam and refocused it on defence. The problems of course is that we can't define just how...... much improvement existed in the Ming navy. We know that their cannons were inferior to Dutch cannons, we know that there were debates to improve their cannon via incorporating Western gunners/technology, similar to how an earlier effort to incorporate Japanese musketry made the Ming army had entire musket formations but unfortunately, we lack other information other than examples of how Chinese pirates could plague Spanish trade routes due to the weight of their cannon and that isn't contiguous.

It gets even more annoying. Here's the thing. You argued that the Chinese 'failed' to exploit their resources/economy to the same extent as the Westerns. Just HOW do you define this? Based on tax revenue? Based on productivity? Well, could you SHOW this productivity inferiority?
You haven't.

What you HAVE argued is that the Ming cracked down on trade, restricted the merchants and had taxes that removed capital.........

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“The fact was that in Europe there were always some princes and local lords willing to tolerate merchants and their ways even when others plundered and expelled them; and as the records show, oppressed Jewish traders, ruined Flemish textile workers, persecuted Huguenots, moved on and took their expertise with them. A Rhineland baron who overtaxed commercial travelers would find that the trade routes had gone elsewhere, and with it its revenues. A Monarch who repudiated his debts would have immense difficulties raising a loan for the next war threatened and funds were quickly needed to equip his armies and fleets. Bankers and arms dealers and artisans were essential, not peripheral, members of society. Gradually, unevenly, most of the regimes of Europe entered into a symbiotic relationship with the market economy, providing for it domestic order and a nonarbitrary legal system (even for foreigners), and receiving in taxes a share of the growing profits from trade. Long before Adam Smith had coined the exact words, the rulers of certain societies of western Europe were tacitly recognizing that “little else is required to carry a state to the highest degrees of opulence from the lowest barbarism, but peace, easy taxes, and tolerable administration of justice...” From time to time the less percipient leaders—like the Spanish administrators of Castile, or the occasional Bourbon king of France—would virtually kill the golden goose that laid the golden eggs; but the consequent decline in wealth, and thus in military power, was soon obvious to all but the most purblind.”


The implication being that because Europe had this, and thus Ming did not have this, is why Ming never grew out of being a feudal society and declined relative to Europe. Pages 35ish to 44 further reinforce this argument. It doesn't let me select words so I still have to manually type them, so there's a limit here :p

So. Fucking. What?
The MING merchants class DID exist, it WAS independently wealthy, and a well developed economic/trading network exists.
Efforts by the political class to 'restrict' and 'persecute' it must be weighed in context AGAINST the practical facts. Which is, the Ming economy transported tens of thousands of tons in grain in barges up the Grand Canal, something that was TRADED. This is the SCALE of trading. That domestic trade rejuvenated Suzhou, Hangzhou, and we have multiple descriptions of the trade from Korean accounts. Hell, we can even see the wealth inequality that existed when a korean minister who descended on a less prosperous area of the canal gave his example.


Seriously dude. From my point of view, you're like arguing that because there were political opposition to evolution in the States in the 20th century, there was no way for biologists to advance evolution and the state of biology science in American stagnated.

Again. The economy and the merchant trade of Ming china didn't stagnate, it continued developing and was rich and vibrant, the merchants were wealthy and etc etc etc.


Quote:
You are aware I quoted academic literature on this respect right? The way you structure your responses to me comes across as a little weird; and that it is valid to dispute your definition as to what constitutes 'social criticism', to which erotic novels (entertainment) I do not believe reasonably qualifies, its a semantic point at best.

Then your academic literature is utterly BOGUS. Again, it made the claim that only scholarly works existed. Since WHEN THE FUCK IS EROTICISM SCHOLARLY WORKS?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

HELL FUCK.

You want ACTUAL social criticism?

You do know that the Ming dynasty themselves sought explainations for why their dynasty declined after Wu Sangui let in the Manchus, right? We have MULTIPLE accounts of this, from philosophers arguing that the Ming abandonment of classical art was the reason for its decline?

Or for something more earlier in its age,we have multiple accounts of philosophers arguing that the Ming dynasty military should revert back to the Han era militia/etc, reversing the semi-professional nature of the Ming military.

Is THIS social criticism?


Quote:
Is the farmers almanac a single exception, or part of a long consistent use of the printing press for practical dissemination? Why didn't it get more widely used like in Europe? Was it printed originally during the Early Ming or late Ming? Without context it isn't very good evidence.

That's because I simply didn't want to expend the huge fucking amount of effort to develop it, and instead, showed you that your throwaway lines from an academic source is utterly false.

The Ming dynasty had an official gazette that printed official policies, census and even the world LARGEST ENCYLOPEDIA UNTIL WIKIPEDIA CAME ALONG.

http://www.chinahistoryforum.com/index. ... g-dynasty/

I mean. Its only the world earliest, most comprehensive encylopedia, the largest known volume in the world until the fucking INTERNET AGE.

Do you know now why I'm utterly dismissive of your source?

(P.S. Although the author WOULD be correct, since the world earliest largeat enyclopedia was so large that it couldn't be block printed, but was instead copied. So, maybe he wasn't a total doofus)
Hell. Just WHAT is practical knowledge? Is military encylopedias practical knowledge or scholarly works? Is the encylopedia that includes agriculture, history, drama, geology scholarly or practical works? Just WHAT is scholarly works?

I mean, we only know the Ming dynasty flourished its military art by multiple books, which critiqued various works of theory from Sun Zi and etc, hell, we got the definitive military classics of china BECAUSE the Ming dynasty decided they were the decisive classics. And that work wasn't stagnant either.

It keeps getting simple, fundamental facts wrong. Why the FUCK should I trust your academic source on the larger claims, that it uses these small claims to build upon?

Quote:
As for the latter, its funny coming from the Marxist perspective to suggest that books that merely criticize the wealthy for acting the part as constituting 'social criticism'; especially in context of Imperial China's "Mandate of Heaven" system of Imperial legitimacy. Look at the context of these books, Good Emperor dies or becomes tricked by an Evil Un-virtuous Person who raised taxes or plunders the land with his bandits; Our Hero rises up and forms a peasant rebellion and wins, he either overthrows an evil Emperor and becomes Emperor himself or manages to restore the Good Emperor to full power and is rewarded with land and titles, and so on; becoming a part of the existing social order without having substantially reformed it!.

These types of stories do not criticize the existing social order, they reinforce it; serving as a a legitimizing force within the overall part of the feudal order's system of checks and balances that underline it as part of the culture-systemic superstructure. None of these books were likely to spark an 1848, just the replacement of one feudal despot with a slightly less abusive feudal despot for one reign before his kids or grand kids take over and become despots again.

Ask yourself, do these books criticize the accumulation of capital in the hands of the feudal aristocracy or do they just criticize the aristocracy for violating the informal social contract laid down by Master Confucius and needs to be slapped in the face by a peasant uprising? I.e. for 'misbehaving'?

Actually, you have no fucking idea, do you? The novels express the shifts in the Ming social dynamics, as expressed in her increasing wealth away from the political class.
I mean, just look at the official objections to Water Margins, criticising it for being "obscene".


It marked the era where entertainment, the arts was increasingly available to the common masses and also showed an example of growing literacy. Of course, having said that, this just refers to the cities as opposed to the rural, where the improvement of schools/education simply didn't exist and where the majority of the Ming peasants lived so its not a social revolution. But AGAIN, the existence of these works give us CONCRETE examples of a growing middle class in China.

You know. The class you claim didn't exist because the government cracked down on it?

Quote:
States being rational actors is the working definition of states within both anarchic and inanarchic systems. States can rationally make bad decisions, that's essentially the whole point of the discussion is that the Ming for valid reasons decided to make a bad decision; but, when circumstances were such that they should have reversed it, the tools of social change did not sufficiently exist (i.e; the transition from a feudal society to a bourgosie one) to allow the Ming to rationally act within the new post-Columbus/post-Westphalia world order; the Ming were still rational within context they were familiar with, but the new order of dominating 'Edge Nations' was too alien or un-understandable to their 'Central Nation' world view ('Center Nation' in this context is a distinct concept from 'the Middle Kingdom' though they significantly overlap; Card I feel was on to something there).

And your claims that the Ming DIDN"T reverse it is based on fucking what?

AGAIN. The Ming had an active mercantile network both domestically and overseas, you're just insisting that it isn't a mercentile state because its not free trade. The answer is fucking DUH.
The Ming dynasty, and the Qing was NEVER about free trade. Its one step that they didn't take. Instead, trade was regulated along state lines. However, this doesn't mean the large trading networks DIDN"T exist, or the wealthy merchants DIDN"T exist and etc etc etc.

AGAIN. The Ming had a powerful navy. The very fact that it sent a fucking naval expedition to catch Li Ma Hong, the Chinese pirate(again, I apologise to Zinnegata for assuming that it was a Chinese warlord) showed that they still fucking projected power into the Pacfic as late as the 16th century. And the fact that the remnants of the Ming military could conquer taiwan showed that even at that stage, it was capable of projecting power as far as Formosa.

However, the Ming never had a navy that was powerful enough to overwhelm the Japanese(and please, size of ships not equals to combat worthiness, the Treasure ships were NOT true warships). This just showed their technological and resource limitations. So be it.



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 Post subject: Re: Ming dynasty mercentile/naval trade post Zheng He PostPosted: 2012-11-12 10:02pm
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Honestly Blayne. I'm trying to....... imagine just HOW you saw the Ming as giving the trade away?

I say this again. The Ming traded with the Fillipinos. When the Spanish came, they traded with the fucking Spanish.

Ditto to the Arabs and the Dutch.


Unless you're referring to the fact that the local chinese communities, the traders were conquered and displaced by the invaders as the commercial elite, but they AREN"T the Ming dynasty, isn't it?

The only....... tangent I get that seems valid is that you argue that the Ming could had moved on to free trade, as opposed to being a protected system, where all trade with the hinterland is carried out by Chinese merchants.

But that seems................ disgustingly hypocritical, considering the concept of the Dutch East Indies or the East India Company existence.......



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 Post subject: Re: Ming dynasty mercentile/naval trade post Zheng He PostPosted: 2012-11-13 11:36am
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I'm going to focus on two bits here.

Paper currency, and the Hai Jin policy.

1. First of all, why did paper currency fall in favour with the Ming? One would had thought they would had loved it, since the Hai Jin policy as well as restrictions on silver mining limited the amount of metal it had available to back its currency.

http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/hi ... _note.aspx
Quote:
These banknotes continued to be issued by the Board of Revenue throughout the Ming dynasty, but inflation quickly eroded their value. The effect of inflation was so devastating that state-issued banknotes were regarded with suspicion for many years.

Oh, inflation. So, the Ming basic currency of copper was no longer trusted and they also lacked sufficient bronze to mint enough currency, paper currency was inflationary....... what's next then?

So, just how much currency was floating around in the Ming economy?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of ... ng_Dynasty
http://www.chinawhisper.com/chinas-hist ... -the-world
Estimates that they ranked 50% of world GDP and as usual, the standard claims that most of the silver mine output in Peru/Japan went to China.

We know from paper records that merchants were handling deals in the ten of thousands of silver taels in trade. That was the level of wealth in China. Joseph Needlam estimates that 300 million taels of silver was moving into China. That's 30* 300 million grams= 9 thousand tons of silver flowing into China via trade. Indeed, the example I brought up in my OP with regards to smuggling show that a single Chinese junk had 200 thousand ounces of silver confiscated!

Furthermore, the largesse of the Ming dynasty meant that a monetary economy began to come into being. Taxes were increasingly exacted in cash, as opposed to the old norms of labour corvee, goods and services. This would create the middle class of artisans, specialists and yes, elite merchant class that Blayne insisted didn't exist because the government cracked down on them.


I cannot reiterate this enough. Trade itself was CRITICAL to the Ming dynasty ability to maintain a healthy currency, economy and the government ability to pay its soldiers/officials, as well as purchase enough grain on the money markets(as opposed to older policies of simply taxing grain to be moved into granaries) for reserves against famine.

Still, what about the tribute system? Isn't that a weakening of trade? it was just....... economic protectionism. Goods going into China could only be carried and traded via Chinese flagged ships, meaning that it was Chinese merchants which reaped the benefits. More importantly, the tribute system was also a facet of Imperial power. We can see this based on the 12 trade caravans the Qing dynasty authorised for Russia, which combined diplomacy with trade. Zheng He expeditions to the south reinforced that network of trading allies, because only 'client' states under the tribute system could enter into China as traders.


But, what about the Hai Jin policy?

Let's witness the policy from begining to end shall we? Zhu Yuan Zhang vision for his Ming dynasty was an agarian, self contained communities with a political/military elite in power. Extremely retro Confucian/Han vision,a reach back into the past.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haijin#cite_note-0
The Hai Jin policy was actually enacted during the founding Emperor regime, as a reaction against piracy, and later tacked on to defend against smuggling and the like. It also relied on a naval buildup, indeed, one of Zheng He military actions was his expedition against Chen Zhuyi, a pirate operating in the Straits of Pelambang.

The maritime ban was invoked again afterwards, but its time to take a look at the 'nature' of the ban and resistance against it.

The initial ban, for all its suffering and resistance was a sideshow to the Ming building multiple forts, building a navy that did beat back the pirates on occasion until the raiders were crippled by a series of invasions by Korea.

The ban on maritime trade post Zheng He was a political move that was resisted by Chinese merchant/smugglers, who continued their clandestine trade as smugglers or shifted efforts into overseas trading disporas. We can't say how successful they were, but the fact that the naval ban was repeated multiple times shows that it was being flouted repeatedly by Chinese.

Similarly, the emergence of the second wave of Wokou pirates were now a mixed bag of Chinese and Japanese in the 1500s. And we bring up the example of
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wang_Zhi_%28pirate%29
Wang Zhi.

The chinese merchant/pirate used his fleet of ships to raid up and down the Chinese coast in retialiation after another tightening of the ban emerged. And was resisted by Ming naval loyalists warships. One WONDERS how this fleet of junks, which conducted in both trade, plunder and etc existed if as Blayne suggest, the maritime ban was successful in shutting down Ming foreign trade and etc. Note: there should also be a differentiation between private foreign trade vs state foreign trade, but at this point in time, the tribute system had utterly broken down as the Ming tied down by political pressures in the north along with a new policy of austerity/libertarian taxation couldn't project any power in the south/Japan/Korea. Afterall, during this period, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altan_Khan
raided as far south as the borders of Beijing itself, until he was granted special dispensation in the tribute/trading system that was just commercialism combined with heqin.

Yet, a fleet commanded by this guy
http://baike.baidu.com/view/112852.htm
did beat the pirates back, although a bulk of his success must surely be attributed to his campaign against corruption/smuggling by the merchants.

And of course, two commanders ultimately successfully defeat and kill Wang Zhi pirate band.


So, let's summarise. The first phase of successful attacks was when the Ming dynasty was building up its navy/military to repulse the raiders. Piracy never disappeared, even at the "height" of the Ming navy in terms of numbers and size. The ban shrunk the Ming navy to a more 'managable' size and removed the costly Imperialist policies/power projection abilities, when economic/political conditions turned and revived the Japanese pirate threat, chinese merchants also flocked to the pirates and indeed, one of the more famous band is a Chinese merchant with his own large fleet of ships. It was successful because it occurred during a period of corruption/weakness in the Ming dynasty as well as can be seen in the Mongols successful raids to the capital of Beijing. So, it wasn't just a case of navy weak because the Ming didn't like sea, it was everywhere was weak....


HOWEVER, the Wokou threat eventually disappeared, even though piracy didn't, although Chinese pirates would side aside to orang laut pirates instead in the South China Sea. More importantly, let's look at the success of maritime trade during this period. Overseas trade was increasing up until the end of the Ming dynasty. One COULD argue that there was a "lost" era, I mean, imagine if the Ming had still ratcheted up trading in the 15th century instead of the 16th century, but then again, that runs into questions of just how much ivory, bird nest, tiger penises, spices, exotic foodstuffs like bananas and etc could be imported, and how the traders in SEA would pay for it. Afterall, the trading networks in the region also had hard limits imposed on them by the technology and capacity of those economies of the era.

Also, witness the growth in power of the merchant caste. The first ban? Hard economic hardship, immigration and etc, but no noteworthy resistance outside of the political/military elite.(governor co-opting with wukou).

The second ban? Negotiations and etc by the merchants, until a guy felt so betrayed that he led a military resistance built around his fleet of ships against the Ming dynasty.

By the 17th century, which also concided with the increasing growth in maritime trade as the Ming traded more and more with the Portugese and expanded the increasingly profitable trade with the Spanish(i mean, silver is more valuable than tiger penis, right?), the resistance was political as merchants sidestepped the economic embargo on Japan, which was waging a war against Korea, their client state.

Until the last ban we know of, the Fujian ban, was overturned due to the political machinations of merchants, using the plight of the common people of Fujian economic livilihood to overturn the ban within half a year.

And THAT my friend, is the increasing economic/political power of the merchant class in the Ming dynasty. As the centuries roll by, they gained the ability to project a military threat, until they themselves were able to overturn unpopular/disastrous political decisions via politics.


Similarly, the value of silver, particularly in backing Ming currency and converting its change into a monetary economy shows that despite popular assertions, the value and importance of maritime trade/mercantilism only increased in the last two centuries of the Ming dynasty. Indeed, more trade was being carried out by Ming merchants than by Zheng He fleet, which due to the tribute system often dispensed extremely valuable gifts of silk and other manufactured goods. Unless of course, one refers to the then concurrent maritime and overland trade conducted to acquire spices, ivory, woods, incense and of course, tiger penises:D



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 Post subject: Re: Ming dynasty mercentile/naval trade post Zheng He PostPosted: 2012-11-14 10:55am
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I'll respond when I get the chance (Should be by friday) as there's a lot to read and consider, sorry for not already responding sooner.

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 Post subject: Re: Ming dynasty mercentile/naval trade post Zheng He PostPosted: 2012-11-15 12:49pm
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Take your time. I'm also busy and won't be able to respond fully, at least until Sunday.

I do hope that the data I posted in the last few posts showed why I was baffled at your question, especially with regards to mercentile trade and the like.

The question "how could a mercentile system develop despite official resistance" isn't answered here, however, in the context of the discussion, I don't have to. Despite resistance since the begining of the Empire, the Ming dynasty increasing developed its maritime trade with overseas partner and such trade rocketed off after 1567, when the last official ban on maritime trade levied against the wokou threat ended. Even with ongoing bans against Japan, or occasional attempts to reverse the trade, maritime trade became an increasingly bigger component of the Ming economy until 1640.

Ditto to the Ming navy. The reversal of the Ming treasure ships/no three mast/etc meant a shrinkage in numbers as well as a decrease in its ability to project naval power to distant lands, however, this didn't mean that the Ming stopped projecting naval power overseas.

The despatch of a naval fleet into South East Asia after Li Ma Hong proves this. The ability of the remmants of the Ming military to conquer Taiwan showed that even at the end, her forces were powerful enough to project power overseas and conquer a European colony,(albeit, one that hadn't been heavily fortified such as Macao). Similarly, the existence of both a riverine as well as coastal navy to defend Sichuan/Taiwan, fending off the invading Qing dynasty showed the scope and capability of the Ming military. And the fact that the Qing comissioned their own maritime buildup to conquer Taiwan showed that the shipbuilding abilities didn't wither and die away by the end of the Ming. The contemporary efforts against Western cannons showed that even though Ming cannons might be inferior to Dutch metallugury, the quality was sufficiently offset that it wasn't crippling.

One could certainly argue that the Ming dynasty didn't reach the heights of Western imperialism/trade, or suffered from stagnation in technology(although even this is....... hard to argue what with the Ming wholesale copying of Japanese muskets). If your argument is based on the Ming not being able to extract resources sufficiently or utilise it as efficiently or maximise their benefits, well, feel free to make that argument. But I'm actually waiting for such an argument to be made as opposed to "The Europeans did this/had that and the Ming didn't".

Note that so far, I have been only discussing maritime trade as well as her navy. We haven't gone into the more........ complex discussion regarding internal trade/mercentalism, as well as the increasing commercial economy of the Ming. IIRC, by 1570, the reforms of taxation from a labour/goods/services to a pure monetary taxation completed the change started in the Song dynasty, making the Chinese economy a fully monetary one. Taxation in cash as opposed to goods meant that local magisterates or their tax base must 'sell' their goods/labour in a commercial market to raise the cash to pay their taxes. Similarly, by spending money to hire artisans, locksmiths to maintain the canals, silver to purchase the grain, trade and commercialism was promoted.



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 Post subject: Re: Ming dynasty mercentile/naval trade post Zheng He PostPosted: 2012-11-15 06:19pm
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I see your post, I kinda don't want it being lost in the aether and right now I'm hitting the limit as to what my e-access to my University campus library lets me to, so it may be a few more days unfortunately as I want to be able to respond to it all at once; thank you for your understanding. I'll PM you when I manage to get the books so I can provide you a timeframe as to my next reply.

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 Post subject: Re: Ming dynasty mercentile/naval trade post Zheng He PostPosted: 2012-11-21 11:34pm
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I was.... trawling the internet to post something regarding mercantlism and its conflict against neo-confucianism/government policy but I think posting this guy history is more important.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wang_Yangming


First of all, it answers Blayne question about social criticism. Now, maybe I'm being biased, but most of the social criticism against the government I can find of during this period is neo confucianists arguing against the changes the government has made. Why has the government become more cosmopolitian? Why has it became more mercentile? We need to restructure society back to the old ways, for example, Fu Bing(han militia) is a much better, cheaper, effective way of defending the nation and contributes to national cohesion as opposed to our semi-professional military....

Since I'm not a historian, I'm always tempted to protray Neo confucianism as being the neo-con of America today, but I guess that would be severely unfair to them. Afterall, they weren't truly conservatives, but rather, introduced new ways of looking/thinking/philosophy at existing philosophy, to overcome the then overly religious trappings of Buddhism/Taoism in China. But come on, lamenting that the wave of printing brought about so many books in the Song dynasty, thus demeaning learning?(Zhu Xi)


Wang YangMing is one of the leading philosphers of neo confucianism during the Ming dynasty.

His history tells us just..... how counter-factual a lot of existing Ming myths are.

For one,
http://www.chinahistoryforum.com/index. ... ming-army/
Wang has one of the earliest description of the Fo Lang Ji in Chinese history. Or in other words, imported Portugeuse cannon. Well, probably, the attempts to reverse engineer said cannon probably wasn't successful then, although Fo Lang Ji was the Chinese term describing the Ming copied versions.

So, this shows that the Ming weren't adverse to trading technology and trade in general. Of course, it also reveals that the Ming are truly the ancestors of modern china, because they reverse engineered Western cannons and Japanese muskets(which were in term copied Western muskets). I always wondered whether there was any equivalent story of Chinese monks going into Portugal, and then sneaking the schematics of cannons out in a wooden staff similar to the historical legend of how silk was leaked to the West. You know, maybe some brothel where a 'Frank' was housed, dined and wined, then some beautiful lady of the night copying away furiously at drawings of cannons and ships........... But meh. I digress.


Wang Yang Ming also built lots of schools, that improved the literacy of the general Chinese citizens, to the extent that a Spanish monk would exclaim in the 17th century that almost every Chinese boy knew how to read and write, and most knew basic arthimathic, comparing this to the dismal levels of learning in his own country. Neo confucianism would also place learning as one of the most critical precepts of Chinese culture.

He also intergrated Menicisus "innate" goodness belief into Confucian schools of thought. Why would this be important? Well, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Han_Learning, that arose in the Qing dynasty would attack neo confucnianism, in particular Wang school of thought for promoting decadence, profilgerate waste of wealth and etc.

Quite.... interesting, considering that Zhu Xi, the original Ming dynasty Neo confucianist which influenced early Ming dynasty neo confucianism inflamed the scholarly intellectual attacks on merchants in the first place. One wonders whether the change to Wang school of thought reflects any changes in China social make up, or whether the changes in chinese society was just blamed on the changes in the leading philosophy of the time.



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 Post subject: Re: Ming dynasty mercentile/naval trade post Zheng He PostPosted: 2012-11-21 11:49pm
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Anyone knows where I can find this paper?
http://aha.confex.com/aha/2013/webprogr ... 11149.html


Ivy Lim, Nanyang Technological University
The Ming Dynasty was the first dynasty to attempt a full-scale closure of China’s maritime trade to private enterprise through the promulgation of maritime prohibitions. Throughout the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries, alternate periods of strict enforcement and lax policing of the prohibitions consequently saw the rise of smuggling and piracy along the southern coast. In the mid-sixteenth century, the reign of the Jiajing Emperor (r. 1522 – 1566) witnessed a new energy directed at the problem of security on the coast that sparked an explosion of piratical activities that took the court a decade to suppress. Lim focuses on the debate by court officials in Beijing over the nature of and proposed solutions to the crisis. Divided between those who proposed continued enforcement and those who favored relaxation of the prohibitions, the policy debate elucidates the differing interpretations of the original prohibition among the officials and the wisdom of pursuing such a negative policy in an era of growing commercialization. Through a discussion of the debate, Lim argues that contrary to the interpretation of the change in policy as a capitulation by the center to peripheral forces, the policy turnaround in 1567 in fact marked imperial acquiescence of private maritime trade and the culmination of the court’s search for an acceptable way to deal with that reality on its own terms.



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 Post subject: Re: Ming dynasty mercentile/naval trade post Zheng He PostPosted: 2012-11-22 03:04am
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Quote:
First of all, it answers Blayne question about social criticism.


It doesn't, but I'll get back to this once I can get the books I reserved (they're taken) from the library. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Ming dynasty mercentile/naval trade post Zheng He PostPosted: 2012-11-22 04:34am
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Pain Rack->

Been meaning to ask this BTW: Earlier you said that the majority of Peruvian silver went to China. Presumably this was via Spanish ships since Peru was a Spanish colony.

But then it struck me: There is only one Spanish ship that was allowed to bring silver from Peru to the Orient, which was the Manila Galleon.

So how could the Peruvian silver end up in China? Is this due to the Dutch (who got the silver in payment of Spanish debt) who shipped it from Europe all the way back to China (and thus accounting for their enormous prosperity during this time)? Or was there some other route which I may have missed?

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 Post subject: Re: Ming dynasty mercentile/naval trade post Zheng He PostPosted: 2012-11-22 09:48am
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You have to check up with adherents of Joseph Needham. I haven't really seen any evidence to support it to be honest, other than the currency influx and the huge tons of silver that was going into China at the time.

With 9 thousand tons of silver going into China, that would be equivalent to the entire bounty given to the Spanish court from Peru over 2 centuries.



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 Post subject: Re: Ming dynasty mercentile/naval trade post Zheng He PostPosted: 2012-11-22 10:12am
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Oh wait, I think I misunderstood your question.

The claim is from passages like these.
Quote:
It's said that at least half the silver mined in America between 1527 and 1821 found its way to China. [Fernand] Braudel [1902-1985], the historian, believed the claim plausible because in China there was an attractive profit to be made exchanging silver for gold. For example, in 1570 the ratio of silver to gold was 6:1 in China, as against 12:1 in Spain, which opened up great possibilities for arbitrage.

— from "Early Warning," by Nayan Chanda, Far Eastern Economic Review, 162/23, June 10, 1999.

The China trade was essentially the trade that went on between Chinese and foreign traders, held in Manila, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Malacca, Batavia and Singapore. The Ming trade routes extended all the way via entrepot trade to East Africia and India, where ivory and spices were goods that were traded. Since barter wasn't kosher, trade was conducted in silver.



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 Post subject: Re: Ming dynasty mercentile/naval trade post Zheng He PostPosted: 2012-11-28 10:40am
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People, please don't drag the Habsburger into a discussion about China. FTR, the aforementioned nobles only cared for the Protestant threat when they became real threats to the powerbase. Charles V was very much willing to work with loyal protestant nobles - with great success, see the defence of Vienna.



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 Post subject: Re: Ming dynasty mercentile/naval trade post Zheng He PostPosted: 2012-12-24 11:40pm
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Posted with regards to Ming tributary states, or otherwise, states which could engage in the tribute network of state trade ongoing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capture_of ... %281511%29

Malacca was then a tributary state of the Ming dynasty, with a large chinese settlement of traders. The portugeuse invaded the city during the quest to control the spice routes.

So, in retaliation, China refused to actively trade with the Portugeuse and while no expeditionary fleet was sent south to assist their ally, (for reasons I explained above), they actively fought the Portugeuse in Chinese waters, culminating in the battle of Tamao which they won.


YET, despite the Malays warning about Portugeuse deception and pirating of ships in the region, of the fears of trade leading to conquest, an action supported by their actions in Malaya, the Chinese under Zhengde ultimately endorsed the acceptance of the Portugeuse as coming to China to present tribute, allowing them to trade in China, although ultimately, trading links devolved to them having an outpost in Macau.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhengde_Em ... ith_Europe


The above incident should amply show that Chinese naval power was still sufficient to gurantee her soverignty, even to the extent of expeditionary actions to exterminate pirates and other such actions, however, the constraints on her military as well as the political decision to abandon imperialism meant there was no active campaign to "rescue" a distant, non important tributary state. Afterall, China could still get what she wanted by simply trading with the Europeans instead.... the only beef was over the massacre of Chinese and supposed slavery, cannibalism or sexual predation on Chinese kids.
There were other draws on her military, including repeated incursions by the nomads in the north as well as internal rebellions.

Lastly, the incident shows that China simply didn't abandon wholesale trade, nor become utterly isolationist as is popularly believed post Zheng He.



Let him land on any Lyran world to taste firsthand the wrath of peace loving people thwarted by the myopic greed of a few miserly old farts- Katrina Steiner

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 Post subject: Re: Ming dynasty mercentile/naval trade post Zheng He PostPosted: 2012-12-26 01:22am
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Blayne earlier asserted that printing in China was restricted to "scholarly" works, without any dissemination of practical knowledge or social criticism.

The Almanac.
http://kaleidoscope.cultural-china.com/ ... e6423.html
It comprised of an official calender, with astrological information inside meant to determine the auspicious dates. In particular for the Ming, it contained information regarding potential floods, storms and etc that might hinder passage up the Grand Canal. This and other astrological divining was used particularly by merchants passing up the Grand Canal, to divine auspicious dates for setting off. Terry Brooks in the same source I noted above pointed out that the almanac did not display any true divine knowledge, by comparing its predictions for a certain year regarding drought and floods to what was recorded in the official gazette.

Nevertheless, it still contained folk knowledge regarding farming and medicine.

Medicine.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bencao_Gangmu
A semi scientific exploration of Chinese medication, including fieldwork and testing.

Travel.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xu_Xiake%27s_travel
A posthumous publication of a travel diary, used by later generations as a 'travel guide' of sorts.



Other works included
http://kaleidoscope.cultural-china.com/ ... e6423.html
Jiu Huang ben cao jiao zhu.
Herbal for Relief of Famines. Unfortunately, this museum artifact doesn't record whether it was published by an official printing press or a private printing press.

Oh yes, how could I forget the private printing press? The private printing press of the Ming dynasty capitalised on the growing literacy of the Chinese urbanites, the increasing wealth of the middle class by publishing what we will now know as penny dreadfuls.
Sure, there are the Great Works of Chinese literature. Journey to the West. Red Chambers. Water Margin Heroes. The Three Kingdoms. All of these 'great' novels were written during this era.
However, printed alongside these novels were penny dreadfuls, such as A Supplement to the Journey to the West where Sun Wukong wreaked havoc as a official in hades along with a myriad number of short stories.

As already mentioned earlier on in the thread, Jin Ping Mei was also published during this era. It attracted a great amount of criticism from the gentry, which criticized the novel rich(aka merchant class) for being too gaudy, sensual and thus violating Confucian or etc principles of morality.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xu_Guangqi
This guy wrote multiple treatises. He defended Chinese catholicism, with reference to the "convergence" of philosophies then preached in Ming dynasty and said Christianity was "common" to Chinese philosophy.
He also wrote and printed Complete Treatise on Agricultural Administration
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Song_Yingxing
This guy wrote and printed an encylopedia detailing the economy and how to use technology to exploit the blessings of nature.



Let him land on any Lyran world to taste firsthand the wrath of peace loving people thwarted by the myopic greed of a few miserly old farts- Katrina Steiner

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 Post subject: Re: Ming dynasty mercentile/naval trade post Zheng He PostPosted: 2012-12-30 02:20pm
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Can you please stop writing your posts implying I am the one who wrote the passages in question when it is an academic quote; as I find the practice to be needlessly confusing; and technically I didn't assert it, I provided evidence in the form of quotation to support my argument, the quotation is evidence not an assertion.

Anyways an update, I have some of the books in my possession now, holidays with my family are now over as well as my exam crunch time; and so for the record I still dispute your assertion that the Manchu invading is what caused China to not have its own industrial revolution will respond as soon as I've finished my research, I figure nothing less than a cited academic quality paper will due this discussion justice.

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 Post subject: Re: Ming dynasty mercentile/naval trade post Zheng He PostPosted: 2013-01-13 10:05pm
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I will like to say that I do not assert that the Manchu invasion prevented an industrial revolution in Ming China. I do however assert that China ongoing naval trade would NOT have been curtailed if they haven't been invaded by the Manchus.


Similarly, I have no assertions here other than the facts that the Ming did trade vigorously in maritime trade post Zheng He, the details of their trading routes, the value of such trade and lastly, a maintenance of a navy strong enough for internal defence and the carrying out of trade. However, it, such as other arms of the Ming military did cut off any Imperialist ambitions and capability to carry out expeditionary warfare, although the army was obviously less affected than the navy.


What the rest of the thread is however is in response to your assertion that the Ming did not.... efficiently make use of its trade as the European powers did. I'm actually still waiting for you to quantify that, but the remainding parts where you claim Europe did this, Ming did not is rebutted here.



Let him land on any Lyran world to taste firsthand the wrath of peace loving people thwarted by the myopic greed of a few miserly old farts- Katrina Steiner

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 Post subject: Re: Ming dynasty mercentile/naval trade post Zheng He PostPosted: 2013-08-12 12:25pm
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http://www.ari.nus.edu.sg/docs/wps/wps04_028.pdf

A paper about Ming relations with South East Asia.

Its a bit difficult to quote and the paper itself is nothing more than a summary of other papers on the subject.

What I find interesting is the continued imperialist policies post Zheng He, albeit, heavily scaled back. While the earlier maritime missions and conquest of Dai Viet was intended to both control/regulate naval trade, promote Ming power(and thus legitimacy for the emperor who rose to power via a coup) and sources of revenue, Yun nan was now considered proper Chinese territory(since it was once held by the Han). Yet, it was a rebellious province and they attempted to reduce rebellion by intergrating its leaders and heirs in Chinese learning, similar to how the Romans once Romanised barbarian leaders.


What's also of interest is the advent of private trade. Trade in this era was state run, through the tribute missions. Similarly, the need to actually regulate customs revenue to maintain the fleet from the first naval ban throttled private ventures. Yet, according to the Ming Shi Lu(historical record of the Ming Dynasty)
Quote:
As 37 large ships which had been in communication with the fan had anchored in the jurisdiction of Chao-Zhou Prefecture in Guang-dong, the Assistant Commissioner responsible for defence against Japanese pirates Yao Ying, the Maritime Route Inspector and Surveillance Vice Commissioner Zhao Hong and the general maritime circuit ASsistant Commissioner Weng Yan led the troops in pursuit of those on these ships and took 85 heads.


A more interesting accusation is made in Min Gui, the military commander of Guangdong complaining to the court that since the prohibition against official tributary ships was stricter than the prohibition against private ships, what has happened was that official trade ships were not coming to China but private merchant ships were.(Sadly, he never does reveal the proportion of said private merchant ships, were the majority China chinese merchants, Japanese 'pirates' or foreign chinese traders. Or hell, the Koreans for all we know, even though they had official trade/tribute links with China).

Sadly, the article doesn't list the extant complaint Min Gui submitted, which was that the failure to regulate said trade and the need to enforce customs control/security and etc was ruining his treasury and hence his military preparation. So, a lack of REVENUE from customs as well as increased costs was a major factor in his complaint, as opposed to the purely philosophical argument that trade should be state run and the ideal state/community espoused by Zhu YuanZhang.


It also highlights the evolution of China trading relations with SouthEast Asia, where the state run trade network eventually gave way to private traders. Zheng He maritime journeys did mark an irreversible sea chang in China trading relations. The journey created chinese aligned communities in South East Asia,(the author claims of these as naval outposts is something I haven't read from other authors though) and this increased the push towards private trade into Asia.
The demise of the state run maritime adventures didn't end private mercentilism. Instead, it simply led to state run trade becoming increasingly disadvantaged.


I think it would be interesting to ask this question though. Why, when the naval ban was ended in 1567(dates vary) wasn't the system returned to status quo? Why embrace private merchants setting sail from Fujian into South East Asia? What changed?

I hypothesize that the answer would be the Europeans. Ming trade with SEA was in high value, luxury goods mostly. Spices. Ivory. Medicines, furs, with Chinese goods like tea, silk and cloth flowing the other way. It might also be a relatively small market, one that the state run trade system could control and run(albeit, with increasing costs). The Europeans, from the Portugeuse and then Spanish silver changed everything. Trade wasn't just regional, but now global. Chinese goods made its way into Amsterdam, Spanish silver sailed from Peru to Manila and then Guangdong. The variety of goods also flowered.

Given the difficulties of state trade in 1500, it would have been impossible for the bureaucracy to handle such a high value trade. And unlike the relatively smaller market(albeit, still significant), the Chinese might have prized these goods significantly enough that the entire trading system was overhauled and state control reverted to mere licensing and actual customs revenue and control



Let him land on any Lyran world to taste firsthand the wrath of peace loving people thwarted by the myopic greed of a few miserly old farts- Katrina Steiner

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 Post subject: Re: Ming dynasty mercentile/naval trade post Zheng He PostPosted: 2013-08-25 06:39pm
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I would like to point out some quantitative data on trade:

1 - Maddison estimated that the total tonnage of the merchant ships from all countries of Asia was fluctuation around 100,000 tons during most of the Late Middle Ages and Early Modern period. For comparison, the European countries achieved a total merchant tonnage of 4 million tons by the end of the 18th century, increasing from 220,000 tons in the mid 15th century. Most of the Asian merchant tonnage consisted of Arab vessels operating in the Indian ocean. By the 18th century, 98% of the world's long distance trade was carried by European fleets and even in the 16th century it was more than 75%.

2 - I have also tacked the idea that "half of the silver mined in the new world went to China", the statistics that I have found suggest otherwise, that about 10% of the silver mined in the new world went to China and 75% went to Europe. That's expected given that China wasn't a developed economy by Early Modern terms (specially if compared to countries such as Netherlands and Northern Italy). Here is a table I made some time ago showing global silver output and flows which allows us to compare total silver demand in Europe and Asia (sources are cited inside):
Image

Chinese silver demand was about 50% of Asia's (given that their population fluctuated between 40% and 60% of Asia's during the Early Modern Period).

Maddison's GDP estimates include an estimate of production for self consumption (something that the GDP figures produced by the statistical departments of modern governments do not include as GDP is officially defined as final output sold at market prices). In terms of market activity, output sold at the market and not consumed by self sufficient farmers, and thought in terms of silver, it appears that Europe held about 2/3 of the world's market activity while Asia had 1/3 while the Americas and Africa were very small. This is also supported by tax revenues.

3 - In terms of tax revenues China apparently was in a similar position, in the 18th century total tax revenues of the Chinese government were around 1,200 tons of silver, compared with nearly 3,000 tons of silver for the combined tax revenues extracted in France and England at the same time. Perhaps Europe as whole was responsible for nearly 8,000 tons of tax revenues in terms of silver (given that countries corresponding to half of Europe's population had combined tax revenues of 4,000 tons of silver). The country with the highest tax revenues per capita in the world was the Netherlands, which is also considered the country with the highest per capita incomes in pre-industrial history, attained during the 17th and 18th centuries. I can provide the source for the tax revenue figures.

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 Post subject: Re: Ming dynasty mercentile/naval trade post Zheng He PostPosted: 2013-08-28 07:20am
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Bearne, that you? :)



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A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood

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