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