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Old 01-30-2018, 05:22 PM
 
Location: Old Bellevue, WA
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After Tamerlane: The Global History of Empire since 1405 | Reviews in History


I've been reading the above book After Tamerlane by a Brit historian, and he spends some time on this question. He argues that until the 16th century, Both the Islamic world and the Far East (mainly China and Japan) were equal to if not ahead of Europe in commerce and technology.


One interesting case in point in the book is Japan. Japan had a pretty thriving economy around 1600, partly due to having silver, which made them a sought after trading partner by European traders who were starting to show up. However, the power brokers of the time did not want much contact with the West, and (like China) mostly shut them out. Over the next 400 years, both Japan and China mostly muddled along, while the West underwent industrial revolution.


Around 1870 there was a civil war in Japan, and the gov't was restructured, including the establishment of some individual rights such as the right to choose one's livelihood, and removable governors at the regional (prefecture) level. Thereafter Japan began to advance, and today is in some ways more advanced than the West. Most of the rest of the Far East continued to lag until the late 20th century.


The above suggests to me that form of government is the biggest keys to economic/technological prowess for a nation. The U.S. could be another case in point. What's you opinion on why the West advanced while others lagged, over the past 5 centuries or so?
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Old 01-30-2018, 05:41 PM
 
Location: The Triad (NC)
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I hate posts that ask a question in the topic...
then proceed to answer it, or worse, then proceed to lecture on the point
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Old 01-31-2018, 02:49 PM
 
Location: Old Bellevue, WA
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I hate posts that don't address the topic. I hardly answered the question in four brief paragraphs. Many books have been written about this question. The total and complete 'answer' will probably never be reached, because of the complexity of the history.
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Old 01-31-2018, 05:35 PM
 
Location: Jacksonville, FL
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I don't think there is one specific reason, but isolationism may have played a part in the Orient. If you aren't exposed to new ideas, you won't advance.
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Old 01-31-2018, 05:54 PM
 
Location: Old Bellevue, WA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimRom View Post
I don't think there is one specific reason, but isolationism may have played a part in the Orient. If you aren't exposed to new ideas, you won't advance.
Isolationism was definitely an issue for both Japan and China from approx. 1600-1900. They wanted only minimal contact with Europeans. In Japan this policy was called 'sakoku' (seclusion). This was another thing that somewhat was relaxed after the 1870 civil war in Japan.


Another interesting point that I forgot to mention in the OP is the implication for modern China. They have reformed greatly since around 1980, but remain an authoritarian, leviathan state (e.g. no freedom of speech). This suggest that China will never be much of a threat to the U.S., as some people fear, because they are limited in advancement due to their form of government.
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Old 02-01-2018, 05:52 AM
 
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1500 is approximately when the printing press was invented, the Protestant Reformation began and the Renaissance started. 100 years, give or take.

As much as things were not happening in the Orient, things were in the West. New ways of thinking and new means of spreading ideas happened in the West but not the East. (The Chinese actually had a printing press type machine earlier but, whether because of cultural impediments or difficulties with their pictorially based alphabet, it didn't seem to accomplish much.)

What happened, or didn't, in the Near East, the Muslim lands, could be tied to their religion. I don't know. But it is hard to explain otherwise how once advanced societies just stopped developing. Their military setbacks in Spain and Austria, sort of bracketing 1500, might be the cause as it seems that major military defeats stop societies in their tracks.
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Old 02-01-2018, 08:35 AM
 
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Strangely it was 1951 when the Invention Secrecy Act was enacted, and its still in force today.
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Old 02-01-2018, 08:56 AM
 
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Money. Spain became the first global powerhouse. Silver, gold and finance powered this machine that spread Spain's influence throughout the world with the help of several European nations/colonies. There were many players in the background that propped up Spain, such as royal families, financial houses, peoples from all walks of life, from northern Europe to Africa, Asia, and the Americas, that fed the machine for 300 years. It was Spain's infusion of huge amounts of gold and silver into a new world economic system in which the world had never seen before.
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Old 02-01-2018, 09:32 AM
 
Location: New Mexico
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Default Fortunate soil

Quote:
Originally Posted by wutitiz View Post
...

The above suggests to me that form of government is the biggest keys to economic/technological prowess for a nation. The U.S. could be another case in point. What's you opinion on why the West advanced while others lagged, over the past 5 centuries or so?
Mainly Christianity (& Judaism, but that's a smaller segment in terms of population in the West) desacralized nature. Which meant that nature - lands, ores, forests, rivers - could be treated as mere material objects, & no longer the embodiment nor the actual home of spirits, sprites, kami & etc. China & Greece had toyed with steam-powered toys & automata of various sorts - but their traditions never took them beyond toys & models. China invented paper, fireworks, block printing - lots of the ingredients for an industrial revolution, but never applied them so as to bring that IR about.

I don't think it's form of government - the West had monarchies, constitutional monarchies, the Swiss (a republic?), Napoleon in France - all kinds of government arrangements. The fluidity of society in the 1500s CE in Europe - old structures breaking down, the rise of the merchants, the need for road nets, the printing press (in the West). Canny merchants could make money - spices, silk, paper, china (dishware) - so there was an incentive for Italian trading companies & Spanish & Portuguese to get out into the World - impelling navigation (compass & sextant & clock), sailing, mapmaking, better astronomical charts, better charting of depths, coasts, the establishment of trading posts & supply stations along the coast of Africa & along Asia Minor, on the way to the Spice Islands, China, Philippines, Japan.

I think there's a natural process there - but if government explicitly or culture implicitly limits technology & its application to real-World problems or situations, then there's not a culture of innovation; & ideas - while they occur to people everywhere in the World, TMK - may simply fall dormant.
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Old 02-01-2018, 11:02 AM
 
Location: Jacksonville, FL
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I didn't have a lot of time for my previous post, but I wanted to address the Islamic side of the occasion. I've spent a great deal of time studying the early history of the area, due to my fascination with the Crusades.

The Islamic Golden Age started around 790 AD and lasted anywhere from 500 to 700 years, depending on which historian you ask. That was the period when there was the most innovation in just about every aspect of life, from economics to culture for that area of the world, but most of the innovation was during the first 200 years or so. Then the rest of the world realized that they were there and pretty much destroyed the original Islamic culture over a few centuries. First, the Europeans spent 200 or so years crusading, then Genghis Khan and a fairly minor Islamic sultan got into a tiff over a fairly minor misunderstanding - at which point Genghis and his Horde rolled over the Islamic States in an invasion that would ensure that the name "Khan" would still strike fear in the hearts of humans even well into the age of star travel (my fellow Trekkies will get that one), and then the Ottoman Empire came in and swallowed the area whole after it was nice and tenderized around 1500 AD.

The argument can be made that prior to the beginning of the Crusades, Islamic culture set the entire world on a course that we are still somewhat following today. If you regularly deal with math or science, you can ultimately thank a Muslim.
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