After Tamerlane by MP Imbillicieri
While Doukas was an emotionallydriven heavily biased account, Darwin's account is more like a fly on the wall, and gives a more nuanced view. Although the entire ten pages gave a very detailed account, what interested me most was the parts toward the end, particularly when he states that China, despite having a powerful commercial economy fell into obscurity after the
1400s. He defends Mark Elvin’s highlevel equilibrium trap theory, which essentially states that
China was “a victim of its own success”; there did not seem to be need for radical change. If I remember correctly from when I first read Elvin’s theory, he specifically stated China had reached an equilibrium of supply and demand; the production methods were so efficient and the labour so cheap that industrialization would cost more than it made. He contrasted this with the
UK (birthplace of the revolution), whose inept economy had created increased demand and high cost of labour incentivized to better worker productivity.
I’ve always thought Elvin’s theory was correct, and I especially agree with the point on isolationism, or as Darwin puts it,“the shrinking of China’s external contacts.” This I find especially important, as international trade allows competition with domestic products, thus allowing countries to benefit from each other’s productivity as well as learn from each other. If
China had been willing to trade with the rest…