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Needham's Question

Sameer Jamal
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Joseph]http://www.riseofthewest.net/thinkers/needham02.htm]Joseph Needham[/URL]is famous forhis big project in Science and Civilisation in China after doing an extensive field work Needham found that Chian, India and other esatern civilizations was ahead of Europe and western cvilization for 14th century but he was amazed as to why east being ahead of european countries for 14 centuries were not able to give rise to modern Industrail revolution and it was Europe who did that? This question is now associated with Needham's name and is called Needham's question
Any ideas ?
San Su
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When Industrial Revolution happend, Both India an China were not in a position to quickly adopt to the changing environment. In 17th Century, India was in an internal striff state. Not sure about China at that time, but later, china was under drug (opium) control. So, both lagged behind the west (atleast for 200 years). Now both are trying to catch up with the west.
Why IR didn't happen in India or China? Good question..
San Su
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Another reason could be the exploration of the new worlds by the west. It reduced the importance of the east considerably and funded the new innovation research in the west (and created the necessity for new technology).
Thomas Paul
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I think it had to do with religion and systems of government. Christianity proclaims that Earth is a gift from God and is understandable. A huge amount of effort went into trying to understand how the world works starting even before the Renaissance. Also, the system of government rewarded mercantilism which promotes innovation in order to gain upon competitors. Many Eastern religions tend to promote an other-worldliness... a belief that this world is merely an illusion and that we achieve a higher plane by removing our mind from it. Also trade was tightly controlled which prevented competition.
That's my simplistic theory.


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Anonymous
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
I think it had to do with religion and systems of government. Christianity proclaims that Earth is a gift from God and is understandable. A huge amount of effort went into trying to understand how the world works starting even before the Renaissance. Also, the system of government rewarded mercantilism which promotes innovation in order to gain upon competitors. Many Eastern religions tend to promote an other-worldliness... a belief that this world is merely an illusion and that we achieve a higher plane by removing our mind from it.

Incorrect, atleast as far India is concerned. Much research was done in the fields of medicine, textile manufacturing, metallurgy, chemicals and astronomy. Sure this research was never industrialized.. in other words no one in India ever thought of mass-manufacturing herbal remedies or textile dyes etc. but that does not mean people did not want to conduct scientific studies. India and China were probably very well off in terms of science, where they lagged behind was in terms of commerce.
Proof for the above may be found at this link
An extract from the above link :
Nehru, in his Discovery of India published in 1946, praised the mathematical achievements of Indian scholars, who are said to have developed geometric theorems before Pythagoras did in the sixth century B.C. and were using advanced methods of determining the number of mathematical combinations by the second century B.C. By the fifth century A.D., Indian mathematicians were using ten numerals and by the seventh century were treating zero as a number.
....
The concepts of astronomy, metaphysics, and perennial movement are all embodied in the Rig Veda (see The Vedas and Polytheism, ch. 3).
....
Technological discoveries have been made relating to pharmacology, brain surgery, medicine, artificial colors and glazes, metallurgy, recrystalization, chemistry, the decimal system, geometry, astronomy, and language and linguistics (systematic linguistic analysis having originated in India with Panini's fourth-century B.C. Sanskrit grammar, the Ashtadhyayi ). These discoveries have led to practical applications in brick and pottery making, metal casting, distillation, surveying, town planning, hydraulics, the development of a lunar calendar


A reason for the failure to commercialize could be the oppressive commerce of India's rulers. The Mughals who controlled much of India prior to colonization were trade oriented.
Economics of the Mughal Empire
An extract from the above:
The Mughal people were considered to be very wealthy. Though a small percentage of people were quite well off, most of its people lead very hard lives. These people did not share in the wealth the upper class gained from battle, gifts and taxes. Instead they were a source of wealth that the already rich gained from. The land that the poor farmers worked was taxed heavily. The emperor's agents, or zamindars, "collected one-third of the farmer's annual harvest"(1) and stored these things in the royal treasury. When the farmers could not afford to pay the taxes they became jagirs, or land that was transferred under the control of the Mansabs. The money from the jagirs went mostly to the royal treasury, but also to the Mansabs. All of this made it hard on the farmers
Sameer Jamal
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It has been now proved that the Industrial revolution which took place in Eurpe was actually triggered in East, The four things which are said to be the cause of Industrial revolution, Ink, Gunpowder, paper and mathematics were actually evolved in India and China these were transfeered to European countries through west asian intermediaries (gulf countries) which helped the europe to end its dark ages. But the question is if India and China were highly evolved in such things why couldnt they were able to take advantage of this. According to a historical research India and Chgina account for the 80% of the world GNP during 13 to 15th century but they failed to continue their growth and halted in 18th and 19th century. Is similar thing not happening to America also in this century.
Ashok Mash
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A bit like how the USA as a nation has become a lot more powerful than the colonial powers of the 18th century. New resources, technologies and lessons learned (by others) in the past will come to the benefit of a new group of people, giving it advantage over the existing or older systems, which are based on older technologies, ideologies or resources. Can we class this as some type of evolution?


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R K Singh
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Originally posted by Sankar Subbiah:
Why IR didn't happen in India or China? Good question..

At that India was facing attacks from European forces... and was very much busy in fighting either for freedom or to save its freedom.
BTW rocket is brain-child of Tipu Sultan and there are lot more small scale IR in India but to really have revolution you need money and time. In 17 and 18th centurary India was being sucked by Europeans; Mughal era was at the end.
I blame it to the political instablity of eastern region for not contributing to IR.


"Thanks to Indian media who has over the period of time swiped out intellectual taste from mass Indian population." - Chetan Parekh
R K Singh
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
I think it had to do with religion and systems of government. Christianity proclaims that Earth is a gift from God and is understandable.

Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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Originally posted by R K Singh:
At that India was facing attacks from European forces... and was very much busy in fighting either for freedom or to save its freedom.
That doesn't answer the question. Why weren't Indians attacking France and England? Why was it that a little country like England could invade and conquer a great big country like India? Why wasn't it the other way around? Why didn't India develop huge navies and armies and conquer Europe? Why was it Europe that had the great leap forward starting in the 14th century that led to Europe taking over the world?
Paul McKenna
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
Why didn't India develop huge navies and armies and conquer Europe? Why was it Europe that had the great leap forward starting in the 14th century that led to Europe taking over the world?

I do conceed that is indeed something to ponder over but IMHO, being peaceful is not a sign of being under-developed. If we were to use the above logic, the Arabs were far more successfull in conquering European territories but they are nowhere near the advancement of the west..
[ November 20, 2003: Message edited by: Paul McKenna ]

Commentary From the Sidelines of history
R K Singh
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That doesn't answer the question. Why weren't Indians attacking France and England?
Because they had nothing to offer to India.
Why was it that a little country like England could invade and conquer a great big country like India?
You need a lesson on Indian history.
OK. First India was divided in to lot of smaller independent states.
Second they came for trade and then ask the place for army and then ... so it was more about cheating (in short).
Third, seperate states were fignting independently till they united in 1857 (first freedom fight) [It would have got freedom at thah time but something went worng. Wait for movie Mangal Pandey]
Why didn't India develop huge navies and armies and conquer Europe?
India was enjoying its prosperity at fullest in all fields from science to arts to literature.
Why was it Europe that had the great leap forward starting in the 14th century that led to Europe taking over the world?
Because that do not have anything in their own home.
And what could be the easiest way other than to steal someone's else prosperity to become rich.
And why they succeed, please refer brief lesson on Indian history.
[ November 20, 2003: Message edited by: R K Singh ]
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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Originally posted by Paul McKenna:
I do conceed that is indeed something to ponder over but IMHO, being peaceful is not a sign of being under-developed.

But India wasn't particularly peaceful at the time the British arrived. If I recall my history India was broken up into separate states that fought with each other.
R K Singh
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:

But India wasn't particularly peaceful at the time the British arrived. If I recall my history India was broken up into separate states that fought with each other.

You are takling about before Mughal era.
In Mughal era it was peace almost everywhere in India.[after Akbar's rule]
R K Singh
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
Why weren't Indians attacking France and England?

FYI, Europeans were dying to touch Indian soil so much that were even ready to risk their life but.. after a long period of sea journey whatever first land they found they declare it to be India
Vinod John
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:

But India wasn't particularly peaceful at the time the British arrived. If I recall my history India was broken up into separate states that fought with each other.

you are wrong. India and Indians was/were always peaceful, though it was broken into pieces (mostly in South India), each where independent and had their own democratic set up and by and large didn't fight. Having read South Indian history (which by the way was least influenced by foreign influence before british), I rarely came across a ruler considered to be cruel. Even battles that where fought has common rules like premediated attack is not allowed, have to fight only when there is light, you can't stab your opponent on the back, which, IMHO are some thing unheard in western civilization. These rules could also be cited as one of the reason why muslim invaders where sucessful.
But I do accept influence of Christianity played a role in making westerners more adventures. Some of the adventures and exploration where done in the name of religion and king/queen. And spreading of christianity was one of easy excuse (other being Gold, wealth) to get funded.
My theory goes like this
1) Most of development/mordernisation in India happened before 1000 A.D, which is before Muslim occupation, which I will say that was the first time independent thinking got a hit. Though the Muslim rulers for the most part indianised themselves, but they where under the influence of islamic tradition which never helped the concept of industrialisation/mordernisation and also the contact with the west and east greatly reduced, so the people in the subcontinent where unaware of developement in rest of the world. Then came the British, who built only the basic infrastructure that would enable trading and not development local industries. So in my opinion both the foreign influence did not "develope" Indian economy, though it gave a new dimension to Indian culture.
2) India has/had a very large portion of world's explored, fertile and ariable land, which is something missing in most part of the world. So bringing food to the table is relatively easy and what more you need. And the wonderful warm climate made surviving easy. These actually made people contended (or lazy) with what they have and not strive (loose spirit or drive) for more.
[ November 20, 2003: Message edited by: Vinod John ]
Anonymous
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Originally posted by Vinod John:

My theory goes like this
1) Most of development/mordernisation in India happened before 1000 A.D, which is before Muslim occupation, which I will say that was the first time independent thinking got a hit. Though the Muslim rulers for the most part indianised themselves, but they where under the influence of islamic tradition which never helped the concept of industrialisation/mordernisation and also the contact with the west and east greatly reduced, so the people in the subcontinent where unaware of developement in rest of the world. Then came the British, who built only the basic infrastructure that would enable trading and not development local industries. So in my opinion both the foreign influence did not "develope" Indian economy, though it gave a new dimension to Indian culture.
2) India has/had a very large portion of world's explored, fertile and ariable land, which is something missing in most part of the world. So bringing food to the table is relatively easy and what more you need. And the wonderful warm climate made surviving easy. These actually made people contended (or lazy) with what they have and not strive (loose spirit or drive) for more.
[ November 20, 2003: Message edited by: Vinod John ]

Your second theory is fitting to the slot.The first is actually 'Sangh parivar' made story.those brutal folks made India as a 'land of madness' from it's start-up(from brahmin supremacy).
Theory is simple."every people dont know everything".Some cultures have it's own strenghts and weaknesses.Western culture practicalised IR.That clicked at that time.Indians looked for someother at that time according to indian culture.Theory is simple.
Moghuls actually flourished India by many means than any kings ruled India(They were the best kings india ever experienced,they made India as integral India presently we are seeing.If moghuls was'nt there,we may see India as 7-9 seperate countries).Blaming Moghuls for everything is the fashion imposed by sangh parivar for escaping from the facts of cultural damage made by brahmin supreamacy.Castism was the biggest evil India ever experienced.noone can escape from it by imposing false stories.Dont be a part of lie and deception.
Originally posted by Sankar Subbiah:
In 17th Century, India was in an internal striff state. Not sure about China at that time, but later, china was under drug (opium) control.

Paul McKenna
Ugly Redneck
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Originally posted by <Sarkari Karmachari>:
Dont be a part of lie and deception

Hoo Boy!!!

Here we go again.. I'm waiting for Pakka Desi to respond to this "lie and deception"
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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My work here is done!
San Su
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Originally posted by <Sarkari Karmachari>:
...Some crap...

There goes the thread...
R K Singh
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
My work here is done!

No wonder, there are always Vibhishana
And then, there is always a pain for not marrying a girl of your choice
Anonymous
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Because i am from the land of Mahatma Gandhi,and grown up with the true spirit of cultural India and gandhism,I cant tolerate much with lie and deception.Simple.Right??
Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
My work here is done!

That's fine.Dont try much to imagine foolish reasons for India's IR activity.You had already told your quota.
born to win.no room for fools to establish
Paul McKenna
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Originally posted by <Sarkari Karmachari>:
That's fine.Dont try much to imagine foolish reasons for India's IR activity.You had already told your quota.

Ok thats enough of nonsense from you for one day! For all your talk of Anti-Caste and Gandhi, I'm sure the bespectacled gentleman would be rolling in his grave if he found out people who believed in him turned out to be like you.
Over the past several months I have had the opportunity to observe your comments and frankly, they truly appear to be foolish (the unwarranted accusations you fling at fellow members of this community can be left alone for another discussion on another day). If you can not behave yourself in a civil manner on this forum you need not participate.
Richard Hawkes
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Religion could indeed have alot of impact on the Industrial Revolution if you consider that the industrial revolution was a perfect partner to the development of Capitalism. There would have been no real need for the machines and factories without the need to create profit or without an entrepreneurial mindset. Max Weber claimed that "the spirit of capitalism" was due to ideas based in the Protestant religion - particularly Calvinism - and the belief in predestination, that your place in the afterlife (heaven if you're lucky) is already determined and nothing you do on earth effects the outcome. It is this belief he claims that led to the growth of a strong work ethic (the Protestant Ethic) and the concept of creating wealth for the sake of wealth. On some level these Protestants were seeking an indication as to whether they would be entering heaven and considered financial success on earth as a positive sign. Contentious but interesting.
Here's a link about Weber's work which includes some condensed, but very valid critiques, particularly from those of Catholic leaning and some that claim the "Protestant Ethic" actually resulted from Capitalism!
http://www.csudh.edu/dearhabermas/weberrelbk01.htm
Back to the revolution - conditions were favourable in the UK because private property was protected by law and less likely to be claimed by some random monarch, intellectual property was protected and the tax system was ok. Protestantism was firmly rooted there too (and in Holland) if you believe that had anything to do with it. Entrepreneurial risk thrived because of the limited monarchy and generally popular democratic sentiments. Plus the Bank of England played a large part in the promotion of currency exchange for business. Britain was also rich in coal and was thieving other natural resources from all over the world through its empire.
So religion can't be ruled out as one of many (many, many) factors involved, though I don't believe you can reduce it to religious beliefs only.
Anonymous
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From the above discussion it seems that the discussion is to much restricted with the Indian cause but the question is for the whole East including China and Middle East
frank davis
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Originally posted by Richard Hawkes:
Religion could indeed have alot of impact on the Industrial Revolution if you consider that the industrial revolution was a perfect partner to the development of Capitalism. There would have been no real need for the machines and factories without the need to create profit or without an entrepreneurial mindset. Max Weber claimed that "the spirit of capitalism" was due to ideas based in the Protestant religion - particularly Calvinism - and the belief in predestination, that your place in the afterlife (heaven if you're lucky) is already determined and nothing you do on earth effects the outcome. It is this belief he claims that led to the growth of a strong work ethic (the Protestant Ethic) and the concept of creating wealth for the sake of wealth. On some level these Protestants were seeking an indication as to whether they would be entering heaven and considered financial success on earth as a positive sign. Contentious but interesting.
Here's a link about Weber's work which includes some condensed, but very valid critiques, particularly from those of Catholic leaning and some that claim the "Protestant Ethic" actually resulted from Capitalism!
http://www.csudh.edu/dearhabermas/weberrelbk01.htm
Back to the revolution - conditions were favourable in the UK because private property was protected by law and less likely to be claimed by some random monarch, intellectual property was protected and the tax system was ok. Protestantism was firmly rooted there too (and in Holland) if you believe that had anything to do with it. Entrepreneurial risk thrived because of the limited monarchy and generally popular democratic sentiments. Plus the Bank of England played a large part in the promotion of currency exchange for business. Britain was also rich in coal and was thieving other natural resources from all over the world through its empire.
So religion can't be ruled out as one of many (many, many) factors involved, though I don't believe you can reduce it to religious beliefs only.

Capitalism is the easy, and in this case, the correct answer. There is no other economic system as efficient in allocating resources as quickly and as efficiently. It was the sudden and large scale application of technology that made it a "Revolution" and not an evolution. But the system assumes quite a bit of social infrastructure to support it - such as a justifying philosophy and morality, a custom of accepting the rule of law, well developed banking and legal systems, etc.
The only point on which I disagree is the impact of Prostestantism on Capitalism. Since we are considering East vs West in a general way as well, consider the example of Hong Kong, which despite having no valuable natural resources is one of the most productive nations on the planet. Taking its present social institutions back in time several hundred years, its conceivable the IR could have taken hold there just as easily and quickly as it did in Holland, England, or other small European countries. Consider also other 3rd world nations which have still not industrialized to this day. Its the social institutions in general that are the determining factors
in industrialization.
Having a few of the even the most important inventions, as India and China did, without the societal insititutions to fully exploit them, rendered the early advantage they had relatively useless as far as providing benefit to their people and societies.
THe role of religion or climate is minimal in such matters. People are always interested in having more in life, or in other words , profit. Give them a socially supported means to have profit and they will pursue it.
Richard Hawkes
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Originally posted by herb slocomb:
Its the social institutions in general that are the determining factors
in industrialization ... THe role of religion or climate is minimal in such matters. People are always interested in having more in life, or in other words , profit. Give them a socially supported means to have profit and they will pursue it.
Hi Herb!
I see your points and agree mostly. Weber was saying that the Protestant Ethic (as he called it) was merely a spark, something unique in the way they thought (when he was writing) that for the first time made profit a goal in itself. The Calvinists lived somewhat frugally and all their profits were pumped back into the business rather than used on extravegant life styles. This was essentially different to other form of economy around at the time. It grew popular and was certainly helped by, and complememted other developments of the time.
Its fair to say that all countries "work hard" and given a system that has proved itself to increase productivity and general wealth (plus the promise of lifestyles witnessed in the western world), its not too hard to see why the nations in South East Asia would embrace capitalism and industrialisation so enthusiastically.
But you're right, the society needs to support it. The beginnings of democracy (though not necessarily equality - the first entrepreneurs were generally from the upper middle classes) were crucial in allowing people to be creative and take the necessary risks needed to get their ideas off the ground, and people needed to be free to work in the factories. Once it starts, there's just no end in sight!
Sameer Jamal
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Another interesting theory was given by Roddam Narasimha his article was published in Current science. Narasimha has given some epistemological reasons for that. Indian society in the past was not of model makers they love theory and was interested in logic and algorithms whereas europeans was more interested in physical model making and doing prcatical things as a result they were more successful in the modern times in comparison to their Indian counterparts.
frank davis
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Originally posted by Richard Hawkes:
... Once it starts, there's just no end in sight!

Hi Richard!,
Yes, we agree, and all this seems so obvious. But in retrospect I think nearly everyone underestimated how important social insitutions and also social customs were in the test case of Russia where capitalism is got off to a really rocky, shaky start. Also, in South America, some countries are backing off the free market idea a bit (Chile being a notable exception, which is also doing relatively better than its neighbors).
Insitutional support seems obvious, but the more interesting issue is the hidden role of social values and customs. Maybe someone could come up with a list of relative cultural differences in values and customs and show how one culture is superior to others in terms of promoting capitalism?
Some author I forget now, in the context of Russia, mentioned the crucial role of social trust in capitalism and banking (for example by accepting a piece of paper in return for real goods or services). Even today, in Russia and some S. American countries, the role of a checking system is much less developed, ans to lesser extent, I think credit systems in general.
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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Originally posted by herb slocomb:
Capitalism is the easy, and in this case, the correct answer.
Which merely moves the question to why did capitalism take root in Europe and not in China? As far as Hong Kong goes, one might wish to note that it was occupied by the British for 150 years.
Paul McKenna
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
Which merely moves the question to why did capitalism take root in Europe and not in China? As far as Hong Kong goes, one might wish to note that it was occupied by the British for 150 years.

Ok! Then lets take the example of Japan. Am I correct in stating that Japan, a nation which was not under European influence for much of its history still achieved the same level of development as its European counterparts.. why? Japanese society is majority Atheist, oppressive of women, more brutal (compared to Europe) and still equalled European nations in terms of development.
frank davis
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
Which merely moves the question to why did capitalism take root in Europe and not in China?

What makes the West distinct from the East?
Ancient Greece/Rome is often seen as the beginning of Western civilization. What distinguished those cultures from others? Greeks developed democracy and unbounded philosophical inquiry that showed great faith in power of reason and rejection of the idea of Fate. Romans had well developed legal system that influenced Europe many centuries after the legionnaires were gone. From Democracy and legal codes, individual rights evolved, then property rights...
Although written legal codes evolved in many places, it was more foundational in Western societies, culminating in the Magna Carta, where the King himself was made subject to written law.
China may have become a victim of its early success. It became a huge relatively monolithic country ruled by a single emperor. Compare that with Europe composed of many small lively countries who were heavily involved in exchanging goods, services, ideas, and inventions while maintaining their individual diversity. It was the diversity that may have fostered more innovation. In China, experimentation with different social institutions would have proceeded at a much slower since each insititution would have to approved by the emperor, where is Europe, while each change would also have to be approved, since there were more countries a greater number of social experiments could be carried on simultaneously. The successful experiements would be copied, thus feeding the spriraling rate of innovation...
frank davis
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Originally posted by Paul McKenna:

Ok! Then lets take the example of Japan. Am I correct in stating that Japan, a nation which was not under European influence for much of its history still achieved the same level of development as its European counterparts..

You are inccorrect, Japan was far behind the West until it contact was established with the West. Then the Japanese showed their now famous genuis at adapting the technologies of others and they quickly industrialized. They even won some war with Russia shortly after becoming industrialized.
Paul McKenna
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Originally posted by herb slocomb:

It was the diversity that may have fostered more innovation. In China, experimentation with different social institutions would have proceeded at a much slower since each insititution would have to approved by the emperor, where is Europe, while each change would also have to be approved, since there were more countries a greater number of social experiments could be carried on simultaneously. The successful experiements would be copied, thus feeding the spriraling rate of innovation...

I think this statement is not accurate. India was equally diverse.. and though scientific innovation took place to a great extent, social innovation failed to take place. So there has to be some other reason..
Anonymous
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http://www.sulekha.com/expressions/column.asp?cid=305879

One of the oft-repeated urban myths that sometimes pops-up in conversation even among many educated, well meaning Indians is that India as a nation is a British creation. The argument goes roughly as follows � India is an artificial entity. There are only a few periods in history when it was unified under the same political entity. It was only the British that created the idea of India as a single nation and unified it into a political state. A related assumption, in our minds, is that the developed Western countries have a comparatively far greater continuity of nationhood, and legitimacy as states, than India.
frank davis
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Originally posted by Paul McKenna:

I think this statement is not accurate. India was equally diverse.. and though scientific innovation took place to a great extent, social innovation failed to take place. So there has to be some other reason..

Let me re-state this more clearly : Industrial Revolution was a product of capitalism; capitalism evolved from many sources and was supported by many social institutions. The main unique philosophical basis of capitalism had its roots in democracy and legal systems of ancient Greece/Rome from which developed concepts such as rule of law and individual rights. Starting from that ancient heritage many experiments in diverse European countries lead to social innovations favoring commerce and development of banking systems.
India and China did not start with heritage from Greece/Rome which may be the most important factor. China had additional issues which I mentioned earlier. India may or may not have had the same amount of diversity, I won't debate this point, but it was lacking in the other factors. Let me add the factor of religion, which Richard Hawkes brought up much earlier, and which I downplayed. Any given human society has a limited amount of energy/resources to devote to any given area. The middle ages in European history were also known as the Dark Ages. They were known as the Dark Ages because very little innovation or discovery took place at that time. It was no coincidence that during that same time period religion dominated the politics and every other aspect of society. After the Black Plague, which decimated every European city (death rates of 25 -75%!!), the rigid social structure of medieval society broke down. Peasants were able to assert new rights, the church lost much of its authority, etc. At this point, with the preceding history in place, Europe started on the road that would lead to capitalism, and capitalism gave larger numbers of people greater incentive to innovate, combined with diversity as mentioned earlier, which lead to Industrialization.

In contrast, India was saddled with a caste system, which did not effectively and efficiently harness the potential of its people. Even without the caste, the society was more dominated by religion than was post-Black plague Europe. Established religions do not usually favor social innovation, it tends to favor stability. Religion also tends to not emphasize profit or wordly motives and activities.
I know all of this is gross generalization, but taking a large scale view of history/society, I think there is enough truth in it to make it a good explanation.
frank davis
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Let me propose another theory which I will call The Victim of Success theory that emphasizes culture and customs more. Both India and China were advanced civilizations far earlier than their neighbors and Europe. Having achieved clear superiority there was little/nothing for them to gain by adopting customs or social insitutions of their neighbors. Over the centuries, their societies then developed the custom or habit of introspection since the rest of the world offered nothing more than barbarism. China actually referred to itself as the "Middle kingdom" (seeing themselves as the center of the Earth) until around the late 1800s. India ossified and developed a rigid caste system. Their culture did not emphasize adoption of foreign innovation. Europe however, emerging from the Dark Ages, recognized its inferiorities in many matters and borrowed freely from the more advanced Muslim countries, and at the same time there was still a continuous respect for what the Romans/Greeks had achieved (even continuing to pre-industrial early America). With the increase in borrowing, a greater tolerance for change and innovation emerged which allowed the development of social institutions to support change, innovation, and commmerce (which significantly fueld change by itself.
Richard Hawkes
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Originally posted by herb slocomb:
Some author I forget now, in the context of Russia, mentioned the crucial role of social trust in capitalism and banking (for example by accepting a piece of paper in return for real goods or services).
Contracts would seem to be essential to the development of capitalism, yet the psychological power of a contract in Korea is not the same as in the West. Some Koreans wouldn't think twice about changing the terms of a contract after you've signed it, even though by law they must abide by it. Their own brand of capitalist development doesn't seem to have suffered much for it however.
Regarding democracy, perhaps its not so crucial afterall. Consider that Korea's modern economy was built under the direction of two military dictators. Also Hong Kong thrived because of free market economics and limited government. It mostly had no tariffs or other restraints on trade. However there wasn't real equality nor were there any democratic institutions. The citizens weren't even given the "right to abode" by Britain. Democratic tendencies seem to follow or rather develop along with capitalism, in short bursts, a little bit here, a little bit there. Of course the people must still want it.
frank davis
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Originally posted by Richard Hawkes:

[qb]Herb : Some author I forget now, in the context of Russia, mentioned the crucial role of social trust in capitalism and banking (for example by accepting a piece of paper in return for real goods or services).
Richard : Contracts would seem to be essential to the development of capitalism, yet the psychological power of a contract in Korea is not the same as in the West. Some Koreans wouldn't think twice about changing the terms of a contract after you've signed it, even though by law they must abide by it. Their own brand of capitalist development doesn't seem to have suffered much for it however.
[/QB]

By law, any contract can be changed at any time with the agreement of both parties under any legal system I know of. This renegotiation happens in the US as well. I think this shows an extraordinary amount of trust and that both parties believe they will benefit more from not enforcing the original contract. In some cases, one party may have an advantage under the original contract, but enforcing the contract could damage long term relationships. In these cases, even more than usual, its trust between the parties that is the essential point, more than the legalities of contracts, that facilitates trade.

Regarding democracy, perhaps its not so crucial afterall. Consider that Korea's modern economy was built under the direction of two military dictators. Also Hong Kong thrived because of free market economics and limited government. It mostly had no tariffs or other restraints on trade. However there wasn't real equality nor were there any democratic institutions. The citizens weren't even given the "right to abode" by Britain. Democratic tendencies seem to follow or rather develop along with capitalism, in short bursts, a little bit here, a little bit there. Of course the people must still want it.
Interesting argument that democractic tendencies follows capitalism. Certainly the two seem to be associated. I was originally thinking the concepts of democracy led to or facilitated concepts of individual autonomy and freedom, which led to the concepts of capitalism. In the case of Korea, they didn't go through that process in that order, but this would not prevent them from importing the final fruits of that process, capitalism, from others who did.
Thomas Paul
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I think the important thing is that there has to be faith in a justice system that can enforce contracts. If a government is corrupt and can be easily bribed then contracts can become worthless.
 
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