Wednesday, August 20, 2014

History: Running Out of Steam?

One of the great puzzles of history is why civilizations rise and fall. We understand the history of distant stars far better than those of the cultures we live in. John Darwin:

The greatest puzzle in Chinese history is why the extraordinary dynamism that had created the largest and richest commercial economy in the world seemed to dribble away after 1400. China’s lead in technical ingenuity and in the social innovations required for a market economy was lost. It was not China that accelerated towards, and through, an industrial revolution, but the West.

Darwin, John (2010-08-08). After Tamerlane (pp. 44-46). Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. Kindle Edition.

Unlike some other civilizations (Roman, Islamic, Indian, and perhaps Western), China was neither disrupted by internal convulsions nor external invasions.