ABC, 123, Do Re Mi

Mark Jones markjones011 at
Wed Jan 22 18:50:29 MST 2003

John Gulick wrote:

> China had no such external imperial
> arena on tap
> to relieve environmental contradictions

which raises the interesting question of why not? This was the nation whose
large fleets of junks sailed the Pacific centuries before the Portugese and
whose eunuch-admirals presented the emperors with accurate maps of Tasmania
long before Capt. Cook got there. And given the extent of Chinese
long-distance trade, embracing the Red Sea, the Indian ocean, the east coast
of Africa, Indonesia, Central Asia (there was a Chinese governor in
Samarkand in the 6th century AD) and the Mediterranean since the time of
Roman antiquity, you have to wonder why there was no Chinese overseas empire
later on.

All of which is not to say that you are wrong about Pomeranz, you surely are
not. Actually Pomeranz does discuss Chinese coal workings, I seem to
remember--and the fact that the Chinese were smelting iron with coke several
hundred years before Abraham Darby (re)invented the process in Coalbrookdale
in ?1709. Pomeranz is much more interesting than Brenner or Meiksins Wood,
anti-Marxist tho he be.


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