~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY YEARS

by Andre Gunder Frank

University of Toronto

96 Asquith Ave. Toronto, Ont. Canada M4W 1J8

Tel:416-972 0616 Fax:416-972 0071

e-mail: agfrank@chass.utoronto.ca

http://www.whc.neu.edu/whc/resrch & curric/gunder.html


Philleas Phogg miscalculated the eighty day count for his trip around the world, because he crossed the international dateline. So we may be excused if we also fudge our eighty year counts a bit in our round the world review of its shifting image. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels in the West on 1848, to be followed a dozen years later by Capital. That was some eighty years or only about three generations after Adam Smith published his Wealth of Nations in 1776, when he still repeatedly acknowledged the superiority over the West of the East, and particularly of China. But eighty years was enough to generate and permit a 180 degree turnaround in western and some eastern [not to mention southern] perceptions and 'theories' about the world and the absolute and relative places and roles of East and West within it. Soon Ruyard Kipling would coin his famous phrase that 'The East is East and the West is West, and never the twain shall meet' which is still echoed today by the author of The Clash of Civilizations Samuel Huntington (1993,1996) again writing in Foreign Affairs [1997].

Yet only a hundred years since the 1848 Western Manifesto sufficed to begin a significant Eastern resurrection by the decolonization in South Asia with independence in India in 1948, and by liberation in China in 1949 and then in Indonesia and elsewhere in Southeast Asia. And only a half century later the 1997 return of Hong Kong to China heralded the completion of another 360 degree round the world global shift after the two eighty year periods since its Opium War transfer to Britain. The widely mis-interpreted 1998 'meltdown' of East Asia was a financial symptom of the renewed reality: In fact, it was the first round the world recession again to begin in East Asia and spread from there to the West, instead of vice versa. That marked the beginnings of the return back 360 degrees around the world of the world economic center to Asia where it had always been before those two eighty year periods of temporary Western ascendance. The stock market crash in Hong Kong and the devaluation of the Thai bhat and the Indonesian rupia took only 80 seconds to make themselves felt in the London City and on New York's Wall Street. How much of a cultural lag do we still need for popular perception and social theory to catch up with global reality?

This essay deals with this question as follows: I begin in Part I with the briefest review of what has been aptly termed as The Chinese Chameleon. An Analysis of European Conceptions of Chinese Civilization (Dawson 1967) from pro to con and of the Western invention and denigration of Orientalism (Said 1978) in general. I then note some of the tips of the major icebergs of social theory invented in the West since the mid- nineteenth century and refer to some of their twentieth century legacies, which continue to dominate much of popular thought and social theory as well as historiography to this day.

Part II examines some critiques of received historiography and social theory, which begin to pave the way to new and better alternative perspectives and analyses. These are grouped into:

I will argue how each of these steps has made a perhaps necessary contribution without however affording us a sufficient alternative perspective and analysis. Some authors and works, including my own, have contributed to more than one of the above categories. However, I will focus on their initial or most influential works and mostly categorize them accordingly. Moreover, the better known and/or accessible these works already are, the less attention need I devote to them below.

Part III then presents some elements of an alternative holistic global analysis that recognizes how the whole is not only more than the sum of its parts but also helps to shape its parts and their relations to each other, which cannot be analyzed or understood apart from the structure and transformation of that whole itself.


Until about 1800, the predominant Western perception of the East was favorable. Europeans were attracted to and sought to learn from many parts of the Orient that were seen as civilizationally, culturally, politically, socially, economically, and technologically more advanced than any or all of Europe. Indeed, "Orient" , as still recorded in The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English whose first edition dates from 1911, meant the following:

What happened to make all those nice meanings disappear and have the American Oxford Dictionary [1980] now say instead: ORIENT: The East, Countries East of the Mediterranean, Especially East Asia. What happened in the meantime was industrialization and colonialism in 'The Rise of the West.' Before that, Europeans and Arabs at least had a much more global/ist perspective that was then suppressed and replaced by the rise of Eurocentric historiography and social theory in the nineteenth century. For instance, the Tunisian statesman and historian, Ibn Kaldhoun [1332-1406] evaluated and compared the "wealth of nations" before and at his time:

Even in the eighteenth century Father Du Halde, the most learned French publicist of matters Chinese [who never left Paris and used Jesuit and other travellers and translators as sources] still wrote that in China

In a discussion of Du Halde's work, Foss (1986:91) insists that not only philosophical but also technological and other practical texts from China were translated and studied in the West with utilitarian interest. Indeed, Lach (1965--) has written volumes [7 so far with others promised] about Asia in the Making of Europe. It would be difficult and time/space consuming to make a summary [but see the review article of the series by Pearson (1996)] even of the "Composite Picture" at the end of Lach and van Kley (1993, Vol. III, Book IV). They observe for instance that "sixteenth-century Europeans had considered Japan and China to be the great hopes of the future" (ibid: 1890). By the end of the seventeenth century "few literate Europeans could have been completely untouched [by the image of Asia], and it would have been surprising indeed if its effects could not be seen in contemporary European literature, art, learning, and culture" (ibid:1890]). For in the meantime, hundreds of books about Asia had been written, reprinted and translated in all major European languages by European missionaries, merchants, sea-captains, physicians, sailors, soldiers, and other travellers. These included at least 25 major works about South Asia, 15 about Southeast Asia, 20 on the archipelagoes, and 60 about East Asia, not to mention countless shorter works (ibid:1890). The Indian empire was considered to be among the world's richest and most powerful, but China remained its most impressive and the Europeans' ultimate goal (ibid: 1897,1904). Asian philosophy, but arts and sciences less so; medicine, crafts and industry, and their respective practitioners were highly respected and oft imitated (ibid: 1914 and 1593 ff). As another manifestation of this earlier European perspective, we might note that between 1480 and 1700 France printed twice as many book about the Ottomans than about the Americas (Cipolla 1976:228-229).

A revealing historical sidelight about some Europeans' practical regard, not only for China but also for much of Asia and North Africa, emerges from the collected works of Leibnitz. He was retained by a West German ruler who was rightly suspicious of the ambitions of his neighbor Louis XIV. So Leibnitz wrote Louis to offer a piece of advice: Rather than pursuing any possible ambitions across the Rhine, it would be much more political economic for France to turn southeastward to challenge the Ottomans,

The French did not pursue this advice until the time of Napoleon, who probably not by accident also took the trouble to recover a copy of Leibnitz's letter when he invaded Germany. As observers like Lach and Said have noted, this European high regard for Asia did not really change until the nineteenth century, after the inception of European industrialization and colonialism, which then profoundly altered European perceptions and pronouncements, including their historiography and social science.

Adam Smith also recognized Asia as being economically far more advanced and richer than Europe in still in 1776.

Already by the mid-nineteenth century, European views of Asia and China in particular had drastically changed. Dawson (1967) documents and analyzes this change under the revealing title The Chinese Chameleon: An Analysis of European Conceptions of Chinese Civilization. Europeans changed from regarding China as "an example and model" to calling the Chinese "a people of eternal standstill." Why this rather abrupt change? The coming of the industrial revolution and the beginnings of European colonialism in Asia had intervened to re-shape European minds, if not to "invent" all history, then at least to invent a false universalism under European initiation and guidance. Then in the second half of the nineteenth century, not only was world history re-written wholesale, but "universal" social "science" was [new] born, not only as a European, but as a Eurocentric invention.

In so doing, "classical" historians and social theorists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries took a huge step backward even from European, not to mention Islamic, perspectives that had been much more realistically world embracing up through the eighteenth century. Among those who saw things from this narrower [European] new perspective were Marx and Weber. According to them and all of their many disciples to this day, the essentials of the "capitalist mode of production" that allegedly developed in and out of Europe were missing in "The Rest" of the world and could be and were supplied only through European help and diffusion. That is where the "Orientalist" assumptions by Marx, and many more studies by Weber, and the [fallacious] assertions of both about the rest of the world come in.

Marx seems to have been selective in the sources he drew on to characterize "Asia" not to mention Africa. Among the classical political economists that also influenced Marx so much as we have already observed, Smith (1937: 348) had given "credit to the wonderful accounts of the wealth and cultivation of China, of those of antient Egypt and of the antient state of Indostan." In this regard however, Marx preferred to follow Montesquieu and the Philosophes like Roussseau and also James Mill, who had instead "discovered" "despotism" as the "natural" condition and "model of government" in Asia and of "The Orient." Marx also remarked on "the cruellest form of state, Oriental despotism, from India to Russia." He also attributed to them and to the Ottomans, Persia and China, indeed to the whole "Orient." In all of these, Marx alleged the existence of an age-old "Asiatic Mode of Production." He alleged that in all of Asia the forces of production remained stagnant and stationary until the incursion of "The West" and "capitalism" woke it of its otherwise eternal slumber.

Although Marx noted that the Indian and Chinese purchasing power gave impulse to European markets, England was allegedly showing India the mirror of its future and the United States was bringing progress to Mexico thanks to its 1846 war against that country. Furthermore, Marx alleged that the "transition from feudalism to capitalism" and the "rising bourgeoisie" in Europe had transformed the world, supposedly since the genesis of capital [if not capitalism] in the sixteenth century - also in Europe!

For Marx, Asia still remained even more backward than Europe, where "feudalism" at least had the seeds of a "transition to capitalism" within itself. In alleged contrast, "The Asiatic Mode of Production" would required the progressive benefits of this "transition" in Europe to jolt and pull it out of its built in stagnation -- even though he said that it was the Asian markets that gave impetus to those of Europe! The supposed reason for this alleged stagnation was the imagined lack of "capitalist relations of production," which kept all of Asia "divided into villages, each of which possessed a completely separate organization and formed a little world to itself."

Alas, this division of Asia into separate little worlds was already contradicted by the simultaneous claims of Marx and other European writers that Asia was also characterized by "Oriental Despotism." That was regarded to be a form of socio-political organization that was necessary to manage these societies' large scale irrigation projects, which were of course themselves incompatible with the allegedly isolated villages. Wittfogel (1957) would later popularize this "theory," but then ironically as a cold-war ideological weapon against "communism" and Marxism! But never mind all these internal contradictions! For as we will see below throughout this book, all of this Marxian characterization was no more than a figment of his and other Eurocentric imagination anyway, which had no foundation in historical reality whatsoever.

Indeed, in his excellent critique of Marxists like Perry Anderson and others, Teshale Tibebu (1990: 83-85 emphasis in original) argues persuasively that much of their analysis of "Feudalism, Absolutism and the Bourgeois Revolution" and "their obsession with the specificity ... [and] supposed superiority of Europe" is Western "civilizational arrogance," "ideology dressed up as history" and "Orientalism painted red," that is the "continuation of orientalism by other means."

The other means provided by theoretical Marxism was not only the nefarious Eurocentric concept and terminology of "The Asiatic Mode of Production," on which we have already commented. That only bequeathed Marxism with a systematic bias against "traditional, backward and stagnant" Asia and its alleged inability to develop without Europe. We will note below how seriously erroneous, counter-factual and anti-historic this whole notion is. Alas however, so is its obverse "capitalist mode of production," which was allegedly invented by Europeans and has ever since been held to be responsible for European, Western, and then global development. For as this book intends to show, all these were much more a function of world economic, including especially Asian development, than of any alleged European or "capitalist" exceptionalism, which have been the central themes of all social theory about "the Rise of the West" ever since.

Other social "scientists" may have risen to dispute Marx [and supposedly to agree with Smith], but they all agreed with each other and with Marx that 1492 and 1498 were the two greatest events in the history of mankind, because that is when Europe discovered the world. Never mind that the world had been there all along and that at least the Afro-Asiatic part of it had long since shaped Europe itself. Indeed, the eminent historian of medieval Europe, Henri Pirenne (1992) stressed Europe's external dependence when pointed out long ago that there could have been "No Charlemagne without Mohammed." Nevertheless, history and social theory have been marked ever since not only by the alleged uniqueness of [West] Europeans, which supposedly generated "The Rise of the West." What is worse, they allegedly also had to assume the civilizing mission of the white man's burden which bestowed "the development and spread of capitalism" on the world as Europe's and the West's gift to mankind. [Lately, some feminists have at least denied that this process has been a gift also to womankind].

For Max Weber of course agreed with Marx about all these European origins and characteristics of "capitalism," and with Sombart too. Weber only wanted to go them one better. Sombart had already singled out European rationality, and its alleged roots in Judaism, as the sine qua non of "capitalism" and its "birth" in Europe. Weber accepted that too. He further embellished the argument about the irrigation based "Oriental despotism" to allege that Asia had an inherent inability to generate economic, not to mention "capitalist" development on its own. However, Weber actually went to a lot of trouble to study "the city," "religion" and other aspects of different civilizations in Asia.

That additional acquaintance of Weber with Asian realities also complicated his argument and made it more sophisticated than the crude Marxian version. For instance, Weber recognized that Asia had big cities. So they had to be somehow "fundamentally different" from European ones, both in structure and in function. Weber's mistake in this regard emerges clearly from the Rowe's (1984, 1989) careful examination of this argument in his study of the Chinese city Hankow. The great student of bureaucracies that Weber was also had to recognize that the Chinese also had and knew how to manage cities and the country at large. Moreover, he had more time than Marx to observe that and how Western money made its way to and around various parts of Asia.

So what was the essential difference, the missing ingredient that "The West" allegedly has and "The Rest" does not have if Weber himself did not find all these factors missing in the Oriental societies he studied? For Marx it was "the capitalist mode of production;" and Weber added also the proper religion and how it interfaces with the other factors to generate that "capitalist mode." Weber went to the trouble to study various major world religions and concluded that all of them had an essential mythical, mystic, magical, in a word anti-rational component, which "necessarily" handicapped all their true believers in coming to grasps with reality rationally, unlike the Europeans. Only the latter were beneficiaries of "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism." No more than Marx did Weber argue that this ethic and spirit was the be all and end all of "capitalism," and the Weberian argument has been even harder to understand than the Marxian one.

This rational spirit is supposedly the missing secret ingredient that, when combined with all the others, distinguishes "The West" from "The Rest." Without it, the Asians could not possibly develop capitalism and therefore really "develop" at all, or even use their cities, production and commerce. Never mind that Catholics in Venice and other Italian cities had already managed quite well, thank you, without this special gift before Calvin and others gave it to the northern Europeans. Also never mind that not all those gifted with the Protestant ethic manage so well either, neither in Eastern Europe, nor in the European colonies early on in the South of the United States and still in the Caribbean, and elsewhere [as I already argued in Frank (1978b)]. Nonetheless, Landes explicitly claims empirical support for the Weberian thesis in his The Unbound Prometheus still in 1969 and categorically denies that Muslim "culture" can permit any technological initiative.

This Eurocentric idea consists of several strands, some of which are privileged more by political economists like Marx and Sombart, and others by sociologists like Durkheim, Simmel, and Weber. The last named did the most deliberately to assemble, combine and embellish these features of Eurocentrism. All of them allegedly serve to explain The European Miracle, which is the telling title of the book by Eric L. Jones (1981). However, this book is only a particularly visible tip of the iceberg of almost all western social science and history from Marx and Weber, through Spengler and Toynbee, to the spate of defenses of supposed Western "exceptionalism" since World War II, particularly in the United States. But as Jack Goody (1996:226) rightly points out "this distinctiveness has been puffed up at the expense of the other, distorting not only the understanding of the Orient but of the Occident too; [for] it is impossible to explain this temporary advance by allocating permanent advantages to one team or another" (italics in the original).

Among historians, Arnold Toynbee (1946) studied twenty other civilizations, but he heralded the uniqueness of the "Western" one; and Oswald Spengler warned of its "Decline." The modern "father" of history, Leopold von Ranke may have written that "there is no history but universal history," but for him that was clearly Western history. Marc Bloch wrote "Il n'y a pas d'histoire de l'Europe, il y a une histoire du monde;" but what he did was European history as though there were no other. The world historian Fernand Braudel entitled a book The Perspective of the World but wrote in it that "Europe invented historians and then put them to good use" to serve its interests. Even the 'father' of world history, William Mc Neill, wrote The Rise of the West as though after 1500 it had pulled itself up by its own bootstraps.

This Eurocentrism also had nineteenth century sociological great-grandfathers in the "father of sociology" Auguste Compte and in Sir Henry Maine who distinguished between supposedly new forms of thinking and of social organization based on "science" and"contract," which allegedly replaced age old "traditional" ones. One grandfather was Emile Durkheim who idealized "organic" vs. "mechanical" forms of social organization and another was Ferdinand Toennis, who alleged a transition from traditional "Gemeinschaft" to modern "Gesellschaft." In a later generation, Talcott Parsons idealized "universalist" vs. "particularist" social forms, and Robert Redfield claimed to have found a contrast and transition or at least a continuum" between traditional "folk" and modern "urban" society and a certain symbiosis between "low" and "high civilization." The Marxist and contemporary neo-Marxist version is the alleged fundamental difference between "Asiatic," "feudal" or other forms of "tributary" modes of production on the one hand and the Western "capitalist" one on the other (Wolf 1982, Amin 1991,1993, 1996).

So even those who were critical of Western capitalist development and wanted to reform or replace it nonetheless also subscribed to the same fundamental thesis: Polanyi (1944) alleged that there were no market relations, to say nothing of trade and a division of labor over long distances, anywhere in the world before The Great Transformation, as he called it, took place in Europe during the nineteenth century. Archaeological findings have the same time and again disconfirmed Polanyi's (19xx) denial of Trade and Markets in the Early Empires, and I have already added my own theoretical and empirical critiques elsewhere (Gills and Frank 1991, Frank and Gills 1992, 1993, Frank 1993). At issue here is that the spread and dominance of the market allegedly started only recently in [Western] Europe and spread out over the world from there. Robert McIver opens his own foreword to the first Polanyi book with the claim that it makes most other books in its field obsolete or outworn. If so, alas that book does so only inasmuch as it renders "obsolete" the many previous acknowledgments of the real importance of the market, including the world market, relations and influences. Polanyi replaces this age old reality by myths about the alleged primacy of non-economic social relations of "reciprocity" and "redistribution." On the evidence, there was no such "great transformation" since the eighteenth century and that it certainly was not initiated in or by Europe. Another critic, Lenin, also alleged that "imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism" was an outgrowth of a development that was initiated in and spread by Europe.

Now we are all - knowingly or not - disciples of this completely Eurocentric social science and history, For even the world historian Fernand Braudel (1993) still claims that

Talcott Parsons enshrined Weberianism and this Eurocentric historiography in sociology and political science when the United States became economically and culturally dominant in the world after World War II. His mistitled Structure of Social Action and The Social System as well as the derived "modernization theory," and the economist W.W. Rostow's (1959) Stages of Economic Growth were all cut from the same Eurocentric cloth and followed the same theoretical pattern. Alas we may ask, what was the point? Rostow's "stages" were little more than a "bourgeois" version of Marx's stage by stage development from feudalism to capitalism to socialism -- all starting in Europe! Like Marx, Rostow claimed that now the United States, following England, would show the rest of the world the mirror of its future. Rostow (1975), also explains How it All Began: Origins of the Modern Economy through the scientific revolution that allegedly distinguished modern Europe. David Landes (1969) finds the cultural conditions for The Unbound Prometheus: Technological Change and Industrial Development in Western Europe only in Europe itself. Cipolla (1976:276) summarizes: "that the Industrial Revolution was essentially and primarily a socio-cultural phenomenon and not a purely technical one, becomes patently obvious when one notices that the first countries to industrialize were those which had the greatest cultural and social similarities to England."

Other authors also offer only "internal" explanations to account for the alleged superiority and ascendance of the West over the rest of the world. For these writers, the rise of Europe was also a "miracle," which was due to allegedly unique qualities that Europeans had and all others lacked. Thus, White Jr. (1962), Hall (1985) or Baechler, Hall and Mann (1988) find the rest of the world deficient or defective in some crucial historical, economic, social, political, ideological, or cultural respect in comparison to the West. The claim is that presence in "The West" of what was allegedly lacking in "The Rest" gave "us" an initial internal developmental advantage, which "we" then diffused outward over the rest of the world as the "civilizing mission" of "the white man's burden."

Among the worst offenders of all Eurocentrists are economic historians, Marxists, and a fortiori Marxist economic historians. The vast majority of self styled "economic historians" totally neglect the history of most the world, and the remaining minority distort it altogether. For most economic historians seem to have no perspective - not even a European one - of the world at all. Instead, their "economic history" is almost altogether confined to the West. The Study of Economic History: Collected Inaugural Lectures 1893-1970 (Edited by N.B Harte 1971) collects 21 such lectures by the most eminent English speaking economic historians. They in turn review and comment on the 'economic history' written by their colleagues in the profession over most of the preceding century: Almost every word is about Europe and the United States and their "Atlantic economy," which hardly even includes Africa. The rest of the world does not exist for them.

Also in more recent decades, the International Congress of Economic History has met periodically and then published its conference proceedings. Going through their tables of contents reveals that some ninety percent of the "international" contributions are about the West. Lately, a couple of the congresses and/or volumes of proceedings have had titles like The Emergence of the World Economy 1500-1914 (Fisher, McInnis & Schneider, Eds. 1986). Yet the preponderance of the contributions are still about the West.

The author of one of the most noteworthy examples of this kind of Eurocentric economic history recently won the Nobel Prize for economics. The Rise of the Western World: A New Economic History was written by the 1993 Nobel laureate in economics Douglass C. North with Robert Paul Thomas (1973). It merits special note not only for the recognition given to one of its authors, but also because of the explicitness of its title, its emphasis on "new," and the revision of received theory. Yet under their subtitles "Theory and Overview: 1. The Issue" and on the very first page, they clearly state "the development of an efficient economic organization in Western Europe accounts for the rise of the West" (North and Thomas 1973:1, my emphasis). They then trace this institutional change, and especially the development of property rights, to increased economic scarcity, which was generated in turn by a demographic upturn in Western Europe. The rest of the world was not there for them. Moreover, as North and Thomas (1973:vii) emphasize in their preface, their economic history is also "consistent with and complementary to standard neo-classical economic theory," which we may suppose influenced the award of the Nobel prize.

Their book illustrates at least three related problems and sources of possible objection: First, Eurocentrists refuse to make and are reluctant even to accept comparison with other parts of the world, which reveal similarities not only in institutions and technological but also in the structural/ demographic forces that generated them. Secondly, these comparisons show that the alleged European exceptionalism was not exceptional at all. Thirdly, there will be resistance to my contention that the real issue is not so much what happened here or there, but what the global structure and forces were that occasioned these happenings anywhere.

A special Eurocentric charge is that the evidence does not support any contention that Europeans did anything other than by their own good efforts. Years ago, Bairoch (1969,1976), O'Brien (1982) and others already explicitly countered the earlier theses of Frank (1967, 1978) and/or Wallerstein (1974) that colonial and neo- colonial trade contributed to European investment and development. Bairoch (1969) denied that commercial capital made any significant contribution thereto. Patrick O'Brien (1982,1990) has on several occasions dismissed overseas trade and colonial exploitation as contributors to capital accumulation and industrialization in Europe, since by his calculations this trade, not to mention profits therefrom, amounted to no more than 2 percent of European GNP in the late eighteenth century. O'Brien (1982:18) contends that "for the economic growth of the core, the periphery was peripheral."

Now O'Brien goes even further and categorically contends under the sub-title "The Formation of a Global Economy, 1846-1914" that

Yet O'Brien also argues that "neither quantification nor more historical scholarship will settle debates about the significance of oceanic trade for the Industrial Revolution" (O'Brien 1990:177). We must actually agree with O'Brien that the evidence will never settle this issue! Not that evidence is of no importance, but it does not bear so much on the real dispute between us, which is paradigmatic. For O'Brien (ibid.) rejects even Wallerstein's only very partly world-systemic perspective. Instead O'Brien contends that for the history of European (and even British) industrialization "the 'perspective of the world' [the reference is to Braudel's title] for Europe emerges as less significant than the 'perspective of Europe' for the world." To people with so ingrained and recalcitrant a Eurocentric perspective of course, no amount of evidence, such as that presented below, can make any difference. They will simply persist in their Eurocentric claim that Europe's relations with the world made no difference to Europe but all the difference to the world.

Perhaps even more serious for being even more misleading is that the small minority of economic historians who do refer to "The Rest" very seriously distort both "The East" and its economic relations with "The West." Their perspective on the "world economy" is that it emerged out of Europe and that Europe built a world economy around itself, as Braudel said that historians "knew." Take for instance a recent review article on "Maritime Asia, 1500-1800" written by Willis (1993) for the American Historical Review. Willis revealingly subtitles it "The Interactive Emergence of European Domination." He reviews over a dozen books and cites perhaps one hundred others that deal with some "interaction" between East and West. However, most of the action reviewed remains directed from Europe toward Asia, and almost none the other way around. Moreover, the claim in the reviewer's title that European "domination emerged" already from 1500 onwards to 1800 is not at all substantiated. Indeed, it is disconfirmed even by the evidence supplied by the authors that Willis himself reviews and cites. So the very title of his article still reflects Eurocentric prejudice far more than it describes reality.

Another current example of the same is the innovative publisher Variorum. It is collecting and reprinting many of the best otherwise much less accessible articles on economic history, especially about and from outside the West. Nonetheless, its newest series of books is published under the umbrella title "An Expanding World: The European Impact on World History, 1450-1800." To promote their series, the publisher cites endorsements by the "dean" of world historians, William McNeill, and by the former professor of Economic History at Oxford University, Peter Mathias, who promises that "this series will widen and deepen our understanding of the world stage." Alas, it deepens our Misunderstanding of the world stage. For even this series still carries no hint of what really happened on the world stage from 1450 to 1800: The world economy expanded alright, but primarily in Asia; and the world economic expansion impacted on Europe much more than any "impact" that Europe had on "world history" before 1800. The title of one of the edited volumes in this series is The European Opportunity. Yet the books in that series also concentrate on what Europe did, rather than on the opportunities in the world economy and especially in Asia, of which Europe only took advantage.

Marxist economic history, against whom Rostow, Bairoch, O'Brien and others also rail, may seem different; but it is equally, indeed even more, Eurocentric. Thus, Marxist economic historians also look for the sources of "The Rise of the West" and "the development of capitalism" within Europe. Examples are the famous debate in the 1950s on "the transition from feudalism to capitalism" among Maurice Dobb, Paul Sweezy, Kohachiro Takahashi, Rodney Hilton and others (reprinted in Hilton 1976) and the Brenner Debate on "European feudalism" (Aston and Philpin, Eds. 1985). De Ste. Croix (1981) on the class struggles in the ancient "Greco-Roman" civilization and Anderson (1974) on "Japanese feudalism" also considered each of these as a particular "society." Marxists may claim to devote more attention to how the economic "infrastructure" shapes society; but they show no awareness of how one "society" is shaped by its relations with another "society" and still less of how all societies were shaped by their common participation in a single world economy. The very existence of a world economic system was explicitly denied by Marx and only belatedly acknowledged by Lenin. However, his "imperialism" also was of recent European origin. In Rosa Luxemburg's version, the "world" capitalist economy had to rely on "external non-capitalist" space and markets outside of the capitalist system into which to expand. As Teshale Tibebu (1990: 83-85) aptly put it, all this Marxist economic history and theory is no more than 'Orientalism painted red."

All of these "ideal type" West Yes/ East No diads are idealizations of the West that have several things in common. The most important ones are that first they posit essentialist socio-cultural features and differences that are far more imaginary than real, and then they allege that the differences distinguish "us" from "them," or in the latter day terminology of Samuel Huntington (1993,1996) separate "The West" from "The Rest." Indeed, allegedly these features also distinguish modern [Western] society from its own past as well as from other societies' often still lingering present. Moreover, these "ideal" types attribute some kind of pristine self-development to some peoples - mostly to "us" - but not to others, and their subsequent diffusion [when positive] or imposition [if negative] from here to there. " The quintessential culmination of this "tradition" was Lerner's (1958) The Passing of Traditional Society. In the real world, the only practical holistic choice has been "none of the above." This "underdevelopment of sociology" was already challenged by me thirty years ago (Frank 1967). However successful, this challenge was nonetheless insufficiently holistic.


We may group our review of the new - and necessary but not sufficient - historiographic and theoretical departures as those that really do examine the East, those that re-examine the West, those that compare East and West, and those that propose a step toward more holism by looking at both from the perspective of a 'world-economy" and 'world-system,' which nonetheless remain European and western centered.

A. The East Never Was as the West Made It Out To Be

Historians and social scientists from Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and some Western ones, began [or better continued!] to re-examine these areas and their peoples. In and on each of these areas and their parts, the literature is so large as to make any summary or even listing difficult if not impossible. Many 'indigenous' and some other historical, monographic, documentary, ethnographic, and some analytical works showed that the reality or realities of the South and East were quite other than what the received wisdom had assumed, supposed, selectively described, distorted, and made them out to be and have been. Some more analytical and generalizing examples have revealing titles and range from Indonesian Trade and Society: Essays in Asian Social and Economic History BY J.C. Van Leur(1955) and Islam et Capitalisme by Maxime Rodinson (1972) to Before European Hegemony by Janet Abu-Lughod (1989) and Asia Before Europe by K.N. Chaudhuri (1990), as well as his and others' earlier more documentary works. Special mention is merited by Joseph Needham's (1954-) multi-volume Science and Civilization in China and the analogous if less ambitious twelve-volume History of Science and Technology in India by Kuppuram and Kumusamani (1990). Their historical reality of 'how it really was' [to use Ranke's famous phrase] is quite different from the recently traditional picture of 'traditional' society.

Indeed conceptually, if not always chronologically, the first critique of the received wisdom is to recognize that Kipling's famous rendition that "the East is East, and the West is West" is no more than Western mythology to begin with. The very idea of and distinction between 'East' and 'West' is no more than a Western invention to 'distinguish' itself. An important opening gun was the scathing critique of the very idea of Orientalism itself by Edward Said (1978]. Coming from another direction, another critique was my own "The Sociology of Development and the Underdevelopment of Sociology" (Frank 1967a, 1969) and Susanne Jonas Bodenheimer's (1971) "Dependency and Imperialism: The Roots of Latin American Underdevelopment." We denied that the Third World South, then including the "Oriental" East, ever was 'traditional' as received theory had painted it to be. We and the theory of 'dependence' sought to distinguish between 'undevelopment' and 'the underdevelopment of development' (Frank 1967b, 1969).

Another, more recent, variant are 'post-colonialism' and other variants of 'post-modernism,' which also deny the colonially imposed 'reality,' but often at the cost of denying that there is any reality at all to speak of, except that which is mostly man-made by the speaker or writer himself. However these different perceptions may differ among each other, what they have in common for present the purposes of knocking the legs of the western theoretical throne out form under it is that the eastern and southern past reality never was as it was made out to be.

Indeed, as the Islamicist and world historian Marshall Hodgson wrote already long ago

B. But the West Itself Never Was or Did What its Advocates Claimed Either.

Hodgson of course also refers to the West itself, and the second conceptual leg to collapse has been "The Myth of Western Exceptionalism." That is the telling sub-title of James Blaut (1993) in what he calls The Colonizer's Model of the World: Geographical Diffusionism and Eurocentric History. Blaut microscopically examines, exposes and demolishes the myth of "The European Miracle" in its myriad forms of biology [racial superiority and demographic continence]; environment [nasty-tropical Africa; arid, despotic Asia; temperate Europe]; exceptional rationality and freedom [as against "Oriental despotism", the centerpiece of the Weberian doctrine, and part of the Marxian one]; alleged European historical superiority in technology, despite its borrowings from and dependence on earlier Chinese, Indian and Islamic advances; and society [development of the state, significance of the Church and "the Protestant ethic," the role of the bourgeoisie in class formation, the nuclear family, etc].

Blaut (1997) goes over these arguments in even greater detail in his line by line dissection of the writings of "eight Eurocentric historians," among them the usual suspects Weber (1958), White Jr. (1962), Jones (1981), Brenner (1985), Mann (1986), Hall (1985) and Baechler (1988), who therefore require much less examination here. Blaut effectively establishes the theoretical, intellectual and ideological Eurocentric family relations among all of these writers; and his examination of their arguments against the canons of scientific evidence and elementary logic literally demolishes each and every one of them.

Thus, Blaut effectively demonstrates that each of these alleged European "exceptionalisms" and the whole "European miracle" is no more than a myth that is firmly based only in Eurocentric ideology. Therefore, its derived social "science" is empirically and theoretically untenable as well. Blaut also compares feudalism and proto-capitalism in Europe, Asia and Africa before 1492 to argue that still in the late middle ages and early modern times Europe had no advantage over Asia and Africa on any of these fronts. Therefore, Blaut correctly argues, that it is wrong to attribute the subsequent development of Europe and the West to any of these supposedly internal European exceptionalisms. Jack Goody (1996) goes over some of the same ground again for the West, and comparatively finds similar or functionally analogous attributes also in studies like those mentioned in section A above about West, South, and East Asia. Goody again effectively refutes especially the Weberian allegations of the alleged "uniqueness [of] specific and peculiar achievements of Western rationalism." Yet, "the framework of such ideas has been the bread and butter of sociologists, historians, demographers, economists and , from a somewhat different angle, anthropologists" (Goody 1996:5)

In a more recent book, the same above cited Jones (1988) himself expresses doubts about his former book: He quotes another author to the effect that 'possibly the most exiting thing to do next would be to prove the theory wrong,' and goes on himself to say that "as a title The European Miracle was just a little too seductive":

Jones makes two further revealing confessions: One is that he read and was influenced by the same Marshall Hodgson as I, but alas too late for Jones' previous book. The other is that nonetheless even still in his later book his main "disadvantage ... relates to ingrained point of view, and not to political or religious attitudes, but something deeper. I was born and brought up an Englishman..." (ibid:183-4). So his new attempt to be "non-racist, non-sexist, and so forth ... ought to be heartwarming" (ibid:186). That it is. Yet Jones still labors under so many self-confessed disadvantages that after again reviewing China and now also Japan he is still hard put to "prove the theory wrong," and his "summary and conclusion" is that "formulated this way, Japanese and European history seem to be matters of accidentally contrived balances of forces. Indeed, why not?" (ibid: 190). We must do more to prove his theory wrong and do better than to appeal only to accident as an alternative explanation!

For Mollefi Kete Asante's stinging critique is all too apt:

Another recent lonely critic, Frank Perlin, observes and then asks:

C. Comparing East and West Illuminates Both

Another attempt to break down this Eurocentrism is to compare 'East" and 'West' to show that they were never so different after all, or at least to find what differences there really were. Indeed, this approach already has a long history and venerable tradition. Weber deliberately adopted it in his comparative study of world religions, even if it was to end up with the European exceptionalism of "the Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism." Later Weberians, like Jones (1981) and John Hall (1985), or Michael Mann (1986) and Randall Collins (19xx) did likewise and found more grist for the Weberian exceptionalist Eurocentric mill. Others however, who were less social 'scientifically' and more historically inclined to 'wie es eigentlich gewesen ist' [how it really was], made more and more comparisons that pulled the historical rug out from under Weberian, Marxist, Polanyian and other Eurocentrism. Notable among these have been the American Marshall Hodgson (1974, 1993), the European Fernand Braudel (1992) and especially the Asian N.K. Chaudhuri (1990). Of course, the same has been an element also in the arguments of Blaut (1993) and Goody (1996) already cited in section B above. My own ReOrient: Global Economy in the Asian Age (1998) also makes numerous East-West comparisons of patterns and changes in population, production, trade, science, technology, institutions, etc.

Yet what merits consideration apart in this Section is the endeavour to be much more systematic in such comparisons and the insistence by their authors that they can throw an entirely new comparative light also on the Western experience, which also shows that it was NO Miracle. Herein, three colleagues stand out, Jack Goldstone (1991), Ken Pomeranz (1997) and Bin Wong (1998). Since the first two combine their East-West comparisons also with global or at least Eurasian connections, I postpone most of my discussion of their work to Part III below, which deals with connections within the global whole. Here I focus especially on the book China Transformed: Historical Change and the Limits of European Experience by Bin Wong (1998), because it not only pushes such comparisons much further but also offers them as a theoretically sufficient alternative to the received wisdom, which Wong rightly rejects as fully as the other two and myself.

Wong begins by observing that since the nineteenth century most studies on China have been guided by the search for what China did not have or do by European standards. Instead, he proposes to examine Chinese reality itself and then proceed to ask how it can shed new light not only on China but comparatively also on the European experience. Wong writes:

That is, the "Smithian dynamic" of the relation between the division of labor and the extent of the market was operative in China just as much as in Europe. So were the Ricardian ones of comparative advantage and the Malthusian demographic ones. Wong, like Pomeranz (1997) and alas only much more superficially Frank (1998), also shows that per capita incomes, standards of living and death rates were quite comparable. Moreover, Wong observes as we also did in Sections A and B above, that most of the alleged cultural, social, and political differences either did not exist in reality or that their supposed differential effects on the observed differences in European and Chinese developments after 1800 are very dubious. Therefore he suggests that "other differences can then be introduced to explore further the distinctive paths followed by different parts of Eurasia" (Wong 1998: )

So far, so good. This kind of more careful discrimination between real commonalities and alleged and real differences in 'causes' may indeed be necessary to account for differences in 'effects.' But is or indeed can that scientific procedure be theoretically and empirically sufficient to account for the differential effects that we observe. My answer is that NO, it can NOT. For even more important however, what emerges from our review of early modern world economic history is that many of the specific "differences" are themselves generated by structured interaction in a common world economy/system. Far from being appropriate or necessary to understand this or that specificity here or there, differentiation then becomes an obstacle to accounting for and comprehending it. Only a holistic perspective on and from the global whole that is more than the sum of its parts can offer any adequate comprehension of any part and how and why it differs from any other!

We have seen that even related "civilizational" or "cultural" variables are not so much determinant or independent, as they are themselves derivative from and dependent on the world-wide economic structure and process. All attempts to account for or explain local, national or regional ripple "development/s" primarily in terms of their respective supposedly cultural or class "determinants" are too limited in their purview. They neglect the fundamental world economic sea change of which the local ones often are only superficial expressions and manifestations. In short, all attempts to account for features and factors of "development" on the basis only or even primarily of local antecedents and in the absence of their world economic "function" can result only in the neglect of factors that are essential to any satisfactory explanation.

Therefore, even the best comparative studies violate the canon of holism, for they do not study the global whole and the world economy/system from which the factors to be compared are or may be derivative. That is, we also need to construct a holistic theory and analysis of this global economy and world system, as well as of its own operation and transformation. For these also generate and shape the institutional forms themselves.

Therefore, all studies that compare "Western" and "Oriental" societies are already vitiated by their choice of the features or factors to be compared, unless that choice is itself derived from the study of the whole world economy/system to begin with. And of course it is not. Indeed, the choice of the very features and factors to be compared is derived from focusing on a part, be that Britain, Europe, the West or wherever. That is, the very design of the study, from Marx and Weber to Braudel and Wallerstein, et a suffers from the misplaced concreteness of looking for the explanandum with a magnifying glass or even a microscope, but only under the European streetlight.

Even Wong writes that "assessing which of these differences mattered is difficult without some analytical standards of significance. Such standards might be found by locating a baseline of similarities to be explained by a common logic," most of which is still derived from European experience! The real task is first to take up a telescope to gain a holistic view of the global whole and its world economy/system. Only that can reveal what passive features, or more likely active factors, we then need to regard with greater care with a magnifying glass. To that task as well, we turn in the discussion of implications below.

Alas, the far reaching impact of real world global circumstance on local ones very much limits the scientific - as distinct from ideological - usefulness of all local or national histories, especially for elucidating the local manifestation of a global process or problem. This global reach of local or comparative observations also poses serious limitations to time- series and cross-sectional comparative analyses, which are restricted to an arbitrarily selected, that is differentiated, process. All of these multivariate "factor" analyses, and even moreso the identification of supposed specific "features" of this or that factor violate the scientific canons of holism and therefore miss the global real world boat. No doubt however, combining historiographic particularism and/or scientific "control" of variables with truly holistic analysis is easier said than done. Alas, hardly anyone even tries or is conscious that s/he should! Not even Bin Wong, despite being a colleague of Ken Pomeranz who does.

D. "Europeans Built a World Around Europe, as Historians Know."

That is what Fernand Braudel wrote on the dustjacket of Wallerstein's (1974) The Modern World-System. Both sought to extend the critiques summarized in Section B above by looking for other sources to account for "The Rise of the West.' That is, instead of holding a comparative eastern mirror to the West as Wong does, they show how the western image is distorted there as in a funny house mirror. They analyze the spread of the West to the South and East and their 'incorporation' into the 'European world-economy' [Braudel] by the capitalist 'Modern World-System' [Wallerstein]. Of course, they also try to analyze the structure and transformational dynamic of this 'economy/system,' but their quest is still limited to and by its alleged European origin and expansion.

The Rise of the West was the title of the major work by William McNeill (1963) with which he can be said to have fathered contemporary world history as a field of study. He criticized Toynbee for treating world history in terms of twenty-one different civilizations, when McNeill suggested that there were only three major contributory "civilizational" streams to world history and to the rise of the West. So far so good. However looking back twenty-five years after the publication of his book, McNeill (1990:9) recognized that "the central methodological weakness of my book is that while it emphasizes interactions across civilizational boundaries, it pays inadequate attention to the emergence of the ecumenical world system within which we live today." He now sees (ibid.) that his "three regions and their people remained in close and uninterrupted contact throughout the classical era" since 1500 BC, and therefore a fortiori since 1500 AD! In this modern period, however, McNeill still sees the driving motor force of world history in the West and its development. Despite his important contributions to world history McNeill still testifies to the difficulties in overcoming a Eurocentric perspective and adopting a truly global world perspective of or on the world.

These same difficulties were also insuperable for Braudel and still are so for Wallerstein and their many disciples. Braudel's "Perspective of the World" since 1500 is broader than most. He divided the world into a "European world-economy" and several other and separate external "world-economies" outside the same. Braudel did, of course, also study and describe at least parts of these "other" world economies, especially in Volume III of his trilogy on Civilization & Capitalism. Indeed, so did Marx in his own Volume III of Capital! Yet both neglected to incorporate the findings of their third volumes into the model and theory of their first volumes. Moreover, their neglect was quite conscious, intentional and deliberate: Their Eurocentrism convinced both that any and all historical model and social theory, be it universal or not, must be based on the experience of Europe alone. Their only concession was that Europe and its model did have consequences for the rest of the world.

It was Immanuel Wallerstein's (1974) The Modern World-System [and if I may say so also my own simultaneously written World Accumulation and the companion Dependent Accumulation (Frank 1978a,b)] that sought to systematize these consequences of European expansion and "capitalist" development for both Europe and the rest of the world.

Both of us emphasized the negative "underdeveloping" impact of European expansion in many other parts of the world and their contribution in turn to capital accumulation and development in Europe and then also in North America. Wallerstein focused more on the core-periphery structure of the system, which of course I also recognized under the terms center- satellite; and I focused more than he on the structurally related cyclical dynamic in the system. Both of us, Wallerstein (1974, 1980, 1989) and Frank (1978 a,b), however limited our modelling and theoretical analysis to the structure and process in the modern "world" economy/system. We saw and Wallerstein still sees this system as centered in Europe and expanding from there to incorporate more and more of the rest of the world in its own European based "world" economy.

Wallerstein (1974) did even more to incorporate the mutual relations of the European core and its periphery elsewhere in the world, in that he addresses the structure and transformation of a single political economic division of labor and its impact on core and periphery alike. However until 1750, most of the world still remains outside of his "modern world-system" and the Braudelian/ Wallersteinian "European world-economy" on which it rests. In his perspective, Europe's expansion did incorporate parts of Africa, the Caribbean and the Americas into the world-economy/ system. However as Wallerstein explicitly explains, this economy was only world-like, and not at all world- encompassing For in his view, West-, South-, and East- Asia, and indeed Russia, were only incorporated into this European world-economy/ system after 1750. So Wallerstein's "world-system" perspective, theory and analysis not only does not encompass most of the world before that. He even claims explicitly that most of the world, including all of Eurasia east of the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe played no significant part in his "world-economic/system" history.

Eric Wolf (1982) is rightly critical of others' neglect of the impact of Europe [on] the People Without History. He shows that people outside Europe did have histories of their own and how the expansion of Europe impacted on them. However, he still underestimates their mutual impact on each other; and he does not ask how the one world in which all participate together impacts on each of them. Moreover he retains, indeed even resurrects, the primacy of "modes of production," from kinship, to tributary, to capitalist based ones.

Little is gained in my view, and much better opportunities at reformulation are needlessly squandered, by inventing new latter day variations on this old theme, which append prefixes like pre-, proto-, semi-, post-, quasi-, ersatz to 'feudal' or 'capitalist' [ or for that matter socialist] categories and/or those that are little more than euphemistic substitutes. Thus Eric Wolf (1982) and Samir Amin (1991) refer to a so-called "tributary mode of production," which supposedly characterised the whole world before 1500 according to the former and much of it still until 1800 according to the latter. Yet regardless of the variety of their domestic relations - never mind mode/s - of production, far more important is participation in a single world economy, which is only obscured by this undue or even misplaced emphasis on "modes of production." The same is still the case for Gates (1996), who builds her analysis of a thousand years of China's Motor on "the tributary and petty- capitalist modes of production" and is hard put to show, as she tries, how and why it is these that support and promote patriarchy in China.

Moreover, despite Alan Smith's (1991) attempt to encompass Creating a World Economy, from the birth and spread of "capitalism" in and from Europe,

That remains the view also in the new 'classics' like Braudel's (1992) The Perspective of the World, Wallerstein's (1974) Modern World-System, and Wolf's (1982) Europe and the Peoples without History. The same still continues right up to 1997 in more recent conscious efforts to transcend Eurocentrism as in Abu- Lughod's (1989) Before European Hegemony [which ends in 1350 and previews a new beginning in Europe] and Chaudhuri's (1990) Asia Before Europe [whose subtitle established Indian Ocean limits, and does not attempt an economic history even of that], to Blaut's (1993) The Colonizers Model of the World [who criticizes Eurocentrism but offers no replacement and attempts no world economic history], Arrighi's (1994) The Long Twentieth Century, Snooks' (1994) Was the Industrial Revolution Necessary? and The Dynamic Society (1996), Sanderson's (1995) Social Transformation, Modelski & Thompson's (1996) Leading Sectors and World Powers, Adams' (1996) Paths of Fire, and Chase-Dunn & Hall's (1997) Rise and Demise.

All of them still insists that a sharp "break" in world history occurred around 1500, not only because Europeans found the Americas and new way to the Orient in 1492 and 1498; but because that initiated the development of capitalism in Europe, and its dissemination from there.

That is, most received economic and other history not only neglect and/or distort especially the Asian parts of real world [economic] history. Nor does it only fail in its total disregard of the whole world economy, which is more than the sum of its Asian, African, American, and European parts. Perhaps even more significant is that thereby Eurocentric history and social theory cannot even account for or explain the fundamentals of European and Western [economic] history itself. For it neglects even to inquire into how the structure, dynamic, and transformation of the world economy also shaped the [economic] history of Europe and the West itself - and quite fundamentally so, as it appears if we only trouble to look.

Thus it seems to be this gospel about the European development of the modern world capitalist economy and system since 1500 or whenever that forms the Maginot line of defense behind which one and all put of their greatest resistance to seeing the real world. As noted above, Wallerstein (1995) rejects all initiatives to erase this sacrosanct 1500 dividing line. Alas, according to Wolf (1982) it is in 1800, to Marx and so many others sometime between 1600 and 1800, and according to Braudel (1992) all the time between 1100 and 1600. Chase-Dunn and Hall (1997) also insist that the rise of Europe and the West must be understood as part and parcel of more than two thousand years of Eurasian development. Nonetheless, they too still regard the modern period as a new departure since 1500 into capitalism, which was initiated in and by Europe. The Gulbenkian Commission Report on Open the Social Sciences, written mostly by Wallerstein (1996) denounces the Eurocentric false "universalism" of nineteenth and twentieth century Western social science, as exemplified in the opening epigraph of this chapter. Yet even this urgent call to reconsider the bases of the social sciences for the twenty-first century also does not rattle at its apparently sacrosanct cage of the European origin and center of capitalism and all that allegedly follows.

Yet, as Marshall Hodgson (1993) already wrote before his untimely death in 1968


How then did the West "rise," if there was nothing exceptional about it or its mode of production and it did not even entertain any hopes of hegemony before 1800? The inescapable conclusion is that there must have been some other "factors" at work or that some as yet unspecified circumstances let or made these factors work within them. We have seen that most efforts to address this question have heretofore suffered from misplaced concreteness, because they looked for these factors only under the European streetlight. Yet since the West was part and parcel of the global world economy the West could not "rise" on its own or by itself. Instead, any such western rise must have been within the world economy itself. Therefore, it is useless to look for the "causes" of this rise only or even primarily within the West or in any part of it -- unless the "use" for doing so is only ideological, that is to pat oneself on the back and put all others down as incompetent.

Notwithstanding all their avowals of and appeals to holistically studying the totality, Eurocentrists from Hegel and Marx to Rostow and Redfield all failed to do so with their focus on the West and their exclusion of most of the world in the East. That may be evidence that it is easier said than done. But at a minimum, a holistic, never mind universalist, study of the world and its transformation could and should at least begin with the whole world.

In particular, the entire question of "The Rise of the West" must be re-conceptualized and re-phrased. The evidence suggests that the question must be addressed to the whole world economy/system itself and not just to any British, European, Western, and/or now East Asian part/s of the same. The only solution is to cut the Eurocentric gordian knot and approach the whole question from a different paradigmatic perspective. That is a fortiori the case if we consider the further controversy about whether there even was an industrial "revolution" or only and "evolution" and expansion -- which was world economic. [The thesis of Rostow and others that there was a sudden jump in the British rate of capital accumulation has long since been disconfirmed].

The "Rise of the West" in Europe, therefore was not a case of pulling itself up by its own bootstraps nor even with the exploitation of its colonies. More properly, the "Rise of the West" must be seen as occurring at that time in the world economy/system by engaging in NIE import substitution and export promotion strategies to climb up on the shoulders of the Asian economies. The [cyclical?] decline of Asian economies and regional hegemonies, facilitated this European climb up.

The same point is made by Jack Goody, who writes

Alas although Goody may take a global point of departure beginning in the Bronze Age in his final chapter entitled "Revaluations," he does not pursue it to offer even the barest outlines of a global process since then and certainly not for the early modern period, for which he reverts partly to comparisons as in our Section C above and mostly to the type A telling it as it really was in this and that part of the East. Also P.W. Preston (1996) invokes globalism as the remedy to shortcomings he surveys in Development Theory. An Introduction, yet he does only in his final chapters where it appears as no more than a principle that he never tries to implement.

So, how to analyze this global whole holistically, which no one has yet even attempted for world developments either before or after 1500? In previous writings (Gills and Frank 1991, Frank and Gills 1993), I have suggested the analogy of a three legged stool. It rests equally on ecological/ economic/ technological; political/ military power; and social/ cultural/ ideological legs. The most neglected of these, also in my own work, has been the ecological component. After that all "economic history" notwithstanding, the most neglected basis has been the economic one. My ReOrient and this and other articles derived form it offer at least some preliminary step towards a partial remedy of this particular neglect. However, it hardly addresses the question of how holistically to combine the analyses of the three legged stool.

The political economic structure of the world economy/system requires far more study than it has received. As already observed, economic historians have neglected it altogether. Economists have mistaken it for "international" economic relations among non- existent "national" economies. Students of international [political] relations have done what they say, that is study relations among "nation" states as their basic building blocks. World-system analysts have confined themselves to only a small part of the real world economy/system before 1750 that was centered on Europe. That was something but not much more than what historians and political economists were already doing. Students of East-, Southeast-, South-, West-, not to mention Central- Asia and Africa have rarely sought to fit their regions into a wider economy. Even when they have done so, their endeavours have also been mostly European centered. As already noted, the recent exceptions are Abu-Lughod (1989) and Chaudhuri (1991), whose limitations we have observed above. Therefore lacking sufficient pioneers to follow and build on, this book has also been able take no more than a few preliminary steps to look at the world economy as a whole. Far more work is needed, but from a really globally holistic world systemic perspective, and not only from this or that regional, including the European regional, limitation. Moreover, the discussion here has itself been very limited to only the economic part of the ecological/ economic/ technological leg, and makes scarce mention even of the other two legs of the three legged stool.

A most particular contention about historical "particularity" is the widespread notion that the present and/or the recent past marks a dis-continuous new departure. As already noted, the latest such fad is the alleged novelty of "globalization." The argument here has been that historical continuity has been far more important than any and all dis-continuities. The perception of a major new departure, which allegedly spells a dis-continuous break in world history, is substantially [mis] informed by a Eurocentric vantage point. Once we abandon this Eurocentrism and adopt a more globally holistic world or even pan EurAsian perspective, dis-continuity is replaced by far more continuity. Or the other way around? Once we look upon the whole world more holistically, historical continuity looms much larger, especially in Asia. Indeed as suggested in the preceding chapters, the very "Rise of the West" itself then appears derived from this global historical continuity.

East Asia's rise to world economic prominence makes it all the more urgent to focus on the long historical continuity of which this process is a part. The now supposed dis-continuous but really renewed rise of the "East" must also be seen as part and parcel of the fundamental structure and continuity in world development. Recognizing and analyzing this continuity will reveal much more than myopically focusing on the alleged "dis-continuities." Perhaps it would be better to refer to two major early modern "inflections" in an essentially continuous historical process and dynamic within the same world economy and system: One was the "Columbian exchange" after the incorporation of the "New World" into the Old one after 1500. The other was the "exchange" of demographic and economic productivity growth rates and perhaps of ecological pressures on resources between Asia and Europe, which generated the "industrial revolution" around 1800. Both, however, were [only] inflections in and generated by a process of world economic development. In both cases, Europeans were acting more as instruments than as initiators of global development.


Despite all the allegations to the contrary, on the evidence there can be no reasonable doubt that there was a globe encircling world-wide trading system and division of labor long before "Europeans built a world around themselves, as historians know." Janet Abu- Lughod (1989) outlined a "thirteenth century world system" with some "regional" patterns, which persist in the world economy through the eighteenth century. She identified three major - and within each of these some minor - regions, in eight mutually overlapping regional ellipses that covered Afro-Eurasia in her account of the world economy. These included regions centered - going from west to east - on Europe, the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, the South China Sea, as well as Inner Asia. All of these regions continued to play more or less major, but not equal, roles in the world economic division of labor and system of "international" trade, despite the addition of an Atlantic ellipse in the sixteenth century.

This global economy bound agricultural "hinterlands" and peripheries to their respective provincial and regional metropolitan centers and maritime port and/or inland emporia cities. These in turn developed and maintained dense and far-reaching inter-provincial, inter-regional, and world systemic inter-"national" economic relations. These were most visible through traders and trade, and in their resultant imbalances of trade. However, the former also reflected widespread and deepgoing inter-regional and inter-sectoral complementarities and competition in the global division of labor. All of these in turn also reflect the relative - and indeed absolute - weight and dominance of the Asian economies, and of China in particular. This global multilateral trade, also in Asia, was expanded through the infusion of American money by the Europeans. Indeed, that is what permitted Europeans to increase their participation in the global economy, which until and even through the eighteenth century remained dominated by Asian production, competitiveness, and trade.

However among these regions, some were certainly more equal than others; and their relative positions also underwent some cyclical or other temporal changes. Although the Atlantic Ocean displaced the Baltic and Mediterranean Seas as the preponderant locus of European trade in the eighteenth century, it still did not begin to match the importance of the Indian Ocean and the China Sea regions in the world economy and its trade. A number of works by mostly Asian historians are helping to put the Indian Ocean economy on the map, as its important place and role in history well merits. China was the focus of a Sino-centric sub-system in East Asia, whose economic weight in the world has been grossly underestimated, even when it has been recognized at all, which itself has been all too rare. The work of Hamashita (1988,1994) and the proposed research by him and Arrighi and Selden (1996) are designed to help remedy this serious deficiency. There were also longstanding bilateral relations of China with Central Asia and the trilateral ones with Korea and Japan, and the significant roles of the coastal regions of China, of emporia and other ports on the South China Sea and in Southeast Asia and the Ryukus, and of the trading diasporas especially of "Overseas Chinese," which not incidentally continue to play their vital roles today. None of this global pattern of inter-regional division of labor and trade corresponds to the received image of a "modern capitalist world- economy" that began in Europe and only then expanded to "incorporate" one region after another elsewhere in the world until the West dominated them all.

Instead, the international division of labor and relative sectoral productivity and regional competitiveness in the world economy were reflected the pattern of trade balances and money flows on a global scale. In the structure of the world economy, four major regions maintained built-in deficits of commodity trade: The Americas, Japan, Africa and Europe. The first two balanced their deficit by producing silver money for export. Africa exported gold money and slaves. Southeast Asia and West Asia also produced some silver and gold money, which contributed to balance their trade. Unlike Europe however, they were able also to produce some other commodities for which there also was an export demand. Both Southeast and West Asia also realized "export" earnings from their respective locations at the south eastern and south western trade turntables of the central Asian economies. To some extent, so did Central Asia.

That is in economic terms, all of these deficitary regions nonetheless also produced some "commodities" for which there was a demand elsewhere in the world economy. The fourth deficitary region, Europe, was hardly able to produce anything of its own for export with which to balance its perpetual trade deficit. Europe managed to do so primarily by "managing" the exports of the three other deficitary regions, from Africa to the Americas, from the Americas to Asia, and from Asia to Africa and the Americas. The Europeans also participated to some extent in trade within Asia, especially between Japan and elsewhere. This intra- Asian "country" trade was marginal for Asia but nonetheless vital for Europe, which earned more from it than from its own trade with Asia. However, none of this European participation in world trade and the global division of labor would have been possible without European colonial access to American silver, of which more below.

The two major regions that generated and export surplus and were most "central" to the world economy were India and China. That centrality rested primarily on their outstanding absolute and relative productivity in manufactures. In India, these were primarily its cotton textiles that dominated the world market, and to a lesser extent its silk textiles, especially in India's most productive Bengali region. Of course, this competitiveness in manufacturing also rested on productivity on the land and in transport and commerce. They supplied the inputs necessary to supply raw materials to industry, food to workers, and transport and trade for both, as well as for export and import.

The other, and even more "central" economy was China. Its even greater centrality was based on its even greater absolute and relative productivity in industry, agriculture, [water] transport, and trade. China's even greater, indeed the world economy's greatest, productivity, competitiveness and centrality was reflected in its most favorable balance of trade. That was based primarily on its world economic export leadership in silks and ceramics and its exports also of gold and copper coin and later of tea. These exports in turn made China the "ultimate sink" of the world's silver, which flowed there to balance China's almost perpetual export surplus. Of course, China was only able to satisfy its insatiable "demand" for silver; because it also had an inexhaustible supply of exports, which were in perpetual demand elsewhere in the world economy.

Of course, the emphasis here is on the global economy and within it of China's and Asia's preponderant place and role in the world economy. Thus another "regionalization" of the world economy may emerge, which could be visualized in the form of concentric circles. Among these, China [and within that the Yangtze Valley and/or South China] would form the innermost circle. The "East Asian Tribute Trade System" studied by Hamashita (1988,1994) would form the next circle, which beyond China included at the very least parts of Central Asia, Korea, Japan, and Southeast Asia. However, the boundaries of this circle were porous and uncertain, and Hamashita himself recognizes its extension to South Asia. That in turn of course had millenarian old close relations with West Asia and East Africa, as well as with Central Asia, which in turn became increasingly enmeshed with Russia and that with China. These regions could be said to form a next outer band, which we can then perhaps identify as an Asian, or Afro-Asian, regional circle. To what extent this [Afro]Asian economy had an identifiable economic structure and dynamic of its own has not really been investigated yet, also not in the present account.

Within this global circle, we can then successively view the smaller concentric Asian, East [and South?] Asian, and Chinese economic circles. Europe and across the Atlantic the Americas would then occupy their rightful places in the outer band of the concentric circles, since Asia also had economic relations with Europe and through its mediation with the Americas. These included the trade from Asia directly across the Pacific via the Manila Galleon trade between Acapulco in Mexico [or El Callao near Lima] and Manila in the Philippines. Apart from focusing on China, East Asia, and Asia respectively as major world economic regions, such a concentric circle mapping of the global economy also puts Europe and even the Atlantic economy in their marginal place.

This Asian economic predominance also means that European the supposed technological 'advance' and especially its 'seventeenth century scientific revolution' and the latter's alleged contribution to technological innovation are pure Eurocentric myths (Adams 1996, Shapin 1996, Frank 1997). At least four different but related kinds of evidence and argument must lead us to reject the received wisdom's mythology about the alleged technological and institutional superiority of Europe over Asia before 1800. They are the evidence of technological advance and institutional sophistication in various parts of Asia and their comparison with European ones, the fact that in response to world economic relations and competition these technologies and institutions were widely diffused in all directions whenever it was profitable to do so, and the myth of the alleged contribution of the 'seventeenth century scientific revolution' in Europe to the development of technology itself.

Increased Asian output, export and competitiveness also required and fomented technological development in Asia. Thus, the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries witnessed not only growing production and export in China, but to support the same also significant increases in productivity and technological progress. This occurred especially in the ceramics, silk, cotton, printing and publishing [copper/lead alloys for casting movable characters] industries, sugar manufacturing, and new techniques and machinery for irrigated and dry agriculture and the processing of agricultural products, as well of course as the introduction of new crops from the Americas. There can be no doubt that India also developed improved technology and increased productivity in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, especially in the textile and arms industries, in which competition required and stimulated the same. Similarly, many parts of Asia also had and adapted the political economic and financial institutions that were necessary to manage this technology, production and trade.

The third and still more important reason that casts even more than doubt on the thesis of European technological superiority is derivative from the above observations: There was no European technology! In the world-wide division of labor in a competitive world economy, long-standing national, regional, or sectoral technological superiority could not be maintained as long as at least some other real or potential competitors had sufficient interest and capacity to acquire such technology as well. That is, the development of technology, like all economic development, was a world economic process, which took place in and because of the structure of the world economy/system itself. It is true that this world economy/system was and still is structurally unequal and temporally uneven. However, it is not true that technological or any other "development" was essentially locally, regionally, nationally, or culturally determined; nor that any one place or people had any essential "monopoly" or even "superiority" within this world economy/system. Still less was or is it the case that any such alleged "superiority" was based on anybody's "exceptional" institutions, culture, "civilization" or "race!"

A fourth reason to reject the received Eurocentric wisdom about science and technology is that the 'seventeenth century scientific revolution' and its alleged contribution to technological development in Europe is itself no more than a myth. The contemporary Francis Bacon already observed "the overmuch credit that hath been given unto authors in sciences [for alleged contributions to] arts mechanical [and their] first deviser" [cited in Adams 1996:56). Three centuries later, Kuhn looked back over The Structure of Scientific Revolution and observed [in a later publication] that "I think nothing but mythology prevents our realizing quite how little the development of the intellect need have had to do with that of technology during all but the most recent stage of human history" (cited in Adams 1996:56-57). All serious inquiries into the matter show that this "stage" did not begin until the second half of the nineteenth century and really not until after 1870, that is a full two centuries after the beginnings of the industrial revolution itself. More recently, Shapin (1996:140) concludes that "it now appears unlikely that the 'high theory' of the Scientific Revolution had any substantial direct effect on economically useful technology in either the seventeenth century or the eighteenth." Also Robert Adams (1996) reviews any and all relations between technology and science, including the "seventeenth century scientific revolution" and finds on at least a dozen occasions (ibid: 56, 60, 62, 65, 67, 72, 98, 101, 103, 131, 137, 256) that scientists and their science made NO significant visible contribution to new technology before the late nineteenth century.


Having sketched this global economy out in spacial and sectoral terms, we are now in a better position to inquire into its cyclical ups and downs and its transformation over the long term. Early modern and modern [and therefore presumably also future] history themselves have a millenarian long history. Moreover as Herodotus already pointed out, it has been a continuously common and cyclical or at least pulsating history throughout all of AfroEurasia (Frank & Gills 1993). The present millennium began with a period of AfroEurasian-wide political economic expansion. It was apparently centered at its far "eastern" end in Song China, but it also accelerated an accentuated re- insertion of its "western" end in Europe, which responded by going on several Crusades to plug its marginal economy more effectively into the new Afro- Eurasian dynamic. A period of pan-AfroEurasian political economic decline and even crisis followed in the late thirteenth and especially in the fourteenth century.

Another long period of expansion began in the early fifteenth century, again in East and Southeast Asia. It soon included Central, South and West Asia, and after the mid fifteenth century also Africa and Europe. The "discovery" and then conquest of the Americas and the subsequent "Columbian exchange" and then European "Ecological Imperialism" were a direct result, and part and parcel, of this world economy/system wide expansion (Crosby 1972, 1986). So if there was a "new departure," it was the incorporation of the Americas and then also of Australasia into this already ongoing world historical process and then global system. However, not only the initiative but also the very causes and then forms of execution of this incorporation had been generated by the structure and dynamic of the AfroEurasian historical process itself. It was the renewed economic expansion that started in East, Southeast and South Asia in 1400 and reached Europe by 1450 which attracted Columbus and Vasco da Gama in 1492 and 1498.

Indeed, another expression of historical [hysterical?] Eurocentrism is the by now 'traditional' claim that these dates mark an alleged world historical 'break' and new departure around 1500 AD -- to end 'volume 1' and begin 'volume 2' of so many standard and text books on 'world' history. Of course, the choice of the 1500 date is a crass manifestation of European perspective, even though the Americas experienced an arguably more important break and new departure when nine tenth of its population began to be wiped out by European germs and exploitation. Nonetheless, 1500 was not a significant date for most of the world's population and for the dynamic of the world economy based in Asia. Its new 'departure' if any was around 1000 AD in Song China, and again in 1400 when another world economic expansion began in East, Southeast, South, West and Central Asia. So it is disconcerting and alarming indeed to find the editor of the Journal of World History, Jerry Bentley still telling the readers of American Historical Review in 1996 that allegedly not only Atlantic history, but "Periodization in World History" also calls for a break in 1500.

For the "long sixteenth century" expansion in fact began in Asia in the early fifteenth century; and it continued in Asia through the seventeenth and into much of the eighteenth centuries. Indeed, this economic expansion was primarily Asian based, although it was also fuelled by the new supplies of silver and golden money now brought by the Europeans from the Americas. In Asia, this expansion took the form of rapid growth of population, production, trade including imports and exports, and presumably income and consumption in China, Japan, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, India, Persia, and the Ottoman lands. Politically, the expansion was manifested and/or managed by the flourishing Chinese Ming/Qing, Japanese Tokugawa, Indian Mughal, Persian Safavid, and Turkish Ottoman regimes. The European populations and economies grew more slowly than all but the last of the above, and they did so rather differentially among each other. So did some "national" and other quite multi-ethnic European states, all of which were however much smaller than the large ones in Asia.

Thus, population grew much more and faster in Asia than in Europe before inflecting after 1750. Indeed in the centuries before that, European population grew at only 0.3 to 0.4 per cent per year and maintained a stable 20 percent of the world population total. At the same time, Asian population grew at 0.6 per cent a year, and even faster in China and India, so that the Asian share of the world total rose from 60 to 66 percent. However, the Asian population was not only much larger and faster growing. To support its faster growing population, Asia also was able to produce more and more productively. Indeed, in 1750 Asia's 66 percent share of the world's population produced 80 percent of the world's GNP, while Europe's 20 percent of population produced less than the remaining 20 percent of world output, since Africa and the Americas also contributed to the same -- and to European GNP itself. Per capita income in Asia and especially in China was also higher than in Europe (Bairoch 1981, Frank 1998).

Thus, the already long existent global economy and "world system" as well as its "international" division of labor and trade widened and deepened during this long period of primarily Asian based economic expansion. However as usual, different productive sectors and regions were differentially situated in this "system" of accumulation, production, exchange, and consumption, which were de facto on a "silver standard." The differentiation in productivity and competitiveness that underlay the division of labor and exchange were manifest in im-balances of trade and "compensated" by flows over long distances of mostly silver specie money.

Most of this silver was produced in the Americas and some also in Japan and elsewhere. Reflecting the macroeconomic imbalances and also responding to corresponding microeconomic opportunities to make and take profit, the silver moved around the world in a predominantly eastward direction across the Atlantic and - via Europe - across the Indian Ocean, and westward across the Pacific from the Americas and Japan. Ultimately, the largest silver "sink" was in China, whose relatively greatest productivity and competitiveness acted like a magnet for the largest quantity of silver. However there as elsewhere, the incoming money generated increased effective demand and stimulated increased production and consumption and thereby supported population growth. The new supply of money failed to do so where the political economy was insufficiently flexible and expandable to permit growth of production to keep pace with the increase in the supply of money. In that case rising effective demand drove up prices in inflation, which is what happened in Europe.

Europe's disadvantaged position in the world economy was partly compensated by its privileged access to American money. On the demand side, the use of their American money - and only that - permitted the Europeans to enter into and then increase their market share in the world market, all of whose dynamic centers were in Asia. On the supply side, access to and use of cheap - to the Europeans virtually free - money in the Americas afforded the wherewithal to acquire the supplies of real consumption and investment goods world-wide: servile labor and materials in the Americas to dig up the silver in the first place; slave labor from Africa; and from a European perspective virgin soil and climate also in the Americas. These resources were used to produce sugar, tobacco, timber for ships and other export crops later including especially cotton at low cost for European consumption. West European imports via the Baltic Sea of grain, timber, and iron from eastern and northern Europe was also paid for with American money and some textiles. And of course their American supplied money was the only means of payment that permitted Europeans to import all those famed Asian spices, silks, cotton textiles and other real goods for their own consumption and also for re- export to the Americas and Africa. Asians produced these goods and sold them to Europeans only for their American supplied silver. That is, all these real goods that were produced by non-Europeans became cheaply, indeed nearly freely, available to Europeans; because they had and were able to pay for them with their American supplied money. Indeed, this silver - also produced by non-Europeans - was the only export good that the Europeans were able to bring to the world market.

Additionally moreover, this supply of goods produced by labor and raw materials outside of Europe also replaced and freed alternative resources for other uses within Europe: American sugar and Atlantic cod fish supplied calories for consumption for which Europe did not have to use their own farmland; Asian cotton textiles supplied clothes for which to European consumers and producers did not have to use wool from European sheep that would have eaten European grass. Otherwise, that grass would in turn have had to be produced on still more enclosures of land for even more 'sheep to eat [some] men' so as to produce still more wool to clothe others. Thus, the import of Asian textiles with American money indirectly also permitted Europeans to produce more food and timber in Western Europe itself. Thus, Europeans were able to use their position in the world economy both to supplement its own supplies and resources by drawing directly on those from the Americas to the west and Eastern Europe and Asia to the east. The supply of these additional resources to Europe from the outside also freed European resources for use in its own development.

So the turn of the eighteenth century was not marked by Europe's alleged absolute or relative development nor by any Asian 'traditional' backwardness or stagnation. On the contrary and perhaps paradoxically, it was Asia's economic development and Europe's backwardness that set the stage for the simultaneous cyclical "Decline of the East" and "Rise of the West." Europe's still productive backwardness may have offered some of the "advantages" to catch up, discussed by Gerschenkron (1962). Europe's backwardness incentivated and its supply of American money permitted Europeans to pursue micro- and macro-economic advantages, which were to be had from increased European participation in the expanding Asian economies from 1500 to 1800. Of course, Europeans also took advantage of their increasing political economic relations with Africa and the Americas, including especially the "triangular" trade/s among all three. All of these, including of course also investing profits derived from all of these overseas political economic relations at home, contributed to capital accumulation in Europe, or more precisely to Europe's participation in World Accumulation 1482-1789, to use my earlier title (Frank 1978).

Finally, Europe arrived somewhere [in the world economy!] after three centuries of trying to do business in Asia since 1500 and the above mentioned earlier European attempts through the crusades, etc. to benefit from Asian wealth. The roots of the post 1800 "Rise of the West" and "Decline of the East" can and must be accounted for in WORLD-wide economic and demographic terms, in which the economies of Asia played a major role.


My explanation has three related parts. A combination of demographic and micro-/macro-economic analysis identifies an inflection of population and economic productivity growth rates that led to an "exchange" of places between Asia and Europe in the world economy/system between 1750 and 1850. Microeconomic analysis of world-wide supply-and-demand relations and relative economic and ecological factor prices can show how they generated incentives for labor and capital saving and energy producing invention, investment and innovation, which took place in Europe. On the other hand, macroeconomic analysis of cyclical distribution of income and derivative effective demand and supply in Asia illuminate the opportunity to do so profitably in world economic terms.

Another important aspect of this structure and conjuncture is examined by Pomeranz (1997), who also constructs his argument in at least partly global terms. He argues that the previous long period of economic and population growth that he also finds predominant in China exerted differential ecological demands and opportunities on the resource base among various regions in the world. By the end of the eighteenth century, according to his analysis, these ecological pressures in turn stimulated and favored the conversion to new sources of power, in Britain and Western Europe, especially from coal instead of wood and through steam instead of mechanical and animal traction. This ecological/economic and the demographic/ economic structure and conjuncture were of course related and require further analysis in relation to each other. The more detailed analysis is offered in Chapter 6 "How Did the West Win [Temporarily]?" of my book ReOrient (Frank 1998). In what follows here, I reproduce only the conclusion to which that analysis leads.

At the turn of the eighteenth-nineteenth centuries the above mentioned factors in world economic competitive and comparative circumstances, changes, and transformation generated the following results:

- India continued but was threatened in its competitive dominance on the world textile market on the basis of cheap and also bonded skilled labor. Domestic supplies of cotton, food and other wage goods continued to be ample and cheap; and productive, trade and financial organization and transport remained relatively efficient despite suffering from increasing economic and political difficulties. However, supplies of alternative power and materials, eg. from coal and iron/steel, were relatively scarce and expensive. Therefore, Indians had little economically rational incentive to invest in innovations at this time. They were further impeded from doing so first by economic decline beginning already in the second quarter of the eighteenth century or earlier; then by the [resulting?] decline in population growth and British colonialism from the third quarter onwards; and finally from a combination of both decline and colonialism as well as "Drain" of capital from India to Britain. India switched from being a net exporter to being a net importer of cotton textiles in 1816. However India did continue to struggle on the textile market and began again to increase textile production - by then also in factories - and exports in the last third of the nineteenth century.

- China still retained its world market dominance in ceramics, partially in silk and increasingly in tea, and remained substantially self-sufficient in textiles. China's balance of trade and payments surplus continued into the early nineteenth century. Therefore China had availability and concentration of capital from both domestic and foreign sources. However, China's natural deposits of coal were distant from its possible utilization for the generation and industrial use of power, so that progressive deforestation still did not make it economical to switch from wood to coal for fuel. Moreover, transport via inland canals and coastal shipping, as well as by road, remained efficient and cheap [but not from outlying coal deposits].

This economic efficiency and competitiveness of the Chinese on both domestic and world markets also rested on absolutely and comparatively cheap labor costs. Even if per-capita income was higher than elsewhere, as Bairoch notes, and its distribution was no more unequal than elsewhere [as Pomeranz and Goldstone claim], the wage good cost of production was low, both absolutely and relatively. Labor was abundant for agriculture and industry, and agricultural products were cheaply available also for industrial workers and therefore to their employers, who could pay their workers low subsistence wages. Goldstone (1996) emphasizes one reason: Women were tied to the villages and therefore remained available for [cheap] agricultural production. Pomeranz (1997) emphasizes a related reason: Urban industrial workers were still able to draw for part of their subsistence on "their" villages [as in Yugoslavia during industrialization after World War II], which was produced cheaply in part by the women to whom Goldstone refers. In other words from an entrepreneurial industrial employer and market perspective, wage goods were absolutely and relative cheap; because agriculture produced them efficiently and cheaply also with female labor. The "institutional" distribution of cheap food to urban and other workers in industry, transport, trade and other services was functionally equivalent to what it would also have been if the functional distribution of income had been MORE unequal than it was. The availability of labor was high, its supply price low, its demand for consumer goods attenuated; and there was little incentive to invest in labor saving or alternative energy using production or transport. Elvin (1973) sought to summarize such circumstances in his "equilibrium trap." Even so, China still remained competitive on the world market and maintained its export surplus. Emperor Ch'ien Lung said in his 1793 message to King George III of England "I set no value on objects strange and ingenious and have no use for your country's manufactures" (Schurman and Schell 1967, I:108-109).

- Western Europe and particularly Britain were hard put to compete especially with India and China. Europe was still dependent on India for cotton textiles and on China for ceramics and silks that Europe re-exported and from which it profited in its [economic and/or political] colonies in Africa and the Americas. Moreover, Europe remained dependent on its colonies for most of the money it needed to pay for these imports, both for re-export and for its own consumption and other use, eg, as inputs for its own production and export. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, there was a decline in the marginal if not also the absolute inflow of precious metals and other profits through the slave trade and plantations from the European colonies in Africa and the Americas. To recoup and even to maintain - never mind to increase - its [world and even domestic] market share Europeans collectively and its entrepreneurs individually had to attempt to increase their penetration of at least some markets, and to do so either by eliminating competition politically/militarily or by undercutting it by lowering its own costs of production, or both.

Opportunity to do so knocked when the "Decline" began in India and West Asia, if not yet in China. Wage and other costs of production and transport were still uncompetitively high in Britain and elsewhere in Europe. However especially after 1750, rising incomes and declining mortality rates sharply increased the rate and amount of population growth. Moreover, the displacement of surplus labor from agriculture increased its potential supply to industry. At the same time, the imposition of British colonialism on India reversed the perennial capital outflow to India and turned it into "The Drain" from India and into Britain. Moreover, a combination of commercial and colonial measures would permit the import of much more raw cotton to Britain and Western Europe. Deforestation and ever scarcer supplies of wood and charcoal and rendered these more expensive.

At the same time since the second third of the eighteenth century, first relative and then absolute declines in the cost of coal made the replacement of charcoal [and peat] by hard coal increasingly economical and then common in Britain. The Kondratieff B phase in the last third of the eighteenth century generated technological inventions and improvements in textile manufacturing and steam engines [first to pump water out of coal pits and then also to supply motive power to the textile industry]. At the turn of the eighteenth-nineteenth centuries, the "first" A phase [identified by Kondratieff] and the Napoleonic wars generated increased investment in and the expansion of these new productive facilities and then also of transport equipment. Ever more of the available but still relatively high cost labor force was incorporated into the "factory system." Production increased rapidly; real wages and income declined; and "the workshop of the world" conquered ever more foreign markets through "free trade." Yet even then, British colonialism had to prohibit free trade to India and recurred to the export of its opium to force an "Open Door" into China.

- Most other parts of the world still fall through the cracks of our world economic analysis. Yet in brief, we can observe that most of Africa may have had labor/land ratios at least as favorable to labor saving investment as Europe. However Africa did not have an analogous resource base [except the still undeveloped one in Southern Africa], and far from having a capital inflow, Africa suffered from capital outflow. The same was true of the Caribbean. Latin America had resources and labor, but also suffered from colonial and neo- colonial capital outflow as well as specialization in raw materials exports, while its domestic markets were captured by European exports. West, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia became increasingly captive markets for if not also colonies of Europe and its industry, to which they supplied the raw materials that they had previously themselves processed for domestic consumption and export. In the nineteenth century, only the European "settler colonies" in North America, Australasia, Argentina, and Southern Africa were able to find other places in the international division of labor, and China and Japan were able to continue offering significant resistance. But that is another - later - story, which will lead to the Re-emergence of East Asia in the world economy today.

In short [conclusion], changing world demographic/ economic/ ecological circumstances suddenly - and for most people including Adam Smith unexpectedly - made a number of related investments economically rational and profitable: in machinery and processes that saved labor input per unit of output, thus increasing the productivity and use of labor and its total output; increasing productive power generation; and increasingly productive employment and productivity of capital. This transformation of the productive process was initially concentrated in selected industrial, agricultural, and service sectors in those parts of the world economy whose comparative competitive POSITION made -- and then continually re-made -- such Newly Industrializing Economies [NIE] import substituting and export promoting measures economically rational and politically possible. Thus, this transformation was and continues to be only a temporally localized and still shifting manifestation of a WORLD economic process, even if it is not spread uniformly around the world -- as historically nothing ever has been and still is not likely. The suggestion is that it was not over-all poverty and still less tradition or failure that handicapped Asia in world economic competition relative to Europe around 1800. Rather, in Marxist and Schumpeterian terms, it was their very success that generated failure. For the competitive handicap of the Asian economies was generated by its previous absolute and relative success in responding to the economic incentives of the 500 year long cycle "A" phase expansion that began in 1400, which that lasted through the eighteenth century, which the inflow of American money financed. That turns all received theory on its head.


Received theory attributes the industrial revolution and the "rise" of the West to its alleged "exceptionality" and "superiority." The source of the same is sought in turn in the also alleged long standing or even primeval Western preparation for take-off. This contention mistakes the place and misplaces the "concreteness" of the transformation by looking for it in Europe itself. Yet the "causes" of the transformation can never be understood as long as they are examined only under the European streetlight and must instead be sought under the world-wide global illumination in the system as a whole.

For the comparative and relational real world historical evidence examined above shows that, contrary to received historiography and social theory, it was not the alleged prior European "development" that poised it for "take off" after 1800. That is, the rise of the West after 1800 was not really the result of the its "continuous" European preparation since the Renaissance, let alone thanks to any Greek or Judaic roots thereof. Instead, the industrial revolution was an unforseen event, which took place in a part of Europe as a result of the continuing unequal structure and uneven process of 'development' in and of the world economy as a whole. That process of world development, however, also includes new departures in some of its regions and sectors that may appear discontinuous. It may indeed be the case that the industrial "revolution," like the agricultural one before it, was an inflection in a continuous global development, which marks a "departure" in a vector and direction that is different from the previous one and is perhaps irreversible -- short of total cataclysm, which may itself lie at the end of that vector. Thus, the systemic global structure and continuity that generated the "rise" of the West marked a departure in the West, which did not continue its earlier marginal position. Instead, there was a discontinuous departure of the global economy into a more industrial direction and a shift in the position of the West within the world economic system as a whole.

The argument - and the evidence! - is that world development between 1400 and 1800 reflects not Asia's weakness but its strength, and not Europe's nonexistent strength but rather its relative weakness in the global economy. For it was all these regions' joint participation and place in the single but unequally structured and unevenly changing global economy that resulted also in changes in their relative positions in the world. The common global economic expansion since 1400 long benefited the Asian centers earlier and more than marginal Europe, Africa, and the Americas. However, this very economic benefit turned into a growing absolute and relative disadvantage for one Asian region after another in the late eighteenth century. Production and trade began to atrophy as growing population and income, but also their economic and social polarization, exerted pressure on resources, constrained effective demand at the bottom, and increased the availability of cheap labor in Asia more than elsewhere in the world.

Perhaps it would be better to refer to two major early modern "inflections" in an essentially continuous historical process and dynamic within the same world economy and system: One was the "Columbian exchange" after the incorporation of the "New World" into the Old one after 1500. The other was the "exchange" of demographic and economic productivity growth rates and perhaps of ecological pressures on resources between Asia and Europe, which generated the "industrial revolution" around 1800. Both, however, were [only] inflections in and generated by a process of world economic development. In both cases, Europeans were acting more as instruments than as initiators of global development.

Nonetheless, the argument here has been instead that global historical continuity has been far more important than any and all its dis-continuities. The perception of a major new departure in 1500, which allegedly spells a dis-continuous break in world history, is substantially [mis] informed by a Eurocentric vantage point. Once we abandon this Eurocentrism and adopt a more globally holistic world or even pan EurAsian perspective, dis-continuity is replaced by far more continuity. Or the other way around? Once we look upon the whole world more holistically, historical continuity looms much larger, especially in Asia. Indeed, the very "Rise of the West" itself then appears derived from this global historical continuity.

Another region, Europe and then also North America [and if we wish to separate it out, also Japan at the other end of Eurasia] were able to take advantage of this pan-Asian crisis in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. They managed to become Newly Industrializing Economies, first through import substitution and increasingly also by export promotion to and within the global world market. Yet this success, which was based on their previous marginality and relative "backwardness" in the global economy, may also prove to be relatively short-lived. These new, but perhaps also temporary, world economic centers are now experiencing absolute and relative social and economic atrophy analogous to that of the previously central Asian economies, while some of the latter seem to be recovering their economic and social impulse.

East Asia's rise to world economic prominence makes it all the more urgent to focus on the long historical continuity of which this process is a part. It began in Japan some eighty years ago and then in its former colonies in Korea and Taiwan, but also included Hong Kong and Singapore among the first set of the East Asian NIEs or "four tigers." Since then, revived economic growth has been spreading also to other "tigers" or "little dragons" elsewhere in Southeast Asia and to the "BIG Dragon" on the China coast. That is the same South [and East] China Sea region, also with its "overseas Chinese" diaspora, which had been so prominent in the world economy in the previous long political economic phase of expansion from the fifteenth through the eighteenth centuries.

It is well conceivable that in the course of eighty years around the world West and East will again have traded places in the global economy and in world society. The now supposed dis-continuous but really renewed rise of the "East" must be seen as part and parcel of the fundamental structure and continuity in global development. Recognizing and analyzing this continuity will reveal much more than myopically focusing on the alleged dis-continuities, like the newly discovered "globalization" and "new emergence of the East" of the 1990's, or indeed also like the wholesale misinterpretation that already sees a renewed "meltdown" in 1997.

The contemporary economic expansion in East Asia may spell the beginnings of a return of Asia to a leading role in the world economy in the future as it had in the not so distant past -- with 'Middle Kingdom' China again at its 'center'. These contemporary developments and future prospects demand new and better historiography and social theory to comprehend them and to offer at least some modest guide to social policy and action.


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