markets and technology

Mon, 06 Jan 97 13:59:10 CST
Daniel A. Foss (U17043@UICVM.UIC.EDU)

Bruce R. McFarling--

I forgot the most important thing. Whereas, in Europe, the efficiency of
marketing networks, and of circulation and distribution in general,
developed parallel or pari passu with technical change in production
and innovation of new products and technologies since about the
eighth century, in China this did not occur after the early fourteenth
century. After that point, the development trajectory of China lurched,
or was rudely shoved, onto a path where the development of marketing
hierarchies continued to increase considerably in efficiency, complexity,
and sophistication, while production technology stagnated. The result
was what what Philip C. C. Huang called (in The Yangzi Valley Ecosystem:
1368-1988) the "involutional self-exploitation" of labour. In effect,
individual peasant households worked their members' labour-power harder
and harder to maintain the same, or declining, standard of living.
Meanwhile, for example, the agricultural tools described in the
General Handbook of Agriculture and Sericulture, published under
Mongol rule, were still in use six hundred years later.

Daniel A. Foss