Wed, 5 Mar 1997 08:46:15 -0600
mark selden (

Recent compelling research (much of it still forthcoming) on Asian
political economy by T. Hamashita, R. Marks, B. Wong, K. Pomeranz, R.
Barendse and others, now synthesized, theorized and extended globally by G.
Frank requires a paradigm shift whose most important dimensions seem to me
the following:

1. Asia, with China at its core (but also with a significant South
Asian presence) from at least the fourteenth until well into the eighteenth
century retained predominance in world trade, finance,technology (including
shipping), agriculture, and manufacture. The European challenge, when it
came, rested predominantly on military predominance subsequently translated
into economic and political primacy.

2. It is necessary to rethink "incorporation" of Asia as a result
of earlier centuries of Asian predominance in a global economy whose
salient features include the trade of high value porcelain and silk and
Asian absorption of the vast silver flows from the new world. It is also
essential to recognize the importance, first, of an Asian regional system
(a la Hamashita) AND the extension to an Asia-Africa-European-Americas
world economy that is NOT Euro-hegemonic from early on.

3. Without minimizing the devastating (but also energizing) impact
of the colonial experience in Asia, it is important to recognize that it
was relatively brief and, by comparison with Africa and Latin America, in
some ways superficial: for example, in large areas of Asia owner cultivator
agriculture and not European plantations remained predominant; not only in
Japan, but also in China, from early on locally managed enterprise in key
industries was competitive attempts at colonization failed. By 1905 (and
by certain measures1895 or even 1868) we see clear signs of the shift of
the pendulum with Japan's defeat of Russia in the Russo-Japanese War
followed by Japan's rise as the dominant Asian power at the expense of
Western powers, paving the way for anti-colonial movements and the
resurgence of Asian economies in an era of independent states.

Perhaps the third point is my own.

In the event, the old verities will no longer suffice. That includes
rethinking the c question.

mark selden