Re: Asia/World

Fri, 07 Mar 1997 23:57:15 -0500
David Lloyd-Jones (

mark selden wrote:
> =

> 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 b=
y G.
> Frank requires a paradigm shift whose most important dimensions seem to=
> the following:
> =

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

I don't want to take anything away from Hamashita, Marks, Wong et al.,
nor from Gunther. Nevertheless, when I took East Asian under the
excellent Chris Priestley at University of Toronto (with Reischauer &
Fairbank, nothing outr=E9, as texts) in 1962-64, we had roughly the above=

pretty well taped. =


Maybe the good people you give credit to above were among the first to
break out the very well-known secret.
<2 snikpped: I hope to pursue it some other time>

> 3. Without minimizing the devastating (but also energizing) imp=
> of the colonial experience in Asia, it is important to recognize that i=
> was relatively brief and, by comparison with Africa and Latin America, =
> some ways superficial: for example, in large areas of Asia owner cultiv=
> agriculture and not European plantations remained predominant; not only=
> Japan, but also in China, from early on locally managed enterprise in k=
> industries was competitive attempts at colonization failed. By 1905 (an=
> by certain measures1895 or even 1868) we see clear signs of the shift o=
> 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.

Every sentence in this paragraph makes my liver jiggle a little. They
are somewhat-to-mostly true, but they are not quite right, one by one.

The major difference between the Asias on the one hand and Africa and
Soutyh America on the other is simply epidemiological: the Asias were
not subject to European pneumonias and smallpox. These two diseases
smashed the Congo Basin, West Africa, and Central and South America, at
the various different times.

This statement of the Russo-Japanese War is a little on the simple
side. The Japanese victory at Tsunashima-Kaikyo was total; on the other
hand the war up in Sakhalin and the Russian peninsula -- western
pro-Japanese propaganda to the contrary -- was a horrible bloody
precursor of the Front in France in WWI, according to all the Japanese
versions I have read. The American President -- was it Wilson or TR? I
forget. -- who brought about an armistice was revered by the Japanese
for doing so. Herman Kahn, and other bloviating amateurs, attribute
this to Japanese inferiority complex; my own interpretation would be
different: the Japanese knew a draw when they saw one, and were damn
glad to have a figure of some prestige to pull it out of the fire for

> Perhaps the third point is my own.
> =

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

The Japanese put out a certain amount of anti-colonial agitprop during
WII -- but after Manchuria it was a little difficult to make it stick. =

I don't know much about Chandra Bose (and neither does anybody else) so
I jes' dunno what the Japanese thought for India might have been. Had
they ever conquered the joint, no doubt their generals would have been
disappointed at how few Indians can actually read the Sanskrit which is
standard in Japanese temples...

In the ABCD colonial countries which the Japanese conquered, they
governed with a breathtaking incompetence, with a result that they
retain no presatige as anti-colonials whatsoever.

* * *


Lynn White died the other day, so it is no longer compulsory for eager
undergraduates to say "paradigm shift" whenever they go on autopilot.