first I would like to say I find your argumentation thoroughly inconsistent if not outright paradox: On the one hand, you hold total GDP and population size to be the single most important markers for the power of an empire, but at the same time you argue that the northern nomads with their puny population and GDP size constituted formidable opponents. Care to make up your mind?
The feeling is mutual, and I think I'm not the only one who feels that way. I never said GDP and population size are the single most important markers, please read back. I said they are the two of the most important factors and are the only objective criteria which we can go by, avoiding the rest of the subjective tropes that you and the others are throwing around.
As for why nomads were formidable opponents, many of us already explained it, but you just don't want to hear it; its because of their mobility and military organization that separates them from any sedentary people. So yes, when we compare the steppe to the sedentary people GDP and population size should not be a major determinant(much less cities, the lack of which actually made them more mobile), but that cannot be said in regard to comparisons between sedentary states themselves, where GDP and populations matter significantly.
On the other I would also like to question your double standard in regard to denouncing the Xiongnu and Gok Turk as weak empires because they had according to you, no bureaucracy, little cities, and low population and GDP, yet when we use the same standards when comparing China to the rest of the world, you call these factors insignificant. So make up YOUR mind.
Whether they were "real" nomads or only semi-nomadic, is a pretty pedantic point, I have to say. We have been talking here about the peoples on China's northern frontier. These clearly did not have established sedentary states or empires in the usual sense when they successfully invaded ancient China. And, my point is, this they did with much increasing success during the 2nd millennium:
We definitely agree on that and in fact nomads are vastly greater powers than sedentary people of the same population size. But even here, I hardly see the case that China has been overran more often than any other major empire.
1115-1234: Northern China occupied by the Jurchen (119 yrs)
1234-1271: Northern China occupied by the Mongols (37 yrs)
1271-1368: Entire China occupied by the Mongols (97 yrs)
1644-1911: Entire China occupied by the Manchu (267 yrs)
Some corrections, northern China were not overran by the Jurchens until 1127, not 1115, when the Jurchens overran the Liao. The Mongols only occupied the Song in 1279, not in 1271, when the Yuan was established. The entirety of China was not occupied by the Manchus in 1644, that was only accomplished in 1664. 258 years of total occupation and 508 years of half occupation is hardly significant in a country that spanned back over 3000 years when we compare it to other large empires which lasted at least 2 thousand years. Take Egypt for instance. Starting from the Old Kingdom in 3100, half of it was occupied by the Hyksos from 1648-1530(Although there are historians now which argue the Hykso was more of a migration than an invasion). Then by the 25th dynasty of Nubia(760-652), then the Assyrians (671-663), Persians (525-402 BC)(343-332BC), Macedonians (332-31 BC), Romans (31BC-7th century), then Arabs and the end of ancient Egypt. Thats over 1000 years of foerign domination in roughly 3500 years of Egyptian history, or about a third of Egypt's time.
Now look at Persia. Starting from the Achaemenid in around 550 BC, Persia was conquered by Macedonians (330 - 141 BC), Parthia(141-224), Arabs and Mongols(650-1501). Even the Safavid dynasty was not of Persian origin, but I'm not going to count it as some foreign dynasty since they were established within Iran; if we do, then poor Persia won't be independent until the 20th century. Thats almost 2000 years out of 2600 years of Persian history or nearly 80% of time under forerign occupation!
And Greece? It wasn't even a single state or empire but if we examine the cultural ethnic region, it was occupied by the Macedonians, Romans, and the Ottoman down to the 19th century, thats also over 80% of its history under "foreign occupation".
Rome? Etruscan rule lasted about a century and a half. Then after the fifth century, the eastern Empire never restored the western half, until it was slowly eaten away by muslim(and Western European too) power until 1453. Thats still more than half of time under foreign domination.
I think you already know about India, but actually, I think Indian records are more impressive than those of Persia and Rome come to think of it. Starting from the Vedic Age to the present, at least most of its territory and population remained independent for more than half of its existence(the raj are more native rulers than forerign conquerers). The only conquerers which gained any significant parts of India was the Bactrian Greeks, kushans, ephialtes, delhi sultanate, Mughal, and the British.
Even examining states like Britain, we see that MOST OF ITS HISTORY IS UNDER FOREIGN DOMINATION. Starting from the Danish invasions of the 9th century, the Danes were in Britain for over 2 centuries, often occupying as much as half, or even at one time most of it. Then starting from the 11th century, the house of Denmark again conquered Britain (1013-1042), then the famous William the Conquerer and the house of Normandy, which will continue the line of French originated kings until well, 1603, with the end of the house of Tudor. But then we still have a series of none-English kings, although its true that they did not invade to attain the throne. But we have the Dutch invasion of 1688, although some choose to call it glorious. But to be fair we can say that the House of Lancaster was the last one which had any French connections, but thats still almost 700 years of foreign presence in less than 1500 years of English history, or half of it.
Now for China, the period between 314-589 was not really an invasion, but a migration of a sort. So the real foreign occupation began around 1127 with the Jurchens and ends in 1368 with the Mongols. Then Manchus 1644-1911. Using the Zhou as a marker for beginning of China(the Shang's origin is iffy). Thats only about five centuries in over 3000 years of Chinese history, or only 1/6 of it under "foreign" occupation. Thats much better than the other regions we've just examined.
--> 520 years or 57% of its 911 years existence in the 2nd millennium ancient China was partly or fully occupied by foreign powers. This long time-span amply shows that ancient China's military power was becoming not stronger, but actually considerably weaker after the turn of the 1st millennium.
But why are you only selectively looking at the second mellenium only? China extends back to the 1st mellenium BC and the second mellenium is perhaps the mellenium that it was occupied the most. But even 508 out of 1000 is not that significant compared to many other major empires.
And, significantly, it was overrun by the Manchu when much of Eurasia was already well into the gunpowder age, a military blunder of the very first order which honestly should have never occurred and which did never occurr to the real gunpowder empires of the West, including the Ottomans. Nor were Persia and India so late in history so comprehensively beaten by peoples from horseback. And in Europe proper, for the last successful nomadic invasion you have to go back all the way to the 9th century (by the Hungarians), these are 800 years which China was lagging behind!
But thats a weak argument, because the Manchus were themselves a powerful gunpowder empire like the Ottomans, Safavids and the Mughal, who also rode on horseback and this is before they occupied China. And I beg to differ about your claims that Persia and India were not conquered by warriors on horseback. The Mughals began as horseback conquerers and occupied India as early as the 16th century, even the Safavid dynasty were of non-Persian origin.
Powerless against the nomads, unchallenged on its other land frontiers, non-existent on the sea...if this is your most powerful state on earth, I recommend reading a world history book, you may be surprised.
They are hardly powerless, the late Ming was dominating the Mongols on the battle field. I really recommend you reading a Chinese history book.
And yet 22% Song and 29% Ming were crushingly defeated by nomadic peoples with minimal manpower and GDP. And India, which, due to its similar population size, held a similar GDP, was similarly in the military defene, so what is your point? You have not in the least answered my question how your figures relate to actual military powerfulness.
So do you agree that GDP size, population size and lack of full fledged bureaucracy does not make a nomadic empire weak as you have been arguing in the case of the Gokturk and the Xiongnu Empire?
Also, the last time I checked, the late Ming won nearly every single engagement against the Mongols and made them vassals for the most part, they are hardly weak against the nomads. Similarly, the Qing was not able to overrun China until 1644, when the Ming already collapsed from internal rebellion.
And against other pure sedentary states in war such as the various Viet states, Japan, and Koreanic states like Koguryo, China has never faced any threats whatsoever, it was able to overwhelm them precisely because of its greater size, population, and resources. This only further supports my case that conventional indicators of power such as GDP and population does not apply to the nomadic empires(at least not in the military dimension, but they do apply economically, since China was often able to force the nomads into vassalage by its control of trade) but they do apply greatly when comparing powers between sedentary polities.
Pot..kettle...black. First, you conveniently ignore that Maddison actually strongly disagrees with Bairoch, and secondly, Bairoch later revised his position anyway:
Where did I ignore this fact? In fact I'm the one who pointed out to you Barioch's estimates and how you are selectively choosing Maddison's over him so we should ignore per capita all together due both to these numerous descrepancies and the fact that Maddison himself did not see per capita before the 19th century as all that important.
Read Bairoch's quote again and tell me what is so hard to comprehend.
There is nothing I'm incomprehending. You are the one who does not understand that Bairoch only stated that GDP BY ITSELF(keyword) is not the determinant, but no where did he claim GDP is not important at all. Neither did Paul Kennedy, who you clearly misunderstood. Actually, even in page 149 of Paul Kennedy's "Rise and fall of Great Power", GDP was used as a measurement for peaks and troughs of different important countries. So Kennedy clearly didn't see it as meaningless.
Five Chinese peasants living close to the subsistence level could be richer in sum than a single English merchant, yet all they produce is immediately consumed for sustaining their lifes, while the single merchant could amass a surplus which could be invested (e.g. in arms).
You need to reread Maddison very carefully because your datas are clearly wrong. Chinese peasants weren't below the subsistence line. According to Maddison, Chinese per capita was $600 or $200 above the subsistence line, and has been above for at least more than two thousand years. That means surplus. European's GDP per capita was only around $1100 even as late as 1800, or around $700 above the subsistence line, so even in 1800, 2 Chinese would already be richer than an average European and 5 Chinese would already produce more surplus
. The per capita between China and Europe is not that different even according to Maddison. Considering China's population was way more than ten times that of any European country, having a much larger surplus and been much more economically powerful isn't something hard to comprehend.
In fact Maddison even stated China's power was greater BECAUSE of its population expansion which gave it a greater overall GDP.
I see, it is p. 117. Clearly, Maddison, an economic historian, ventures here out of his field. And at any rate, he simply asserts this and does not present an argument, so it is worthless. If you want an analysis from an expert in the field why China was a peripheral loner in 15th to 20th century world politics, consult Kennedy's several page analysis of Ming China in his seminal study quoted above.
Speaking of venturing out of his field, Paul Kennedy's economic analysis almost solely relied on those of Paul Bairoch's estimates, so how is he more authoritative than Maddison who is also an economic expert? Not to mention Paul Kennedy is a political scientist whose expertise lies in modern British political history. He is hardly an expert in regard to early modern Chinese history or its role in the world, and the book is more than 25 years old. In fact much of his information and theories still relied on the models proposed by John Fairbank, which has already been challenged for more than 20 years. For a real expert, I suggest you read Huang Ray's "1587, A Year of No Significance: The Ming Dynasty in Decline" which made a significant contribution in the field of early modern Chinese history in that it overthrew many traditional ideas in regard to China, trade isolation been one of them.
Furthermore, economic historians like Andre Gunder Frank had already challenged the Eurocentric models of Chinese peripheralism for quite some times by examining the vast amount of world silver entering China and concluded that China and India were the real economic centers of the world where Europea trades revovled around.
On the other hand, power is multi-dimensional, and economic power is a very important dimension of it. Quoting the political scientist Meng Honghua; "people(international relation theorists in the mid 20th century) had already become aware that national power does not only mean economic strength, although the latter provides the basis of national power." Through an economic analysis, Maddison's description of China as a greater power because of the growth of its total GDP from population surge which outgrew the total GDP through per capita growth in Europe is not stepping out of his field as much as you would like to think, and it certainly denounces your idea that GDP per capita is more determinant than total GDP.
Whom do you quote? Yourself?
No, I'm actually quoting from an entire academic field of research in political science conducted in the PRC called Comprehensive national power(CNP) for your information. Its a method which PRC analysists make in trying to quantify the power of a state; http://docs.google.c...L1Hq5XDMcN7YALQ
Among the 8 determinants of CNP, military spending and total GDP are two of them, while unsurprisingly, GDP per capita isn't. In fact, economic resource, in the form of total GDP is the leading determinant of the 8, and had a high coefficient of 1.0. To quote Hu Angang; "We measure economic resources by GDP. It is the sum of the gross values aded by all resident producers in the economy plus any product taxes and minus any subsidies not included in the value of the products." Similarly, "Military resources have two major categories of indicators: (1) military expenditures...(2)armed forces personnel"
Quoting yourself is what you have been doing in numerous places. You quoted yourself when you claimed GDP per capita was more important than total GDP, you quoted yourself when you claimed that the nomadic empires was weak, you quoted yourself when you said China had no powerful neighbors. Do you want me to go on?
In fact your logic is heck of a mess and many of your data is outright wrong.
And why are you still ignoring the case that modern China is a greater economic power than Finland because of its total GDP? In fact name me any countries today that is considered economically powerful simply because their per capita is high while their total GDP is low. You can't find one. The matter is very simple, larger total GDP allows for a greater tax revenue and hence a larger budget, it doesn't matter how high the per capita GDP is if the total revenue remains low. I don't think this common sense matter is something I need to go over with any rational person unless he is in utter denial.
Edited by sindeee, 27 September 2010 - 04:32 AM.