by Jean-Pierre Voiret for the Saker Blog
The history of Chinese science and technology is particularly interesting because it is so different from the history of Western science and technology. This history was essentially rediscovered by Joseph Needham, a British scholar who was active until his death in 1995 at the Caius and Gonville College of Cambridge University.
Joseph Needham, a biochemistry researcher by profession, had come into contact with the Chinese culture in the thirties through a Chinese colleague working at the same institute. She became his lover and later his second wife, and ignited Needham’s interest for the Chinese culture, language and writing. This is why he already could speak and write Chinese as he was sent by his government to China’s provisory capital Chong Qing during WW II. There, he had fruitful contacts with Chinese intellectuals and scientists who awakened his interest for ancient Chinese science. He started at the same time to collect Chinese books, articles and manuscripts on this topic. After his return to Great Britain, he decided to concentrate on research on Chinese science history and published Volume I of his huge “Science and Civilization of China” in 1954. This first volume was a success, and his work went on with specialized volumes on Chinese chemistry, alchemy, physics, astronomy, medicine, metallurgy, agriculture etc. A total of 25 volumes were published, of which more than half are from his pen and the rest from the pen of his successors at the East Asian History of Science Library he had founded in Cambridge to house his ever growing library and to give a center to the activity of his students and successors.
Most interesting is the fact that before Needham’s work came into existence, the West had an entirely wrong view of Chinese science and technology. The main reason for this situation is the fact that Europe’s information on far away China had always been rather poor, except for the information on China that came from the Jesuit missionaries from the beginning of the 17th century on. But that information concentrated on China’s system of government, on Chinese history, on Chinese philosophy and on medicine – not much on science and technology. As Europe came closer to China through invasion and war in the 19th century (Opium wars, 1841, 1860) and could have studied the facts of China’s science and technology history in a closer way, it was not interested in doing so: A colonial attitude toward the Chinese and the conviction that China was a decaying civilization (which was true at that time) hindered an objective confrontation with the facts of Chinese history in general, and of Chinese history of science in particular. So the commonplace of China as an old agricultural civilization unable to industrialize and to modernize by itself was established almost unshakably.
Earlier, knowledge of some important Chinese invention had actually come to Europe, so that some Chinese achievements were known. But the fact which was not known, is that these achievements were Chinese! Even the great philosopher and scientist Francis Bacon wrote in 1620 in his Novum Organum the following words: “It is well to observe the force and virtue and consequences of discoveries. These are to be seen nowhere more conspicuously than in those three which were unknown to the ancients, and of which the origin, though recent, is obscure and inglorious; namely printing, gun powder and the magnet. For these three have changed the whole face and state of things throughout the world, the first in literature, the second in warfare, the third in navigation; whence have followed innumerable changes; insomuch that no empire, no sect, no star seems to have exerted greater power and influence in human affairs than these three mechanical discoveries”. These words are very interesting for many reasons. They show that at the end of our Renaissance, a reputed European scholar, a man of knowledge, does not know how these most important inventions of the Renaissance came about. He also doesn’t know that these inventions didn’t take place in Europe but in far-away China. Finally, he also does not realize that the 14th century technology transfer from China to Europe played a huge (and up to our days underestimated) part in the development of just our Renaissance. So we first need to know more about what really happened in China.
Quick progress in antique times
If we want to know better and more on the development of science and technology in China, we must first refute the tale of China as an agricultural country without any “industrial” past. In fact, early economical consciousness and early proto-industrial developments are the characteristics of the Chinese antique. Let us explain.
First, we must mention the fact that China brought forward very early in history two texts which have no counterpart in Western economical literature: Chapter 24 of the Hanshu of 82 AC (‘History of the Han dynasty’) on the economic history of China from the beginnings (2nd millennium BC) up to the year 25 A.C. , and the book Yantielun of 81 AC (‘Discussion on salt and iron) discussing the respective advantages and disadvantages of state-ruled economy as against purely private economy. Let us repeat it: these texts have been written around 2000 years ago! They prove that China had at that time a much higher consciousness of economical connections than we had. And these texts were not isolated exceptions. The Shihuozhi (Economical treaty) translated by Balazs from the Suishu (History of the Sui dynasty, 644 AC) shows that this economical consciousness did not get lost during the disorders that followed upon the Han dynasty (206 BC – 220 AC), and remained much higher than in the West until the Mongolian invasion of China in the 13th century. The incredibly exact and detailed population statistics of the huge empire from the census of the year 609 AC also confirm this fact.
Now these texts revealing an astonishing economical consciousness could not have been written without economical events sustaining this consciousness. History shows that these economic developments did exist. The first interesting fact is related to metallurgy: China was not a pioneer of bronze and iron metallurgy. But it did catch up extremely fast and overtook the Middle East and the European pioneers of these techniques quite early: Chinese bronze metallurgy developed very fast as early as the Shang dynasty (1766 1154 BC) and was in full bloom in the Zhou dynasty (1122 to 255 BC). Another leap forward by the Chinese, this time in the field of iron making, was their very early progress from primitive lump-iron fabrication to the use of cast iron on a large scale: Around 400 BC, China was casting iron implements, tools, vessels (and coins!) on a grand scale, and the mold pre-heating technique, the development of multi-layer molds and the invention of metallic, reusable molds allowed the Chinese to cast huge quantities of cast iron goods on an industrial scale in workshops in which the division of labor and the efficiency were highly developed.
Another improbable proof of the Chinese ability to modern division of labor according to “industrial” methods was given the historians to understand after the discovery in 1974 of the huge underground guardian army protecting the first emperor Qin Shi huangdi (‘First Exalted emperor of Qin’, reg. 221-209 BC). Now if you analyzed the manufacturing of this huge shadow army of 7000 natural size pottery warriors and horses, you had the proof of what I mean with “industrial” methods: this find was not only an archaeological sensation, it proved the attainment in the 3rd century BC China of extremely developed methods of work organization and of labor division: thousands of artist and of specialists of different professions had to be gathered, fed, lodged and paid. Construction wood, huge quantities of heating wood for the furnaces, huge tonnages of clay, pigments, colors, tools had to be acquired, transported, stored, prepared and distributed on a regular schedule during years. Workshops had to be built and organized for sculptor work, mold preparation, clay preparation, the shaping of the clay figures, the painting of the clay bodies, the casting of bronze accessories etc. A great number of furnaces had to be built and operated on a regular schedule. A huge fleet of transportation wagons and a huge herd of draft animals had to be fed and managed. And this took place in an empire in which at the same time a huge network of roads was established, the first great wall was built in the north, a network of irrigation and transport canals was also built, big casting plants manufactured huge quantities of tools and weapons, and in which weights and measures as well as the writing system were being standardized. As an antipode to the huge Roman Empire in the West, the Chinese empire was the most developed technological and economical power in the East – and this, by far.
This system inherited by the following Han dynasty (206 BC–220 AC) made China so strong that it brought huge swathes of Central Asia under its dominion and developed a very successful economy in the farthest corners of the empire. At the same time (around 100 BC) the invention of paper gave the government a cheap, efficient and easy to transport support of writings and thus of administrative information. Only after around 400 years did China decay in a way similar to the Roman Empire and fell victim to huge peasant uprisings. But contrary to Europe, where the Middle-Ages lasted until the Quattrocento in the Renaissance, China reestablished her power and her economy in a much faster way: The Tang dynasty (618-905 AC) and the Song dynasty (993-1278 AC) are considered the most glorious dynasties before the Mongolian invasion of the country.
China is becoming modern
The Tang dynasty saw a huge expansion of China and of her prestige. The Tang governments gave the country a strong system of Confucian examinations for the selection of the bureaucratic elites, a strong jurisdiction, and applied with success on a grander scale the technical inventions and developments made in the Antique. It was also under the late Tang that the technique of block printing was developed, which would become a huge success under the Song dynasty.
The following Song dynasty may be considered as the successful beginnings of a Renaissance process within the growth of China. Under Song, knowledge of old and new techniques was spread and disseminated in the whole country thanks to the help of block printing. It was particularly the edition of peasant calendars in the million which helped to efficiently disseminate in the whole country new knowledge of the early ripening rice seeds from South Asia, of the new agricultural implements and tools available, of the new means of payment, of book keeping, etc. Block printing also allowed the mass printing of paper money, a mean of payment invented under Song which facilitated commerce and helped the country to pass from tribute economy to monetary economy. Delivery of tribute (grain, silk) and of statute labor (also “corvée” yiao or yao yi 徭 役) to the state was more and more replaced by the payment of taxes, whereas the state would now often replace called up statute laborers by salaried workers. With growing commerce, the proportion of the country’s population living in towns grew from 6% to 28%, whereas the proportion of salaried work and of factories no longer based on family structures but on management constantly grew. At the same time, the social structures changed progressively as the number of salaried workers and of managers grew. This development also saw a growing number of marriages between children from the mandarinate class (state bureaucracy) and the now growing class of rich industrialists and rich traders. At the same time, the private acquisition of land was growing, foreign trade, especially to Japan and South Asia, expanded considerably and many inventions like those mentioned by Francis Bacon and more, gave China a considerable advantage. China was now obviously, only much earlier, on a path leading to some form of modern capitalism: like in Europe where our Renaissance was also the beginning of an evolution toward capitalism and industrialization.
At the same time, again like Renaissance Europe, but 300 years earlier, China rediscovered its antiquity and its antique art and published very detailed catalogues of imperial and other art collections.
The Mongolian “black hole”
But in the 13th century, China lived through one of the longest and toughest of the wars ever fought on this our planet: the Mongolians entered China in 1214 and finished their conquest of the whole country in 1279, the year they established their dynasty upon China under the name of Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368). This war of conquest thus lasted 65 years, which is practically the double of the longest war ever fought in Europe (the so called Thirty years wars, which took place between 1618 and 1648 essentially in Germany and destroyed this country in a catastrophic way). This is why China lost a huge portion of its population: The difference between the last Song dynasty census and the first Yuan census shows that during these 65 years of war, China lost practically the half of its inhabitants (i.e. not only the half of its peasants but also the half of its scholars, teachers, scientists, manufacturers and administrators). What a gigantic loss! Not only that. Lots of schools had been destroyed during the conquest and China’s education system remained in shambles during most of the Yuan dynasty, whose emperors were mostly illiterates. Since the duration of the war and of the Yuan occupation of the country (from 1214 to 1368) has been a total of 154 years, five (5) generations of scientists were missing at the end of this period of time, and the transmission to the posterity of the scientific and technical knowledge available in Song China was thwarted. This is what the Jesuit missionaries later noticed when they came to China in the 17th century: the French missionary Dominique Parennin wrote for instance in a letter from Beijing that the medical doctors he met at the imperial court (the best of the country!) had a knowledge of medicine lower than the level he had ascertained in old Song medicine books he was allowed to examine in the imperial library! This means that because of the Mongolian invasion and occupation of China, this country saw its Renaissance destroyed, the scientific and technical knowledge available in the country before the invasion partly destroyed or lost and its soul traumatized. What followed was a Ming dynasty centered on face recovery (thus the big naval expeditions of the early Ming decades) but unable to really and dynamically re-modernize China’s economy, then a renewed invasion and long occupation of the country by the Manchu (so called Qing dynasty, 1644-1912) and finally long decades of civil war and of revolutionary struggle until the liberation in 1949.
Only through the catharsis of decay, wars and revolution was China able to overcome the old Mongolian trauma and to find again its old creativity and dynamics under Deng Xiaoping and his successors: this is the extraordinary Chinese surge which we are witnessing in our days.
On the rape of China by the Mongolian invasion and occupation, see chapter 4 of VOIRET, Jean-Pierre, 2022: Ex Oriente Lux? Cuvillier, Göttingen (in German).
“This history was essentially rediscovered by Joseph Needham”
Need I remind everyone that just because people in the West did not know about something does not mean they discovered or rediscovered it. This is just lazy and xenophobic writing above.
If I (personally) do not know something, I may be fortunate enough to discover it. If I (personally) once knew something and forgot about it (lost the knowledge I once was aware of), I may be fortunate enough to rediscover it.
It does not matter whether others, exclusive to my person do know it or do not know it. That is irrelevant to my discovery or rediscovery of the knowledge. All that can be recognised is that others may have discovered the knowledge prior to my discovery of that same knowledge (if indeed they did do this) or that others may have known about the knowledge prior to me (if indeed they actually did).
If the people in my family, circle of close friends, trusted colleagues etc. do not know something, one or more of our number may be fortunate enough to discover it and transmit this information to the rest. We have indeed experienced a discovery of knowledge, new to us. If the people in my family, circle of close friends, trusted colleagues etc. once knew something and that knowledge was forgotten or lost (we lost the knowledge we were once aware of), one or more of our number may be fortunate enough to rediscover it and transmit that information to the rest, then we have indeed experienced a rediscovery of knowledge that once (previously) we knew.
It does not matter whether others, exclusive to my family, circle of close friends, trusted colleagues etc. do know it. That is irrelevant to the discovery or rediscovery of the knowledge by the population of my family, circle of close friends, trusted colleagues etc. All that can be recognised is that others may have discovered the knowledge prior to my family, circle of close friends, trusted colleagues etc. discovery of that same knowledge (if indeed they had previously done this) or that others may have known about the knowledge prior to my family, circle of close friends, trusted colleagues etc. (if indeed they really did).
If the people in my community, company, institute, province, country or nation etc. do not know something, one or more of our number may be fortunate enough to discover it and transmit this information to the rest. We have indeed experienced a discovery of knowledge, new to us. If the people in my community, company, institute, province, country or nation etc. once knew something and that knowledge was forgotten or lost (we lost the knowledge we were once aware of), one or more of our number may be fortunate enough to rediscover it and transmit that information to the rest, then we have indeed experienced a rediscovery of knowledge that once (previously) we knew.
It does not matter whether others, exclusive to my community, company, institute, province, country or nation do know it. That is irrelevant to the discovery or rediscovery of the knowledge by the population of my community, company, institute, province, country or nation etc. All that can be recognised is that others may have discovered the knowledge prior to my community, company, institute, province, country or nation’s discovery of that same knowledge (if indeed that had occurred) or that others may have known about the knowledge prior to my community, company, institute, province, country or nation (if indeed they actually did).
Now applying all this to the author’s work. We both know he really isn’t being lazy or xenophobic. He is writing in a particular context. Context must always be considered. In this case the context is a particular group, one in which he is a member. Can you divine which group (or groups) that is? Hint: it may be one or more of family, circle of close friends, trusted colleagues, community, company, institute, province, country or nation, region, civilisation, academic school, school of philosophy etc. etc. etc. We can readily divine what it is likely to be- a trivial task really. Hence it is lazy indeed to not respect context and/or to ignore it and then smear the author for the crime of writing within his context. Let’s not have this naughtiness again.
Another piece of advice- consider the fundamental issues first. Deal with the secondary details afterwards.
I agree 100% as a white goyim the first thing I did in 1980’s when they opened up I went there traveled learned to speak the language an saw for my own eyes.
Like Marco Polo was fond of saying in 12th century, the little town of Suzhou outside of shanghai had MORE bridges than all of Europe at the time
They had been running the sillk-road since 3BC or perhaps earlier
We were lied to, what’s worse is all of our Western History is alie.
The historical and present economic outperformance of China is a pincer crushing the fragile minds of Western exceptionalism.
this mythical economic outperformance is entirely due to currency expansion and theft of intellectual property from the west. The banking and property collapse marks the start of a 25 year depression that will see the end of the CCP.
Great text. Can we ask for this to become a series on Chinese history of technology, and social and economic history. China will be THE nation of the foreseeable future, so let’s educate ourselves.
Thank you again. 3,000+ years of history succinctly told in less than 3 A4 pages. I wish i had teachers that can teach that. Not that my teachers were of below average quality, not at all.
Thoughtful comment, which I second.
We should not forget chairman Mao and his will to give Chinese rural people option not only to learn and study but teach others. Some roots of rising Chinese economy and science can be found there.
It’s all fine and dandy to blame the so called “The Mongolian black hole” for China’s “dark ages”. What about more relatively historical events like the infamous British with their opium drug trade that almost destroyed Chinese society during the mid 19th century???
This was basically a continuation of a downturn that started with the Mongolian black hole.
Definitely a bunch of outlaws running around setting things back where they saw fit, wonder whos next?
You know we’ve had it easy.
Joseph Needham seems to have had the intention of maintaining China backward by encouraging irrational thought
Obituary: The Taoist hell of Joseph Needham, 1900-1995 by Michael Billington
“The evidence is overwhelming that Needham did not
simply wander into this work by chance, but was deployed
by British intelligence to that purpose.”
Mike Billington, LaRouche Executive Intelligence Review magazine
How the British Venetian Phoenician Empire used Aristotelian Philosophy to infiltrate Chinese Schools during the British Opium War interregnum.
The evidence is overwhelming that Needham did not
simply wander into this work by chance, but was deployed
by British intelligence to that purpose
Needham was clueless regarding the quasi-magical theory that underpins Chinese science, so he simply understood it as an alternative version of Western thought. The destruction of ancient Chinese medicine actually occured during the reign of the first emperor. The long duration of the Mongolian invasion was due to its piecemeal nature, and the Mongols did not destroy Chinese culture but rather they completely assimiliated it.
” … the Mongols did not destroy Chinese culture but rather they completely assimiliated it.”
I also picked up this interessting old Chinese strategy of ‘absorbing’ the invader, rather than fight him.
Without reading this article, I can tell you that decades ago in a bar in Toronto, the tv was showing that the world was moving to Hi-Tech. I said then as I say now; nothing can stop China. They are gifted in science.
The Indians are equally so, but due to religion and wannabe white oligarchs, they are behind. However, those 2 races make up the vast majority of people that are employed in science in USA.
After WW2, USA took in all the scientists from Europe including Jews, Nazis and all the rest. Most are now dead and gone.
The spoils of white colonial rule has been squandered by a few and we see an attempt at re-thieving the world.
What are the other colors you see plotting on the World? You have only mentioned “white”. Shirley, you must have others conspirators.
This is interesting and I find it useful. Obviously, there is a LOT of Chinese history, and even Chinese scholars must disagree often.
One of Needham’s less known contributions to science was his Report of the International Scientific Commission for the Investigation of Facts Concerning Bacteriological Warfare in Korea and China.
It is less known because every extant copy in every library on earth, save two, disappeared as did every used copy that came on the market. The ebook version was created from one such copy.
It always seemed ridiculous to me that Mongolia, current population 3.25 million, could militarily defeat China, Russia, and swathes of Europe.
Okay, so they had good horses, and hi-tech bows, but both can be copied, and improved upon, with a little effort.
Their opponents had home town advantage, and different physiology, so the Mongols could not blend into the local populations.
The Chinese surely could have ‘divide and ruled’ the Mongols, with gifts from their industrial production. There must have been plenty of ‘princes’ who wanted to be Ghengis!
I always find this to be a little mysterious, and if I read these histories, in a novel, I would not believe the plot-lines!
“It always seemed ridiculous to me that Mongolia, current population 3.25 million,”
Most of the Mongols don’t stay within Mongolia today. They live in China.
“Okay, so they had good horses, and hi-tech bows, but both can be copied…”
Mongols employed over 100,000+ siege and weapon engineers from China. Without the assistance of the Han, it is doubtful Mongols could conquer so much land or breach the city walls or castles in China or elsewhere.
Furthermore, China was greatly divided, weakened by many decades of internal and external wars. Song emperors was particularly suspicious of military generals. They suppressed capable military officers because the emperor worried about being usurped of power – since that was how Song was founded itself.
Nomads are generally quite single-minded and utilitarian and their outdoor life also makes them much tougher than settled folk. In the Altai Mountains the air and water are very clean so the local inhabitants are also unusually strong. Mongol warfare was the result of millennia of development amongst the nomadic peoples of the Steppe (which once included prehistoric Europeans).
Something left out of the usual histories – Genghis Khan destroyed everything in his path, especially infrastructure such as agricultural water management especially in China. EXCEPT one group – Tibet.
Not only did he adopt Tibet, he made their religion Book of the Dead, the Horde’s duty.
No surprise that the SS Nazi’s gravitated to that Top of the World, pilgrimage style. The infamous SS insignia comes from there.
The Lhasa monastery Gong had a box of batons, amputated limbs of farmers who had dared to use a machine. Anti-industrial just does not cut it!
China, and Europe, Asia faced such a Horde. Russia faced it’s follower, the SS. Some admire the Khan indeed!
Marco Polo’s father worked for these as Venice’s point man providing maps of targets, the son got a job from the Kublai Khan as finance minister in Samarkand for the entire empire.
Thank you for this article. Fascinating to see the great dip in knowledge in China, long before the British opium devastation. What a huge loss for China and the world. Anything that can help to recapture this continuity is of great value.
Larry Romanoff, who lives in China and speaks well of that civilization, compiled an incomplete list of inventions that we must credit to China’s account:
History of Chinese Inventions. the Present and the Future. Recent Chinese State of the Art Innovations
The list is beyond impressive: it forces reevaluation of what exactly the world is dealing with now that China is rising to the stature it has more often than not enjoyed throughout time. But in all the times past, popular knowledge was impaired by distance from knowing about China. That day is passed, fortunately.
I noticed Romanoff missed Golf off his list. Yes, China seems to have invented golf too, as Martin Jacques showed once in an ancient tapestry in one of his talks.
Thanks for the link. Blown away man :)
There seems to be a pattern here. The Mongol invasions at almost the same time destroyed the Rus states. Which allowed the Lithuanians and later the Poles to seize the West Russian states which leads directly to the problems we can see today. The Mongols also destroyed much of Hungary and Poland at that time. Which had vast and negative ethnic changes,and population,and cultural problems for centuries. That invasion equally,(and for a much longer period) destroyed and held back the unity and development of East Russian states as well. Their invasion of Central Asia,Persia,and large areas of the Arab World,left a devasted population and landscape that really has never reached the level of influence that they lost at that time.I believe that the Mongol invasions were on a level with the fall of the united Roman Empire in doing harm to civilization in World History.
Polish language is linguistically very close to Russian; Poles are indeed a Slav people; their conversion to Roman Catholicism, and their abandoning the Cyrillic script, alienated them from Russians.
Since the 11th Century, Western Europe has been badgering at the Slav countries, even though it is the Slav countries that protect the Western Europe from the hordes of Asia.
1. The world is fortunate Needham worked before the Cultural Revolution. If Mao had had his way, all of Needham’s sources would have been destroyed.
2. The author seems biased against the Yuan. This is unfortunate, as many scientific and cultural advances occurred in that period thanks in no small part to Islamic scholars, who were embraced into the Chinese scientific community.
British Fabian Needham, communist, fully supported Mao during the devastating Cultural Revolution – see the obituary link above…
The longest war in Europe was the one started by the Normans against the Welsh after 1066. The war lasted 350 years!
@Hajduk thinks Needham was clueless about the magical basis of some of Chinese philosophy.
I think not and Needham like several brititish intellectuals in the service of empire were wellinformed about the targeted nation/culture and used it with the aim to weaken a potential rival.
That is why the anglosaxons supported the communist takeovers and that is why they supported the irrational everywhere including the case of their support for radical islam rather than encouriging awareness of Islam’s golden age which preceeded the irrational oligarchic thinking which followed.
Some comments about the mongol invasions must be complemented with the context of the Venetian collaboration with the mongols. It looks like the mongols were used like the empire later used Hitler. While Marco Polo has been accused of making up his career in the east later studies seem to have confirmed that he was an advisor to the mongols and moreover the spritual counsel was Dalai Lama. Something which, in my eyes, cast’s a dark shadow over the latter.
Since the Venetian oligarchy spread the philosophy to Britain we are looking back at a millenium of oligarchich evil targeting China as well as Europe.
Gutenberg who was involved in the printing of coins is also known for the invention of the printing press. Not sure about the connection but in the next century, the 1500s, the Venetians experimented with novel banking metods which apparently led to something like 95% bancrupsies followed by some reforms which I know less about , but this coincides with the time Venetian rich families established themselves in Britain and also had some influence over the development of secret societies eventually leading to freemasonry.
Chinese philosophy is descended from a uniquely advanced version of shamanic science, so essentially all of it is magical. Needham was temperamentally unsuited to understanding these aspects of Chinese culture so he simply avoided them. Venetian freemasons have no known connection with the Mongolian invasion of China.
Fascinating especially for we historically challenged, wow, really puts/summarizes the history/past of China into an understandable short format. Thanks for this.
To put it in modern military terminology, what the Mongolians had was a combination of firepower and mobility. They didn’t just have “a bow,” they had the best bow in the world. They could hit you with their arrow before you could hit them: greater range. The small ponies they rode were not special, except that if not unduly stressed they could live off the land. That gave them mobility.
A combination of firepower and mobility can produce an army that can easily dominate a much larger army. A modern-day example of it is the Comanche tribal people. The reason we ended up with the American Southwest is because the Comanche drove the Spanish out before we even came along. And that includes Texas. The reason the Spanish let us Gringos into the region was the hope that we would be a buffer against the Comanche.
The Spanish were not there anymore when you stole half of Mexico. In fact, during the Presidential campaign, one of the main promises of James Polk was to buy California from Mexico. But the Mexicans did not want to sell it…..
The point he was making was that during the Spanish rule (and I would add Mexican rule) they were never able to truly settle those territories because of the Comanche (and I would say Apache too) opposition. If they had thickly settled the land with Spanish or Mexican settlers the US would not have been able to take over as easy as they did. It was that lack of population that lead to the loss of those lands by Mexico.As the perfect example of that you have Texas. Where first the Spanish, and then carried on by the new Mexican authorities, opened Texas/Tejas to Anglo-American colonization. And ended up with around 3/4 of the population being Anglo. Which then lead to the Texas revolt. Moral of that story is don’t allow a neighboring country’s population to settle in mass on your land if you hope to keep that land for long.
Is “stolen” the correct word? Seems kind of an oversimplification. Great conquerors and warlords aren’t petty thieves, after all.
Also, it was “Stolen” well before we “Stole” it.
The first revolutionaries stole it.
Before that, the Spaniards stole it.
Before that, the ancestors of the Apache were the ones going around stealing in it.
The Aztecs had to defend their empire from these frontier “barbarians,” in the same manner the Han, Romans, Guptas, and every other group of successful “thieves” did.
Warfare and conquest are part of life on Earth. Conquest isn’t “stealing,” it’s one society supplanting another, which is inevitable when different cultures are technologically and culturally more capable than others.
What’s ironic, is that you already have it back, more or less, by actually stealing, i.e. in violation of the laws of the same sovereign you recognize as legitimate. Would have been more noble to march an army over, but you’ll get no complaint from me. To the victor goes the spoils, whether it’s Guatemalans in California, or Muslims in France. They showed up, and are willing to fight, so they win. God bless them for it.
I am thrilled to see you take it. Especially California. Actually, please never return California.
Another book for those who are interested in Chinese inventions and discoveries.
Another good read on the subject:
Bomb, Book And Compass by Simon Winchester – Penguin Books Australia
I don’t care about any Chinese history except to say they never took over the world. The mongols who went all the way to Hungary turned back due to its leader dying.
In fact, some say they thought western Europe was not worth it. There silk armory and horses and shooting skills were on matchable.
China or Russia have no need for the West.
That is self implosion.
Interesting. I’d like to see a Chinese history of science not filtered through a Western lens too. I have a hard time believing that half the Chinese population was “disappeared” by a bunch of Mongolians. From what I know about how statistical agencies work, it is far more likely that the methodology of the census of the Song dynasty vs Yuan was changed dramatically.
Most of the ancient civilizations were probably more “advanced” than we realize, be it the Mayans or the Indus valley or the nomadic tribes of North America and dozens of others. Being able to survive for centuries without destroying all the resources is in itself an achievement.
Civilizations go through cycles of degeneration and regrowth. What’s weird is that one person with negative energy can disturb the peace of an entire roomful of harmonious people. I don’t think it’s different on a larger scale. Throughout history some cultures focus on their own development, while others have gone around trying to conquer the world while domestically they are sinking into a black hole….throughout history that never seems to have ended well for either party.
The present Author, Dr. Jean-Pierre Voiret, former professor of Chinese history at the seminar on East Asia at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. signed this petition, in Spanish, in 2021 :
Statement by China experts from all over the world
…China’s achievements in emphasizing scientific and technological progress and innovation show that China is doing very well with what we in the West seem to have forgotten, and it would be better if we responded positively to the offer of cooperation, rather than seek confrontation.
Rather, we must assume as our own the vision of the great philosopher and founder of modern mathematics, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, and find in a Dialogue of Cultures the way to resolve the crises facing all of humanity.
Heartily agree that a Dialogue of Cultures is urgently needed. Needham had a major problem with both Leibniz and Chu Hsi, his cultural counterpart. Needham, British Fabian, was personal friends with Mao even during the Cultural Revolution, which did damage to China on a par with the Mongol invasion.
Yeah but communism is a vile betrayal of this history. Mao destroyed their script and rewrote history. Marxist doctrines imported from the west have destroyed the keel of their civilisation and they are now rudderless and adrift, enslaved in a technocratic collectivist hell led by the most evil criminal mafia on the planet…