Concepts of Advanced Development of the East

One of the key issues in the discussion of relations between the West and the East today is the question of why today and, as it seems to many, China suddenly began to develop so rapidly, why today Europe seems to be rolling back in its economic development, and Asia is developing as a priority.

In my opinion, this question cannot be answered by analyzing only some current economic situation. Here, to understand what is happening in General with the so-called Asia (and this is a relative definition), we need to make a long-term forecast, but not forward, but backward, that is, we need to look at the depth of historical analysis. This is what the modern political economy of the Eastern countries is doing. And only in this case can we understand why the development of China, which is so powerful and ahead of many Eastern countries that China is pulling out, is not an accident, a fall from the General canvas, but rather a return to the positions that the East has always been in.

In many respects, our European research is influenced by those theories that say that the East is a backward space. This is, for example, the theory of max Weber, who spoke about the’ catching up development ‘ of the East, that the East will always catch up with the West in some parameters. Braudel was talking about the same things, but from a slightly different angle. He believed that the West is ahead of the East, because in the West much earlier and much more effective developed commodity-money relations, banking and financial system, developed greater stability of capital, greater stability of management, and so the West eventually reproduced the idea of progressive economic development and in the XIX century literally crushed the East. These and similar theories are based on the assumption that the East still lagged behind, that the East did not possess some of the things that were in the West. Hence the concept of the East as deeply self-absorbed, intuitionistic, immersed in philosophy, slowly developing, and the West as a priority developing and very pragmatic.

However, in recent decades we have been noticeably reconsidering our views on the East, and a number of works published primarily in the West, and partly in Russia, show that it is a profound misconception to believe that the East has lagged behind. In my opinion, and I join many colleagues here who have published relevant works (such as Ian Morris, Kenneth Pomerantz, and a number of other authors), the East was just ahead of the West, and the fallout in the XIX century in cultural, historical and economic development is just a failure of the mechanism, not a standard of development. Or, for example, if we look at the development of China before the mid-nineteenth century, that is, before the arrival of the Europeans, we will see that China produced, according to various estimates, from 25 to 35% of world GDP. And that was always the case. And only when the Europeans come and turn China into a semi-colonial power, the volume of GDP falls, and then not rapidly. China still produces 25%, then 15-18% of GDP. In other words, China has always been a huge global factory. And the goods that were traded along the great silk road in the middle Ages show that China has always produced and, moreover, fed half of the world and at least the entire Asian world with goods and work.

But the fallout begins just when China and many other countries, including Japan and Korea, are switching to an unusual European model of economic development. In other words, economic institutions that were not typical for these countries are being introduced. And as a result, the East, in this case East Asia, does not know how to handle them. For example, China’s GDP in the 50s, after the war, falls to 5% of world GDP, which was also quite a lot. And when today China starts producing around 15% of the world’s GDP, and together with India, China is likely to soon produce at least a quarter of the world’s GDP, we understand that this is a restoration of the traditional model. And here it is important to understand what this traditional model was.

First of all, we must understand that China was ahead of the West in terms of creating economic institutions. For example, in China already in the XII-XIII centuries, there were major organizations that we could call corporations, for example, for the production and extraction of salt, where 400-500 people worked. These are the largest organizations that were not observed in pre-industrial Europe at this size. Commodity-money relations in China — not only printing money, but also, for example, lending, issuing bills of exchange — were very actively developed already before the XII century. Thus, China has created a banking (or ‘ quasi-banking») a system long before Europe. This was due to the fact that China occupies a huge space, and the transportation of goods, for example, from the South to the North of China via the Great canal does not just take a long time — it is dangerous, as well as trade along the great silk road. This is why we are issuing what we would call bills of exchange today and which are serviced by the relevant agencies. Thus, China in terms of commodity-money relations was much more developed than pre-industrial Europe, which is largely defeats the theory of Braudel.One of the key issues in the discussion of relations between the West and the East today is the question of why today and, as it seems to many, China suddenly began to develop so rapidly, why today Europe seems to be rolling back in its economic development, and Asia is developing as a priority.

In my opinion, this question cannot be answered by analyzing only some current economic situation. Here, to understand what is happening in General with the so-called Asia (and this is a relative definition), we need to make a long-term forecast, but not forward, but backward, that is, we need to look at the depth of historical analysis. This is what the modern political economy of the Eastern countries is doing. And only in this case can we understand why the development of China, which is so powerful and ahead of many Eastern countries that China is pulling out, is not an accident, a fall from the General canvas, but rather a return to the positions that the East has always been in.

In many respects, our European research is influenced by those theories that say that the East is a backward space. This is, for example, the theory of max Weber, who spoke about the’ catching up development ‘ of the East, that the East will always catch up with the West in some parameters. Braudel was talking about the same things, but from a slightly different angle. He believed that the West is ahead of the East, because in the West much earlier and much more effective developed commodity-money relations, banking and financial system, developed greater stability of capital, greater stability of management, and so the West eventually reproduced the idea of progressive economic development and in the XIX century literally crushed the East. These and similar theories are based on the assumption that the East still lagged behind, that the East did not possess some of the things that were in the West. Hence the concept of the East as deeply self-absorbed, intuitionistic, immersed in philosophy, slowly developing, and the West as a priority developing and very pragmatic.

However, in recent decades we have been noticeably reconsidering our views on the East, and a number of works published primarily in the West, and partly in Russia, show that it is a profound misconception to believe that the East has lagged behind. In my opinion, and I join many colleagues here who have published relevant works (such as Ian Morris, Kenneth Pomerantz, and a number of other authors), the East was just ahead of the West, and the fallout in the XIX century in cultural, historical and economic development is just a failure of the mechanism, not a standard of development. Or, for example, if we look at the development of China before the mid-nineteenth century, that is, before the arrival of the Europeans, we will see that China produced, according to various estimates, from 25 to 35% of world GDP. And that was always the case. And only when the Europeans come and turn China into a semi-colonial power, the volume of GDP falls, and then not rapidly. China still produces 25%, then 15-18% of GDP. In other words, China has always been a huge global factory. And the goods that were traded along the great silk road in the middle Ages show that China has always produced and, moreover, fed half of the world and at least the entire Asian world with goods and work.

But the fallout begins just when China and many other countries, including Japan and Korea, are switching to an unusual European model of economic development. In other words, economic institutions that were not typical for these countries are being introduced. And as a result, the East, in this case East Asia, does not know how to handle them. For example, China’s GDP in the 50s, after the war, falls to 5% of world GDP, which was also quite a lot. And when today China starts producing around 15% of the world’s GDP, and together with India, China is likely to soon produce at least a quarter of the world’s GDP, we understand that this is a restoration of the traditional model. And here it is important to understand what this traditional model was.

First of all, we must understand that China was ahead of the West in terms of creating economic institutions. For example, in China already in the XII-XIII centuries, there were major organizations that we could call corporations, for example, for the production and extraction of salt, where 400-500 people worked. These are the largest organizations that were not observed in pre-industrial Europe at this size. Commodity-money relations in China — not only printing money, but also, for example, lending, issuing bills of exchange — were very actively developed already before the XII century. Thus, China has created a banking (or ‘ quasi-banking») a system long before Europe. This was due to the fact that China occupies a huge space, and the transportation of goods, for example, from the South to the North of China via the Great canal does not just take a long time — it is dangerous, as well as trade along the great silk road. This is why we are issuing what we would call bills of exchange today and which are serviced by the relevant agencies. Thus, China in terms of commodity-money relations was much more developed than pre-industrial Europe, which is largely defeats the theory of Braudel.

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Concepts of advanced development of the East. (2021, Oct 14). Retrieved October 27, 2021 , from
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