Good Essay - Symbiosis Risk Averseness and Resource...

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Symbiosis, Risk Averseness and Resource Allocation My logic has been disproven. Having now read the logistical arguments that my fellow scholars Mark Elvin, Madeleine Zelin, Pierre-Etienne Will, and Kenneth Pomeranz have made in their respective papers, I realize that a lot of my arguments were made without some key empirical details and information. The facts I have stated regarding the lowering of man- to-land ratios, diminishing returns, subjection of women, overpopulation, and interregional trade in China still remain true. However, these facts do little to maintain my theory on several key points. One, the diminishing returns on land combined with commercialization of China’s specialized products does not lead to the conclusion that the laborers were conservative and unwilling to leave an increasingly unprofitable position. Two, the merchant- government symbiosis is not an inhibitor of risky investments—much rather, government officials were the ones who encouraged laissez-faire in an effort to help their people. Three, merchants were not risk averse and unwilling to invest in long-term projects, and furthermore. Four, the law was not such a limitation for contracts as I had previously stated. As I explore the academic papers my colleagues have written, I will systematically change my originating theory of why there was no Industrial Revolution in China from my work, China: A New History . Mark Elvin’s reasoning in his paper “The Pattern of the Chinese Past: A Social and Economic Interpretation,” does parallel my logic in many instances as a causal explanation for why China had never undergone an Industrial Revolution prior to the West entering, but his empirical evidence utilized to further his argument is where I am wronged. Primarily, his explanation of abundantly cheap and mobile labor as a direct result of overpopulation directly counters my argument that labor was, in fact, immobile and conservative about leaving their
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position in agriculture, despite the obvious levels of diminishing returns and the falling man- to-land ratios. He agrees with me that traditional “inputs, whether in the form of irrigation works, fertilizer or labour, were also nearly as high as they could be without running into sharply diminishing, or even negative, returns.” 1 But Mr. Elvin has also cited man labor to be the cheapest form of transportation at the time, thus concluding that with labor-intensive systems put into place with the overabundant supply in China, there was never an incentive to create laborsaving technological advancements. In fact, he goes as far as claiming that in the seventeenth century, when “temporary shortages arose, mercantile versatility, based on cheap transport, was a faster and surer remedy than the contrivance of machines”. 2
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This note was uploaded on 12/28/2010 for the course SOCIAL SCI SOSC119 taught by Professor Wenkaihe during the Fall '10 term at HKUST.

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Good Essay - Symbiosis Risk Averseness and Resource...

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