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Is California the measure of all things global? A rejoinder to Ricardo Duchesne, 'Peer Vries, the Great Divergence, and the California School: Who's in and who's out?'

Peer Vries
University of Leiden



     Ricardo Duchesne's review of my book is quite extensive and overall quite positive. So I have no reason whatsoever to complain or to be aggressively defensive. I do see, however, some points in his review, and apparently in my original text, that need correction or clarification. In particular I would like to use this opportunity to give those who haven't read my book a clearer idea why I wrote it and how I approached my subject. I think that could be helpful for those interested in keeping track of the debate on the 'Great Divergence' in general and of Duchesne's and my position in particular. For, if I have one fundamental criticism with regard to Duchesne's review, it would be that it too often is not about my book. The emphasis in his review is quite different from that in my book. Repeatedly Duchesne brushes over my intentions and arguments rather easily and uses them as a stepping stone for grinding his own, personal axes. He has a strong tendency to use the pretext of a review to address other people's texts, especially those by members of the California School like Jack Goldstone. Readers may thus find it quite difficult, if not impossible, to reconstruct the exact structure, content and underlying methodology of my book. I will therefore in this rejoinder present them—and expand on them—in a 'stylized' manner, systematically taking on board the comments by Duchesne along the way.

What Via Peking back to Manchester is about

The aim of my book was to evaluate six 'classical' approaches to the question why Britain was the first country in the world to experience an industrial revolution, whereas at the same moment in time nothing of the sort happened in China. I wondered to what extent those attempts at explanation were still valid. Massive research has been done in recent decades into the history of both countries in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In many respects our picture of their history had to be adjusted. It would be highly unlikely that all this new research would have no bearing on what, since Pomeranz, we all tend to call 'the Great Divergence' between Britain and China.1 I wanted to find out what exactly this bearing could or even should be.

Basic definitions

    To tackle that question in a fruitful way, some definitions were indispensable. I defined the Industrial Revolution in Britain as the first instance of modern economic growth in the history of the world. By modern economic growth I meant a sustained, substantial increase of real gross domestic product per capita.2 Britain's economy was the first on the globe to 'take-off' into this type of growth, somewhere between the 1750s and the 1850s. I used the expression 'take-off' not in the strict technical sense of Rostow,3 but rather more broadly as Hobsbawm does when he describes it as the process in which " the shackles were taken off the productive power of human societies, which henceforth became capable of the constant, rapid and up to the present limitless multiplication of men, goods and services."4 In the specific case of the first industrial revolution, it had a couple of specific characteristics. It was borne by the use of a new type of energy, new raw materials and tools, and by continual innovation. To be more concrete: the first industrial revolution marked, in 'Wrigleyan terms,' the transition from an advanced organic economy to a mineral-based fossil-fuel economy, with production increasingly taking place in factories with the aid of machines and with an ever more prominent role for technology and science.5 With the spread of those new sources of energy, raw materials and technologies, not only over industry but also over other sectors of the economy, an 'industrial society' emerged where modern economic growth was normal. Such a societal transformation of course implies, amongst many other things, major institutional changes.
    Explaining industrialization and the ensuing modern economic growth therefore, as Mokyr rightly claims, implies explaining how a society finds a solution to bottlenecks in three fundamental spheres: to wit, that of resources, that of knowledge, and that of institutions.6 It was the combination of changes in all of these three contexts at a certain moment in time that carried Britain across the threshold and transformed it into an industrial society. No factor on its own, i.e. neither new sources of energy and raw materials, nor science and technology, nor institutional changes, would suffice to enable a country to industrialize. Although my reviewer clearly is aware of that, he, at least in this review, tends to focus so extensively on science and culture that a reader cannot escape the idea that to him—and to me!—these would be the explanatory factors 'par excellence.' For me at least that is not the case, as may be deduced from the fact that in my book those other factors get far more attention than Duchesne's review suggests. 4

Similarities and differences

    Such combined changes take time. In the case of Britain it was only after several decades that they had made their imprint clearly felt throughout society. Jack Goldstone does have a point when he claims that modern economic growth only emerged in Britain somewhere between the 1820s/1850s.7 It was only then that the innovations we associate with industrialization began to have their macro-economic, nationwide effects. It was only then that they translated into a sustained, substantial growth of GDP. Of course, the inventions that were to initially carry that modern economic growth, the 'sprouts of industry' so to say, must have emerged earlier on. But for several decades into the nineteenth century Britain continued to be an advanced organic economy where by far the better part of growth continued to be unrelated to 'coal and steam.' As such the second half of the eighteenth century and the first decades of the nineteenth century—a period that is normally supposed to have witnessed the first industrial revolution—indeed can better be regarded as the final flowering of the economic old regime than as a period in which the new economy already ruled supreme.
    In that respect I am somewhat surprised by Duchesne's suggestion that I would follow Goldstone too closely and by implication would also be " unwilling to recognize something new behind the "efflorescence" of eighteenth-century England that could not be found in Qing China." It is important to differentiate here. I agree with Goldstone and 'the Californians' when they claim that till the first decades of the nineteenth century, when it comes to the type of their economy, there still were striking similarities between Britain and China as both still basically were advanced organic economies that might be growing, but did not know modern economic growth. This means that to my definition they both still were pre-industrial. I agree with Duchesne when he claims that eighteenth-century Britain clearly was different from eighteenth-century China in the sense that its economy was on a different trajectory with increasingly different options. I was somewhat surprised to see Duchesne trying to create a major controversy here. Especially when he goes as far as writing that Goldstone would claim that "before 1830 England was following a parallel pattern of political, demographic, commercial, urban, agricultural and even industrial growth as Qing China." (italics in the original). It of course is not my task to defend Jack Goldstone. He is perfectly able to do so himself, but as Duchesne tends to associate my point of view so closely with Goldstone's, it is imperative in this response to point to the fact that neither Goldstone nor I would go as far as to make such a claim. I do not think it makes much sense to create the impression of fundamental disagreement whereas in fact the different points of view are matters of emphasis, that can be conciliated, as Duchesne, if he would take an earlier statement of his seriously, could easily admit:
"The real disagreement between us is that, for Goldstone, 'the great divergence' between England and China occurred only after about 1820/1850 because it as only then that the fast and sustained growth rates in GDP per capita and industrial output were discernible in England. I on the other hand, rather than pointing to the effects of the transformation, would emphasize the many qualitative changes—Hargreaves's spinning jenny (c 1766), Watt's separate condenser (1768), Arkwright's water frame, (1769), Cort's conversion of pig iron to wrought iron (1784), Cartwright's power loom (1787)—which occurred in the last third of the eighteenth century and which made possible the higher quantitative growth rates of the nineteenth century."8
    Differences between both countries with respect to their political, demographic, commercial, urban and industrial structure and development during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries are so evident and so well-known that it would simply be foolish to deny them.9 What can be discussed is a) whether these differences were already so big in macro-economic terms and in terms of development economics that one must already talk about two different types of economies and b) whether they already were big enough to claim that industrialization could possibly or even probably occur in one country (Britain) and not in the other one (China). My answer to the first question would be: "No, the differences were not that big yet." To the second question I would answer: "Yes, the differences were big enough already to make it possible or even probable that Britain would industrialize whereas there was no reason whatsoever to expect that to happen in China."
    Pomeranz's thesis that in the early modern world there would have been 'surprising resemblances' between various parts of Europe and Asia has become immensely popular.10 Peter Perdue gives a good synthesis of much recent literature when he speaks of a 'Eurasian similarity thesis' that would have "demonstrated—at least according to him and to its proponents!—that in most measurable aspects of demographic structure, technology, economic productivity, commercial development, property rights and ecological pressure, there were no substantial differences between China and Western Europe up to around the year 1800."11 The work of Pomeranz and other Californians certainly was useful in 'relativizing' the uniqueness of many traits of early modern European society. But it should of course not be interpreted—and as I see it, was not meant to convey that idea—as implying that there would be no relevant differences between 'the West' and 'the Rest' at all. One should never forget that 'similarity' and 'difference' in the last instance are functions of the perspective and aim of the researcher, not of the objects of study as such. What Pomeranz and other Californians primarily want to convey, is that in terms of productivity the West was much less peculiar, i.e. advanced, in comparison to various parts of Asia than has long been claimed by Eurocentrists. As such this of course does not imply that in other respects we would be forced to believe in some kind of global uniformity. I at least don't, and therefore was extremely surprised when at the end of his text Duchesne advises me and all other world historians to take seriously Weber and his ideas about Europe's unique characteristics. I have never done otherwise and have all my students read the text where Weber most succinctly presents his thesis of European uniqueness at the very beginning of my course in global history. I never expected to find myself accused of an easy dismissal of Weber. I definitely do recognize his contribution to the debate on the rise of the West and would not hesitate to claim that no theorist has been more important to that debate than Weber. I completely fail to see how someone reading my book could come to the conclusion that I think that "Weber was wrong." This conclusion of Duchesne is far too brash and unsubstantiated, as I hope to show in this text.

Continuity, change and contingency

    The first industrial revolution undoubtedly marked the dawn of a new era in the economic history of humankind and the beginning of something unprecedented. It heralded a fundamental and revolutionary break that, to me at least unsurprisingly, took decades before its effects showed not only nationwide, but also in the gap between those countries that industrialized and those that did not. Especially in circles where European 'exceptionalism' of whatever kind has become suspect, it has become surprisingly popular to point to 'contingency' as the main explanation of the fact that Western Europe could pass over from a situation of being, supposedly, quite similar to 'the Rest'—or even as Gunder Frank with his usual excess and bravado would claim being 'backward' and 'marginal'12 —to one of undisputable advance.13 Perdue undoubtedly is again taking a popular stance when he writes that: "In the light of this recent research, the Industrial Revolution is not a deep, slow evolution out of centuries of particular conditions unique to early modern Europe. It is a late, rapid, unexpected outcome of a fortuitous combination of circumstances in the late eighteenth century. " acceptable explanations must invoke a global perspective and allow for a great deal of short-term change."14 This indeed has become a very popular way of looking at the Industrial Revolution. For people who subscribe to this interpretation, the comparative question why Britain industrialized whereas China did not, can indeed, as he writes, best be tackled by approaches that are "historical (limiting key changes to relatively short time periods, stressing contingencies) and externalist (focusing on the availability of resources from outside the existing socio-economic system)."15
    To some extent the ideas that Perdue synthesizes are an understandable, justifiable and even salutary counterpoise to approaches that make far too much of Europe being 'different,' and tend to push back the explanation of what happened in parts of Europe in the nineteenth century into the mists of time and sometimes even give it an air of inevitability. What may have begun as a salutary reaction against an untenable position, however, now clearly tends to err in the opposite direction. To me at least, suggesting or even explicitly claiming that there were hardly any substantial differences between various parts of Eurasia and that the great diverging was just 'a lucky accident' is very unsatisfactory. To conclude with Marks that other parts of the world in contrast to the West did not industrialize because "They simply didn't have colonies or coal," does not solve anything and can not be regarded as a serious scholarly answer. If only for the simple reason that even Britain did not 'simply' have colonies and coal but had to put in enormous efforts during many decades, if not centuries, to be able to exploit them. Not to mention the fact that there have been countries without coal that nevertheless industrialized, countries without colonies that did so, countries with colonies that did not, and so on and so forth.16
    Of course, in the strictly 'technical' sense of the term it indeed was a contingency that industrialization happened in Britain first, or for that matter that it happened anywhere at all. In logic the technical term 'contingency' refers to a possible but not very likely future event or condition. In that sense Britain's industrialization and the rise of the West clearly were contingent. But that does not mean they were contingent in the common sense meaning of the word i.e. purely accidental, a matter of chance.17 The undeniable divergence between England and the most advanced regions of China was neither simply a historical accident, nor was it inevitable. I personally would never use that last term in any historical analysis. I regard it as a matter of historical 'conjuncture.' Historical events always are, and as such they in principle can be explained by reference to historical context. The point then is how wide to draw the net. Scholars favoring contingent explanations, overall, favor a short-term approach. I, as Duchesne again correctly comments, have a " determination to trace the long-term causes of the first industrial revolution within British society, and to explain the long-term factors within traditional China that, from the 1800s onwards, created the indisputable crises of overpopulation, recurrent famines, political breakdown, semi-colonial status, ecological deterioration, and widespread impoverishment so visible by the 1850s—all in stark contrast to the British 'miracle.'"18

What exact entities are we comparing?

    I have no problems whatsoever to conclude with Duchesne and Weber that Britain and, more generally, Western Europe in many ways and already for a long period of time, were on a different path from the rest of the world. In this context it is very important to emphasize that my book, as the title indicates, indeed is about Britain and China, not about 'the West' and 'the Rest,' as are so many related books, or about Western Europe and China, as Duchesne sometimes suggests.19 This is not a minor detail. In various relevant respects Britain was quite different from even the rest of Western Europe at the onset of and during its industrialization. Duchesne is right in pointing to the fact that Goldstone makes too much of a specific British 'engine culture.' In the end, notwithstanding some differences of accent and timing, science and technology were Western European phenomena. But when we look at, for example, its agriculture, its energy-system, the structure of its international trade, or its political economy, Britain at the end of the eighteenth century unmistakably had some very peculiar traits.20 Moreover, as the first, and for a couple of decades almost sole—or at least by far the most strongly—industrialized nation of the globe, it had a quite unique and peculiar way of industrializing.21 This is not the place to delve deeper into this question, but even a fairly superficial reading of the latest literature would show beyond any reasonable doubt that, for example, Britain, France and Germany, to mention only the bigger Western European countries, managed to have their economies grow in quite different ways, whether one looks at the role of the state, the market, technology, culture, the structure of their societies or the availability of resources. There simply is not one model of industrialization, not even for nineteenth-century Western Europe,22 let alone for the entire globe.23

One, or rather two classical grand narratives

    When it comes to giving a long-term explanation of Britain's Industrial Revolution—and the ensuing global dominance of the West—two grand narratives have long held centre stage: the classical, liberal grand narrative that is so well exemplified in David Landes' magnum opus24 and an alternative, more in line with the ideas of Braudel and Wallerstein, that is fiercely defended by a substantial amount of scholars but less popular amongst the general public. The classical liberal story as I present it in my book, is quite simple and well-known. It is built around the following claims: 1) Britain's economy had become capitalist in the Smithian sense, which means it was characterized by private property, private enterprise, commodification of goods and services, and free and perfect competition on the market, 2) The British state had become, to put it in modern terms, 'clean' and 'lean,' basically confining itself to taking care of, as Adam Smith would put it "peace, easy taxes and a fair administration of justice." British citizens had nothing to fear from government when it came to their life, liberty and the pursuit of property, 3) Britain had evolved into an open, mobile community with a vibrant set of institutions that is usually described as 'civil society,' 4) Its culture not just tolerated innovation and change: it was enamored with it and with 'progress,' 5) It does not come as a surprise that in such a setting science and technology and their application in economic affairs flourished, 6) The problem that is associated with the name of Malthus, i.e. a population growing so fast that resources become scarce, did arise. Malthus after all was an Englishman. But as compared to the main Asian regions where industrialization failed, in particular China, the growth of population was not really problematic. 13
    The alternative grand narrative differs from the previous one especially in that it claims that eighteenth-century British capitalism was much less characterized by free and perfect competition and much more by collusion, monopoly, manipulation and intervention than supporters of Adam Smith like to admit. Accordingly, the role of the state in British society was much more prominent and interventionist too. Britain at the onset of its industrialization, in this view, can best be described as a fiscal-military and mercantilist state. Finally, British social structure is looked at from a different angle. One can of course not deny that Britain in various respects was a relatively open society with a well-organized, free citizenry, but much more emphasis is laid on the fact that this society also had various privileged elites that were 'more equal' and better protected than the mass of the populace. 14
    The traditional story about how China did not industrialize is well-known. With the passing of time it has almost turned into a set of cliché's, and can be read as almost the exact opposite of the liberal grand narrative about Britain. By and large China is simply supposed to have lacked all those characteristics that, according to the liberal story, were so prominently present in Britain. The attributes of capitalism, i.e. private property, private enterprise, commodification, a well-functioning market mechanism, let alone a free and perfect market, were all supposed to be absent there. The Middle Empire was regarded as a textbook example of oriental despotism, with an immobile social structure, lacking citizens and a civil society and having a conservative, even backward-looking and self-enclosed culture. It was regarded as an extremely unlikely place for modern science and technology to emerge. Finally, it was considered the example par excellence of a county caught in a Malthusian trap, not managing to keep its population in check, whereas Britain supposedly did.

My findings and Duchesne's comments

    Duchesne very competently summarizes my findings at the very beginning of his review, focusing on whether or not I agree with the tenets of the California school. Pomeranz also took that as the main question in his review of my book in the Journal of Asian Studies.25 To be honest, agreeing or disagreeing with the California School was not my main concern in writing the text. I simply wanted to test the traditional explanations as they existed before the Californians came on stage, in the light of recent work, including theirs. That does not invalidate his description of my position however. That is basically correct. I only have a couple of minor comments on what he says there. With regard to the standard of living of Qing China his synthesis of my position is somewhat too optimistic.26 Here too, it is very important to differentiate between Britain in particular and Western Europe as a whole. Britain was substantially richer than the rest of Western Europe, with the exception of the Dutch Republic.27 In the light of two recent publications I now tend to think differences in wealth between early modern Britain and China were substantial, although of course much smaller than after the great divergence.28 His conclusion that I would think that Chinese foreign trade was immense is not entirely correct. What I actually write is: "In absolute terms China's foreign trade of course was immense. Compared to the tiny British isle its economy must have been rather closed."29 When he writes that Chinese taxes seem to have been lower, that is somewhat of a euphemism. I claim that, on a per capita base, the central government of Britain at the end of the eighteenth century spent thirty times (!) as much as that of China, when measured in terms of silver. That must mean its tax-income was much higher than that of its Chinese counterpart. Finally, suggesting as Duchesne does in his brief synthesis of my points of view, that according to me "Weber was wrong" is making far too much of a fairly minor, specific criticism that I put forward in my book. As the reader can easily verify, I disagree with Weber with regard to his interpretation of the economic effects of Confucianism as summarized in his famous quote about Confucianism and Puritanism: "Confucian rationalism meant rational adjustment to the world; Puritan rationalism meant rational mastery of the world."30 What I actually say about that thesis is the following: "Even if Weber were right about his claim that Confucianism had 'Weltanpassung' (adjustment to the world) as its ideal, in everyday practice the Chinese were, and are, permanently and intensively active in adapting the world to their will. If in doubt, just take a look at China's endless paddy fields. There was certainly nothing wrong with their rationality, work ethos, business acumen, love of profit, practical sense, or materialism."31 Duchesne reads far too much into this comment and uses it to construct a non-existent complete rejection of Weber's thinking. I agree, with Weber and Duchesne, that Confucianism as it was interpreted in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century China was conservative; that Chinese elites had a fairly closed, uniform view of the world, and that modern science is an extremely important part of Western heritage that had no chance of emerging in China. Much of what Weber says about Chinese culture under the Ming and Qing can still be defended, or at least fruitfully discussed. But anyhow, Weber has written about so many aspects of Western and non-Western societies and I agree with him, as any reader of my work can see, in so many respects, that Duchesne's comment can only be regarded as a serious misinterpretation.
    When we come to a step-by-step evaluation of the traditional explanations of the Great Divergence, I would claim that industrializing Britain indeed was capitalist, but far more in the sense in which Braudel and Wallerstein use that word, especially when it comes to its external economic relations, than in the sense in which (neo-)classical economists would use it. Synthesizing my findings with regard to the functioning of China's capitalism I tend to the conclusion that in its huge internal trade apparently a situation prevailed that resembled free and perfect competition as well if not better than in Britain. Governments had a tendency to interfere in foreign trade, but the effects of these interferences were quite different from those in Britain as, relatively speaking, Chinese foreign trade was much less important than in Britain and government intervention was (unlike in mercantilist Britain) not primarily concerned with increasing the wealth of the state and thereby the nation. When it comes to the working of China's internal markets for capital goods, labor and money, I indeed, as Duchesne writes, am much more hesitant than the Californians to claim that these too were 'Smithian.' What struck me in reading his review was that as a Marxist-Weberian, or should I say Weberian-Marxist, Duchesne does not emphasize much more the fundamental role that I accord to the fact that China's economy was characterized by a household mode of production. This had various extremely important implications such as the virtual absence of real proletarians, the predominance of small firms, and the lack of a formal separation of family and firm and of a formal rationalization of many economic activities: characteristics that Weber as well as Marx thought were essential for the workings of a capitalist economy. 17
    My affinity with the approach and findings of Braudel and Wallerstein in their analysis of capitalism in the West has not escaped Duchesne. I am not sure, however, what he thinks that would imply for my overall stance. He gives the impression that this would mean that I subscribe to the thesis that " colonialism, slavery, and exploitation in the Americas is a primary explanation for the rise of the West."32 Earlier, however, he had already written that I reject such a thesis. Again, I would first of all want to differentiate between various Western countries. That thesis is evidently false when applied to the West as a whole: how for example to connect Germany's industrialization to what happened in the Americas? I do, however, see a connection in the case of Britain, not in sense that the phenomena Duchesne refers to would be the cause of its industrialization, or in the sense that I would be fully endorsing something of a revived Williams thesis as so many scholars have done recently. My point of view boils down to admitting that 'colonialism, slavery, and exploitation in the Americas' did play a significant role in Britain's rise.33 To present my view on these important matters I probably can do no better than to quite extensively quote from my book:

'Industry' and 'Empire' in Britain were so entangled that explaining one of the two is simply impossible without referring to the other. I am not maintaining that this collusion between economic and political interests via the state somehow caused industrialization in Britain. From a macro-economic point of view it is not even evident that mercantilism pays. And even if that were clear: a breakthrough like the Industrial Revolution cannot be regarded as simply the 'natural' result of the way markets were manipulated in mercantilism.

We are nevertheless dealing here with a difference between Britain and China that has been significant for the different routes taken by the economies of both countries. Mercantilism and all it stands for gave Britons a privileged entry into various markets in the sense that they could buy and sell on better conditions than would have been the case in a Smithian world of free and perfect competition. A lot of British imports, exports and profits only came about because of British power. Moreover, mercantilism played a very substantial role in the creating of a range of institutions in Britain that were extremely important in facilitating its industrialization and would turn out to be even more important in countries that were to industrialize later. I repeatedly referred to its national bank, its consolidated national debt and its chartered companies. But I might also have referred to all those refinements in Britain's system of finance, banking, law and taxation, which would not have come into existence without the close relationship between state and economy in a mercantilist setting.34

    In my analysis I give a prominent place to the role of state.35 Here again it shows that I can be quite Weberian. My thesis would be that the British state at the time of Britain's economic transformation was not that lean and clean state so dear to classical economists: it was a 'heavy,' fiscal-military and interventionist state.36 When it comes to the rationalization of its bureaucracy, a topic that according to Duchesne would have deserved more attention, I again would like to differentiate between Britain and most of the rest of Western Europe. Duchesne wants to remind me that Weber put much emphasis on this form of rationalization: "The West carried this rationalization process further through the creation of bureaucracies increasingly managed by specialized and trained officials in accordance with impersonal and universal statuses and regulations formulated and recorded in writing and the creation of more integrated and codified systems of law." I agree that this is an extremely important process, but want to remind Duchesne that to connect this development to the rise of industrial society, one needs a rather optimistic interpretation of the progress of professionalization of public rule in Western Europe in the eighteenth century.37 The rise of modern bureaucracy took place only very late in the early modern period, if not after it is normally considered to be over. I would say that with the exception of very specific parts of Britain's government—especially the Excise Department—and of Prussian government—that was probably ahead of all other governments in Europe when it comes to having a national bureaucracy. Indeed, a systematic and clear rationalization of government only began to set in after the French Revolution, or rather with Napoleon's rule.38 One could indeed in various respects call eighteenth-century Britain a more 'bureaucratic' state than China, but in some respects one could just as well claim the opposite. Duchesne is of course correct when, following in Weber's footsteps, he points to the fact that Chinese officials were not modern bureaucrats. But on the other hand, would one really want to call the Chinese system of employing an educated, selected elite of employees less rational than the system that was predominant in Western Europe, including Britain, even in the eighteenth century: a system of (often indirect) rule, that was to a large extent manned by aristocrats or people who had bought their jobs, often just to regard it as a sinecure? To me the real point seems to be that China's state, even in the eighteenth century, was only a very thin veneer of a tiny group of gentry that simply could not extend its grasp to the grass-roots level of society. In Michael Mann's terms the Chinese state, all its despotic power and pomp notwithstanding, was very weak 'infrastructurally,' too weak to promote the kind of developments that took place at the time in Britain.39 In the nineteenth century for various reasons its grip became even weaker.
    When it comes to my conclusions with regard to the openness of British and Chinese society in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Duchesne finds it hard to square my various remarks. I conclude that China in the eighteenth century was just as much or, if you prefer, just as little an open society as Britain was. I moreover endorse Braudel's view that Western capitalism could flourish because Western society in a certain sense was less open and less socially mobile than various other civilizations, including the Chinese.40 And I indeed think that Britain had a vibrant civil society. To Duchesne my theses would imply that I have "a reductive and ultimately distorted view of British bourgeois or civil society, as if it were primarily characterized by "privilege, protection exclusion, hierarchy and manipulation" He apparently prefers to associate the presence of a strong civil society with liberalism and that of capitalism with 'openness.' To help the reader in finding his way, I, again, probably can do no better that quoting from my original text. 20

    We must of course not lapse into anachronism. All this talk about mobility, rights and civil society must not blind us to the fundamental fact that, formally speaking, the majority of the British population in our period did not have political rights and that conservative elites were very powerful. This lack of political rights may, in the long run, have been a blessing in disguise. For decades industrialization brought few benefits for most ordinary Britons. More often than not it entailed working harder for a wage that in real terms barely increased, if it increased at all. It very often meant working in more unhealthy surroundings, whilst economic inequality, which was already great, increased even more. In a democratic referendum the first industrial revolution would have been voted out. The fact that the innovators could forge ahead has more to do with their specific power than with broad public support, more with a lack of democracy than democracy itself. 41

    Privileges, which were so characteristic of Western Europe, were far less widespread in China. This definitely had some positive effects on China's social mobility. All in all, we may conclude that Qing China in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was just as much, or if you prefer just as little, an 'open society' as Britain was. Among many Western liberals it is very popular to take it as something of a truism that 'openness' and a high social mobility are a 'good thing' when it comes to economic change and industrialization. In that case it is far from obvious that China's social structure as such was an impediment to industrialization as compared to Britain's. There is ample reason, however, to at least doubt whether this premise is actually correct. I fully endorse Braudel's thesis that Western capitalism could flourish because Western society in a certain sense was less open and less socially mobile than various other civilizations, including the Chinese. In studies on the 'uniqueness' of Western society all too often the entire focus is on concepts like 'rights' and 'protection'. What tends to be ignored is the fact that, in practice, the rights and the protection which were claimed for a certain individual or group, could easily have negative implications for other individuals or groups. This is evidently so in the case of privileges of all kinds which by their very nature withheld rights and protection from the non-privileged in Western society. It surely also applies to early modern Britain, that provided an environment where the capitalist was not only allowed to ceaselessly accumulate but was often encouraged and helped to do so, and protected in doing so. There clearly was a lot of collusion between the rich and the powerful. We would be well-advised to pay more attention to the role of privilege, protection, exclusion, hierarchy and manipulation in 'the rise of the West' and be less enchanted by the ideology that this rise was caused by equality and equal rights, social mobility, freedom and fair competition.42

    I am clearly not saying that Britain was a closed society. Nor am I claiming it was characterized solely by privilege, protection, hierarchy and manipulation. I do not want to, and indeed do not suggest, that in Britain civil society existed only for the elite, as an exclusivist haven for the privileged. I am only warning against having too rosy a view of social conditions in Britain at the onset of its industrialization. One does not have to be a fierce cynic or pessimist to point to the many elements of privilege, protection, hierarchy and manipulation that indeed did exist and that indeed did contribute to what on a macro- economic level turned out to be economic growth. 22
    That brings us to the role that culture, technology and science are supposed to have played in Britain's industrialization and in China's failure to industrialize. In my original text, culture on the one hand and science and technology on the other, are discussed separately. But as in most comments by Duchesne they are seen as tightly connected, I will discuss them jointly too. I have no hesitation in claiming that there were significant cultural differences between Britain and China. I have even less hesitation in claiming that there were no signs whatsoever that a major technological breakthrough was on the horizon in China that would make possible a new type of growth there. Here we fundamentally agree. What strikes me in his review is that Duchesne tends to set apart culture, technology and science from other factors that are also very important in my line of reasoning. Reading his review one can easily think that my argument would be built around an analysis of exactly these factors. The following quotes can serve as an illustration.

" after measured consideration of all the salient points, and after synthesizing much of the recent literature [Vries concludes] that by the eighteenth century it [Britain] had become both technologically and scientifically a much more dynamic society than China.

After considering all these points, however, Vries stresses above all else the fact that somewhere between 1500 and 1700 Britain had become a much more dynamic society when it came to making mechanical instruments and when it came to cultivating a scientific culture that would eventually make possible the 'industrial revolution'

Vries' emphasis on the scientific-practical culture of England is a view also proposed by Margaret Jacob, and Joel Mokyr.

" Vries follows too closely, or tends to confound Goldstone's self-described 'cultural' explanation of the British industrial revolution with Jacob's (and Mokyr's) own approach.


    I can only ask people to read my text and find out for themselves that, in contrast to what is suggested by Duchesne's review, I do not focus that strongly on culture, science and technology, nor do I follow Goldstone—instead of Jacobs or Mokyr—and copy his cultural explanation of Britain's industrialization. Although I make some comments on, for example, the traditionalism of many members of China's ruling class and their 'closed' world view as contrasted with the culture of progress in Britain, I hardly deal with culture as such:

I do not wish to deal with culture as such at great length, neither here nor in my analysis of the Chinese situation. This is not because I feel that culture defined as the socially acquired set of dispositions of people to describe, interpret, and value social and natural phenomena in a certain way, would be of no importance in economic history. On the contrary, the thesis can be defended that what we call 'economics,' is fundamentally subjective and as such cultural. Microeconomics is about the choices people make on the basis of the preferences they have and the constraints they see. Both are almost entirely a matter of perception and values, i.e. of culture. Macroeconomics is about aggregate effects of these choices.

The first task of the economic historian would be to show these choices and their effects. That already is a huge task. Then it comes to interpreting and explaining these choices. This can be done 'superficially' by referring to the context in which those choices and their effects come about. In this text I will constantly refer to the concrete contexts that structure people's choices: the economy, politics and social relations, science and technology, and the way and the extent to which natural resources are used. These contexts can all be seen as direct or indirect expressions of culture. Looked at from that perspective culture is fundamental in my analysis without, however, being analyzed as a specific category as such. It is a given whose impact is charted as far as it conditions and expresses itself in behavior in various contexts of life. The more 'fundamental' problem of what reasons people themselves had, in the last instance, to behave the way they did, lies one level of analysis deeper than the level at which I am analyzing, and at which I want to analyze, lacking the required knowledge and information.43

    When it comes to the role of science and technology in Britain's industrialization and more generally in British history, to a very large extent Duchesne and I agree. In my text I at least nowhere suggest otherwise. Recent exploration of the literature has convinced me even more of the existence of fundamental differences in this respect between Britain and China in the eighteenth century. There indeed has been a long term gestation of the scientific enlightened culture of Europe, as Duchesne writes, and he is completely correct in claiming that "Britain's engine culture was not a lucky, unforeseen accident; it was an ethos, a mentality, an outlook on life which had been brewing for a long time right across Europe, and by the eighteenth century had spread and penetrated deeply into British civil society, the schools and textbooks, the academies and journals, the coffee houses and printer's shop." Not only were Britain's—and Europe's—science and technology no mere historical accidents, they also were not just simple reactions to a practical challenge that one also might have seen in China if only the Chinese had faced a similar challenge.44 25
    I fully subscribe to Duchesne's—and Wrigley's—thesis "that the problems associated with converting mineral heat into kinetic energy or motive power had been readily perceived and gradually overcome with the invention and development first of the Newcomen atmospheric engine (1712) and later of Watt's (1769) more powerful and efficient "steam engine."45 Britain, in short, was already experimenting with new ways of producing energy at a time when it clearly was not anywhere near a Malthusian crisis. Having steam pumps simply was helpful in draining mines. This is in contrast to what Pomeranz claims would also have been the case in China, but nothing of the sort happened there. In his Great Divergence it reads that the biggest coal deposits in China were in the northwest where, by seemingly insuperable transport problems, they were separated from the rich but ecologically needy fuel users of China's major cities in the economic heart of the country.46 If we are to believe Li Bozhong, who for the rest of his ideas finds a very receptive audience amongst the Californians, the problems involved in transporting China's coal to places where it was neeeded, could have been solved.47 Peter Perdue tends to share this point of view and rightly points to the weakness of the Chinese state from the late-eigheenth century onwards and the fact that it had other priorities as important factors in China's 'failure' to solve the problem of transporting bulky goods.48 Pomeranz's second argument in explaining why China did not develop steam pumps and steam engines is very debatable too. According to him the biggest technical problem faced by Chinese coal miners, again especially in the northwest, was fundamentally different from that faced by their counterparts in England. Chinese coal mines had much less of a water problem: instead they were so arid that spontaneous combustion was a constant threat.49 There are, however, numerous indications that the Chinese too encountered serious problems of drainage in their mines. One of the most noted experts in the field at least does not hesitate to describe water removal as "perhaps the biggest and most widespread problem in Chinese coal mining."50 Kent Deng very recently wrote that " the Chinese avoided mines with the underground flooding problem altogether," and he is not the only one to think that in China the problem of the drainage of mines was not tackled with much inventive stubborness.51 He moreover adds that even without problems of drainage steam engines could have been put to good use in Chineses mines: " for ventilation or fire prevention the use of the steam engine—a machine as versatile as is—would be indeed handy."52 26
    What is more, there would have been plenty of room for inventions in early modern China to save labor or resources outside the mining sector. Let me confine myself to quoting Mark Elvin: "There should have been enormous benefits from more efficient pumping devices both in irrigated agriculture as in mining, which was beset with a draining problem. Yet for half a millennium almost nothing was done to improve on the methods inherited from the past."53 The Chinese not only did not actually invent the steam engine: as far as I can judge the claim that they just as well have might have invented it, is quite implausible.54 And to make just one final point with regard to differences in technology and science between Britian and China: at the core of the new economy emerging in industrialising Britain there was, without any doubt, the transition to a mineral-based fossil-fuel economy. Coal and steam in the end would make the fundamental difference. That, however, should not make us lose sight of the fact that at the time Britain indeed was struck by 'a wave of gadgets'—i.e. inventions, innovations and improvements in agriculture, transport, manufacture, trade and finance—that simply had no parallel in China and that contributed very substantially to total economic growth.55 As Kristine Bruland writes: " innovation was a broad process, pervasively embedded in many industries, even those that were essentially matters of hand technology. ... There is in fact a wide array of evidence from business, technological, and industrial histories to lead us to the firm conclusion that innovation in the industrial revolution was present across virtually all activities that comprised the British economy at that time.56 The current tendency amongst many anti-Eurocentric historians to minimize differences in science and technology between Britain and indeed Western Europe on the one hand and Eastern societies, especially China, on the other hand, has to be regarded as a major error. 27

That brings us to the last topic that I discussed in my book: the question of to what extent Britain and China were caught in, or at least heading for, a Malthusian trap and the challenges, possibilities, and problems that caused for their economic development. Strictly in quantitative terms no topic gets more attention in my book than this one, whereas surprisingly none gets less attention in Duchesne's review of it. I know Duchesne extensively discussed the topic in several of his articles, and as far as I can see our views on it are quite similar.57 But that of course does nothing to change the fact that a review has to pay attention to what apparently is of fundamental importance in the text under review. Here I will confine myself to repeating my conclusion in this respect and expressing the hope that readers would be willing to read for themselves what I write about the existing differences in resource-portfolios and the path-dependent differences in modes of production those differences created.



Finally we arrive at the explanations that point to the existence, non-existence or scarcity of natural resources. Frankly, these explanations seem to me to be problematic. To begin with, because they can too easily be twisted in various directions. If innovations occur in a context of scarcity, one can claim that 'necessity is the mother of invention' and talk in terms of 'challenge and response'. In case they do not occur one can of course blame scarcity. If innovations occur in a context of ample resources one can easily claim that in such a situation it is easier to innovate, in case they do not of course one can say there was no need. This type of explanation in the end does not explain very much. The comparison between Britain and China shows that once again. Malthusian tensions were perceptible in both countries in the eighteenth century. In Britain, though, there was still much more 'slack' than in China. In both countries natural resources became scarcer because of population growth. As organic societies they both faced, in one way or another, Malthusian constraints. Britain escaped a possibly acute crisis as it radically changed its mode of production. China did not. The fact that Britain was the place where the technological breakthroughs took place that allowed it to industrialize first and not China, is not simply a result of their respective resource portfolios. The fact that China could not easily follow suit and industrialize in the nineteenth century the way Britain did, to a certain extent, indeed can be blamed on the specific way in which it exploited its natural resources. It makes sense to try and defend the thesis that its geography set it on a path that made it 'rational' to opt for a mode of production that became ever more land-, labor-, and resource-intensive. A society that has never opted for this path can industrialize the British way far more easily than a society that has walked it for centuries. Here I think further research into the implications of having a 'rice economy' or a system of mixed agriculture, and into labor-intensive varieties of industrialization, like we see in Japan in the nineteenth century, is called for. 58

    Overall one can only be grateful for such an extended review as that by Duchesne, especially when it basically is as positive as his. I wrote this extensive reply not so much as a systematic rebuttal or to engage in scholarly quibbling, but to try and present my position more clearly and systematically than it was done in his review and, to a certain extent, 'up-date' it. The problems discussed are interesting and relevant enough to warrant such an endeavor. 30


Biographical Note: Peer Vries teaches historiography, the philosophy of history, and the history of the early modern world at Leiden University in the Netherlands. He is editor of the Journal of Global History (Cambridge University Press), and associate editor of the Encyclopedia of World History (Berkshire Press, 2005). He has widely published in the field of world and early modern history. His most recent book is called Via Peking back to Manchester: Britain, the Industrial Revolution, and China (Leiden, 2003).


1 Kenneth Pomeranz, The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the World Economy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000).

2 In a context of an increasing population and structural economic change, I would now add. For this definition see, for example, Simon Kuznetz, Six Lectures on Economic Growth (New York: Free Press, 1959) and W.W. Rostow, The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1960).

3 W.W. Rostow, The Stages of Economic Growth, 39.

4 E.J. Hobsbawm, The Age of Revolution (London: Weidenfield and Nicolson, 1962), 45.

5 I based this definition on work by E.A. Wrigley, Continuity, Chance and Change: The Character of the Industrial Revolution in England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988); David S. Landes, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations. Why Some are so Rich and Some so Poor (New York and London: W.W. Norton, 1998), and Joel Mokyr, "Editors Introduction: The New Economic History and the Industrial Revolution," in Joel Mokyr, ed., The British Industrial Revolution: An Economic Perspective (Boulder: Westview Press, 1993), 1-131.

6 Joel Mokyr, "Why was the Industrial Revolution a European Phenomenon?" and idem, "The Enduring Riddle of the European Miracle: the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution," both on

            7 See for example Jack A. Goldstone, "Efflorescences and Economic Growth in World History: Rethinking the 'Rise of the West' and the Industrial Revolution," Journal of World History 2 (2002), 356, and earlier work by him he refers to on that page.

8 See R. Duchesne, "The post-Malthusian World Began in Western Europe in the Eighteenth Century: a Reply to Goldstone and Wong," Science and Society 67, 2 (2003), 201.

9 Goldstone never does. See, for example, his Revolution and Rebellion in the Early Modern World (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991).

10 Kenneth Pomeranz, TheGreat Divergence, part one.

11 Peter C. Perdue, China Marches West: The Qing Conquest of Central Eurasia (Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press, 2005), 536-537.

12 This is the thesis of his Reorient: Global Economy in the Asian Age (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998).

13 John M. Hobson, The Eastern Origins of Western Civilisation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 313-316. For Hobson "contingency" equals "fortuitous accident," 313; Robert B. Marks, The Origins of the Modern World: A Global and Ecological Narrative (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002). See, for example, under 'contingency.' On page 118 he summarizes his explanation of the rise of Britain as follows: "To be sure, British manufacturers and inventors rose to the challenges they faced, especially with regard to coal mining and the development of the steam engine. But there is no reason to think that the Chinese or Indians (or other people with advanced old regime economies, like the Japanese, for instance) would not also have been able to solve those problems in similar ways. They simply didn't have colonies or coal."; Kenneth Pomeranz, The Great Divergence, with its references to "fortuitous global conjunctures," "geographic good luck," "geographical accidents," "crucial accidents of geography and juxtaposition" and "massive windfalls" in the flap text and on pages 12, 16, 68 and 241.

14 Peter C. Perdue, China Marches West, 537.

15 Peter C. Perdue, China Marches West, 538.

16 See note 13 for this quote.

17 The Collins Dictionary and Thesaurus in One Volume (London and Glasgow: Collins, reprint 1988).

18 This quote may suggest I have an 'internalist' approach to explaining the rise of West. That definitely is not what Duchesne intends and it would not be a correct description of my approach. I clearly do not want to underestimate geo-political factors and have not done so I my book. I am not a world-systems hardliner but to think that Britain's rise and China's decline would be unrelated to global developments would be a major error.

19 In his text Duchesne sometimes switches quite easily from Britain to Western Europe and back, as if these were interchangeable. See, for example, the very first sentence. This vagueness with regard to the entities of comparison bedevils much of the debate on the rise of the West. See my review of Pomeranz's book "Are Coal and Colonies Really Crucial? Kenneth Pomeranz and the Great Divergence," Journal of World History 12:2 (2001), 409.

20 See, for example, Alan Macfarlane, The Riddle of the Modern World: Of Liberty, Wealth and Equality (Houndmills Basingstoke: Macmillan Press, 2000) and E.A. Wrigley, "The Divergence of England: the Growth of the English Economy in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries," in idem, Poverty, Progress, and Population (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 44-67.

21 Let me give some figures to show the exceptional position of Britain in the global economy during its take-off: In the 1830s the United Kingdom produced no less than seventy per cent of all the coal in the world and about three quarters of all its pig iron and cast iron. In the 1870s still about one quarter of all merchandise exports and almost half of total exports of manufactured goods in the world were British. See for these figures Paul Bairoch, Victoires et Déboires: Histoire Economique et Sociale du Monde du XVI Siècle à Nos Jours (Paris: Gallimard, 1997), Three Volumes, volume II, 29; Sidney Pollard, Britain's Prime and Britain's Decline: The British Economy 1870-1914 (London: E. Arnold, 1989), 15, and Angus Maddison, The World Economy: a Millennial Perspective (Paris: Development Centre of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2001), appendix F, 359-361.

22 As Duchesne is well aware. See his "The post-Malthusian World Began in Western Europe in the Eighteenth Century: a Reply to Goldstone and Wong," 204-205.

23 Rondo Cameron, "A New View of European Industrialisation," The Economic History Review 38 (1985), 1-23; Patrick Karl O'Brien, "Do we Have a Typology for the Study of European Industrialization in the XIX Century?" Journal of European Economic History (1986), 291-333; and M. Teich and R. Porter, eds., The Industrial Revolution in National Context (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996). For the claim that there would exist a specific East-Asian road to economic modernization see Kaoru Sugihara, "The East Asian Path of Economic Development," in Giovanni Arrighi, Takeshi Hamashita and Mark Selden, eds., The Resurgence of East Asia: 500, 150 and 50 Years Perspectives (London and New York: Routledge, 2003), 78-123.

24 David S. Landes, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some are so Rich and Some so Poor. Although with all his enthusiasm about the market Landes is fiercely opposed to international free trade on the basis of comparative advantage. See my review of this book "Culture, Clocks and Comparative Costs: David Landes on the Wealth of the West and the Poverty of the Rest," Itinerario: European Journal for Overseas History 22:4 (1998), 67-69.

25 See Journal of Asian Studies 63:1 (2004), 149-150.

26 Compare my Via Peking back to Manchester, 19.

27 See, for example, Angus Maddison, The World Economy: A millennial Perspective, 264.

28 See Robert C. Allen, "Real Wages in Europe and Asia: a First Look at the Long-term Patterns,", and Stephen Broadberry and Bishnupriya Gupta, "The Early Modern Great Divergence: Wages, Prices and Economic Development in Europe and Asia, 1500-1800." This working paper, written in 2003, can be downloaded from the website of Stephen Broadberry at .

29 See my Via Peking back to Manchester, 27.

30 Max Weber, The Religion of China: Translated from the German and Edited by Hans H. Gerth with an Introduction by C.K. Yang (paperback edition; New York and London: Free Press, 1968), 248.

31 See my Via Peking back to Manchester, 35.

32 He does not explicitly say so, but readers can easily think this is the case on the basis of the fact that Duchesne explicitly comments that I associate too much with Braudel's vision on capitalism and thereby overstep the mark and border into California territory. Which clearly is meant to be a Bad Thing. He then proceeds to write that Braudel's interpretation is shared by Wallerstein and Marx and claims it implies that the West would have risen over the back of the Americas. This looks like a clear case of guilt by association.

33 For the revival, sometimes in a somewhat mitigated and adapted form, of the Williams thesis see, for example, Robin Blackburn, The Making of New World Slavery: From the Baroque to the Modern 1492-1800 (London and New York: Verso, 1998), chapter twelve; Javier Cuenca Esteban, "Comparative Patterns of Colonial Trade: Britain and its Rivals," in Leandro Prados de la Escosura, ed., Exceptionalism and Industrialisation: Britain and its European Rivals, 1688-1815 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 35-68; Joseph E. Inikori, Africans and the Industrial Revolution in England: A Study in International Trade and Economic Development (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002); Kenneth Morgan, Slavery, Atlantic Trade and the British Economy, 1660-1800 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), where the thesis is discussed, and, in a particular twist also, Kenneth Pomeranz, The Great Divergence. In his case because he thinks that non-consensual trade with its Western periphery played a fundamental role in the development of Europe. See for example his "Introduction." The thesis that Europe 'unfairly' acquired a large part of the wealth that was at the basis of its industrialization in Africa and the Americas, has also found support in 'textbooks' like the ones by Hobson, Marks, and Ponting. See John M. Hobson, The Eastern Origins of Western Civilisation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), parts three and four; Robert B. Marks, The Origins of the Modern World: a Global and Ecological Narrative (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002), chapter four, in which he heavily leans on Pomeranz's ideas, and Clive Ponting, World history: A new Perspective (London: Chatto and Windus, 2001), for example, chapter 20, 7. The best place to find information on the Williams thesis of course is Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1944). The position of Patrick O'Brien, best known for his stance that the contribution of the periphery to Britain's economic development can easily be exaggerated to me seems to be shifting towards that of Braudel and Wallerstein. See Patrick K. O'Brien, "European Economic Development: the Contribution of the Periphery," Economic History Review 35 (1982), 1-18; idem, "European Industrialization: from the Voyages of Discovery to the Industrial Revolution," in Hans Pohl, ed., The European Discovery of the World and it Economic Effects on pre-Industrial Society, 1500-1800 (Stuttgart: F. Steiner, 1990), 154-177; idem, "Inseparable Connections: Trade, Economy, Fiscal State and the Expansion of Empire, 1688-1815," in Peter J. Marshall, ed., The Eighteenth Century: The Oxford History of the British Empire (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 53-77, and Patrick K. O'Brien and Stanley L. Engerman, "Exports and the Growth of the British Economy from the Glorious Revolution to the Peace of Amiens," in Barbara L. Solow, ed., Slavery and the Rise of the Atlantic System (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 177-209.

34 See my Via Peking back to Manchester, 59-60.

35 See my Via Peking back to Manchester, 7-9 and, 26-33 and my "Governing Growth: A Comparative Analysis of the Role of the State in the Rise of the West," Journal of World History 13:1 (2002), 67-138.

36 See, for example, John Brewer, The Sinews of Power: War, Money and the English State, 1688-1783 (London: Unwin Hyman, 1989); Patrick K. O'Brien, "The Political Economy of British Taxation, 1660-1815," Economic History Review 41 (1988), 1-32; and Linda Weiss and John M. Hobson, States and Economic Development: A Comparative Historical Analysis (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), chapters three and four.

37 See, for example, Michael Mann, The Sources of Social Power, Volume II: The Rise of Classes and Nation States, 1760-1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 389-401 and 444-457.

38 See the book by Michael Mann referred to in the previous note.

39 See Michael Mann, 'The Autonomous Power of the State: its Origins, Mechanisms and Results," in John A. Hall, ed., States in history (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986), 109-136.

40 See F. Braudel, " Propos des Origines Sociales du Capitalisme," in R. de Ayala and P. Braudel, eds., Les Ecrits de Fernand Braudel II. Les ambitions de L'histoire (Paris: Editions de Fallois, 1997), 359-371, and idem, La dynamique du capitalisme (Paris: Arthaud, 1985), 75-79. I must say I completely fail to see what the quote by Marx that Duchesne presents has to do with the thesis of Braudel. They refer to completely different phenomena. I take Marx's quote to refer to primitive accumulation in particular and that of Braudel to the role played in capitalism by collusion, coercion, protection, and monopoly in general.

41 See my Via Peking back to Manchester, 10.

42 See my Via Peking back to Manchester, 34.

43 See for my struggle with the problem of how to integrate culture into economic history P.H.H. Vries, "The Role of Culture and Institutions in Economic History: Can Economics be of any Help?" NEHA Jaarboek 64 (2001), 28-60, also published on, under Konstanz 2004.

44 As is claimed by Marks (see note 13) and strongly suggested by Pomeranz (see notes 49 and 54).

45 See R. Duchesne, "The post-Malthusian World Began in Western Europe in the Eighteenth Century: a Reply to Goldstone and Wong," 197.

46 Kenneth Pomeranz, The Great Divergence, 64-67.

47 Li Bozhong, The Development of Agriculture and Industry in Jiangnan, 1644-1850: Trends and Prospects (Hangzhou 1986), 59. I found this reference in Chris Bramall and Peter Nolan, "Introduction: Embryonic Capitalism in East Asia," in Xu Dixin and Wu Chengming, eds., Chinese Capitalism, 1522-1840 (Houndmills: Macmillan, 2000), XXVII.

48 Peter C. Perdue, China Marches West, 539-542.

49 Kenneth Pomeranz, The Great Divergence, 64-67.

50 Peter J. Golas, Science and Civilisation in China: Part V, Volume 13 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 186. See also Xu Dixin and Wu Chengming, eds., Chinese Capitalism, 1522-1840, where there are references to flooding as a problem in mining and to drainage on pages 5, 13, 93, 266, 267, 277, 280, 287, 289, 290, 291, 296, 297; and Mark Elvin, "Skills and Resources in Late Traditional China," in Mark Elvin, Another History: Essays on China from a European Perspective (Broadway Australia: Wild Peony, 1996), 90-93. For copper mining see Tsu-yu Chen, "China's Copper Production in Yunnan Province 1700-1800," in Eddy van Cauwenberghe, ed., Money, Coins, and Commerce: Essays in Monetary History of Asia and Europe (From Antiquity to Modern Times) (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1991), the conclusion on page 117: "In the beginning of the nineteenth century, because of the perilous mineshafts that went deeper and deeper, the less rich copper lodes that had been exhausted, the serious flooding of mines, and the fuel shortages for smelting, copper mining became more expensive. To produce 100 catties of copper, 1,400 to 1,500 catties of charcoal was required and soon deforestation occurred in the areas of copper mining, so people must transport charcoal from afar. Copper production in Yunnan declined on account of failure to break through the bottleneck of mining techniques."

51 Kent G. Deng, "Why the Chinese Failed to Develop a Steam Engine," History of Technology 25 (2004), 168. Compare, for example, Mark Elvin, "Skills and resources in late traditional China," in Mark Elvin, Another history: Essays on China from a European perspective, 92-93.

52 Kent G. Deng, "Why the Chinese failed to develop a steam engine," 168.

53 Mark Elvin, "Skills and Resources in Late Traditional China," 90. In contrast to what Duchesne claims, I did know the article when writing my book. I even refer to it—although not to the version he used. See Via Peking back to Manchester, note 172. But he is right in the sense that I could have done more with it.

54 For that claim see Kenneth Pomeranz, The Great Divergence, 61-62: "The Chinese had long understood the basic scientific principle involved—the existence of atmospheric pressure—and had long since mastered (as part of their 'box bellows') a double-acting piston/ cylinder system much like Watt's, as well as a system for transforming rotary motion into linear motion ... In a strictly technological sense, then, this central technology of the Industrial Revolution could have been developed outside of Europe." Compare John M. Hobson, The Eastern Origins of Western Civilisation, 210: " many of the fundamental aspects of the steam engine had been pioneered in China many centuries before Europeans as Leonardo da Vinci even dreamed of such a device." For a convincing denial of that claim see H. Floris Cohen, "Inside Newcomen's Fire Engine, or: the Scientific Revolution and the Rise of the Modern World," History of Technology 25 (2004), 111-132, and Kent G. Deng, "Why the Chinese failed to develop a steam engine," 151-171.

55 See Joel Mokyr, "Accounting for the Industrial Revolution" and Kristine Bruland, "Industrialisation and

Technological Change," chapters one and five in Roderick Floud and Paul Johnson, eds., The Cambridge Economic History of Modern Britain: Volume I. Industrialisation, 1700-1860 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004). The expression 'wave of gadgets' is from T.S. Ashton, The Industrial Revolution 1760-1830 (London, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1948), 48.

56 See the article by Kristine Bruland mentioned in the previous note, 146.

57 Most recently in his "On the rise of the West: researching Kenneth Pomeranz's Great divergence," Review of Radical Political Economics 36, 1 (2004), 52-81.

58 See my Via Peking back to Manchester, 62.



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