(Since writing these pages, we have been to China – as indeed foreshadowed in the page on towns. As a result, these pages will have to be extensively revised. As a first step, I have been writing an account of our visit to China which is to be found at www.ancientchina.org.uk This will give some idea of the direction in which my thought is tending – AS 14th September 2014.)
In this purview of world history, should I try to include China? Or is China a step too far? The problem with China is that although it is undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest historical stories, and one that comes down to the present day, I feel that in my characterisation of barbarism and civilisation, China comes out on the side of barbarism, and never achieves the status of what I call civilisation. Why not?
These preliminary notes, look at just three aspects. Firstly there is a run through of Chinese history based on, or perhaps rather stimulated by Ian Morris’s book Why the West rules – For Now.
Secondly, I then take a preliminary look at the problem of money. Money developed in China almost at the same time as in Greece, and became very common throughout subsequent Chinese history. Yet China remained a centralised and very bureaucratic state: how far did it develop a monetary economy, and how was money really used?
And thirdly I have a short page simply asking the question: what were Chinese towns like? I really have no idea, and this is one of the things that I need to find out.
Old China intro