Ten Years of Debate on the Origins of the Great Divergence between the Economies of Europe and China during the Era of Mercantilism and Industrialization
1. Smith, Marx and Weber
The first thing that stands out from this study is how passionate and volcanic was E. P. Thompson’s intellectual life as a historian, Marxist thinker, and informed campaigner. He was devoted to reason. Indeed, one of the left-wing journals with which he was involved was entitled The New Reasoner.
Since its publication in the 13th century, the Travels of Marco Polo has attracted a wide readership around the world. The transmission and translation of the original Rustichello-Marco text (either in French or Franco-Italian) resulted in 150 medieval manuscripts. Despite its popularity, not everyone believed Marco Polo’s account.
Ron Paul’s The Revolution is adamant on one point: to solve the problems in modern America, Americans need to return to Constitutional values. ‘In times like these, we need a return to fundamentals’ (p. 168). The specific fundamentals to which Paul refers are as often the values of Austrian School economists as they are the Founding Fathers.
How does one define empire? What are the characteristics of a successful empire? These two questions arise foremost after reading John Darwin’s monumental masterpiece After Tamerlane. In nine succinct chapters with informative titles, Darwin encompassed 600 years of global history, supported by illustrations and maps and for those interested, suggestions for further reading.
Starting in around 1530, Craig Muldrew argues in this important, phenomenally good book, the English economy developed rapidly. Population growth fed commercialization; markets developed and embedded; people did not just grow and make things, they bought and sold, bargained and trucked. Yet there were few actual coins.
Mercantilism, Lars Magnusson believes, was at its core ‘a series of discussions that tried to grapple with a rapid developing world of commerce and the effects it had on polities and communities in Europe during the early modern period’ (p. 48).
At the height of the Greek financial crisis, reports from colleagues based in Athens painted a sorry picture of respectable citizens who had fallen upon hard times desperately rummaging in dustbins to supplement their dwindling larders. The statistics told an even grimmer story – between 2010 and 2011, suicide rates in Greece rose by 40 per cent.(1)