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Old 11-09-2011, 5:31 PM
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Default 1493

"Columbus: Father of Globalization" - by Steve Forbes in Forbes Magazine - 11/21/2011

"1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created - by Charles C. Mann (Alfred A. Knopf, $30.50)

In his outstanding book 1491, journalist/historian Charles C. Mann tells the astonishing story of what the Americas were like before Columbus “discovered the New World” in 1492, when they supported surprisingly sophisticated civilizations populated with tens of millions of people. These societies were in many ways more advanced than those of Europe. Europeans conquered these continents primarily because of the diseases they brought with them, especially smallpox, which quickly wiped out most of the native populations.

Taking up where 1491 left off, 1493 is a brisk, lively and enlightening examination of the profound consequences wrought by Columbus’ voyages, what historians have labeled the “Columbian Exchange.”

Two hundred and fifty million years ago the Earth had one landmass—what scientists call Pangaea. Tectonic shifts shattered it into the continents we know today. Since 1493 the Earth’s continents have, in essence, been reuniting. Mann dubs this period the Homo-genocene, referring to the increasing homogeneity of the world.

Mann has done vast research. He is also well traveled and is an oft sparkling writer, both of which help bring what could be dull-as-dishwater subjects - earthworms, microbes, animal husbandry and much else - to fascinating life.

The changes wrought by Columbus’ voyages are hard to believe. “For millennia, almost all Europeans were found in Europe, few Africans existed outside Africa, and Asians lived, nearly without exception, in Asia alone. No one in the Eastern Hemisphere in 1492 had ever seen an American native.” Post-Columbus: “People shot around the world like dice flung on a gaming table. Europeans became the majority in Argentina and Australia, Africans were found from São Paulo to Seattle, and Chinatowns sprang up all over the globe.” Until the massive 19th-century migration of Europeans the majority of human transplants were involuntary: more than 11 million slaves from Africa. ...

... The biggest fuel of global trade was American silver, the first truly global currency. Mined primarily in Bolivia, the precious metal was then shipped to Mexico City, whence it made its way around the world. Officially the majority of the metal went to Spain and then spread across Europe. But a huge amount found its way to China via Manila, much of it illegally.

Europeans and others developed sugarlike addictions to Chinese porcelain and silk. The Chinese had a voracious need for silver. As a result a tremendous trade sprang up. The Chinese government had long experimented with coins and paper for domestic money, but it ended up printing too much paper and didn’t have enough precious metals for the coinage needed to service the enormous commerce within the empire. The advent of American silver triggered an economic boom in China that dovetailed with a vast increase in population. (Silver was critical in paying for the construction of the Great Wall.) Spanish silver coins also became the primary currency of the North American colonies. Silver fueled numerous Spanish instigated wars in Europe, as well as a socially disruptive inflation and a major economic expansion throughout the Continent. ... [lots more] "

----

Kinda makes one want to buy more silver
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Old 11-21-2011, 1:43 PM
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I thought I had replied to this one a few days ago, but alas, not. Signs of ever creeping senility, I assume.

So I try again, with the hope that some of my points are worth condsideration.

1) Thanks much for this post. I will have to look into these books at my local library, assuming that they are not shut down.

2) Two hundred and fifty million years ago the Earth had one landmass—what scientists call Pangaea. Tectonic shifts shattered it into the continents we know today. Since 1493 the Earth’s continents have, in essence, been reuniting. Mann dubs this period the Homo-genocene, referring to the increasing homogeneity of the world.

According to one esteemed member of this blogsite, the earth is only 10,000 years old. If that were true, does this render anything else this author says as moot?

3) .. The biggest fuel of global trade was American silver, the first truly global currency. Mined primarily in Bolivia, the precious metal was then shipped to Mexico City, whence it made its way around the world. Officially the majority of the metal went to Spain and then spread across Europe. But a huge amount found its way to China via Manila, much of it illegally.

I had never heard this one before. All of the historians with whom I am acquainted who delved into the economic effects of the discovery of the New World concentrated on gold. As a result, I believe the consensus opinion is that gold flow from the new world resulted in a one-third increase in gold supply, enough to destroy the trans Saharan gold trade and the African kingdoms of the Songhai, among others.

4) Europeans and others developed sugarlike addictions to Chinese porcelain and silk. The Chinese had a voracious need for silver. As a result a tremendous trade sprang up. The Chinese government had long experimented with coins and paper for domestic money, but it ended up printing too much paper and didn’t have enough precious metals for the coinage needed to service the enormous commerce within the empire. The advent of American silver triggered an economic boom in China that dovetailed with a vast increase in population. (Silver was critical in paying for the construction of the Great Wall.) Spanish silver coins also became the primary currency of the North American colonies. Silver fueled numerous Spanish instigated wars in Europe, as well as a socially disruptive inflation and a major economic expansion throughout the Continent. ...

My question here revolves around the Great Wall. My reading indicates that the Great Wall was essentially completed a few decades prior to 1493.

As I said above, I appreciate being pointed to this book. Perhaps I will find it in the local library and find time to read.
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Old 11-28-2011, 2:35 PM
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" The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. ..." (Wikipedia) and they repaired, updated and completed the Great Wall, to keep the hoards away from their Wealth and possibly their Silver and Gold stash.

A bit of an aside: See "1421, the Year China Discovered America" ... It might be a stretch, but possibly the Chinese (the Ming hierarchy) knew the Spanish would be coming from America with Silver and Gold ... maybe. (Most California educated archeologists support this "1421 theory", that China knew about the Americas and traded here. Here is my review of "1421".)
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Old 12-28-2011, 6:39 PM
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Now, halfway through "1493" and, boy howdy, it is a hum dinger:

In which we learn that the Chinese government, so enamored with Spanish-American Silver, ran into an unlikely inflation problem (a shortage of Silver and a long-age of paper money) and deliberately executed their own merchants along with peasants, pirates, tax dodgers and ordinary farmers in order to try to recover: "The takeover by the Manchus - they became the Qing dynasty - took decades and was bloody even by the tough standards of Chinese history. Nobody knows how many Millions died." {1640 through 1660+} ...

In which we learn that more European immigrants died of their own sloth and stupidity at Jamestown than from any Indian attacks, ever! (The English Gentlemen of Jamestown refused to take up fishing and thus, more than half starved ... the second and third and forth colonial immigrations, too !)

In which we learn that mosquitos carrying old world malaria were very probably the real causes of where the Mason / Dixon Line ran than any argument for or against slavery, here or anywhere else.

In which we learn of Ukrainian tomatoes, an offshoot of Italian tomatoes, which came by way of South America, to Mexico in North America ... from Africa.

In which we learn that Chinese silk, sold to Italy via The Silk Road, turned into the latest fashions by European clothing makers, re-sold to other Chinese merchants, shipped back across the Indian Ocean and re-sold for more Silver (again) to the Spanish "galleon trade" and shipped back across the Pacific, through Mexico, across the Atlantic to Spain ... at a profit for all concerned in the trades ... except the Spanish Royalty AND the Chinese Emperor, who were unable to collect the taxes on the American Silver and Chinese silk because of the circuitous routes taken.

More to come, but I highly recommend this very well documented, well thought out, economics history of world economic globalization (See also The Columbian Exchange).
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Last edited by FastEddy : 12-28-2011 at 7:09 PM.
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Old 01-10-2012, 7:49 AM
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Now, finished. Well, author Mann begins to draw conclusions in the last pages. One conclusion, that some how "capitalist corporations" are at root, bad for business, generally, and very bad for minorities. This appears to be His non sequitur. Since the first half of this fine, fact filled book re-enforces most notions that central planning simply just does not work while free enterprise almost always succeeds.

The ruling central authorities of Europe, the Kings and Queens of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries and their groups of agents, constantly and continuously made errors of judgement, activating armies of invaders and armadas of slavers and pirates. By this central planning from afar, each attempt at colonization of the new lands invariably ended in disaster and, as often as not, it seems that the runaway slaves (what is left of them after starvation, disease and cruel punishing deaths) have made and continue to make the better of all of these bad deals.

There are very few heros in this unknowing and unwitting testament to the resilience of free individual enterprise, but, reading behind the lines and examining the vast array of facts and figures forwarded, one is left with the distinct impression that the individual, the family unit and more than a few of the corporations are not nearly as "bad" as Mann proclaims in the end, just more resourceful and quite often more successful than the all too often doomed centrally originated plans.

I love this book, even Charles Mann's efforts toward the last, to pander to and promote it as acceptable to socialist leaning edu-crats. The Wife loved this book as well and She (who must be obeyed) will be acquiring a copy for our permanent library.
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Last edited by FastEddy : 01-10-2012 at 8:11 AM.
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Old 01-10-2012, 9:34 AM
Bemused Bemused is offline
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I'm still in queue at the public library, which is yet another example of government interfering with the free market. I can hardly wait til schools and libraries are privatized, putting the world back to the way it should be
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Detective Del Spooner: Is there a problem with the Three Laws?
Dr. Lanning's Hologram: The Three Laws are perfect.
Detective Del Spooner: Then why did you build a robot that could function without them?
Dr. Lanning's Hologram: The Three Laws will lead to only one logical outcome.
Detective Del Spooner: What outcome?
Dr. Lanning's Hologram: Revolution.
Detective Del Spooner: Whose revolution?
Dr. Lanning's Hologram: [Smiles] That, detective, is the right question. Program terminated.
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