The Taipings set up in Nanjing after being on the run for some time. However, their techniques of wandering plundering and enrollment won’t work for a fixed empire. Hong Xiuquan then restores the examination system, but with testing on snippets of the Bible in translation. A number of things work against them:
- Hong Xiuquan seems mentally ill—schizophrenic, perhaps. There was great competition to see who would succeed him.
- A group of rebels who only knew rebellion now had to lead and settle.
- The new examination system is ridiculous
Zeng Guofan is primarily responsible for suppressing the Taiping rebellion. After attaining the highest degree, he returns to the country to mourn his mother’s death. On the way, he passes through regions occupied by the Taiping, and realizes what a threat they are to the Confucian way of life. He requests official leave to organize local militias to meet the threat of the Taiping, called the Xiang army. They are well paid and well trained. By 1856 and through 1858, they retake considerable amount of Taiping territory.
Li Hongzhong and Zuo Zongtang have bases in the south and are his understudies. He instructs them to raise similar armies, which descend together on Nanjing at the same moment when the Taiping are collapsing, in 1864. By this time, Hong Xiuquan has died, and thousands of the Taiping soldiers commit mass suicide.
The final impact the Taipings have is:
- Anti-Manchu sentiment to the political stage.
- Increasing militarization of Chinese society
- The Manchu and the Chinese elite manage to create a new form of legal tax. The elite extract this tax locally and use this tax to supplement local militias. Now, local people can collect taxes and build private armies.
The west didn’t get involved in the Taipings—so any history or rumor that they were defeated at the hands of the west is wrong. However, the west is involved in China at this time, already.
- Tribute System
- British East India Co.
- 1761: 2.6e6 lbs tea to GB
- 1783: 5.8e6 lbs tea
- 1800: 23e6 lbs tea
- Opium Trade
- Lin Zexu
The early east-west trade worked by bringing trinkets or non-essentials as token gifts to the emperor, who returned gifts in like in a farce of trade called a “tribute system.” By the 19th century, the Jesuit missionaries are gone, and protestant missionaries have come. They believe they have access to everyone in China without having to appeal to the elite. This is hard because of the Chinese government’s restrictions on foreigners’ movements. Also, there’s a lot of competition between traditional Chinese sects and the Christians, who demand exclusivity.
The British emerge as the most powerful sea going traders. The British also decide that they must have their tea, and mostly from China. As they trade silver for tea, the value of silver goes down. Thus, the British decide to take Indian opium to China, progressively converting silver currency up to opium, and then up to tea, and up to more silver. There’s a great debate in China about how to handle this new opium trade. Eventually, the hardliners win out. Lin Zexu is made the new drug czar in Canton, and burns a large amount of opium as a message. A long letter is drafted to the King of England, and the Queen never sees it.
After this, the British incite small incidents with local traders to strengthen their local power by claiming assaults against their citizens. Beginning in the early 1800s, the British keep sending ships to maintain their opium trade. The Chinese navy cannot stand them, so they engage in dialogs. The British, who just want to sell opium, ask for more open borders, open ports, presence in the capital. And, the British always got more and more concessions. Finally, the Chinese realize that the Qing are too weak to keep out the British, who have technological and infrastructural advancements. Ultimately, the notion that science and technology cannot be separated comes to light.
Please note that these notes are courtesy of Julie Geng.
- Late imperial economy
- “Sprouts of capitalism?”
- “high equilibrium trap”
- increasing social violence
- Hong Xiuquan
- 1833 — County/Prefect level exam
- 1836-7 — Fails Provincial exam
- Li Hangzheng & Zuo Zongtang
- Late Imperial Economy
- When Marxist historians look back at China, they must look for the moment when capitalism occurred (because it must go through capitalism before it gets to communism)
- Imagining the ideal agrarian society; low emphasis placed on commercial activities
- Commerce thrived in the beginning of the Song, and continued to grow, but the government didn’t tax it very well so they did not benefit from the growth
- Capitalism existed, but other notions like Confucianism stopped capitalism from maturing — this is the theory some Marxist historians have claimed
- But do sprouts necessarily grow into cabbages? There’s no indication that capitalism truly existed in China as the Marxist historians claim.
- There is a surplus in the economy (people are getting more land and such) but they tend to bear another son instead of doing anything else (like doing something capitalistic and open an enterprise)
- Surplus does exist but no one thinks to invest them into enterprises. Instead, people use the money for memorials, or other more culturally important things
- Begins in the southern region of China (near Hong Kong); led by Hong Xiuquan (who was “probably mentally ill”)
- Hong was a member of the Hakka minority, with distinct cultural differences from the Chinese
- Hong is very promising in his village, so he spends all his time and his village spends money on him to pass the exams
- 1833 – Hong passes the county exam which qualifies him for the next exam
- 1836 – Hong travels to provincial seat at Canton, but he fails the exam
- 1837 – Hong fails again; but the pressure was apparently too much and fell into a period of mental illness
- In 1836, Hong had received a pamphlet about Christianity which he apparently briefly read before his second exam
- When he returned from his second failed exam, he fell into a coma; he dreamed he ascended to Heaven
- In the dream, a woman washes him and brings him to a great hall with an old bearded man who introduces him to his brother
- The man chides him for listening to Confucius because he doesn’t tell the truth
- Hong decides that he is the second son of God
- Could only get ahold of some old testament passages which contain very firy brimstony descriptions of God’s wrath
- Begins to preach Christianity and doesn’t want Manchus to be ruling China
- A nearby army decides to attack them, so his converts run away to other villages, threaten non-Christians to convert by violence, acquiring about 60,000 more
- All members must renounce family ties; wealth is shared; men’s and a women’s armies
- They begin to extract taxes after settling in Nanjing
- They believe that society is coming to a major epoch or the end of the world. Only those who know that this event is occurring ahead of time will be taken to the next world
- Example of a society that seems to run completely independently of the government
- An individual from this society decides that this end of the world is happening, and that they must kill everyone in order to institute their heavenly government but the Qing army crushes them pretty quickly
- There are particularly violent outbursts during this time; their purpose is to get rid of the corrupted government
- Many people are susceptible to this rhetoric because the government isn’t doing anything for them; they’re getting poorer and poorer, even if they didn’t originally have a religion
- Manchus (1644 – 1911)
- Qing Dynasty (Kangxi 1662 – 1723)
- Yongzheng (1723 – 1736)
- Qianlong (1736 – 1796)
- 1,679 Magistrates
- 50 million: population 1400 – 1500
- 400 million: population 1800
Announcements—the textbook stops at the end of the Ming and Qing. Therefore, I’ll be providing additional material. Also, classes will not be cancelled on Slope Day. Do not come to sections drunk. If my innocent TAs have to deal with someone drunk in my classroom, I will make sure you lose 10 points and get arrested for it. If they go to sections drunk on Friday, they’re going to get hammered bad for it. Out of 300 students, we usually get about one every year drunk.
The Qing was established by the Manchus in the far North East in 1644. They are linguistically, ethnically, and culturally related to the Mongols of the Yuan dynasty. They speak a language related to Turkish, but are distinct from the Mongols. At the end of the Ming, the Machus quickly move into North China and take the capital. They compose no more than 2% of the Chinese population, so they adopt Chinese ways and rule in the tradition of the previous dynasties. Because they promised to keep the old traditional Confucian values, they were accepted by the Chinese ruling elite. Often the positions were mirrored—1 Han Chinese and 1 Manchu holding the same office together.
The one difference that the Manchu kept were their own distinctive dress, hairstyle, and hunting and fighting techniques. They sealed off their Manchurian homeland and did not allow the Chinese to migrate there. They sent their young children back to Manchuria to learn the old ways. The only compromise they asked was everyone to get the Manchu haircut—a long pony tail down the back with a high-partly shaved head. Removing one’s queue (pony tail) is an act of sedition.
The second Qing emperor, the Kang Xi emperor ruled from 1662 to 1723—61 years. He is charismatic and intelligent. The third emperor, the YongZheng emperor rules for 30 years, but works hard on the details of government. He is a bit merciless. Followed by the Qianglong emperor, another 60 year reign, there’s a good 130 years of solid-minded leadership at the beginning of the dynasty.
To understand the problems that China will later face, you have to look below the court. At the county level, there’s a magistrate, the lowest paid official in the Qing government. There are only 1,679 magistrates. The numbers don’t change, but the population continues to explode. In 1400 to 1500 there is 1 magistrate for every 29,780 persons, but in 1800 there is only 1 magistrate per 238,237 persons, or 1 official to every 58,000 persons. This is a problem. In Russia, at about 1800, the ratio is 1 official per 769. In France, it’s about 1:200. How did it function, then? With the help of volunteers under the local magistrates. When you add up these unsalaried people, the ratio is more around 1:300, but it’s crucial to point out that these people are not on the government payroll. They are paid somehow, through graft and corruption, with money siphoned from various placed. It was understood that corruption was built into the system. At the same time, people are given the death penalty for corruption during crackdowns.
The Yongzheng emperor wanted to get to the bottom of this. Since the Kangxi emperor cultivated better relationships with the top governors, the Yongzheng emperor uses it to examine the fiscal system in China at the time. He figures out that the Qing has a growing crisis. More revenue should come in with more people, but there were so many elaborate tax-evasion networks that the richest people in China found ways to pass the tax burden onto the poorest members of society.
One solution he takes is to raise the county magistrate’s salaries dramatically, from 25 taels to between 600 and 100 taels of silver. Then, county projects became budgeted projects instead of unofficial projects. There was a head tax, land tax, and a third tax. Besides these taxes, all taxes were considered illegal and people encouraged not to pay it. This third tax goes to the provincial level and stops and is redistributed.
Why does the population grow so much? First, it’s a long period of peace and healthiness. Second, the Qing meets the limits of cultivable land in China. At some point, agricultural expansion is complete. However, there is the emergence of the World economy, and New World crops move into China: chiles, peanuts, corn, potatoes, tobacco, and others. Since these crops can be grown on poor land with high yield, population growth can be sustained.
Longstanding problems of bandits are only exacerbated by the diminishing ratios of officials to people. There are huge numbers of hard-to-deal with groups of men in the Qing. The natural ratio of men to women is 48:52, but the trend is reversed by social conditions in China, where the ratio is 53:47. With a small population, this doesn’t matter. With a large population, this leaves a huge number of men who cannot have wives and families. These men are trouble waiting to happen. Huge numbers of migrant boat pullers along the Grand Canal pull boats upstream. When there are no boats, or they go home, there are cities of young able-bodied men linking the capital to the south regions. This leads to increasing Qing violence.
- Filial sons and chaste widows
- Arches, temples to Village worthies
- Symbolic means of reproducing / maintaining social order
- Fixed administrative size v.s. growing population
- Symbolic Capital
Having an arch built for a chaste widow involves finding someone good at manipulating literary illusions to write an official report describing the young woman’s piety towards the elders and all her virtue. The center of devotion should be her husband’s new parents—especially the mother in law. Then, at some time, her husband must die an untimely death. The daughter then has a number of options:
- Caring for the mother in law
- Resistance to remarriage
- Resistance to suitors
- Possible attempts at suicide
- Preservation of chastity
These mirror the filial son stories from older times with a dramatic physical sacrifice required. Then, story in hand, the local administration verifies the truth of the story, and embellishes it for the sake of his own advancement in the government, to catch the eye of people higher up, who are more educated. As it moves up the levels to the governor-generals, it’s been enhanced with allusion all the way. These men will launch another investigation, and if it turns out well, he will send a request to the emperor to build or rededicate an arch of temple.
The emperors saw so many of these things (perhaps three hours a day), that they rejected them wholesale, annotating their margins with critical comments. Eventually, law was passed that made embellishment punishable by death. In spite of the throne’s unwillingness to do this, they keep granting these symbolic recognitions. This is happening alongside troubled financial times, as revenues stayed along the bottom of the government. The government used monopolies of salt and other goods to bolster their funding, but it was never enough. Graft and corruption became part of finance.
Pierre Bourdieu introduced the notion of symbolic capital. Marxists say that everything is economic; Bourdieu said that can’t explain all human behavior. For example, the guy who can’t afford to buy a Ferrari but does anyway. Well, Bourdieu says we’re in competition over symbolic resources as well as capital resources. The Ming and Qing are good examples of this, because a family can invest time into symbolic functions—feasts, the exam system, piety. Then, the system of erecting monuments to improve a family’s symbolic capital can be leveraged by the government to use them as leaders to mobilize resources for various enterprises.
What is the practice of foot-binding and why did it come about? In small regions of the Song, very young daughters feet were bend-toe-to-heel and kept tightly wrapped, which breaks and wraps the foot-bone in. It left women crippled and in pain their entire life. For some reason, it takes off in the elite of the Ming. There are regions where it never becomes popular (the Hakka). For families that wanted to be socially upwardly mobile, it was a sign of affluence. It said, “our daughters are viewed as products to be sold via marriage, so we invest in them to make better wives.” It’s also a marker of the submission of the women to their families. This tradition kept women inside houses, with only the men allowed to walk freely towards the outside. The social role of women has been completely reduced to the background. For 400-500 years, footbinding was the practice, and no mainstream voice argues against it.
There’s no quiz today!! Hurray!! We all get an additional 5 quiz points, although it is unknown at this time whether the five points extend over 100% or not.
All of China is thriving in the Song dynasty, the medieval period of great innovation and progress. Westerners were always stunned at the level of sophistication of Chinese markers, cities, politics, and all other realms. China was unquestionably the leader in world civilization at the time. Today, we ask “What went wrong?” However, this is a wrongly worded question. To ask why China didn’t produce capitalism assumes all history is on the same trajectory, and is a very bizarre question. We don’t have to assume that any civilization is on any particular path.
After the Song dynasty there was a brief period of disunity, and then the Mongols happened, everywhere. They swept into central Asia and eastern Europe, and were militarily superior to any settled civilization. It was quick and easy for them to win battles, so when they decided to hold the territory they conquered in China, they decided to Sinify, to settle down and adopt Chinese custom. Their broader impact on Chinese society is not entirely clear during the Yuan dynasty. They reify the four books of the Confucian tradition, and push more Chinese to the south.
Then, in the 1500s, there is the black plague, originating in central Asia. Another invention that makes a big impact is wood-block printing. Before, there were two ways to copy—by ink rubbing or copying. Even though there are 5000 standard characters, laying them out in blocks for mass-rubbing was much faster to produce large quantities of text. Over the next several hundred years, a handful of well-known printing houses emerge. Eventually, by the Ming, the printing houses have figured out that even more than the elite literati whose sons are studying for the exams, there is an enormous population who is hungry to read.
With printing, it became possible to take oral stories and link them together into cohesive novels.
This new level of national unity in the Ming (1400s), and through the dissemination of the classical canon through books, is still diverse, with many languages and politics. For example, Shanghainese is not just a dialect of Chinese, but rather a completely different language of the Wu family. This has nothing to do with writing scripts, which can be used to render an arbitrary language through a symbol isomorphism. Another way to think about the diversity in China is in the distance from the center, which could be a full week with good transportation. On the fringes of China, there are few Chinese people and officials, and significantly less civilization and society.
The Ming continue the small number of government officials monitoring local officials who actually cooperate to form a government system. However, this doesn’t always work well.
Zheng He was a eunuch in the main court—a Muslim—who became the commander of a fleet of ships that traveled all along the Chinese coast and southeast Asia, to India, and the middle east, as well as the coast of Africa. In 1350-1450 China is the strongest world power, but for some reason there’s a withdrawal of Chinese expansion back into China. We don’t understand why these trading trips shut down, or why there was a corresponding closing down in other ways in the mainland. Ming society begins to become ultra-conservative, even more than neo-Confucianism. Filial piety takes on enormous proportions, with stories of sons honoring their mothers.
There is another genre of stories about chased widows, who go through acrobatics to remain chaste and loyal to their previous husbands. These two values are the ultimate representations of loyalty.