The Start Of Chinese Capitalism And Its Early Demise.

1424 words - 6 pages

Many people would agree that the Song dynasty was probably the weakest dynasty in Chinese history. The Song dynasty was the first to let the entire Chinese territory to be taken over by barbarian tribes, in this case, Mongols. "The weak Song" was the term that most people use to refer to this period of time in Chinese history. (Roberts, 241) For the majority of time, Song dynasty only had control over half of China. This was very rare for Chinese dynasties; this is only comparable to the East Jin dynasty which did not last too long. But if we change our point of view to the common people. During the Song dynasty, there was never a nationally wide spread peasant rebellion of any kind. The few peasant rebellions that did happen never exceeded the border of their province and are mostly led by well known criminals. This has never happened in any other dynasty. One reason for this was because during the Song, business tax collected exceeded farm tax by over 200%. The government was making tax money off of commerce much more than farming. This trend did not happen again until the late Qing dynasty which was forced to realize the importance of commerce and industries. China was definitely on its way toward capitalism if the trend was not disrupted by the Mongolian invaders.Usually Chinese dynasties either gain total control of China or fall completely. But the southern Song held half of China for over two centuries without collapsing. The southern Song accomplished this by giving extremely generous tributes to the northern barbarians. Since the barbarians were satisfied, there was no reason to invade the southern Song. The Song military was a total failure; two of Song's emperors were actually taken prisoner by the barbarians during combat. But the Song had extremely good tax income to always ask for peace by giving out money. The highest annual tax income during the Song dynasty was 160 million silver. (Hymes, 185) The northern Song had an average annual tax income of 80 million silver. The southern Song had an average annual tax income of 100 million silver. (Hymes, 185) The numbers may not be that impressive, but if we compare this to other dynasties, we can see the difference. The Ming dynasty had an average annual tax income of 4 million silver; the highest annual tax income was 10 million silver during Ming dynasty. This is less than 1/10 of the Song's annual income. The Qing dynasty had an average annual tax income of 40 million silver, still much less than the Song dynasty which was six-hundred years ago. Also, Qing's population and territory was much bigger than the Song.With such big tax income, one would think the Song people was carrying a heavy burden and starving. But the Song had no large scale peasant revolts. This usually means the people were actually living quite well. So where did Song's huge tax income came from? We can look at this figure, in the year 1077, Song's tax income was 70 million silver. 30% of the tax came from farming,...

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