Did Hong Kong become a culturally confused society?

Feb 2011
5,792
I think in this case a bureaucracy means a government ran by mostly bureaucrats. And a bureaucrat is a government official whose position don't depend on him being of the nobility, albeit it could still help. At least that seems to be the definition used when I read English works about the imperial Chinese government.
 
Apr 2018
355
Upland, Sweden
If that is correct then prove it is correct, either for the government officials, or the doctors and lawyers of Reinassance Europe you mentioned.

I also don't understand how you could claim that "practical experience" would be a requirement to "play the career game". You have to first "play the career game" in order to gain "practical experience". So please show the evidence to explain this seeming contradiction.

Saying bureaucracies is "often the product of political centralisation" implies that you can have political centralisation without bureaucracy. Can you give an example? Why is it not suitable for bureaucrats to govern Europe? Because it's decentralized? Then are you saying all states in pre-1850's Europe were better of decentralized? On what basis?
Practical experience can come from military service, business life, having a father who you could observe. Obviously you are not going to be skilled in that particular form of public administration per se, but you might have experience in taking responsibility. The Swedish government used to choose local "lawmen" (fjärdingsman) according to such highly subjective criteria until the 1800s. Many "government services" in European history have essentially been in the form of a guy with a badge, appointed because they had integrity, experience, local anchoring - and sometimes, happened to be somewhat connected.

No - or I suppose you could read it that way, but I thought it was pretty clear that wasn't my point. My point was that in the European case states gradually moved from being feudal to greater centralisation, and that bureaucratisation came with it.

What is bureaucracy then? Well, if you want to be generous in your interpretation you could claim that all the facets of state centralization increasingly prevalent in Europe since the 1600s (my country's postal service is from then for example) are examples of bureaucracy. Most such examples before the 1800s had to do with information gathering, setting some common standards, having a "head office" and book keeping though. As well as of course the legal system.

A bureaucracy in the sense of a governing class actually making decisions, separat from the hereditary aristocracy and appointed by the central government only really kicked off in the 1800s, and especially in the colonies. There wasn't a bourgeoisie, aristocracy and free peasants (sometimes) to demand political Influence there after all...

The fact is that bureaucrats did not govern Europe for the vast majority of its history, regardless of whether you or I find it suitable in theory for Europe to be governed that way. Bureaucracy presupposes that somebody clearly defines the state interest, and what goals the bureaucrats should strive to accomplish. In feudal Europe there were competing power centres and the principle was that speheres of relative autonomy existed. This is very different from China. Bureaucracies emerged in Europe in the 1800s but some balance between different social interests was maintained by dispersing the decisionmaking authority at the centre (parliaments, etc.).

European countries were not better of in 1600 than 1850, but I do think their more Feudal and decentralized systems had many advantages over the Chinese system...

It is irrelevant. If you make a claim then I will assume you have the evidence to back up said claim. If you don't have the evidence then you shouldn't make the claim because that's the definition of making things up. So when you made the claim, I assume you have the evidence, as I should give people the benefit of the doubt.
These things are common knowledge... I thought you were just curious...

To take two pretty obvious examples: The University of Padua started with dissections in the... 1400s, I think? And was quite famous for its anatomical theatre all around Europe. What is the purpose of autopsy of not as a kind of post-facto substitute for medical experience? The earliest medical "professionals" recognizeable in the modern sense in Europe tended to be surgeons - probably the least theoretical part of the medical profession.

Generally lawyers in Europe before the code Napoléon had to 1) go to University 2) be admitted to their national equivalent of a bar association. Given that they regulated their own intake, how do you think they did it? The Swedish legal system requires you to sit in "Ting" for at least a year if you are to get any kind of job that has to do with public law. This is one of the oldest ideas in the legal profession and not exactly a modern innovation.
 
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heylouis

Ad Honorem
Apr 2013
6,030
China
further lost with the concept of "centralization"

if we just leave the theory sphere for a second, in the china case, it is necessary to have an authority over provinces.
it is known the grain are largely produced in the southern and eastern part of china, an authority is required to move the grain spreading the country.
one might say the market will do the job.
yes, the market will do the job, perhaps eventually in a ultra-long period.
however, the market will NOT solve the problems, first, how to transport the grain?
horses? sea ship? no, it was canal, and it is train.
a grain seller will never want to pay own money to make canals, or to lay rails. sorry but human cares oneself first.
no canal, no train, the south will sell nothing, the north will eat nothing.

the government got to do the job. the government need plan, need to make statistics, need to maintain the project, that is bureaucracy's job.
 
Apr 2018
355
Upland, Sweden
further lost with the concept of "centralization"

if we just leave the theory sphere for a second, in the china case, it is necessary to have an authority over provinces.
it is known the grain are largely produced in the southern and eastern part of china, an authority is required to move the grain spreading the country.
one might say the market will do the job.
yes, the market will do the job, perhaps eventually in a ultra-long period.
however, the market will NOT solve the problems, first, how to transport the grain?
horses? sea ship? no, it was canal, and it is train.
a grain seller will never want to pay own money to make canals, or to lay rails. sorry but human cares oneself first.
no canal, no train, the south will sell nothing, the north will eat nothing.

the government got to do the job. the government need plan, need to make statistics, need to maintain the project, that is bureaucracy's job.
All true, and good points. And China is probably more geographically suited to a more powerful central government, as you say. In Europe the central government (primarily) financed canals and large public works as well, even though large scale public works similar to the canal you speak off often came a lot later (as centralization came a lot later, there were not so great distances involved, power was more local, food consumption and production was often more local etc.).

I think the main difference is who has the main authority over the country - people appointed by the King/ Parliament or local leaders/ the aristocracy? Here the centrally appointed bureaucracy in Europe seem to have had more limited power, and filling more specific roles rather than simply being general powerholders. For example some judges were often appointed by the central government in many European countries from the 1600s onwards. This does not mean they got to dictate to the locals in matters like infrastructure, trade, etc. Most appointed bureaucrats had a sort of legal/ enforcement function rather than a political and adminitrative one.

By the way, an interesting example of this entire process in Europe is how the English got around to creating a common system of measurements for trade and production, alcohol taxation etc. William J Ashworth has some very dry but quite interesting research (Customs and Excise: Trade, Production, and Consumption in England 1640-1845 is the one I read) about these things. To make a long story short, unlike what the French did (the premier centralized state in Europe) the British couldn't really implement common measurement standards because they were afraid it would effect trade, and because it just.... wouldn't catch on. So the modern "imperial system" is essentially a compromise between the most common locally used systems of measurements found before.

In regards to alchohol taxation and making it functional (there are all sorts of highly technical problems involved) the government essentially outsourced much of it (held a competition) and appointed local people with experience from the brewing industry to "double" as the 1700s equivalent of Health and Safety inspections. All quite different from what I've understood of China at the period.

EDIT: I attached a few PDFs from him, then I figured it might be criminal so I removed them. Copy-right law...
 
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heylouis

Ad Honorem
Apr 2013
6,030
China
thanks for all the information.
I think the main difference is who has the main authority over the country - people appointed by the King/ Parliament or local leaders/ the aristocracy? Here the centrally appointed bureaucracy in Europe seem to have had more limited power, and filling more specific roles rather than simply being general powerholders. For example some judges were often appointed by the central government in many European countries from the 1600s onwards. This does not mean they got to dictate to the locals in matters like infrastructure, trade, etc. Most appointed bureaucrats had a sort of legal/ enforcement function rather than a political and adminitrative one.
it is not coming from nowhere in china.
it was similar to europe back to zhou dynasty. however, Li Si re-designed the political system during qin dynasty.
"who has the main authority?" it is related with history evolution.

if the europe did not find a shared enemy of islam, i doubt the history would still like what had happened.
 
Feb 2011
5,792
Practical experience can come from military service, business life, having a father who you could observe. Obviously you are not going to be skilled in that particular form of public administration per se, but you might have experience in taking responsibility. The Swedish government used to choose local "lawmen" (fjärdingsman) according to such highly subjective criteria until the 1800s. Many "government services" in European history have essentially been in the form of a guy with a badge, appointed because they had integrity, experience, local anchoring - and sometimes, happened to be somewhat connected.

No - or I suppose you could read it that way, but I thought it was pretty clear that wasn't my point. My point was that in the European case states gradually moved from being feudal to greater centralisation, and that bureaucratisation came with it.

What is bureaucracy then? Well, if you want to be generous in your interpretation you could claim that all the facets of state centralization increasingly prevalent in Europe since the 1600s (my country's postal service is from then for example) are examples of bureaucracy. Most such examples before the 1800s had to do with information gathering, setting some common standards, having a "head office" and book keeping though. As well as of course the legal system.

A bureaucracy in the sense of a governing class actually making decisions, separat from the hereditary aristocracy and appointed by the central government only really kicked off in the 1800s, and especially in the colonies. There wasn't a bourgeoisie, aristocracy and free peasants (sometimes) to demand political Influence there after all...

The fact is that bureaucrats did not govern Europe for the vast majority of its history, regardless of whether you or I find it suitable in theory for Europe to be governed that way. Bureaucracy presupposes that somebody clearly defines the state interest, and what goals the bureaucrats should strive to accomplish. In feudal Europe there were competing power centres and the principle was that speheres of relative autonomy existed. This is very different from China. Bureaucracies emerged in Europe in the 1800s but some balance between different social interests was maintained by dispersing the decisionmaking authority at the centre (parliaments, etc.).

European countries were not better of in 1600 than 1850, but I do think their more Feudal and decentralized systems had many advantages over the Chinese system...



These things are common knowledge... I thought you were just curious...

To take two pretty obvious examples: The University of Padua started with dissections in the... 1400s, I think? And was quite famous for its anatomical theatre all around Europe. What is the purpose of autopsy of not as a kind of post-facto substitute for medical experience? The earliest medical "professionals" recognizeable in the modern sense in Europe tended to be surgeons - probably the least theoretical part of the medical profession.

Generally lawyers in Europe before the code Napoléon had to 1) go to University 2) be admitted to their national equivalent of a bar association. Given that they regulated their own intake, how do you think they did it? The Swedish legal system requires you to sit in "Ting" for at least a year if you are to get any kind of job that has to do with public law. This is one of the oldest ideas in the legal profession and not exactly a modern innovation.
1. I asked you for evidence of pre-job practical experience. More claims of pre-job practical experience don't really address that. Evidence means sourcing and quotes from said source material.
2. Your claims need to be more precise with solid details. For example, what do the experience accumulted by "guy with a badge" have to do with experience required in "government positions"? You are giving me vague answers such as "integrity, experience, anchoring" which are vague words at best, not solid facts about relevant pre-job experience. Also you need evidence.
3. Your claims need to back up your original claims. For example, dissections occuring in a single university does not mean you were required to dissect before you work in the field, whatever that field that may be. You need more than that to support your original claim. Also evidence, again.
4. Explaining what bureaucracy is does not explain why feudalism was better suited for Europe. That bureaucracy wasn't part of most of European history doesn't mean it wasn't suited for Europe. Otherwise you are arguing on the basis that European states always adopts the optimum policy.

These things are common knowledge... I thought you were just curious...
If it's common knowledge then it shouldn't be so hard for you to provide evidence to support your claims. Not just your claims, evidence. And be sure your evidence actually support your claim that everybody working in the field had pre-job practical experience.
 
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Apr 2018
355
Upland, Sweden
1. I asked you for evidence of pre-job practical experience. More claims of pre-job practical experience don't really address that. Evidence means sourcing and quotes from said source material.
2. Your claims need to be more precise with solid details. For example, what do the experience accumulted by "guy with a badge" have to do with experience required in "government positions"? You are giving me vague answers such as "integrity, experience, anchoring" which are vague words at best, not solid facts about relevant pre-job experience. Also you need evidence.
3. Your claims need to back up your original claims. For example, dissections occuring in a single university does not mean you were required to dissect before you work in the field, whatever that field that may be. You need more than that to support your original claim. Also evidence, again.
4. Explaining what bureaucracy is does not explain why feudalism was better suited for Europe. That bureaucracy wasn't part of most of European history doesn't mean it wasn't suited for Europe. Otherwise you are arguing on the basis that European states always adopts the optimum policy.

If it's common knowledge then it shouldn't be so hard for you to provide evidence to support your claims. Not just your claims, evidence. And be sure your evidence actually support your claim that everybody working in the field had pre-job practical experience.

Why don't you provide an alternative point of view rather than just questioning things without explaining on what basis you question them. It is very easy to destroy, not so easy to create - provide some actual positive arguments rather than just negating statements regarding matters you are unacquainted with. Where am I wrong, how am I wrong - and how were things really? Answer those questions, and then I will do what you say and bother to waste my time to look up source-material to back up these (to my limited undergraduate eyes) rather obvious truths.

Instead of arguing like a child, willfully misunderstanding the spirit behind my words and focusing instead on your idea of what the literal meaning is, you could read a book about the period. Or maybe watch a TV-documentary.

As for your 4th point... well what should I even say. Are you a better judge of what is optimum policy than the statesmen who were there at the time? Has the thought crossed your mind that things usually develop they do for a reason in history, and that things like political institutions rarely change, as they tend to embody existing interests - unless compelled to change by an outside force?

If I were to argue like you do I could ask you to provide some evidence. Yes, begin by citing evidence for the fact that China was continuously a kind of centralized monarchy, and the fact that there was something called the Imperial examinations for an Imperial buraucracy over a continous period of time - only primary sources please! Everything else is just deductions, and does not prove anything if it is not from the period at hand, explicitly making the claims you say it does.
 
Feb 2011
5,792
You can ask me to provide for evidence as long as I made a claim about a historic fact. As far as our discussion is concerned, I have not made such claims. You made the claim, you provide the evidence. Your claim being: European lawyers/doctors/government positions were required to have pre-job experience.

As far as evidence is concerned, despite repeated request you have failed to provide evidence, instead you dedicated your time going on the offensive or giving more claims without evidence or giving more claims that have nothing to do with the evidence I requested. You could have dedicated that times providing evidence instead, and this would all be over. I can only assume that you have no evidence for your claims until you prove otherwise.

NordicDemosthenes said:
Instead of arguing like a child, willfully misunderstanding the spirit behind my words and focusing instead on your idea of what the literal meaning is, you could read a book about the period. Or maybe watch a TV-documentary.
Explain this "spirit behind your words" which you haven't done. Did or did you not say in post 178: "My first point is that in Europe before the 1850s your supposed score results on tests was not enough to "pass to play": practical experience or some artificial substitute for it seems to have been also required for admittance." , amongst other things?
You made the claim that European lawyers/doctors/government positions require pre-job "practical experience", yes or no? If that's not what you meant, do you then retract the claim? It sounds like you are defending yourself not with evidence, but defending yourself with intentional vagueness. Instead of giving a book title and relevant quote from a book in order to defend your claim, you tell me to "read a book" or "watch a TV-documentary", without even providing a title, much less a quote.

NordicDemosthenes said:
Yes, begin by citing evidence for the fact that China was continuously a kind of centralized monarchy, and the fact that there was something called the Imperial examinations for an Imperial buraucracy over a continous period of time - only primary sources please!
You are not "arguing like me". I did not make any of those claims, so I am not required to provide evidence for those claims. I don't think you know how this works. I am only responsible for the claims I make. I asked you to provide evidence for claims you actually made. I am holding you accountable for things you said, that is not "childish" that is adulting. You are holding me accountable for things I have NOT said. Nobody, child or adult, needs to be held accountable for words they haven't made. And the more you spend time going on the offensive instead of dedicating that time to providing evidence, the more it will appear that you are making things up.

On the flip side, if I was arguing like you, I would list a bunch of names of pre-industrial Chinese schools, say that they are required to gain so-and-so experience before graduating, equate that with "everyone working in said field are required to do this", and when you ask for evidence I tell YOU to provide evidence. I would defend myself by saying "it's easy to question but hard to create". <----That's not a defense. If you don't have evidence then you shouldn't have made the claim in the first place.

Now you asked me "where you are wrong". Those are explained in my prior post in points 1 to 4. What more do you want?
Now you asked me "how you were wrong". Again, also provided in my prior post in points 1 to 4.
Now you asked me "how were things really". That's not a requirement for me to be skeptical of your claim about how things were. You made the claim, you provide the evidence.

NordicDemosthenes said:
As for your 4th point... well what should I even say. Are you a better judge of what is optimum policy than the statesmen who were there at the time? Has the thought crossed your mind that things usually develop they do for a reason in history, and that things like political institutions rarely change, as they tend to embody existing interests - unless compelled to change by an outside force?
Just because there are existing interests don't mean those interests are best for the majority. Statesmen who were there don't know about all the available policies we know about today. And even if they did, they have their own interests beyond what's best for the populace. For example, Medieval "right of mill" in which the populace were legally bound to use the lord's mill instead of milling their own grain. Or an example more relevant to the present, North Korea. So no, just because Europe adopted something do not automatically mean it's the best policy possible. Policy makers are not benign all-knowing Gods they are people.

Anyway, for truths that are so "obvious", you are having a remarkably hard time providing evidence for such "obvious truths", your words.
 
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Feb 2011
5,792
Now let us look at the amount of evidence I provided to you in another thread on European castles: Why the Mongol Invasions of Europe so small?

In that thread I gave relevant quotes from multiple books which failed to convince you, these books being:
The Origins of German Principalities, 1100-1350: Essays by German Historians
The Government of Philip Augustus: Foundations of French Royal Power by John W. Baldwin
Anglo Norman Castles by Robert Liddiard
The Ideals and Practice of Medieval Knighthood by Christopher Harper Bill
Castles and Fortified Cities of Medieval Europe: An Illustrated History by Jean-Denis G.G. Lepage
The Castle Community, by John Rickard

I gave you multiple quotes from multiple sourcing yet you weren't convinced.
In this thread you gave me zero quotes from zero sources yet you expect me to be convinced that your claims are true.
When I refused to be convinced until you bring evidence, you call my skepticism "childish". What does that make you who refused to be convinced despite all the evidence shown to you? I just don't find this lashback at all justified considering the amount of evidence you expect me to bring in order to convince you, versus the amount of evidence (zero) you expect yourself to bring in order to convince me.
 
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Apr 2018
355
Upland, Sweden
Now let us look at the amount of evidence I provided to you in another thread on European castles: Why the Mongol Invasions of Europe so small?

In that thread I gave relevant quotes from multiple books which failed to convince you, these books being:
The Origins of German Principalities, 1100-1350: Essays by German Historians
The Government of Philip Augustus: Foundations of French Royal Power by John W. Baldwin
Anglo Norman Castles by Robert Liddiard
The Ideals and Practice of Medieval Knighthood by Christopher Harper Bill
Castles and Fortified Cities of Medieval Europe: An Illustrated History by Jean-Denis G.G. Lepage
The Castle Community, by John Rickard

I gave you multiple quotes from multiple sourcing yet you weren't convinced.
In this thread you gave me zero quotes from zero sources yet you expect me to be convinced that your claims are true.
When I refused to be convinced until you bring evidence, you call my skepticism "childish". What does that make you who refused to be convinced despite all the evidence shown to you? I just don't find this lashback at all justified considering the amount of evidence you expect me to bring in order to convince you, versus the amount of evidence (zero) you expect yourself to bring in order to convince me.
No, I did not give you zero quotes from zero sources. I quoted from, for example, what I believe was the premier castle-nerd in modern Europe I could find, in charge of something called the "European Castle Institute" (according to whom, there might well be more than 25 000 castles in Germany today). You decided to consider that information irrelevant, because you think it doesn't fit with your reading of your sourcematerial. I found the fact that you didn't find such a tremendously large discrepancy even slightly strange off-putting, and it made me question your integrity as a debater. Wouldn't you? Especially given the fact that you used most of your source material to make deductions from partial answers; while that is one way of trying to reach the historical truth, the fact remains that it is highly deductive way (although often the only one open to us) and quite open to interpretation and criticism. You pretended as if this was not the case, as if there were no possible flaws in your argument besides the time-dimension, which quite frankly pissed me off and made me think you were being intellectually dishonest.

You had one very solid argument which stood on its own two feet in that thread, which was the data about English castles. I conceded that, but interpreted your data differently. Your arguments about French castles and about German castles all took the form of "this particular nobleman had x% of the land and x many occupied castles" or the king had "x % of land and his chronicles had x number of occupied castles at a specific time" - ergo, you decided there were x many castles. That would have been a great way to argue, except the end result was that you reached was that there were, what, 1000 castles in Europe at the time of the Mongol invasions? Given that my modern expert tells me there are 25 000 castles in Germany alone today (the vast majority of which are from the middle ages, and all practically are of stone - lest they would not have survived), I just thought your argument was quite strange and flied in the face of all common sense as it presupposed all or some of the following:

1) 95% of all Castles in Germany were constructed after 1250 (and did not exist in earlier form before). This does not, on the face of things seem to make much sense. There might be some over-representation during the late-middle ages (given the Black death, some peasant disturbances etc.). But is it really reasonable that the rate of castle-construction increased by 20 times? You expected me to believe that, and admitted as much. You even claimed that was more reasonable than that your sources were wrong (or more accurately, that your deductions from your sources were wrong). I found that ridiculous, and became quite frustrated that you were being so unreasonable about this matter.

2) The German arch-nerd from EBI, along with what is commonly believed about the number of German castles is wrong

3) (This is somewhat more subjective I admit). Conventional wisdom about the number of castles in Europe at the time of the mongol invasions are wrong. If you choose to Google this issue (I'm sorry if it offends your sensibilities, but that is a great way to get the jist of a matter), you will find lots of anonymous people behind computer screens just like you and me who agreed with my main point and thought it very relevant - namely that Europe's terrain and density of fortifications provided it with a strategic depth that might have been off-putting to the mongols - especially given the fact that they seemed to have trouble conquering the European stone fortifications which they encountered, suppositions which you did not dispute. The supposition that I am wrong also seemingly many of the more specific information, both about numbers, about castle building and about of the Wikipedia articles I also cited, but you just dismissed out of hand (which would have been perfectly acceptable, if the conclusions to draw from your data regarding the question of the "Number of Castles in Europe in 1250" were clear cut - which they were not).

-----oOo------

We also disagreed about how to interpret the evidence. You talked about "number of occupied castles". I ended up talking about the number of potentially usable castles. I tried to problematize that term, and implied the possibility that castles might, just might, in economic terms be a "sunk cost" which can be reused, and even if they are somewhat outdated from top-notch military standards still serve a purpose in for example delaying raiding parties and interfering with enemy logistics (which once again, was why I started talking about castles to begin with). You seemed to just dismiss these claims as irrelevant because they had nothing to do with the matter at hand etc. etc. - when they clearly do.

Overall, I imagine though that the reason we really didn't get anywhere in that discussion, just like I have a feeling we won't do here either, is because you made quite a few questionable argumentative moves. For example, you repeatedly claimed I "cited no sources" when I did - you just didn't think they were relevant, and didn't think they had any worth at all. You also repeatedly pounced like a Cobra on linguistic mis-steps and what I thought was obvious dramatic hyperbole, instead of trying to understand what I might mean given the context of the discussion and the bottom line (something that once someone starts doing it, your counterpart obviously starts doing as well). @Larrey seemed to find my original estimate of maybe 10 000 castles in Germany at the time of the Mongol invasions reasonable, and stopped arguing with you because he thought you were being disingenous and didn't seem to understand that France was a feudal monarchy. I, lacking as solid a self-preservation instinct, decided to continue.

You also cited at least one source ("The Castle Community" by John Rickard) the quality of which I disputed because 1) I had never heard of the historian, and he had very few hits on my University's search engine and 2) He had a very poor (2 star) Amazon review - which also happened to be the only one. He also cited the same data that your other source which talked about the other sources for the period we were talking about. The fact that you chose to cite him therefore seemed suspicious to me, and made me suspect that you were just having too much time on your hands to look up every available secondary-source you could find that was of "higher quality" so you could dismiss my largely Wikipedia based claims as "inferior" - while not really being acquainted with the main historical facts of the period we were debating.
 
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