美媒:中国历史上真正领先世界的只有北宋

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China’s awe-inspiring rise is often framed as the return to a historical norm. A common belief is that for most of the last 5,000 years, China was the world’s center of wealth, culture, technology, and power. The 19th and 20th centuries, we are told, were a brief aberration, and China is now simply retaking its rightful place as the world’s preeminent nation. This trope gives China a certain air of inevitability.

中国威风凛凛的崛起经常标上回归历史正常水平。普遍的说法认为在过去5000年的大部分时间,中国是世界财富、文化、科技和权力的中心。从19到20世纪时,我们被告知只是一时之差,而中国现在只需重夺其应有的地位成为世界上最杰出的国家。这种修辞给了中国一股不可逆转命运的气息。

The problem is, it’s not really accurate.

问题是,并不是真的很准确。

The truth is that for most of its history, China has struggled to overcome a number of chronic difficulties that have usually kept it from global preeminence.

对於它的大部分历史而言,中国竭力克服许多长期的困境,这通常使得它远离全球的优势地位。

Let’s start by recalling ancient China, starting from 5,000 years ago. The early Chinese kingdoms—Xia, Shang, and Zhou—roughly coincided with ancient Egypt, Babylon, Persia, and Greece, and China’s famous Han Dynasty coincided with Rome. Ian Morris, a Stanford historian and author of Why the West Rules—For Now, has constructed an “index of development” that takes into account urbanization. According to Morris’ index, the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern civilizations of the Ancient and Classical periods were well ahead of their Chinese counterparts.

我们先来回顾从中国古代开始的5000年以前。中国早期的王朝—夏、商、周—大约正逢古埃及、巴比伦、波斯和希腊,然後中国最着名的汉朝正逢罗马帝国时期。伊恩·莫里斯,一个斯坦福大学的历史学家和《西方将主宰多久》的作家,设计了一项考虑到城市化的"发展指数"。根据莫里斯的指数,地中海和中东文明的古代和古典时期,遥遥领先了他们的中国同行。

For example, the Roman Empire had many more miles of roads than Han China, and much more shipping. Although China had a few things that Rome did not—most notably the horse collar and paper—Rome in general had far more impressive engineering and technology, including advanced plumbing, mining techniques, and construction techniques. Han China was poorer—most people’s houses had dirt floors. In terms of basic science, Morris has less to say, but ancient Greece was hard to beat in this regard (though ancient China was ahead in algebra). Military power is hard to gauge, since China and the West never directly confronted each other.

例如,罗马帝国有比中国汉朝较多公里的道路,和更多的航路运输。尽管中国有一些罗马所没有的东西—最引人注目的马项圈和纸张,罗马一般有更多令人印象深刻的工程与科技,包含先进的水管设施、采矿技术和工程技术。中国汉朝较差—大部分人的房子有脏污泥地。在基础科学方面,莫里斯较少言及,但是古希腊很难在这方面击败 (虽然中国古代在代数领先)。军事力量不好估计,因为中国和西方并未直接对抗。

According to Morris’ data, China became richer and more developed than the West’s leading nation around the 6th century A.D. The fall of Rome and the division of the Mediterranean into European and Middle Eastern halves stifled sea trade, while China assimilated its rich South and began growing rice on a large scale. For the next 1,000 years, China was the richest place on the planet. During the years from 500 A.D. to 1200 A.D., China invented the compass, gunpowder, printing, compartmentalized ship hulls, paper money, advanced farming techniques, and a great deal of algebra and astronomy.

根据莫里斯的数据,中国在大约在公元6世纪比起西方主要国家变得富有和更为发达。罗马的衰落後,地中海被划分为欧洲与中东半窒息的海洋贸易上,中国同化了富庶的南方,并开始大规模种植水稻。在接下去的1000年,中国是地球上最富有的地方。从公元500年到1200年间,中国发明了指南针、火药、印刷、水密隔舱、纸币、先进的农业技术和大量的代数与天文学。

But China’s preeminence was hardly uncontested during this period. Though Europe was an economic, military and technological backwater during the Middle Ages, the Islamic empires—the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates—rivaled China in size, and actually defeated China in their one military clash (the Battle of Talas). Islamic civilization was also no slouch in basic science.

但是在这期间中国的全球优势地位几乎无可争议。虽然欧洲在中世纪的经济、军事、科技上一滩死水,伊斯兰帝国—倭马亚王朝和阿拔斯王朝—在规模上与中国匹敌,并且在他们的军事冲突中实际打败中国 (怛罗斯之战)。伊斯兰文明也对基础科学没有懈怠。

Meanwhile, China during its golden age was plagued by internal and external security threats. The An Shi rebellion tore apart China’s Tang dynasty at that empire’s height, killing millions; the dynasty never recovered. The Jurchen (ancestors of the Manchus) conquered North China in the 1100s, forcing the Sung Dynasty—the wealthiest and most technologically dynamic of the old Chinese dynasties—to relocate to the south. In the 1200s, the Mongols conquered all of China, which they ruled until 1368.

与此同时,中国在它的黄金时代也被内忧外患困扰。安史之乱彻底捣毁了中国唐朝的帝国顶峰,成千上万被杀,王朝也从未复原。女真人(满族的祖先)在12世纪为了移居到南部征服中国北方。在13世纪,蒙古人征服了全中国,他们一直被统治到1368年。

China regained stability during the Ming dynasty in the 14th to 17th centuries. During that dynasty, China was militarily powerful, defeating incursions by the Mongols, Japanese, Dutch, and Portuguese. But this period was also a “Great Stagnation” for China. Technological progress essentially stopped. A brief spurt of exploration by the Chinese explorer Zheng He (whose scope may have been exaggerated; none of the giant ships attributed to the expedition have ever been found) proved to be one of a kind, when the Chinese government restricted shipbuilding.

中国明朝在14至17世纪期间恢复稳定。在那个时期,中国军力强大,击退了蒙古人、日本人、荷兰人、葡萄牙人的入侵。但是这时期对中国来说也是一场"大停滞"。科技进步基本停止;由中国探险家郑和率领的短暂冲锋 (航行范围有可能被夸大;没有一艘巨大船舶被认为是探险队被发现)被证明是独一独二的,当中国政府限制造船业後。

During the first half of the 2nd millennium A.D., the Middle East stagnated as well, but Europe was climbing out of the deep hole of the Middle Ages. By the 1500s, propelled by the discovery of the New World, Europe was making rapid strides in science and technology; by the 1600s, according to economic historians, much of Europe was richer than China.

进入第二千年的上半时,中东也停滞不前,但是欧洲正从中世纪的深渊里爬出。到了16世纪,受到发现新大陆的驱动,欧洲在科学和技术产生跨越式发展。到了17世纪,根据经济史学家的说法,欧洲大部分地区比中国富裕。

So to sum up, China has always been one of the world’s leading civilizations over the last five millennia. But it has only held both economic and military preeminence for brief periods of time—the late 1300s and 1400s being the most notable. Why has China not been preeminent for longer stretches? History is not a science, but we can make some guesses. The very thing that makes China so powerful and important–its titanic size–also endows it with fundamental weaknesses.

总的来说,中国在过去五千年一直是世界领先的文明之一。但是同时掌握经济和军事上优势地位的时间却很短暂—14世纪和15世纪是最显着的。为什麽中国的优势地位没有延续更长?历史并非科学,但是我们可以做出一点猜测。造成中国如此强大和重要的原因是,其巨大无比的规模,但也赋予其根本性缺陷。

Throughout its history, China has been plagued by enormous rebellions, from the An Shi rebellion in the 700s to the Taiping Rebellion in the 1800s. These rebellions are always incredibly destructive of human life and the economy. They often expose China to external conquest, as with the fall of the Ming dynasty in the 1600s or the Japanese conquests in the 1930s. They sometimes result in the rise of extremely destructive and dysfunctional regimes, like Mao’s ascendance in the 20th century.

综观其历史,中国一直饱受巨大叛乱的困扰,从8世纪的安史之乱到19世纪的太平天国之乱。这些叛乱总是给人类生活与经济造成难以置信的破坏力。他们时常使中国暴露在外族征服上,随着在17世纪明朝的陨落和1930年代日本人的征服。他们有时会造成极大破坏性和非正常政权的兴起,例如毛泽东在20世纪的统治地位。

Why does China have all these major rebellions? Because it’s big. Large countries are geographically and industrially diverse, and therefore it becomes difficult to agree on what public goods to provide (this is why city-states are often very efficient). Regions fight over resources. In addition, China is endowed with very few natural resources relative to its enormous population size, meaning that food and water shortages can be acute and terrible.

为什麽中国有这些重大的叛乱?因为它很大,由於大型国家在地理和工业上的多样化,因此变得很难就供给何种公共产品上达成一致意见(这就是城市国家能常常高效率的原因),地区抢占资源。此外,中国被赋予相对很少的天然资源来应付庞大的人口规模,意味着粮食和水资源短缺会是严重和可怕的。

China’s incredible bigness has other drawbacks. It made China difficult to defend in ancient times. In modern times, it means that China has lots of powerful neighbor—India, Russia, and Japan—with whom relations are not always smooth. And some historians, such as Jared Diamond, have argued that China’s size held back its technological progress; because it could win wars by sheer size and rely on its domestic economy, they argue, China was never forced to invest in military technology or open itself up to trade.

中国不可置信的巨大也有其他缺点。这让中国在远古时期很难防卫。在现代就意味着中国有很多强大的邻居—印度、俄罗斯和日本—而且同他们的关系并不一直顺利。而一些历史学家像是贾雷德·戴蒙德辩称,中国的规模阻碍了科技进步;因为它可以用绝对规模和依靠国内经济在战争取胜,他们争辩,中国从不被迫投资军事技术或者通过贸易来对外开放。

PS:原文来源于《大西洋月刊》,龙腾网翻译

本文内容于 2014/1/16 11:09:20 被c928983929编辑

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说白了,米国人不就想让中国做回北宋吗,经济富裕,然后任你宰割而已,不过我们理想终究是汉唐,所以你们洗洗睡吧。

一个有二百年历史的国家的人,来对有着五千年历史的国家进行评论。真是太可笑了。。。

文章的潜台词是,中国太大了,所以内耗不断,阻碍了自己进步,所以中国应该分化得更小一点,才对中国好。。。。看来砖家哪里都有啊

17楼红太

我一直觉得在美国学历史可能是特别好混日子的,随便怎么脑残的言论都可以煞有其事的发表出来。我敢肯定这些孙子从来就没来过中国一次。就只知道闭门造车,坐而论道。不是看不起所谓的西方历史学者,只是些井底之蛙罢了,根本未能窥得中华文明之分毫。也就停留到知晓埃及金字塔,玛雅神庙这样的小学生水平。别的不说,就建议这些所谓历史学家去秦始皇陵长长见识。就算你是傻叉也要被惊呆,精神正常点的直接被震惊成呆瓜!还是一位网友说得好可喜可贺西方人类史研究已经发展到神话,和小说阶段了!这些个所谓搞人类历史学问的不但谬论屡屡,还处处偏见。在这里就指出很扎眼的两处(一)“他们有时会造成极大破坏性和非正常政权的兴起,例如毛泽东在20世纪的统治地位。”(原来新中国成立还是非正常的,黑中国可是无时不在啊!我到想问问美国,法国,英国等等立国算正常不?)(二)“其巨大无比的规模,但也赋予其根本性缺陷;中国的规模阻碍了科技进步。。。。。。”(呵呵!看看,这样的鬼话他们都能编造得出来,咱们中国人谁信哟!)

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