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Is "Heavy Agriculture and Business Restrained" Good or Bad? What problems did ancient Chinese "emphasize agriculture and suppress business" bring?

Today, the interesting history editor prepared for everyone: What problems will ancient Chinese " emphasis on agriculture and business suppression " bring? Interested friends, please take a look!

Maintaining a country's operations requires financial support.

Obviously, business can make society more prosperous.

Although there was no economics in ancient times, economic laws existed, and the ancients would not see the benefits of developing business. With the development of commerce, of course, the tax sources are also abundant. Why did Chinese dynasties reject such benefits?

01

The ancient Chinese dynasty belonged to farming civilization and the taxation was very stable. As long as no serious natural disasters occurred, the dynasty always continued smoothly.

If any dynasty dies, as long as the financial system of the previous dynasty is restored, it can continue to create a prosperous age.

For farmland, the cost of taxes is low, and the total wealth that can be gathered is also large.

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But such a fiscal system has an unbreakable dilemma.

The wealth characteristic of farming civilization is too rigid and too elastic. After all, it depends on the sky to eat, and the output on the land is relatively fixed, which has shaped a series of characteristics of Chinese history.

First of all, the finance of the Chinese dynasty is a kind of "living within".

The total amount of wealth is so large—there is so much land and so much land output, and naturally there are so many people who can feed. No matter whether it is taxed by head or taxed by land output, there will be no change. It's too big.

Therefore, the functions of the imperial government corresponding to an era can only be so many, and how much money can be used for many things, which is different from the financial principles of ancient western commercial societies.

Western business societies can "spend within their means" and charge as much as they need to do.

Why? Because business and foreign wars can completely recover the money spent on the market and the battlefield, their financial situation is very flexible.

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Without the lure of huge commercial gains, Spain and Portugal would not have risked a sea of nine lives.

From this perspective, you can understand why the ancient Chinese civilization had little motivation to expand abroad?

No matter how powerful the dynasty is, the fiscal and taxation are also its constraints. With this line, kites can't fly far.

The annual income of the Chinese is limited, and the income from foreign wars is unstable. Therefore, it is extremely dangerous to expand abroad. If this is the case, the dynasty will die. This is the case of Emperor Sui Yang . , And eventually buried his own country.

Because there is so much money, the uses are predetermined. Therefore , although the emperor has the highest power, in fact, there is not much room for arbitrary operation. Even the emperor depends on the dishes.

02

This was originally a good thing, but it also brought a problem.

The fiscal system of living within the means and spending lightly, there is no problem in dealing with the daily state of the empire. But what to do when the crisis comes and a large increase in government expenditure is required?

The crisis mainly comes from two aspects. One is that internally quietly growing factors are exhausting financial resources.

For example, Ming Taizu Zhu Yuanzhang took great care of his children and grandchildren. He could lead the country from his country without doing anything in his life. At the beginning, how much can this family eat if they eat the national finances? So this is not a big problem. However, after two or three hundred years, the problem became serious.

According to Xu Guangqi's calculations, the Ming dynasty's royal population doubled every 30 years. At the time of Zhu Yuanzhang, there were 58 people. In Yongle, it increased to 127 people. There were 1,611 people, and the number rose to over 80,000 during Wanli . By the end of Ming Dynasty, there were more than one million people.

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The emperor's house has no money

In fact, by the end of the Qing Dynasty, the hardcore crops of the Eight Banners of Qing Dynasty had also become a serious burden on the Qing government.

Of course, the "finance within the limits" of state finances is unaffordable.

Another kind of crisis is an external crisis, such as the offensive of the nomadic peoples in the north, which requires a substantial increase in military spending.

Where does the money come from? This is also the rigid fiscal burden that farming countries cannot afford. The financial demise of the Song and Ming dynasties can be found.

03

So what do you say? One of the solutions is to find a source of flexible taxation. Since land production is rigid, what is elastic?

In the farming society, the largest flexible income is the so-called profitable resource commodities, which mainly refer to salt and iron, and later there are addictive commodities such as tea.

Historically, these goods have been monopolized by the state because it provides financial flexibility.

However, there is also a problem with this kind of goods. It is run by the government. The efficiency is too low and the income is limited. Let it be run by the private sector, and then the government will collect taxes. The efficiency is raised, but the danger is also greatly increased.

After all, whoever controls these lucrative resources can easily get huge income.

Huge income from private individuals can become a threat to the regime and a powerful force, leading to social imbalances and intensifying social contradictions, such as the salt merchants in the late Qing Dynasty.

Therefore, this solution is not reliable.

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The salt merchants in the rich and powerful nations once forced the emperor's commissioner to investigate the tax evasion.

Some people may say that since rigid taxation is a basic dilemma, then you should learn from the West and develop business, rather than being as foolish as the ancient Chinese government. It's so small, and there is no money to spend when the crisis comes, isn't this asking for help?

The problem is not so simple. The introduction of commerce in the huge China will cause two positive and negative effects.

The first effect is that if social management capabilities are not upgraded, such as the introduction of representative systems, the establishment of a powerful ocean fleet, etc., commercial tax revenue will not be collected at all-if merchants cannot participate in politics, they will not dare to make wealth; if there is no fleet For protection, businessmen dare not venture to expand overseas trade.

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British maritime trade feeds navy, powerful navy protects British merchants' overseas trade

The second impact is that if this set of capacity building is completed and commercial taxes can be collected, it also means that the social structure has been completely changed.

Think about it, is this necessarily a good thing? Or, to be more precise, under the conditions of ancient society, must this be a good thing? Not necessarily.

The business society, which is essentially a network, is an expanding order that is constantly changing. This sentence is very important.

It is a network, so it cannot survive alone. The rise and fall of the business society depends on the surrounding environment and its location in the network. As the network changes, the living conditions of a business society change.

It is a changing expansion order, which means that a business society is either expanding or shrinking, and it is difficult to maintain stability.

The commercial society in the ancient history of mankind was like cooking with fire when it was developed, and like a building when it was declining, the stability of civilization was very poor.

You see, those once-developed oasis countries on the Silk Road were famous like Loulan , but now civilization is extinct.

Another example is our famous commercial cities in China, such as Yangzhou. In the commercial network of the Canal, it was extremely prosperous. However, the decline of the Canal is a foregone conclusion.

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In fact, the same is true of Western civilization. The Roman Empire's internal commerce was very developed, but once it collapsed, it was difficult to revive.

Many people have seen the famous documentary "The Rise of Great Powers" in previous years, but you haven't thought about it. Why is the rise of Western powers the same as relay races. After a country has risen, it has declined and will never be revived?- Portugal and Spain, which rule the earth, used to have more than half of the world's merchant ships in the Netherlands, but now they are at most only small and beautiful countries. They are different from the heyday of the past.

Because navigation and business are complex collaborations, it often takes a long time to form a collaborative relationship between people.

Once this complex cooperative relationship is destroyed by powerful forces such as war, it is almost difficult to rebuild it in place, because it is difficult to ensure that the original complex conditions can be restored, and the empire will fall apart and disappear into history.

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After Spain's invincible fleet was defeated, Spain never rose again

Looking at China again, although the farming economy seems to have various defects, such as the above, fiscal flexibility is very poor. But its structure is simple and its vitality is extremely tenacious.

After the demise of the previous dynasty, as long as the new dynasty allocated land to small farmers' families, the economic and social structure would soon be rebuilt and restored, and the empire would be revived.

This also shows from another angle that China is the best continuity of history among all civilizations in the world. No matter what the chaos is, there is always a revival.

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04

It is also because the Chinese dynasties used the financial system of the farming economy, so it was natural for the emperors to choose heavy agriculture and restrain business. My goal is to continue the empire, not to innovate and develop a business economy that threatens my rule .

However, the consequence is that it has caused the internalization of Chinese society.

What does it mean? That is, the Chinese are very handy with this financial system. They do not want to use other systems. This completely locks themselves up in terms of systems and technology, and does not develop the economy and technology outside the agricultural civilization.

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Chinese peasants' constant habits for thousands of years: work at sunrise, rest at sunset

Our middle school history textbook tells us that from human society to slavery, to feudalism, to capitalism , and finally to communism .

However, once a civilization is introverted, it will not be able to break through this predicament. Without external shocks, China's feudal empire system will continue.

Through the financial system of the farming economy, we also understand why the Emperor Hanwu eventually respected Confucianism, and later dynasties also chose Confucianism as the guiding ideology of society- Confucianism , one of which is to emphasize agriculture and suppress business.

Therefore, it is not that we believe in Confucianism, so the society emphasizes agriculture and suppressing business, but because we choose such a financial system, so we choose the idea of stressing agriculture and suppressing business, and so we choose Confucianism.

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Without Confucianism, there will be other schools to provide such ideas. The Empire needs such ideas, not Confucianism. It is just that Confucianism provides such a set of ideological solutions.

History chose Confucianism, not Confucianism.

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