Administrative State 3

How big is it? I know our country is getting bigger, or rather there are more and more of us, more people. And I assume this will continue unless Trump, Bannon and friends have their way and build their walls. (Our land is actually getting smaller, as more and more of it becomes for one reason or another protected and placed beyond easy access for most of us.) Now I suppose that more and more people means a bigger and bigger administrative state. Think of China, before modern times. Think of China just 200 years ago when their population was about the same as ours, 325,000.000. How was their country administrated?

In the 16th century, the Chinese economy was still the most sophisticated and productive in the world, and the Chinese probably enjoyed a higher standard of living than any other people on earth. The Qing (Ch’ing) Dynasty (1644-1912), founded by the invading Manchus, continued this splendor. Contemporary Chinese called the 18th century “unparalleled in history,” when all aspects of culture flourished. China was a prosperous state with abundant natural resources, a huge but basically contented population, and a royal house of great prestige at home and abroad. (see 2009 Asia for Educators, Columbia University | http://afe.easia.columbia.edu)

By the late 18th century, however, the strong Chinese state contained seeds of its own destruction, particularly its expanding population. Having remained at 100 million through much of history, under the peaceful Qing (Ch’ing), the population doubled from 150 million in 1650 to 300 million by 1800, and reached 450 million by the late nineteenth century (cf. population of the US at 200 million in the 1980s).

By this time the state’s political control was diminishing. The size of the bureaucracy remained the same while the population grew. By the 19th century, district magistrates at the lowest level of the Chinese bureaucracy were responsible for the welfare, control, and taxation of an average of 250,000 people. This left control and responsibility for government increasingly in the hands of local leaders whose allegiances were to their localities and families, rather than to the state.  (http://afe.easia.columbia.edu)

OK, not yet our story. But there is no doubt that China too was (is still) an administrative state, perhaps the best example of one to be found anywhere at any time. Now it may not be such a bad thing to be following China. The Qing dynasty, last of the imperial dynasties of China, administrative states all, spanned the years 1644 to 1911/12. Under the Qing the territory of the empire grew to treble its size under the preceding Ming dynasty (1368–1644), the population grew from some 150 million to 450 million, many of the non-Chinese minorities within the empire were Sinicized, and an integrated national economy was established.  (see https://www.britannica.com/topic/Qing-dynasty)

two presidents

The great irony in respect to what I’ve been writing about the administrative state and its resemblance to a China of the Qing dynasty is that today, in our own “forbidden city,” or Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fl, a two-day summit between Donald Trump, the 45th. President of the United States, and China’s Xi Jinping, the last of a long line of “Emperors” or autocrats, although Xi also referred to as the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, is taking place.

The two men are speaking together on equal footing as it were, probably being, superficially anyway, much alike, both being presidents of vast administrative states and having many of the same administrative problems and issues to face. At least this should help them to get along and perhaps reach an understanding. Just keep the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights etc. as well as China’s natural and neighborly control of the China Sea, from getting in the way.


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