Well, China's tremendous fleets came to an end through a typical episode of isolationism, such as one finds in the histories of many countries. There was a new emperor in China in 1432. In China there had been a Navy faction and an anti-Navy faction. In 1432, with the new emperor, the anti-Navy faction gained ascendancy. The new emperor decided that spending all this money on ships is a waste of money. Okay, there's nothing unusual about that in China; there was also isolationism in the United States in the 1930's, and Britain did not want anything to do with electric lighting until the 1920s. The difference, though, is that this abandoning of fleets in China was final, because China was unified under one emperor. When that one emperor gave the order to dismantle the shipyards and stop sending out the ships, that order applied to all of China, and China's tradition of building ocean-going ships was lost because of the decision by one person. China was a virtual gigantic island, like Tasmania.         

Again, I don't want you to go home to your several children, and say, "Sweetie-pies, I heard this talk today by this guy Jared Diamond who enunciated some principles that I think would be really good for rearing children. We're going to see what your grades are at mid-term, and based on those grades, whichever one of you comes closer to getting all A's, that one we will support to the hilt, private schools, college, whatever you need, whereas those of you who get poor grades can start jobs as a shoe-shine boy or girl" — No! In a family, and in some other human groups, productivity is not the appropriate consideration for judging the best organization of the group.
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