In the absence of even acceptable-quality DeLong Smackdowns this past week, what to do? Back to David Graeber! What do we have on the menu today? A continuation of our death march through chapter 11 of David Graeber's Debt, of course!
First we have:
Europe had a greater share of gold and silver mines than it had of population. That gave Europe a high price level, and so the things that Asia might have bought from Europe seemed to Asia to be too expensive. Europe produced little that the Middle East wanted to buy at the prevailing price level--but Graeber never bothered to acquire the literacy in economics he would have needed. So he does not grasp that...
As of 1500, the Portuguese and Spanish (and shortly thereafter the Dutch, and eventually the English and the French) had ships were better. A lot better. They could sail further in worse weather without sinking. Invention and technological change mattered. That mattered a lot.
Mediterranean naval wars were fought by Western Europeans, Egyptians with their ports on the Red Sea, and Turks--who by this time had ports on the Persian Gulf. What the Western Europeans learned, the Turks, Egyptians, etc. learned as well, with the Ottoman Muslims being rather better at Mediterranean oared galley-fighting up until the 1570s.
"The principle that the seas should be a zone of peaceful trade"? "Unarmed Indian Ocean merchants"? Why does Graeber say things like this that are simply not true?
This is depressing.