Civilization: The West and the Rest

Monday, November 07, 2011

All over the world, more and more people work for Western-style companies, study at Western-style universities, vote for Western-style governments, take Western medicines, wear Western clothes, and even work Western hours. Historian Niall Ferguson looks at Western civilization’s rise to global predominance in Civilization: The West and the Rest, he argues that, beginning in the fifteenth century, the West developed six concepts that the rest lacked: competition, science, the rule of law, consumerism, modern medicine, and the work ethic.


Niall Ferguson

Comments [12]

Three cheers for Meredith from NYC.

Dec. 19 2011 01:18 PM
John A.

Fuva, thanks again for your research. The J.Sachs/ N.Ferguson story is also copied onto YouTube (also see Jeffrey speak at OWS, 14 minutes) very Interesting, THX to you.

Nov. 08 2011 11:15 AM
Adrian from Park Slope, Brooklyn

I have not heard Mr Ferguson speak of the importance of the man-made institution of the "State" developed as a result of the Treaty of Westphalia. Specifically, how this has become the world model for organizing population, space and to an extent resources. The "State" was created in Europe to prevent another 30 Years war and its impact on the civilian population. It also brought about a civilian and military bureaucracy to manage state affairs. This State model works regardless of the political system governing it.

Nov. 07 2011 01:57 PM
fuva from Harlemworld

...sorry, DAN...

Nov. 07 2011 01:55 PM

I can't be the only one truly annoyed by his 'timely' colloquial abuse of the term killer app, right?

Nov. 07 2011 01:54 PM
fuva from Harlemworld

Don, here:

Nov. 07 2011 01:53 PM
Dan Kulkosky from NYC

Fuva: You mention an exchange, but you don't give a location. Do you have a link?

Nov. 07 2011 01:41 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Since the dawn of civilization and trade, the power pendulum has swung between East and WEst, and back again. The Greeks and the Persians. The Romans and the Parthians. And before Columbus, China was the the economic powerhouse. Everyone wanted to get to Cathay, from Marco Polo to Columbus, and even Perry who forced open Japan. After 5 centuries of European and US dominance, the pendulum has rapidly moved back to Asia. It's only natural.

Nov. 07 2011 01:29 PM
Wayne Johnson Ph.D from Brooklyn

Mr. Ferguson was wrong on Iraq, wrong on the financial crisis. Why should we believe a thing he says?

Nov. 07 2011 01:15 PM
Richard Johnston from Manhattan upper west side

My radio is pre-turned-off for this.

Nov. 07 2011 12:41 PM
Meredith from nyc

Mr. Lopate-- How ironic. Could you ask Mr. Ferguson to respond to this--that these very concepts that furthered the West’s progress are now being undermined. Examples:

Lack of competition due to fixing the rules for big corporations, so their losses are socialized while they take their huge profits.

The conservative lack of respect for science is evident re global warming and any issues that may defy profit and right wing religiousity.

The rule of law economically is being replaced by economic might makes right, as the rich influence politicians to suit them, and disadvantage most of us.

Modern medicine’s benefits are getting out of reach for many because of profits of drug firms and health insurance companies with little countervailing progress in guaranteed health for all.

The work ethic of the top wealthy is badly lacking as they make money from investments, taxed at lower rates, while they add nothing of value to the nation, as they removing jobs and assets from the vast majority of us who do daily work that keeps our businesses and our government functioning. Our consumerism is thus weakened and thus lack of demand makes worse our continuing recession.

Mr. Ferguson might add another factor----most importantly--increasing respect for individual rights vs the privilege of kings and hereditary nobles. Now, we see the wealthy’s influence on our three branches of govt. is starting to nullify even that, which was supposed to distinguish America in the world.

Nov. 07 2011 12:21 PM
fuva from Harlemworld

I saw the exchange between Niall and Jeffrey Sachs on Fareed Zakaria two Sunday's ago. I thought Niall was sooo out of line. But the exchange would nevertheless be useful and illuminating to dissect, as it represents key threads in the current socioeconomic debate.

Nov. 07 2011 12:06 PM

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