Six Ideas That Set the West Apart from the Rest (And Why It’s All Over Now Baby Blue)

We’re tack­ling anoth­er big ques­tion today with the help of Har­vard eco­nom­ic his­to­ri­an Niall Fer­gu­son. And the ques­tion goes like this: Why has the West cre­at­ed so much pros­per­i­ty and sta­bil­i­ty over the past sev­er­al cen­turies, when the rest of the world did not? For Fer­gu­son, the “great diver­gence” can be explained by six big ideas, or what he calls killer apps for the ben­e­fit of his technophile TED audi­ence:

1. Com­pe­ti­tion
2. The Sci­en­tif­ic Rev­o­lu­tion
3. Prop­er­ty Rights
4. Mod­ern Med­i­cine
5. The Con­sumer Soci­ety
6. Work Eth­ic

These apps, it turns out, are open source. Any­one can down­load and use them. And that’s pre­cise­ly what Asia has done. The great diver­gence is over (baby blue)…

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Comments (3)
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  • Chris L. says:

    The actu­al ‘killer’ apps:

    1. Com­pe­ti­tion through exploita­tion and war­fare
    2. Sci­en­tif­ic knowl­edge pre­served by Arabs
    3. Prop­er­ty con­sist­ing of glob­al theft of native lands
    4. Mod­ern Med­i­cine (also from the Arabs)
    5. Con­sump­tion to the point of envi­ron­men­tal dev­as­ta­tion
    6. Slave labor

  • Pozarski says:

    Slaves (also from Arabs).;)

  • DS says:

    As an Indi­an I’m deeply offend­ed by this speech, and not just dis­ap­point­ed, but shocked, that Open Cul­ture (which I oth­er­wise hold in the high­est regard)would stoop so low as to host such an offen­sive speech. The boun­ties reaped by West­ern impe­ri­al­ism are casu­al­ly brushed away by Niall Fer­gu­son and Impe­ri­al­ism is in fact jus­ti­fied by him, the intent being that the West col­o­nized the East because they were smarter. He even says, “So the Empire was­n’t all bad.” Atro­cious. The West did come up with some great insti­tu­tions, but their wealth and pow­er, for a very long time, came via col­o­niz­ing, exploit­ing and per­pe­trat­ing all kinds of atroc­i­ties on the col­o­nized, be they Indi­ans, Africans, Native Amer­i­cans, Aus­tralian abo­rig­ines, etc. The col­o­niz­ers also bru­tal­ly dec­i­mat­ed large swathes of these native pop­u­la­tions. To brush off the pos­si­bil­i­ty of this argu­ment with such cold arro­gance is prob­a­bly a typ­i­cal Niall Fer­gu­son trait. His mim­ic­ry of non- west­ern accents, like he does in the end, is anoth­er symp­tom of his racist way of think­ing. It’s also unfair on his part to lump the entire world, which is not the col­o­niz­er, as ‘the East’, whether it’s Africa or Latin Amer­i­ca. It’s an Us vs Them sce­nario and very much a case of Oth­er­ing, the very trait of colo­nial racism. I’m glad that Pankaj Mishra has raised his voice against this rather idi­ot­ic per­son­age.

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