Niall Ferguson on the tilt East:
“Western Ascendancy”: that was the grandiose title of the course I taught at Harvard this past term. The subtitle was even more bombastic: “Mainsprings of Global Power”. The question I wanted to pose was not especially original, but increasingly it seems to be the most interesting question a historian of the modern era can address. Just why, beginning in around 1500, did the less populous and apparently backward west of the Eurasian landmass come to dominate the rest of the world, including the more populous and more sophisticated societies of eastern Eurasia?
My subsidiary question was this: If we can come up with a good explanation for the west’s past ascendancy, can we then offer a prognosis for its future?
Put differently, are we living through the end of the domination of the world by the civilisation that arose in western Europe in the wake of the Renaissance and Reformation – the civilisation that, propelled by the scientific revolution and the Enlightenment, spread across the Atlantic and as far as the Antipodes, finally reaching its apogee in the age of industry and empire?
[HT: Real Clear Politics]