In 2003, Charles Murray set out to list the history of human achievement in the arts and the sciences. He intended to list the achievements of all cultures and peoples in as balanced a way as possible. But he discovered, that to be honest, he was forced to give Europeans the lion’s share of accomplishments — between the years 800 BC and 1950 AD.
IN HIS 2003 book, Human Accomplishment: Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 BC to 1950, Charles Murray argued that the great artistic and scientific accomplishments were overwhelmingly European. ”What the human species is today,” he wrote, “it owes in astonishing degree to what was accomplished in just half a dozen centuries by the peoples of one small portion of the northwestern Eurasian land mass.” Ricardo Duchesne
Murray was looking primarily at the sciences and the arts. But Europeans were exceptional in other ways as well. Europeans were the great explorers of both the outer and inner worlds. First to circumnavigate the globe, first to develop the scientific method, and first to explore the depths of the human mind using scientific methods. And that was just the beginning.
Europeans were not only exceptional in their literary endeavors, but also in their agonistic and expansionist behaviors. Their great books, including their liberal values, were themselves inseparably connected to their aristocratic ethos of competitive individualism… The expansionist dispositions of Europeans as well as their literary and other achievements were similarly driven by an aggressive and individually felt desire for superlative and undemocratic recognition.
… Spengler designated the West as a “Faustian” culture whose “prime-symbol” was “pure and limitless space.” This spirit was first visible in medieval Europe, starting with Romanesque art, but particularly in the “spaciousness of Gothic cathedrals;” “the heroes” of the Scandinavian, Germanic, and Icelandic sagas; the Crusades; the Viking sailing of the North Atlantic Ocean; the Germanic conquest of the Slavonic East; the Spaniards in the Americas; and the Portuguese in the East Indies.6 _Ricardo Duchesne
The seeds of European greatness were planted in ancient Greece and Rome. Some of these seeds found their way to Persia, Egypt, and India for further development.
After the fall of Rome, Europe’s greatness lay fallow for almost a thousand years, before springing up in the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution, with the re-emergence of old European knowledge that had been preserved and added to by scientists and mathematicians of the Islamic and Hindu worlds.
From that point on, Europe and the descendants of Europe were responsible for most of the great human achievements of subsequent history.
Civilisation began and first developed in the river valleys of Mesopotamia, Egypt, and South Asia. But things did not really begin to get interesting until civilisations cropped up in China and southern Europe.
The race was on between China and Europe for world dominance. China’s early accomplishments outshone most of what Europe achieved, but by most meaningful measures (other than population numbers), Europe and its offspring came to dominate the planet through the 20th century. To understand the breathtaking extent of the dominance of the arts and sciences over the time period studied, one would need to read Charles Murray’s book, Human Accomplishment.
But nothing lasts forever, and the European continent has been in decline for over a hundred years.
From 1850 to 1950, per capita accomplishment tended to decline, which is especially striking considering the huge spread of education. Diminishing returns in the sciences seem inevitable because the low-hanging fruit was picked first. In the arts, though, Murray believes that loss of faith in both the purpose of life and the efficacy of the individual retarded greatness, especially in the post-Freudian age.
Murray expects that almost no art from the second half of the 20th century will be remembered in 200 years. Indeed, Europe, homeland of geniuses, has collapsed into a comfortable cultural stasis reminiscent of Rome in the 2nd century A.D. In addition to Murray’s philosophical explanations, I’d also point to causes such as the genocide of Europe’s highest-achieving ethnic group (Jews were about six times more likely than gentiles to become significant figures from 1870 onward); the rise of anti-elitist ideologies; and the decline of nationalism. From Vergil to Verdi, great men engendered great works to celebrate their nations. Nobody, however, seems likely to create an epic glorifying the European Union. __Steve Sailer’s review of Human Accomplishment
A few books that examine the question of why some nations succeed while others fail.
- The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers
- The Wealth and Poverty of Nations
- The Civilizing Process
- The European Miracle
- The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community
- The Clash of Civilizations
- A Farewell to Alms
- Civilization: The West and the Rest
China is back in the running for global dominance, in large part due to its huge population of high IQ workers. But China is ageing rapidly, as is Europe, Japan, South Korea, and every other modern population. The only populations that are still growing rapidly, are relatively low IQ populations in third world countries.
Since no one wants an Idiocracy, the intelligent people of the world — whether of European, East Asian, Jewish, or other high IQ population — had best work for something even more important than dominance. That would be a future world well suited for free and intelligent humans.