There Was Something Special About Europe

Something Different Happened

About 250 years ago, advanced human societies took a dramatic turn for the better. In terms of life expectancy at birth, GDP per capita, kilocalories per person per day, technological adeptness, and personal political freedoms, the human condition in most European derived populations improved their situations.

There was a “great divergence” of accomplishment between Europe and the rest of the world — with Europe being led by Great Britain in some important ways.

For a few hundred years Europe leaped ahead in art, scientific achievement, literature and publishing, global exploration, and technological accomplishment.

Prior to the middle ages and the subsequent European renaissance, China and India have been often perceived as wealthier and in some ways more advanced than Europe. But as the ideas of the renaissance spread through the political domains of Europe, a form of intense competition between sovereign states set in. This competition resulted in the greatest period of sustained human achievement ever seen — at least when measured by the 5 criteria above.

India and China had lacked that spark of competition between sovereign states which drove the Europeans to devise more clever science, art, literature, and technology of all kinds. And they had never truly systematized the scientific method or the theories of science and technology. The great Asian states were always corrupt and complacent, and remained that way until violently pulled out of their slumber by outside (European) forces during the great age of European colonial development.

And Then There Was the USA

The US came out of the UK and Europe to dominate the global economy. This dominance did not occur by any plan or design by the US government. It happened because the US Constitution prevented the US government from standing in the way of US commerce — without sufficient cause. This non-interference policy by the government was a historical precedent among large nations, and was but one of many ways in which the essential difference of the USA would make itself known during its early centuries.

Suddenly Europe and Britain rose above the rest of the world in several key measures. Just as suddenly the essentially European and British peoples of the US were able to achieve further incredible advances in technology and trade in just a relatively short time.

The concept of “progress” is endemic to European cultures, whereas most eastern cultures believed in the cyclic nature of reality. The “singularity” idea is merely the idea of progress taken to an imagined limit. But the graphic at the top of this article surely displays a “singularity” and many other singularities of various degree have occurred through human history. Perhaps the singularity that followed the European renaissance and coincided with the European enlightenment and the scientific and industrial revolutions, should be referred to as the European Singularity. And it probably would if it were not so politically incorrect and so offensive to academic and media snowflakes.

As the number of books and other publications rose, knowledge became more detailed and more specialised. Disciplines of study were divided and sub-divided until a scholar is not able to master the breakthroughs in his own discipline, much less in other related disciplines.

China claims to publish the most book titles of any country, but China is not particularly known for its great book stores and libraries, open to the public for the wide dissemination of the world’s knowledge. China is instead known for aggressive censorship of ideas and a vicious limitation of intellectual freedom within the bamboo prison walls. As long as the party remains in control of China and takes the tyrannical approach to freedom of thought and action, its future will be greatly limited.

More on European Uniqueness

The Great Divergence by Kenneth Pomeranz

The Uniqueness of Western Civilization by Ricardo Duchesne

Human Accomplishment by Charles Murray

Great Figures in Human Accomplishment: Most Came From European Derivation
Charles Murray

How the West Came to Rule

The Wealth and Poverty of Nations by David Landes

As noted above, neither China nor India ever systematized science or technology — so that various seemingly important inventions and discoveries in ancient Asia never really led to any great scientific or technological movements. The Chinese “treasure fleets” are one of the best illustrations of the typical Chinese failure to follow up on technological achievement. If China had been able to build upon its many earlier inventions, the history of human accomplishment would have been far different.

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4 Responses to There Was Something Special About Europe

  1. bob sykes says:

    The Chinese Communist Party is almost an American asset, an obstacle to China’s growth. It also seems to be unable to exploit the common East Asian history of Japanese, American, and European colonialism, adopting instead a selfish nationalism that threatens its neighbors.

    However, Deng’s reforms turned much of China into a capitalist wild west, and they did raise 300 million Chinese to near a middle class standard of living, and they produced dozens of billionaires. That process seems to be continuing, and the merger of OBOR (China) and the Eurasian Union (Russia) means it will tend to spread throughout Eurasia. I know you disagree about OBOR.

    Also, for quite some time, a substantial fraction (one-third?) of the graduate students enrolled in our STEM programs have been Chinese nationals. They contribute to our scientific and engineering discoveries, and they go home. What they bring home is not only cutting edge technical knowledge and skills, they also bring back a deep exposure to American culture and methods. That must have a powerful seeding effect in China and must do something to move Chinese culture more towards a Euro-American model.

    Despite the Raj, it appears there has been less European cultural seeding in India. Educated Indians and Pakistanis tend to move to the UK and EU and stay. Also, the average IQ in India is substantially lower than in China (85 vs. 105?).

    Now the question is, Will the anti-science bigotry of our growing socialism movement and the influx of large numbers of low IQ and anti-American immigrants kill the culture that produced our successes?

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  3. info says:

    One of the keys is a class system instead of a caste system which is what India has:

  4. Someone says:

    Commies are going to commie. China can do some things since they are not hamstrung by ‘duh-versity’, but they do have some internal problems and all they can really do is steal technology from others. America has corruption but it’s not dysfunctional as of yet.

    China probably killed all the smart independent people in the 40’s to 60’s with their cultural revolution stupidity.

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