Ferguson: The West and the Rest; Book Review - Ferguson...

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Ferguson, Niall Civilization: The West and the Rest. London, England: Penguin Press, 2011. In Civilization: The West and the Rest, Niall Ferguson creates the argument that western civilization has dominated the rest of the world for the better part of 500 years. Ferguson also states ‘The West’ is more than just a geographical expression. It is a set of norms, behaviors and institutions with borders that are blurred in the extreme (15). He supports his claims by using his six killer applications or “the killer apps”, these are the six noticeable differences of institutions, ideas, and behaviors that distinguish the West from the Rest. Of Ferguson’s points the three strongest were competition, property rights, and science. He summarizes these points as follows: “Competition- a decentralization of both political and economic life, which created the launch-pad for both nation-states and capitalism;” “Property rights- the rule of law as a means of protecting private owners and peacefully resolving disputes between them, which formed the basis for the most stable form of representative government;” and “Science- a way of studying, understanding and ultimately changing the natural world, which gave the West (among other things) a major military advantage over the Rest”. (13) The West was superior and overtook China because of the competition in the political as well as economic sectors. Ferguson argues that, while China was a successful civilization, it was not as competitive or advanced as the West. The Chinese empire became comfortable with their civilization and had failed to ‘encourage foreign commerce’ which limited their economic and political powers among other civilizations (20). Another advantage for the West, specifically Europe, was the Bubonic Plague. During this time the mortality rates were staggeringly high
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