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Monday, March 21, 2011

Ferguson's six killer apps

In 1453 Christian Constantinople fell to the Islamic Turks, which ended the Byzantine Empire again.

I once read (I don't remember where) that if an alien had come to visit the earth shorly after that event and had been asked which of the existing cultures in the world would rise to domination, he would probably have not chosen beseiged Europe.

Niall Ferguson (The Ascent of Money)has offered up a "simple explanation" for the rise of the West in his book Civilisation: The West and the Rest. His answer in summary is that they had six "killer applications": competition, science, democracy, medicine, consumerism and the work ethic.

They are open source apps which is why the "rest" are catching up.
This "rise of the rest" was as certain as the rising of the morning sun.

Fareed Zakaria points out in the Post American World that this is not necessarily a "decline" of America. But it does require that we revise our way of thinking. We should aspire to be the first among equals.

PS Medicine is part of science and competition, consumerism, and the work ethic are parts of capitalism. So maybe he's really got 3 killer apps: democracy, science, and capitalism. That probably wouldn't sell as well in certain circles.

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