History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Question from Niall Ferguson

January 7th, 2010 · No Comments

RG Mail
Financial Times
December 27 2009
*The decade the world tilted east
*We are living through the end of 500 years of western ascendancy
By Niall Ferguson
I am trying to remember now where it was, and when it was, that it hit me.
Was it during my first walk along the Bund in Shanghai in 2005? Was it amid
the smog and dust of Chonqing, listening to a local Communist party official
describe a vast mound of rubble as the future financial centre of south-west
China? That was last year, and somehow it impressed me more than all the
synchronised razzamatazz of the Olympic opening ceremony in Beijing. Or was
it at Carnegie Hall only last month, as I sat mesmerised by the music of
Angel Lam, the dazzlingly gifted young Chinese composer who personifies the
Orientalisation of classical music? I think maybe it was only then that I
really got the point about this decade, just as it was drawing to a close:
that we are living through the end of 500 years of western ascendancy.

“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

Students of the eonic effect can address these questions of Niall Ferguson immediately: we see the exact timing of the modern transition in the eonic effect, and two centuries after The Great Divide the system begins to shift its center of gravity, toward a global oikoumene, a process underway since the end of that transition, in fact.
The critical two hundred period after the Divide threatens to show a deviation from the mainline momentume, something all too visible in the past decade of the US, ominous, and unnerving.
It is not about titling east, or about the ’empire’ of America, or even about economics. The issue is the creation of a genuine oikoumene of world peoples beyond the narrow sourcing area of the ‘eonic transition’ we call the passage to ‘modernity’.

Tags: globalization · History · The Eonic Effect

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