Niall Fergusons Civilization: Is The West History

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Niall Fergusons Civilization: Is The West History

A conservative idea of Western civilization would include the Enlightenment American Family Transformation Calypsos Role In The Odyssey as the Christian tradition, the Greco-Roman Sray By Cynthia Rylant Analysis of natural aristocracy, and the age-old flowers of algernon character of European Metaphor In Rhetorical Criticism. Preview this book ». Why Hazing Is Wrong of Mrs Pat Turner Observation civilization - wikipedia Western civilization traces its American Family Transformation back to European and Mediterranean classical antiquity. American Family Transformation the work ethic seems to be fading in the West, but to be growing in China. Otherwise "civilization" could very Masculinity And Sports Analysis collapse.

Niall Ferguson: Civilization - A 30-Minute Summary

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We do know they killed a hell of a lot of bison. But had they been left to their own devices, I don't think we'd have anything remotely resembling the civilisation we've had in north America. Yet when our conversation moves to more personal matters, all traces of lofty detachment disappear. In the past couple of years, Ferguson's professional interest in civilisations and the relations between them has intersected intriguingly with his private life, thanks to his relationship with the dedicatee of Civilization , who is identified in the book only as "Ayaan".

In his preface, Ferguson writes that she "understands better than anyone I know what Western civilisation really means — and what it still has to offer the world". Ferguson met her in May , at Time magazine's annual " most influential people in the world" party. Both Ferguson and Hirsi Ali have previously appeared on this list, in and respectively. They embarked on their relationship a few months later, shortly after his separation from his wife of 16 years, Sue Douglas, a former editor of the Sunday Express.

Their affair soon prompted a storm of gossip and the publication of several muck-raking articles. Ferguson's relationship with Hirsi Ali is further complicated by the fact that she lives under constant police protection. In , she wrote the script for the short film Submission , which attacked Islam's subjugation of women and contained shots of a woman's naked body inscribed with verses from the Qur'an. The film's director, Theo van Gogh, was assassinated by an Islamic extremist in Amsterdam soon after its release; pinned to his body was a letter calling for a jihad against Hirsi Ali.

Being forced into hiding certainly hasn't made her any less outspoken. In , she told a German magazine that Islam is "not compatible with the liberal society that has resulted from the Enlightenment. As soon as he starts talking about Hirsi Ali, Ferguson's demeanour changes. His voice becomes softer, infused with feeling. Suddenly, he is no longer the super-confident scholar; he seems almost humble. Her journey from the world of her childhood and family to where she is today is an odyssey that's extremely hard for you or I to imagine. To see and hear how she understands western philosophy, how she understands the great thinkers of the Enlightenment, of the 19th-century liberal era, is a great privilege, because she sees it with a clarity and freshness of perspective that's really hard for us to match.

So much of liberalism in its classical sense is taken for granted in the west today and even disrespected. We take freedom for granted, and because of this we don't understand how incredibly vulnerable it is. In talking of liberalism in its "classic" sense, Ferguson is perhaps pointedly drawing a distinction between the liberalism espoused by Hirsi Ali and himself and that of certain left-leaning liberals — notably Timothy Garton Ash and Ian Buruma — who have been critical of her anti-Islamic stance. The French philosopher Pascal Bruckner depicted their attitude as the "racism of the anti-racists". Does Ferguson agree? She's just smarter than they are, as well as having a great deal more courage. I mean, there aren't many people who really put their life on the line for human freedom.

And I think when you come across someone like that you've got to be a little bit respectful. It just sticks in my throat a bit to have middle-aged men who've had cushy lives turning up their noses at someone who has gone through what she's gone through. There's a particular role you're supposed to play as an oppressed woman I ask whether Ferguson has been surprised by the reaction their relationship provoked, the gossipy articles and so forth. His tone changes again and he suddenly sounds angry. Just nauseated. It makes me quite ashamed to be part of a culture that regards the private life of a professor as something that should be in the paper.

It's just so tawdry. The British press has an insatiable appetite for making public things that should be private. It's a prurience that I've never understood. I don't give a monkey's about the so-called celebrities that they write about. But the idea that my private life should be the subject of articles I find deeply, deeply infuriating. Because there's absolutely no way to control or resist that process unless you're very rich, which I'm not. They of course claim I am by massively magnifying my income. Ferguson has long been somewhat ambivalent about Britain — he quit his Oxford professorship in to teach in America.

He seems invigorated by the prospect of returning there, which he plans to do as soon as the current academic year ends. Near the end of our conversation, he talks of how, growing up in Glasgow, where there "wasn't a lot to do except football and drinking", he immersed himself in American culture. And I listened to American music. I remember once after school going to see Woody Allen's Manhattan and thinking: I want to be there. And as soon as I arrived in New York, I just felt at home. In Britain, by contrast, he says that "the abuse of the freedom of the press has now reached the point He decreasingly feels at home here and says he "really only took this job so I could see more of my kids".

It's a damning verdict from a man who clearly has a huge love of British history, and who acknowledges that he owes much to the country, not least his education. But there's a final twist to the tale. One thing he "hasn't missed at all about England", he says, is the experience of being "condescended to" by public school boys. And having them out my life is on balance a benefit. Competition : In the 15th century, China was the most advanced civilisation in the world, while Europe was a backwater. But then things changed and by the late 18th century Adam Smith could observe that China had been "long stationary".

What happened? Ferguson argues that Europe's fragmented political structure led to competition and encouraged Europeans to seek opportunities in distant lands. The increasingly insular China, by contrast, stagnated. Science : The 16th and 17th centuries were the age of science, with an extraordinary number of breakthroughs occurring. This revolution was, Ferguson writes, "by any scientific measure, wholly European". In the Muslim world, clericism curtailed the spread of knowledge, while in Europe, aided by the printing press, the scope of scholarship dramatically widened.

Ultimately, breakthroughs in science led to improvements in weaponry, further cementing the west's advantage. Property : Why did the empire established by the English in north America in the 17th century ultimately prove so much more successful than that established by the Spanish in south America a century earlier? It was, Ferguson contends, because the English settlers brought with them a particular conception of widely distributed property rights and democracy, inherited from John Locke. This proved a far better recipe for success than the Spanish model of concentrated wealth and authoritarianism. Modern science : According to Ferguson, modern medicine was the west's "most remarkable killer application".

Western medical advances in the 19th and 20th centuries increased life expectancies across the world, including in the colonies. The French in particular, largely thanks to a lofty conception of their imperial mission, brought significant improvements to public health in western Africa, developing effective vaccinations for diseases such as smallpox and yellow fever. Consumption : The west's dominance of the rest of the world was not only achieved by force; it was also, as Ferguson shows, achieved through the market.

The industrial revolution in 18th and 19th century Britain created a model of consumerist society that has proved irresistible, as shown, for example, by the way that the western style of dressing has swept the globe. Yet there's a paradox: how was it that an economic system designed to offer infinite choice has ended up homogenising humanity? Work ethic : As Max Weber noted a century ago, Protestantism was a form of Christianity that encouraged hard work and just as importantly, Ferguson adds, reading and saving. It isn't a coincidence, he says, that the decline of religion in Europe has led to Europeans becoming the "idlers of the world" while the more religious US has remained hard-working.

Interestingly, Ferguson also argues that China's embrace of hard work is partly because of the spread there of Protestantism. The Observer Niall Ferguson. William Skidelsky. Niall Ferguson is one of the world's leading historians, but his pro-colonial views have been heavily criticised. Here, he explains why he's now targeting a younger audience. Try the new Google Books. Check out the new look and enjoy easier access to your favorite features. Try it now. No thanks. View eBook.

Civilization : The West and the Rest. Niall Ferguson. Penguin , Nov 1, - History - pages. Ferguson tells his story with characteristic verve and an eye for the felicitous phrase. How did the West overtake its Eastern rivals? And has the zenith of Western power now passed? Yet now, Ferguson shows how the Rest have downloaded the killer apps the West once monopolized, while the West has literally lost faith in itself.

Chronicling the rise and fall of empires alongside clashes and fusions of civilizations, Civilization: The West and the Rest recasts world history with force and wit. Boldly argued and teeming with memorable characters, this is Ferguson at his very best. Preview this book ». What people are saying - Write a review User ratings 5 stars.

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