RE: Why the West has 'won'.

Mike Schnobrich (
Mon, 4 Aug 1997 15:58:51 -0600


I think that you have a really good question. I know that there are lots of
very good books written on the rise of western civilization. Almost all of
them include lots of scholarly speculation on how the Calvinist (that is
the Christian sect that you are referencing) made it O.K. to become filthy
rich by reasoning that the more rich a person became the more god must
truly be blessing them. This thinking made it possible to intellectually
support the idea of a powerful merchant class that was able to take part in
governing their nation's affairs (and latter international affairs) as
opposed to the European Nobility's preoccupation with "the divine rights of

Where things start get interesting in this "progression of progress" line
of thinking is when people start to speculate on the role played by a
virtually empty North American continent (at least from the European point
of view) with it's limitless natural resources on western development and
capitalism. Many years ago while I was in college I went to Mexico to
study land reform issues and ran across lots of good books that had some
very different ideas about western progress from the popular ones taught in
this country. I wish I could remember some of the titles but I know if you
look for them you will find them. In fact, I think you will find tons and
tons of written stuff on western progress but (unless things have changed
in the past few years) you will not find very much written on sub-Shari
African culture -except, of course, how it relates to western

How this fits in with what you are thinking about is I feel that there is
really no way that we can with any confidence understand why western
culture developed the way it did verses other cultures because we simply
don't know anything about these other cultures. The questions that you are
raising are also very revealing about us in the west because they force us
to run smack dab into our western ethnocentric blind spot.

Mike Schnobrich