For five hundred years, Europe has been the center of world civilization. In that time, it initiated—one can even say invented—the idea and the fact of sustained economic growth. Since Galileo, it has been the cradle of modem technology, particularly with navigation and scientific instruments. In philosophy, music, painting, and literature, it transformed our conceptions of perspective and perception, of tonality and the diatonic scale, and of the relation of fiction to reality. All this, in a sense, was the application of an idea of rationality unknown to the non-Western world.
And yet, in that same period of time, the plains of Europe saw some of the most devastating wars in the history of human civilization: from Napoleon’s revolutionary army crossing to and retreating from Russia to the two world wars, involving all the major and minor powers, in which more than fifty million people were killed. The latter part of the nineteenth century saw the rapid spread of imperialism to almost all of Africa and Asia (with the exception of Japan), so that before World War II, 80 percent of the land mass of the world, and 80 percent of the world’s peoples, were under Western domination. And the twentieth century saw the rise of the two most deadly ideologies in history, communism and fascism, which ended in the Gulag and the Holocausts of Stalin and Hitler....
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