Why did a few small polities in Europe come to dominate the rest of the world? Ferguson attributes this to the West’s development of six “killer apps”, which he claims are largely missing elsewhere in the world – “competition, science, the rule of law, medicine, consumerism and the work ethic”.
Ferguson compared and contrasted how the West’s “killer apps” allowed the West to triumph over “the Rest”. Thus, Ferguson argued the rowdy and savage competition between European merchants created far more wealth than did the static and ordered society of Qing China. That the tolerance extended to thinkers like Sir Isaac Newton in Stuart England had no counterpart in the Ottoman Empire where Takiyuddin‘s “blasphemous” observatory was demolished for contradicting the teachings of Islam; and because respect for private property was far stronger in British America than it ever was in Spanish America, which led to the United States and Canada becoming prosperous societies while Latin America was and remains mired in poverty.
However, Ferguson also argued that the modern West had lost its edge and the future belongs to the nations of Asia, especially China, which has adopted the West’s “killer apps”. Ferguson argues that in the coming years will see a steady decline of the West and China and the rest of the Asian nations will be the rising powers.