Intensely Conflicting Debates, Thus Change: Why the Superiority of ACE, the Area Of Cultural Europe:
First, let me remind the reader that here by “Europe” is meant the European Cultural Area. This is vastly larger than “Europe” in the ridiculous sense given to this term usually. “Europa” was a Phoenician princess for an excellent reason: the Greeks knew very well how much they culturally owed to the Middle Earth. Let me rephrase this “European Cultural Area” as the AREA OF CULTURAL EUROPE (ACE)… for obvious acronymic reasons.
(The Mongols, back in their Mongolian capital of Karakorum, in the 13th Century, felt that they belonged to ACE; they had the concept; thus they recruited many Parisian artisans, including one who built the world’s fanciest fountain, flowing with precious liquids… Earlier, Genghis Khan top generals, pondering the situation from Hungary, remembering what had happened to their ancestors, the Huns, eight centuries prior, decided to not attack France, although their spearheads were on the Adriatic sea, and all European forces had been defeated, but for the French…)
ACE is a huge expanse of the world where physical geography was friendly to fast, secure, intense communications (through the steppe, the desert, the Sahel, the oceans, the seas, and the rivers; this maybe a factor explaining the less great genetic variability in Eurasia than in Africa, let me point out in passing).
The Area of Cultural Europe (ACE) is a gigantic crescent from Korea, to Ireland, back down to the Sahara, and all the way back to India. ACE is why the Koreans, the Mongols, and the Vietnamese use an alphabet.
Now even the Chinese have to use an alphabet (something they have to do when typing, because one cannot have a keyboard with 2,500 common characters!). ACE got to the alphabet first. But it took 3,000 years, and the cooperation of many locations, from egypt to Phoenicia, to Sumer. For numeration, it took even longer, and the location of the invention spreads from Egypt to India, to Central Asia to Greece.
China is adopting the alphabet, not because China is a European political colony, but because the alphabet was the best solution for a writing system. ACE is all about the best solutions. Finding best solutions is what the gigantic ACE produced, better than any other place in the world.
Pondering “How Did EUROPE Become So SUPERIOR?” Picard578 on February 23, 2017, said:
One important aspect in Europe’s domination was its fragmentation. Combination of cultural diversity and political fragmentation enabled it rapid advancement, which placed it into position to culturally and politically dominate the world. It did lead to conflicts, but without conflicts there is no change.
Patrice Ayme’: Greece was already fragmented, and the same argument, that fragmentation is good, was used to explain Greek superiority. Moreover, there are different types of fragmentation. It can be political, military, intellectual, economic.
Greek intellectual superiority was pretty much confined to Athens and Ionian cities. Sparta was an intellectual Black Hole, except in two ways: gender equality, and equality among “Equals” (top Spartans were called “Equals”).
Sparta went to all the way to destroy Athens, even allying itself with Persia to do so. In the end, Athens came close to destruction, Sparta collapsed into nothingness. However, the spirit of mental innovation of Greece got mangled in the process, and discouraged by the powers that be, all the more as the Macedonians established a sort of world dictatorship.
When one considers the peak mental periods of Athens and Ionian cities, one finds the same: great commercial energy, military power, extreme democracy, and enormous existential threats over the horizon. The great enemy of Greece was fascism from a giant plutocratic empire, Persia, and Greek innovation was first outlawed and then discouraged by even greater fascist imperial plutocrats: first from Macedonia, then from Rome, and finally from Arabia.
Extreme democracy caused an overabundance of mental productivity (any Athenian citizen, drawn by lot, could find himself at the head of the state, politically or judicially; thus Athenians paid a lot of attention to knowledge and wisdom, lest they be ridiculous when nominated).
Athenian total democracy was at her most mentally productive when she was an empire who got her wheat from the Black Sea, a 1,000 miles away.
Greece was rendered possible by the fact all Greeks spoke Greek (although Spartans’ Dorian accent was hard to understand; hard-to-communicate-with Spartans were too weird by half!)
Europe returned to greatness when the Franks established the Imperium Francorum whose Lingua Franca was Latin. (the franks were smart enough to speak Latin).
When the Imperium Francorum progressed quickly in all ways (from abrogation of slavery, nationalization of the church, mandatory education) it was indeed pretty much in continual strife. So the assertion that without conflicts there is no change, is indeed correct, and central to my own philosophy.
However, conflict has to be kept within bounds.
In 800 CE, the Franks officially proclaimed the “Renovation of the Roman Empire” (in the Tenth Century, the Parisians and Western Francia went their own way; but the empire can be viewed as ongoing to this day: all of the present European states, led by Francia which is still around, descend from the “Renovatio Imperium Romanorum, including Great Britain, which was reconquered in 1066 CE).
Charlemagne himself saw the first raids of the Viking. (Ironically, six centuries earlier, the Franks themselves had appeared in history as raiders of Roman rivers, all the way down to Spain!) Soon, Vikings, Saracens and Mongols (Avars) would attack the empire from three sides. And they attacked for centuries, because Europe was so rich, while the defense budget was low.
European defense was weak from lack of will: for centuries the Franks had been hyper aggressive, hell-bent as they were to succeed where the Romans had failed earlier, and conquer Eastern Europe.
After 800 CE, with the Roman empire officially reconstituted, the Franks got, correctly, worried about the main reason for the Romans’ failure: political fascism.
In theory leaders of the Franks (= kings) were elected (differently from the Roman emperors, where a formal election system did not exist). Another factor was that Frankish law insured equality of inheritance (even women could inherit if full, if they had no brother). Thus the Frankish/Renovated Roman empire found it hard to stay in one piece, politically.
The result was a politico-military mess which lasted until the European Union.
In Greece, political fragmentation was deadly to democracy: Athens was occupied by anti-democratic forces for more than 21 centuries: the Muslims got ejected from Athens only in 1834 CE.
Intellectual diversity and debate are crucial. That can be insured only within an empire of manners which are good enough. Debate should not turn to hatred and war (we see some of this in the US now).
The lessons of ACE, the Area of Cultural Europe, are many. The first one is a meta-lesson: we should try to reproduce deliberately, worldwide, the ways which made ACE so innovative.