Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Six Killer Apps of Western Civ

At the end of China's "Cultural Revolution" (and the murder of tens of millions of Chinese by the Communists), the average American was 20 times richer than the average Chinese. Historian Niall Ferguson attributes this economic growth to "Six Killer Apps" or institutions unique to the West:

He lists the following as sources of economic wealth, arising largely after 1800:

1. Competition
2. The Scientific Revolution
3. Property Rights
4. Modern Medicine
5. The Consumer Society
6. The Work Ethic

To the extent that these are valuable and durable institutions, they are Christian institutions. "The State" is destructive of Christian institutions.

1. "Competition" means "freedom." The State hates competition. The State is itself a monopoly. The State attracts those who hate competition like a light attracts moths.

2. The Scientific Method "is not Western, but Christian," concluded Stanley Jaki, a prizewinning historian of science. (Jaki is discussed by Tom Woods in a book we referenced back in 2007.)

3. Property rights are described by the Prophet Micah:

And each of them will sit
under his vine and under his fig tree,
With no one to make them afraid.

80% of people living in Protestant nations own property. 10% in non-Christian nations.

More private property has been confiscated by thieves in the public sector than by thieves in the private sector. The greatest enemy of private property is archism.

4. Modern medicine stands in contrast to shamanism. Science and healing are dominion and charity. It was missionaries that took medicine to Africa. The availability of modern medicine to the masses is the product of private property and

5. The Consumer Society
Ferguson notes that most of the world's wealth (over $100 Trillion), was created after 1800. This also marks the rise of secularism in the west. Does this show that economic growth is better served by secularism than by Christianity? Economists consider porno DVD's as "wealth." Value is subjective. "The Consumer Society" is both a covetous and an idolatrous society. "The Consumer Society" eventually becomes the Warfare Society, to protect and conquer coveted "wealth." In the medieval era, wars were limited events fought by professional soldiers, and left workers and consumers alone. With the rise of "the consumer society," wars are fought by and against consumers, slaughtering them on a massive scale. Again, the State is the beneficiary.

What Ferguson should have identified as the valuable institution ("app") is the Division of Labor.

6. The Work Ethic, once known as the Protestant Work Ethic, is now the South Korean work ethic. The education of the average 15 year old in Shanghai is now superior to that of the average American teen to the same degree that the average American's test scores are higher than the average teenager from Albania or Tunisia.

The Calvinist Work Ethic was the doctrine that being a butcher, a baker, or a candlestick maker was every bit as holy as being a priest, and that God blessed work with economic prosperity as a foretaste of eternal salvation. Calvin was opposed to the covetous consumer society.

The rise of secularism, consumerist "wealth," and the mega-warfare/welfare state, coincide with the death of the Protestant Work Ethic.

"Western Civilization" is Christian Civilization.
"The Consumer Society" is not.

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