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posted on 24 May 2017

Human History Greatly Simplified

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The first civilization started in Egypt about 6,000 years ago. However, it was not until about 3,000 years ago, when several written languages (e.g. Greek, Hebrew, and Chinese) were developed, that human societies started advancing significantly, from philosophy (e.g. Greek and Chinese) to religion (e.g. Judaism), with a recorded history.

Now, let me present a greatly simplified version of human history over the past 2,000 years ...


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1. Overview

Simply put, the human history of the past 2,000 years was chiefly written by the West and China, with the Arabs, Mongols, and Turks (Ottoman Empire) each writing one, but comparatively minor, chapter in between. So let's just focus on the West and China.

Recently, I have compared the West and China with a series of articles:

  1. Ancient Greece vs. Ancient China.
  2. Ancient Rome vs. Ancient China.
  3. The Era of the Byzantine Empire vs. Ancient China.
  4. Spanish & British Empires vs. China.
  5. Jesus Christ vs. Confucius.
  6. Civilizations: It’s the Written Languages, Stupid!
  7. There is No God – Not in China, Nor Elsewhere!

Let me simply summarize them.

2. China vs. the West: Round 1 (200BC - 1500AD)

Throughout this period, China was ahead of the West in almost everything (e.g. economy, language arts, and Four Great Inventions: Compass, Gunpowder, Papermaking, and Printing), except for religion (There is No God - Not in China, Nor Elsewhere!) and dome architecture (The Era of the Byzantine Empire vs. Ancient China).

Chinese civilization over the past 2,300 years was primarily defined by the First Emperor, with his realistic vision of "one written language, one culture, and one Emperor".

In contrast, western civilizations were primarily shaped by the Romans, who, via both the Western and Eastern Roman Empires, dominated the West throughout this period most of the time. However, unlike the Chinese who were unified in one written language and one culture, the Romans had to live with multiple languages (e.g. Latin and Greek) and multiple cultures. As a result, the Roman dream of "one state, one society, and one ideology" was always elusive, no matter how hard the Romans tried, including possibly the creation of Christianity, as we know it today, as the unifying ideology. For more, read: Did the Romans Create both Christianity and Islam?

3. China vs. the West: Round 2 (1500 - 1945)

Throughout this period, China first stagnated and then languished, while the West dramatically expanded, not only to the "new" world (e.g. the Americas), but also to the backward parts of the old world (e.g. India and Southeast Asia), with England being most "successful".

America, however independent we may claim to be, will most likely be forever viewed as an extension of the British Empire, thanks to English, the language!

4. China vs. the West: Round 3 (1945 - Present)

For China, this period can be divided into two phases:

  1. A near-death experience, thanks to communism (1949 - 1976).
  2. A dramatic comeback, thanks to state capitalism (1978 - present).

For the West, this period is led by America in two phases:

  1. Unprecedented prosperity in America (1945 - 2000).
  2. America's dramatic decline (2001 - present).

With no more new land to be discovered and no more new people to be subjugated, the West, led by America, must compete with China on more equal footings. Three important keys:

  1. The political systems: China's is slightly better than America's. For more, read: Towards an Ideal Form of Government (Version 3).
  2. Natural resources: America is in far better shape than China.
  3. Human resources: America has some advantages (e.g. English as the world's language), while China has some too (e.g. a better educated population, for the top 10% at least).

The biggest X-factor is religion: to what extent religion will influence, or even shape, America: from the political system (Church vs. State) to the human resources (America: A Culture of War and America: Stop Islam Bashing!)? For more, read: There is No God - Not in China, Nor Elsewhere!

5. Closing

It is presumptuous, especially for the rest of the world, to see the world history of the past 2,000 years be simplified like this as the West vs. China. But it is very useful to understand today’s world (e.g. At least 22 dead, 59 injured in suicide attack at Manchester Arena), as well as tomorrow’s (e.g. Duterte: West is all ‘double talk’, I want China and Russia).

Now, please sit back and enjoy the short video below.

andrew.sullivan.facebook.video

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