Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant the accuracy of closed captions. These are derived automatically from the broadcaster's signal.
Civilisation: Is The West History? -

View in ParlView

(generated from captions) (QUIET MUSIC) I want you to help me understand what made Western Civilisation for the last 500 years. dominate the world Shakir? Why did the West dominate the rest? Everyone else had bows and arrows. Guns. First of all, they had guns... They had the attitude that they should probably get on boats and invade other countries. and go Getting in boats. Exploration. of intrepid sailors and soldiers Around 500 years ago, a band of medieval Europe changed the world. from the petty warring kingdoms colonisation and conversion, Thirsting after conquest, commerce, their little nook of Western Eurasia they exported their civilisation from to every corner of the globe. Before long, the world's dominant civilisation. Western civilisation became its way of doing business, The West taught the rest its scientific method, its law and its politics, its way of dressing, of speaking and of praying. The big story is that after 1500, dominated the rest. the West essentially we ignore at our peril And it's a story because today, of tilting westwards, after half a millennium to be tilting to the East. the world seems inexorably the world's biggest economy. China's poised to become Christianity Islam could soon overtake as mankind's favourite faith. So, does all this mean could soon be history? that Western civilisation itself The only way to answer that question is to understand how the West came to be so powerful in the first place. if you've got the right education... Education, a country controls... Like the amount of land of trade... Trade - with the introduction I think we could simplify it. to six things. I have boiled it down the six killer applications - And I'm going to call them that made the West dominate the rest. the killer apps - The first one is Competition. Number 2 killer app is Science. Consumerism. Democracy. Medicine. which you obviously all have. The work Ethic, (STUDENTS LAUGH) the West beat the rest Understanding how not just into the past gives us an insight but also into the future. it helps answer the question And I think you'll agree, of our time: that could be the most important western ascendancy is going to end? Are we the generation on whose watch that our civilisation - We tend to assume for so long - will last forever. the one that's dominated the world It's easy to forget has declined and fallen once before. that Western Civilisation at Caesarea in Israel The ancient Roman ruins here are a pretty potent reminder of that. in the 5th century AD, In the space of just a generation, essentially fell apart. the Roman Empire in Western Europe the roads overgrown, The aqueducts dried up, the circuses deserted. happen to Western Civilisation 2.0 - Question: Could something similar after a millennium of stagnation the version that rose to dominate the world? and by environmental fears, Beset by economic crises to a growing Eastern challenge the West today is also waking up and military supremacy. to its political The evidence is here in China. industrial revolution ever, The biggest and fastest compressed into just 30 years. A self-confident one-party state. on the world stage. A culture reasserting itself the defining political event The ascent of China looks like being of the 21st century. is being wound back 600 years - It's almost as if the clock

to the last time China led the world. The Forbidden City in Beijing. in the early 15th century, Built by the Ming Dynasty are a reminder these awe-inspiring buildings China was a global leader. of the last time They remain as relics in all history. of one of the greatest civilisations that no civilisation lasts forever. But they're also a reminder of their construction, Within a century and the rise of the West had begun. the decline of the East quite extraordinary happened. 500 years ago, something kingdoms of Western Europe The impoverished, petty, strife-torn of uninterrupted expansion. embarked on 5 centuries of the Orient, Meanwhile the magnificent empires by Beijing's Forbidden City, exemplified to Western dominance. stagnated and then succumbed By 1900, if not earlier, subjugated the Resterners. the Westerners had effectively

(PULSATING MUSIC) Western Europe had accounted In 1500, of the world's land surface for only 10 per cent of its population. and at most 16 per cent 11 Western empires By 1913,

of all territory and population controlled more than half of global economic output. and a staggering 80 percent As recently as the 1980s, richer than the average Chinese. the average American was 70 times technology that trumped the East - We tend to assume that it was Western

in particular, the technology the Industrial Revolution. that went on to produce But it wasn't that. and the rest lacked The real killer app that the West had both political and economic. was competition - And the consequences -

and the rise of capitalism - the birth of the nation-state reversal of fortunes. would lead to a remarkable revelation: This is history's greatest not Chinese, came to run the world. how it was that Europeans, (PULSATING MUSIC) What would you have seen along 2 rivers in the year 1420? if you'd taken 2 trips

The Thames and the Yangtze. waterway known as the Grand Canal The Yangtze was part of a vast a thousand miles to the north. that linked Hangzhou with Beijing, of the Canal was part of a plan The restoration and improvement

to stimulate China's economy Ming Emperor known as Yong-le. masterminded by the formidable at Suzhou, with its 53 arches, This is the Precious Belt Bridge

of the Grand Canal. one of the architectural marvels of the Emperor Yong-le, In the reign which means literally "perpetual happiness" 15,000 barges used to sail up and down it every year. Venice, eat your heart out. When the intrepid Venetian Marco Polo had visited China in the 1270s, he'd been astonished by the volume of traffic on the Yangtze : "The multitude of vessels that invest this river is so great "that no one who should read or hear would believe it. "The quantity of merchandise carried "In fact it is so big, that it seems to be a sea rather than a river."

400 miles upstream from the South China Sea, Yong-le controlled his vast empire from the imperial capital, Nanjing. With a population of up to a million, the city was probably the largest in the world. Yong-le didn't believe in doing anything by halves. This is just one volume of the vast encyclopaedia of Chinese literature and learning, which he commissioned. There were 11,095 volumes in total and it was compiled by a team of 2,000 scholars. It was surpassed as the world's largest encyclopaedia only in 2007, after a reign of 600 years - by Wikipedia. But Yong-le was not content with Nanjing. He resolved to build a new and more spectacular capital to the north, in Beijing. By 1420, when the Forbidden City was at last complete, Ming China had an incontrovertible claim to be the most advanced civilisation in the world. It really did seem as if the Emperor Yong-le ruled over 'All Under Heaven'. Contrast Yong-le's realm with that of his contemporaries, Richard II or Henry V. They ruled over a land that was in some ways still mired in the Dark Ages. Its mightiest river, the Thames, was - let's be frank - a primitive backwater. Yes, I know we're taught to think of Henry V

as one of the great heroes of English history, but I'm afraid his kingdom was very far from the 'scepter'd isle' of Shakespeare's famous play. More like a septic isle. There were, of course, some imposing sights on the banks of the Thames, notably a large gaol, the Tower of London. But a visitor from Nanjing would scarcely have been impressed. The Tower of London was a pretty primitive edifice compared with the splendours of the great towers of imperial China. London's old, patched-up city walls extended a paltry 3 miles. By contrast, it took the founder of the Ming Dynasty 21 years to build a wall, more than 20 miles long around his capital city, Nanjing. The gate where I'm sitting could house more than 3,000 soldiers. And as you can see, this was serious bricks and mortar, built to last. By 15th century standards Nanjing was a pretty pleasant place to live.

London wasn't. The ravages of the Black Death, the bubonic plague that had devastated Europe in the early 14th century, had reduced the city's population to around 40,000 - less than a 20th the size of Nanjing's. English life expectancy at birth was a miserable 37 years. Henry V himself became king at the age of 26 and was dead from dysentery by 35. A reminder, by the way, that most History is made by young people.

The ones that survived, that is. Roughly 1 in 5 English children died in the first year of life; in London the figure was nearly 1 in 3.

Violence was endemic. When not fighting the French, the English fought the Welsh... the Scots and the Irish - or themselves. Between 1330 and 1479, a quarter of deaths in the English aristocracy were violent. Life in this period really was, as Thomas Hobbes famously said, "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short". It was also incredibly unhygienic by Oriental standards. Without any proper sewage system, medieval London stank to high heaven, whereas human excrement was routinely collected in Chinese cities and spread on outlying fields. When he was Lord Mayor of London, which was 4 times between 1397 and his death in 1423, Dick Whittington had to watch where he put his feet, because the streets of his city were paved with something very different from gold. And England was probably the most prosperous European country. Life was even nastier, more brutal - and shorter - in France. No, 600 years ago, the idea of a civilised West would have seemed absurd. The future of humanity surely lay in the East. But why was the East so far ahead? (GUNSHOT)

VOICEOVER: The place you grew up in has a lot to do with who you become. Things you learn along the way stick with you, like a job well done is its own reward. We found it takes strength, pride, tenacity to make your mark, to dare to be different. And while a place shapes people, it's the people that make a place what it is,

who we are. You see, we grew up in Newcastle and for nearly 110 years, we've been developing smarter ways to grow your wealth,

easier ways to do your banking, more affordable ways to own your own home, and keeping the banks honest along the way. Now, everywhere we go, around the state, the country, around the world, we find people want the same things. When it comes to banking, you just want a fair go. And that's what we're here for. Long before the Industrial Revolution came to England, China was amazingly inventive. You probably thought Jethro Tull, the English agricultural pioneer invented the seed drill. But, no. The Chinese got there 2,000 years ago. In fact, before 1400, there was a veritable alphabet of Chinese inventions. Astronomical observatories. (CAMERA CLICKS) Card games. (CAMERA CLICKS) The clock. This is the biggest water clock in China. Now, it's not really clear if the Egyptians, the Babylonians or the Chinese invented the water clock. But it was utterly transformed in 1086 by the great Chinese inventor, Su Song. Su Song combined it with a gear-driven escapement

to create the world's first mechanical clock. Nothing remotely so accurate existed in England until the 14th century. Time really did seem to be on China's side. Football. Gunpowder. Ink. Matches.

Paper. The printing press. 15th-century Germany? More like 11th century China.

The Suspension Bridge - China, 2000 years ago. Not to mention the wheelbarrow. And that's not all.

As a new century dawned in 1400, the emperor Yong-Le had another transport technology at his disposal, which had the potential to make him master not just of the Middle Kingdom, but of the entire global market. It was time for Imperial China to set sail. Now that's what I call a ship. What they're building here in Nanjing

is a full-scale replica of one of the treasure ships of Admiral Zheng-he, the most famous sailor in Chinese history, the man who very nearly turned the Middle Kingdom into a global empire. By the time they've finished it'll be 400 feet in length - that's ten times the size of the Santa Maria, the ship that Columbus sailed across the Atlantic ocean in 1492. And there wasn't just one of them. Zheng-he set sail in command of a crew of some 28,000 men in a fleet of dozens of these enormous ships. Zheng-he was an unusual man. Captured in battle at the age of 11, he was castrated and assigned as a servant to the man who would seize the Imperial throne as Yong-le. Yong-le and Zheng-he would become one of the great double acts of Chinese history. (SHIP'S CREW CHANT) Between 1405 and 1424, Admiral Zheng-he's fleet ranged far and wide. They sailed to Calicut, to Malacca, to Ceylon, to Sumatra, to Hormuz, to Aden - some scholars even speculate they reached as far as northern Australia, the Cape of Good Hope and Greenland. And all this was years before the European age of exploration had so much as begun. (PULSATING MUSIC) The main purpose of these visits was not so much to trade but to assert Chinese supremacy.

Who could refuse to kowtow to an Emperor possessed of so mighty a fleet? In 1415, Zheng-he reached the coast of east Africa. In a short time, the fleet was loaded up with representatives of 30 different kings and chiefs ready to acknowledge the "cosmic ascendancy" of the Ming emperor. Down below were stowed a host of exotic animals.

The Sultan of Malindi chose a giraffe to send. Yong-le personally received the animal at the gateway of the Imperial Palace in Nanjing. The giraffe was hailed as a symbol of "perfect virtue, perfect government and perfect harmony "in the empire and the Universe". In many ways, the giraffe perfectly symbolised the zenith of Chinese prestige in the world. And then, in 1424, came news that would fundamentally change not only the history of China, but the history of the world itself. The Emperor Yong-le had died and with him died the dream of Chinese overseas expansion. Within just a few years, China turned in on itself. The death of Yong-le had an immediate and dramatic impact. Under his successors, Zheng-he's voyages were suspended. From 1500, anyone in China found building a ship with more than 2 masts was liable to the death penalty. In 1551, it became a crime even to go to sea on a multi-masted ship. The records of Zheng-he's voyages were destroyed. The tomb of Emperor Yong-le at Chang Ling is an appropriate place to reflect on the huge opportunity that China missed. What lay behind the momentous decision to turn inwards?

Was it fiscal trouble or political wrangles at the imperial court? Was it because the war in Annam, modern-day Vietnam, turned out to be more expensive than anyone had expected? Or, was it just Confucian suspicion of the so-called "strange things" that Admiral Zheng-he had brought home with him? We may never know.

Like the Apollo moon missions, Zheng-he's voyages were carried out at enormous expense. They were a formidable demonstration of power and technological sophistication. But beyond that, to be blunt, they turned out to be pretty pointless. Landing a Chinese eunuch on the East African coast was essentially the same as landing an American on the moon.

Pretty impressive. But so what? What was important was what you did when you got there. China's failure to exploit its advantages left the path of overseas expansion wide open for the West. When the new emperor called home Zheng-he's mighty navy, he virtually guaranteed that it would be the West's version of civilisation that would sweep the globe. These holidays, I have a few questions for you. Would you rather: Should you: Too often I see the trauma when drivers get it wrong.

Choose wisely. (DRAMATIC MUSIC PLAYS) (QUIET MUSIC) Size isn't everything. Admiral Zheng-he's enormous ships and his emperor's grandiose ambitions had done precious little for China. (TRAM BELL RINGS) How very different it would be for the altogether more modest voyages about to be undertaken by a remarkable man from the tiny little European kingdom of Portugal. His name was Vasco da Gama. Da Gama made his country's and his own fortune by cornering the market in the 15th century's favourite food additive: spices. For centuries, the old spice route ran from the Indian Ocean overland across the Arabian peninsula, into the Ottoman Empire and then from Venice into Europe. It was entirely dominated by the Arabs, the Turks and the Venetians. The Portuguese had the brilliant idea that if they could find an alternative route,

all the way around the coast of Africa, round the Cape of Good Hope and into the Indian Ocean, then this business could be theirs.

It was here in the Castle of St George in the hills above Lisbon

that the newly crowned Portuguese King Manuel appointed da Gama to command a fleet of ships "to make discoveries and go in search of spices." King Manuel's orders to Vasco da Gama tell us something very important about the overseas spread of Western Civilisation. As we'll see, there was more than one killer app. But the one that really started the ball rolling was surely competition: both the main driver of capitalism and of the fragmented European state system. For Europeans, exploration was the late 15th century space race. Or rather, spice race.

Da Gama set sail from this spot on the 8th of July 1497. When he and his fellow sailors rounded the Cape of Good Hope, the southernmost tip of Africa, they weren't wondering, as the Chinese had, if they could find some exotic animals to take home to their king - they were wondering if they could make money there. In 1498, more than 80 years after the Chinese explorer Zheng-he had landed at Malindi on the Kenyan coast, Vasco da Gama turned up. He wasn't here to impress the locals, much less to hunt giraffe. He immediately saw Malindi's potential as a trading post.

By 1506, the Portuguese had a near monopoly on shipping along the East African coast. This wasn't the only difference between the Chinese and the Portuguese. There was also a streak of ruthlessness - of downright nastiness - about these Portuguese explorers that Zheng-he seldom evinced. The Portuguese knew they were eating someone else's lunch along with their spices. But they were ready to meet any resistance with cannon fire and cutlass. This is the tomb of Vasco da Gama here in St Jerome's monastery in Lisbon. Da Gama died in 1524 of a fever. But that didn't mark the end of Portuguese ambitions. Explorers like him pressed on, beyond India as far as China. The great reversal of fortunes was now unstoppable. Along with Portugal, Spain had been first off the mark, seizing the initiative in the New World. (MARCHING MUSIC) The Dutch weren't far behind, building up a hugely profitable trading company by following the spice route to Indonesia. They, in turn, were closely followed by the French. (CANNON FIRES) (BELL TOLLS) And what of the English whose territorial ambitions had once extended no further than France and whose one big economic idea had been to sell wool to the Italians? How could they possibly sit on the sidelines with news coming in

that their arch enemies the Spaniards were making a killing overseas? By the 17th century, the Thames was no longer a provincial backwater. It was the hub of Britain's burgeoning overseas empire. The docks at Deptford were producing ocean-going ships by the dozen. In 1635, the first English merchantmen arrived in Chinese waters. Once, when Zheng-he had sailed the high seas, China had been able to regard distant Europeans with indifference, if not contempt. Now, trading rivalry had brought the barbarians to China. And with each new trading post, each new warehouse, each new fort, Western civilisation uploaded its unique killer app

of commercial competition. The question is: Why did the Europeans have that fervour when the Chinese didn't?

Why was Vasco da Gama so clearly hungry for money - hungry enough to kill for it? Well, you can find the answer here in the bowels of the British Library by looking at wonderful old maps like this one, which is of the city-state of Lubeck

dating back to 1530. It's just one long - very long - celebration of local autonomy. And it was a pattern repeated throughout Europe. In Venice, la Serenissima... here in Frankfurt, on the banks of the River Maine... and of course in London itself. It wasn't just London pride - all the great European cities were proud of their own autonomy. I can't help feeling that the message of these maps is 'divide and rule' - except that it was by being divided that the Europeans ended up ruling the rest of the world. Small was beautiful in the Middle Ages because smallness meant competition - competition between states - and within states, between companies. Compare that with China with its one monolithic empire. Whereas in China, power was centralised in the hands of the Emperor, in northern Europe particularly there was an astonishing decentralisation: hundreds of states and city-states competing against each other. In England, the most important commercial centre in the country was almost completely autonomous. The City of London Corporation can trace its origins back to the 12th century. That means that the Lord Mayor, the Sheriffs, the City Council, the Freemen, the Liverymen and the Aldermen are all more than 800 years old - making this the world's oldest autonomous commercial institution. In many ways,

it's the forerunner of today's multinational corporations. In other ways, it's the forerunner of democracy itself. The City was never in awe of the Crown. And the wealthier the City became, the more leverage it had. Loans to the Crown became the key to urban autonomy.

And the masters of the medieval universe were the livery companies. And that is where power used to lie. With the drapers, the goldsmiths, the grocers, the haberdashers, ironmongers, mercers, the salters, the shearers, the skinners, not forgetting the tailors and the vintners. Dating back to the Middle Ages, they're a reminder of the amazing power, economic and political, that used to be wielded by London's craftsmen and merchants. (CLOCKS TICK) And craftsmanship brings us back to that great Chinese invention: The clock. (CLOCK CHIMES) So this was the cutting edge of time-keeping technology. Yes, totally correct. This was - no-one else in the world could match the skills or abilities of the English clock maker. There's no better metaphor for the relentless shift of global power than the clock. The English mechanical clock was not only more accurate than the Chinese water clock, it was also designed to be sold widely, rather than monopolised by the Emperor's astronomers. Clocks often were made for a story, and in this clock, Nebuchadnezzar is sleeping in the left hand corner of the screen and he's having a dream: the axe-man is chopping the tree of life down and the whole world will come to an end and we'll all die. (CLOCKS TICK AND CHIME)

Is this the kind of clock that you sent to foreigners to impress them? That is exactly it. You're showing off your technology is better than theirs. (CLOCK CHIME) The rise of the clock and later the portable watch went hand in hand with the rise of Europe

and the spread of Western Civilisation. And with every new individual timepiece, a little bit more time ran out for the age of Oriental predominance. While Europe was a patchwork quilt,

China remained a vast monochrome blanket. Not even the most pretentious European court could match the Ming dynasty's authority. The Forbidden City in Beijing is just one vast monument to the unity of imperial power. Just take a walk from the Protecting Harmony Hall to the Middle Harmony Hall, where the emperor had his private quarters, to the Hall of Supreme Harmony, where the Dragon Throne itself sat. Harmony, harmony, harmony -

it's a kind of codeword for unity, for undivided imperial authority. This simply had no counterpart

among the fractured and competing states and cities of 15th century Europe. In China, imperial rule was implemented by a Confucian bureaucracy, recruited on the basis of perhaps the most terrifying set of exam papers in all history. This photograph is of the central examination compound in Nanjing. Thousands of wannabe mandarins would be locked in these cells, just 3 and a half feet deep, about the same width and only 5 and a half feet high. During the time an examination lasted, the only movement allowed was the passage of servants replenishing food and water supplies, or removing human waste. Some candidates went completely insane under the pressure. No doubt after 9 long days shut in a shoebox it was the most able, or the certainly most indefatigable candidates who passed the imperial examination. But this was an exam that rewarded caution, even conformity.

It was competitive, certainly - but not the kind of competition that fosters innovation, much less the appetite for change. Confucius said, among other things that:

"The common man marvels at uncommon things... "..the wise man marvels at the commonplace." But maybe there was just a bit too much that was commonplace about the way Ming China was governed. And in a world that refused to stand still, that was a recipe for trouble. Big trouble. (BELL RESOUNDS) (TRANQUIL MUSIC) Great empires are complex things. For centuries, they can bask in a sweet spot of power and prosperity. But then, often quite suddenly, they can collapse. Let's look again at what happened to Imperial China. The Ming dynasty had been born in 1368. And as we've seen, for more than a century after that,

Ming China was the world's most sophisticated civilisation by almost any measure. But then, in the mid 17th century, the wheels came flying off. Political factionalism, fiscal crisis and famine opened the door to rebellion and invasion.

The results were devastating: conflict and disease reduced the Chinese population by as much as 40 per cent. In 1644, the last Ming Emperor hanged himself, out of shame. This dramatic transition from Confucian equipoise to anarchy

had taken little more than a decade. What had gone wrong? Well, the answer is that turning inwards proved fatal for a complex and densely populated society like China's. The Ming system had created a kind of high equilibrium trap - outwardly it was very impressive, but on the inside it was highly fragile. The least little thing caused the trap to snap shut because there were no external resources to draw on. And that explains why Zheng-he, the personification of early Chinese expansionism for so long forgotten... is a hero in today's newly-globalised China. In the words of China's great economic reformer of the 1980s, Deng Xiaoping: "No country that wishes to become developed today "can pursue closed-door policies. "When Zheng-he sailed the Western Ocean, our country was open. "After Yong Le died, the dynasty went into decline "and became backward and mired in darkness and ignorance." That's a plausible reading of history. (QUIET MUSIC) As England's population growth accelerated in the late 17th century, trade brought an influx of new nutrients like potatoes and sugar, while colonisation allowed the emigration of surplus people. Over time, the effect was to raise productivity, incomes, nutrition and even height. In contrast, by turning away from foreign trade and intensifying rice cultivation, the Chinese were stuck with rising population, falling incomes and declining nutrition, height and productivity. The English got better stimulants too: they got the coffee house... while the Chinese got the opium den. In 1793, the first Earl Macartney led an expedition to the Qianlong Emperor, in a vain effort to persuade the Chinese to re-open their empire to trade. Macartney brought with him ample tribute: the most advanced scientific instruments,

including the finest clocks that England could make.

As he later wrote: "The Emperor and his minions were unimpressed. "It was discovered that the taste for science, if it ever existed, "was now completely worn out. "This intricate workmanship was all lost "and thrown away on the ignorant Chinese." Unrepentant in his isolation, the emperor addressed a dismissive message to King George III: "There is nothing we lack. "We have never set much store on strange or ingenious objects." Except maybe those nice English clocks.

I'm standing here in the heart of the Forbidden City entirely surrounded by clocks. It's just that all these clocks were either manufactured by or designed by Englishmen. Nothing could better symbolise the transition of power from East to West. The Chinese had invented the mechanical clock but now the imperial court was reduced to accepting superior timepieces as gifts from Europeans. And when they broke down, the Chinese couldn't even mend them. (CLOCK TICKS)

The West's ascendancy was perfectly symbolised in June 1842, when British ships sailed up the Yangtze to the Grand Canal in retaliation for the destruction of opium by a zealous Chinese official. China had to pay an indemnity of 21 million silver dollars, cede the island of Hong Kong and open five ports to British trade, including this one. This is one of the great outposts of British penetration of Asia; the Shanghai Bund. The old headquarters of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank

used to be described as the most luxurious building between the Suez Canal and the Bering Strait. It was ironic but perhaps appropriate that the first "Unequal Treaty" between Britain and China was signed here at the Jinghai Temple, built by the Emperor Yong-le more than four centuries before, in honour of Admiral Zheng-he, master and commander of the last imperial super-ship. (CONSTRUCTION NOISE) Today, they're building ocean-going ships again in China. Vast ships capable of bringing back the raw materials necessary to feed China's insatiably growing industrial economy. Competition; markets; profits; capitalism... these are things that China once turned its back on. Well, not any more. I'm standing on a crane in the biggest shipyard in China. Now, if 30 years ago you'd predicted that China's would be the second largest economy by 2011 and the largest by 2030, I think you'd have been dismissed as a fantasist. But it would have seemed equally fantastic in 1420 to have predicted Western ascendancy. The point is that in the course of the 15th century, Europeans discovered the joys of competition, both economic and political. And in a competition for control of the Asian spice trade, capitalism was born and, with it, the foundation for a world dominated by Western civilisation. The kind of economically-driven civilisation that today seems to be working rather better in the East. Yet competition was only one of the killer apps of Western dominance. In the next episode of Civilisation I'll ask why it was that the scientific revolution happened only in the West, and failed to take off even in those parts of the Eastern world that had once been pioneers of mathematics and astronomy. Why, in short, was there no Isaac Newton in Istanbul? Captions (c) SBS Australia 2012