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Civilisation: Is The West History? -

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(generated from captions) (PULSATING MUSIC) For the last 500 years has dominated the world. Western civilisation its way of doing business, The West taught the Rest its scientific method, its law and politics, and its way of dressing. at the 6 unique factors. In this series, I'm looking the killer applications I'm calling them that the West ruled over the Rest. that ensured our monopoly on those killer apps, And I'm asking: if we lose

catch up with the West? could the Rest

in history It wouldn't be the first time civilisation has been threatened. the ascendency of Western of the Roman Empire' In his 'Decline and Fall gave a vivid account the historian Edward Gibbon 1600 years ago. of the last time the West collapsed through a kind of nightmare sequel: Today many of us fear we're living Decline and Fall Revisited. Financially and climatically, seem to be all around us. signs of impending disaster civilisation all over again? Is this the end of Western 5 of the killer apps So far I've explored its advantage over the Rest that gave the West of the past half millennium. for the better part until last. But I've saved a key killer app and contentious argument Edward Gibbon's most radical was a fatal solvent was that Christianity of Western civilisation. of the first version What a rich irony, then, provided the 6th killer application that a variant of Christianity for Western Civilisation Mark 2. that arose in 16th century Europe - It was a variant to which it famously gave its name. Protestantism and the work ethic, The Protestant work ethic

of Western civilisation. was critical to the success have we lost it... But the big question today is: when others have found it? just at the time (BIRDS CHIRP) (CHURCH BELLS)

of Western civilisation. It was one of the great mysteries Why was it industrialist in the 19th century if you were a wealthy European be a Protestant? you would also most likely In the 16th century many north European states the Reformation had led from the Roman Catholic Church. to break away a shift of economic power At the same time, there had been like Italy and Spain from Catholic countries like England and Germany. towards Protestant countries was some kind of connection It seemed as if there the form of your worship between the content of your faith, and your economic fortunes. what was it about Protestantism The question was: not only work harder, that made people but save and accumulate capital? such an integral part Just why was Protestantism success story? of Western civilisation's with the best answer to that question Well, the man who came up and in the process was a depressive German professor, its most enduring catch-phrase he gave sociology perhaps 'the Protestant work ethic'. Max Weber was a precocious youth. He grew up here in Erfurt, of the German Reformation. one of the great strongholds By the age of 14, with references to classical authors Weber was writing letters studded like Homer, Virgil, and Cicero. But the older he got that interested him. the more it was religion Weber wondered, What it was about the Reformation, more capitalism-friendly that had made the north of Europe than the South? to give Weber the real key It took a trip way out West unique workaholic ethic. to the West's (NOSTALGIC MUSIC) to St Louis, Missouri In 1904 Weber travelled here of Arts and Sciences to attend the Congress at the World's Fair. of the World's Fair. This is the last surviving pavilion was blown away when he came here. And you can see why Weber of these huge buildings There were literally dozens scattered all over a 200-acre site - with the latest products and each one was jam-packed of the Age of Industry. of American capitalism. It was a cornucopia

lights of the Palace of Electricity. Weber was dazzled by the shining Thomas Edison himself, was on hand, The Alternating Current King, of American entrepreneurship. the personification with marvels of modern technology, St Louis was brimming to titanic steel plates from telephones to motion pictures. about the 1904 St Louis World's Fair The amazing thing it was the fact wasn't just it's size; of these huge purpose-built pavilions that inside every single one was actually willing to pay to see. there was something the public This thing made a profit. the dynamism of this society, What could possibly explain seem stolid and staid by comparison? which made even industrial Germany Almost manically restless, in search of an answer. Weber rushed around the United States (GENTLE MUSIC) (TRAIN PASSES) from St Louis to Oklahoma, Travelling by train like Bourbon and Cuba... through small Missouri towns Weber finally got it. (CHURCH BELL RINGS) of St James, Missouri, This is the little town about 100 miles west of St Louis,

that sprang up along the railroads and one of 1000s of settlements American thrust westwards. that spearheaded the great about a century ago Now, when Max Weber came here he couldn't help being struck of churches there were - by the extraordinary number of every conceivable denomination. to be a kind of holy alliance Wherever Weber looked, there seemed and the Protestant faith. between economic growth in Heidelberg When Weber returned to his study of his seminal 2-part essay, he wrote the second part and the Spirit of Capitalism'. 'The Protestant Ethic the key component of Protestantism In it, he identified that fostered economic success. associated holiness Whereas other religions with a renunciation of the world - and hermits in caves - monks in cloisters were different. the Protestant sects could be expressions For them, thrift and industry of a new kind of hard-working holiness. (ORGAN CHURCH MUSIC) For most of history, men had worked to live. But the Protestants lived to work. And this work ethic, Weber argued, was the key to the spirit of capitalism. His core argument was that Protestants worked hard out of a kind of godly calling. They were working, accumulating capital and deferring consumption in order to prove their own godliness. In earlier programmes, we saw how Confucianism has been blamed for Imperial China's failure to have an industrial revolution. We saw how the power of the clergy snuffed out any chance of a scientific revolution in the Islamic world. And we saw how Protestant North America pulled ahead of Catholic South America. But the biggest contribution of religion to the history of Western Civilisation was this. Protestantism made the West work. The question is: has part of the West today lost both religion and the work ethic that went with it? WOMAN: Every time I go to work I find it interesting and challenging and you get to meet all sorts of different people

and you get to do something for them when they really need somebody there to assist them. It's fantastic to have new nurses and they come with a great deal of passion for nursing and that's always great. VOICEOVER: With funding won, nurse-to-patient ratios are now being filled in public hospitals. This will lead to better care for patients. The pace of the ward has slowed down. It's a lot calmer. Things can be done more safely. It's terrific to have more time to look after the patients. It's really satisfying to be able to go to work and feel like you've done a really good job and that you've actually spent time with people. (CLERGYMAN PREACHES) The Protestant ethic seemed to Max Weber to be the key to the spirit of Western capitalism - one of the things that set the West apart from the other-worldly and often indolent Orient. For a long time, the theory seemed to hold good. Through a mixture of hard work and thrift, the Protestant societies of the North and West Atlantic achieved the most rapid economic growth in history. But today, there's a schism at the heart of Christendom. Europeans these days work a whole lot less than their American counterparts. And they don't only work less - they pray less. In England, for example, fewer than 2 percent of the population now attends a Church of England service on a typical Sunday. It's a real anomaly in a world where, everywhere else, religious faith is not just strong, but growing.

So just who killed Christianity in Europe? (CAR HORNS) Was it, as Weber himself predicted,

that materialism corrupted the original austerity of the Protestants? Was it the legacy of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, which successfully supplanted the Biblical story of divine creation? (CHURCH BELL AND COIN CLINKS) (CLERGYMAN PREACHES) Or could it be that European Christianity was killed by selfishness itself: the chronic egotism of modern culture? Was the murderer of Europe's Protestant work ethic none other than this man: the Viennese psychotherapist, Sigmund Freud? (CHURCH BELL RINGS) (Sighs) I don't know what it is but I'm... (sighs) I'm really depressed. I'm haunted by a fear of my own death. And by guilt. Terrible guilt. Guilt about... my parents. About my wife. About my kids. I don't know what I'm going to do. (Sighs) My analyst thinks it could be my mother. I mean she's not Jewish but she could be. But I think it's more likely my father - this insane Protestant work ethic. All I ever got all my life was: "Work, more work." Every problem, the same solution: "Do some more work." But that's enough about me. Tell me, Dr Freud, what do you think my problem is? (JEWISH MUSIC) In The Future of an Illusion, the founding father of psychoanalysis came up with a different story from Max Weber's. For Freud, religion wasn't the driving force behind the achievements of Western civilisation. Instead, it was essentially an 'illusion'... a 'universal neurosis' devised by civilisation to prevent people from giving way to their basic instincts. In particular their sexual desires and violent, destructive, impulses. Freud's point was this: if you took away the prohibitions of religion, then men would feel free to sleep with any woman they wanted whenever they wanted. They'd feel free to kill their rivals and grab their property. The whole point about religion was that it prohibited sexual promiscuity and violence. Was Freud saying that religion was a necessary prop for a civilised society? Or was he siding with those who felt their innermost urges were being thwarted - repressed - by superstitious mumbo-jumbo? (JAZZ MUSIC) Perhaps it was Freud's theories, with their negative view of repression - and their explicit sympathy with the erotic impulse - that persuaded Europeans to exit the churches... and enter the sex shops. For many people, this is what Western civilisation has now been reduced to: a spiritually vacuous celebration of the pleasures of the flesh. Maybe, in short, it was porn that killed God in Europe. (ELECTRICAL SHORT) The trouble with all these theories about the death of Protestantism is that they explain everything about Europe's de-Christianisation, but nothing whatsoever about America's continued Christian faith. You see, Americans have experienced just the same social and cultural changes as Europeans. They've become richer. Their knowledge of science has increased. And they're even more into psychoanalysis and pornography than Europeans. But while Christianity in Europe is moribund, here in the United States it's thriving. Indeed by some measures Jesus and Christianity are bigger in America today than they were 50 years ago, and here is the evidence. 1000s of worshippers piling into church on a Sunday morning the way the English these days pile into shopping malls. And, no, this is a church, not a shopping mall. So how can we explain the fact that Western civilisation appears to have split in 2? (CLERGYMAN PREACHES) To the East a godless Europe, to the West a God-fearing America. The best answer can be found here in Springfield, Missouri, birthplace of the legendary highway linking Chicago and California - 'Route 66'. Max Weber passed through here on his road trip back in 1904.

If he was impressed by the diversity of Protestant sects a 100 years ago, he'd be astonished today. Now it's not your kicks you get on Route 66 - it's your crucifix. Springfield has roughly 1 church for every 1000 citizens. There are 122 Baptist churches, 36 Methodist chapels, 25 Churches of Christ and 15 Churches of God - in all, some 400 Christian places of worship. And as Weber pointed out, these churches are involved in a competition that today is just as hot as that between car lots or fast food joints. And this is it: the winner in the Springfield battle of the churches. It's the James River Assembly,

and it's not only the biggest church in Springfield, it's one of the biggest in the whole of the United States. You are awesome and you are great. Church, all over this place, can we just worship a little? Would you lift your hands and begin to praise Him in your own words how good and how great He is... (MODERN CHURCH MUSIC) On a Sunday, they pack around 7000 believers into James River Assembly. Its pastor John Lindell certainly believes in the potent mix of work and religion: You might think you're all alone, but if you love God, He's right there with you and He's your stronghold. So, Max Weber came to these parts almost exactly a 100 years ago and was struck by the relationship between these very diverse, vibrant churches competing with one another,

and economic life which seemed to be equally more vibrant than in, in Europe. Do you see there as being a link between the spiritual and the economic in America? Absolutely. I mean, and I think it's as simple as this: that when a, when a person has had their life touched by God, immediately there's going to be an optimism, because the bible says, if God be for us, he can't be against us. There's also going to be a sense of purpose, of something beyond myself, and work itself becomes a means of glorifying God, because the bible says you're not working for your, your master, you're working for the Lord. So there's no question when somebody is serving God, their quality of life and their focus in life really changes. And I think that contributes to prosperity. So the Protestant ethic is alive and well and living in Springfield, Missouri? I think it is. We praise You, the master. Ask yourself: what is the single biggest difference between religion in America and religion in Europe? I think the answer is that the Reformation in Europe ended up being nationalised, and the result was the creation of state monopoly churches like the Church of England. But here in the United States they maintained the separation of church and state, and the result was competition between multiple churches. (CHURCH BELLS) And that may be the real reason for the strange death of religion in Europe. In religion as in business, state monopolies are inefficient. There's only one problem with turning religion into a form of consumption. Americans have drifted a very long way away from Max Weber's version of the Protestant ethic,

in which deferred gratification went hand in hand with capital accumulation. We've just lived through an experiment: capitalism without saving. And it didn't turn out too well, did it? In the United States during the housing bubble, the savings rate fell to zero and total debt exceeded 3 and a half times national income. The Protestant ethic without thrift turned out to be a recipe for financial meltdown. But that isn't true everywhere. In parts of the world that seek to emulate the American economic miracle, retail religion and feel-good faith have retained the Protestant ethic. Yup, I'm talking about Asia. (CROWD NOISE) (ROCK MUSIC PLAYS) Waiting for a train to pass might cost you a few minutes of your time. (TRAIN SCREECHES) (BABY LAUGHS) (CHEERING, APPLAUSE) Good one, mate. (WOMAN LAUGHS) (WEDDING BELLS CHIME) But consider what you could lose if you ignore the signals and don't stop. According to a recent survey there are now around 40 million Protestant Christians in China, compared with barely half a million in 1949. Some estimates put the maximum even higher at 75 or 110 million.

This is the Nanjing Amity Printing Company, the biggest manufacturer of bibles in the entire world. Since 1986 they've produced 70 million of the things, 50 million of them in Mandarin and other Chinese dialects. In the beginning was the word. In the end, there was this place. Today, there may actually be more practising Christians in China than in Europe. (WORSHIPPERS SING AMAZING GRACE) That's an amazing fact considering how much resistance there's been throughout Chinese history to the spread of Christianity. In programme 1 of this series I argued that after the 14th century, China's wealth and power were fatally undermined because the Chinese failed to grasp the killer app of competition. But that wasn't the only app they lacked for half a millennium. The other was the Protestant work ethic. The historical failure of Protestantism to take root in China is actually something of a puzzle. It wasn't as if Westerners didn't try to give the Chinese the Good News. In the 19th century, as you can see from this amazing map... Western missionary societies took China by storm, sending literally 100s of young men and women to try to convert the world's most populous nation.

(GENTLE MUSIC) Many of them ended up here in Wenzhou, a city just to the south of Shanghai as trailblazers for the China Inland Mission. The problem was that for all their hard work the missionaries' time in China turned out to be not a breakthrough... but nearly a breakdown of Christianity. And that was due to one convert who went very badly off-message. His name was Hong Xiuquan. Indeed, it was Hong Xiuquan who was responsible for the biggest and bloodiest rebellion in all Chinese history... a conflict that claimed the lives of twice as many people as died on all sides in the whole of the First World War. In 1836, it seemed that Hong was just one of many new missionary society converts. But while recovering from a nervous breakdown, he had a mystical vision in which he was revealed to be the younger brother of Jesus Christ. God had instructed him to rid China of Confucianism... that inward-looking philosophy which saw competition and trade as pernicious foreign imports. To achieve this, Hong created a quasi-Christian 'Society of God Worshippers' that attracted the support of 10s of millions of Chinese. Hong proclaimed himself the monarch of the 'Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace' and this was the golden throne on which he sat, resplendent in yellow silk surrounded by his princes. In Chinese, he was known as Taiping Tianguo, hence the name of the uprising - the Taiping Rebellion. From Guangxi, the rebels swept to Nanjing, which Hong, the self-styled 'Heavenly King' made his capital. By 1853, his followers controlled the vast Yangzi valley. Between 1850 and 1864, some 20 million people lost their lives in central and southern China as the Taiping Rebellion raged,

unleashing plague and famine in its wake. But the rebels couldn't take the imperial capital Beijing and slowly the tide turned against them. By the time Nanjing fell to the Imperial army, Hong was already dead of food poisoning. Just to make sure, his cremated remains were fired - out of a cannon. (CANNON SHOT) China's experiment with Christianity had been a catastrophe. By the end of the 19th century, many Chinese had concluded that Western missionaries were just another malign foreign influence on their country. Time and again, in the next 50 years, Protestantism lost out in China. Finally, just after the 1949 Communist Revolution, the committed atheist Mao Zedong ordered the expulsion of Christian missionaries - all 10,000 of them. Churches were closed down. Some were turned into factories. It looked like the end of the line for Protestantism in China. And, as Communism swept all before it, for the Protestant work ethic too. the probability of a Protestantisation of China and, therefore, its industrialisation and modernisation seemed negligibly low. As low, in fact, as the probability of a de-Christianisation of Europe. And yet that is precisely what we've witnessed in our time. It's a development that's having profound economic implications all over the world. It's a funny thing, although I was brought up an atheist, I suffer from an extreme form of the Protestant work ethic. No matter what my problem is, the solution is always the same: work. Now for many years I felt as if I was part of a dying minority in Europe, but today I find myself in extremely good company. The Protestant work ethic, for so long one of the West's killer applications, has come to China. Whereas the average European or American works less than 2,000 hours a year... the top Asian economies average 2,300 hours.

Moreover, unlike us, the Chinese save up to a 5th of their income. Max Weber's idea - of living to work rather than working to live - is now an Oriental phenomenon. And that's not all. (CHURCH SINGING) The fascinating thing is that it's not just hard work and thrift they're importing from the West. Now they're importing Christianity too. And not just any old Christianity. The seeds the British missionaries planted 150 years ago have grown in the most extraordinary fashion. Wenzhou, has become the Springfield, Missouri, of China. Where before the Cultural Revolution, there were 480 churches in Wenzhou, today there are 1,340 - and those are only the ones officially approved by the government. All over Wenzhou, and increasingly all over China, Christians also meet secretly in their homes. The Victorian missionaries would be impressed. It's Sunday and the church is packed. Founded in 1877 by the Inland Mission, closed down during the Cultural Revolution and only re-opened in 1982, this church now boasts a congregation of more than 1200. The work ethic and Protestantism are thriving in China. So it won't surprise you that here in Wenzhou, the most ardent Christians tend also to be businessmen. It's home to a new breed of entrepreneur: the so-called 'Boss Christians'. In Wenzhou... Men like Hanping Zhang, Chairman of Aihao pen company. Once a farmer, he opened his first factory in 1987. Today, he employs 5,000 workers and sells 500 million pens a year. He's also a devout Christian. Does that mean that in Wenzhou there's an advantage, that businessmen here are more trusted than businessmen in other places? Marx's old jibe that religion was the 'opium of the people' no longer carries much conviction here. The richer China gets, it seems, the more people like Zhang there are. It's possible that within 3 decades between 20 and 30 percent of the entire Chinese population could be Christians. Now that's a pretty amazing prospect. Just when you thought the world was turning Chinese, the Chinese turn around and Westernise themselves. It's certainly not a result Max Weber would have anticipated. Yet the Chinese Communist Party recently stated there were three requirements for sustainable economic growth: property rights as a foundation, law as a safeguard, and morality as a support. If that sounds familiar, then it should because those used to be foundations of Western civilisation itself. And I say 'used to be' quite deliberately because I think we've lost faith in those very foundations. It's not just that the churches are empty. We seem to doubt the value everything that's been achieved in the West since the Reformation: we've lost faith in those killer applications which, as we've seen in this series, decisively set the West apart from the Rest. Capitalism has been disgraced by the recent financial crisis and the rampant greed of the bankers. Science is studied by too few of our children at school and university. Private property rights are continually violated by governments with an insatiable appetite for taxing our incomes and wasting our money. Empire has become a dirty word, despite the real benefits conferred on the rest of the world by the European empires. All we risk being left with is a vacuous consumer society and a relativistic culture that regards any theory, no matter how outlandish, as just as valid as whatever it was we used to believe in. The trouble is, as GK Chesterton famously said: when men lose their faith they don't believe in nothing, they believe in anything. Today, the West faces unprecedented challenges. The rise of China as a new economic superpower. The revival of Islam not just as a faith but as a violent political ideology. Not to mention the environmental crisis caused by rising population, carbon dioxide emissions and sea levels. How are we to contend with these threats if we can't even believe in ourselves, let alone in God? The National Broadband Network is already making a difference around Australia. The National Broadband Network means you get better access to healthcare for people around the country. We'll be able to take therapy to them instead of asking them to come to us. The patient is going to be wherever they live and we'll have the therapist as though we are in the room, which also helps with socialisation, they're not so isolated.

I saw you hit it then. I actually accomplished something that I've never done before. I was always very aware of the benefits of the clarity of what you could see. Getting therapy to people who can't otherwise have it, that can transform their life. It provides more options for more people. To learn more about the National Broadband Network, visit australia.gov.au/nbn (READS) "And her quivering mouth, of some mysterious potion, "distorted by the acridity "with a sibilant intake of breath, came near to my face.

"She would try to relieve the pain of love "by first roughly rubbing her dry lips against mine. "Then my darling would draw away with a nervous toss of her hair "and then again come darkly near "and let me feed on her open mouth..." (PRESSES BUZZER) "..while with a generosity "that was ready to offer her everything -

"my heart, my throat, my entrails..." The National Broadband Network rollout is underway, prioritising regional Australia. Learn more at australia.gov.au/nbn. (UPBEAT MUSIC) For 500 years, the West dominated the Rest. And it did so by deploying 6 killer applications - 6 unique selling points - that the Rest didn't have.

Capitalism. Science. Democracy. Medicine. Consumerism. And the Work Ethic. But when I look at the world today it's the resemblances between the West and the Rest that strike me, more than the differences. The things that used to set the West apart from the Rest are, quite simply, no longer monopolised by us. The Chinese have got capitalism. The Iranians have got science. The Peruvians have got democracy. The Africans are, slowly, getting modern medicine. The Turks have got the consumer society. The reality is that Western modes of operation are not in decline

but are flourishing nearly everywhere. The Resterners, as we might call them, are nearly all dressing, working, eating, travelling and playing... like Westerners. All the West's killer apps have become universal. But this carries its own dangers. Some would say that those apps are now so becoming so widespread

that we risk killing the planet itself. You can certainly believe that, here in the smog-infested heartland of China. Environmentalists fear that as Asia's more populous nations embrace the Western route out of poverty, the strain on global supplies of energy, food and fresh water will become unbearable. Many people live in dread of the environmental consequences of Westernising the entire world. If emissions of greenhouse gases continue at their current levels, the result could be catastrophic changes in the earth's climate and ocean levels. Sceptics about climate change should spend some time in China, where the biggest and fastest industrial revolution in history is causing measurable environmental damage.

But does global warming really mean the end of the world?

(GENTLE MUSIC) This is the hill

the scene in the New Testament of the final showdown between good and evil - the battle of Armageddon. I'm not a scientist and it may well be that the earth is going to boil and the sea levels are going to rise, but I can't help noticing that this vision of an environmental apocalypse has a lot in common with earlier visions of the Doomsday story. And if you don't believe me, well, take a look at chapter 16 of the Book of Revelations. "And he gathered them together "into a Hebrew place in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon." "Get yourself together, pull yourself together,

"bind yourself together. "And there were voices, and thunders and lightnings; "and there was a great earthquake, "such as was not seen since men were upon the earth." The idea is this: the Lord is coming soon and when he comes, your trial will be won. Among the visitors to Megiddo, there's no shortage of believers in the literal truth of that biblical prophecy. When you see what all's going on in the world - tsunamis and earthquake - it's just got to be a sign of what's coming. Are you scared? No, because I know where I'm going. Really? Uh-huh. (A CLAP OF THUNDER)

Some say the First Trumpet has already sounded. Once we've heard the Second, Third, and Fourth Trumpets, evangelical Christians believe, the United States will collapse. When the Fifth Trumpet sounds, World War III will break out. After that comes a demonic army to massacre mankind. And, with the Seventh and final Trumpet, we'll feel the full might of God's wrath. The idea that we're all doomed that decline is inevitable, that things can only get worse, is deeply bound up with our own sense of mortality. Because we're bound to decline and fall, we naturally feel that the civilisations we live in should do so too. (WIND SWEEPS) People used to believe

that all great civilisations went through a long, slow cycle of rise, zenith, decline and fall. That was certainly how Gibbon thought about ancient Rome. But in fact, that isn't always the case. This amazing place is a grim reminder that no civilisation is indestructible, no matter how mighty it may appear in its own eyes. It's also a reminder that collapse, when it comes, isn't necessarily gradual and cyclical.

It came suddenly, very suddenly, to the Incas who built Machu Picchu. One minute, they were the masters of all they surveyed from their great Andean cities. The next, foreign invaders with gunpowder, horses and lethal microbes had smashed their great empire to smithereens. How are the mighty fallen. And how fast they sometimes fall. Is the West today heading for a similar calamity? I fear as much. But it doesn't need to be. When you hear that phrase Western civilisation... what does it make you think of? Today it seems more important than ever that we understand the lessons of Western civilisation's success.

That it isn't just one thing - it's a bundle. So the first one... is Competition. It's about political pluralism as well as capitalism. (MUEZZIN) It's about the freedom of thought as well as the scientific method; it's about the rule of law and property rights as well as democracy. Even today, the West still has more of these killer apps than the Rest. The Chinese don't have political competition. The Iranians don't have freedom of conscience. They get to vote in Venezuela -

but the rule of law there is a sham. Of course, Western civilisation isn't flawless. It's certainly perpetrated its share of historical misdeeds: