In Civilization: the West and the Rest by Niall Ferguson, the author argues that the West succeeded because it had certain killer application (as in killer apps, commonly referred to by programming geeks). These are:
- Firstly, competition that gave the West a major military and technical advantage
- Secondly, science, almost completely Euro-centred from Copernicus to Newton
- Thirdly, safety of property, which he argues was the basis of the American Revolution
- Medicine, the fourth, was beneficial to the West but also to its colonies
- The fifth, consumer society, which is vital because workers were also consumers who would themselves provide the demand for the output of the Industrial Revolution
- Ferguson's sixth and last "killer application" is Protestant work ethics.
Ferguson leaves many questions unanswered. Would like to take a look at the book though.