Why Europe Was First

Economic growth and social change in Europe and East Asia, 1500-2050
London: Anthem Press, 2007.

"Yet as a moment's reflection makes obvious, capitalism cannot possibly be the original cause of all the changes that take place. The reason is that capitalist development itself has causes. Capitalist economies are not after all growing automatically and by themselves; capitalism is not a primum mobile, an 'unmoved mover.'"

Why Europe was first, The Mechanics of Modernity, Erik Ringmar
2017-04-21T03:00:22+00:00
"Yet as a moment's reflection makes obvious, capitalism cannot possibly be the original cause of all the changes that take place. The reason is that capitalist development itself has causes. Capitalist economies are not after all growing automatically and by themselves; capitalism is not a primum mobile, an 'unmoved mover.'"

"Social changes are extra-ordinarily difficult to bring about. The reason is that change undermines traditions and long-standing habits and poses threats to established structures of privilege and power. Change breaks our connection with the people who came before us and with those who will come after us and it isolates and alienates us from our families and our societies."

Why Europe was first, The Mechanics of Modernity, Erik Ringmar
2017-04-21T03:23:45+00:00
"Social changes are extra-ordinarily difficult to bring about. The reason is that change undermines traditions and long-standing habits and poses threats to established structures of privilege and power. Change breaks our connection with the people who came before us and with those who will come after us and it isolates and alienates us from our families and our societies."
"Every day things are getting just a little bit better and every improvement confirms our faith in the progressive movement of time. In modern society, where the future is our god, economic change becomes a daily act of worship."
Why Europe was first, The Mechanics of Modernity, Erik Ringmar
2017-04-21T04:05:03+00:00
"Every day things are getting just a little bit better and every improvement confirms our faith in the progressive movement of time. In modern society, where the future is our god, economic change becomes a daily act of worship."
"There is essentially only one kind of environment that is fully conducive to change and this environment can be described with a relatively high degree of precision."
Why Europe was first, The Mechanics of Modernity, Erik Ringmar
2017-04-22T00:45:05+00:00
"There is essentially only one kind of environment that is fully conducive to change and this environment can be described with a relatively high degree of precision."

"The forces of supply and demand may operate with textbook-like ferocity, allowing people to perfectly satisfy their preferences, but a society where this is the case may still grow more slowly than another society in which market forces are less efficient but where resources are more obviously geared towards long-term growth."

Why Europe was first, The Mechanics of Modernity, Erik Ringmar
2017-04-21T03:02:42+00:00
"The forces of supply and demand may operate with textbook-like ferocity, allowing people to perfectly satisfy their preferences, but a society where this is the case may still grow more slowly than another society in which market forces are less efficient but where resources are more obviously geared towards long-term growth."
  • For most of its history Europe was a thoroughly average part of the world: poor, uncouth, technologically and culturally backward. By contrast, China was always far richer, more sophisticated and advanced. Yet it was Europe that first became modern, and by the nineteenth century China was struggling to catch up. This book explains why. Why did Europe succeed and why was China left behind? The answer, as we will see, does not only solve a long-standing historical puzzle, it also provides an explanation of the contemporary success of East Asia, and it shows what is wrong with current theories of development and modernization.

    The book is published twice, under different titles. For the paperback, published by Athem Press, I came up with the idea of calling it "Why Europe Was First." The idea was that it would sound less boring and academic (to go with the man on the dragon roller-coaster). Yet it's the same book as "Mechanics of Modernity," published by Routledge. Take your pick.
  • It is brilliant: beautifully argued and written, and (mostly) correct.
    Deirdre McCloskey, University of Illinois, author of Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce.
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