The current moment may seem to be a crossroads. Western civilization may either continue to lose its apparent competitive superiority over its chief rivals, or it may reaffirm its enduring status as the principal influence in the world. But those outcomes have always been possible since the initial rise of the West. Once the West, including in particular the Middle East, began organizing itself into governments approximately six thousand years ago—earlier, as far as can be determined, than in what is now India and China—there was no rival to Western civilization as it progressed, plodding and lurching, through the centuries. The age of exploration and discovery, which came quickly on the heels of the rise of the nation-state in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, effectively rendered the European powers unchallengeable as the most...

 

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