Jose Carillo's Forum


This section features wide-ranging, thought-provoking articles in English on any subject under the sun. Its objective is to present new, mind-changing ideas as well as to show to serious students of English how the various tools of the language can be felicitously harnessed to report a momentous or life-changing finding or event, to espouse or oppose an idea, or to express a deeply felt view about the world around us.

The outstanding English-language expositions to be featured here will mostly be presented through links to the websites that carry them. To put a particular work in better context, links to critiques, biographical sketches, and various other material about the author and his or her works will usually be also provided.

How the West rose to global dominance and is now losing it

A new book by noted British historian Niall Ferguson, Civilization: the West and the Rest (The Penguin Press, 402 pages), argues that the United States and European powers, which have been the world’s dominant economic and military empires during the past 500 years, are now on the verge of decline or collapse not only because of strong competition from such ascendant economic powerhouses as China, India and Brazil, but also because they have been undermining their dominance by abandoning their very own core strengths.


The problem with the Western societies, Ferguson says, is that now that they have reached the pinnacles of success and power, they appear to have already forgotten the very principles and practices—he has given them the moniker six “killer apps”—that enabled them to achieve world dominance: (1) robust scientific research and innovation; (2) property rights; (3) market competition and capitalism; (4) consumerism tempered by a sense of thrift; (5) advances in medicine; and (6) a strong work ethic. To arrest their decline as a world power, Ferguson argues, the Western societies need a crash-course in Western Civilization to remind themselves of the very strengths that served their nations well during the past five centuries.

“The biggest threat to Western civilization,” Ferguson contends, “is posed not by other civilizations, but by our own pusillanimity — and by the historical ignorance that feeds it.” He then calls for a return to traditional education to make young people truly understand the character and development of Western and other civilizations. After all, he explains, “at its core, a civilization is the texts that are taught in its schools, learned by its students and recollected in times of tribulation.”

Read an excerpt from Niall Ferguson’s Civilization: The West and the Rest now!

Read Donald Kagan’s “A Good Run,” a review of Civilization, in The New York Times now!

Read Bernard Porter’s review of Civilization in The Guardian of UK now!

Read William Skidelsky’s interview story on Niall Ferguson in The Observer of UK now!

Niall Ferguson is a British historian whose specialty is financial and economic history, particularly hyperinflation and the bond markets, and the history of colonialism. He is the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University and William Ziegler Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, a Senior Research Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford University, and a Senior Research Fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He is the author of nine books, including Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World, The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World, Colossus, and High Financier. In 2004 he was named by Time magazine in 2004 as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. He is currently a contributing editor for Bloomberg Television and a columnist for Newsweek.

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