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That warfare and imperialism in the Mediterranean world may have been different, on average, than in other major centers of civilization seems possible.  I don't think you can say it dates back to the Romans, though, as the Assyrians seem to have set a strong precedent.

Then again, as has been mentioned elsewhere, the Qin Emperor was pretty damn nasty.

That Europe imperialized to a greater degree than other regional world Empires was entirely due to their luck of discovering the Americas first, and their ability to take advantage of the disease gradient.  Without that, the colonization of the Americas would have been a lot more like the colonization of Africa - which went absolutely nowhere until the the mid 1800's.  Without American gold and silver, Europe would have never been able to break the pre-existing trade networks of the Indian Ocean, and world history would have been so utterly and completely different that it's not worth discussing.

That Europe has culturally evangalized to a greater degree is debatable, given the immense spread of Islam.  It's too early to tell if the current fad for European culture and values is a passing fad, or a longer-term thing, but it's pretty clear that Islam is here to stay in Central, South, and SE Asia, and North Africa.  

by Zwackus on Thu May 16th, 2013 at 12:22:02 AM EST
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The point for me is recognising that Western evangelism is evangelical in nature, and not - let's say - diplomatically persuasive.

And of course I mean capitalist evangelism, with its emphasis on buying, selling, and organised work as perfectible social aims, and competitive profit as the ultimate personal sacrament.

The rest of Western culture - the literature, music and the rest - is a side-show in comparison.

So is Islam, because evangelically there is no such thing, just as there is no such thing as Christianity. Instead, there are hundreds of competing sects, denominations, and value systems, many of which disagree with each other, sometimes violently.

Capitalist evangelism is comparatively uniform, and far more politically and culturally influential. It also squares neatly with the oligarchical political structures of supposedly religious states like Saudi Arabia, and of supposedly hostile states such as China and Russia.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu May 16th, 2013 at 08:13:13 AM EST
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I'd argue that the set of values being evangelized is slightly different, and that they're not necessarily Capitalist.

Atomized individualism, material accumulation as the ultimate goal, and an 'anything goes so long as you don't get arrested' morality would describe it better.

Capitalism itself is a different sort of thing, I think, and one that's on the way out, if the current elites have anything to say about it.  It's much easier to live based on feudal rent extraction than it is to engage in capitalist competition, after all.

by Zwackus on Thu May 16th, 2013 at 11:37:45 PM EST
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