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Civilization: The West and the Rest

Niall Ferguson

Top 10 Best Quotes

“No civilization, no matter how mighty it may appear to itself, is indestructible.”

“It was an idea that made the crucial difference between British and Iberian America – an idea about the way people should govern themselves. Some people make the mistake of calling that idea ‘democracy’ and imagining that any country can adopt it merely by holding elections. In reality, democracy was the capstone of an edifice that had as its foundation the rule of law – to be precise, the sanctity of individual freedom and the security of private property rights, ensured by representative, constitutional government.”

“What makes a civilization real to its inhabitants, in the end, is not just the splendid edifices at it centre, nor even the smooth functioning of the institutions they house. At its core, a civilization is the texts that are taught in its schools, learned by its students and recollected in times of tribulation.”

“The real social contract, (Edmund Burke) argued, was not Rousseau's social contract between the noble savage and the General Will, but a "partnership" between the present generation and future generations.”

“The dead outnumber the living fourteen to one, and we ignore the accumulated experience of such a huge majority of mankind at our peril”

“Between 1980 and 2000 the number of patents registered in Israel was 7652 compared with 367 for all the Arab countries combined. In 2008 alone is really inventors applied to register 9591 new patents. The equivalent figure for Iran was 50 and for all majority Muslim countries in the world with 5657.”

“Was there something distinctive about American civil society that gave democracy a better chance than in France, as Tocqueville argued? Was the already centralized French state more likely to produce a Napoleon than the decentralized United States? We cannot be sure. But it is not unreasonable to ask how long the US constitution would have lasted if the United States had suffered the same military and economic strains that swept away the French constitution of 1791”

“The success of a civilization is measured not just in its aesthetic achievements but also, and surely more importantly, in the duration and quality of life of its citizens.”

“The result is one of the greatest paradoxes of modern history: that an economic system designed to offer infinite choice to the individual has ended up homogenizing humanity.”

“The Japanese had no idea what elements of Western culture and institutions where the crucial ones, so they ended up copying everything, from western clothes and hair styles to the European practice of colonizing foreign people. Unfortunately, they took up empire-building at precisely the moment when the cost of imperialism began to exceed the benefits.”

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Book Keywords:

responsibility, education, civilization, israel, perspective, science, legacy, america, arrogance, originality, heritage, government, us-history, overconfidence, culture, ingenuity, democracy, history, distinction, republic

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