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Civilization: Is the West History?

The West once ruled more than half the world. The religion it exported, Christianity, is still followed by a third of mankind. Above all, the way people live - or aspire to live - is unmistakably an invention of the West. All over the world, more and more humans eat a Western diet, wear Western clothes and live in Western housing. But are we living through the beginning of the end of the West's ascendancy? In this remarkable series, Niall Ferguson explains how by juxtaposing the West and 'the Rest', we can uncover the keys - the six killer applications - of Western ascendancy: the real explanation of how, for roughly five centuries, a clear minority of mankind managed to secure the lion's share of the Earth's resources. Intelligent, entertaining, educational and visually stunning, Civilization will do more for the public understanding of world history than any series since the original BBC program of the same name by Kenneth Clark.
  • Title ID 73-CIV
  • History, World History, Political Science, Geography, Economics
  • 6 Programs
  • 1 Supplemental File
  • 10th Grade through Post Secondary
  • Released in 2011 by BBC
Included Programs
Supplemental Files

Included Programs

CompetitionRunning time is 48 minutes

Colonial expansion and economic innovation were stifled by a monolithic empire in China at a time when political division in Europe bred competition. Now the tables are turning.

Chapter List
Chapter 1: Introduction
Western Civilization would come to dominate the world through capitalism and modernism.
Chapter 2: Competition
Western Europe was the focal point of capitalism and modernism.
Chapter 3: Rise of the Ming Dynasty
Chinese inventor Su Song and China's greatest sailor Zheng-he would transform the Middle Kingdom's Ming Dynasty into a trading powerhouse controlled from the Forbidden City.
Chapter 4: Europe's Competitive Age of Exploration
Portugal's King Manuel sent the navigator Vasco de Gama around Africa's Cape of Good Hope to establish trade; and this led to competition for control of trade to other lands by Spain and the City of London Corporation, all of which was aided by the introduction of technology such as the mechanical clock and the portable watch.
Chapter 5: Fall of the Ming Dynasty
Through competition, British trade and competition forced the Chinese Emperor in China's Forbidden City to open China to trade through the island of Hong Kong and five other ports.

ScienceRunning time is 47 minutes

Why was it that the Islamic world failed to participate in the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment? And how far can the West maintain its scientific lead today?

Chapter List
Chapter 1: Introduction
Western Civilization would come to dominate the world through capitalism and modernism.
Chapter 2: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire
Western civilization and its scientific revolution would come head to head with Muslims and the Ottoman Empire at Vienna when Leopold I turned back the Turks' army led by Grand Vizir Kara Mustafa Korprulu.
Chapter 3: Frederick the Great
The rise of Modernism and capitalism can be seen during the Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, in Prussia under Frederick the Great as opposed to the slide of government into ennui in the Ottoman Empire's capital, Istanbul.
Chapter 4: The Islamic Rejection of Science
Nothing better illustrates the contrast between the cultures of the Ottomans and their leader the Ottoman Sultan and Europe's leaders and intellectuals such as , Frederick, the Great, Charles II and Christopher Wren than the fall of the great Muslim astronomer Takiyuddin.
Chapter 5: The Marriage of Science and the Military
The power of the scientific revolution, Modernism and capitalism can be found in the life and times of Frederick the Great of Prussia.
Chapter 6: Religious Law versus Scientific Law
Two Ottoman leaders, Sultan Mahmud I, Muslim and Kemal Ataturk, would transform the Ottoman Empire into the modern state of Turkey using the Christian principles of Modernism and capitalism.
Chapter 7: Modern Day Jerusalem
Jerusalem has become an outpost of Western civilization's modernism and capitalism, while the modernistic reforms of the Turkish leader Ataturk are giving way Islamism.

PropertyRunning time is 48 minutes

Why did North America succeed where South America lagged behind? Could it be that North and South are converging today, linguistically as well as economically

Chapter List
Chapter 1: Introduction
Western Civilization would come to dominate the world through capitalism and modernism by means of the unique idea of anyone could own property.
Chapter 2: Conquest of the New World
The difference between Western Civilization's Spain and England in America can be explained in the colonial period through England's focus on property and property rights, as seen through John Locke, the Fundamental Constitution of Carolina and the landowner Abraham Smith, as opposed to Francisco Pizarro's conquest of the, Incas in order to steal their gold and wealth.
Chapter 3: Colonial South America
Spanish colonies were based on wealth stolen from the Inca emperors, as seen in the case of Jeronimo de Aliaga; and later this wealth would lead to inequities that Venezuelan freedom fighter, Simon Bolivar, would exploit to free Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Columbia from Spanish rule.
Chapter 4: Colonial North America
The paradox of western civilization is the rise of property rights and liberty at the expense of African Americans, who were slaves.
Chapter 5: Land Ownership
Modernism and capitalism would be based upon land ownership in America.
Chapter 6: American Civil Rights
The paradox of America was that liberty loving English settlers were determined to have slavery and later racial segregation, an idea that would be upheld by the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott decision.

MedicineRunning time is 48 minutes

The development of modern medicine made it possible to export Western Civilization to Africa, but Europe's empires failed in their mission to bring western civilization to Africa, exposing the most violent side of Western dominance.

Chapter List
Chapter 1: Introduction
Western Civilization would come to dominate the world through capitalism and modernism and would extend its domination to Africa thanks to medical science.
Chapter 2: French Colonial Africa
Western civilization progressive imperialism was personified in Senegal by , Louis Faidherbe and the rise of modern medicine that made imperialism in Africa possible.
Chapter 3: Disease in Africa
Among the many disease to ravage Senegal and the Senegalese throughout the country and its capital Dakar were epidemics of yellow fever, malaria, cholera and sleeping sickness.
Chapter 4: Germany and Colonial Africa
On the opposite side of humanity and modern medicine was racism and eugenics, seen in the Congo Congo and West Africa as practiced by General Adrian Dietrich Lothar von Trotha, against African Negros or Dr. Eugen Fischer's racist theories about Blacks.
Chapter 5: 20th Century Africa: Disease and War
Using modern medicine to support bogus racial theory, modernism and capitalism, modern medicine would continue to devalue blacks in Senegal and the Congo.

ConsumerismRunning time is 47 minutes

Most of the world's people embraced the Western way of shopping and dressing. Only the Muslim world has resisted. Can the burka hold out against the big global brands.

Chapter List
Chapter 1: Introduction
Western Civilization would come to dominate the world through capitalism and modernism and in the process would export consumerism and rampant consumption.
Chapter 2: The Rise of the Market Economy
The exportation of Western civilization can be seen in a photo of Japan's Crown Prince Hirohito and England's Edward VIII standing together.
Chapter 3: Japan's Rise to a World Power
Japan would defeat Russia in 1905 but by the end of WWII, Japan was no longer captivated by Europe, instead it was captivated by America.
Chapter 4: America's Consumerism
Western civilization's mass consumerism and individualism could be seen in its marketing of fashion and rock and roll both of which were banned behind the Soviet Union's Iron Curtain.
Chapter 5: Fall of Communism
Communism would continue to fight against America's consumer society that a it portrayed as decadent though blue jeans and Rock and Roll would ultimately lead to such things as the Prague Spring led by Alexander Dubcek and the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Chapter 6: The Westernization of the World
Western civilization's western economies, modernism and capitalism would eventually influence China and Chinese Communism, which had been implemented by Mao Zedong.

WorkRunning time is 47 minutes

The West is in danger of losing confidence in itself. With the decline of Western beliefs, what has happened to Christianity and the Protestant work ethic?

Chapter List
Chapter 1: Introduction
Edward Gibbon gave a vivid account of the collapse of western civilization when Rome fell, but now there is fear that the modernism and capitalism of the last 500 years spread around the world by the Protestant work ethic is once more in danger of collapse.
Chapter 2: Work Ethic and Protestantism
According to Max Weber and Sigmund Freud the Reformation with its, Protestant work ethic was responsible for modernism, capitalism and the Industrial Revolution.
Chapter 3: The Protestant Work Ethic Spreads Throughout the World
To Max Weber and other 20th century experts the Protestantization of China and therefore its industrialization, modernism and capitalism seemed low and was not a threat to Americans, the United States or its domination of the market economy.
Chapter 4: Economic Challenges of Western Civilization
For 500 years the west dominated the rest of the world through its capitalism, science, medicine, consumerism, work ethic, democracy and the concept of political pluralism, but now the west faces a challenge from the super power China, a challenge that environmentalists say could lead to Armageddon and destruction of the Earth.

Supplemental Files

MARC Records for CIV
MARC records for the Full Series CIV, Civilization: Is the West History?