In Guns, Germs, and Steel I asked why history has unfolded differently over the last 13,000 years in Eurasia, in the Americas, in sub-Saharan Africa, and in Aboriginal Australia, with the result that within the last 500 years Europeans were the ones who conquered Native Americans and Aboriginal Australians and sub-Saharan Africans, rather than vice versa.
Most of that book, was concerned with comparing the peoples of different continents, but I knew that I couldn’t publish a book comparing the histories of different continents and considering Eurasia as a unit without saying something about the fascinating problem of the differences of history within Eurasia. Why, within Eurasia, was it Europeans who conquered the world and colonized other people, rather than the Chinese or the people of India or the Middle East? I devoted seven pages to that subject at the end of Guns, Germs, and Steel, and I think I arrived at the correct solution. Nevertheless, since the publication of Guns, Germs, and Steel, I’ve received a lot of feedback, and the most interesting feedback has been about the implications of that comparative analysis of the histories of China, Europe, India, and the Middle East.
In particular, in addition to the review of my book by Bill Gates, I’ve received a lot of correspondence from economists and business people, who pointed out to me possible parallels between the histories of entire human societies and histories of smaller groups. This correspondence from economists and business people has to do with the following big question: what is the best way to organize human groups and human organizations and businesses so as to maximize productivity, creativity, innovation, and wealth? Should your human group have a centralized direction, in the extreme having a dictator, or should there be diffuse or even anarchical organization? Should your collection of people be organized into a single group, or broken off into a number of groups, or broken off into a lot of groups? Should you maintain open communication between your groups, or erect walls between them, with groups working more secretly? Should you erect protectionist tariff walls against the outside, or should you expose your business or government to free competition?
More here – Edge
This is a long form read and is good for a Sunday morning but it is worth taking the time.