7.1 The European subcontinent

7.1 The European subcontinent

Europe is not just any old continent. Our continent boasts a great history and tradition. This history has not always been bloodless, but it has been a history of renewal, progress and discovery. Europe has, as no other continent, left its mark on science as well as philosophy and the arts. Europe was the birthplace of the Enlightenment. Our continent, which ruled the world a hundred years ago and was only replaced by the USA seventy years ago, is now increasingly becoming a museum in many areas.

A continent that attracts tourists who see the past splendour and glory and wonder how this descent could happen so quickly.

The rise and fall of civilisations is a normal part of history. Cultures experience cultural heydays and transience. Europe's history has always been a history of competition between States and cultures. Unlike other regions of the world, since the Romans no power has succeeded in achieving European hegemony. Envy and competition drove the Europeans of past generations to incredible feats. While centralised systems in other parts of the world may have experienced extensive decline, decline in Europe, except perhaps during the plague, has always been limited to regions. Competition also became the basic principle of the democratic systems that gradually established themselves in Europe. There was competition between the parties for voters and competition between the constitutional institutions.  Europe's values have produced the market economy as a mechanism that makes the best possible use of the skills and resources of individual States. How, then, is it possible for our Europe in particular to disassemble itself so quickly and so thoroughly?

Chart 47: Market capitalisation of technology companies in billions of US dollars

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