Why the West Developed – Less Militarism?

Why did the West develop economically much more quickly than other civilizations?

Because the West demonstrated a lower time preference compared to these other people groups. This allowed the process of civilization to occur, a process marked by savings and capital accumulation. The higher a group’s time preference level, the more likely it was to stop being smart and developing its human capital, and instead just beat other groups over the head with a club and steal their stuff. A great short-term strategy, but you can see how it makes people very stupid after hundreds or even thousands of years.

Ludwig von Mises writes: “The eminence of the Western nations consisted in the fact that they succeeded better in checking the spirit of predatory militarism than the rest of mankind and that they thus brought forth the social institutions required for saving and investment on a broader scale.”

At some point, property rights need to be respected so that the division of labor can work its magic in peace. “What the East Indies, China, Japan, and the Mohammedan countries lacked were institutions of safeguarding the individual’s rights.”

And yet the success of the West has helped other people groups. The West’s foreign investment into areas with higher time preferences have supported the process of civilization the world over. Mises writes, “Thanks to foreign capital, the countries of Latin America and Asia are today equipped with facilities for production and transportation that they would have had to forego for a very long time if they had not received this aid. Real wage rates and farm yields are higher today in those areas than they would have been in the absence of foreign capital.”

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