First of all, while not too sure where WC begins and ends, Ferguson certainly has a lot of positive things to say about it. By that he means not just “High Visual Culture”, art, architecture, and music, but all the cultural and technological achievements. His Wikipedia entry includes a poignant quote concerning how fragile and vulnerable WC is today, how much its virtues are taken for granted by Westerners, and how much WC is appreciated by those who have found blessed relief in WC after escaping their ancestral culture, a favored example being the Somali woman, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, with whom he now lives [ahem….].
His book begins with a list of what he is amused to call “killer apps”, the factors which he believes were responsible for WC’s existence, in the first place, and its major achievements including the takeover of much of the world. Even if you think he has left something out (see below), you’ll be given a good head start in making up your own list.
Ferguson will be detested by some leftists or liberals for emphasizing the positive contributions that countries of the West made to “the Rest” in the course of colonial empire building. He does acknowledge unpleasant and sometimes horrifying acts which Westerners have perpetrated against other races. But he reviews with a remarkable and refreshing realism the long history of much worse homicide and warfare against fellow Westerners culminating in the two World Wars. The homicide rate in 13th-century England was 100 per 100,000, compared to, say, the 69 per 100,000 of today’s S. Africa or Columbia’s 53. The fact that he refuses to grovel in guilt means that the extreme PeeCees are still not likely to give him a pass. But because Ferguson is such a well-known member of the intellectual establishment he can get away with a lot. As far as he goes, he’s our ally.