I have a theory as to why it was the English, and the Europeans more generally, who came to dominate the world, instead of say some racial group from the tropics, say. Something set these guys apart – something made them go out to other places and take over, something made them the inventive people who worked so hard.
The reason? Cold. Miserable, wet, windy, cold weather you wouldn’t want to hang around in too long. Unfortunately enough for these people, that’s where they were destined to spend their whole lives if they didn’t go about changing things. So I say to you, an accident of geography and meteorology is more responsible for the European domination than anything else.
Think about it: when you’re cold, you do things to either take your mind off it, or alleviate your coldness. You invent things, like fire you can carry with you and control at will. On the other hand, if you’re hot, you sort of sit around in the shade, looking for a siesta maybe, until the heat of the day wears off. And then it’s time to go to sleep… and before you know it Europeans are marching around your town.
This theory plays itself out: The Romans dominated Mediterranean Europe/North Africa and a little bit further north, but ultimately the warmth of Rome and Constantinople meant they weren’t as motivated as the barbarians of the north. Some of the most exploratory people were the Vikings, who just wanted a patch of grass for their sheep to graze on. The Mongolians dominated vast expanses of Eurasia, but when they got bogged in Persia they ultimately fell to bits. The Chinese expanded south to Vietnam and Thailand, but couldn’t be bothered going further (seriously, it’s damnably humid down there).
More recently even – the French empire reached across Europe, to Moscow (where they hit people colder and thus more hard-headed than themselves), but reaching into Spain and northern Africa? That’s when they turned around and said, “bugger that, our south coast is warm enough.” The English on the other hand picked a place like Canada and northern America to expand first, and even then when they started to reach what would become the southern states, they let it go. When the USA got to Texas, and California, they took one look over the border to Mexico and said, “You know what? keep it.” The Russians – they hold vast expanses of basically arctic tundra, and they hold it well. The Germans – cold place that – romped across Europe twice before being beaten back from the warmer climes. The Japanese, even with their humid summers, made use of the cold winters to sharpen their skills and quickly brought most of Asia under their control, or at least until they got to Indonesia or the islands of the Pacific.
On the other hand, there was no armies marching out of Africa, the tropics or indeed anywhere where it is far more preferable to just genially lay on the beach. Nothing’s been invented in these places, either. Why do you think South Indians prefer to work white-collar jobs? Air-con! Who can be bothered working in a hot factory?
Call me crazy, but I don’t think I’m wrong here.
Note: Theory based entirely on thoughts plucked out of thin air.