“Now, if you believe a lot of popular history, with books written by people like Jared Diamond, you believe that the elevation of European societies was due to external factors like the environment, or the exploitation of other peoples. I don’t think this is true. The reason that Europe has dominated human affairs is that, unlike China, India, or the Ottomans, Europe had no central authority capable of stifling innovation.
“It was, to put it philosophically, Hayekian. It was in Europe that spontaneous order was able to emerge: there was no top-down design. Now there were plenty of Europeans who tried to create a top-down or Cartesian design. The papacy or post-Jacobean France are good examples..