Comparative shares of world GDP over the past 2,000 years, via The Atlantic.
This fascinating graph shows the relative shares of world GDP since Jesus. What’s interesting is that in the literal anno domini, India was the world’s economic superpower, followed by China (insomuch as those modern borders existed). Then gradually Europe rises and the colony of America blows up out of nowhere. The Atlantic has an interesting, multi-part analysis of this data, but I think they leave one thing out. They never discuss colonialism whereby the European went to India and China and took a lot of the wealth out.
This is a sorta good point by the Atlantic, but also, I think, wrong.
one way to read the graph, very broadly speaking, is that everything to the left of 1800 is an approximation of population distribution around the world and everything to the right of 1800 is a demonstration of productivity divergences around the world — the mastering of means of manufacturing, production and supply chains by steam, electricity, and ultimately software that concentrated, first in the West, and then spread to Japan, Russia, China, India, Brazil, and beyond. (The Economic History of the Last 2,000 Years in 1 Little Graph)
The argument here is that the Europeans were better at industrialization. However, in the Middle Ages this patently wasn’t true. In the middle ages Europeans were trying desperately to get to the Indies, even misnomerizing Native Americans in the process. Note that the Indians and Chinese weren’t trying to get to Europe. The Orient had all the technology and goods. The Chinese had better ships even, but crazy emperors that ran away from the sea. It was Indic and Chindic resources that powered Europe into the industrial revolution (among other things).
Admittedly India didn’t exist as we know it, and China was only barely more coherent. But they still had stuff and people, which the Europeans came and took/oppressed the shit out of. Not to mention South America, and Africa, and everywhere; that great vortex of commerce and crime that sucked a ton of wealth into the continent. Of all the continents, only America rebelled and was able to maintain some control over its land. That was suddha rebels, but they still split from Europe and had a whole bunch of native resources to take internally.
Another striking thing about the graph. Looks like things are regressing to the mean.