When China ruled the world
China and India combined to produce nearly half the world's economic output in 1820 compared to just 1.8% for the U.S. Our remarkable growth since 1820 has benefited from democratic institutions, a belief in capitalism, private property rights, an entrepreneurial culture, abundant resources, openness to foreign investment, the best universities, immigration and relatively transparent markets.
It's hard to imagine a world half of whose output was Chinese and Indian. Those were the days when China dominated the world and when India really was the jewel in the British Crown. The truly amazing historical event is how one hundred years later both India and China would become synonymous with economic underdevelopment, a collapse that was probably caused and simultaneously the cause of European colonialism. It was the diffuse weakness of a vast country like China that allowed parts of its territory to be occupied even by small European countries like Portugal (Macao). In turn, European colonialism probably exacerbated the worst trends in their cultures. One effect, from the world is still recovering, would be to increase the stock of nominally "anti-imperialist" ideologies like Marxism (which presented themselves as Third World champions while ironically inheriting the world's largest empire, that of the Czars). For years after the Second World War, newly independent countries would be led on by this fraud, and apply central planning and socialist models to their economies and cause even greater damage than had been wrought by European colonialism.
The late 20th century marked the moment when former colonies threw off the last intellectual chains of colonialism. India finally rejected the last European fetter of socialism, and freely chose a market economy. At the same time the Arab world was also ditching socialism, which in its heyday took the form of Nasserism and gave rise to a plethora of quasi-Marxist "liberation" terrorist groups, but in finding a replacement reached not towards a market economy and democratic institutions, to 8th century Islam and sharia. Either way, the 21st became the first truly post-European century in nearly half a millenium. What is less obvious is that America too, drifted away from Europe. Part of the tension between GWB and its Transatlantic of World War 2 is due not only to substantive differences between European capitals and Washington, but to a real divergence in the West. The West is no longer unilaterally headquartered in Europe. The ideas that were spawned there have drifted across the world and have become the property of mankind.