Having read the thread about Chicago riots, insert ethnic group economic disparity, and I often think, crudely put, why the white man got it lucky. So did it?
Well, to put it in a deceptive way. It's because they're white. Now before the liberals go absolutely nuts over that, I have said that in a deliberately antagonistic manner.
Lets run this right the way back, in reverse order, from now, until we can go no further and get to the cause of why.
So we start off, in the modern era. The factors that will use to gauge my reasons for stating the initial assumption are not just money. It's about quality of life. I consider things such as life expectancy, infant mortality, adult literacy, child literacy, violent crime statistics (not white collar crime), doctors per capita. The things that give you a chance to have a happy life with lots of choices and not be killed because you voted for the wrong dude, or refused to pick a side in a drug turf war.
Why do the european nations, and former colonies/places where europeans ended up, have these factors, Well its because of knowledge, both techknowledgey (clever huh) and education. How are our advances in in technology so far ahead? Well that'll be because of the scientists and researchers/thinkings/studiers (obviously). Why have we had the most prevalent ones? Is it because we're smarter? Unlikely, its because we throw more people into academic institutions.
From here its not just a game of numbers, it becomes an incentive. To outcompete your peers is human nature. If you have enough people doing this thinking stuff then you're going to have a good number of people who are really good at it. There is probably a critical point where you have enough to kindle a social bonfire such that it isnt seen as voodoo (people in Nigeria are still jailed for putting hexes on people - as an extreme counterexample). This is because the general population, as ignorant as they often seem, are aware than black magic is absolute nonsense.
Ok so we have more scientists, so what, the Chinese invented gunpowder, the arabs mathematics, the egyptians paper and the french did cheese. Why does that matter? Well its alright having the science, but you have to have something to do with it. Industrial capacity. Well for that to occur, you need an industrial revolution. All european nations had one, mass rural --> urban migration (interesting sidenote: is exactly what is happening in 3rd world countries now). This was caused by farming technologies replacing huge amounts of the workforce, so mass unemployment meant no income, and rural places had very few non farming related jobs, so ran to the city. This lowered the cost of labour massively in cities, so while people lived in slums, the country thrived as they could make stuff with massively reduced overheads.
Right, so we've got the science and stuff, we've got the industrial output, but Russia has that, so what's the difference? (It's just an example, dont call me up on the output bit, yes its Stalin, but russia still appears so far as an anomaly pretty poor economy compared to the scientific output it gives).
Europe was, relatively, at peace with each other. Once a country gets to the point where it has a meaningful size and technology, it becomes pretty tough to invade. Lots tried, but the borders of the major colonial powers of western europe were largely unchanged. Kings were less able to go to war with each other they were all married/related to the sons/daughters of each other, to secure peace (William of Orange, the King largely responsible for making britain the power it was - was basically dutch). Napoleon only started his little invasion after the french revolution so all these diplomatic ties were lost.
Why were we at peace with each other? All countries in the world have borders with other nations and a lot of them outside western europe are bashing each others skulls in to this day (Bosnia + Serbia, pretty much all of Africa, Lots of south east asia (not just the koreas). What makes us so different? One possibility, is Christianity. There was never this you worship the infidel yada yada lets attack you With that incentive for war (and its a pretty strong one, Sunni's and Shi'ites, the crusades etc) removed, it translates to fewer wars. If you find this hard to accept, consider why the Greek Gods, the Norse Gods are no longer worshipped at all.
Right so we now have, advanced civilisations, that dont love each other, but trade heavily amongst themselves because of the notion of currency and need to outdo each other, but not by invading each other, so they do it by expanding. The desire to keep up with the Jones's meant that once Columbus had gone off looking for a new route to the India's, it was a free-for-all on claiming what you found. Hence the colonies.
But why did we have Christianity? Well in my opinion, the most influential person in Christianity is not Mr JC himself, but rather an EC< or Emperor Constantine, who after a night of roman LSD decided to convert the entire empire to Christianity. Britain, Gaul (france if you dont read asterix) Spain, Italy, the Holy Roman Empire, the lot.
How were the Romans able to conquer all of Western Europe? They were the first to get their act together. Military discipline (the legions were unstoppable unless your name is Attila) and not to mention they were also the nation the most left alone. Britain wasnt britain. It was many tribes pouding the heads off each other, and then this huge roman legion showed up and cleaned up, as it had done in Gaul and went on to do the Iberians.
But still, why were the Romans, able to get such an advanced army and civilisation. It's the white dude 1000 years ago, completely dominating. Well, going back to before the Romans, how come the melting pot that created the romans came to pass?
I think its this: The Roman civilisation (and others like it) was created by the human need to do something. The farmers were able to grow crops able to sustain its population by using a small fraction of the population. Therefore the other lot had to find something to do, and add a little human competition and curiosity, the rest they say is history.
But I'm not quite done yet. Why were they able to grow crops like that? Simple. The weather. Western dominance is caused by the temperate climate, lack of natural disasters and lack of extreme weather conditions. Crops were reliable, and could be cultivated on a large enough scale so as to enable the rest of the population to go and do something else.
Incidentally, the weather is also the reason why peoples skin is the colour it is (melanin etc.), hence the comment at the start.