BRITAIN VS GERMANY
(how germany made use of second mover advantage: england betamax, germany vhs)
By Aaron Kahland
I‘ll start by addressing education. Let’s take the metric of universities. Germany had more than ten before 16th century concluded whilst England’s third university was first founded in 1824 and Oxbridge were largely confined to theology and law.
The protestant reformation led to compulsory education in Germany well before it was commonplace in England.
The pietist movement in Germany led to the concept of ‘Bildung’ or a general education in the humanities which led to a revival of the study of the Classics. By the 19th century, whilst the Britons were busying themselves with superficial comparisons between Victorian and Roman periods, Germans were discovering places like Troy.
By 1933, Germany had more Nobel Prize winners than all English speakers on the planet combined.
But that is actually a poor metric considering that Germany invented the modern university and it became the model for the rest of the world and, importantly, the United States.
I want to emphasize that i am not entirely convinced that the general education of the average German was better than that of the average Briton. Perhaps it was, perhaps it was not – I really don’t know. A good indicator might be book sales and what books were being sold in the 19th century.
However, I would argue that by the 19th century, the upper 5% of Germans were better educated than Britons – and this is reflected in the fact that the Second Industrial Revolution occurred not in Britain but Germany. Whilst Britain was the origin of the Scientific Revolution – the Germans scholars absolutely embraced it and built their deucational institutions using the scientific method as a foundation. In fact I might argue that German philosophy was a response / reaction to that tremendous pace of scientific advance.
By the 19th century in both France and Britain – Germany became synonymous with science and France had entirely given up hope of ever competing. It came to be understood, in Europe, that there was something peculiar about German civilization that provided it a technological advantage over others.
It was this second Industrial Revolution – the fact that Germany now completely dominated electrics, machine tools, chemicals, pharmaceuticals that, in my view, was the cause of this civilizational conflict. By the late 19th Century the British ruling classes were determined to build a global Empire that would be run by a global English-speaking elite – the Rhodes Scholarship was established precisely for the purpose of selecting this elite on merit. Germany however, was the obstacle to achieving this because of her scientific advancement.
(I baited Aaron Kahland into this post. He didn’t bite. So I just outright asked him. This is the result. lol -hugs )