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Weber’s whole approach was founded c o u n t e r i n g t h e e u ro c e n t r i c m y t h 15 on the most poignant Orientalist questions: what was it about the West that made its path to modern capitalism inevitable? And why was the East predestined for economic backwardness? The Orientalist cue in Weber is found both with the initial questions and the subsequent analytical methodology that he deployed in order to answer them. Weber’s view was that the essence of modern capitalism lay with its unique and pronounced degree of ‘rationality’ and ‘predictability’, values that were to be found only in the West.

38 t h e e a s t a s e a r ly d e v e l o p e r And Muhammad’s saying that ‘Poverty is almost like an apostasy’, implies that the true servant of God should be affluent or at least economically independent. 18 It is also significant that the Qu’ran ¯ stipulates the importance of investment. And while we usually consider the Shar¯ıa (the Islamic sacred law) as the root of despotism and economic backwardness, it was in fact created as a means to prevent the abuse of the rulers’ or caliphs’ power and, moreover, it set out clear provisions for contract law.

Nevertheless, globalisation can be said to exist prior to (and indeed after) 1500 insofar as significant flows of goods, resources, currencies, capital, institutions, ideas, technologies and peoples flowed across regions to such an extent that they impacted upon, and led to the transformation of, societies across much of the globe. Even so, Robert Holton maintains that: A global history need not take the form of a single uniting process (or metanarrative) such as the triumph of reason or western civilisation.

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