"Europe's early industrialization in the 19th century ended up fueling a vast European empire throughout Asia, Africa and the Americas. The vast differences in power contributed to faulty social theories of these differences that are still with us today. When a society is economically dominant, it is easy for its members to assume that such dominance reflects a deeper superiority - whether religious, racial, genetic, cultural, or institutional-rather than any accident of timing or geography. Thus the inequality of power and economics of the 19th century in favor of Europe was accompanied by the spread of new forms of racism and "culturism," which offered pseudoscientific justifications for the vast inequalities that had opened. These theories in turn justified brutal forms of exploitation of the poor through colonial rule, dispossession of the properties and lands of the poor by the rich, and even slavery."
From the book, "The End of Poverty"