Rise of Western civilization, world empires in last few centuries
metalworking, energy, weapons
technology combined with language enabling cheap knowledge transfer. (movable type works well with the Latin alphabet)
In 20th century technology allows knowledge transfer in all languages and cultures.
See also, Pierre Bourdieu. Note reflexivity and link to the 'financial terrorist' Mr Soros, and different kinds of social and cultural capital, I haven't read most of this stuff except maybe the end. This gives an interesting viewpoint: something which can appeal to everyone of the right temperament can act as this bridging social capital to link bonded groups. If communities tend towards isolation (and this is true in leisure as in everything else), elements of culture that bridge these communities have value.