Saturday, July 5, 2014

Harrison, 2006, the Central Liberal Truth (Comparative politics)

Harrison was a USAID official with mainly Latin American experience, who was involved in the Culture Matters conference series with Sam Huntington, and wrote this book as a visiting scholar at Tufts. The work relies  heavily on the essays prepared for the Culture Matters Research Project. The comparative data correlating development indicators to Pew World values survey and predominant religion is interesting, if not entirely convincing.  The "progress prone" cultural characteristics are fairly convincing even if their origin is an idiosyncratic Argentinean journalist. My main criticism is that "progress" and development are narrowly defined in terms of western capitalist growth, which might be self limiting in more than John Wesley's sense of prosperity undermining the virtue of hard work; growth might be catastrophic, and other value systems might help us survive those growth induced catastrophes. If this is true, then propagating the virus of the Anglo-Protestant work ethic is the cultural equivalent of monocultures in agriculture, and maybe not such a good idea.  Ultimately, I am a little bit uncomfortable spreading the gospel that the world needs more protestant capitalism like the good stuff found in America. See also Jones, Cultures Merging.  
David Last, 9 April 2013

No comments:

Post a Comment