Multiculturalism—the belief that no culture is better or worse than any other; it is merely different—has come to dominate Western intellectual thought and to serve as a guide to domestic and foreign policy and development aid. But what if multiculturalism itself is flawed? What if some cultures are more prone to progress than others and more successful at creating the cultural capital that encourages democratic governance, social justice for all, and the elimination of poverty? In Jews, Confucians, and Protestants: Cultural Capital and the End of Multiculturalism, Lawrence E. Harrison takes the politically incorrect stand that all cultures are not created equal. Analyzing the performance of 117 countries, grouped by predominant religion, Harrison argues for the superiority of those cultures that emphasize Jewish, Confucian, and Protestant values. A concluding chapter outlines ways in which cultural change may substantially transform societies within a generation.
Lawrence E Harrison —
Lawrence E. Harrison is the author of Undervelopment is a State of Mind (Madison Books), The Central Liberal Truth: How Politics Can Change a Culture and Save It from Itself (Oxford), and coeditor, with Samuel P. Huntington of Culture Matters—How Values Shape Human Progress (Perseus).
Harrison, Lawrence E. Jews, Confucians, and Protestants: cultural capital and the end of multiculturalism. Rowman & Littlefield, 2013. 221p index afp; ISBN 9781442219632; ISBN 9781442219649 e-book. Reviewed in 2013aug CHOICE.
Harrison (Cato Institute) vigorously defends the proposition that both human capital (e.g., educated workers) and social capital (e.g., capacity to cooperate) require the larger religious worldviews constituting cultural capital. Not all religious cultures are equally deserving of respect if measured by their score on a 25-item typology of "universal progress culture." Using league tables of national achievements regarding transparency/corruption, political and civil freedoms, income distribution, female literacy, and per capita income--reinforced by anecdotes from his own experience in economic development projects in Latin America--Harrison concludes that the three religious cultures of the book's title are markedly superior on all counts in comparison with Catholic and Orthodox Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. And, to demonstrate that culture matters and race does not, he uses the same typology to show the high achievements of minority religious/cultural outliers such as Basques (Catholic), Ismailis (Muslim), and Sikhs (Hindu) as well as African Americans descended from pre-Civil War freedmen or from immigrants from Jamaica. The lesson he draws for US educational, social-welfare, and immigration policy is obvious: assimilation into US national culture must supplant multiculturalism in theory and practice.
Summing Up: Recommended. General readers, undergraduate students, graduate students, and research faculty. -- E. J. Eisenach, emeritus, University of Tulsa