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Brat's Weberianism Denounced as Low Brow
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Some kind of moron

Timothy Noah reveals at MSNBC the shocking news that Dave Brat has been actively engaged with the intellectual heritage of Max Weber:

Dave Brat: Christianity is the key to prosperity
06/11/14 10:46 PM

By Timothy Noah

Washington insiders aren’t the only ones asking “Who is David Brat?” after his unexpected primary victory Tuesday night over House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. His fellow economists are also unsure what to make of the college professor. …

A sampling of Brat’s work reveals a preoccupation with translating Max Weber’s theory of the Protestant work ethic into quantitative economics. In his 1905 book “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism,” Weber traced the evolution of capitalism back to the Protestant Reformation, and particularly to the Calvinism that thrived in Northern Europe. More than a century ago, Weber concluded that the religious content had drained away from the Protestant ethic. Brat appears to reject that conclusion, arguing that Protestant faith continues to animate economic growth. …

“I have no idea what to make of all that,” Jared Bernstein of Washington’s Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said in an e-mail. …

“I am happy to believe that institutions matter a lot,” Georgetown economist Harry Holzer e-mailed me, “and that religion might matter too. But his statistical models are very simple-minded … In these small-sample regressions, how do we know that religion or the other variables are really ‘exogenous’ and not just correlated with other characteristics of countries that are doing well? If Christianity is so crucial, what explains the explosion of growth in China, India and other Asian countries (did they experience an explosion of Christianity that I missed)?”

“He seems like a guy working very hard to impose his belief system on the data,” Holzer elaborated in a phone interview. “A good journal is not going to publish the kind of statistical work he did because it’s so low in quality.”

A Weberian Congressman? What is the world coming to?

For example, here’s an excerpt from the Wikipedia article on Weber proving that the pioneering sociologist was too dimwitted to understand when Junker plantation landlords explained that they had to import immigrant laborers or … the crops would be rotting in the fields:

In 1890 the Verein established a research program to examine “the Polish question” or Ostflucht: the influx of Polish farm workers into eastern Germany as local labourers migrated to Germany’s rapidly industrialising cities.[4] Weber was put in charge of the study and wrote a large part of the final report,[4][22] which generated considerable attention and controversy and marked the beginning of Weber’s renown as a social scientist.[4] From 1893 to 1899 Weber was a member of the Alldeutscher Verband (Pan-German League), an organisation that campaigned against the influx of the Polish workers; the degree of Weber’s support for the Germanisation of Poles and similar nationalist policies is still debated by modern scholars.[24][25] In some of his work, in particular his provocative lecture on “The Nation State and Economic Policy” delivered in 1895, Weber criticises the immigration of Poles and blames the Junker class for perpetuating Slavic immigration to serve their selfish interests.[26]

High IQ Republican who, unlike Weber and Brat, gets it that the crops are rotting in the fields.

If Weber was so braindead he couldn’t grasp the inarguable logic of crops-rotting-in-the-fields, how can we expect Brat to have a high enough IQ to understand that the reason Democrats are pushing “immigration reform” is to help their beloved Republican colleagues win more elections?

 
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  1. The current crop of public intellectuals is pretty bad.

    “Christian congregations in particular have skyrocketed since churches began reopening when Chairman Mao’s death in 1976 signalled the end of the Cultural Revolution.
    Less than four decades later, some believe China is now poised to become not just the world’s number one economy but also its most numerous Christian nation.
    “By my calculations China is destined to become the largest Christian country in the world very soon,” said Fenggang Yang, a professor of sociology at Purdue University and author of Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule.”

    Not that Brat is necessarily right, but the arguments deployed against him by the likes of Noah are pretty bad.

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  2. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    “A good journal is not going to publish the kind of statistical work he did because it’s so low in quality.” Except in Climate Science, obviously.

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  3. As a physicist working for economists who hasn’t read any of Brat’s work, I have to say: I’ll take “low quality statistical work” over the routine torturing of data till it confesses that is the norm in the dismal science…

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  4. WhatEvvs [AKA "Cookies"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    You’re confusing Christianity w/Protestantism. What did Weber say about the Catholic Church, to which the Polish workers belonged?

    Weber is equally unpopular amongst Catholics, and for good reason. Here is an article by a Tea Party Catholic:

    http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2013/12/11099/

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  5. Priss Factor [AKA "Cloudcastler"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    “And look at South Korea’s growth — no Christians there!”

    I don’t think Christianity had much to do with it.

    Japan and China made great strides without it. East Asia has work ethic embedded through Confucianism and ant-ism.

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  6. Priss Factor [AKA "Cloudcastler"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    So-called Protestant Work Ethic exists in varied forms in other cultures too.

    Maybe t should be called Cultural Work Ethic.

    Even within Protestantism, some denominations, races, and communities are more work-ethic-oriented than others.

    So, maybe we should focus on the cultural work ethic that shows up prominently in certain but not all Protestant communities.

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  7. Rand Paul’s face can now be used freely in place of Marco Rubio’s. The things some men will do for power. Highly disappointing.

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  8. ““A good journal is not going to publish the kind of statistical work he did because it’s so low in quality.” Except in Climate Science, obviously.”

    You know, I think Derb said it best: some things are true even though the Party says they are. New York was underwater, California’s getting a drought, and the Midwest’s corn-growing’s gone downhill.

    For the past 100 years, the USA’s position as the world’s breadbasket has given us a powerful strategic advantage–we can’t be starved to death. Why throw that away so a few oil companies can make money?

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  9. “And look at South Korea’s growth — no Christians there!”

    Some of your readers might miss the sarcasm. There is, in fact, an active and growing Christian population in South Korea, for historically amusing reasons–Taoism’s associated with China and Buddhism with Japan, both of which have the usual issues with Korea smaller countries have with their larger neighbors, so Christianity’s seen as a more ‘native’ religion.

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  10. And it’s not just Christianity–the guy’s something of a heretic, being suspicious of the whole econometric basis of economics.

    I actually am suspicious of mainstream econ as well (though I can’t say I find Austrian praxeology all that much more credible…)

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  11. Most sub saharan africa countries are christian nations. Is it working?

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  12. A nice companion to this is the hilarious post over on MR about why everyone hates economists. Of course, the answer is everyone is jealous of the rigorous empiricism of economics. I mean, what else could it be?

    As far as the relationship between Christianity and capitalism, David Goldman does a good job explaining why the Judeo-Christian tradition works so well for science and commerce. At least it used to. What the post-Christian West looks like in 100 years will sort out the question for good.

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  13. Priss Factor [AKA "Cloudcastler"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    http://stuartschneiderman.blogspot.com/2014/06/the-trouble-with-common-core.html

    Communist Core.

    As student population grows darker, teach them hate whitey.

    And teach whitey to hate itself.

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  14. Robots have an excellent work ethic and appear to be entirely areligious. Personally, I’ve always thought that the economic success of Northern European societies had more to do with its cooler climes than its religious bearings. Steve, I think it was one of your lines that the Southern states of the US only began to compete with the North after the advent of air conditioning.

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  15. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    Bernstein, Holser are upset that Cantor lost. That pattern again, let’s not notice it.

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  16. Professor Brat teaches at a teaching college, not a research university. It’s really a different job, so don’t blame him for his lack of publications in good journals. What a teaching college wants is somebody who is a good teacher and reliable colleague and who knows his subject, and advancing the field is optional. In research universities, the opposite is true.

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  17. Ironically, Brat is Catholic.

    However he comes to the conclusion that mass immigration and the mass import of labor is bad for the prosperity of the native born worker class, is fine by me.

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  18. I feel sorry for the guy. He’s going to be dragged through the mud from now until November. Every time he picked his nose will be scrutinized and magnified and screeched about in the MSM for weeks on end. Meanwhile, his opponent’s member will be fellated as lovingly and as thoroughly as a member can be fellated. The poor guy is probably too naive and Jefferson Smithish to anticipate the true nature of what is coming for him.

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  19. “He seems like a guy working very hard to impose his belief system on the data.”

    The problem here, of course, is the hard work. Imposing your belief system on the data is supposed to be easy.

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  20. With his small-sample regressions, how is Brat going to cope with the likes of Sheila Jackson Lee?

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  21. advancedatheist [AKA "RedneckCryonicist"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    Steve:

    According to this study, South Korea has a largish percentage of self-identified atheists – 15 percent – rather like the percentage of Germans and Dutch people who identify as atheists:

    http://www.wingia.com/web/files/news/14/file/14.pdf

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  22. Wow, day after he wins the primary, they’re already starting. Of course this opening salvo is just a start. Before the summer’s out, watch for Brat to be painted as “fundie; possibly Intelligent Designer; one of ‘those sorts of folks that we just can’t have wondering about in the hallowed halls of DC”.

    Of course on the bright side, if this could turn out to be “all” that they’ve got on him, then he’s got a fair relative chance in Nov. of winning.

    After all, if the DE Senator Chris Coons could write a thesis in college about Marxism and that was ok, then what’s wrong with critiquing a famous 19th century economist’s famous tome re: religion at large as a possible component in Western Capitalism?

    Oh. Right. Occam’s Butterknife.

    Btw, last night was listening to Derbyshire on Takiradio commenting Steve’s writing abilities and other complimentary words.

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  23. And Max Weber also argued that Christianity was key in making the European cities a success because Christianity taught Christians to trust trustworthy strangers, and weaned them away from their tribal loyalties.

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  24. By my calculations China is destined to become the largest Christian country in the world very soon

    This is a silly statement. China is probably destined to become the largest of anything-you-name-it.

    By this standard, we can say that the Vatican (yes, it’s a country) is among the least Christian countries in the world because it has very few Christians.

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  25. Timothy Noah has been on my list ever since he scurrilously claimed that the Vatican was altering the text of Benedict XVI’s Regensburg address. He’s a left-wing partisan slanderer, IMHO.

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  26. This is a silly statement. China is probably destined to become the largest of anything-you-name-it.

    It is not a silly statement. The fact China is on track to become the largest Christian nation is significant. If China’s size alone determined that she’d be the largest of anything-you-name-it, then why won’t China be the largest:

    1) muslim nation
    2) black nation
    3) white nation
    4) hindu nation

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  27. About China: if you know traditional Chinese culture, philosophy, and religion you know that China is probably the most unreligious culture in world history. Christianity has no real chance there. It worked in Korea as a way of opposing Japanese occupation from the late 19th century until the end of WWII. The only really Christian nation in Asia is the Philippines and this is entirely owing to Spanish colonialism. And the Philippines is hardly very capitalistic, except in the crony sense. Most upper-class Filippinos are of Chinese extraction anyway.

    The Weber thesis about the Protestant Ethic and Capitalism has many flaws but also has some obvious truth in it.

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  28. Most sub saharan africa countries are christian nations. Is it working?

    It was quite a while — i.e. over a millennium, depending on how one counts — between the adoption of Christianity by the barbarian Gauls and Franks and Burgundians and Vikings, and the bourgeois striving for advancement that Weber documented. And during that time, not one Marxist stood astride the road to progress and assured them that they should stop and simply blame away their problems on some colonialists yonder North. Africa may never get the same kind of chance that Europe had, but whatever happens will take more than a few generations to come to fruition.

    Similarly, it took about a millennium for the far more advanced Dar Al Islam to turn all the cultural riches it had “inherited” and which made it more civilized (from Egypt, Greece, Rome, Persia, etc., etc.) — the ones that liberals are endlessly reminding us of — and grind them down into sand and squalor. For some reason, the liberals omit that last part, but I’m guessing they just blame that on those same colonialists North aways.

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  29. War for Blair Mountain [AKA "Bill Blizzard and his Men"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    How does David Brat feel about Henry Ford’s brutal violent wage slave operation known as the Rouge River Plant. What does David Brat thin about Bill Blizzard and his Army of Coal Miners when they wage war against the Coal Mining company at the Battle for Blair Mountain?

    I smell a brutal wage slave enthusaist in David Brat. Where does David stand on the H-1 B and L-1 b Asian legal Immigrant scab labor program? Heck even the creepy White Liberal Tim Bishop plastered the radio airwaves with attacks on H-1 L-1 b visa scab legal immigrant labor..quoting directly from Bishops’ radio attack campaign against the corporate whore traitor Randy Altshuler. Bishop was returned to Congress…he didn’t believe a word of his own campaign attack on Altschuler…you have been warned!!

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  30. Wikipedia says Brat is a Calvinist with a Catholic wife.

    It is always hard to assess the power or lack of power of religious identity, mostly often because people rarely believe entirely or fully what they religious affiliation demands they believe. In my experience most mainline Protestant in American believe almost nothing of traditional Protestant Christianity. Most Catholics I have found (and priests have also told me so) know very little about Real Catholicism.

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  31. “the Vatican … is among the least Christian countries in the world because it has very few Christians”: none at all in the view of some Protestants.

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  32. Priss Factor [AKA "Skyislander"] says: • Website     Show CommentNext New Comment

    “And Max Weber also argued that Christianity was key in making the European cities a success because Christianity taught Christians to trust trustworthy strangers.”

    It certainly wasn’t the case in Byzantine Greece and Southern Italy.

    I think Northern Christian Europe was different for several reasons.

    1. Its Christianity was purer because the indigenous barbarian pagan cultures had been weeded out. So, Christianity was the first real high culture for many northern Barbarian folks.
    In contrast, there had been high pagan culture in the South. The southern pagan cultures had been so advanced that Christianity could not wipe them out. So, Christianity and paganism became mixed in the south, which led to confusion of moral and cultural clarity–though much greater richness in images and iconography.

    2. Northern Europeans were racially purer and whiter, and their race was genetically more earnest, ‘serious-minded’, and somber–maybe cuz they evolved through long cold winters. People like Joe Pesci would have gone crazy during Nordic winters and their genes would have been weeded out. But people like Max Von Sydow could better stand long cold dark winters and pass down the seed. Also, southern Europe was invaded by Moors and Muslims–and imported many blacks during the Roman era–, and so they got more funky and loud genes, which is Italians happen to be so greasy in so many ways. It’s like Dennis Hopper in TRUE ROMANCE says southern Italians are ‘part eggplant’.

    Also, maybe the color of white has a way of shaping human behavior. This isn’t to say white people are naturally better, but being white, maybe they feel cleaner, and that affects behavior.
    Suppose we do an experiment with a bunch of Swedes. We make one bunch wear clean white shirts and make another bunch wear shirts stained with brown and other ‘swarthy’ colors. It’s possible that those wearing white shirts will feel cleaner, and that may affect behavior.
    After all, our behavior is affected by our perceptions. Looks do matter. Though there is an innate personality, it is shaped by how we react to looks, ours and others’. If Sean Connery and Woody Allen had exchanged looks, wouldn’t their behavior change at least in part?
    Northern Europeans have lighter skin, straighter hair, and even shiny blonde hair. That may have made them feel cleaner, thus subtly pushing them to act cleaner. In contrast, lots of southern Europeans have darker skin, curly hair, and funny looking noses.
    Even among Jews, it seems the more European-looking ones are less nasty than the semitic-looking ones like Howard Stern, Ron Jeremy, Anthony Wiener, Lenny Bruce, and Bob Dylan. Paul Newman was a good-looking Jew, and he acted more manlike and straight(despite his leftist politics).

    3. So, the factors listed above in combination of Protestantism maybe made for a most trusting society. The moral advantage of Protestantism was that one could protest against what one deemed as corruption and pollution. Indeed, not only against the Catholic Church but against the Protestant Church itself. Indeed, most protests from Protestants were directed at established Protestanisms, which is why so many denominations developed.
    This meant that when some Protestants felt that their Church had gone wrong, they could splinter apart and form their own Church that was more loyal and devoted to God. This impulse was reformative.

    Paradoxically, such puritanism, which was intolerant in many ways, also fostered tolerance since it was premised on the notion of individual conscience.
    Luther set an example where he protested against the Catholic Church since he deemed it as corrupt. So, he set up his own church. This meant that others could do likewise. So, even though Protestants were filled with self-righteous intolerance of others, at the very least–at least ideally–they subscribed to the notion that individuals should have the freedom to go their own way and set up their own church IF they felt that the existing church didn’t worship God in the proper way.

    Catholic Church said, ‘our Church is the only true Church’. Luther didn’t say that his Church was the only true Church. He said it was truer than the Catholic Church since he wanted a direct link to God by bypassing the corrupt and labyrinthine Catholic bureaucracy. So, Luther’s example wasn’t “my Church is the only right Church” but “I have a right to find my way to God”. Thus, Protestantism began with both a sense of moral righteousness/intolerance and a sense of individual conscience that should be allowed to think and pray in its own way.

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  33. Priss Factor [AKA "Skyislander"] says: • Website     Show CommentNext New Comment

    “This is a silly statement. China is probably destined to become the largest of anything-you-name-it.”

    It is significant in the sense of why China but not India and not Japan?

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  34. Priss Factor [AKA "Skyislander"] says: • Website     Show CommentNext New Comment

    “Most sub saharan africa countries are christian nations. Is it working?”

    Relatively speaking, maybe. Though they aren’t becoming Singapores and Polands, maybe Christian African do better than tribal-pagan ones.

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  35. Priss Factor [AKA "Skyislander"] says: • Website     Show CommentNext New Comment

    “Some of your readers might miss the sarcasm. There is, in fact, an active and growing Christian population in South Korea, for historically amusing reasons–Taoism’s associated with China and Buddhism with Japan, both of which have the usual issues with Korea smaller countries have with their larger neighbors, so Christianity’s seen as a more ‘native’ religion.”

    I think maybe stooge-ism has something to do with it.

    I think Japan has only-child-syndrome since it developed as a proud and separate island nation. So, Japanese like to think in terms of their uniqueness, their separateness. Japanese traditionally haven’t seen themselves as ‘little brother’ to anyone.

    But as Korea was attached to ‘big brother’ China for so long, I think a kind of mini-me stooge-ism took hold in the Korean character. So, Koreans are into ‘how well are we as litter brother emulating the great big brother’.
    Since China was the ‘big brother’ for so long, Koreans were crazy about Confucianism.
    But since America became the new ‘big brother’, Koreans became crazy about Christianity.

    Japanese came under American rule, but they don’t think in ‘big brother-little brother’ manner. Japan takes a certain pride in its orphanism.

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  36. Forgive me if you’ve already posted this elsewhere:

    Most have already heard that Brat’s democrat opponent in the General is a prof at the same college, but get ready for what the other guy teaches: SOCIOLOGY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  37. the degree of Weber’s support for the Germanisation of Poles and similar nationalist policies is still debated by modern scholars

    Let me translate that: it’s entirely obvious that he supported them, but modern “scholars” want to live in a world of good guys and bad guys.

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  38. “Wow, day after he wins the primary, they’re already starting. ”

    It’s just reflex action. When an unknown comes on the scene the reliable hacks immediately try to “define” him in the public’s mind, and the go-to argument is the sneer.

    It doesn’t much matter in Brat’s case. He’ll be a back-bencher, probably never heard from again. Brat’s significance is in who he defeated and why he defeated him, not who he is himself, so it’s all just wasted effort on the part of the media.

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  39. In support of Brat’s thesis, Christianity in China is often associated with modernism and business. It’s the sort of religion a young, ambitious businessman adopts. Non-denominational Protestants seem to be the fastest growing group. Several of the Tianamen Square leaders wound up converting to Christianity.

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  40. I’m shocked that Holzers and, suddenly turned Lowbrowsteins of the world would not miss the chance to directly or indirectly discredit voters’ intelligence, integrity,and general ability to pick chosen candidates. Freshly alchemized weberian-schmearberian label has to stick on Brat’s forehead until fall election so the independents and moderate/deprived/unemployed democrats won’t start bother processing it’s-immigration-stupid argumentation.

    You can expect more of randianwaspoholicfundamentalistrasistxenofobic assemblage of character assassination attempts in incoming days.

    After all ,Brat’s victory is still too warm to avoid no-gloves-needed dissection performed by the some of most prestigious whomwhoers in the nation.

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  41. This petty sniping at Brat’s work shows how remarkably narrow the range of acceptable economic opinion is to be accepted by the mainstream media and political commentator class.

    In the 1870s or the 1920s you could be a politician who advocated for a dazzling array of economic theories and get respectful press coverage – you could argue for agrarianism or statist industrialism, any type of trade and tariff policy and/or monetary policy, or even socialism of several different varieties. (Not to mention the open debate on immigration)

    Now you are seen as somewhat ridiculous if you argue for anything other than the standard neo-liberal consensus, with the accepted range of debate purely restricted to choosing among a narrow band of tax rates and fighting over where to set 3 or 4 types of regulatory policies.

    OT, the second illustration in Steve’s article works perfectly . . .

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  42. What did Weber say about the Catholic Church, to which the Polish workers belonged?

    Catholics gripe about Weber’s identification of the qualities he saw leading to success with Protestantism – they don’t deny that qualities like diligence, thrift and organization are associated with success.

    In the last few years, Catholic theologians (notably, Francis George) in America have tried a similar semantical game by grouping qualities they dislike like under the umbrella of “Calvinism”. I maintain that both Weber and George are flirting with the “no true Scotsman” fallacy.

    It may well be that thrift and entrepreneurialism was more pronounced in the North, but that didn’t magically happen once Luther came on the scene, so it’s a stretch to link what Weber saw to Protestantism. Part of what made that system work was not only the pre-Protestant (i.e. Catholic) foundation on which it was built, but also those grimy Catholic Poles (and Austrians and Spaniards, not to mention all the Orthodox to the East) who had to spend a larger portion of their GDP battling Ottomans, Moors and Mongols, thereby keeping Western and Northern Europe safe for capitalism.

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  43. “What did Weber say about the Catholic Church, to which the Polish workers belonged?”

    Interesting bit of trivia: Murray Rothbard attributed the origins of the erroneous Labor Theory of Value to the Calvinist “work ethic”, essentially claiming the Presbyterian culture that incubated the Scottish Enlightenment wormed its way into Adam Smith’s economic theories. It’s almost an inversion of the Weber Thesis.

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  44. Anon says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    I think Brat would probally think that Bill Blizzard needs to get a girlfriend. And he’d probally tell you don’t assume you are better than 3s that’s probally what you need to gun for. Say what you want about sports but listening to someone carry on about how the tide should have won the sugar bowl is infinitely less headache inducing than bill blizzard’s old timey folk times. If it happened before you died let it go.

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  45. Priss Factor [AKA "Skyislander"] says: • Website     Show CommentNext New Comment

    “It was quite a while — i.e. over a millennium, depending on how one counts — between the adoption of Christianity by the barbarian Gauls and Franks and Burgundians and Vikings, and the bourgeois striving for advancement that Weber documented.”

    Blacks seem to instantly do well in sports whether Christian, Muslim(Ali and Kareem), pagan, or atheist.

    Comparing today’s Africa with Europe 1000 yrs ago isn’t fair.

    Back then, Europeans got Christianity but there was no modern technology in the world.

    But suppose Europeans today were like barbarians 1000 yrs ago and were introduced to modern technology, modern organization, modern management, and etc.
    I think they would respond to progress faster than Africans could.
    Of course, it would take some time, and it wouldn’t happen instantly.

    But if I had to bet on a bunch of barbarian Europeans and savage Africans who are introduced to modern technology at the same time, I would bet on the former.

    Amazingly, Europeans built the modern world from scratch. The rise of Asia owes to imitating the West. The West had no one to imitate, but they did it on their own.

    Though the fall of Rome and Greek Byzantium were disasters, maybe it was necessary for the greater rise of the West. The problem with longevity and tradition–especially in traditional social systems that hadn’t stumbled on the notion of progress–was that they burdened people in the present with the need to preserve the ways of the past. With such a great baggage of cultural and historical heritage, you’re too busy maintaining the current-order-with-deep-roots than striking out with new ideas from scratch. It’s like fresh Bill Gates beating gigantic IBM with its massive bureaucratic structure.

    Of course, if past heritage is lost for good and forever, that really hurts. But in the West, it was lost but then rediscovered in a way that fired up the creative imagination of Westerners during the Renaissance. IF Rome hadn’t fallen, there would have been no Renaissance some 1000 yrs later. Roman culture would have continued and grown stale like Byzantine culture. But because it was lost and then rediscovered, the newly rising Western Europeans felt free to reinterpret, re-arrange, and re-imagine them in new ways.
    They weren’t merely copying the classical artists but imagining and exploring how such artists might have worked.

    It’s like WWII did some good for Germany and Japan. As old factories were all smashed, they felt free to experiment with new ones. In contrast, UK got stuck with the old factories.

    And it’s like winter has a way of making people start anew, thus inculcating their cultural psychology with the idea that the old must go and new must arrive.

    But in a place that is hot all year round, there’s only the mentality of stasis. It’s like India is like one never-ending summer of a civilization. A few winters would probably do it some good.

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  46. This kind of touches on something I’ve been ruminating about: religion. Brat seems to go out of his way to identify himself as a religious man. Apparently he is a Protestant and that district is very Protestant. My sister lives there so I know it a bit. People are rather “churchy” in that area.

    The district has had a Jewish Congressman for the last decade, even though it is only 0.27% Jewish http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/01/04/1263154/-What-s-the-most-Jewish-congressional-district-in-America I have a feeling that must have always rankled some people. How do they come to have a Jewish Congressman except that the Republican establishment imposed Cantor on them by scaring off any credible alternative? He’s a big fundraiser and his big fundraising is from big Jewish donors.

    When they had a chance, they really threw Cantor out with a vengeance, double digits. Brat may be a very, very clever politician, not the naïve intellectual he tries to convey. Yes, the amnesty thing irritated people but he was sending out a message that he would represent the district better than Cantor because he shares their values.

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  47. I think there’s a more compelling case to be made that the Northern European way of viewing the world led to both protestantism and capitalism (that is industry + trade, not just merchant-ism which southern euros and middle easterners have a better claim on).

    That said, I’m as far from being able to make that case as a ferret is from counting cards.

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  48. Prissy lib whiner: “Dave Brat is a Weberian!”

    Average American reacts: “Oh, so he likes to grill meat.”

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  49. A silly aside, but in most Slavic languages “brat” means “brother” (a further aside, watch the great film of same name: http://youtu.be/YewLBN43HqI to see something wonderful).

    Weber himself was from mid-Germany, but as a product of that place and time was able to grok “die nuechternheit”: that steadfast, hard-working, loyal and sober character associated with Prussia (especially with the eastern area of Samland).

    The Alldeutscher Verband often used imagery of the Teutonic Knights, who conquered the old, indigenous Prussians during the northern crusades. Those same teutonic guys so memorably but unfavorably depicted by Eisenstein in his great film, Alesandr Nevsky. These Catholic knights thoroughly conquered Prussia, and the German language replaced Old Prussian (old, old Indo-European). After the Reformation, though, the area became primarily Lutheran.

    Geographically, a perfect place for intense admixture. My German family there picked up Polish in much the same way that USA Americans now learn Spanish: as supervisors and such. Well, that place is gone, so we’re used to moving around ;)

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  50. Priss Factor [AKA "Skyislander"] says: • Website     Show CommentNext New Comment

    Maybe Protestantism was a revolution in thought habit in this sense.

    Prior to Luther, there were dominant social orders that said ‘we got everything right’. But on occasion, there were counter-ideals that said ‘no, you got it all wrong, and we got everything right’. So, while the new idea protested the existing idea, it also sought to establish itself as the new ultimate truth that mustn’t be questioned.

    It went from iron order to protest to another iron order.

    But Protestantism wasn’t so much about the protesters believing that they had everything right but that they saw something of value in the very act of reform and protest. Thus, the process of the act came to matter more than the blueprint for the new perfect order(which would only turn into another tyranny).

    Since Protestantism established the cult of protest, the act of finding something wrong with the system became more important than coming up with some grand new scheme to establish yet another perfect order(which would turn gigantic and corrupt and tyrannical).

    So, while Christianity did establish a great new order, its Catholic and Byzantine forms were so sure that they had everything right. So, the Christian order became a new order of obedience and stasis.

    But Protestantism seemed to imply that no order could ever be perfect, final, or for-all-time. Instead, individuals must always look to their own conscience and speak out about the wrongs and evils of the social order, even that of the holiest church, which for a long long time was the Roman Catholic Church. A new way of thinking, feeling, and acting.

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  51. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    Anon 5:51 PM

    The opinion of a Chinese Fifth Column interloper to the American scene counts for this much:0

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  52. Clearly, Japan’s economic growth over the last two hundred years was driven by Christianity.

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  53. New testament Christian economics has always be corrupted by old testament usury.

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  54. About China: if you know traditional Chinese culture, philosophy, and religion you know that China is probably the most unreligious culture in world history. Christianity has no real chance there.

    -Norman Ravitch

    That’s ridiculous. Chinese are as superstitious as any people I’ve ever come across. And Christianity – or a Christian heresy if you will – almost brought down the Qing dynasty in the mid-19th century, and may well have done so if it weren’t for Western military aid to the empire.

    The one thing that most sets Chinese apart from Christian cultures is that they have a shame rather than guilt based culture. But these things can and do change; the Germanic peoples prior to conversion to Christianity also had a shame based society, but who could seriously claim that characterizes them today?

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  55. It’s possible to get aspects of the protestant ethic w/o religion, and when people whine about his interest in this field, they really miss the point.
    There was a paper that one of my professors referenced that asserted that the protestant ethic could be found in parts of Japanese mercantile culture, and I’m certain you could find it in others as well. In fact, I’d assert that thriftiness is an unqualified good, except that people have bought into this paradox of thrift business.

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  56. if I had to bet on a bunch of barbarian Europeans and savage Africans who are introduced to modern technology at the same time, I would bet on the former.

    The original question, which is what I was addressing, was whether Christianity was “working” for sub-Saharan Africa. Whether or not Africans advance more slowly than barbarian Europeans did is beside the point. Time will tell, but whatever the answer, a good deal of time will be required.

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  57. The chief Chinese characteristic is gross materialism. That makes them good capitalists.

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  58. It certainly wasn’t the case in Byzantine Greece and Southern Italy.

    Until Byzantium fell, most objective observers would have considered it a good deal more civilized than much of Europe. But trust and amicability are harder to come by if Moors and Ottomans consider it their God-given duty to come through raping and pillaging every few years. If Western Christianity had had to deal with that, there would arguably have been far less of whatever it is that makes that part of the world function.

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  59. This could be slightly off-topic, although confirms that the united punditry of Benetton rarely denounces genuine stupidity:

    Meanwhile, in Golden State the 300.000+. reasons to lament over idiocratic (unless it was tong-in-chick kind of vote) nature of murican electoral body are not worthy a pixel of MSNBC’s coverage.

    Obviously; you ain’t low brow when you vote for a buddy of Ray Chow .

    “None of his opponents ran ads saying, ‘Don’t forget: Don’t vote for Yee’,” philosophizes Richie Ross about Leland’s unintentionally won primary bronze.

    A true Mencius in disguise…

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  60. “A good journal is not going to publish the kind of statistical work he did because it’s so low in quality.” Except in Climate Science, obviously.

    Race-denial just told me to tell you you’re dead to him.

    You know, I think Derb said it best: some things are true even though the Party says they are. New York was underwater, California’s getting a drought, and the Midwest’s corn-growing’s gone downhill.

    I’m supposed to fret over having the mildest summer in this region in living memory and save the snail darter while YT’s being slowly destroyed by demographic genocide?

    Let the planet burn.

    With his small-sample regressions, how is Brat going to cope with the likes of Sheila Jackson Lee?

    Exactly. Oh noes! However will I compete with the low, blow-dried foreheads in Congress?

    Rush was talking yesterday about how silly the public worship of H. Clinton as America’s most accomplished woman is. I immediately thought about how Obama is similarly history’s most accomplished black man. I thought for the umpteenth time how sad it is to have to resort to winning popularity contests for one’s group bona fides.

    Africa may never get the same kind of chance that Europe had, but whatever happens will take more than a few generations to come to fruition.

    Is “chance” a euphemism for “boons of Gaia”?

    Most Catholics I have found (and priests have also told me so) know very little about Real Catholicism.

    Not that the priests are wrong, but that’s like asking public school principals about home schooling.

    It’s like Dennis Hopper in TRUE ROMANCE says southern Italians are ‘part eggplant’.

    Sicilians. And Tarantino has grave black issues, what with his mommy and all.

    It doesn’t much matter in Brat’s case. He’ll be a back-bencher, probably never heard from again. Brat’s significance is in who he defeated and why he defeated him, not who he is himself, so it’s all just wasted effort on the part of the media.

    Yes, that’s the beauty of this. It’ll be a hell of a long time before anyone forgets The Fall of Cantor.

    It may well be that thrift and entrepreneurialism was more pronounced in the North, but that didn’t magically happen once Luther came on the scene, so it’s a stretch to link what Weber saw to Protestantism. Part of what made that system work was not only the pre-Protestant (i.e. Catholic) foundation on which it was built, but also those grimy Catholic Poles (and Austrians and Spaniards, not to mention all the Orthodox to the East) who had to spend a larger portion of their GDP battling Ottomans, Moors and Mongols, thereby keeping Western and Northern Europe safe for capitalism.

    De-centralization of Protestantism makes for a big rift between it and Catholicism. That independence is very much in line with entrepreneurialism and enterprise, IMO.

    Part of what made that system work was not only the pre-Protestant (i.e. Catholic) foundation on which it was built, but also those grimy Catholic Poles (and Austrians and Spaniards, not to mention all the Orthodox to the East) who had to spend a larger portion of their GDP battling Ottomans, Moors and Mongols, thereby keeping Western and Northern Europe safe for capitalism.

    Which feeds back into what Steve has just mentioned a few posts above about the Sceptered Isle.

    Comparing today’s Africa with Europe 1000 yrs ago isn’t fair.

    Right. It’s unfair to the Africans:

    Medieval England twice as well off as today’s poorest nations

    With such a great baggage of cultural and historical heritage, you’re too busy maintaining the current-order-with-deep-roots than striking out with new ideas from scratch.

    Prot vs. Cath above.

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  61. Priss Factor [AKA "Cloudcastler"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    “Clearly, Japan’s economic growth over the last two hundred years was driven by Christianity.”

    I know you’re being sarcastic but this is partly true for Japan copied and leaned so much from the Christian West. Though they didn’t take the religion, they took many values and ideas associated with Christianity.

    Kurosawa was not a Christian but his favorite artist was Dostoevsky. And IKIRU was based on a Tolstoy short story.
    And humanism that inspired so many Japanese artists had Christian roots.

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  62. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    But because it was lost and then rediscovered, the newly rising Western Europeans felt free to reinterpret, re-arrange, and re-imagine them in new ways.

    With the help of Muslims, both in the rediscovery and the reinterpretation and criticism. One wonders if Europe would have risen if that hadn’t happened in the first place; some historians of science think it was absolutely transformative.

    the Germanic peoples prior to conversion to Christianity also had a shame based society, but who could seriously claim that characterizes them today?

    I don’t think the distinction is that clear in the first place and both behaviors clearly exist (perhaps in different degrees) in various societies. Characterizing past societies as one way or the other is probably even more tenuous. For one example, Dodds might tentantively argue that ancient Greece transitioned from “shame” to “guilt” in Classical times, Malina and friends might instead prefer to call the whole ancient Med world “guilt societies.” I’ve seen plenty of elements of “shame societies” in the societies of “Germanic peoples” so whatever floats one’s boat.

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  63. De-centralization of Protestantism makes for a big rift between it and Catholicism. That independence is very much in line with entrepreneurialism and enterprise, IMO.

    Yeah, and what makes states glom together and forsake some of that much-desired decentralization? Could it have anything, anything at all, to do with knowing that decentralization when there are a horde of Moors or Ottomans across the border means getting picked off one by one like ants?

    Nah, let’s keep pretending that decentralization just kind of happens. Why give up on our comfortable Black-Legend-supported biases, when the alternative requires actual thinking?

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  64. With the help of Muslims, both in the rediscovery and the reinterpretation and criticism.

    Yeah, as if having the Muslims control all communities in which ancient texts were preserved (in the case of Byzantium and the rest of the Middle East, we’re talking primarily about monastic communities) made transferring that knowledge to Europe easier.

    Thanks so much, Muslims. No possible alternative way we could have contacted, you know, other Christians, were it not for your essential mediation.

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  65. […] them. Maybe they should go pick fruit- I hear it’s “rotting in the fields”. They could learn a thing or two about hard work from the […]

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  66. Priss Factor [AKA "Skyislander"] says: • Website     Show CommentNext New Comment

    Even people who don’t convert to Christianity can become Christoids by absorbing many values and principles associated with Christianity.

    Muslim world came to reject slavery, and that aspect of the Islamic world is Christoid.

    Jews are also Christoid in having transformed the Holocaust into a kind of universalist faith.

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  67. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    Muslim world came to reject slavery, …

    Huh? Did this just happen the other day, and I missed it? Because that’s not what I’ve been hearing.

    That being said, I was with you up until then. E.g. if one compares the markedly increased universalist tendencies (for better or worse) among the Ashkenazi relative to the Sephardi, in the case universalist alterna-Christian religions (or heresies) like Marxism and modern leftism, as well as other supra-localist movements such as fascism, Zionism, anarchism, etc., I suspect a good deal of Ashkenazi enthusiasm for all those comes from the European and Christian milieu in which they resided. Same goes for the relative cultural advancement of the two groups. Not that they’ll care to admit that. (I realize Islam is also a universalist religion, so that the Sephardi might have absorbed some universalism that way, but let’s not pretend it’s the same kind of thing.)

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  68. Muslim world came to reject slavery,…

    Huh? Did this just happen the other day, and I missed it? Because that’s not what I’ve been hearing.

    That being said, I was with you up until then. If one compares the markedly increased universalist tendencies (for better or worse) among the Ashkenazi relative to the Sephardi, in the case universalist alterna-Christian religions (or heresies) like Marxism and modern leftism, as well as other also supra-localist movements such as fascism, Zionism, anarchism, I suspect a good deal of Ashkenazi enthusiasm for all those comes from the European milieu in which the former resided. Same goes for the relative cultural advancement of the two groups. Not that they would necessarily care to admit that. (I realize that Islam is also universalist, so that the Sephardi might have absorbed similar tendencies that way, but let’s not pretend it’s the same kind of thing.)

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  69. Priss Factor [AKA "Skyislander"] says: • Website     Show CommentNext New Comment

    “Muslim world came to reject slavery,… Huh? Did this just happen the other day, and I missed it?”

    Yes, slavery still exists in the Muslim world. It even exists among Christian Africans.

    But most Muslim nations–especially outside Africa–have come to officially denounce slavery as wrong. There’s no slavery in Jordan, Syria, Iran, Turkey, and etc.
    That’s very much the influence of the Christian West.

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  70. Priss Factor [AKA "Skyislander"] says: • Website     Show CommentNext New Comment

    “The chief Chinese characteristic is gross materialism. That makes them good capitalists.”

    Then, why isn’t Detroit and Haiti booming?

    Weber’s argument was that gross materialism wasn’t conducive to the rise of capitalism since people just ate up and used up whatever they had for wanton pleasure and hedonism.
    For there to be capital accumulation and long-term investment, people paradoxically have to be imbued with anti-materialist and anti-greedy values.

    And while lots of Chinese love gold, glitz, and tasteless stuff, it’s also true that the priority of many Chinese parents is education for their kids first.

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  71. Muslim world came to reject slavery,…

    Yes, slavery still exists in the Muslim world.

    If you’re willing to say that the primary exponents of the continuation of slavery in the modern world are Islamists, and they are still a considerable problem, I think we can agree, but that’s certainly at odds with your first statement above.

    Moreover, despite proscriptions against the trafficking of formerly free individuals into slavery (at least those from Muslim lands), which is what you seem to be referring to, it should also be noted that wherever shariah exists, slavery vis-à-vis prisoners of war (and that includes female sex slaves) is still allowed in principle (and in some countries, very much in practice), and given the tenacity with which it is endorsed by certain clerics, is arguably a tenet of the faith.

    People in the West snicker over Osama’s porn stash, or the 9/11 terrorists’ strip club visits, and regard that as hypocritical behavior for those who claim to be pious, but it’s not clear that those practices (at least when it comes to kaffir women) are actually proscribed in Islam, due to the points I just made, though I suppose some legalistic rigamarole has to be applied to make the verses fit.

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  72. Kudos to Christianity for encouraging the ethic of hard work, but it is hardly proof that being Protestant is somehow a sine qua non of success.

    In any society with the rule of law and economic freedom, anyone who works hard and smart will prosper.

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  73. A similar work ethic has been adopted by the Chinese- work hard and save. This is a mainstream Chinese thing and the small minority of Chinese that are Christian (2.4%) obviously doesn’t explain it. The historian Neil Ferguson points out the Chinese Confucian civilisation has adopted the protestant work ethic.

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