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NYT: Brat's Theory of Protestant Work Ethic Has a "Surprisingly Distinguished History"
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One of the biggest buttresses of the current ideological regime, broadly defined, is the widespread assumption that dissenters, even tenured economics professor David Brat (victor over former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor), can’t be very smart.

This appeals especially to people who don’t seem exceptionally smart themselves.

One of the funnier example of this phenomenon is the urge, which I’ve noted before, to cite Brat’s work on Max Weber’s theory of the Protestant Work Ethic as evidence that Brat isn’t smart (at least not by the high standards of Members of the House and spergy economists).

From the New York Times Magazine:

David Brat’s Hand-of-God Economics
JULY 8, 2014
By BINYAMIN APPELBAUM

Even before David Brat’s out-of-nowhere victory against Eric Cantor last month, there was plenty of skepticism about whether he merited the label of academic economist. Brat, a professor at Randolph-Macon College in Virginia, is certainly not in danger of winning a Nobel Prize: He writes discursive papers devoid of math; he has cited Wikipedia as a source; and he has never been published in a significant journal. But his big idea — that Protestantism is good for the economy — has a surprisingly distinguished history.

“Surprisingly?” Max Weber’s 1905 book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism is cited on 1,670,000 webpages known to Google. In a 1998 “Books of the Century” list, members of the International Sociological Association ranked it 4th (with Weber’s own Economy and Society 1st).

The financial crisis of 2008 shook an abiding faith in the free markets that had dominated policy making for a generation. Liberals responded by calling for increased regulation. Conservatives, distrustful of both Wall Street and government, have struggled to articulate their own alternative. But Brat, who describes himself as a “100 percent free-market-Milton-Friedman-Chicago-School-Hayek economist,” saw confirmation of his longstanding idea that markets are perfect places inhabited by imperfect beings. On the campaign trail, Brat declared that bankers should have gone to jail and that “crony capitalists,” like Cantor, had undermined the system. “I’m not against business,” he said. “I’m against big business in bed with big government.”

Instead of arguing for any specific regulation, however, Brat said that the system simply needed more virtue.

Saying that bankers should have gone to jail is to argue for enforcing current laws. This is similar to his position on illegal immigration. (It’s illegal). Both contrast sharply with the Obama position.

… Weber’s view has since fallen out of favor, but Brat, who studied at a Presbyterian seminary before pursuing a degree in economics, has tried to carry on an extreme variant of this tradition anyway. In his doctoral thesis at American University, “Human Capital, Religion and Economic Growth,” he argued that Protestant countries grew more quickly because they were particularly supportive of scientific exploration. The role of religion was “not large compared to other factors,” but ignoring it would “be a significant omission.”

I’ve always wanted to see a comparison, apples to apples style, of the prosperity of neighboring Protestant and Catholic regions in Germany and Switzerland.

Similarly, I’d like to see some analyses of the effects of George H.W. Bush’s Bratian response to the savings & loan fiasco (put hundreds of S&L execs in jail) and Barack Obama’s response to the mortgage meltdown (put hardly anybody in jail).

… Brat’s political success suggests a fundamental evolution in the Republican Party. During the late 1990s, Senator Phil Gramm and Representative Dick Armey, former economics professors, played key roles in the government’s deregulation of the financial industry. Gramm helped write the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, which cleared the way for the emergence of financial supermarkets, like Citigroup, that offered banking and brokerage and insurance services.

That worked out well … for Robert Rubin’s net worth, and the governmental careers of Jack Lew and Stanley Fischer. Other than that, I’m kinda drawing a blank. But, that’s not the point, the point is:

But neither of them identified closely with the Christian right. Free-market economists, after all, are explicit that companies are held accountable by customers, competitors and shareholders: They don’t need the government’s help, and they don’t need God’s either.

Oh, boy …

Religious voters effectively ended Gramm’s bid for the presidency in early 1996, when he was upset by Pat Buchanan in the Louisiana caucus.

And we all know what that means …

 
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  1. anon • Disclaimer says:

    I liked how Binyamin the NYT economics reporter accuses Brat of not being scholarly enough to begin the piece, then concludes by making a series of serious claims without any evidence to back them up.

    “But whereas the Republican Party was once a coalition of capitalists and Christians, it’s increasingly populated by people who profess belief in both. David E. Campbell, a professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame, has found a significant overlap between the Tea Party and the religious right. In 2006, Campbell and his collaborator, Robert D. Putnam, a professor of public policy at Harvard University, interviewed about 3,000 Americans. When most were interviewed again, in 2011, the professors found that the people most likely to identify with the Tea Party were those who previously wanted religion to play a large role in government. Campbell said that it made sense that people who came of age when the Republican Party was a coalition of those two things are now forming a generation that “is just going to believe in both things.””

    Maybe conservatives didn’t push for more religion in government (as if that’s really what they’re pushing for now) because America was a unselfconsciously a Christian (and really, Protestant) nation and now it’s not.

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  2. “But [David Brat's] big idea — that Protestantism is good for the economy — has a surprisingly distinguished history.”

    May be good for the economy, but it ain’t good for quality of life. Protestantism is no more than trade of Gluttony, Lust, Sloth, Pride, and Envy for perpetual Anger and Greed made into virtues.

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    • Replies: @Dave
    Protestantism is about a thousand times better than Catholicism.
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  3. “Maybe conservatives didn’t push for more religion in government (as if that’s really what they’re pushing for now) because America was a unselfconsciously a Christian (and really, Protestant) nation and now it’s not.”

    Which conservatives? The Christian Right always wants more religion (their kind of religion) in government.

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    • Replies: @The Z Blog
    And the Left, the people in charge for the last century, always want more of their religion. Progressives begin and end with the imposition of their values on everyone else. Unlike Christians, Progressives end up at the gulag or gas chamber.
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  4. Lot says:

    Germans are, on IQ and income, ranked Jewish/Part Jewish, Catholic, Protestant. The gap between these groups is relatively small.

    In Belgium Protestants are richer, but this is relatively recent after a long history of being poorer.

    In the Baltics Protestants have been richer.

    In Switzerland they are both equally very well off.

    Two notable times in history when Protestants have been economically/culturally dominant minorities was Ireland and a large part of France before the Huguenot defeat and expulsion.

    In modern Poland, both Jews and mostly Protestant Germans were both much richer and than Polish Catholics and economically dominant.

    Overall, the Protestant/Catholic gap is inconclusive. It is Islam that makes people poorer than their near co-ethnics. Albania is the big Euro example. Chechens v Armenians is another very stark gap.

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    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Thanks.

    You could probably add America, where the Calvinists tended to be more enterprising than the (quasi-Catholic) Anglicans.
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  5. By modern Poland, I mean the land within the present state of Poland, which changed hands many times. Now Poland has no significant religious minorities.

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  6. @Lot
    Germans are, on IQ and income, ranked Jewish/Part Jewish, Catholic, Protestant. The gap between these groups is relatively small.

    In Belgium Protestants are richer, but this is relatively recent after a long history of being poorer.

    In the Baltics Protestants have been richer.

    In Switzerland they are both equally very well off.

    Two notable times in history when Protestants have been economically/culturally dominant minorities was Ireland and a large part of France before the Huguenot defeat and expulsion.

    In modern Poland, both Jews and mostly Protestant Germans were both much richer and than Polish Catholics and economically dominant.

    Overall, the Protestant/Catholic gap is inconclusive. It is Islam that makes people poorer than their near co-ethnics. Albania is the big Euro example. Chechens v Armenians is another very stark gap.

    Thanks.

    You could probably add America, where the Calvinists tended to be more enterprising than the (quasi-Catholic) Anglicans.

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  7. “Overall, the Protestant/Catholic gap is inconclusive. It is Islam that makes people poorer than their near co-ethnics. Albania is the big Euro example. Chechens v Armenians is another very stark gap.”

    How does Bosnia fare vs. Serbia and Croatia?

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    • Replies: @Lot
    Bosnian Muslims are poorer than surrounding Christian groups.

    USA is a tough question since we don't have many examples of ethnically very similar groups with different religions living nearly side by side, unless you want to compare Jews and Muslims from the same country, like Iran or Syria, or Jews and Orthodox from Eastern Europe. I can't think of anything like this for Catholic and Protestant.
    , @AlexT
    Bosnia is itself a good comparison as it is divided into 3 different ethnic enclaves. The Catholic and Orthodox are way ahead of the Muslims. Of the other ex-Yugoslav states Slovenia (historically Catholic) is the richest, Kosovo(muslim) is poorest.
    Tentative ranking:
    Slovenia
    Croatia
    Serbia
    Bosnia
    Montenegro
    Macedonia
    Kosovo
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  8. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    What really strikes the reader is the sheer bitchiness and pettiness of the argument. I mean out of work drag queens fighting for a slot at the meanest gay bar have got nothing on Appelbaum – that’s the the standard the so called great and good have amongst themselves. Saying all that I’ve got absolutely no time whatosever for Milton Friedman, friedmanites and the whole meretricious Republican party big business worshipping and big business funded Friedman fan club.
    Well the immigrationists have lost one of their own, and boy are they smarting. Those used to bullying and getting their own way all the time certainly take defeat very very badly. This is only the outward expression of their livid anger. What they say behind closed dooors must be much much more angrier, vile and abusive. The peasants have revolted and the priveleged the entitled and the superior don’t like it one bit.

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  9. I think the ‘Protestant Work Ethic’ is far more a Germanic Work Ethic. In Belgium the Catholic-German Flemings work hard like Protestants while the Catholic-French Walloons enjoy life like Frenchmen. So it’s probably more ethnic than religious; genetics and culture. The most German nations have the most work ethic; semi-Germanised clinal nations like France and England less so, and the least Germanised European nations tend to have the least work ethic. Within nations you also see the gradient, eg semi-Germanised but Catholic northern Italy has a stronger work ethic than non-German Catholic southern Italy. Non-German Greece has a weak work ethic. Within Germany itself there does not seem to be much difference between Catholic and Protestant areas in work difference. The main difference I’ve seen is that the Protestants are burdened by WW2 guilt, the Catholics are not – they’re more like Austria.

    I can’t think of any exceptions to this ‘work ethic = Germanic’ trend among Europeans. It seems to hold true for white ethnics in the Americas also.

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    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
    "Protestants are burdened by WW2 guilt, the Catholics are not."

    Erik von Kühnelt-Leddihn published a map of the National Socialist vote in what he called the last free election in antebellum Germany. The NSDAP's best areas mirrored the Protestant zones' map.

    Of course they felt more guilt. Protestants were more likely to be taken in by "schöner Adolf" than southern Catholics who knew him best. Kinda like his fellow Yankees being the only Americans to see through FDR all along.

    Here are the maps:
    http://exlaodicea.wordpress.com/2007/07/31/the-truth-about-catholics-and-the-nazis/

    (Can you embed on this site? It doesn't say.)
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  10. You sure you’re not confusing ‘Protestants’ for Flemish people? Because the latter used to be poorer, but now are not. They are also Catholics though. Wiki puts the protestant population of Belgium at 1.7%. An interesting comparison may be between Flanders and Holland, or intra-Dutch differences.

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  11. “This appeals especially to people who don’t seem exceptionally smart themselves”

    I see this so much with American left-liberal lumpen intelligentsia, in all sorts of areas. Ignorance combined with arrogance. Eg they know nothing about climate change science, have never looked at any evidence, have no intention of doing so, but are smugly convinced their position is right because they’ve been told it’s the smart, evidence-based position and that only stupid redneck ‘deniers’ (like me) would disagree.

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    • Replies: @EriK
    You forgot the third leg of the stool, petulance.
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  12. FWIW says:

    “Gramm helped write the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, which cleared the way for the emergence of financial supermarkets, like Citigroup”

    Which decade did Citi not almost go under? In the 80′s they got the great ideas of recycling petro dollars to Latin America. Their cronies has to change accounting/regulation of banks, to keep them theoretically solvent. 90′s ? Same old.

    The ‘owners’, i.e. stockholders have repeatedly gotten screwed by financial supermarkets. It is a a Zombie like idea that can’t be killed, regardless of continual failures.

    The rhetoric of the financial crisis is inverted … it isn’t that the banks made too much money (although a lot of bankers did), but that they LOST too much money. If they had simply put a group of stockholders in a room with the CEO’s of Citi, BAC, AIG .. there would have been accountability similar to that experienced in a serious prison.

    I suppose the facts are simply too messy to be taken seriously.

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  13. Lot says:
    @Dr. Evil
    "Overall, the Protestant/Catholic gap is inconclusive. It is Islam that makes people poorer than their near co-ethnics. Albania is the big Euro example. Chechens v Armenians is another very stark gap."

    How does Bosnia fare vs. Serbia and Croatia?

    Bosnian Muslims are poorer than surrounding Christian groups.

    USA is a tough question since we don’t have many examples of ethnically very similar groups with different religions living nearly side by side, unless you want to compare Jews and Muslims from the same country, like Iran or Syria, or Jews and Orthodox from Eastern Europe. I can’t think of anything like this for Catholic and Protestant.

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    • Replies: @Anonymous
    Are you kidding me? The reality is the exact opposite of what you say. Serbs (Christians) in Bosnia were historically a peasant class and much poorer than their Muslim overlords. The Muslims in Bosnia were a ruling nobility class who converted to Islam to reap material benefits under the Ottoman domination. And for what it's worth, The German Hitler favored the Muslims in Bosnia over the Serb vermin in the Second World War . Steve, I am surprised that this comment even made it through, as it seems to me you have a good grounding in Balkan history.
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  14. Lot says:

    Anglo countries have the longest working hours in the West. It isn’t that close.

    Caesar, who had plenty of nice things to say about the Germans, considered them lazy.

    They’ve now taken the lead, along with France, in restricting working hours, including still closing most everything on Sundays.

    Don’t confuse the high quality of German craftsmanship and personal prudence with being willing to work especially hard. It is not long hours that made them rich.

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  15. Sean says:

    You could make a case that the line of causation goes the other way, and the economically most dynamic countries became protestant very early. England was the first don’t forget. I suppose the northern European countries have stronger feelings of personal guilt that would be amenable to the protestant idea of a personal relationship with God. (Peter Frost has been posting about European guilt) . The guilt prone would make more conscientious workers, but they may be in less need of the Catholic idea of priests as God’s stand in.

    Calvin’s group evolutionary strategy (for that was what it was according to KM) certainly increased the power of Geneva. But look at how he triumphed “Calvin introduced new forms of church government and liturgy, despite the opposition of several powerful families in the city who tried to curb his authority. …. Following an influx of supportive refugees and new elections to the city council, Calvin’s opponents were forced out.

    Guatemala is thirty percent Protestant now.

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  16. We’re wandering into Last Real Calvinist territory here, so a couple of quick comments.

    I’ve read Weber’s Protestant Ethic, and found it remarkably resonant, because his ‘protestant’ ethic is really a Calvinistic ethic. It’s focused on the Calvinistic precepts of ‘calling’, i.e. one’s earthly work being ordained by God, and predestination. The former is actually a more generally protestant, and indeed broadly Christian, belief, but predestination gave it a turbo-boost. That is, if you’re one of the elect (those chosen by God from before the beginning of time to be saved), then there should be evidence of your own worthiness (e.g. being sober and self-abnegating) and of God’s blessing of your calling, i.e. it should prosper. So if your business is going down the tubes because you’re doing a lot of slacking off, well . . . . we all caught that whiff of brimstone, didn’t we? Hence, working hard and playing straight makes a whole lot of sense in terms of both earthly and heavenly realms.

    It therefore makes more sense to compare Calvinistic cultures against Catholic; that’s where you’d expect to see the real differences.

    But Weber’s other big point is that the Protestant Ethic wasn’t limited to religious/theological influence. It spread very quickly and became thoroughly secularized because hey, it worked! My own belief, which I’ve commented on at various points around here, is that as the protestant ethic and other essentially Calvinistic beliefs spread throughout western culture, they were degraded into self-destructive secular simulacra (i.e. heresies) that dog us to this very day — but I’ll leave that for now.

    Anyway, 400-500 years onward, would there really be noticeable differences in prosperity between largely heretical/apostate post-Calvinists and their non-Calvinistic countrymen or neighbors whose ancestors never the less were positively infected with the Protestant ethic way back when? Maybe, but I think it’s doubtful.

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    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    I have a vague theory that a lack of Calvinists held back Latin American countries like Mexico.
    , @AlexT
    Re your last paragraph: Holland has a Calvinist bible belt. How do they compare to the secular majority?
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  17. […] Source: Steve Sailer […]

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  18. Sean says:

    Simon in London, Spotter’s badge to you ! Yes Austria is extremely prosperous among Catholic countries. If I remember rightly, when Richard Lynn looked at calorie intake, psychosis, alcohol, suicide, road accident rates, caffeine, cigarette consumption, and economic development ; Austria came out the most anxious country, and “Ireland emerged as the nation with the lowest level of anxiety [,..] It was impossible to avoid the conclusion that there are genetic differences in anxiety among the northern and southern sub-races of Europe”

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    • Replies: @Simon in London
    Sean - Lynn: "“Ireland emerged as the nation with the lowest level of anxiety [,..] It was impossible to avoid the conclusion that there are genetic differences in anxiety among the northern and southern sub-races of Europe”

    While Anglo-Saxons and Celts are not that different by global standards, the University of Ulster (where I grew up, and Lynn worked) is a great place to be impressed by those differences... And moving from Northern Ireland to southern England I also got to see the difference between the 'core Europe' (per HBD Chick) southern English, and the mostly Celtic Northern Irish. I also have ancestry from both sides. And there is definitely a (small) difference in some features of industriousness even between these closely related groups - even comparing Protestant Northern Irish to Protestant southern or eastern English, I think.
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  19. @The Last Real Calvinist
    We're wandering into Last Real Calvinist territory here, so a couple of quick comments.

    I've read Weber's Protestant Ethic, and found it remarkably resonant, because his 'protestant' ethic is really a Calvinistic ethic. It's focused on the Calvinistic precepts of 'calling', i.e. one's earthly work being ordained by God, and predestination. The former is actually a more generally protestant, and indeed broadly Christian, belief, but predestination gave it a turbo-boost. That is, if you're one of the elect (those chosen by God from before the beginning of time to be saved), then there should be evidence of your own worthiness (e.g. being sober and self-abnegating) and of God's blessing of your calling, i.e. it should prosper. So if your business is going down the tubes because you're doing a lot of slacking off, well . . . . we all caught that whiff of brimstone, didn't we? Hence, working hard and playing straight makes a whole lot of sense in terms of both earthly and heavenly realms.

    It therefore makes more sense to compare Calvinistic cultures against Catholic; that's where you'd expect to see the real differences.

    But Weber's other big point is that the Protestant Ethic wasn't limited to religious/theological influence. It spread very quickly and became thoroughly secularized because hey, it worked! My own belief, which I've commented on at various points around here, is that as the protestant ethic and other essentially Calvinistic beliefs spread throughout western culture, they were degraded into self-destructive secular simulacra (i.e. heresies) that dog us to this very day -- but I'll leave that for now.

    Anyway, 400-500 years onward, would there really be noticeable differences in prosperity between largely heretical/apostate post-Calvinists and their non-Calvinistic countrymen or neighbors whose ancestors never the less were positively infected with the Protestant ethic way back when? Maybe, but I think it's doubtful.

    I have a vague theory that a lack of Calvinists held back Latin American countries like Mexico.

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    • Replies: @The Last Real Calvinist
    "I have a vague theory that a lack of Calvinists held back Latin American countries like Mexico."

    Sure: the conquistador-American road to wealth does not run concurrent with the Protestant ethic, does it?
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  20. @Steve Sailer
    I have a vague theory that a lack of Calvinists held back Latin American countries like Mexico.

    “I have a vague theory that a lack of Calvinists held back Latin American countries like Mexico.”

    Sure: the conquistador-American road to wealth does not run concurrent with the Protestant ethic, does it?

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  21. So, Brat uses Wikipedia as a source? That tells you all you need to know.

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    • Replies: @David R. Merridale
    "So, Brat uses Wikipedia as a source? That tells you all you need to know."

    What, exactly, does it tell you? If you want a reference for the population of Switzerland, why not? If you want to refer a casual reader to a short biography of Max Weber, why not? If it's actually your main source for understanding Max Weber, that would be a problem.

    My guess is Brat's references to WP were of the first two types, and that Appelbaum was scouring his paper for something he could ridicule.
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  22. Personally, I think this theory is hokum. Let me do that apples for apples comparison you asked for to demonstrate why:

    In Germany, the individual states participate in something called the “Länderfinanzausgleich”. Essentially, this is a re-distribution scheme, in which economically – and therefore fiscally – strong states give some of their tax income to fiscally weak states.

    The top and only net payers in the scheme are:
    - Bayern
    - Baden-Würtemberg
    - Hessen

    Two out of three of these countries are historically Catholic, with Catholics making up the following percentages in these states today (at 30.2% for Germany as a whole):

    - Bayern – 54.4% (20.8% Protestants)
    - Baden-Würtemberg – 36.1% (33.0%)
    - Hessen – 24.5% (39.8%)

    Most of German industry comes from Rheinland-Pfalz (Ruhr area) where Catholics make 44.9% (31.2%) of the population.

    The most money from the Länderfinanzausgleich is received by the old Prussian capital, Berlin (9.2% Catholic (19.4%, rest probably Muslim by now), mostly immigrants from Rheinland-Pfalz following the re-location of the capital after the Change). Incidentally, here also lies the heart of Marxism, founded by the Prussian state-philosopher Hegel, who declared the state to be god. Reason for the odd thinking of Marxians where the state gets to decide which scientific theory is true and which isn’t.

    If I think of large German companies, I can only think of two that are in the protestant north, namely Volkswagen (state-founded), and Continental Tyres – which, ironically, is located in the Harz, the Catholic enclave in the mountains of old Prussia.

    I also disagree with Weber (whom I have not read, I must admit. An oversight I shall redeem) on there being more openness amongst Protestants towards science. Think of the different treatment Gallileo and Kepler recieved.

    Gallileo (when he finally bought into the sun-at-the-centre-of-the-solar-system-theory which had already been teaching opinion for 60 years before at the Catholic university of Salamanca before, at 50, he finally “discovered” it, right after he “invented” Zacharias Janssen’s telescope) was literally drowned in money, was good friends with the pope, and lived out his days in a villa in Tuscany, under the condition he refrain from calling the pope a pig and stop interpreting the Bible to his whim.

    Kepler on the other hand was poor for all his life and shunned by the Protestant society, eventhough he made a contribution to science that far supersedes the discovery of some Saturn moons.

    To be honest, I think Weber has cause and effect mixed up. My personal view is that Protestantism brought more Germanness to other countries, not that Germanness was caused by Protestantism.

    Sorry for the very German post.

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    • Replies: @The Z Blog
    I think you can take it a step further and argue that "Germaness" caused Protestantism. A review of the early Christian period shows that it spread very slowly in Northern Europe compared to Southern Europe and the Mediterranean. The early Church had to change in order to gain a foothold in Britain, for example.
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  23. Oh, and I forgot: Traditionally the North was richer than the South, but that had more to do with the fact that the North was big in trading (Hanse), and the Great Frederic was an enlightenment-nut that required all his subjects to learn how to read and write.

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  24. […] Steve Sailer takes note. […]

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  25. Lafi has made the point above with regard to Germany.
    Of course, I’d say the true explanation is HBD Chick’s: Protestant nations are generally in the northern areas of Europe’s outbreeding project and all that went with that. That outbreeding project is the true force becomes evident when you look at the successful Catholic areas it includes (France, southern Germany, the Alpine states, northern Italy) – and the not so successful Protestant areas it excludes (Scotland). The less successful Catholic areas lie outside (Ireland, southern Spain/Portugal, southern Italy, the Baltic states).

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  26. […] From the “surprisingly!” files: […]

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  27. I wonder why this Appelbaum fellow is so bitter at Cantor’s upstart vanquisher, and why he resents the opinions that there is anything special about Western Christians, and that financial and immigration laws should be enforced? Do you suppose he has any axe to grind?

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  28. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Catholicism_in_Germany

    Protestantism is identified with Prussia, which survived the French Catholic onslaught during the 30 years war and various later wars mostly by being relatively isolated and spending all their resources on the military.

    Bavaria, the B in BMW, is mostly considered Catholic.

    Protestant work ethic in the US largely comes from the pre Civil war true Yankee New England states (Does anyone even know what a Connecticut Yankee was these days?). After the civil war industry and industriousness shifted to the midwest across to upstate New York. Norwegian (despite being born and raised in Nebraska) economist Thorstein Veblen (a Lutheran back when that meant something) attended Yale and was horrified at the consumerism, sloth, lack of work ethic, and spending habits of the ‘legacies and future presidents.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorstein_Veblen

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veblen_good

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  29. Lot:
    “Don’t confuse the high quality of German craftsmanship and personal prudence with being willing to work especially hard. It is not long hours that made them rich.”

    It’s not about nominal hours, it’s about what you do in those hours when you are supposed to be working – which I suppose relates to ‘craftsmanship & prudence’. One thing I got from Clark’s A Farewell to Alms is that in the Indian textile mills people only actually worked a tiny proportion of the time they were nominally ‘working’, and this seems normal. Britain has a long hours culture, but while Brits are more productive than Indians, they still spend a lot of that time not working. American 1930s textile mill workers were about a third more productive than British (and sixteen times more productive than Indian).
    I think this is the German factor, that when Germans say they are working, most of the time they are actually working, and paying attention to their work. This is or was true to a large extent of Americans also. But in most of the world it’s very unusual.

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  30. The White or European Protestant work ethic is more like it. The Black Protestant work ethic has yet to be seen.

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  31. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Internet is ambiguous but Max Weber perhaps was Jewish born. His book was a reading assignment in NYC public school for my class in the 1960s. Protestant Work Ethic. Most my teachers were Irish Catholic and Jewish. They were good schools and the NYTimes was not nearly as left wing in the new sections

    No way is it assigned today except maybe in the elite high schools there like Stuyvesant and Bronx High School of Science

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  32. @Sean
    Simon in London, Spotter's badge to you ! Yes Austria is extremely prosperous among Catholic countries. If I remember rightly, when Richard Lynn looked at calorie intake, psychosis, alcohol, suicide, road accident rates, caffeine, cigarette consumption, and economic development ; Austria came out the most anxious country, and "Ireland emerged as the nation with the lowest level of anxiety [,..] It was impossible to avoid the conclusion that there are genetic differences in anxiety among the northern and southern sub-races of Europe"

    Sean – Lynn: ““Ireland emerged as the nation with the lowest level of anxiety [,..] It was impossible to avoid the conclusion that there are genetic differences in anxiety among the northern and southern sub-races of Europe”

    While Anglo-Saxons and Celts are not that different by global standards, the University of Ulster (where I grew up, and Lynn worked) is a great place to be impressed by those differences… And moving from Northern Ireland to southern England I also got to see the difference between the ‘core Europe’ (per HBD Chick) southern English, and the mostly Celtic Northern Irish. I also have ancestry from both sides. And there is definitely a (small) difference in some features of industriousness even between these closely related groups – even comparing Protestant Northern Irish to Protestant southern or eastern English, I think.

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    • Replies: @AlexT
    Could you expand on your point about differences between Anglos and Celts, both Catholic and Protestant. Really curious about this.
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  33. Lafi:
    “My personal view is that Protestantism brought more Germanness to other countries, not that Germanness was caused by Protestantism.”

    I think that’s right. We Ulster Protestants definitely try to act ‘German’ to distinguish themselves from the Irish Catholics, just as Canadians try to act different from Americans. But nowadays I think we are much more innately – genetically – wild Irish, and less conscientous German.

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  34. Sean says:

    I don’t follow you in thinking it is so much of a factor that it is immediately evident JayMan, She-who-must-be-obeyed herself remarked “at first glance, the most obvious explanation would seem to be simply that these are all germanic populations”

    If I recall correctly hbd* chick says after Christianity the watershed for outbreeding was manorialism, which spread from the low countries,, And given its distance from the low countries ground zero of out breeding, one would expect outbreeding to be weak in Austria , which is so far from the low countries it is actually on the line. It is not the case that Austria had some kind of Protestant anti consanguinity regime either, they are just standard Catholics. I’m not saying consanguinity is irrelevant , just that there are obviously other factors that are very important You may want to read Lynn’s book, and have your eyes opened to one of them. The Hajnal line actually followed the iron curtain quite closely, the Soviets occupied Austria but they actually withdrew in 1955 for reasons that probably have something to do with the mountainous terrain, but also likely involve other factors too, ones that may have been operating for a millennium to divide east from west. I would be wary of trying to explain such multi faceted phenomenon of the real world as the relative success of a European country with a single theory.

    It is true Scotland was long the poorest country in Western Europe, yet it was hardly unsuccessful; Scots were responsible for a remarkable amount of innovation and advance in science technology and philosophy. Hence, Scotland can’t be cited as a historically less successful country and proof of a theory that ongoing levels of achievement are related to one factor . As Ron Unz noted, Scottish achievements were exceptional, but faded out for reasons we do not understand.

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  35. @Simon in London
    "This appeals especially to people who don’t seem exceptionally smart themselves"

    I see this so much with American left-liberal lumpen intelligentsia, in all sorts of areas. Ignorance combined with arrogance. Eg they know nothing about climate change science, have never looked at any evidence, have no intention of doing so, but are smugly convinced their position is right because they've been told it's the smart, evidence-based position and that only stupid redneck 'deniers' (like me) would disagree.

    You forgot the third leg of the stool, petulance.

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  36. The level to which even pseudo-intellectual discourse has descended is astounding. Irrespective of whether Weber’s theories have fallen out of favor, the quality of scholarship he attained simply cannot be matched in the 21st century, especially in the United States. And yet the Times and its callow readership seem to believe that second-rate minds like Krugman have ascended to a perspective beyond Weber because they can apply analytical algorithms invented by other Protestants to modern data.

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  37. @Dr. Evil
    "Maybe conservatives didn’t push for more religion in government (as if that’s really what they’re pushing for now) because America was a unselfconsciously a Christian (and really, Protestant) nation and now it’s not."

    Which conservatives? The Christian Right always wants more religion (their kind of religion) in government.

    And the Left, the people in charge for the last century, always want more of their religion. Progressives begin and end with the imposition of their values on everyone else. Unlike Christians, Progressives end up at the gulag or gas chamber.

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  38. @Läfi
    Personally, I think this theory is hokum. Let me do that apples for apples comparison you asked for to demonstrate why:

    In Germany, the individual states participate in something called the "Länderfinanzausgleich". Essentially, this is a re-distribution scheme, in which economically - and therefore fiscally - strong states give some of their tax income to fiscally weak states.

    The top and only net payers in the scheme are:
    - Bayern
    - Baden-Würtemberg
    - Hessen

    Two out of three of these countries are historically Catholic, with Catholics making up the following percentages in these states today (at 30.2% for Germany as a whole):

    - Bayern - 54.4% (20.8% Protestants)
    - Baden-Würtemberg - 36.1% (33.0%)
    - Hessen - 24.5% (39.8%)

    Most of German industry comes from Rheinland-Pfalz (Ruhr area) where Catholics make 44.9% (31.2%) of the population.

    The most money from the Länderfinanzausgleich is received by the old Prussian capital, Berlin (9.2% Catholic (19.4%, rest probably Muslim by now), mostly immigrants from Rheinland-Pfalz following the re-location of the capital after the Change). Incidentally, here also lies the heart of Marxism, founded by the Prussian state-philosopher Hegel, who declared the state to be god. Reason for the odd thinking of Marxians where the state gets to decide which scientific theory is true and which isn't.

    If I think of large German companies, I can only think of two that are in the protestant north, namely Volkswagen (state-founded), and Continental Tyres - which, ironically, is located in the Harz, the Catholic enclave in the mountains of old Prussia.

    I also disagree with Weber (whom I have not read, I must admit. An oversight I shall redeem) on there being more openness amongst Protestants towards science. Think of the different treatment Gallileo and Kepler recieved.

    Gallileo (when he finally bought into the sun-at-the-centre-of-the-solar-system-theory which had already been teaching opinion for 60 years before at the Catholic university of Salamanca before, at 50, he finally "discovered" it, right after he "invented" Zacharias Janssen's telescope) was literally drowned in money, was good friends with the pope, and lived out his days in a villa in Tuscany, under the condition he refrain from calling the pope a pig and stop interpreting the Bible to his whim.

    Kepler on the other hand was poor for all his life and shunned by the Protestant society, eventhough he made a contribution to science that far supersedes the discovery of some Saturn moons.

    To be honest, I think Weber has cause and effect mixed up. My personal view is that Protestantism brought more Germanness to other countries, not that Germanness was caused by Protestantism.

    Sorry for the very German post.

    I think you can take it a step further and argue that “Germaness” caused Protestantism. A review of the early Christian period shows that it spread very slowly in Northern Europe compared to Southern Europe and the Mediterranean. The early Church had to change in order to gain a foothold in Britain, for example.

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  39. The problem with Brat and his ilk isn’t quoting Weber, it is their astonishing lack of any historical sense or cultural differences.

    You can posit that the “Establishment” has overinvested in this various voodoo stuff in the past 40 years, and has a real lack of intellectual grounding.

    Catholic/protestant differences in Germany, however, are fairly meaningless after the 20th century (two wars, partition, and carpet bombing).

    As a previous person said, the problem with Calvinism is it works, people copy 75% of it and it spins into hersey. Just like the pope said it would.

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  40. I subscribe to a mild version of Nordicism. Undeniably, Northern Europe has a higher IQ than Southern Europe. High IQ genes originated in Northern Europe, and from there spread to the rest of Europe, creating IQ boosts among the farmers, first during the IE invasions of the Bronze Age, giving rise to Greece and Rome (not to say that a significant part of their populations were Nordic, just that they got the right genes trickling down in progressive waves from the North, so to speak) then with the Germanic invasions of the late classical age, giving birth to the Late Medieval Golden Age followed by the Renaissance. Centuries afterwards “Nordic” peoples themselves took over, when they were civilized and mature enough, with the rise of England, the Netherlands and then Germany.
    It has nothing to do with Calvin or Luther.

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  41. The most deplorable one [AKA "The fourth doorman of the apocalypse"] says:

    It’s focused on the Calvinistic precepts of ‘calling’, i.e. one’s earthly work being ordained by God, and predestination.

    Someone who is genetically inclined to work hard and forgo the earthly pleasures is likely to rationalize it as God’s will.

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  42. He writes discursive papers devoid of math

    Economics is a little bit of math mixed with a lot of politics. That there is an economist who doesn’t do math isn’t shocking, it’s just the law of averages.

    Protestant countries grew more quickly because they were particularly supportive of scientific exploration. The role of religion was “not large compared to other factors,” but ignoring it would “be a significant omission.”

    Scientific and technological progress is one of the three key pillars to the prosperity of a society. It almost doesn’t matter how you get there, it’s that you get there. As far as Protestantism being a minor cause and scientific exploration being an effect, I tend to think that both Protestantism (i.e. breaking away from the established church) and scientific exploration are both common effects of the same cause.

    Free-market economists, after all, are explicit that companies are held accountable by customers, competitors and shareholders: They don’t need the government’s help, and they don’t need God’s either.

    There’s really nothing inherent in either free market economic ideology or evangelical Christianity that means that if you’re one you can’t be the other.

    Saying all that I’ve got absolutely no time whatosever for Milton Friedman, friedmanites and the whole meretricious Republican party big business worshipping and big business funded Friedman fan club.

    There’s a significant rift between the two. Not may crony capitalists worship Friedman.

    So, Brat uses Wikipedia as a source? That tells you all you need to know.

    I don’t care what he uses for a source. An immigration patriot toppled an immigration traitor using the immigration/populist issue base. Everything else from there is just our crank obsessions with this or that. It’s a good thing most voters aren’t that cranky.

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  43. The most deplorable one [AKA "The fourth doorman of the apocalypse"] says:

    Of course, I’d say the true explanation is HBD Chick’s: Protestant nations are generally in the northern areas of Europe’s outbreeding project and all that went with that. That outbreeding project is the true force becomes evident when you look at the successful Catholic areas it includes (France, southern Germany, the Alpine states, northern Italy)

    Firstly, I thought that HBD Chick’s shtick was claiming that the Catholic Church’s elimination of cousin marriage has produced more openness among those who have been subjected to it.

    Secondly, you have force-fit your catch-all explanation to the evidence at hand. What is the actual selective effect of HBD Chick’s claimed mechanism? What particular trait was it selecting for that caused the outcome you claim is explained by HBD Chick’s mechanism?

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  44. You could probably add America, where the Calvinists tended to be more enterprising than the (quasi-Catholic) Anglicans.

    “Quasi-,” fiddlesticks.

    “We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.”—The Book of Common Prayer According to the Use of the Episcopal Church, Church Publishing Inc., New York (1979); page 359.

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    • Replies: @Simon in London
    "John Derbyshire says:
    July 9, 2014 at 11:01 am
    You could probably add America, where the Calvinists tended to be more enterprising than the (quasi-Catholic) Anglicans.

    “Quasi-,” fiddlesticks."

    Where I'm from, calling Church of Ireland (ie Anglican) adherents Catholic is fighting words. :)
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  45. There is a small protestant minority in Poland located in Cieszyn, a city on the Polish-Czech border in what was once Austrian Silesia. These are ethnic Poles who became Protestant when most of Silesia went Protestant in the 16th century, and being outside of “mainstream Poland” stayed Protestant even after being reincorporated into the new Polish state in 1919. I don’t know if they are “richer”, but they certainly have a local reputation for being harder working and more ethical than their neighbors. At the same time, I would say that Catholic Silesians are generally considered more industrious than other Catholic Poles (even though a lot of them are descended from refugees from Eastern Galicia, in what is now Ukraine). Poland, despite being “monocultural”, still has lots of confusing undercurrents if you dig down.

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  46. @Someguy
    So, Brat uses Wikipedia as a source? That tells you all you need to know.

    “So, Brat uses Wikipedia as a source? That tells you all you need to know.”

    What, exactly, does it tell you? If you want a reference for the population of Switzerland, why not? If you want to refer a casual reader to a short biography of Max Weber, why not? If it’s actually your main source for understanding Max Weber, that would be a problem.

    My guess is Brat’s references to WP were of the first two types, and that Appelbaum was scouring his paper for something he could ridicule.

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  47. ck says:

    “Similarly, I’d like to see some analyses of the effects of George H.W. Bush’s Bratian response to the savings & loan fiasco (put hundreds of S&L execs in jail) and Barack Obama’s response to the mortgage meltdown (put hardly anybody in jail).”

    It’s easy to put Texans in jail, especially for CT Yankee Carpetbagging Bushies (see also Enron). It’s easy to put LA financiers imposing on NYC in jail (see Milken). It’s impossible to put New York bankers attached at the hip of the New York Fed in jail.

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  48. HA says:

    For the gazillionth time, it’s also important to remember the Ottomans. The Catholic (not to mention the Orthodox) countries to the South and East expended inordinate energy on surviving that particular threat, and much of what Weber saw (pace Läfi’s well-worded debunking) can be explained solely by that. One’s attention to detail in the matter of clock manufacture and lens grinding is a habit acquired over generations, and having one’s village repeatedly run over by hordes of pillaging Muslims (or else, turned into an encampment so as to prevent that from happening) will have a long-lasting deleterious impact on those kinds of refinements.

    The stultifying effects of Islam (and the war against it) can’t explain all of the Catholic/Protestant and North/South distinctions, but it certainly needs to be taken into account.

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    • Replies: @Lot
    Yes, even when Islam is rolled back, it leaves a long term burden on economic growth. Only the places occupied for 50 or fewer years seem to have escaped this.
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  49. @Dr. Evil
    "But [David Brat's] big idea — that Protestantism is good for the economy — has a surprisingly distinguished history."

    May be good for the economy, but it ain't good for quality of life. Protestantism is no more than trade of Gluttony, Lust, Sloth, Pride, and Envy for perpetual Anger and Greed made into virtues.

    Protestantism is about a thousand times better than Catholicism.

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  50. Dog-whistle anti-Christian bigotry in the New York Times from somebody named Binyamin Applebaum? I’m shocked, shocked!

    Free-market economists, after all, are explicit that companies are held accountable by customers, competitors and shareholders: They don’t need the government’s help

    Actually the real free market economists (not to be confused with hacks like Caplan and Cowen) have always noted the important role the government has to play in free markets by instituting rule of law and by curbing the excesses of greedy capitalists.

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  51. Two notable times in history when Protestants have been economically/culturally dominant minorities was Ireland and a large part of France before the Huguenot defeat and expulsion.

    In modern Poland, both Jews and mostly Protestant Germans were both much richer and than Polish Catholics and economically dominant.

    That’s all literally true of course, but the explanation has nothing to do with work ethic and is only tangentially related to religion. Catholics in majority Protestant countries (or in majority Catholic countries run by Protestants, such as Ireland) were savagely persecuted and oppressed, far more so than Jews in the same places.

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  52. “It is Islam that makes people poorer”

    And that is because the vast majority of Islamic countries are located in the 3rd world. Among the 47 countries in the world that have a very high human development index, only 3 of them are countries where Islam is the dominant religion.

    And of course the Muslim neighborhoods in cities like London and Paris are all lower working class.

    There is no such thing as an affluent Muslim neighborhood in Paris and London. The same way there is no such thing as an affluent Mexican neighborhood in Los Angeles or an affluent Puerto Rican neighborhood in New York City.

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    • Replies: @Simon in London
    Jefferson:
    "There is no such thing as an affluent Muslim neighborhood in Paris and London"

    Well the area around Harley Street is full of rich Arabs... Kensington too. But I guess that's not what you meant.
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  53. @Jefferson
    "It is Islam that makes people poorer"

    And that is because the vast majority of Islamic countries are located in the 3rd world. Among the 47 countries in the world that have a very high human development index, only 3 of them are countries where Islam is the dominant religion.

    And of course the Muslim neighborhoods in cities like London and Paris are all lower working class.

    There is no such thing as an affluent Muslim neighborhood in Paris and London. The same way there is no such thing as an affluent Mexican neighborhood in Los Angeles or an affluent Puerto Rican neighborhood in New York City.

    Jefferson:
    “There is no such thing as an affluent Muslim neighborhood in Paris and London”

    Well the area around Harley Street is full of rich Arabs… Kensington too. But I guess that’s not what you meant.

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  54. @John Derbyshire
    You could probably add America, where the Calvinists tended to be more enterprising than the (quasi-Catholic) Anglicans.

    "Quasi-," fiddlesticks.

    "We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church."—The Book of Common Prayer According to the Use of the Episcopal Church, Church Publishing Inc., New York (1979); page 359.
     

    “John Derbyshire says:
    July 9, 2014 at 11:01 am
    You could probably add America, where the Calvinists tended to be more enterprising than the (quasi-Catholic) Anglicans.

    “Quasi-,” fiddlesticks.”

    Where I’m from, calling Church of Ireland (ie Anglican) adherents Catholic is fighting words. :)

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  55. “Dog-whistle anti-Christian bigotry in the New York Times from somebody named Binyamin Applebaum? I’m shocked, shocked!”

    It’s not particularly dog-whistle. It’s more regular-whistle.

    My ancestors would call this a shande far di goyim.

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  56. Priss Factor [AKA "Skyislander"] says: • Website

    “On the campaign trail, Brat declared that bankers should have gone to jail and that ‘crony capitalists,’ like Cantor, had undermined the system. ‘I’m not against business,’ he said. ‘I’m against big business in bed with big government.’”

    So, the likes of Applebaum have a bigger beef with Protestant moral ethic than with Protestant Work ethic.
    They don’t so much fear conservatives and gentiles working hard to challenge the Jews — Jews see no real threat in that –, but they do fear conservatives and gentiles invoking a more traditional morality to go after the kinds of people(many of whom are of Applebaum’s tribe)who’ve made tons of money in recent yr through cronyism.

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  57. @HA
    For the gazillionth time, it’s also important to remember the Ottomans. The Catholic (not to mention the Orthodox) countries to the South and East expended inordinate energy on surviving that particular threat, and much of what Weber saw (pace Läfi’s well-worded debunking) can be explained solely by that. One’s attention to detail in the matter of clock manufacture and lens grinding is a habit acquired over generations, and having one’s village repeatedly run over by hordes of pillaging Muslims (or else, turned into an encampment so as to prevent that from happening) will have a long-lasting deleterious impact on those kinds of refinements.

    The stultifying effects of Islam (and the war against it) can’t explain all of the Catholic/Protestant and North/South distinctions, but it certainly needs to be taken into account.

    Yes, even when Islam is rolled back, it leaves a long term burden on economic growth. Only the places occupied for 50 or fewer years seem to have escaped this.

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  58. “America, where the Calvinists tended to be more enterprising than the (quasi-Catholic) Anglicans.”

    I don’t think that is consistently true – the regional and historical variations are pretty large. The Wall St. Anglicans of the Gilded Age (JP Morgan and his cohort) were definitely more enterprising the Scots-Irish Calvinists in Appalachia, even if colonial New England’s Calvinists / Congregationalists were more commercially minded than the Anglicans in the Virginia Tidewater. Even within Boston, once the region stopped being a Puritan-only colony, Anglican merchants became quite prominent by the end of the 18th century.

    For an example of how the economic roles of denominations change dramatically in America, Quakers in the colonial era and early republic were a very successful merchant minority group (UK Quakers founded both Lloyds and Barclays), but drop from prominence after that – no one today would associate Quakers with trading or finance.

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  59. Maybe your boy Nate will be switching over to a Weberian spreadsheet projection now… I hear there’s good algo-metrics in Aesop’s fables, too

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  60. @Dr. Evil
    "Overall, the Protestant/Catholic gap is inconclusive. It is Islam that makes people poorer than their near co-ethnics. Albania is the big Euro example. Chechens v Armenians is another very stark gap."

    How does Bosnia fare vs. Serbia and Croatia?

    Bosnia is itself a good comparison as it is divided into 3 different ethnic enclaves. The Catholic and Orthodox are way ahead of the Muslims. Of the other ex-Yugoslav states Slovenia (historically Catholic) is the richest, Kosovo(muslim) is poorest.
    Tentative ranking:
    Slovenia
    Croatia
    Serbia
    Bosnia
    Montenegro
    Macedonia
    Kosovo

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  61. @The Last Real Calvinist
    We're wandering into Last Real Calvinist territory here, so a couple of quick comments.

    I've read Weber's Protestant Ethic, and found it remarkably resonant, because his 'protestant' ethic is really a Calvinistic ethic. It's focused on the Calvinistic precepts of 'calling', i.e. one's earthly work being ordained by God, and predestination. The former is actually a more generally protestant, and indeed broadly Christian, belief, but predestination gave it a turbo-boost. That is, if you're one of the elect (those chosen by God from before the beginning of time to be saved), then there should be evidence of your own worthiness (e.g. being sober and self-abnegating) and of God's blessing of your calling, i.e. it should prosper. So if your business is going down the tubes because you're doing a lot of slacking off, well . . . . we all caught that whiff of brimstone, didn't we? Hence, working hard and playing straight makes a whole lot of sense in terms of both earthly and heavenly realms.

    It therefore makes more sense to compare Calvinistic cultures against Catholic; that's where you'd expect to see the real differences.

    But Weber's other big point is that the Protestant Ethic wasn't limited to religious/theological influence. It spread very quickly and became thoroughly secularized because hey, it worked! My own belief, which I've commented on at various points around here, is that as the protestant ethic and other essentially Calvinistic beliefs spread throughout western culture, they were degraded into self-destructive secular simulacra (i.e. heresies) that dog us to this very day -- but I'll leave that for now.

    Anyway, 400-500 years onward, would there really be noticeable differences in prosperity between largely heretical/apostate post-Calvinists and their non-Calvinistic countrymen or neighbors whose ancestors never the less were positively infected with the Protestant ethic way back when? Maybe, but I think it's doubtful.

    Re your last paragraph: Holland has a Calvinist bible belt. How do they compare to the secular majority?

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    • Replies: @The Last Real Calvinist
    Great question -- I don't know. I would guess, as I mentioned above, that any effects from the Protestant work ethic in its ancestral lands would long ago have been diffused and mitigated, but who knows?

    What I do know is that Dutch-American enclaves in the USA, e.g. those in western Michigan and central and northwest Iowa, are notably prosperous, if not really rich. Lots of people in these places still hold on to Calvinistic beliefs and practices, and do well. Not fabulously, mind you: the Protestant work ethic doesn't, I believe, promote cutthroat pursuit of great fortunes, e.g. via speculation, extraction industries, or investment banking. It's very burgher-ish, quite restrained, even a bit Hobbiton-esque, if you know what I mean. The goal is tidy, unostentatious prosperity.

    But what about that great Tulip bulb mania back in the 1630? What were those Dutch thinking? Well, I guess nobody's perfect . . .
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  62. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Lot
    Bosnian Muslims are poorer than surrounding Christian groups.

    USA is a tough question since we don't have many examples of ethnically very similar groups with different religions living nearly side by side, unless you want to compare Jews and Muslims from the same country, like Iran or Syria, or Jews and Orthodox from Eastern Europe. I can't think of anything like this for Catholic and Protestant.

    Are you kidding me? The reality is the exact opposite of what you say. Serbs (Christians) in Bosnia were historically a peasant class and much poorer than their Muslim overlords. The Muslims in Bosnia were a ruling nobility class who converted to Islam to reap material benefits under the Ottoman domination. And for what it’s worth, The German Hitler favored the Muslims in Bosnia over the Serb vermin in the Second World War . Steve, I am surprised that this comment even made it through, as it seems to me you have a good grounding in Balkan history.

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  63. @Simon in London
    I think the 'Protestant Work Ethic' is far more a Germanic Work Ethic. In Belgium the Catholic-German Flemings work hard like Protestants while the Catholic-French Walloons enjoy life like Frenchmen. So it's probably more ethnic than religious; genetics and culture. The most German nations have the most work ethic; semi-Germanised clinal nations like France and England less so, and the least Germanised European nations tend to have the least work ethic. Within nations you also see the gradient, eg semi-Germanised but Catholic northern Italy has a stronger work ethic than non-German Catholic southern Italy. Non-German Greece has a weak work ethic. Within Germany itself there does not seem to be much difference between Catholic and Protestant areas in work difference. The main difference I've seen is that the Protestants are burdened by WW2 guilt, the Catholics are not - they're more like Austria.

    I can't think of any exceptions to this 'work ethic = Germanic' trend among Europeans. It seems to hold true for white ethnics in the Americas also.

    “Protestants are burdened by WW2 guilt, the Catholics are not.”

    Erik von Kühnelt-Leddihn published a map of the National Socialist vote in what he called the last free election in antebellum Germany. The NSDAP’s best areas mirrored the Protestant zones’ map.

    Of course they felt more guilt. Protestants were more likely to be taken in by “schöner Adolf” than southern Catholics who knew him best. Kinda like his fellow Yankees being the only Americans to see through FDR all along.

    Here are the maps:

    http://exlaodicea.wordpress.com/2007/07/31/the-truth-about-catholics-and-the-nazis/

    (Can you embed on this site? It doesn’t say.)

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  64. “The White or European Protestant work ethic is more like it. The Black Protestant work ethic has yet to be seen.”

    Northeast Asia (pagan!) has also developed an impressive work ethic.

    “And that is because the vast majority of Islamic countries are located in the 3rd world. Among the 47 countries in the world that have a very high human development index, only 3 of them are countries where Islam is the dominant religion.”

    Which three? The three with the most oil, I bet.

    “For the gazillionth time, it’s also important to remember the Ottomans. The Catholic (not to mention the Orthodox) countries to the South and East expended inordinate energy on surviving that particular threat”

    Remember the Mongols too, and the nations that expended inordinate energy to throw off their yoke. That by itself is enough to explain the backwardness and poverty from Moscow to Manchuria.

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  65. @AlexT
    Re your last paragraph: Holland has a Calvinist bible belt. How do they compare to the secular majority?

    Great question — I don’t know. I would guess, as I mentioned above, that any effects from the Protestant work ethic in its ancestral lands would long ago have been diffused and mitigated, but who knows?

    What I do know is that Dutch-American enclaves in the USA, e.g. those in western Michigan and central and northwest Iowa, are notably prosperous, if not really rich. Lots of people in these places still hold on to Calvinistic beliefs and practices, and do well. Not fabulously, mind you: the Protestant work ethic doesn’t, I believe, promote cutthroat pursuit of great fortunes, e.g. via speculation, extraction industries, or investment banking. It’s very burgher-ish, quite restrained, even a bit Hobbiton-esque, if you know what I mean. The goal is tidy, unostentatious prosperity.

    But what about that great Tulip bulb mania back in the 1630? What were those Dutch thinking? Well, I guess nobody’s perfect . . .

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    'It’s very burgher-ish, quite restrained, even a bit Hobbiton-esque, if you know what I mean. The goal is tidy, unostentatious prosperity.'

    That's a wonderful way to describe it. I've always thought this without being able to describe it this well! Nice job.

    From what i've seen and read this is a pretty spot-on description of the Dutch Bible Belt. High savings rate, high birth rate, children saving money by living at home until their mid twenties. Children all living in the same are as their parents. Pretty idyllic, other than their phobia of vaccines. Do you know if any of these things are practised in the Dutch enclaves you were describing?
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  66. The academic literature supporting Weber’s thesis is thin, to say the least.

    It’s pretty clear Weber gets Protestantism wrong.

    And his economic history is also contradicted by the empirical studies.

    Other than that, it’s a great theory.

    See Samuel Gregg’s article for a short explanation why: http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2013/12/11099/

    Other things explain the variations in wealth in Europe. A smart scholar that could figure them out could make a name for himself.

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  67. The Muslims in Bosnia were a ruling nobility class who converted to Islam to reap material benefits under the Ottoman domination. And for what it’s worth, The German Hitler favored the Muslims in Bosnia over the Serb vermin in the Second World War . Steve, I am surprised that this comment even made it through, as it seems to me you have a good grounding in Balkan history.

    Wow, what an endorsement for the Bosniaks.

    1) They converted to islam and betrayed their fellow Europeans to a non-European invader, and
    2) Hitler favored them.

    It does’t get much better than that.

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  68. Of the other ex-Yugoslav states Slovenia (historically Catholic) is the richest, Kosovo(muslim) is poorest.

    One clarification, Kosovo is not an ex-Yugoslav state. Is is piece of Serbia-proper taken away by NATO.

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    'One clarification, Kosovo is not an ex-Yugoslav state. Is is piece of Serbia-proper taken away by NATO.'

    I know, but it allows for a more detailed and accurate analysis if we separate them.
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  69. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    #62- Saying the the Muslims were a “ruling nobility” who converted to Islam is absurd. They were turncoats and opportunists who converted to Islam to gain advantage and attained a superior status under the Turks. Christians who refused to convert were subjected to dhimmitude. That says something about the character of those who converted. Muslim Bosnians did get organized into an SS group as per Himmler’s starry-eyed plans but that “ruling nobility” was best known for committing atrocities and plunder.

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    • Replies: @Anonymous
    I am not sure why you are taking such an issue with what I said. As you can see by my pseudonym (or perhaps you are ignorant) I have no sympathy for the Turk or those who cooperated with them. However, the fact remains that in Bosnia even until the 19th century was was essentially a feudal society with a Muslim elite in the towns and peasant Serbs in the countryside . There is evidence that this Muslim elite converted en masse in order not to lose the privileges they already had once the ottomans moved in.

    And you say "Christians who refused to convert..." You need to get your facts straight. The ottomans as a general policy did not practice forced conversions, which makes the Muslim Serb capitulation all the less honorable.
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  70. It’s correlation not causation imo. I think Protestantism arose as a side-effect of other changes in certain regions that led to economic development which led to conflict with the established order including the Catholic church.

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  71. The most deplorable one [AKA "The fourth doorman of the apocalypse"] says:

    “But what about that great Tulip bulb mania back in the 1630? What were those Dutch thinking? Well, I guess nobody’s perfect . . .

    Was it really the Dutch there, or, I dunno, say, the Scotch-Irish?

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  72. Reg Cæsar says: (Commenting History)
    July 9, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    ““Protestants are burdened by WW2 guilt, the Catholics are not.”

    Erik von Kühnelt-Leddihn published a map of the National Socialist vote in what he called the last free election in antebellum Germany. The NSDAP’s best areas mirrored the Protestant zones’ map.

    Of course they felt more guilt. Protestants were more likely to be taken in by “schöner Adolf” than southern Catholics who knew him best. Kinda like his fellow Yankees being the only Americans to see through FDR all along.”

    I know the Catholics voted less for Hitler. I went over all the pre-Third Reich voting data recently, the big difference seems to be that many Catholics kept voting for the explicitly Catholic parties, which kept a consistent 12% or so of the vote up to the end. This partially insulated Catholics from voting Nazi; and the more religiously-identified they were, the less likely they were to vote Nazi.

    It’s an interesting phenomenon since everywhere else in the world Totalitarian ideologies (Fascism, Communism et al) have only found mass favour with non-Protestants. Support for the idea that Nazism was unique, sui generis.

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  73. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Anonymous
    #62- Saying the the Muslims were a "ruling nobility" who converted to Islam is absurd. They were turncoats and opportunists who converted to Islam to gain advantage and attained a superior status under the Turks. Christians who refused to convert were subjected to dhimmitude. That says something about the character of those who converted. Muslim Bosnians did get organized into an SS group as per Himmler's starry-eyed plans but that "ruling nobility" was best known for committing atrocities and plunder.

    I am not sure why you are taking such an issue with what I said. As you can see by my pseudonym (or perhaps you are ignorant) I have no sympathy for the Turk or those who cooperated with them. However, the fact remains that in Bosnia even until the 19th century was was essentially a feudal society with a Muslim elite in the towns and peasant Serbs in the countryside . There is evidence that this Muslim elite converted en masse in order not to lose the privileges they already had once the ottomans moved in.

    And you say “Christians who refused to convert…” You need to get your facts straight. The ottomans as a general policy did not practice forced conversions, which makes the Muslim Serb capitulation all the less honorable.

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  74. @The Last Real Calvinist
    Great question -- I don't know. I would guess, as I mentioned above, that any effects from the Protestant work ethic in its ancestral lands would long ago have been diffused and mitigated, but who knows?

    What I do know is that Dutch-American enclaves in the USA, e.g. those in western Michigan and central and northwest Iowa, are notably prosperous, if not really rich. Lots of people in these places still hold on to Calvinistic beliefs and practices, and do well. Not fabulously, mind you: the Protestant work ethic doesn't, I believe, promote cutthroat pursuit of great fortunes, e.g. via speculation, extraction industries, or investment banking. It's very burgher-ish, quite restrained, even a bit Hobbiton-esque, if you know what I mean. The goal is tidy, unostentatious prosperity.

    But what about that great Tulip bulb mania back in the 1630? What were those Dutch thinking? Well, I guess nobody's perfect . . .

    ‘It’s very burgher-ish, quite restrained, even a bit Hobbiton-esque, if you know what I mean. The goal is tidy, unostentatious prosperity.’

    That’s a wonderful way to describe it. I’ve always thought this without being able to describe it this well! Nice job.

    From what i’ve seen and read this is a pretty spot-on description of the Dutch Bible Belt. High savings rate, high birth rate, children saving money by living at home until their mid twenties. Children all living in the same are as their parents. Pretty idyllic, other than their phobia of vaccines. Do you know if any of these things are practised in the Dutch enclaves you were describing?

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    • Replies: @The Last Real Calvinist
    Thanks for the kind words, Alex.

    The 'Yankee-Dutch' enclaves I'm familiar with are perhaps a bit different. High savings rate and reasonably high birth rates -- I think so. Children saving money by staying home into their 20s: less so; at least in my generation (I'm a Gen Xer), it was almost unheard of, perhaps mostly because the cost of living in these enclaves in not high. No innoculo-phobia, so far as I know; the Iowa enclaves (I'm from one of them) are heavily agricultural, tending toward the high-tech in farming operations, so there's not too much concern with being Whole-Organic-Natural.

    I certainly enjoyed growing up where I did, and my cohort has followed its elders in turning out, I believe, disproportionately (if not ostentatiously!) prosperous for a bunch of small-town hicks from the middle of nowhere. Living there now would still be pleasant: good housing at decent prices, low cost of living, public schools still very good, etc. But you've got to value the quiet life.

    The towns themselves of course face the challenges common to all upper Midwestern rural areas: brain drain, competition from Wal-Mart knocking off long-standing local businesses, and so on. But I think they're fighting back well. My own hometown (which has well under 10K inhabitants) has a string of local manufacturers, and for the most part they're hanging in there and even growing, although there are a few empty spaces on main street.

    So I think a functioning PWE is still evident there.
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  75. @Simon in London
    Sean - Lynn: "“Ireland emerged as the nation with the lowest level of anxiety [,..] It was impossible to avoid the conclusion that there are genetic differences in anxiety among the northern and southern sub-races of Europe”

    While Anglo-Saxons and Celts are not that different by global standards, the University of Ulster (where I grew up, and Lynn worked) is a great place to be impressed by those differences... And moving from Northern Ireland to southern England I also got to see the difference between the 'core Europe' (per HBD Chick) southern English, and the mostly Celtic Northern Irish. I also have ancestry from both sides. And there is definitely a (small) difference in some features of industriousness even between these closely related groups - even comparing Protestant Northern Irish to Protestant southern or eastern English, I think.

    Could you expand on your point about differences between Anglos and Celts, both Catholic and Protestant. Really curious about this.

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  76. @iSteveFan
    Of the other ex-Yugoslav states Slovenia (historically Catholic) is the richest, Kosovo(muslim) is poorest.

    One clarification, Kosovo is not an ex-Yugoslav state. Is is piece of Serbia-proper taken away by NATO.

    ‘One clarification, Kosovo is not an ex-Yugoslav state. Is is piece of Serbia-proper taken away by NATO.’

    I know, but it allows for a more detailed and accurate analysis if we separate them.

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  77. Read More
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  78. You need to get your facts straight. The ottomans as a general policy did not practice forced conversions, which makes the Muslim Serb capitulation all the less honorable.

    Can you elaborate on your use of the term ‘muslim Serb’. Most muslims in Serbia are actually Bosniaks and Albanians who converted under Ottoman rule. Are you suggesting there are significant amounts of actual ethnic Serbs who converted to islam? Obviously there had to be some who converted, but are their numbers significant when compared to the Albanian and Bosniak conversion numbers?

    Second, does anyone know if the Bosniaks and Serbs are essentially the same people with the exception that the former converted to islam and the the latter did not?

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    • Replies: @Hunsdon
    iStevefan said: Second, does anyone know if the Bosniaks and Serbs are essentially the same people with the exception that the former converted to islam and the the latter did not?

    Hunsdon said: Based on my research, yes. (I'm no Razib Khan here, mind you, but I read a whole bunch about Yugoslavia back in the late '80s-early '90s.)
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  79. @iSteveFan
    You need to get your facts straight. The ottomans as a general policy did not practice forced conversions, which makes the Muslim Serb capitulation all the less honorable.

    Can you elaborate on your use of the term 'muslim Serb'. Most muslims in Serbia are actually Bosniaks and Albanians who converted under Ottoman rule. Are you suggesting there are significant amounts of actual ethnic Serbs who converted to islam? Obviously there had to be some who converted, but are their numbers significant when compared to the Albanian and Bosniak conversion numbers?

    Second, does anyone know if the Bosniaks and Serbs are essentially the same people with the exception that the former converted to islam and the the latter did not?

    iStevefan said: Second, does anyone know if the Bosniaks and Serbs are essentially the same people with the exception that the former converted to islam and the the latter did not?

    Hunsdon said: Based on my research, yes. (I’m no Razib Khan here, mind you, but I read a whole bunch about Yugoslavia back in the late ’80s-early ’90s.)

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  80. Hunsdon said: Based on my research, yes. (I’m no Razib Khan here, mind you, but I read a whole bunch about Yugoslavia back in the late ’80s-early ’90s.)

    That could make for some interesting research on how much different cultures (ie, religions) select different traits in groups that diverged from the same population.

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  81. HA says:

    Second, does anyone know if the Bosniaks and Serbs are essentially the same people with the exception that the former converted to islam and the the latter did not?

    The matter of what faith the Muslims of Bosnia espoused prior to the arrival of Islam (or, where relevant, prior to their conversion to Bogomilism) is hardly a settled matter, especially given the propaganda war behind each viewpoint. Yes, Serbs claim them as Serbs, and Croats as Croats, but there’s hardly an ethnic group in Yugoslavia of which that could not be said. Also, an indeterminate number of the Muslim (not to mention Jewish) city-dwellers came from other parts of the Ottoman empire. Strategic military outposts tend to attract people from all over.

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  82. @AlexT
    'It’s very burgher-ish, quite restrained, even a bit Hobbiton-esque, if you know what I mean. The goal is tidy, unostentatious prosperity.'

    That's a wonderful way to describe it. I've always thought this without being able to describe it this well! Nice job.

    From what i've seen and read this is a pretty spot-on description of the Dutch Bible Belt. High savings rate, high birth rate, children saving money by living at home until their mid twenties. Children all living in the same are as their parents. Pretty idyllic, other than their phobia of vaccines. Do you know if any of these things are practised in the Dutch enclaves you were describing?

    Thanks for the kind words, Alex.

    The ‘Yankee-Dutch’ enclaves I’m familiar with are perhaps a bit different. High savings rate and reasonably high birth rates — I think so. Children saving money by staying home into their 20s: less so; at least in my generation (I’m a Gen Xer), it was almost unheard of, perhaps mostly because the cost of living in these enclaves in not high. No innoculo-phobia, so far as I know; the Iowa enclaves (I’m from one of them) are heavily agricultural, tending toward the high-tech in farming operations, so there’s not too much concern with being Whole-Organic-Natural.

    I certainly enjoyed growing up where I did, and my cohort has followed its elders in turning out, I believe, disproportionately (if not ostentatiously!) prosperous for a bunch of small-town hicks from the middle of nowhere. Living there now would still be pleasant: good housing at decent prices, low cost of living, public schools still very good, etc. But you’ve got to value the quiet life.

    The towns themselves of course face the challenges common to all upper Midwestern rural areas: brain drain, competition from Wal-Mart knocking off long-standing local businesses, and so on. But I think they’re fighting back well. My own hometown (which has well under 10K inhabitants) has a string of local manufacturers, and for the most part they’re hanging in there and even growing, although there are a few empty spaces on main street.

    So I think a functioning PWE is still evident there.

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  83. Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy, 1453 to the Present
    By Brendan Simms in Literary Review: “” Simms singles out… factors that at various times allowed the Habsburgs or Bismarck or Hitler to dominate mainland Europe. … Germans have been the only major nation to promote ethnic and linguistic unity above religious divisions, so that Protestants and Catholics could live together in a union of smaller states, reconciled by their Teutonic pride.

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  84. >>AlexT says: (Commenting History)
    July 10, 2014 at 9:41 am

    Could you expand on your point about differences between Anglos and Celts, both Catholic and Protestant. Really curious about this.

    Reply<<

    Well, you see the same sort of differences in the US between mostly-Celt Southerners and mostly-Anglo Yankees (the traditional WASPs). IME Celts tend to be more emotional, quicker to anger. Jim Webb described the Scots-Irish as 'Born Fighting'; that is particularly true of Northern Irish even compared to Southern Irish, but is also true of southern Irish and Scots (esp West-Coast Scots) vs English. For instance bar fights are far more common amongst Celts than pub brawls amongst Anglos, and tend to be more serious. Most serious pub fights in southern England seem to involve Irish immigrants. In Germany bar fights seem extremely rare.
    Anglo-Germanics seem much slower to anger. As a half-Celt amongst pure-blood English I have to learn to suppress my temper. Celts tend to be fiercer and less keen to avoid conflict; threats tend to make us angry rather than back down. The Celtic parts of the British Isles produce many more soldiers than the more Anglo-Germanic parts do, though the old Dane Law area of north-east England produces a good number also.
    The Anglos also don't seem to bear grudges to the same extent as the Celts do. Celts tend to be less reserved and more direct than the English, who are extremely reserved and tend to use very oblique language (though Germans are very direct).

    What I took from HBD Chick was that Germany, northern France, and the most Anglo-Germanic parts of England were 'core Europe', with a long history of manorialism and more extreme outbreeding than the neighbouring more Celtic areas. 'Core Europe' is the area that has contributed most to human accomplishment.

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  85. The wealthiest states in Europe (excluding joke countries like Luxembourg and oil rich Norway) are Switzerland and Austria which are away from the alleged core. So being innovative does not necessarily mean you will be keeping ahead once others can get in the game. Correlli Barnett emphasised that pure science advances made by Britain did not benefit her industries which steadily fell behind. The British also had the first organised labour and strikes. So they may not be innovative, but there is something about the alpine people that makes them cooperate better than anyone else.

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  86. While the origins of capitalism have famously been traced to a “Protestant Work Ethic”, a comparison between the values of Protestant Cavaliers and Protestant Puritans demonstrates a flaw in this argument. Anglican or Episcopalian Cavaliers were also Protestant, but they also distinctly valued their liberty from work. Historian David Hackett Fischer demonstrated that the slave-owning Cavaliers of the South possessed a far more ambivalent work ethic than the Puritan-Yankees of the North.888 Work was for slaves. Leisure was characteristic of aristocrats and masters. The Puritan work ethic designated a possible place for themselves in heaven while sentencing Norman aristocrats to hell. – Mitchell Heisman from Suicide Note

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  87. […] *Not to be biased towards cultural explanations of behaviors, it may be better to describe it as Germanic work ethic rather than protestant work […]

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