Friday, June 18, 2004


Highly respected sociologist Peter Berger notes a big upsurge of Protestantism in Latin America and says it will lead to a big increase in democracy and capitalist prosperity there: "our research has estimated that there may be between forty and fifty million Protestants south of the United States border. And something like eighty percent of them are first-generation Protestants, so we are dealing with a massive phenomenon- most of them, by the way, again somewhere around eighty percent, are Pentecostal, so it's a very particular kind of Protestantism that is exploding.

I would say there are a number of consequences one can already see. If you talk about social institutions, we have here an incredible replication of some of the values and habits that Max Weber was describing in terms of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe and North America, the Protestant ethic.... Economically, again one can say the same thing, it's creating a group of people with very strong entrepreneurial interest.... They tend to favor democracy, because it's very much a people's movement. ... . The Protestant ethic-hard work, saving, discipline, basically not enjoying life very much and saving for the next generation- these kinds of values and behavior patterns are very conducive to success. ...

Socialism is no longer just an idea, it's a form of economic and political organization that has been tried in many countries, not just in the Soviet Union. It has unfailingly produced economic disaster, and in most cases, pretty odious political tyrannies. So the idea that socialism is the way to personal liberation is, empirically speaking, a horrendous mistake"


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