This collection of essays addresses a difficult question: Are some cultures better than others at creating freedom, prosperity, and justice? AlthoughCulture Matters
offers varying responses to this politically incorrect question, its editors, Lawrence E. Harrison and Samuel P. Huntington, as well as the bulk of its contributors, answer in some form of the affirmative. In an introduction, Harrison (author ofUnderdevelopment Is a State of Mind
) writes in the third person of the movement he helps lead: "They are the intellectual heirs of Alexis de Tocqueville, who concluded that what made the American political system work was a culture congenial to democracy; Max Weber, who explained the rise of capitalism as essentially a cultural phenomenon rooted in religion; and Edward Banfield, who illuminated the cultural roots of poverty and authoritarianism in southern Italy, a case with universal applications." (The book, moreover, is dedicated to Banfield, "who has illuminated the path for so many of us.") For readers loath to make value judgments about cultures,Culture Matters
may be tough going. But admirers ofTrust
by Francis Fukuyama,The Wealth and Poverty of Nations
by David Landes, and any number of books byThomas Sowell
will find much to admire on these pages. Fukuyama and Landes, in fact, have written chapters--along with Barbara Crossette, Robert Edgerton, Nathan Glazer, Seymour Martin Lipset, Orlando Patterson, Lucian Pye, Jeffrey Sachs, and many others. In an especially ...