Sunday, 21 September 2014

Inclusive Institutions, not Culture

In "The Great Degeneration" Niall Ferguson argues that inclusive institutions, not culture, explain the success of the West. "... while culture may instill norms, institutions create incentives. Britons versed in much the same culture behaved very differently depending on whether they emigrated to New England or worked for the East India Company in Bengal. In the former case we find inclusive institutions, in the latter extractive ones." I have previously argued that culture is a significant factor in impeding the tyranny of the majority and persecution of minorities, but Niall has a point. Further proof comes from the structure of the Swiss Federation which protected the rights of the large minority Catholic Cantons against domination by the Protestant majority. If only the same could be created in Syria and Iraq for Sunni and Shia.
(The Human Rights Act may also help.)

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