Orthodoxy and Authoritarianism

From Bloomberg, a novel theory:

Why Orthodox Christian Nations Remain Stuck

Their religious roots, not their Communist experience, support authoritarianism and risk aversion.

Eastern Orthodox Christianity has done more to shape certain ex-Communist countries than communism. It also, some say, made their people relatively unhappy and anti-capitalist. This theory got a lot of play in 1990s Russia but has now resurfaced in a fresh World Bank working paper.

Its authors, former Bulgarian finance minister Simeon Djankov and Elena Nikolova of University College London, analyzed data from the World Values Survey and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s Life in Transition Survey to study the correlation between religious background and attitudes. They concluded that Orthodoxy made certain countries fertile ground for communism and generally shaped their path as distinct from those taken by countries steeped in Western Christian traditions. They wrote:

Western Christianity (which gave rise to Catholicism and Protestantism) placed emphasis on rationalism, logical exploration, individualism, and the questioning of established authorities. Eastern Christianity (from which Eastern Orthodoxy originated) was associated with mystical and experiential phenomena, was more affectionate and communitarian, and put less emphasis on law, reason and questioning authorities. Remarkably, these long-run attitudinal differences survived after nearly 50 years of communism.

Communist rulers weren’t church-friendly but, according to Djankov and Nikolova, they exploited the features of the Orthodox worldview that they found useful, such as the emphasis on tradition, communitarianism, “less reliance on legal exchanges” and a greater respect for authority. So the mindset shaped by the suppressed religion persisted, suppressing respect for the rule of law, iconoclasm,  creativity and innovation.

More at the link.

1 thought on “Orthodoxy and Authoritarianism

  1. Please inform Dr George Demacopolis. His website proclaimed Justinian as the father of gun control and St Irene as the mother of the modern welfare state, then he complains Bershidsky calls Orthodoxy communist. And he calls Samuel Huntington a right wing extremist for putting Orthodoxy in the IslamoSoviet belt in Clash (FA 72#3,1993, p30). Really? Huntington was Zbig’s #2 on Carter’s NSC! Why does he admire Aristides Papadakis trying to make the early Christians into communist (David Bentley Hart NOV 4 2017 NY Times) and Zembillas quotes Crysostum saying “The rich are in possession of the goods of the poor, even if they have acquired them honestly” (Lazarus 11). Demcopolis and his PO/IOTA associates are NOT intereste din promoting Orthodoxy. No, they have only one simple goal, to make Orthodoxy palatable enough to the academic elites that they hire their members. Former Bulgarian finance minister Simeon Djankov and Elena Nikolova of University College London,
    World Bank WPS8399 April 2018, “Eastern Orthodox religion have less social capital and prefer old ideas and safe jobs. In addition, Orthodoxy is associated with left-leaning political preferences and stronger support for government involvement in the economy. Compared with non-believers and Orthodox adherents, Catholics and Protestants are less likely to agree that government ownership is a good thing, and Protestants are less likely to agree that getting rich can only happen at the expense of others. . . consistent with Berdyaev’s hypothesis that communism is a successor of Orthodoxy”

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