- Ferguson offers this moment of revelation on the part of a scholar from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences: "We were asked to look into what accounted for the West all over the world...At first we thought it was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. But in the past 20 years we have realised that the heart of your culture is your religion. Christianity. That is why the West has been so powerful. The Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life was what made possible the emergence of capitalism and then the successful transition to democratic politics. We don't have any doubts about this."
- Ferguson naturally, offers the empirical follow-up to this theorising. The most entrepreneurial city in China, Wenzhou, where the free market is given full rein and where the state's influence is minimal, is also home to almost 1,400 churches -- half a century after Chairman Mao boasted it was "religion-free". One of its most successful business leaders, Hamping Zhang, argues that an absence of trust had been one of the main factors holding China back; but he feels he can trust his fellow Christians because he knows they will be honest in their dealings with him."
I am not arguing in any way that these conclusions are truth, but they are fascinating none the less and thought provoking for sure.
*Dominic Lawson, Book Review: Civilisation: The West and the Rest by Niall Ferguson. The Times Cuture, 27 February 2011, page 57.