Right, that’s that solved then.
It has found that there are obstacles to development in Islam, Roman Catholicism, Orthodox Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and animism (being particularly nasty about voodoo). Right, so they’re all going to have to change then. Simple. Confucianism Judaism and Protestantism will confront some problems from being too successful, Harrison suggests, but still everyone else should copy them to get to that point.
How are these conclusions arrived at? Well by such complex analysis as Haiti being evidence of “a realization of the Malthusian prediction – that population tends to increase at a faster rate than its means of subsistence and that unless it is checked by moral restraint or disaster widespread poverty and degradation inevitably result”. Malthus might still be useful for newspaper columnists for rhetorical purposes, but his use in serious academic study disappeared – or should have disappeared – some decades ago.
And Ecuador’s problem with punctuality is a result of its Spanish, Catholic, past, “the current of excessive individualism in Iberian culture”. Oh, and Catholic liberation theology is bad because it is “anti-capitalist”. But with Buddhism, sometimes it is good and sometimes bad. “That variety is reflected in the performance of Buddhist nations: Freedom House ranks Myanmar (Burma) with the least free countries like North Korea and Cuba. Yet Mongolia and Thailand are listed as ‘free’ countries.” (Right, so that lack of freedom has nothing to do with repressive military juntas supported by outside money, or the fact that the whole country was constructed by the colonial power from two groups, the lowland Burmans and the highland tribes, that had nothing in common?)
This book operates on unacknowledged, unconsidered assumptions that utterly determine its results. In a potted history lesson we learn: “When Christopher Columbus arrived at Hispaniola in December 1492, it was populated by the Taino Indians, members of the Arawak family … The Taino civilization was less advanced than those of the Aztec, Maya, and Inca, on the Central and South American mainland.” Oh, “less advanced”, so what does that mean? Since the Maya had long since collapsed, it might be assumed that the Taino, who had continued on, were “more advanced”, even if their technology, as Harrison seems to be measuring, had not got so complicated.