Sunday, December 31, 2006

შერეკილები (Crackpots)

One of the best Georgian movies!!! (with english subtitles)

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Merry Christmas! but when and why?

Nugzar Papuashvili and George Nigharadze talk about celebrating Christmas in orthodox Christian countries such as Russia and Georgia. They argue why Christmas should be celebrated on 25-th of December and not on 7-th of January.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Who will be on the first georgian Playboy Magazine's cover?

As reports Georgia will become third country in the CIS where ,,Playboy" Magazine will be published. Monthly circulation will be 15 thousand and magazine will cost 5 GEL.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Photo Competition “Qolga” 2006

Tonight I was at the opening of ,,ქოლგა” Photo Competition at Karvasla Museum. Here are some Photos that I liked:

Photos: Ivan Makharadze

Photo: Mamuka Jaoshvili

Photo: Tato Kotetishvili

Photo: Mari Nakani

Friday, December 22, 2006


Their was one stupid song: I can't wait for the Weekend to begin ....

This weekend promises to be one of the most interesting since my return from Germany. I have to write draft law about taxation of Georgian Supra!

I applied for a job at the Office Of The State Minister on Reforms and Coordination. The head of this Ministry is one of the most controversial man in Georgia: Millionaire, Libertarian Thinker - Kakha Bendukidze.

So the first étape of the concours contains three tasks: the most interesting and fun to do, I already mentioned above. Two others are also fun: 1) I have to write pros and cons of selling Georgian gas pipeline and 2) make kind of IQ Test to ascertain who is more clever employee when both have equal potentialities, to pay him higher salary.

I would appreciate your ideas, views, comments about these tasks.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

CRRC - Social Sciense in the Caucasus

Wednesday I have met at Batonebi regional program director of CRRC(Caucasus Research Resource Center) Hans Gutbrod and development and outreach coordinator Aaron Erlich. We had very interesting conversation and spent practically rest of the day together attending interesting events. After that meeting I went to see Max Ernst exhibition taking place in Karvasla (tbilisi history museum) and documentary film about Max Ernst in Goethe Institute.

At 17:00 I was at Betsy's Hotel where CRRC-georgia held a presentation of "Preliminary findigs from CRRC DI Survay 2006", conducted by Kristina Vacharadze, CRRC-Georgia Program Manager and Mamuka Nadareishvili, Expert. You can download PDF version of this presentation from here.

After presentation socializing with different NGO representatives I got interesting book with similar surveys made by Institute for Policy Studies, online version of this book in english you can download from here.

At 8 o'clock, after drinking Beer at Paradise Lost, we saw at Kolga Cinema very interesting documentary film: "Power Trip", about American multi-national company AES Telasi trying to solve the electricity crisis in Tbilisi.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Georgia is 112 th with 176 thousand Internet Users

From every 100 Georgians - only 3,75 use internet. It's the last place between South Caucasus countries - 138 place.

In Armenia from 100 every 5,03 uses internet-124 place . In Azerbaijan every 18,4- 85 place!!!

The worse situation from former soviet countries is in Tajikistan- less than 1 internet user in 100 thousand!!!


Orthodox Church vs Liberalism

I found interesting article about opening of a new educational center for Georgian youth under the patronage of Georgian orthodox Church at

Yesterday, the presentation of “The youth center” and of their(the youth center) building was held in Sameba cathedral in Tbilisi. The Catholicon-patriarch of Georgia, Ilia II, together with the president Mikhail Saakashvili and the head of the parliament, Nino Burjanadze attended the presentation. Other officials also were presented at the presentation. As the worker of the press-center of the Patriarchate, Zurab Tskhovrebadze told They celebrated the commemoration day of the king Vakhtang Gorgasali and also the day of entrance of Andrew the first called. As he said, Andrew the first called is the enlightener of Georgia and that it is very symbolic to open such center on this day.

The Patriarch, Ilia II, made the speech and stressed the contributions of the saint Andrew the first called towards Georgia. The president underlined the role of Georgian orthodox church in contemporary life and noted that the construction of Sameba cathedral started when everything was destroying in Georgia and he noted that this is really very important.
The bishop of Tsageri and Lentekhi, Stepane Kalaijashvili was appointed the head of “The youth center at the patriarchate”.

We offer you the extracts from the interviews of Stepane Kalaijashvili without comments.

The journal of Georgian patriarchate “krialosani” №3, April 2005.
Editor: Gela Lobjanidze.
Consultant: priest Giorgi Samsonidze.

Liberalism-False and the servitude of sins with the mask of freedom

The priests of this new state religion govern the processes from abroad and within the country they( the priests) have people like Bokeria, Gvakharia, Naira Gelashvili…these politicians teach us. They have the agitation brigades clapping everything and saying “enough” all the time and even more shaking their fists at us. They even broke into the schools inciting children against their parents.
Russians at their hang-over saying-“Iron logic”
As it was revealed liberalism is the product of Christian faith( you kept this in secret?!) We did not trust “ Liberty institute” and tried to get into the depth of this issue, but got totally different picture. It turned out that liberalism is the opposite to Christian principles and is soaked with heretic ideas of John Lock, Monteskie and others.

Monday, December 18, 2006

and this?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Georgian Song. Which?

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Les cavaliers du CAUCASE

Beautiful Video!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Festival at Conservatoire

Griboedov str. 8

IX საერთაშორისო ფესტივალი

15 დეკემბერი ტიერი მეშლერი (ორგანი, საფრანგეთი)
პარასკევი პროგრამაშია: მარსელ დიუპრე, ტიერი მეშლერი

17 დეკემბერი დანიილ ცვეტკოვი (ფორტეპიანო, რუსეთი)
კვირა პროგრამაშია: მოცარტი, შუმანი, ბარტოკი, ბრამსი

19 დეკემბერი ფლორან ეო (კლარნეტი, საფრანგეთი)
სამშაბათი ჟერომ დიუკრო (ფორტეპიანო, საფრანგეთი)
პროგრამაშია: შუმანი, ვებერი, სენ-სანსი, დებიუსი, პულენკი

21 დეკემბერი თბილისის კონსერვატორიის სტუდენტური ორკესტრი
ხუთშაბათი დირიჟორი – მიშა რახლევსკი (რუსეთი); სოლისტი - მიშელ პერი (ვალტორნა, აშშ)
პროგრამაშია: ლ. ქერუბინი, ლ. იანაჩეკი, ტ.შნაუბერი, ი.სუკი

23 დეკემბერი BRAVA MAESTRA! - ლიანა ისაკაძის საიუბილეო საღამო
შაბათი დირიჟორი და სოლისტი – ლიანა ისაკაძე (ვიოლინო)
პროგრამაშია: შოსონი, მენდელსონი

24 დეკემბერი თბილისის კონსერვატორიის სტუდენტთა ფოლკლორული ანსამბლი
კვირა ხელმძღვანელი ნატო ზუმბაძე

25 დეკემბერი ბენჯამინ მარკიზ გილმორი (ვიოლინო, დიდი ბრიტანეთი)
ორშაბათი იუ ჰარიუკი (ფორტეპიანო, იაპონია)
პროგრამაშია: ბეთჰოვენი, ბარტოკი, ბრამსი, შილაკაძე
---------------------------------------------კონსერვატორიის მცირე დარბაზი

27 დეკემბერი Classic, Jazz, Rock, Fusion
ოთხშაბათი თემურ ყვითელაშვილი (გიტარა, საქართველო)

28 დეკემბერი BRAVO MAESTRO! - ეძღვნება შალვა მოსიძის დაბადებიდან 70 წლისთავს
ხუთშაბათი მონაწილეობენ: გორის ქალთა კამერული გუნდი,
თბილისის კონსერვატორიის საგუნდო-სადირიჟორო კათედრის ბაკალავრიატისა და მაგისტრატურის გუნდები, `ბგერის თეატრი~ და შალვა მოსიძის მოწაფეები
პროგრამაშია: ქართველ და დასავლეთევროპელ კომპოზიტორთა საგუნდო ნაწარმოებები

29 დეკემბერი საფორტეპიანო დუეტების საღამო - ეძღვნება მერი ჭავჭანიძის ხსოვნას
პარასკევი ეთერ ანჯაფარიძე (საქართველო/აშშ) მანანა დოიჯაშვილი(საქართველო)
პროგრამაშია: შუმანი, შუბერტი-პროკოფიევი, რახმანინოვი, პულენკი, მიიო

კონცერტების დასაწყისი 19 საათზე

Tickets are available at V. Saradjishvili Tbilisi State Conservatoire Grand Hall Box-Office.
The Grand Hall provides privileges such as one lari (Gel) tickets for conservatoire students (30). on presentation of valid ID.

Check the Grand Hall plan and choose the seat.

Booking of tickets is available on concert days, or before the concert (personally, or by phone), which is cancelled on the day of concert.

Working hours:
The day before concert: from 11:00 AM—17:00 PM
Concert Day: from 12:00 - 19:00 p.m.
Break: 14:00 – 15:00

Tel: (+995 32) 934624
Fax: (+995 32) 920176
Address: 8 Griboedov Street, 0108 Tbilisi, Georgia

Conservatoire's Web Page

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Once upon a time in Georgia

Sonja Zekri talks to Aka Morchiladze, author of "Santa Esperanza," one of the zaniest books of the season.

It's a deadly square. The president Zviad Gamsakhurdia has barricaded himself inside the parliament and lurking about the Intourist Hotel are the men of Tengiz Kitovani, the Bohemian turned warlord. A couple of gun-toters are squatting in the church tower and in the KGB prison opposite, Jaba Ioseliani, ex-criminal, writer and putsch instigator, waits for his hour to strike. At some point, the bullets start flying and the civil war gains new, appalling momentum.

This was fifteen years ago, but Aka Morchiladze can still point to the bullet holes in the church wall with his eyes closes. "The Rustaweli Boulevard was roped off, one at the top end, one at the bottom. And in the middle they shot each other dead: literati, artists, warriors," he says. "Shortly before, Sergio Leone's films had opened here: "Once Upon a Time in America." Later, a politician said to us, what a shame that Leone wasn't alive to see the influence he had on our little country in the Caucasus. Crazy huh? But that's Georgia for you."

That's Georgia. For Aka Morchiladze, this sentence carries the truth and the tragedy of his country. For the majority of people outside Georgia, the name won't mean much at first. In his home country, Morchiladze is a celebrity author, TV presenter, soap writer, sports columnist and so famous that he coined himself a pseudonym. His real name is Gio Akhvlediani. Outside the Caucasus he is a person with an unpronounceable name whose works are written in a language that looks like the secret code of a children's book. He has written 25 books. They've sold in huge numbers for Georgia. Not one of them has been translated. Until now. Now Munich's Pendo Verlag has published his book "Santa Esperanza", and it is, put nicely, the zaniest and most swashbuckling work of the season.

"Santa Esperanza" is not a book, but a collection of small rainbow-coloured booklets in a caramel coloured felt slipcase. "These endless covers, this binding, I wanted something different!" says Mordchiladze. He says it's not necessary to read the glorious saga of "The Isle of Hope" from start to finish or even right through. He nearly made the end of "Santa Esperanza" into a crossword puzzle. In this light, the little booklets seem almost conservative.

The book

"Santa Esperanza" is the fictitious chronicle of a fictitious archipelago in the Black Sea. But really, Morchiladze says, it's all about Georgia. Or more precisely, a utopian Georgia which was never annexed by Russia, never under the thumb of the Soviet Union. The three islands are inhabited by Georgians, Turks, Italians, Jews and Britons. Yes, Britons. In 1919, the Ottoman pasha Sari Beg leased the group of islands to the British Colonel Rollston. The archipelago is due to be given back 145 years later, and Morchiladze's story, which takes place in 2002, focuses on this event. "It's a Hong Kong story," he says. "But without a happy end."

Because just as Georgia sank into misery and civil war after independence - "We were the richest country in the Soviet Union and became the poorest country in the CIS overnight" - so did the Islands of Hope dissolve into desolate conflicts between clans and cliques: the hated bourgeois Wisramiani family, the courageous but barbarous Sungals and the Genoese merchant dynasty of the Da Costas. British spies want to install Agatia, the ageing great granddaughter of Sari Beg as queen. And the ghastly Wisramiani daughter Salome occupies entire parts of the island with her army – just as once upon a time Abchasia and South Ossetia exploited Georgia's weakness and declared their independence.

Many of the stories sound too awful to be true and yet they are. When the enemies open the lunatic asylums and prisons and the sick and criminal raid the Sungal's island, Morchiladze's own outrage comes into play. Similar things happened in Georgia, he says. Then he finds new, unforgettable images for a horror that's already been described a thousand times: the massive murder literally froze the blood in the Sungal's veins. Now they are stabbing themselves in the hands and stomachs to see if it still flows, if they are still alive.

A dwarf state in the hands of the major powers, the pre-modern notion of honour colliding with bourgeois cleverness – "Santa Esperanza" can be read as a great metaphor for Georgia. But it doesn't have to be. Morchiladze, who in the meantime has made himself at home in the cute cafe of a puppeteer friend and is pouring himself a home-brewed mulled wine, has developed such a playful, crazy, fast-paced world that this tiny multi-ethnic state earns a place in the United Nations.

It's a world unto itself, dominated by a card game called Inti, much like Bridge, which requires six players: four attack, two defend. "To win from the defensive, that's the basic situation in Georgia," says Morchiladze. The wailing women belong to the high culture; their songs are wordless like the ocean, they rob men of their reason which is why they are only allowed to perform in licensed clubs.

Morchiladze tells this very colourful epic not in the form of a disdainful novel but in letters and church chronicles, diaries and little dramas. He weaves in excerpts from the constitution, internet sites, a will. For the most part, the parts fit together perfectly; sometimes the most beautiful flowers bloom on dead rails. Morchiladze says he loves to imitate texts. But of course the simulation has to be recognisable right away. Just as Ingo Schulze's "33 Moments of Happiness" was a post-modern bow to the Russian classics, so does the Georgian pay tribute to Western literature, making its tone wonderfully familiar to the reader.

The Wisramiani women fight for power and influence – is this not the female version of Puzo's "The Godfather"? Who doesn't think of Shakespeare when Salomea is prevented from marrying her lover because Sandro da Costa belongs to the enemy family ("I would die for him but not thread a needle for you!") There are traces of Steinbeck and sediments of Melville to be found, the characters have names like Theveneau de Morande, after the traitor of the rococo impostor Cagliostro or Gines des Passamonte after Cervantes' "Don Quijote." Morchiladze went to an English school, he's been more influenced by Hollywood than by Eisenstein. At some point, Niko, Salomea's criminal husband, is found at the window of the cloister library with an arrow in his heart – a recollection of the Leone sequence on the Rustaweli boulevard: once upon a time in Georgia.

America. While Morchiladze was churning out the island saga in London in two and a half months, the Rose Revolution broke out in Georgia. Since then, Georgia's national doctrine has been orientation to the West. The relationship to Russia is shattered. It's about Abchasia and South Ossetia, which as Russian protectorates, contribute about as much to stability in the Caucasus as a few tonnes of TNT. Recently it was about a lone slab of rock, whose crazy rulers bore Sungalese traits, and a Russian prohibition of Georgian wine and mineral water imports. But really it was just about the fact that the Kremlin would like to prevent the encroachment of the revolutionary Atlantic bacillius. "In 1989, Russian demonstrators in Tiflis slayed with polished spades," says Morchiladze. "Since then, their time has passed. They just haven't grasped it yet."

In the fall, President Mikheil Saakashvili accused Russian officers of espionage, had them arrested and thrown out of the country by police women (!) It was a childish, dangerous, excessive humiliation. But what a scene! "Don't write this!" says Morchiladze, giggling. "But I enjoyed it. Mischa is like that. Symbols, gestures – that's his thing. When he's behind the staging, it's unforgettable."

The Russians certainly didn't forget and they threw hundreds of Georgians out of the country, set the tax authorities onto VIPs such as the crime author Boris Akunin and the monumental sculptor Surab Zereteli – at which point the latter reflected on his homeland and presented Tiflis with a sculpture of Saint George which, since a few days ago, has been looking down on the roundabout from atop a pillar in front of city call, where the Rose Revolution began.

"At least we have gas and electricity since the revolution;" says Morchiladze. "At any rate, more than before." When you see an old man sawing away at a tree on the the Metekhis Bridge for firewood, however, you suspect that this doesn't apply for all, especially since Russia doubled the price of gas. Or when three young tykes carry bottles full of golden liquid into a bar. "No, that's something else," Morchiladze reassures. "They are selling brandy. I would guess that they have gambling debts." Maybe Santa Esperanza is indeed a suburb of Tiflis. Maybe they really exist, these undiscovered places with dramas that have never been written down. "You know what?" he says happily. "I don't think the earth is round."


Sonja Zekri is a feuilleton editor of the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

This article originally appeared in the Süddeutsche Zeitung on December 8, 2006.


Free Hugs უფასო ჩახუტება

I wonder would it work in Georgia?

საინტერესოა ჩვენთან საქართველოში რა გამოვიდოდა ესეთი აქციიდან?

ეს იდეა პირველად ავსტრალიაში დაებადა ერთ სტუდენტს როცა დაბრუნდა თავის საკუთარ ქვეყანაში და არავინ დახვდა. YouTube - ზე განთავსების შემდეგ ეს იდეა ეგრევე აიტაცეს სხვადასხვა ქვეყნებში და ქალაქებში.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Young Georgian Lolitaz "Sirock"

შენ ზღვას გავხარ

Irakli Charkviani's very good song. He died in February. One of the best contemporary Georgian singer. This girl sings pretty well this song!

You can listen original version of this song here

Georgian and German students production: "Georgian Summer"

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Singing Duet - video powered by Metacafe

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Culture Matters II

Their is an answer to Harrison's essay by Gregory Clark on Cato Unbound.

Again some quotes:

....Harrison’s project seems in this report to be an echo of David McClelland’s work in the 1950s and early 60s. McClelland argued that societies differed culturally in their “need for achievement” which could be diagnosed by personality surveys or even by analysis of the popular literature of the society. High need for achievement was characteristic of Protestant societies. This is not to imply that Harrison is wrong, just to suggest that in fifty years the agenda of introducing culture into analysis of growth has not advanced one step from the state of the art of the 1950s.

The problem with both the Harrison and McClelland approaches is that the responses may reflect just the realities of the institutional framework people live within, rather than their cultural attitudes. A North Korean who reports “fatalism” or “resignation” is plausibly no different culturally from a South Korean who states “I can influence my destiny.” These cultural measures are not a pure probe into the essence of local cultures, but reflect institutions and economic environments that change the real possibilities for people. It is hardly unexpected that people in growing or wealthy societies are more open to innovation, more accepting of risk, and more welcoming of advancement by merit. But which came first, the economic dynamism and wealth, or the social attitudes?

.......So, if we want to measure the effects of culture on economic growth, we need measures of culture that are independent of growth. Earlier attempts to link culture to religious doctrine were in part an attempt to find such a grounding. Recent attempts of those in experimental economics, such as Ernst Fehr, Sam Bowles, and Joe Henrich, to see how subjects from different cultures interact in controlled strategic games show another path to isolating pure cultural differences. Game theory predicts how rational self-interested actors should behave in experiments. By looking at deviations we can identify the existence of cultural norms, and whether they vary across societies. However, the results of these investigations, while suggesting significant cultural differences, so far have not been consistent or informative.

We also find in history clear signs that significant aspects of peoples' preferences—their degree of impatience, their work inputs, and their propensity to violence – changed over time in ways unrelated to economic circumstances, at least in England, as the society moved from stagnation towards modern growth. Further, there is a dynamic in the pre-industrial world—survival of the richest—that might explain these trends.

But, in general, since Harrison has measures of culture that are not clearly independent of economic circumstances, and since he has no clear intervention to alter culture, the path he plots may as much lead us into the undergrowth as into the light.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Culture Matters?

Very interesting essay by Lawrence A. Harrison on Cato Unbound. Here are some quotes:

.......It is true that, since the 1970s, cultural anthropologists have participated in the design of projects. But that participation has usually been limited to assuring that cultural realities were adequately reflected in design, rarely to encourage cultural change. Many anthropologists, indeed many social scientists, subscribe to cultural relativism, the theory that each society or culture must define its own values and that cultures are neither better nor worse, only different. One can imagine the horrified reaction to a comment made by David Landes, author of The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, at a World Bank conference in 2000: "…there are cultures that I would call 'toxic'…[that] handicap the people who cling to them."......

............Cultural relativism fits very nicely with, and reinforces, the predilection of many economists to assume that people are the same the world over. As the former World Bank economist William Easterly, author of The White Man's Burden, wrote in reviewing my book Who Prospers?, "Maybe there is a lot to be said for the old-fashioned economist's view that people are the same everywhere and will respond to the right economic opportunities and incentives."[2] How then would Easterly explain why, in multicultural countries where the economic opportunities and incentives are available to all, some ethnic or religious minorities do much better than majority populations, as in the case of the Chinese minorities in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand–and any other place to which the Chinese have migrated, including the United States? Why has the Washington Consensus worked well in India and poorly in Latin America (with the exception of Chile), where socialism, and even authoritarian socialism in the cases of Cuba and Venezuela, appear to be alive and well? Cultural factors may not supply the whole explanation, but surely they are relevant.

Alan Greenspan got it right when he said, in the wake of the collapse of the Russian economy in the late 1990s. “I used to think that capitalism was human nature. But it isn’t at all. It’s culture.”

.........Some economists have confronted culture and found it helpful in understanding economic development. Perhaps the broadest statement comes from the pen of David Landes: "Max Weber was right. If we learn anything from the history of economic development, it is that culture makes almost all the difference." Elaborating on Landes's theme, Japanese economist Yoshihara Kunio writes, "One reason Japan developed is that it had a culture suitable for it. The Japanese attached importance to material pursuits; hard work; saving for the future; investment in education; and community values."

Even the culture-skeptic Jeffrey Sachs recognizes the influence of culture. His chapter in Culture Matters says, in essence, that culture doesn't matter. And while that theme echoes in his recent book The End of Poverty, at one point he also has this to say: "Even when governments are trying to advance their countries, the cultural environment may be an obstacle to development. Cultural or religious norms may block the role of women, for example, leaving half the population without economic or political rights…"

Italian economist Guido Tabellini recently undertook a study of comparative economic performance in European regions employing data from the World Values Survey concerning trust, control of one's destiny, and respect for others (all three of which turn out to be positively correlated with economic development), and obedience, which correlates negatively. His conclusions:

These cultural traits are strongly correlated not only with the economic development of European regions, but also with the economic development and institutional outcomes in a broad sample of countries…An implication of this analysis, therefore, is that there is no primacy of formal institutions over culture. On the contrary, both are likely to interact and to shape the actual functioning of real world institutions, and to influence the incentives and the behavior of economic and political agents.

Moynihan and the Culture Matters Research Project

From 2002 to 2005, I led the Culture Matters Research Project (CMRP) at the Fletcher School at Tufts, a follow-up to the book Culture Matters (Basic Books, 2000), co-edited by Samuel Huntington and me. Some 65 experts from 25 countries participated, and major conferences were held at Fletcher in 2003 and 2004. Three CMRP books were published in 2006: the overview book The Central Liberal Truth (Oxford 2006), written by me; Developing Cultures: Essays on Cultural Change (Routledge 2006) co-edited by Jerome Kagan and me; and Developing Cultures: Case Studies Routledge 2006) co-edited by Peter Berger and me.

The goal of the CMRP was the guidelines for progressive cultural change that appear as the last chapter of The Central Liberal Truth. To reach the goal, we focused on three questions:

  1. What is it in culture that influences the behaviors that in turn influence political, social, and economic performance?
  2. What are the institutions and instruments of cultural transmission and change?
  3. What can we learn about culture and cultural change from case studies of success and failure?

The CMRP findings bear out the wisdom of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s oft-cited aphorism, “The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.” The latter is, of course, the source of the title of my latest book. Culture Matters might well have been titled The Central Conservative Truth.

Disaggregating "Culture"

The answer to Question 1 is a typology of 25 factors that are viewed very differently in progress-prone cultures and progress-resistant cultures. Its principal architect is the Argentine scholar and journalist Mariano Grondona, who had the United States in mind as his progress-prone model, and Argentina, and by extension Latin America, as his progress-resistant model. The 25 factors are broken down into four groups: Worldview, Values and Virtues, Economic Behavior, and Social Behavior. These compartments are not water-tight—factors that influence economic performance are found in all. For example, the Worldview factor of “Destiny” contrasts “I can influence my destiny” (progress-prone) and “fatalism” (progress-resistant)—with weighty implications for entrepreneurship, one of the key factors in the Economic Behavior cluster. Others in that cluster include:

  • Work/Achievement, which contrasts the progress-prone “Live to work” with the resistant “Work to live.”
  • Frugality: “the mother of investment” vs. “a threat to equality.”
  • Risk propensity: moderate in the progress-prone culture; low, with occasional adventures, in the progress-resistant culture.
  • Competition: leads to excellence vs a threat to equality—and privilege.
  • Innovation: the progress-prone culture is open to and quick to adapt innovation, while the resistant culture is suspicious of and slow to adapt it.
  • Advancement: merit vs. family/patron connections.

Cultural Transmission

The Question 2 institutions and instruments of cultural transmission include child rearing practices, several aspects of education, religion, the media, political leadership, and development projects. Of these, religion may be most relevant to economic development. We grouped 117 countries by predominant religion and recorded their performance on ten indicators or indices of progress, two of which directly reflect prosperity (the UN Human Development Index, which includes per capita GDP as well as three social factors; and World Bank per capita GDP calculated on the basis of purchasing power parity). Several others of the ten indices are also relevant, e.g., trust, corruption, income distribution.

The data roundly validate Max Weber’s thesis in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism: Protestant countries do better than Catholic countries in creating prosperity. To be sure, the averages for the Catholic countries are depressed by Latin America’s slow development, but even when one looks only at First World democratic-capitalist societies, Protestant countries do substantially better than Catholic countries with respect to prosperity, trust, and corruption.

More broadly, the analysis of religions suggests that Protestant, Jewish, and Confucian societies do better than Catholic, Islamic, and Orthodox Christian societies because they substantially share the progress-prone Economic Behavior values of the typology whereas the lagging religions tend toward the progress-resistant values. Symbolic of this divide is the persistent ambivalence of the Catholic Church toward market economics, an issue underscored by Michael Novak in his book The Catholic Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. But religion is not the only source of progress-prone economic behavior: the Basques are highly entrepreneurial and highly Catholic; and Chile, boasting the most successful sustained economic performance in Latin America, is also the most Catholic–and the Latin American country with proportionally the largest Basque-descended population.

In any event, the foregoing suggests the existence of a Universal Culture of Progress: the same Economic Behavior values, whatever their root, create prosperity in widely different geographic/climate, political, institutional, and indeed cultural settings. As far as we know, culture has nothing to do with genes. While cultural change is neither a simple nor easy proposition, it is constantly occurring around the world, and there is no compelling reason why the “universal progress values” should be beyond the reach of any human society.

Case Study Lessons and Moynihan

Of the 27 case studies, ten are economic success stories: the four Confucian countries of China, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea; India; Chile; and four Western societies: Ireland, the Province of Quebec, Spain, and Sweden. While all ten combine elements of Moynihan's Central Conservative Truth (culture dominant) and Central Liberal Truth (politics/policies dominant), progress in the four Confucian countries, Chile, and Sweden is, in my view, chiefly attributable to pre-existing culture, while progress in Ireland, Spain, and the Province of Quebec, is chiefly attributable to politics and policies that promoted cultural change. India is an intermediate case that requires more study.

East Asia

The "Confucian" countries (more accurately the countries strongly influenced by Chinese culture, which also embraces, in addition to Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, and ancestor worship) all share substantially in the universal culture of progress: education, achievement, work ethic, merit, and frugality are all highly valued in the East Asian societies. Their economic success contradicts Weber's analysis in The Religion of China in which he asserts that rapid capitalist development is unlikely in China in large measure because of the absence of anything like the Calvinist "tension" caused by uncertainty about being of the "elect."

Many observers attributed the stagnation of the East Asian economies (Japan excepted) at mid-twentieth century to Confucianism, particularly to the influential role played by the Mandarin literati (Mao a prototype) and the low prestige that attached to economic activity in the Confucian scheme of things. But all that was necessary to release the powerful education/achievement/merit/frugality undercurrent to perform its economic magic was encouragement from the political leadership, in the cases of South Korea and Taiwan stimulated by security concerns. The trigger for the magic in China was Deng Xiaoping's 1978 pronouncement, "To get rich is glorious," effectively marking the end of Mao's Marxist revolution.

Once the encouragement and incentives were in place, the Universal Progress Values drove the economic miracles, much as they had when the Meiji leaders in Japan decided in 1868 to catch up with the West.


That Chile is different from other Latin America countries is apparent from its highly effective implementation of the Washington Consensus policies–the only country in Latin America to do so. Its unique status in Latin America is also apparent from its 2005 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index rating: tied with Japan at number 21, with the next Latin American countries being Uruguay at number 32 and Costa Rica and El Salvador at number 51. And contrary to the often criminal comportment of police in other Latin American countries, Chile's national police force, the Carabineros, has a solid reputation for professionalism and honesty.

Chile also enjoys an atypical entrepreneurial tradition. In the latter decades of the nineteenth century, Chileans were noted in the Southern Cone for their entrepreneurial skills, and they provided a considerable impetus to the growth of the Argentine economy as well as their own. While other factors, including Chile's geography and climate, so similar to California's, doubtlessly also contributed to Chile's entrepreneurial endowment, the disproportionate Basque influence had to have been an important source.

Foreign investment has played a key role in Chile's economic development, above all in copper mining. But the entrepreneurial response to the open economic policies installed during the Pinochet dictatorship and sustained since 1990 by elected left-of-center governments has come principally from Chileans.


By the measure of the ten indices or indicators of political, economic, and social development, ranging from the UN Human Development Index to World Values Survey data on trust, the Nordic countries are the champions of progress.[7]

All five Nordic countries–Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland–have a Lutheran background, even though few today are churchgoers. Lutheranism is the source of much of the Nordic value system that has produced high educational levels, extensive welfare programs, and high quality entrepreneurship symbolized by Finland's Nokia and Sweden's Volvo, Saab, and Ikea. The compatibility of economic efficiency and social spending in the Nordic context is apparent form the 2006 World Economic Forum ratings. The Economist recently observed, "High taxes and generous welfare safety nets need not undermine competitiveness…Scandinavian economies are ranked high in the league…"[8] (Sweden was number two in the world.)

The economic success of the Nordic societies, and Protestant societies in general, strongly suggests that Weber's focus on Calvinist "tension" was too narrow and that it is the Protestant virtues of education, achievement, work ethic, merit, frugality, honesty–Universal Progress Culture–that is the real force behind the spirit of capitalism.

Ireland and Spain

The Irish and Spanish economic "miracles" have much in common. They were both largely triggered by the opening up of theretofore inward-looking economic policies. Foreign investment and, particularly in the case of Spain, tourism played major roles, compensating at the outset for domestic shortfalls in both capital and entrepreneurship. Both benefited handsomely from the assistance programs of the EU. Both emphasized education, in Ireland's case converting itself in the span of 40 years from one of the least educated European countries to one of the most educated. And in both, the influence of the Catholic Church declined sharply, to the point where one hears the term "post-Catholic" applied to both. In the process, both cultures were transformed.


Prior to the "Quiet Revolution" (1960-75), Quebec was underdeveloped by contrast with the other Canadian provinces: poorer, less industrialized, less educated, less healthy, less democratic. Today, the indicators of progress in Quebec are comparable to the rest of Canada and in some respects, e.g., high school dropout rate, are the best in Canada. What happened to bring about this transformation?

  • The use of an inclusive nationalism to promote unity, effort, and sacrifice.
  • A process of "declericalization" in which the church's influence was drastically reduced, above all in education, over a five-year period (1961-66). Like Ireland and Spain, Quebec is sometimes referred to today as "post-Catholic."
  • Massive resource allocation to education.
  • Promotion of gender equality, particularly in the workplace.
  • The creation of a modern, creative state that has spearheaded development ranging from Cirque de Soleil to advanced biotech industries. A "corporatist" approach bringing business, labor, the professions, etc. together with government for policy discussions has been generally successful.
  • State-led efforts to reduce inequality.

Ironically, Quebec's value profile has converged with that of Anglophone Canada simultaneously with the growth of pro-sovereignty sentiment in the province.


It will come as a surprise to many–it did to me–that, at least according to Angus Maddison's data, India under the Mughals accounted for more than twenty percent of the world's GDP in the early 18th century, derivative principally of textile and agricultural production.[9] That fact, coupled with the economic success of many Diaspora Indians, including those who have migrated to the United States, suggests the presence of Universal Progress Values in Indian culture. Moreover, the parallels between the unfolding Indian economic miracle and the East Asian miracles are striking: the opening up of the Indian economy in the early 1990s produced a response similar to that produced by "To get rich is glorious" in China.

To be sure, India's economic surge has been fueled in part by its large pool of English language speakers, a valuable asset also enjoyed by Ireland, and by foreign investment focused on this linguistic asset. But Indian entrepreneurs have also played a prominent role in the surge.

We need to develop a better understanding of the cultural context of the Indian miracle. India is a country of numerous ethnic and religious groups–it is, for example, the second most populous Muslim country (after Indonesia). Which groups are major participants in and beneficiaries of the economic surge? What is the effect on the majority elements of the society that do not participate directly in the modernizing sectors? What is the effect on women, whose subordinate role in India is underscored by the fact that more than fifty percent of Indian women are illiterate? These are among the many questions raised by the incipient Indian "miracle."


Culture does matter in economic development, and governments, development assistance institutions, think tanks, and universities must confront culture and cultural change. Incorporation of cultural analysis and cultural change into the mix of policy and project design factors may significantly accelerate the pace of economic development.

Full essay here

Monday, December 04, 2006

Tbilisi Traffic

Photo: Paata on flickr


Photo: Cliff Volpe