Liberal Nationalism, Religious Nationalism, and the Human Development Index
45 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2014
Date Written: July 16, 2014
Darkening the dawn of a new era painstakingly liberated from the trammels of Cold War – played out in proxy wars, totalitarian Communist nation-states espousing central planning struggling against a market oriented democratic bloc – is the shadow of a potentially more wrenching ideological divide. Liberal nations committed to the rights revolution find themselves pitted against established and wannabe nation-states drawing upon ancient religions for their identities. The political and military dimensions of this new world order are with us on a daily basis, constantly reminding us of its violent ramifications: assassinations, suicide bombings, body counts from intractable civil wars dominate the news. Less appreciated are the economic dimensions of this conflict. This paper shows liberal nationalism encourages human development while religious nationalism diminishes it. An important corollary of this finding concerns the so-called material foundations of secularism, namely the view that societies are secular because their populations enjoy economic security as evidenced by a high level of human development. The view taken here is that the ideology – beliefs – profoundly shapes the human development of a nation’s populace. Where an agenda promoting individual and minority group rights prevails, improving human development goes hand in hand with advances in the per capita standard of living. Where a religious agenda runs counter to rights rising real per capita incomes is not automatically devoted to bolstering the human development of the populace. Secularism and human development go hand in hand mainly because of ideas realized in the political sphere; not because material well-being automatically promotes secular values. One possible outcome for societies shaped by religious nationalism is a religion trap, successful development falling victim to adherence to religious inspired ideology.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation