An article on this topic has now been published on The Savvy Street. The article draws on material published in recent posts on this blog.
Comments on the article are most welcome.
The conclusions are reproduced below.
In this article I have adopted an international
perspective to consider the extent to which cultural values explain
authoritarianism. The analysis has been conducted in terms of ideological maps
which position governments by reference to the levels of personal freedom and
economic freedom in the countries they control.
The article introduces the concept of international ideological
mapping by first considering how individuals might assess their own ideological
positions. I argue that the positioning of a person on a political compass,
incorporating both economic and personal freedom, is more informative about
attitudes to liberty than attempts to position them on a single
The Human Freedom Index provides data on economic
freedom and personal freedom for a large number of countries. That data can be
viewed as an ideological map of the world because it reflects the prevailing
ideologies of governments throughout the world.
Ideological maps show high correlation between
economic freedom and personal freedom. The liberal democracies have relatively
high levels of both economic and personal freedom. Authoritarian governments
have relatively low levels of both personal and economic freedom.
I argue that
the question of whether cultural values can explain authoritarianism
is worth exploring because survey data shows that people in some countries with
relatively low levels of economic and personal freedom (e.g. China and Russia) claim
to have more confidence in their respective governments than do people in some
countries with relatively high levels of personal and economic freedom (e.g.
the U.S. and Australia).
Data from the World Values Survey was used to test the
extent to which levels of personal and economic freedom could be explained by cultural
values. Christian Welzel’s index of emancipative values was used to explain
levels of personal freedom. and an index of facilitating values was constructed
to explain levels of economic freedom.
The existence of emancipative values and values facilitating
economic freedom does help to explain why some countries have higher personal
and economic freedom than others. In general, the high freedom levels of the
high-income liberal democracies are fairly well explained in terms of
facilitating and emancipative values.
However, the ideologies of many other governments
cannot be adequately explained in terms of the values held by the people they
govern. The freedom
ratings of most of the countries with low personal and economic freedom are
substantially lower than predicted by emancipative and facilitating values.
Suppression of liberty in those countries is a product of
the ideologies of the governments rather than the cultural values of the
The analysis also shows that a substantial number of
countries with relatively high personal and economic freedom are performing
better in that regard than can readily be explained on the basis of prevailing
values. One possible explanation is that market-friendly economic reforms tend
to separate economic power from political power, enabling greater political
freedom to emerge before it is fully supported by emancipative values.