This study attempts to estimate the development of civil society in the Arab World by using comparative opinion survey data based on the author’s evaluation of the World Values Survey. Certain basic assumptions of current Middle East studies are evaluated, which are also reflected in the Obama administration’s Presidential Research Directive 11. While the directive emphasizes the compatibility of “moderate Islamism” and “democracy,” the current study finds that “democracy and the market economy” are not shared to the same extent by Arab publics. This study also tests the validity of these assertions with a UNDP type of Index of Civil Society based on WVS data and with various factor analytical investigations into the drivers and bottlenecks of the democracy movement and the support for the market economy.
The current study attempts to estimate the development of civil society in the Arab World by using comparative opinion survey data based on the author’s evaluation of the World Values Survey. The findings are presented in the short and abridged way of a scholarly journal article. The more detailed results of the study’s multivariate analyses are shared in the open access appendix documentation, available for free on the internet for the interested specialists.
The World Values Survey (WVS), which began in 1981, consists of nationally representative surveys using a common questionnaire conducted in approximately 100 countries–which make up some 90 percent of the world’s population. The WVS has become the largest non-commercial, cross-national, time series investigation of human beliefs and values ever conducted. As of the writing of this article, it includes interviews with almost 400,000 respondents. The countries included in the WVS project comprise practically all of the world’s major cultural zones. In each of the analyses presented herein, roughly 68 percent of the entire population of the Arab League is covered. Thus the “political culture” of the Arab World is evaluated by comparative analysis, based on the representative opinion surveys in the countries themselves.
While the first “wave” of the WVS project (1981-1984) did not include a single country with a majority Muslim population, Turkey was added to the 1990-1994 survey, and the 1995-1998 survey already included the following member countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation: Albania, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nigeria, and Pakistan. The successive surveys of 1999-2004, 2005-2009, and 2010-2014 included many Arab countries:
1999-2004: Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia
2005-2009: Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco
2010-2014: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestinian Territories, Qatar, Tunisia
This provided answers to questions such as, “Does the subjective feeling of health affect attitudes on democracy in the Arab World differently from the effects to be established for the global sample?” In this way, the WVS has become one of the most important sources of information of comparative social science on the Arab countries. For security experts around the globe, it could become not only a database for advanced statistical analysis, but also a vital source for “open source intelligence.” Never before in the history of social science could one compare in this way the opinions of the Arab world and their socioeconomic and sociocultural motivations with those of other countries. It allows us to explore answers to such questions as whether the acceptance of violence against other people is dependent on religious beliefs and how this relates to income, education, and social class.
Since the inclusion of Arab countries in the WVS, numerous far-reaching and politically relevant empirical conclusions about “Arab political culture” and “Muslim political culture” have been drawn. They have received enormous scholarly attention, especially since the events of September 11. According to Mark Tessler, a leading researcher contributing to these perspectives, Islam appears to have less influence on political attitudes than is frequently suggested by students of Arab and Islamic society.
Religious orientation bears a statistically significant relationship to political orientation in only 5 of the 22 instances investigated by Tessler in his groundbreaking article published in 2002. Islam should not be “reified,” Tessler notes, when attempting to explain Arab political orientation. He adds that support for democracy is not necessarily lower among those individuals with the strongest Islamic attachments. Tessler also challenges the claim that Islam discourages the emergence of political attitudes conducive to democracy. Another pattern discerned by Tessler is that support for political Islam and religious guidance in public affairs has little explanatory power for democratic orientation. Support for political Islam does not involve, Tessler argues, a rejection of democracy, and those with a more favorable view of Islamist movements and platforms are no less likely than others to favor political competition and desire mechanisms to hold leaders accountable. Tessler also argues that his findings show that religious orientation in the Arab world is not as frequently related to political attitudes as appears to be the case in the United States and Europe. Tessler maintains that Islam is not the obstacle to democratization that some Western and others scholars allege it to be. A democratic, civic, and participant political culture may indeed be necessary for mature democracy, but it is only to a very limited extent that the emergence of such a political culture is discouraged by the Islamic attachments of ordinary Arab citizens.
The issues under scrutiny here, of course, also have direct political consequences for the refugee crisis in Europe. With hundreds of thousands of refugees arriving on the shores of Europe, especially from Arab countries like Syria and Iraq, the study and comparison of Arab opinion structures on such phenomena as democracy, tolerance, and gender issues has a direct bearing on the capabilities of European countries to integrate these hundreds of thousands of people in the coming months and years. Will these thousands of people arriving in Europe each day not only share the value of democracy but also of balanced economic growth, price stability, a highly competitive social market economy, and aiming at full employment and social progress? Will they also participate in the universal values of the inviolable and inalienable rights of the human person, freedom, democracy, equality, and the rule of law, as they were enshrined in the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Union’s basic governing law? Was respect for human rights–including minority rights, pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity, equality between women and men, and the protection of child rights–an integral part of the civic cultures of their countries of origin?
Tessler’s message squarely contradicts an article by Jonathan Pidluzny, in which he presents interesting insights into the works of the Egyptian scholar Tarek Heggy. Heggy argues the exact opposite of what Tessler maintains, claiming that liberal democracy does indeed have cultural prerequisites and that it presupposes a citizenry with a tolerant, republican, and political character: “To deny this possibility is to ignore the great legacy of the Protestant Reformation and the European Enlightenment: philosophers and theologians, self-consciously, built a new–open and tolerant–Western mind.”
Here, one realizes the significant political consequences for Western policies in the Middle East. Should the Western world, as the Obama administration was inclined to think, embrace so-called “moderate Islamists” such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the AKP in Turkey or should the agenda rather be the furthering of a climate of enlightenment in the region? A June 2014 article published in the United Arab Emirates’ Gulf News harshly criticized the Obama administration as had never been done in the Western media:
The Obama administration conducted an assessment of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2010 and 2011, beginning even before the events known as the “Arab Spring” erupted in Tunisia and in Egypt. The President personally issued Presidential Study Directive 11 (PSD-11) in 2010, ordering an assessment of the Muslim Brotherhood and other “political Islamist” movements, including the ruling AKP in Turkey, ultimately concluding that the United States should shift from its longstanding policy of supporting “stability” in the Middle East and North Africa (that is, support for “stable regimes” even if they were authoritarian), to a policy of backing “moderate” Islamic political movements. To this day, PSD-11 remains classified, in part because it reveals an embarrassingly naïve and uninformed view of trends in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region.
Given the wealth of the existing comparative data, it is tempting to try to evaluate the “civic culture” in the Arab world through cross-national, comparative data from the World Values Survey Project, using advanced mathematical-statistical methods. The central research question here will be whether or not Arab civil societies and opinions in Arab nations are really that different from other countries.
A vast body of empirical literature dealing with the methodology of such comparative political culture research already exists and is associated with the name of Professor R. T. Inglehart from the University of Michigan, who initiated the WVS project. The events of September 11 and the threat from Islamist terrorism have made such research questions all the more important. One major research finding from the Inglehart school of thought and methodological tradition is the hypothesis that the most basic cultural fault line between the West and Islam concerns issues of gender equality and sexual liberalization.
As valuable as these contributions are, the analysis of the comparative data makes a rethinking of the entire tradition of empirical comparative value research in the direction of the classical political science research on the “civic culture” necessary and useful. Here, one encounters the full legacy of twentieth-century modern political scientist Gabriel Abraham Almond (1911–2002). With his deep understanding of the normative aspects of human society, he perhaps came closest to capturing the dilemmas of Western and non-Western, non-Muslim and Muslim contemporary societies of today, as they emerge from the empirical data. He did so especially by pointing out the many adverse trends in the civic culture in leading Western democracies, brought about by the erosion of social capital, a declining civic engagement, and civic trust. As causes of this decline in civic engagement, Almond cites in reference to the work of the political scientist Robert D. Putnam the weakening of the family. A second major factor that Almond cites is the transformation of leisure by the electronic media. This tidal wave of value decay has begun to affect the Arab World as well.
Thus, the civic culture approach presupposes, as Brazilian political scientist José Alvaro Moises put it, that a political culture congruent with a stable democracy involves a high degree of consensus concerning the legitimacy of democratic institutions and the content of public policy. Almond and Verba in their groundbreaking comparative study on Italy, Great Britain, Germany, Mexico, and United States distinguished between three different types of political orientation: cognitive–referring to knowledge of and belief in the political system, its roles, incumbents, inputs and outputs; affective–translated as feelings and sentiments about the political system, its roles, personnel, and outcomes; and evaluative–based on judgments and opinions about political objects, particularly the input and output processes, its incumbents, and their performance. Almond and Verba also distinguished between parochial political cultures, subject political cultures, and participant political cultures. In a parochial political culture, political specialization is minimal; in a subject political culture, institutional and role differentiation exists but citizens take on passive relations toward the political process; while in a participant political culture, relationships between specialized institutions and citizen opinion and activity predominate and are interactive. Almond and Verba were thus very well aware of the perils of political decay,  which according to the data presented herein characterize large parts of the Arab world today.
The differences of the approaches between Almond and Inglehart and the social scientists inspired mainly by his writings are covered here only in a very superficial way, and the valuable contributions by Geert Hofstede and Shalom Schwartz to comparative global value research are not discussed here either due to space constraints. In many ways, their categories like power distance and uncertainty avoidance (Hofstede) or embeddedness and hierarchy (Schwartz) could perhaps help one attempt to understand the complex realities of value systems in the Arab world more so than by using Inglehart’s dimensions. Inglehart developed an interpretation of global value change that rests on a well-known two-dimensional scale of global values and global value change. It is based on the statistical technique of factor analysis of up to some 20 key World Values Survey variables. The two Inglehart dimensions are: (1) the traditional/secular-rational dimension and (2) the survival/self-expression dimension. These two dimensions explain more than 70 percent of the cross-national variance in a factor analysis of ten indicators, and each of these dimensions is strongly correlated with scores of other important variables. For Inglehart and Baker, all of the preindustrial societies show relatively low levels of tolerance for abortion, divorce, and homosexuality; tend to emphasize male dominance in economic and political life, deference to parental authority, and the importance of family life, and are relatively authoritarian; and most of them place strong emphasis on religion. Advanced industrial societies tend to have the opposite characteristics.
Inglehart, therefore, predicted a more or less generalized global increase in human security in parallel with the gradual waning of the religious phenomenon in the majority of countries across the globe. Inglehart spells out what tendencies are brought about by the waning of the religious element in advanced Western democracies: higher levels of tolerance for abortion, divorce, homosexuality; the erosion of parental authority; the decrease of the importance of family life, etc. When survival is uncertain, cultural diversity seems threatening. When there isn’t “enough to go around,” foreigners are seen as dangerous outsiders who may take away one’s sustenance. People cling to traditional gender roles and sexual norms, and emphasize absolute rules and familiar norms in an attempt to maximize predictability in an uncertain world. Conversely, when survival begins to be taken for granted, ethnic and cultural diversity become increasingly acceptable–indeed, beyond a certain point, diversity is not only tolerated, it may even be positively valued because it is seen as interesting and stimulating. In advanced industrial societies, people seek out foreign restaurants to taste new cuisines; they pay large sums of money and travel long distances to experience exotic cultures. Changing gender roles and sexual norms no longer seem threatening.
For Inglehart, such phenomena as bribery, corruption, tax evasion, cheating the state to get government benefits for which one wouldn’t be entitled, but also the healthy activism of citizens in volunteer organizations, already described by Amitai Etzioni, hardly exist, while the rich database of the World Values Survey provides ample evidence about these phenomena and their occurrence in world societies and also in Arab countries. It is this data in particular that is relevant in explaining common characteristics and differences between Arab political cultures and the rest of global society. The economics profession, that is, mathematical, quantitative economics, already began to make large-scale use of the World Values Survey data, integrating the WVS country level results into international economic growth accounting.
Following Hayek, we think that values like hard work–which brings success, competition, and private ownership of business play an overwhelming role in twenty-first century capitalism–cannot be overlooked in empirical global value research. In the optimistic spirit of the “Arab Spring” literature, two followers of the Inglehartian approach, Dalton and Welzel, contend that the expansion of democracy and “people power movements” from the Philippines to ex-communist Eastern Europe to sub-Saharan Africa demonstrate a popular desire for political change that appears inconsistent with the civic culture model. Ordinary people yearn for dignity. They hate being bossed around by officials and ruled by corrupt autocrats. They reject the apparatus of a police state. Instead they want better lives, decent jobs, and some basic freedoms. The contrast of the civic culture model between developing nations and Western democracies is no longer valid.
Yet with the Islamic State (IS, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, ISIS) now sweeping across much of the Arab Levant, Almond’s pessimism and not Dalton and Welzel’s theoretical frame of reference putting the “assertive citizen” into the center stage seem to be vindicated. In particular, the more pessimistic WVS items should be included in the comparative analysis to capture the realities of the Arab World and to compare it with global society. Twenty-five of our thirty-nine variables measure such issues as religious fundamentalism, the disposition toward violence, acceptancy of corruption and the shadow economy, nihilism and pessimism, lack of trust, xenophobia, lack of security and health, disrespect of property, etc.
METHODOLOGY AND DESIGN
Since the database of the World Values Survey is freely available to all and contains extensive documentation, no further explanations of the variables used are needed here. The factor analytical method and other important methodological questions of World Values Survey research have been debated at length; readers are thus referred to a publication, explaining the methodology. The statistical program of the current study was the IBM-SPSS XXII. All these algorithms are fully available to the international public (IBM, 2011). As for the analysis of principal components and factor analysis, interested readers are referred to the more specialized and vast literature on the subject. The choice of the factor analytical method used to reduce the number of variables of the World Values Survey to its underlying dimensions is not just a matter for the specialist, but it also has many different practical consequences. The current author strongly believes that the so-called promax factor analysis, described in detail in the IBM SPSS manual is the ideal analytical technique, and it is used throughout this article. Factor analysis also allows the researcher to construct combined indices, in the case of the current study, a democratic civil society index weighted by the so-called eigenvalues of the promax factor analytical model. The author agrees with Inglehart and Welzel that such “country values” or “country results” are not the result of “volatile public opinion” but rather that they constitute attributes of societies that are as stable as standard social indicators.
INITIAL IMPLICATIONS FROM THE WVS DATA FOR THE ARAB WORLD
The first round of evaluations of the World Values Survey data on the civic culture of the Arab world show the population-weighted “civil society” support rates for democracy in the region as well as phenomena associated with it in the literature. The results of the current study are based on 12 countries and territories, comprising some 68 percent of the entire population of the Arab League (among them, Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, the Palestinian Territories, Qatar, Tunisia, and Yemen). Resounding majorities of more than 75 percent of the Arab population now endorse democracy, think that competition is good, and would accept a neighbor of a different race or who speaks a different language. Majority opinions or even handsome “electoral majority opinions” of 50 + 1 percent now comprise support for civil rights being protected by democracy, hard work, and rejection of corruption and theft; university education for females; acceptance of people of a different religions; tolerance; and respect as a value in child education, altruism, and the rejection of violence against other people.
Table 1: Civil society and democracy support in the Arab World, based on World Values Survey data, covering 68% of the global Arab population
|Arab Countries: Civil society support rates (population weighted totals) in percent of the total Arab population|
|Democracy: People choose their leaders in free elections (7-10)||84.18|
|Importance of democracy (7-10)||83.81|
|Trust in your neighborhood (1-2)||81.10|
|Accepting neighbors: People who speak a different language||78.45|
|Competition good (1-4)||77.27|
|Accepting neighbors: People of a different race||75.22|
|Democracy: Civil rights protect people’s liberties (7-10)||74.36|
|Hard work brings success (1-4)||71.93|
|Never justifiable: Stealing property||71.47|
|Never justifiable: Accepting a bribe||71.28|
|University not more important for a boy||66.07|
|Important child qualities: Tolerance and respect||65.29|
|Accepting neighbors: People of a different religion||64.90|
|Democracy: Women have the same rights as men (7-10)||64.88|
|Very important/important to do something for the good of society||63.87|
|Accepting being an autonomous individual (1-2)||62.22|
|Never justifiable: Violence against other people||61.94|
|Confidence in the armed forces (1-2)||61.67|
|Feeling of happiness (1-2)||60.45|
|Never justifiable: Avoiding fare on public transport||57.14|
|Accepting world citizenship (1-2)||55.77|
|Confidence in the police (1-2)||54.58|
|Never justifiable: Claiming government benefits without entitlement||54.29|
|Democracy: Not strong support for religious authorities interpreting the laws (7-10)||52.62|
|Important child qualities: Independence||51.41|
|Interest in politics (1-2)||51.25|
|Confidence in the banks (1-2)||51.19|
|Confidence in the major companies (1-2)||42.24|
|Confidence in the government (1-2)||39.34|
|Confidence in the press (1-2)||34.23|
|Confidence in the civil service (1-2)||34.07|
|Never justifiable: Parents beating children||32.05|
|Accepting neighbors: Homosexuals||28.24|
|Confidence in labor unions (1-2)||27.40|
|Private ownership (1-4)||26.61|
|Men do not make better political leaders||20.03|
|Confidence in the United Nations (1-2)||15.20|
There are, however, darker structures of existing Arab public opinion as well: The first conclusion is that while, on the one hand, current data show the overwhelming support of the population of the Arab countries for democracy, variables of trust, and non-violence, on the other, certain indicators of gender justice (especially equal access to political office) and tolerance toward homosexuals indicate some of the still existing deficits in the development of civil societies in the region. Only an electoral minority of Arabs would express enough confidence in major companies, the press, the civil service, labor unions, and private ownership, and equally only an electoral minority would refrain from thinking that the beating of children by parents is justified, etc.
In a Hayekian perspective, it must be added that “democracy and the market economy” are not being shared as a goal on an equal footing by the Arab publics, since support for private ownership of the means of production–generally regarded as the backbone of a capitalist order–is supported in a stronger fashion (1-4 on the WVS scale) by only 27 percent of the Arab population. Thus one sees more than 80 percent support for political democracy, but less than 50 percent support for trust, non-violence, gender justice, and tolerance toward homosexuals.
TOWARDS A UNDP-TYPE INDEX OF DEMOCRATIC CIVIL SOCIETY BY GLOBAL COMPARISON
Is the Arab world really behind other regions in the development of a civil society? Before examining this question, a note of caution should be voiced: While being aware of the consequences of the weakness of structures of civil society for the stability of democracy, one must also strongly recognize that a country with consistent deficits in such value comparisons–India–is one of the most stable democracies in the world, with an uninterrupted history of parliamentary free elections from 1947 to present. Perhaps a good electoral system with a single constituency past the post regulation contributes significantly to a stable democratic system, even under very adverse conditions; perhaps the civil society movements in the Arab countries striving for democracy should take note of this unique stabilizing feature of Indian democracy. In the next round of answers to the research question, the study constructed a kind of “UNDP Index” of the civic culture of Arab countries by international comparison with the existing data, selecting the WVS items on the civic culture of tolerance, accepting gender equality, secularization, and non-violence. This index weights the variables equally. According to the UNDP Index methodology, for each country, the worst value of a given variable is subtracted from the observed country value of a given variable. This resulting number is then divided by the difference between the best and the worst value among the entire group of countries of the variable in question, yielding component indices ranging from 0 (worst performance) to 1 (best performance). The resulting overall index–in the case of the current study, the Index of a Democratic Civil Society–is nothing but the average of the six chosen components:
- Important child qualities: Tolerance and respect for other people
- Accepting neighbors: People of a different religion
- Men do not make better political leaders than women do
- University is equally important for a boy and for a girl
- Democracy: Religious authorities should not interpret the laws.
- Unjustifiable: For a man to beat his wife
In constructing the index, particular care was taken to select variables with a maximum country coverage in the vast World Values Survey database in order to achieve not only a substantial depth of the index, but also a very wide geographical coverage across nations and cultures. The original WVS items were used in the following fashion in the construction of the UNDP type of indicator:
Table 2: Towards a UNDP type of Index of the global democratic civil society
|Country/region||Maximum||Minimum||Worst value||Best value|
|Important child qualities: Tolerance and respect for other people||0.900||0.360||0.360||0.900|
|Neighbors: People of a different religion||0.570||0.010||0.570||0.010|
|Men make better political leaders than women do||3.430||1.500||1.500||3.430|
|University is more important for a boy than for a girl||3.700||2.300||2.300||3.700|
|Democracy: Religious authorities should interpret the laws.||7.830||1.800||7.830||1.800|
|Justifiable: For a man to beat his wife||4.820||1.160||4.820||1.160|
The country results for this procedure are the following: Sweden, Norway, and Andorra are the countries best combining the civic culture of tolerance, accepting gender equality, secularization, and non-violence, while the three worst placed nations on earth are Mali, Bahrain, and Yemen. All Muslim countries in the 77 countries and territories with full data, which were under investigation here, are below the global average. The best placed Muslim country is post-Soviet Kazakhstan. The best placed Arab country is Qatar. While some Arab countries might perform, here and there, in a rather surprising and positive fashion, it is the combination of the six dimensions, in particular, where the Arab world really fails:
Table 3: The component indices of the democratic civil society index and the overall index
|Country/region||UNDP-type index of a democratic civil society|
|Trinidad and Tobago||0.819|
|Serbia and Montenegro||0.525|
|Occupied Palestinian Territories||0.397|
Map 1: UNDP-type index of a democratic civil society, combining the six components
SOME IMPLICATIONS FROM THE MULTIVARIATE ANALYSIS AT THE GLOBAL LEVEL
The next round of analysis attempts a multivariate investigation of the main contentions of this article in a comparative perspective. The sample presented with complete data includes Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Cyprus, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Hong Kong, India, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestinian Territories, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Yemen, and Zimbabwe. Thus, once again, there is a sizeable Arab sample here–13 Arab countries and territories, which again comprise 68 percent of the total population of the Arab League. The design of this analysis is factor analytical, i.e. the goal is to show the underlying dimensions of the correlation matrix relationships between the 39 variables in question in the 59 countries with complete data from the wave 6 of the WVS project. The original World Values Survey variables sometimes had to be renamed in order to take the direction of the highest numerical value of each item in question into account:
The analysis yields a percentage of 55 percent of the total variance, which is explained by the thirteen factors, whose mathematical standard property–according to the conventions of factor analysis–is an eigenvalue  of greater than 1.0 or equal to 1.0.
Table 4: The factor analytical results at the global level – eigenvalues and percentage of total variance explained
|World sample||Eigenvalues||% of total variance explained||Cumulated percentage in %|
|The violent and lawless society||4.263||10.931||10.931|
|Climate of personal violence||2.260||5.794||23.326|
|Lack of trust in institutions||1.929||4.947||28.273|
|Unhappiness, poor health||1.864||4.779||33.052|
|Redistributive religious fundamentalism||1.554||3.986||37.037|
|Rejecting the market economy||1.434||3.676||40.714|
|Distance to politics||1.197||3.070||46.977|
|Welfare mentality, rejection of the Calvinist work ethics||1.075||2.756||52.660|
|The tolerance and security of the elderly||1.049||2.690||55.350|
In order to be able to construct a meaningful index, capturing the positive aspects of a civil society, the resulting factors and factor scores for the factors sometimes had to be reverted:
- The non-violent and law-abiding society
- Democracy movement
- Climate of personal non-violence
- Trust in institutions
- Happiness, good health
- No redistributive religious fundamentalism
- Accepting the market economy
- Involvement in politics
- Optimism and engagement
- No welfare mentality, acceptancy of the Calvinist work ethics
The combination of the results into a final factor analytical index was achieved by multiplying the (reverted) factor scores by the eigenvalues. For the democracy movement, the climate of personal non-violence, the absence of redistributive religious fundamentalism, and for feminism, not a single Arab country is among the best 10 percent of the 59 countries investigated here. Here and there, some Arab countries perform surprisingly well, given the general pessimism of the earlier literature on the subject. However, as the ancient philosopher Aristotle (384 BCE – 322 BCE) already remarked in his Nicomachean Ethics, “One swallow does not a summer make, nor one fine day; similarly one day or brief time of happiness does not make a person entirely happy.”
Only Qatar and Tunisia are among the upper 50 percent of world society on the overall democratic civil society index, while all the other surveyed Arab countries are among the lower half of world society. In a way, also Hayek’s critique of Christian liberation theology at least contains a grain of universal truth, applicable to all cultures: The four factor loadings above ten percent of explained variance, which characterize the factor “redistributive religious fundamentalism,” are especially present in the Arab and the Muslim world, but also in Eastern Europe and in Latin America (with the exception of very secular Uruguay):
- Democracy: Religious authorities interpret the laws
- Important in life: Religion
- Democracy: The state makes people’s incomes equal
- Democracy: Governments tax the rich and subsidize the poor
Hence, the combination of secularism and the acceptance of the capitalist distribution of incomes (religious authorities should not interpret the laws; religion is not very important; no support is expressed for a redistributive state) is strongest in the highly developed, Western OECD democracies, and it is lowest in Egypt, Yemen, and Pakistan. The religiously motivated hope for a kind of state redistributionism, even if there is little around to distribute at all, might be an element that is a block against secular and liberal democracy for itself in the first place. Yet the combination of such hope with the call for religious authorities to interpret the laws is most definitively a giant step backward in the democratic development of a state.
Inglehart and Norris certainly foresaw correctly that the real distinguishing parameter for Huntington’s theory is not the opinion on democracy, but the societal opinion on gender issues. The Muslim world, the world of Orthodoxy, the world of Confucianism, and the world of Hinduism are united by their low values on the factor “feminism”:
- Men do not make better political leaders than women do
- University is equally important for a boy and for a girl
- Gender (female)
The final results of the current study for the overall civil society index vindicate all those who predict a relatively difficult future for democracy in the Arab world. The combined evidence from the study’s 39 variables, which explains 55.35 percent of the total variance of all the variables under consideration, clearly spells out the message that Qatar and Tunisia alone run a realistic chance of becoming or to being consolidated as a democracy in the next decade.
Table 5: Percentile performance (Arab civil societies are among the top … percent of global society)
|The non-violent & law-abiding society||Democracy movement||Climate of personal non-violence||Trust in institutions||Happiness, good health||No redistributive religious fundamentalism||Accepting the market economy||Feminism||Involvement in politics||Optimism & engagement||No welfare mentality, acceptance of Calvinist work ethics||Overall democratic civil society index|
Map 2: Overall Civil Society Index, based on the size of the factor analytical eigenvalues
PROSPECTS AND CONCLUSIONS: ARE THE ARAB COUNTRIES REALLY THAT DIFFERENT?
The study’s final round of analysis took a second look at Arab countries in particular, and performed a separate factor analysis with them. The percentage of total variance explained was 56.6 percent. The resulting factors are:
- The violent and lawless society
- Democracy movement
- Lack of trust in institutions
- Unhappiness, insecurity, rejecting global citizenship
- Rejecting the market economy
- Distance to politics
- Redistributive religious fundamentalism
- Poor health
- For large income differences and state ownership
Concerning the development of a civic culture, Qatar, Tunisia, and Morocco are in the lead, while Bahrain, Lebanon, and Egypt are the laggards. The results in Table 6 show the factor analytical scores, weighted by the eigenvalues. For each factor, the country values for the Arab countries– included in the WVS project–can be shown.
For reasons of space, some of the factor analytical results necessary to maintain this argument are documented in the open electronic appendix to this article. These materials substantially contradict some conclusions reached by Mark Tessler and the thinking behind the Obama’s Presidential Studies Directive 11. In global society, support for democracy and the market economy are factor correlated in a way, as to be expected by the classics of political science, above all by Almond. Support for democracy is negatively related to the violent and lawless society and is negatively related to the climate of personal violence. Accepting the market economy means the rejection of a climate of personal violence, the absence of support for a violent and lawless society, the absence of a climate of nihilism, the absence of the welfare mentality, and acceptance of the Calvinist work ethics. Almond was right in predicting that the decay of hard-core values in leading Western democracies would eventually take its toll–in this case, the association between global democracy support and the support of a welfare mentality and the rejection of the Calvinist work ethics.
Yet how does this now tally with the results for the Arab countries? The statistical appendix shows, on the one hand, that Tessler was correct in emphasizing that the more deeply religious segment in Arab societies is indeed associated with the support of democracy and also the market economy. This data also shows that the Arab democracy movement is a real outcome of the process of social and political polarization since the 1980s. The correlations between the factors reveal that the Arab democracy movement is stronger among people with lack of trust in institutions, among the elderly, and people with poor health. Of course this would not contradict Tessler’s conclusions; but the religiously driven support for the market economy has a relatively strong correlation with accepting state ownership, with rejecting global citizenship, and with a distance to politics, and with a distance to feminism. This is precisely a snapshot of the realities of AKP/Muslim Brotherhood-style support of the market economy, which is very common nowadays in the Middle East.
Looking at the factor loadings of the variables, measuring religious attitudes, two variables were finally selected–one clearly measuring religious fundamentalism (democracy: religious authorities should interpret the laws), and one clearly measuring the general attitude of an individual on religion, measured by the WVS item: religion important in life.
In order to make these results comparable, some signs and wordings needed to be reversed in such a way as to show positive or negative effects of religious fundamentalism and religiosity in general on:
- Accepting the market economy
- Climate of personal non-violence
- Democracy movement
- Happiness, good health
- Involvement in politics
- No redistributive religious fundamentalism
- No welfare mentality, acceptancy of the Calvinist work ethics
- The non-violent and lawful society
- The tolerance but insecurity of the elderly
- Trust in institutions
Although the World Values Survey also contains many other items measuring peoples’ attitudes on religion, the two selected variables are the ones most completely documented in the Muslim world and in the Arab countries. As shown in the appendix, in the Arab world, the importance of religion in life is–among other factors–positively connected to the democracy movement and to accepting the market economy; but there are negative effects on political involvement. The importance of religion in life is the main reason for religious redistributionism, which is an impediment for democracy. In addition, Arab publics–which attach a higher importance to religion in life–tend to accept large income differences and tend to accept state property at the same time. Religious fundamentalists in the Arab world will support the democracy movement as well, but they will strongly favor religious redistributionism. In fact, the high factor loading of 0.755 even suggests that religious distributionism is one of the main essential characteristics of the Islamist movement.
The global results also suggest that in other cultures too, such a phenomenon of religious redistributionism exists, but its factor loading with “important in life: religion” is weaker (0.596) than in the Arab World. Global religious fundamentalists (religious authorities should interpret the laws) generally tend to oppose feminism and also tend to accept a climate of societal and personal violence.
Table 6 presents the final results regarding the overall Arab democratic civil society index scores.
Table 6: The factor analytical results at the level of the Arab countries: Overall Arab democratic civil society index scores (based on country factor values and weighted by eigenvalues)
|Country/region||Overall Arab democratic civil society index|
Readers interested in regional comparisons of the development of civic society in the Arab countries will also find a table about the overall Arab democratic civil society index in the appendix of the current study. Table 11 in the appendix summarizes the data from 93 regions with available regional representative WVS samples of more than 30 respondents each. There are astonishing regional value differences in several Arab countries, which could be considered in further research.
Thus the current study’s analysis of global and Arab values and civic culture resulted in an important qualification of the earlier literature on the subject. Against the optimism of Inglehart, who believes that “self-expression” and the “assertive citizen” are the main characteristics of a functioning democracy, and against the pessimism of Heggy, who believes that Arab countries will only be mature for democracy when the full process of enlightenment has developed in those countries, the current author rather believes that the global and Arab challenges for the consolidation and maintenance of democracy are the processes of lawlessness, which were characterized by Hayek in the following fashion:
On a less sophisticated level than the argument against “alienation” are the demands for “liberation” from the burdens of civilisation–including the burdens of disciplined work, responsibility, risk-taking, saving, honesty, the honouring of promises, […]–an ever more severe threat to political liberty. Thus the notion of “liberation,” although allegedly new, is actually archaic in its demand for release from traditional morals. Those who champion such liberation would destroy the basis of freedom, and permit men to do what would irreparably break down those conditions that make civilisation possible.
To sum up the perspectives of this analysis, Hayek was also most probably right when he said:
The undoubted historical connection between religion and the values that have shaped and furthered our civilisation, such as the family and property, does not of course mean that there is any intrinsic connection between religion as such and such values. Among the founders of religions over the last two thousand years, many opposed property and the family. But the only religions that have survived are those which support property and the family. Thus the outlook for communism, which is both anti-property and anti-family (and also anti-religion), is not promising.
*Arno Tausch is Professor of Economics at Corvinus University Budapest, and Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Innsbruck University, Austria.
 “Appendix Matter for the Article: The Civic Culture of the Arab World: A Comparative Analysis Based on World Values Survey Data,” https://www.academia.edu/18023369/Appendix_matter_for_the_article_THE_CIVIC_CULTURE_OF_THE_ARAB_WORLD_A_COMPARATIVE_ANALYSIS_BASED_ON_WORLD_VALUES_SURVEY_DATA.
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 For recent summaries of the European refugee crisis, see, among others: “Migrant Crisis: Migration to Europe Explained in Seven Charts,” BBC News, March 4, 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34131911; http://www.spiegel.de/international/topic/european_refugee_crisis/ and “Refugees/Migrants Emergency Response – Mediterranean,” UN Refugee Agency, http://data.unhcr.org/mediterranean/regional.php.
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 Robert D. Putnam, Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993).
 Almond and Verba, The Civic Culture, p. 79 ff.
 Ibid, p. 79 ff.
 See also Imad Ahmad, “Islam and Hayek,” Economic Affairs, Vol. 13, No. 3 (2006), pp. 16-17, analyzing the importance of work ethics and private property for Islam.
 Almond, The Civic Culture: Prehistory, Retrospect, and Prospect.
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 Dalton and Welzel, The Civic Culture Transformed.
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 “Appendix Matter for the Article: The Civic Culture of the Arab World.”
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 Ibid, p. 137.