Let me stipulate that I hold no brief for Protestantism – or Christianity, monotheism, or religion in general. I draw my values from reason, not faith. But history strongly suggests that Western Civilization owes its motive force, and unparalleled success, to a set of values that the German philosopher Max Weber called “the Protestant work ethic.” It was probably best personified by the American patron saint of civic virtue, Benjamin Franklin.
One need not be a practicing Protestant to espouse this ethic, or a brilliant polymath to profit from its practice. After half a century of Communist depredation, the Chinese people are lifting themselves up by their own bootstraps, practicing values that would have been quite familiar to both Weber and Franklin. Every hardworking Mexican who crawls across our border to build a better life for himself and his family embodies the Protestant work ethic.
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