The Genesis of Democracy and Dictatorship
Chapter 5: Back to the Prussian origins: Kulturkampf and comparative modernization
The chapter discusses the economic logic and political incentives that led to the emergence, peak, and contraction of Kulturkampf in the Catholic lands of Prussia between 1871 and 1878. It argues that Bismarck’s Kulturkampf reveals the fallacies of secularism as a series of enforced state policies: (1) De facto dominance of the religious majority over religious minorities that are in much higher need to preserve their public and social status; (2) Transformation of priests into bureaucratic experts. A game-theoretic model defining Kulturkampf as a static game between priests and the executive is proposed. The willingness of priests to accept the government’s offer and be transformed into bureaucratic experts varies. Individualist priests are easier to recruit as they care more about their personal welfare than social distribution by the Church, whereas the reverse holds for collectivist priests. Nevertheless, the success of the Kulturkampf depends on the effective recruitment of collectivist priests and their entry into formal politics in favor of the executive. The distinction between collectivism and individualism matters here, because priests can either care for the social welfare activity of the Church or their individual welfare. Secularization is not devoid of religion, as it consistently attracts more individualist rather than collectivist priests, and thus advocates a transition to more Protestant forms of government.
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