by Chan Akya, Dec 22, 2006, Asia Times:
2 excerpts: … much the same reasons, the caste system has continued to flourish in India despite a series of conquests by non-Hindu forces. Away from Asia, the progress of Abrahamic religions depended on similar economic rationale. Bertrand Russell, writing about the adoption of Christianity by Constantine, notes: The support of the Christians, as a single organized bloc, was to be obtained by favoring them.
Whatever dislike of the Christians existed was unorganized and politically ineffective. Probably [Michael] Rostovtseff is right in holding that a large part of the army was Christian, and that this was what most influenced Constantine. However that may be, the Christians, while still a minority, had a kind of organization which was then new, though now common, and which gave them all the political influence of a pressure group to which no other pressure groups are opposed. This was the natural consequence of their virtual monopoly of zeal, and their zeal was an inheritance from the Jews.
In essence, the thrust of the argument is that the Emperor Constantine needed the Christians for his own selfish interests. Their unitary organization made it easier for him to implement social and economic changes, which helped to solidify his control over the Roman Empire, finally pushing his rival Licinius, whose persecution of the Christians sparked a revolt, into abdicating. Among his various reforms was the introduction of hereditary professions such as butchers and bakers, a nod to economic interests if there ever was one …
… So …
I am confident that China will embrace political reforms, and India will greatly enhance its social reforms, simply because the supporting economic-growth rationale exists in both cases. Equally, I despair at the prospects for most Muslim countries because the absence of economic growth vastly increases the chances of their populations being radicalized, in turn pushing these societies deeper into poverty.
Peace, love and goodwill to all men; bah humbug. Show me the money, honey. (Read the rest on this page of Asia Times).
Read also more on his Blog.