December 4, 2001

Saudi Arabia's surprising failure to collapse morally

I want to shift gears and discuss something positive (or at least surprisingly non-negative) about Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. Granted, they haven't done much of note with the money they won in the oil lottery, but they also haven't let it destroy their personal and family lives yet either. Their general populations, which were almost completely pre-modern, have not collapsed into debauchery, the way so many hunter-gatherer peoples in Canada and Australia have. Perhaps, they did even better than African-Americans did after AFDC was boosted. Sure, plenty of princes live lives of debauchery when away from Arabia, but they usually spend part of the year in Arabia drying out. And the general populous seldom leaves. I think the strictness of Islam has been a big help in preventing moral collapse - especially the prohibition on alcohol, which has destroyed so many other peoples suddenly brought into the modern world. - 12/4/01

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