Because Ideas Have Consequences

Solutions for the Kazakh Tenge Crisis

Many Kazakhstan citizens live with great uncertainty during the continued instability of the tenge. In order to address this issue, we must be honest in analyzing the causes for this devaluation. This devaluation is largely due to an economy overly-dependent upon oil industry generated revenues. While many other international currencies have largely held their value during the plummeting oil prices of the past year, the Kazakhstan tenge has devalued to half of its value, roughly the same percentage of the decrease in the oil price.

This is an important reminder that Kazakhstan must diversify its economy through the development of small and medium enterprise by its people. Kazakhstan must produce high-quality products, goods and services and effectively market them for global markets. By diversifying the economy to include a multi-faceted portfolio of manufacturing will provide a much more stable foundation for the value of the tenge, and provide the necessary margin of safety during cyclical economic crises.

But in order to facilitate the development of small and medium enterprises, this will require a commitment to democratic ideals and the protection of the rights and property of ordinary private citizens. Governance must be viewed as a stewardship with the role to serve and empower people to create businesses.

This commitment will include the role of government to protect the rights and property of people, and the complete eradication of corruption from society at every level. Indeed the true economic potential of Kazakhstan does not reside in its oil, but rather in its people to develop marketable products, goods and services from the abundance of its natural resources. This is only possible in an environment where people are free, and their rights and property are safe.

The root of democratic principles of the West – which has provided the prime conditions for economic development – is the assumptions of the dignity and value of the individual and therefore the protection of their rights and property. These assumptions are a direct result of the influence of the Judeo-Christian worldview.

The Biblical presupposition of imago Dei – that all people were created in the image of God – is precisely what has informed and influenced Western assumptions and interpretations of the dignity and value of the individual. This idea has permeated culture and influenced assumptions of governance, which views its role to protect the God-given rights of every individual – regardless of their race or religion.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Thomas Jefferson eloquently expressed the ideological assumptions of the Biblical worldview in his writing of the United States Declaration of Independence. This assumption has served as the moral authority and ideological basis for American convictions of equality and the God-given dignity and rights of the individual – and therefore the necessary protection of their rights by government.

Unfortunately there is a growing tide of fanatical secularism in the West which is seeking to marginalize the very values which have led to its prosperity and prominence on the global stage. Without these foundational ideas, the continued social stability – and economic prosperity – in the West is unsustainable. Without these guiding values, the West will itself devolve into a moral relativism spiral downward until a despotic iron-fist state must intervene to maintain social order.

The Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” were the immortal words of Jesus in his famous Sermon on the Mount. This radical concept is the basis for the concept of the virtues of duty and personal responsibility. It is this concept of duty and personal responsibility which guides one to do what is right for the sake of others, rather than to live by the axiom of “every man for himself.” And it is only this commitment of selfless duty which can ensure the possibility of self-rule and freedom.

As Lord Acton stated: “If men are not kept straight by duty, they must be by fear. The more they are kept by fear, the less they are free. The greater the strength of duty, the greater the liberty.” Duty is a selfless virtue, which finds its moral authority in the espousal of ideals higher than oneself. This is precisely the belief system advocated in the Judeo-Christian worldview.

American founding father Patrick Henry correctly stated: “Whatever makes men good Christians makes them good citizens.”  This is the choice which every nation and culture must decide: Either moral and religious foundations, which leads to freedom and economic prosperity; or totalitarian rule, which has never led to sustainable economic development. Totalitarianism and economic development are completely incompatible.

Kazakhstan has a decision to make. It must learn from the examples of history and choose wisely. Kazakhstan is a nation of incredible potential. And the one missing piece is ultimately answered by this ideological question. As President Nazarbayev corrected point out in his Nur Otan party address in March (watch a video excerpt from his speech here), the top economies in the world are those influenced by Protestant Christianity. The ideas of the Biblical worldview have provided the moral foundations for environments of justice and righteousness, without which economic development is shackled.

Yet Astana Pastor Yklas Kabduakasov was recently sentenced to restrictions on his freedom for teaching this very message. In fact, Pastor Kabduakasov is the true hero of Kazakhstan. For he brings the very message the nation so desperately needs to hear. It is the message which provides the moral instruction for people to be able to achieve their full God-given potential, as created in the image of God.

Pastor Kabduakasov should be freed at once, with an apology, and granted along with other pastors the freedom to do their work – to guide the nation in its moral and spiritual education. This is the critical missing piece, which will provide the environment where all of the potential of Kazakhstan’s economy will be unlocked and Kazakhstan as a nation can indeed achieve its full God-given potential! God bless Kazakhstan!

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