m.g. and jayman (and maybe some others of you out there?) have been saying for a while now that they think that family types/structures are very important when thinking about the structures/functioning of different societies (see also both of their blogs here and here) — and i’ve been hearing them, but maybe not listening very closely. (once my little aspergian, ocd brain starts following a line of thought — e.g. mating patterns and the structures/functioning of different societies — it can be difficult to re-focus. (~_^) )
anyway, i’m sure that they — and emmanuel todd (and others) — ARE on to something very important!
i said before that i was sure that todd was on to something, but i didn’t buy his explanations which are sorta a cross between sociology and freudianism. i mean: meh. i complained in this post here:
“i haven’t finished ‘The Explanation of Ideology’ yet, but so far todd has described some very interesting patterns in relationships between family types and political ideologies. he’s definitely on to something here; but his work, to my mind, is ‘only’ descriptive (i put ‘only’ in quotes because i don’t mean to belittle his work in any way — it’s an enormous contribution to understanding ideologies, i think!). but, he doesn’t really get down to why family structures and kinship should affect ideologies in the ways that they appear to do. what he’s missing, i think, are some biological concepts like inclusive fitness and all the sorts of behaviors that follow from that.“
even though todd’s work, to me, seemed to be “only” descriptive, it is still a powerful description. his connections between family types and national or societal ideologies seem to be very right on. for instance, here’s his “exogamous community family” type and communistic societies (think slavs):
exogamous community family
– cohabitation of married sons and their parents
– equality between brothers defined by rules of inheritance
– no marriage between the children of two brothers
– russia, yugoslavia, slovakia, bulgaria, hungary, finland, albania, central italy, china, vietnam, cuba, north india (note that many of these countries, the eastern european ones, also have a tradition of marrying young)
– communism, edit 01/08/12:
what bothered me about todd’s explanations (or lack of them, afaiac) was that they didn’t take biology into account. but what just dawned on me in the last couple of days (took so long ’cause of my aspergian, ocd brain!) is that the biological explanation he’s missing is evolution by natural selection! eureka! (or, duh! *facepalm* basic principles, hbd chick. basic principles.)
it was something jayman said the other day that made it click in my (dense little) brain:
“The key factor is communal vs nuclear families, it seems. As you and others had discussed, nuclear families promote individuality since one often had to stand and succeed on one’s own, rather than depending on the family for support and guidance (probably also very important for men seeking mates as well).
“But in communal societies, individuality was not so important. Indeed, it may have been a detriment, as this may have made living in the communal home difficult. Perhaps Eastern peoples are so accepting of authority because most spent much or all of their adult lives under the yoke of the patriarch, and this may have selected for different traits than in the west.”
of course! yes, yes, yes! family types (like mating patterns) have placed selection pressures on populations. (thnx, jayman!)
in any particular society, whatever personality or emotional or even intelligence traits that enabled the individuals living in a certain family type to leave the most descendants behind would become most common in that population.
thus, like m.g. says:
“I’ve often wondered why Communism was able to latch on and survive for so long in the Slavic lands. Perhaps it has more to do with their very old, peculiar system of dividing property–communally, not individually.”
yes. for whatever quirky historical reasons (i.e. circumstances), those slavs who succeeded reproductively were those that lived in extended family-groups headed by a male patriarch. after living like this for pretty much thousands of years (the russians apparently took a bit of a break for a few hundred years during the medieval period), you’d think that personality traits that would lead to the acceptance of the redistribution of food and goods amongst the members of the communal group — and even those traits leading to the acceptance of following a single, strong male leader in an almost unquestioning manner — would’ve been selected for.
todd says [pgs. 33 & 39]:
“According to the handbooks of the Third International, communism is the dictatorship of the proletariat. But I would like to suggest another definition which seems to correspond more closely to the sociological and geographic reality of the phenomenon: communism is a transference to the party state of the moral traits and the regulatory mechanisms of the exogamous community family. Sapped by urbanization, industrialization and the spread of literacy, in short by modernization, the exogamous community family passes on its egalitarian and authoritarian values to the new society. Individuals with equal rights are crushed by the political system in the same way they were destroyed in the past by the extended family when it was the dominant institution of traditional Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese or Serbian society….
“The creation of a communist structure allows individuals to be reintegrated into a family setting which is authoritarian and egalitarian. The party replaces the family. Its cells artificially reproduce relationships of fraternity which are dense and intolerable. Even deadly. Its hierarchy replaces paternal authority literally on every level. At the base, the secretary of the cell intervenes in the family life of Soviet couples. At the top, the father follow one after the other: a dynamic, talkative and violent father in Lenin; a sadistic father in Stalin; and aged father in Brezhnev, who carried the metaphor of the Russian political family to its limit.”
lemme re-write those two sentences i highlighted:
- communism is a transference to the party state of the innate moral traits and the biologically-based regulatory mechanisms within populations which had been selected for after generations of living within the exogamous community family.
- the exogamous community family passes on its egalitarian and authoritarian values, which are innate behavioral traits of its members that have been selected for after generations of living within this family type, to the new society.
there. that’s better! (^_^)
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