Archives for posts with tag: biology 101

preview screen

this is just a preview of a post that i’m working on — one on which i unfortunately have not made much headway, mostly because there’s an awful lot out there available to read on the topic (which is a good thing!). i promise, though, that — whenever it does materialize — that post will be a rip-roaring tale of medieval action and adventure! a thrilling and suspense-filled bodice ripper dealing with the themes of passion and madness! good versus evil! violence and punishment! swashbuckling pirates and….

no, wait. hang on a second. that’s not right.

no. as i mentioned in the last post, i’ve been reading up on violence (homicide) and the death penalty in medieval england to see if there exists any evidence to support the perfectly sensible theory that the removal of violent individuals — and, most importantly, their “genes for violence” — from the population in medieval europe (in this case england) resulted in the permanent decline in violence in europe as noted by historians of crime, like manuel eisner, and described by pinker in Better Angels.

the decline in homicides across europe that began in the middle ages is summarized in this chart from Better Angels (note the logarithmic scale):

pinker - fig. 3.3

the reader’s digest version of what i’ve found out about the death penalty in medieval england so far is:

- over the course anglo-saxon period (which isn’t actually covered by the above chart), the death penalty did come to be more widely applied to cases of homicide, but for most of the period there weren’t really very many executions of killers. in fact, the nascent state (such as it was during this early period) was more concerned about applying the death penalty in cases of theft rather than murder or manslaughter. for most of this period, murder was still avenged by the deceased person’s kindred, either in the collection of wergild or via the good old blood feud. this did begin to change by the tenth and eleventh centuries as more laws that included the death penalty for killings were issued, but even in these later centuries the archaeological evidence suggests that few executions actually happened.

- more laws demanding the death penalty (or castration) for killings were issued and enforced during the anglo-norman and angevin periods, especially as the centralized state became stronger and began to exercise greater control throughout england. one funny thing, though — jury trials were more or less invented during this period (the jury was more of an investigative body, though, like a grand jury rather than twelve angry men passing judgement), and it turns out that the juries tended to be a bit reticent about applying the laws too harshly, so executions actually remained comparatively low during large parts of the norman period. i think you can see this in the trend line on pinker’s graph — homicides do decrease from about 1300 to 1500, but the decline is not super steep.

- the tudor period. as far as i can tell, criminals were executed right and left during the tudor period. the use of capital punishment really ramped up during the 1500s. regional (county-wide) figures from the period show that, depending on time and place, anywhere from 27-50% of felons were executed. and, as you can see on pinker’s chart, the decline in homicides begins to decline sharply after around 1600.

that’s all i’ve got so far, but i’m pretty convinced that the idea that violence declined so much and with such rapidity in the medieval period in england (and the rest of europe?) is at least partly related to the fact that violent individuals were simply removed from the population — and it must’ve been done generally early enough in their careers to stop them reproducing — or slow down their reproductive rates enough that the population was pacified.

don’t think this is the whole story, though. the argument of the population being pacified thanks to the application of the death penalty by the state — by “leviathan” — doesn’t really seem to work fully or for all parts of europe. here is eisner on the differences between what happened in northern medieval europe versus medieval italy [pgs. 127-129 - pdf]:

“Strangely one-sided in respect to the role of the state as an internally pacifying institution, Elias almost exclusively emphasizes the state’s coercive potential exercised through the subordination of other power holders and bureaucratic control. Echoing the old Hobbesian theme, the decline in interpersonal violence should thus develop out of increased state control. Although the long-term expansion of the state and the decline of lethal violence appear to correlate nicely on the surface, a closer look reveals several inconsistencies. Muchembled (1996), for example, points out that the decline of homicide rates in early modern Europe does not appear to correspond with the rise of the absolutist state. Rather, he argues, the example of the Low Countries shows that homicide rates declined in polities where centralized power structures never emerged and the political system much more resembled a loose association of largely independent units. Neither does intensified policing nor the harsh regime of public corporal punishment, both probably the most immediate manifestations of state power in any premodern society, seem to aid understanding of the trajectories into lower levels of homicide rates. Police forces in medieval and early modern Italian cities were surprisingly large — Schwerhoff (1991, p. 61) cites per capita figures of between 1:145 and 1:800 — but they did not effectively suppress everyday violence. Furthermore, no historian seems to believe that the popularity of the scaffold and the garrote among sixteenth- and seventeenth-century European rulers decisively reduced crime.

“Rather, the Italian case exemplifies a more general problem. For whatever the deficiencies of early modern Italian states may have been, they were certainly not characterized by a lesser overall level of state bureaucracy and judicial control than, for example, states in England or Sweden during the same period (see, e.g., Brackett 1992). England was not centralized in bureaucratic terms, and the physical means of coercion, in terms of armed forces, were slight (Sharpe 1996, p. 67). The mere rise of more bureaucratic and centralized state structures thus hardly seems to account for the increasingly divergent development of homicide rates in northern and southern Europe. Examining Rome, Blastenbrei (1995, p. 284) argues that the divergence may, rather, be related to the evolution of different models of the relationship between the state and civil society. While northern European societies were increasingly characterized by a gradually increasing legitimacy for the state as an overarching institution, the South was marked by a deep rupture between the population and the state authorities. In respect to state control, Roth emphasizes a similar point when examining the massive drop in homicide rates in New England from 1630 to 1800: ‘The sudden decline in homicide did not correlate with improved economic circumstances, stronger courts, or better policing. It did, however, correlate with the rise of intense feelings of Protestant and racial solidarity among the colonists, as two wars and a revolution united the formerly divided colonists against New England’s native in habitants, against the French, and against their own Catholic Monarch, James II’ (2001, p. 55).

Both Roth and Blastenbrei emphasize, from different angles, a sociological dimension whose importance for understanding the longterm decline in serious violence has not yet been systematically explored, namely, mutual trust and the legitimacy of the state as foundations for the rise of civil society. Both are, of course, clearly to be distinguished from the coercive potential of the state — strong states in terms of coercion can be illegitimate, while seemingly weak states may enjoy high legitimacy. And on the level of macro-transhistorical comparison, the decline of homicide rates appears to correspond more with integration based on trust than with control based on coercion.

yeah. and y’all know what i have to say about all that. (^_^) but i won’t bore you with repeating myself just now — i’ll let you go enjoy the easter holidays. stay tuned for more on this in the near future!

previously: outbreeding, self-control and lethal violence and kinship, the state, and violence and more on genetics and the historical decline of violence and

(note: comments do not require an email. sorry, not really any pirates. (~_^) )

busy reading all about crime and punishment (i.e. the death penalty) in medieval england, so you don’t have to! (^_^) in the meantime, until i post about that, here are some random notes:

the law codes of ine king of wessex (688-726) are some of the earliest anglo-saxon law codes still surviving. they were issued ca. 694. ine took his christianity seriously and demanded that [pg. 27]:

“[A]ll children were to be baptised within 30 days of their birth, failing which their guardians had to pay a fine of 30 shillings. If a child died before baptism its guardian lost all he possessed….”

so there are some strong incentives for the populace to convert to christianity or remain christian once they’d done so.
_____

æthelstan, king of the anglo-saxons and then the first king of the north english (924-939), also passed a bunch of laws including [pg. 32]:

“[T]he first social legislation in England, providing for the relief of the poor. If a king’s reeve failed to provide, from the rents of the royal demesne, for the poor in the manner prescribed he had to find 30 shillings to be distributed among the poor under the bishop’s supervision.”

nice of him! (^_^)
_____

some examples of concerns about consanguinity issues in the late anglo-saxon period [pg. 226]:

“General concern about marriage and sexual relations within the kin is expressed throughout our period, for example, in the late ninth century in letters from Pope John VIII to Burgred, king of the Mercians, and to Æthelred, archbishop of Canterbury, and another from Fulk, archbishop of Reims, to King Alfred. In the 950s, according to the ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’, ‘Archbishop Oda separated King Eadwig and Ælfgifu because they were too closely related’. They may have shared a great-great-grandfather, King Æthelwulf of Wessex….”

so there you go.
_____

and in anglo-norman england [pgs. 435-437]:

“As in the Anglo-Saxon period, a central issue was consanguinity. In the second half of the eleventh century and particularly under the influence of the reformer Peter Damian, the method of counting the prohibited degrees was established in its most extensive form. Instead of counting to see if there was a common ancestor within four generations, the counting was taken a further three generations back, to the seventh. This had the effect of extending the range of prohibited marriage partners to sixth cousins.[12] In England, the prohibition ‘to the seventh degree’ was decreed at ecclesiastical councils at London in 1074 x 1075, and at Westminster in 1102 and 1125: ‘between those related by blood or relatives by affinity [i.e. by marriage], up to the seventh generation, we prohibit marriages to be contracted. If indeed anyone shall have been thus joined together, let them be separated’. Reformers also emphasised other non-blood relationships, especially spiritual kinship. The potential for conflict with lay practice must have increased significantly, as it has been suggested that whilst the layity did not commonly contract marriages within four degrees, they did within five or six.[15]

“[12] It has been suggested that blood relationships alone might mean that the bride or groom had over 2,500 cousins of their own generation whom they were prohibited to marry; J.-L. Flandrin, Families in Former Times, trans. R. Southern (Cambridge, 1979), 24.

“[15] E.g. Green, Aristocracy, 348-9.”

2,500 cousins that you couldn’t marry. awkward that.
_____

interestingly (at least to me!), from late anglo-saxon england [pg. 242 - link added by me]:

“A further important tie was that of spiritual kinship, created particularly at baptism, but also at the catechumenate and confirmation. It seems that in England, unlike the Continent, there was only one sponsor, of the same sex as the person undergoing the ceremony. This is one reason for the relatively limited emphasis in England on the need for the group of godparents and their godchild to avoid sexual relations or marriage within the group.[114]

“[114] J.H. Lynch, Christianizing Kinship: Ritual Sponsorship in Anglo-Saxon England. 1998.”

huh! who knew?
_____

and, finally, just to remind everyone how barbaric the barbarians were [pg. 186]:

“The laws of Æthelstan mention drowning or throwing from a cliff for free women, stoning for male slaves, burning for female slaves:

“‘In the case of a male slave, sixty and twenty slaves shall go and stone him. And if any of them fails three times to hit him, he shall himself be scourged three times. When a slave guilty of theft has been put to death, each of those slaves shall give three pennies to his lord. In the case of a female slave who commits an act of theft anywhere except against her master or mistress, sixty and twenty female slaves shall go and bring three logs each and burn that one slave; and they shall pay as many pennies as males slaves would have to pay, or suffer scourging as has been stated above with references to male slaves.’

“However, the literary and archaeology evidence just cited suggests that hanging and beheading were the most common methods.”

=/

(note: comments do not require an email. æthelstan – earliest surviving portrait of an english king.)

here’s a really interesting looking new book!:

An Intimate War: An Oral History of the Helmand Conflict

“Mike Martin’s oral history of Helmand underscores the absolute imperative of understanding the highly local, personal, and non-ideological nature of internal conflict in much of the ‘third’ world.

“‘An Intimate War’ tells the story of the last thirty-four years of conflict in Helmand Province, Afghanistan as seen through the eyes of the Helmandis. In the West, this period is often defined through different lenses — the Soviet intervention, the civil war, the Taliban, and the post-2001 nation-building era. Yet, as experienced by local inhabitants, the Helmand conflict is a perennial one, involving the same individuals, families and groups, and driven by the same arguments over land, water and power.

“This book — based on both military and research experience in Helmand and 150 interviews in Pashto — offers a very different view of Helmand from those in the media. It demonstrates how outsiders have most often misunderstood the ongoing struggle in Helmand and how, in doing so, they have exacerbated the conflict, perpetuated it and made it more violent — precisely the opposite of what was intended when their interventions were launched.”

from an article by martin in today’s telegraph:

“Britain didn’t understand the enemy in Helmand”

“I would argue that our performance – in terms of achieving our objectives – has been very poor. In the case of Afghanistan, and specifically Helmand Province, where the majority of our forces have been based, we have failed to understand the Helmandis. We have also failed to understand their culture, their history and their motivations.

“Most importantly, we have singularly failed to understand the Helmandi conflict. And to paraphrase Clausewitz, the most important thing to do in war is understand what type of war you are fighting. Many non-Helmandis view the violence through the narrative adopted by the international community. According to the ‘insurgency narrative’ widely espoused by Western governments, a legitimate Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA), which is recognised and supported by the international community, is violently opposed by a movement of insurgents, called the Taliban, who have sanctuary in Quetta, Pakistan.

“Thus, the Taliban are religiously inspired insurgents who are opposed to the democratic and women’s rights that the GIRoA embodies and promotes. But this ‘insurgency narrative’ does not fit with my experiences as an officer. I went to Helmand several times (in and out of uniform), with appropriate gaps between visits for study and reflection, and this analysis seemed further and further from the events that I was observing and participating in. In my view, the Taliban are not the main drivers of conflict; and earlier periods, including the Soviet, the civil war and the Taliban eras, have been similarly misconstrued.

“Today, much of the violence is mischaracterised as ‘Taliban’ insurgent violence, when in fact it is not linked to the Taliban or the GIRoA, but is driven by local dynamics between groups and individuals on the ground. The Helmandis describe the conflict as *pshe-pshe*. This literally translates as ‘leg-leg’, but refers to the different legs of a tribe or clan (the English term would be ‘branch’). So, metaphorically, the phrase *pshe-pshe* means group-on-group warfare. It is a (micro) civil war….

“Currently, our ideas are largely based upon Maoist descriptions of insurgency; they highlight the importance of ideologies and organisation to motivate insurgents. The Army definition of an insurgency is ‘an organised, violent subversion used to effect or prevent political control, as a challenge to established authority’; it was from this that the ‘insurgency narrative’ was drawn.

“But this is not what took place in Helmand. The US and Britain were imposing a view of the war that bore little resemblance to the local understanding. The clearest example was the British ignoring Helmandis’ historical hatred (and related feelings of revenge) for them because it did not fit their understanding of the official narratives of the war. At the risk of over-quoting from the great Prussian master, they were trying to turn the war into something that it was not.

“These examples underscore the importance, when intervening in an internal war, of understanding the local politics – its actors, groups, narratives, feuds and alliances….”

from another article on sky news:

He [martin] catalogues in microscopic detail how first US Special Forces and then British troops were constantly manipulated by their Afghan allies into fighting on their side as part of local feuds and criminal enterprises that were only very dimly related to the ideology of being pro-government or pro-Taliban.

“Indeed, according to Dr Martin’s research, the two were often labels adopted by factions and warlords in need of material support from either the Nato forces or the Taliban.

Early allies of Nato, ahead of the British deployment, were warlords who stole vast tracts of lands from other clans and tribes and then used their alliance with US commandos as a military lever.

“‘The foreigners must like the *topak salaran* (warlords),’ Dr Martin quotes a local as saying.

“In 2008, while researching Desperate Glory, it was abundantly clear that British intelligence officers had only the sketchiest notion of who the ‘enemy’ in Helmand was.

“They did not appreciate the difference between long bloody engagements fought in the heart of the drug processing villages with the sudden evaporation of Taliban fighters in the face of large numbers of British troops.

“Nor that there was no inconsistency between being pro-government and pro-Taliban on any given day for a militia commander.

“Trucking contractors charged extra for ‘security’ and would then arrange for their convoys to be attacked.

“Drug barons, very often Afghan police, would contract Taliban militia to deliver their goods to market in government-held areas while Afghan troops were conducting anti-narcotics operations against their rivals.

“That is the way in Helmand – a rich agricultural landscape which has been riven by decades of conflict in which survival is the only form of victory.

“The buying of intelligence on alleged members of the Taliban by US forces meant a market developed in denunciations.

“Dr Martin wrote: ‘I repeatedly explored the issue of faulty intelligence driven by feuds and vendettas in 2011 and 2012.

“‘The attitude of those involved is perhaps best summed up by one of the more prominent militia commanders, who was still working with US Special Forces in 2012, when I asked him if there were still any feuds left over by the false targeting of the early days “All those sorts of problems are solved now”, he said, laughing, “they (the people we targeted) are all dead.”‘

“‘He said he could not work out why the United States was “so stupid”.’”

military intelligence, eh? =/

perhaps not surprisingly the british military has tried to stop the publication of martin’s book. he’s had to resign his commission in order to have it published.

previously: consanguineous marriage in afghanistan and kandahar vs. levittown

(note: comments do not require an email. helmand.)

here’s a strange — and sad — set of homicide statistics from sweden (stockholm) in the early 1700s — from manuel eisner’s Long-Term Historical Trends in Violent Crime [pdf - pg. 112]:

“There is one major exception to this pattern [of male preponderance in serious violent crime-h.chick]. In early eighteenth-century Stockholm, women not only accounted for more than 60 percent of property crime offenders but also 45 percent of murder and manslaughter offenders and 41 percent of assault offenders (Andersson 1995). These are probably the highest female participation rates in serious violent crime found anywhere in the world. Scholars examining this phenomenon emphasize a combination of factors including — besides demographic imbalance — a highly specific cultural configuration, which embraced some kind of otherworldly calculus. More particularly, for fear of eternal punishment in hell, suicidal women appear often to have chosen to kill somebody else, usually their offspring, and then suffer the death penalty imposed on them by the judiciary (Jansson 1998). Homicide would bring them to purgatory for a limited period of time, after which they would enter heaven for eternity, which was definitely to be preferred to consignment to eternal hell because of suicide.”

=/

(note: comments do not require an email. galgberget ["gallows hill"] in stockholm.)

heh! (^_^) from ed west @breitbart london:

“The moral structures we have today, based around the idea of the freedom of the individual and the universal rights of all men, were developing in the Christian West throughout the later medieval period but would not truly flourish until the 18th century. Today in much of the world western ideas about the individual are still alien because people think in terms of the clan, which is why it is so hard to export liberal democracy to countries like Somalia or Afghanistan. Foreign policy experts could do worse than watch Thrones and ask themselves: are the Dothraki ready for democracy? What do you reckon…?

“The Left’s version of history is not just wrong, it’s boring, because it assumes that people are all good and all history is simply a path towards a glorious future utopia; it isn’t, and in reality lots of people are brutal and selfish – something George RR Martin captures much better than many historians or academics.”

read the whole thing!: Why One Episode Of Game Of Thrones Is Worth A Thousand History Lessons

see also: steve sailer’s Cousin Marriage Conundrum

previously: whatever happened to european tribes?

(note: comments do not require an email. where are my dragons?!)

in The Realm: The True history behind Game of Thrones ed west reminds us that medieval europeans were batsh*t crazy violent and that if you met one of them coming down the street, you would almost certainly want to cross over to the other side! [kindle locations: 563-615 - links added by me]:

“Drunkenness had always been a common feature of life in the Realm. As far back as the eighth century St Boniface, the Devonian who converted the Germans, complained that it was ‘a vice peculiar to the heathens and to our race, and that neither Franks, Gauls, Lombards, Romans nor Greeks indulge in’. Twelfth-century writer William of Malmesbury said of the English that ‘Drinking in parties was an universal practice, in which occupation they passed entire nights as well as days.’ In the early 13th century England went through one of its periodic booze epidemics, so that ‘the whole land was filled with drink and drinkers ’, and leading the way was the drunken King John, whose fondness for booze and lechery inadvertently gave the world its most important legal document – Magna Carta.

“By the end of the 13th century there were 354 drinking establishments in London…”

the population of london in 1340 was somewhere between 40,000-50,000 people, so that’s ca. one bar for every 140 persons!

“…and everyone drank heavily, although they did so among their own class – the wealthy drank in inns, the middle ranks in taverns, while at the bottom of the social ladder there were the alehouses, where violence was almost guaranteed. During this period court rolls, which began in the reign of the Lionheart (before 1189 in English law is literally ‘time immemorial’) are filled with accounts of drink-fuelled incidents, often involving ill-judged horseplay with axes, swords and farmyard animals….

“The worst drink-related incident occurred in 1212 when London Bridge burned down, with up to 3,000 charred or drowned bodies turning up on the banks of the river the following morning. The fire started in Southwark at a bring your own bottle party, or ‘Scot-Ale’ as they were called.

“John certainly led the way in the drinking stakes. He kept 180,000 gallons of wine at his personal disposal, a slight hint at alcoholism, and drank anything he could find. His drunken antics were famed, and no woman was safe.

“John also displayed signs of a violent temperament from an early age. As a boy he once lost his temper while playing chess, and smashed his opponent over the head with a heavy piece….

“John violated all the rules of war; after his victory over the King of France in 1202, he kept his prisoners ‘so vilely and in such evil distress that it seemed shameful and ugly to all those who witnessed this cruelty’. He massacred a garrison of his own men in Normandy, because he’d switched sides without telling them. Perhaps worst of all was the sexual depredations he committed against females of all ages, including several noblemen’s daughters; and he almost certainly murdered his 16-year-old nephew Arthur in a drunken rage….

“There was also inheritance tax. Some noblemen were charged up to £7,000 to take over their father’s or brother’s land, and the king often kept barons in a state of permanent debt, and threatened arrest or worse. The king kidnapped the wife and son of one such baron, his loyal follower William de Briouze, who had failed to cough up £3,500. When Matilda de Briouze blurted out to one of John’s men that they knew about his nephew’s murder, she and her son were taken prisoner and starved to death; their corpses were found huddled together, with the boy bearing tooth-marks on his body from where his mother had tried to eat him.”

aaaaand THAT gave me a nightmare! (or maybe it was the leftover pasta i ate just before going to bed. (~_^) ) somebody please tell me that matilda (maud) tried to eat her son after he was already dead. =/

that was all in the 1200s. what about later in the 1400 and 1500s? [kindle locations: 1171-1242]:

Elizabeth of York had already endured an unsettled upbringing. When she was three, her father was forced into exile, and his cousin killed her grandfather. Later one uncle murdered another and probably her brothers too. In 1475 she was betrothed to the dauphin of France and her training as a princess would have began; however that match was broken, and she was now free, or as it could be interpreted, vulnerable….

“Henry Tudor died in 1509, and within days his heir Henry VIII had two of his father’s moneylenders tried and executed in a show trial. It was a sign of things to come. As well as thousands of common people, the king had numerous aristocrats executed, most of them close relations with outside claims to the throne. Edmund, Earl of Suffolk, the White Rose, had been handed over to Henry VII in 1506, who had made a solemn pledge not to execute him. He kept that pledge, and instructed his son to kill him when he became king; this the youngster did. Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, who was descended from Edward III on both sides of his family, was tried for treason and executed by Henry VIII merely for ordering a new coat of arms with the royal insignia inserted. His father the Duke of Norfolk was already in the Tower of London awaiting execution, and would be saved only by the king’s death….

“Henry famously went on to have six wives in total, having executed Anne for adultery, and divorced Anne of Cleves, the sister of the Duke of Cleves, a powerful German state on the Rhineland. Apart from political reasons, Henry had fallen in love with her portrait, drawn by renowned German artist Hans Holbein. Unfortunately Holbein, the finest artist in the land, was not in the habit of upsetting his clients, and Anne was in reality rather plain, so much so that Henry called her the ‘Flanders Mare’. She also had bad breath and body odour, and the king confessed to a friend: ‘I had neither the will nor courage to proceed further.’ The marriage was never consummated, and Anne agreed to a divorce; strangely, they stayed good friends….

“The king remarried within a month, to 20-year-old Katherine Howard, who really did commit adultery; she was executed alongside her lover Thomas Culpeper, and just to make sure that his honour remained intact, Henry executed two previous lovers of Katherine, despite there being no suggestion of anything occurring since: one was her old music teacher and the other her cousin. And for good measure he had Howard’s lady-in-waiting executed just for knowing about the affair.

“Of his six wives, he is said to have only truly loved number three, Jane Seymour, who had given him a son, Edward, who succeeded his father in 1547. The boy king, just nine, was a fanatical Protestant and at 12 he had called the Pope the Antichrist in a tract. He once ripped apart a live falcon in a rage, and when he was 11 he had his own uncle, Thomas Seymour, executed.”

et cetera, et cetera. you get the idea. still pretty violent later in the medieval period. and these were the upper classes!

which got me to wondering, if the nonviolent english today really are descended, a la greg clark’s theory, from the upper classes of the past — well, how on earth, then, were all these violent traits knocked out of the population when the upper classes were the batsh*t crazy way that they were?

one really good theory for why violence declined markedly in europe beginning in the middle ages (and it has) is that the state simply removed from the population via execution the most violent members of society. took them right out of the gene pool and largely stopped them from reproducing. henry harpending has shown that, theoretically, this should’ve been possible in the time given (the ca. 800 years from the 1200s to the 2000s) if enough violent individuals were executed early enough in their criminal careers so that they wouldn’t have reproduced much or at all.

but were violent members of the aristocracy regularly executed? they were “the state,” weren’t they? were death penalty laws applied equally to that class? maybe. i really don’t know. but if not, wouldn’t their descendents just continually replenish the lower classes with individuals with violent traits? how did the upper classes become less violent?

in Better Angels, steven pinker references norbert eliasThe Civilizing Process on this [kindle locations: 1839-1847]:

“Once Leviathan was in charge, the rules of the game changed. A man’s ticket to fortune was no longer being the baddest knight in the area but making a pilgrimage to the king’s court and currying favor with him and his entourage. The court, basically a government bureaucracy, had no use for hotheads and loose cannons, but sought responsible custodians to run its provinces. The nobles had to change their marketing. They had to cultivate their manners, so as not to offend the king’s minions, and their empathy, to understand what they wanted. The manners appropriate for the court came to be called ‘courtly’ manners or ‘courtesy.’ The etiquette guides, with their advice on where to place one’s nasal mucus, originated as manuals for how to behave in the king’s court. Elias traces the centuries-long sequence in which courtesy percolated down from aristocrats dealing with the court to the elite bourgeoisie dealing with the aristocrats, and from them to the rest of the middle class. He summed up his theory, which linked the centralization of state power to a psychological change in the populace, with a slogan: Warriors to courtiers.

so, the idea, maybe, is that over time going forward through the middle ages it was the less violent aristocrats who became more successful at court and, therefore, more successful reproductively (and some of their kids filtered down into the lower classes)? dunno. haven’t read The Civilizing Process (now on The List). would be nice to have some numbers. there’s a ph.d. thesis here for some brave student. (~_^)

what would need to be worked out, too, imho, is whether or not the english artistocracy in, say, the 1400-1500s was less violent than the aristocracy of the 1200-1300s (and so on and so forth), because violence had already declined from 1300 to 1500. and, of course, it kept on declining. from pinker’s Better Angels:

pinker - fig. 3.3

that’s all i’ve got for ya today! i definitely recommend reading west’s The Realm! it’s a kindle single, so it won’t take you ages. just don’t read it before going to bed! (~_^)

oh, and wrap up…winter is coming!

previously: “violence around the world” and kinship, the state, and violence

(note: comments do not require an email. where are my dragons?!)

been meaning to do a follow up post on the bamileke of cameroon since … well, since last november! always on top of things here at the hbd chick blog. (*^_^*) so, at long last, here we go….

oh. in case you don’t recall or didn’t realize, i’ve been trying to track down other outbreeders around the world — populations which have avoided close relative marriage (closer than second cousins) over the long term (say 30 or 40+ generations) — to see what they’re like: what their family structures are like, what their social structures are like, if they’re corrupt or nepotistic or have a lot of infighting between families/clans, etc. i’m interested in finding out if there are any general behavioral traits common to outbreeders. same for the inbreeders, too, actually.

the bamileke are outbreeders. they avoid all marriage with anybody on their mother’s side of the family (their matrilineage), and also tend to avoid marriage to third cousins or closer on the father’s side [pg. 149]:

“The matrilineage is comprised of all the people descended through women from a common female ancestor. Since all female descendants of the matrilineage are considered his sisters, a man must not marry within this group. No specific taboos exist against marriage within a patrilineage, although most Bamileke who share a common male ancestor four generations back [i.e. a great-great-grandfather-h.chick] will not intermarry. Whereas members of a patrilineage live close to each other and regularly commune with each other, those of a matrilineage are not close and may, in fact, belong to different chiefdoms.”

the bamileke, however, like many african groups, practice polygamy which probably narrows the genetic relatedness in the population. i don’t have any figures on how much polygamy is practiced there.

don’t know for how long the bamileke have been avoiding close cousin marriage, but i suspect that it is at least a few hundred years. the bamileke first came up here on the blog in a previous post, flatlanders vs. mountaineers revisited, in which we saw that they are some of the cameroon highlanders many of them living in very mountainous regions of cameroon, but yet their mating patterns — i.e. avoiding close cousin marriage — don’t seem to fit the broad pattern of highlanders or mountain folk typically inbreeding. apparently, however, the bamileke are fairly recent arrivals in the highlands, having migrated from the (flat) adamawa plateau somewhere around the 1600s [pg. 261 - links added by me]:

“As for the Bamileke, their ancient history is closely linked to that of the two previous groups. All came from the north, from the region today occupied by the Tikar. Their migration probably began in the seventeenth century and took place in successive waves.”

so, it could be that the bamileke are long-term outbreeders (because they originally came from a flatlander region) who transplanted themselves into more mountainous regions beginning ca. four hundred years ago. they don’t seem to have adopted a mountaineer economy — pastoralism for instance — but, rather, stuck to farming. what might have (ironically) saved them from eventually having to adopt pastoralism was the arrival of the germans who introduced coffee growing to the cameroon highlands. the bamileke quickly adopted the cash-crop system of coffee growing and trading with europeans. not sure about this, though — just a guess on my part.

it might be impossible to reconstruct the history of the bamileke people’s mating patterns from historical records (which will have been written almost solely by europeans, of course). if i find any published accounts by christian missionaries in cameroon, they might include some info on the bamileke. otherwise, genetic data (runs of homozygosity) would probably be the best way to discover how in- or outbred the bamileke are. for now, all i can say is that currently (in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries) the bamileke are outbreeders. and judging by their history, there’s a good chance that they’ve been outbreeders for a few hundred years, but that is just speculation on my part.

having said that, what are the bamileke like? what are their family types and social structures like?

traditional bamileke families do not appear to have been nuclear families, primarily because polygamy was (is) practiced, so that is unlike the outbred societies we’ve seen in western europe.

one subgroup of the bamileke, the bangwa (bangoua – in french), are described thusly [pg. 1]:

“Nor is Bangwa a ‘lineage-based’ society. Bangwa social life is not carried on in the all-embracing idiom of kinship, with personal loyalties and resources pooled in discrete unilineal descent groups. Kinship here is an individual business, with a person in the centre of a ramifying network of ties linking him with matrilineal and patrilineal kin, affines, creditor-lords, political superiors and so on. A Bangwa claims no clan or lineage membership, and no corporate group takes responsibility for any of his actions. Kinship is an aid to the business of making a living: tradiing, inheriting, acquiring a title, farming, ruling and marrying. And as the business of living is complex in Bangwa so is the kinship system.”

these features — not having tight clans or even lineages, individuals having to take responsibility for their own actions — are very much like what we see in the long-term outbreeding european populations. don’t know if the rest of the bamileke are like the bangwa in these regards, but i’m guessing yes, since i haven’t read any descriptions anywhere of bamileke peoples engaging in blood feuds or having a wergeld-like system. this absence of tight clans/kindreds seems outbred to me.

however [pg. 351]:

“Customary political structures revolve around kinship, which the Bamileke define by dual descent — patrilineal ties typically determine village residence and rights to land, but matrilineal ties define ritual obligations and the inheritance of movable property.”

so larger kinship groupings are not totally unimportant to the bamileke.

from the previous post (and from this article [pdf]):

“Although the group solidarity of the Bamileke is strong, individual achievement is highly valued. Members of the group are expected to exercise individual initiative in the pursuit of economic goals. Individual acquisition of economic resources including private property, money, and other remuneration is stressed. Other cultural characteristics of the group that have been invaluable to their entrepreneurial skills are discussed below….

“[T]he social status of an individual in this ethnic group is not rigidly fixed; individuals — male or female — can improve their condition in life and are expected to do so. Commercial and business success is one of the most highly valued routes to prestige and status. Bamileke women are also expected to achieve economic and comnercial success and there are few traditional limits placed on their economic participation….

“The traditional values of the Bamileke stress individual competition and overt displays of ‘getting ahead’. Individual Bamileke are expected to compete and to surpass each other’s accomplishments. The emphasis on competition is not limited to economic activities, but is a feature of personal relationships as well: within families, children are expected to compete with their siblings; sons and daughters are encouraged to surpass the achievements of their parents….

[P]oorer relatives are not expected or allowed to lay claim to or live off the riches of wealthier family members….

“A final feature of traditional society which must be noted is the system of succession and inheritance. Of all the elements characteristic of Bamileke social organization, this feature has been fundamental and has had far-reaching implications for the rate and pace of Bamileke participation in economic growth, development, and change. Succession and inheritance rules are determined by the principle of patrilineal descent. According to custom, the eldest son is the probable heir, but a father may choose any one of his sons to succeed him. An heir takes his dead father’s name and inherits any titles held by the latter, including the right to membership in any societies to which he belonged…. The rights in land held by the deceased were conferred upon the heir subject to the approval of the chief, and, in the event of financial inheritance, the heir was not obliged to share this with other family members. The ramifications of this are significant. First, dispossessed family members were not automatically entitled to live off the wealth of the heir. Siblings who did not share in the inheritance were, therefore, strongly encouraged to make it on their own through individual initiative and by assuming responsibility for earning their livelihood….

A notable feature of the group is the complementarity between individualism and collective unity. Individuals are expected to make their own way in the world while retaining a strong ethnic identity and group association. This interact is one of the factors accounting for their economic success. Each individual, for example, is expected to contribute as much to the group as he receives in return. Thus, cooperation is essential. The group is perceived of as an interdependent system based on the strength of individual links….

A principal Bamileke belief is that individuals are, in the final analysis, responsible for their own fate. One makes one’s way in society on the basis of individual qualities. Status distinctions and rank are not rigidly fixed and there is always the possibility of advancement.”

so here we have: individualism, extended family NOT being able to automatically rely on other members of the extended family, no precise inheritance rules (which is something emmanuel todd identifies as a trait of absolute nuclear family societies), and the collective unity of the larger group (NOT any family group). these are all traits that are found in outbred, “core” europe — although they are expressed somewhat differently in northwest europe vs. cameroon.

the bamileke also have a lot of voluntary associations, another characteristic common in outbred europe and not normally found in inbred populations — at least none of the inbred populations i’ve looked at so far [pg. 42]:

“The original function of these societies was to administer initiation rites, but in societies with a more complex economy and polity, both male and female associations grew in importance by assuming a plurality of administrative and commercial functions as well, such as tax collection, price control in markets, maintenance of public order, and organization of collective work. The *mandjon* societies of Bamileke men and women provide good examples of such traditional associations. The women’s *mandjon* are presided over by the mother of the *fon* or chief — there are over a hundred such chiefdoms in Bamileke territory — and its members help each other in agricultural work. The *mandjon* used to meet on a weekly basis to organize such work. In addition to associations that fit into the political structure of Bamileke society, there are also many autonomous associations based on neighborhood. Aside from ritual functions (such as divination and faith healing) they also act as savings groups and associations for mutual assistance. More recently, Bamileke associations…have been adapted to the needs of urban living and have led to a proliferation of voluntary membership clubs that provide mutual aid, companionship for immigrants, and entertainment. The savings groups are maintained by members paying in fixed amounts at weekly meetings, taking turns in receiving the entire sum. Membership is not restricted to a single saving association and the Bamileke tend to join them as soon as they earn money.”

interestingly, the bamileke are probably the most successful group in cameroon economically speaking — and they are also strongly nationalistic [pg. 65]:

“In the towns and cities, they are known for their skills at running small and large businesses and for their professional abilities…. During the years of the French colonial empire, the Bamileke were leaders in the nationalistic rebellion, especially the 1955 uprising that led to Cameroon’s independence. Today the Bamileke are extremely influential in the Cameroonian commercial economy. They are also one of the major constituencies of the Union de Populations du Cameroun (UPC), the fiercly nationalistic political party.”

i haven’t found out anything yet on corruption in bamileke society — although there seems to be plenty of it in cameroon. can’t imagine that they’re very nepotistic since the members of extended families are not obliged to help one another out — nor is aid to be expected — but you never know. i will endeavor to find out more!

(^_^)

previously: guess the population! and the semai

(note: comments do not require an email. bamileke elephant masks!)

this is my response to jayman’s post of yesterday, Where HBD Chick’s Hypothesis Works. i was going to leave these thoughts in a comment to his post, but i quickly realized that my comment was going to be pretty long, so i figured i’d just make it a post here. i should just say at the outset that i agree with pretty much everything jayman had to say (^_^) — with a couple of minor quibbles — so this comment will mostly be me rambling about those, plus i’ll be throwing in a couple of “thoughts for future research.” you should definitely go read his post first if you haven’t already before reading my comments. pay attention to his map of how well the hypothesis works in different areas — it’s great! (^_^)

ok. jayman says:

“As we see, from what we know of historic mating patterns and behavior of people today, HBD Chick’s hypothesis works excellently across much of the world. This is especially true across Europe, the Middle East, and much of the Muslim world, and in China.”

yes. on several occasions i’ve wondered if this inbreeding/outbreeding idea really applies mainly, or only, to the indo-european world + the arabs. but the situation of china seems to fit well, too, so i think the general theory is probably more widely applicable (assuming for a sec that it’s correct at all — which it might not be). as i’ll argue below (one of my quibbles), i think the theory might also hold pretty well for japan although Further Research is RequiredTM. (actually, Further Research is RequiredTM for most areas of the world — especially lots of actual genetic/real scientific research!)

more from jayman:

“There are however a couple of places that don’t seem to fit as well. Most poignant of these is sub-Saharan Africa. HBD Chick’s hypothesis doesn’t cover much of Africa, especially the non-Muslim parts. It’s unclear if the historic mating among non-Muslim Blacks was particularly consanguineous (though it was, and remains in many places, polygynous). However, as we clearly know, sub-Saharans do behave like considerably clannish people in some ways, yet a lot more like typical outbreeders in other ways.”

even though i haven’t posted much about sub-saharan africa — yet! — i have been reading up and taking notes on the mating patterns of sub-saharans africans, and let me tell you — there are a LOT of sub-saharan african populations (tanzania alone has more than 120, or more than 260, ethnic groups depending on how you count them! whew!), so, as you can imagine, there is a wiiiide variety of mating patterns on the continent. if i were to make an off-the-cuff guess from what i’ve read so far, i’d estimate that maybe 40%-50% of sub-saharan populations currently practice cousin marriage or did in the recent past (none of them practice the really inbred fbd marriage type of the arabs — except for some northern muslim populations — and even they don’t marry their fbds as consistently as the arabs do). that is just a guess, though. and, then, there’s the polygamy, which also serves to narrow the genetic relatedness in populations, and, so, might trigger similar selection processes for “genes for clannishness” (whatever they might be). and polygamy seems to be very common throughout sub-saharan africa — it’s found almost everywhere (although not everyone can afford to practice it, of course).

the trick will be to try and reconstruct, if at all possible, the historic mating patterns of sub-saharan african populations, especially since historical records for the continent are few and far between. there are historic records for some sub-saharan populations, mainly dating from post-european contact times, of course, and many of them might be useful — a lot of missionaries were hobby ethnographers and recorded loads of cultural data about the people they hoped to convert. genetic data would no doubt be more useful still. (btw, see what i had to say about the mating patterns of african americans and the igbo of nigeria in the comments thread over on jayman’s blog.)

in jayman’s paragraph above, he referenced this old post of mine — civic societies ii — in which i pointed out that the sub-saharan africans surveyed in the world values survey are quite civic, i.e. they are frequently active in voluntary organizations, much more so than peoples in the middle east or eastern europe (see the charts in that previous post). that seems, to me, to be an outbred trait — at least it is very characteristic of northwest europeans. the bamileke of cameroon, too, have a lot of non-familial associations in their society, and they have probably avoided cousin marriage for at least a couple of hundred years.

seven sub-saharan african countries were included in those world value survey results (see this post) — burkina faso, ethiopia, ghana, mali, rwanda, south africa, and zambia — a selection which offers a fairly good regional spread around the continent. i should drill down into those world values survey results to see if i can find out more specifically which subgroups in those populations (if any in particular) were surveyed in each of the countries, and i should try to find out more about the historic mating patterns of those groups. there’s a plan for some future blogging right there!

from jayman again:

“However, farther south in Africa are the San hunter-gatherers (the Bushmen), who were intentional outbreeders, with marriage occurring across tribes. However, overall rates of violence among them are comparable to those found in their Bantu neighbors.”

ack! i still haven’t read more about the bushmen. put that down on the Further Research is RequiredTM list as well!

and this:

“Muslim Central Asia (including the Uyghur province) hasn’t been directly looked at by HBD Chick. But presumably mating patterns there have been similar to the rest of the Muslim world, which would seem to explain the levels of clannishness and corruption there.”

from what i’ve read, the central asians — especially in all of the -stans — tend to avoid any marriage within the paternal clan out to the seventh generation, so in that way they are very unlike the arabs and pakistanis and afghanis. father’s brother’s daughter (fbd) marriage really does seem to have stopped at the edges of the eighth century caliphate. in some regions of central asia, there is also an avoidance of close cousin marriage within the maternal line out to the third generation; in other places central asians do marry their first and second cousins in the maternal line — or have done until fairly recently. this fits with the broader preference of mother’s brother’s daughter (mbd) marriage in asia (where cousin marriage occurs). also, these patterns of avoiding marriage especially in the paternal line, and even sometimes in the maternal line, matches with at least some of the subgroups in tibet. as we saw the other day, first cousin marriage was commonplace in and around lhasa (at the very least) in the 1700s, but has disappeared since that time. perhaps close cousin marriage was also more common throughout central asia and has disappeared in more recent times — or is still in the process of disappearing. dunno. Further Research is RequiredTM.

“India and Southeast Asia also haven’t been discussed much by HBD Chick, either.”

india. *sigh* gotta love india (and indians!) for all of its anthropological diversity, but i have to admit that i have been avoiding india due to the complexity of the mating patterns there. all of those castes!! *sigh* the one very, very general broad pattern that i do know about india right now is that consanguineous marriages are more frequent in southern india than in the north (see the map on consang.net) AND a lot of those consanguineous marriages have been awfully close — uncle-niece marriage is common in southern india — up until very recently (there’s still quite a bit of uncle-niece marriage in the south nowadays, i believe). so, if the theory’s right, then (looking away from the muslims and christians and sikhs, etc., and just focusing on the hindus) there ought to be more clannishness and nepotism and corruption in southern india than in the north. i don’t know if that’s the case or not, but that ought to be how it is. the population ought to be more clannish in the south. similarly, there ought to be more clannishness/corruption/etc. in southern than in northern china — and i do know that clans are more important in southern china than in the north. again, need to try to reconstruct if close marriages were common historically in india and/or china — this should be easier for these populations than for africa since india and china are, obviously, literate civilizations and have been for many millennia.

southeast asia i just haven’t gotten around to yet, unfortunately.

“The Muslim sections of Southeast Asia fit the pattern seen with the core Muslim world, it would seem.”

yes and no. like the central asian muslims — and unlike the arabs/pakistanis/afghanis — the muslims of southeast asia probably avoid fbd marriage. it would be interesting to know if the population of aceh province in indonesia happens to practice particularly close marriage, though, since they have some of the strictest islamic codes of anywhere in indonesia.

jayman again:

“And the Papuan people of New Guinea are famous for being the most tribal people in the world, with the island hosting over *1,000* different languages!

like sub-saharan africans, png-ers have a wide variety of mating patterns! some groups absolutely, definitely have a preference for marrying close cousins while others outbreed. look for a post real soon on some apparent outbreeders from png — the baining!

more jayman!:

“Korea and especially Japan do not fit quite as seamlessly. Japan has had a history of cousin marriage, and the situation in Korea is unclear. Yet neither country is fractured into mutually distrustful clans as is China. Indeed, Japan has a functioning ‘commonweal’ society. However, it is not necessarily like the outbred Northwest Europeans either, possessing some characteristics of a clannish society [those are all unique links in this sentence-h.chick]. It is possible that these countries, like Finland & Iceland in Europe, are also ‘inbetweeners’ of sorts, and possess a distinct hybrid between clannish and non-clannish, as was the topic of my post Finland & Japan.”

yeah. can’t tell you anything at all about korea, because i still haven’t read up on korea yet! (except what misdreavus told me, which is that the upper classes in korea avoided close marriages. interesting.)

japan. yes, japan. japan is probably some sort of “inbetweener” group like jayman suggests — inbetweeners being not extremely inbred (like the arabs) but not being very outbred either (like northwest europeans). japan is apparently not as squeaky clean civic-wise as most of us think, although obviously the japanese are WAY more civically behaved than most peoples! if you look at anatoly karlin’s corruption reality index, the japanese actually score lower than most northwest europeans, and group together with bulgaria, croatia, france, and argentina, as far as corruption goes. and nearly as bad as italy! in 2010, nine percent of japanese people responded that they had to pay a bribe during the previous year, whereas zero percent of danes reported this, one percent of british people, two percent of germans, and five percent of americans. (meanwhile, eighty-nine percent of liberians did! and eighty-four percent of cambodians.) i also had a researcher tell me that, in a study which they conducted (not published yet, i don’t think), the japanese actually scored pretty low on interpersonal cooperation tests — which surprised these researchers. so, something is up with the japanese. they did marry close cousins at a pretty significant rate (ca. 22% — that’s roughly half the rate of sicilians in the early twentieth century) right up into the early twentieth century (see also here). so, i think that the japanese might actually fit the “clannishness” model more than is supposed. they don’t behave as clannishly as the chinese, but they are rather clannish.

jayman had this to say about the japanese and east asians — with which i heartily agree:

“The other possible ingredient could be this: local conditions – often imposed by the State or other local powers – may affect the course of evolution of a people despite the local frequencies of inbreeding/outbreeding. We see this to an extent in China, where considerable genetic pacification – under the direction of the State – served to reduce aggressiveness of the Chinese people despite their considerable clannishness. Perhaps this explains what we see in Japan.”

also this:

“As well, of course, the initial characteristics of the people in each of these areas may have some bearing on their outcomes today, as these traits may affect the precise course of evolution in these places.”

absolutely!

the other populations of the world that jayman mentions that i haven’t discussed (like australian aborigines) i just simply haven’t researched. yet! Further Research is RequiredTM! (^_^)
_____

i’m obviously not the first person to think that mating patterns + inclusive fitness might affect the selection of genes related to social behaviors. that would be william hamilton [pdf]. other population geneticists have played around with the idea, too. in the blogosphere, steve sailer was the first to connect cousin marriage with things like nepotism and an absence of (liberal) democracy in societies — after parapundit pointed out the odd connection between those things in the middle east. even saints augustine and thomas aquinas (and st. ambrose, btw) figured there was probably a connection between mating patterns and the structures and functioning of a society. so does the economist avner greif [pdf], although he doesn’t consider the biological side of it (which is completely ok!).

furthermore, the historian michael mitterauer — who specializes in the history of the european family — understands that there is some sort of connection between mating patterns and family types and size (and the functioning of society), although he doesn’t grasp that the explanation is probably biological either (which is completely ok!). (the more inbred the larger the family; the more outbred, the smaller — i think.) and all sorts of thinkers from engels to weber to durkheim to todd have figured out, in different ways, that family types and structures affect the workings of society.

so even if the specific inbreeding/outbreeding theory discussed on this blog is wrong, i think it’s valuable to examine the mating patterns and family types of human populations. who mates with whom — in other words, the ways genes flow through a population down through the generations — has got to be one of the more important topics in population genetics, afaics! and, at the very least, the prevalence of specific family types in populations must affect selection pressures, since families are a large part of the social environment in any society.

in any event, i just personally find all the different mating patterns and family types interesting! especially in the light of sociobiology. so i’m probably not going to stop blogging about them any time soon. don’t say i didn’t warn you! (~_^)

oh, and very importantly — thanks, jayman! (^_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. albatross!)

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