steve sailer asks about egypt: “A big question would be what changes in government would be necessary to allow civil society to flourish. And what are the odds it would flourish?”

well, if the cousin-marriage conundrum thesis is correct, then 1) making the country more democratic prolly won’t work and 2) pretty low.

egyptians are, like many middle easterners, inbred – i.e. they married their first and second cousins at a rate of 38.9% in 2000 (click on chart for a LARGER version; source):

thus are they clannish as is evidenced by the number of political parties|organizations in egypt: 24+! that’s a lot of conflicting interests.

urbanites are less inbred than the rural folk, and those in the cairo|delta area (lower egypt) are less inbred than those in upper egypt:

Lower Egypt – Urban = 25.4%
Urban Governorates = 28.7%
Lower Egypt – Rural = 36.7%
Upper Egypt – Urban = 37.7%
Frontier Governorates = 46.3%
Upper Egypt – Rural = 55.2%
Total = 38.9%

added to the inbreeding that causes clannishness, there are also different peoples in egypt.

there are the egyptians in lower egypt and then there are the sa’idi in upper egypt — they’re egyptians, too, but they tend to be copts rather than muslims, afaict. then there are some nubians in upper egypt. they’re muslims. there are bedouins and arabs, also muslim, hanging around in different areas. greeks, italians, armenians mostly in lower, urban egypt. all christians. (and, note, that none of these — except for some arabs — are arabs. egyptians are not arabs.)

between all the inbreeding and all the different ethnic groups i doubt if much of a civil society can be built in egypt. not without some serious changes in reproductive patterns anyway.

i mean, apart from their dislike of mubarak, what can these people…

…possibly have in common with these people…?

my new, fave egyptian sub-group, btw, has got to be the magyarab. magyarab as in “magyar”:

“According to legend, Christian Hungarians who had only recently been brought under the control of the Ottoman Empire formed a part of the Ottoman army that was fighting in southern Egypt. Evidently, a portion or the entirety of the fighting unit remained there and intermarried with the local Nubian women.

“According to local Magyarabs, their ancestor was Ibrahim el-Magyar, a general who came from Buda (present-day Budapest) in 1517, he married with a local Nubian woman, they had a son called Ali, Ali had five sons: Selabi, Mustafa, Djelaleddin, Musa and Iksa. Ali’s five sons were the ancestor of all Magyarabs. Magyarabs are the members of the World Federation of Hungarians (Magyarok Világszövetsége) since 1992 and still consider themselves as Hungarians.

“They were not discovered by Europeans until 1935, when László Almásy, himself a Magyar, and his co-worker, the German engineer and explorer Hansjoachim von der Esch, happened upon their tribe in the Nubian region. Representatives of the tribes had attempted to make contact with Hungarian officials, but were unable to do so because of the outbreak of World War II.

“These people now have a Middle Eastern appearance due to the intermarriage with the local Nubian population and no longer speak the Hungarian language. Around 1934, however, Esch, who spent several weeks with the population of the Magyarab island at Wadi Halfa, put together a list of non-Arabic words used only on that island and which, according to him, were recognized by Almasy as similar to Hungarian words. His notes show that all Magyarab in Wadi Halfa were convinced that their ancestors came from ‘Nemsa’ (the Arabic word for Austria), which might refer to any region of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was told by the chief of the Magarab island village that the their ancestors arrived in Egypt/Sudan as a group of ‘Austrian’ soldiers led by a man called Shenghal Sendjer, which Esch assumes to be originally General Sendjer or Senger.”

heh! who knew?!

update: see also What Regime Change Will Not Change In Egypt from parapundit.

update 02/21: see also cousin marriage conundrum addendum

update 03/04: the egypt demographic and health surveys for 2000 and 2008 show that the consanguinity rate for egyptians has dropped from 37.8% in 2000 to 29.7% in 2008. probably good news for the egyptians!

update 05/23/12: see also family type in egypt and mating patterns in egypt and corporations and collectivities

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One Comment

  1. Egyptian inbreeding is much older than islamic domination. It was practiced throughout ancient times, with Pharaohs the most extreme examples. Even the Greek derived Ptolemees gradually adopted egyptian customs, marrying sisters and even mothers etc. Perhapse they disregarded Oedipus and other cautionary tales of their ancestors. Cousin marriage was common in Egypt, and later in the Roman period, even brother to sister marriages are reported.
    Then Egypt wiped itself out of the cultural map of humanity. Egyptian culture was already slow changing. People strive to keep things like in the beginning, and respected the knowledge of older generations. However, in nearly three thousand years of an organized culture, progress was made, albeit slowly and with static periods, and its cumulative effect was finally huge, so to regard today Ancient Egypt as one of the most developed places of its time. Then, after christianization, no other cultural progress was ever made. Before, there was at least a class of scribes who were writing about non religious matters as well. There was sophisticated medicine, astronomy, architecture etc. After christianization, we have only religious texts. There is neither scientific works, nor literature. Not even poetry other than religious hymns. We can safely assume that mostly the clerics and the monks were literate. That was a stricter theocracy than the well-known theocracy of ancient times.
    Egypt stopped being free from about the fifth century b.C., when it was conquered by Persians. Then one power after the other cut through Egypt like butter, and natives never complained. Greeks and Jews made an enclave in Alexandria, and no Egyptian rebelled. Romans overtook them, then it passed to the Byzantine Empire. And finally Arabs conquered the place, enforcing islam, or, more likely, people voluntarily became muslim to reap the benefits, like in Ottoman Empire. No one rebelled. Then Egypt was overtaken by Otomans, then by Western Powers. No one objected. Perhapse there was no national sentiment left. Egypt was just the hub between the Mediterranean and the Red See and a vast weat growing field of whomever took it.
    Meanwhile, their languaged changed. In ancient times, they spoke a complicated, fully inflected language, which tended to simplify throughout centuries. Most languages do that, that egyptian became even more extreme. From the time of conquests, it simplified even more. In the hellenistic times, when coptic was formed, it was very analytic but still egyptian. Then it started borrowing en mass greek words. After christianization, even more greek words were absorbed into the language, even pro-nouns and conjunctions. Greek words are so common, so by hearing a coptic text, I as a Greek, can roughly understand what it says. They did extreme acts on their language reflecting inferiority complexes, like replacing native words for greek ones in religious contexts, because the former had “pagan” connotations, copying greek pronunciation and even translating hebrew biblical names based on the greek pronunciation, even though their language had more appropriate sounds for semitic names. Then, some centuries after the muslim conquest, they abundonned their language nearly completely, and later their national identity, so much as to believe many of them today that they are Arabs. There were some short-lived nationalistic movements in the late 19th and early 20th century, but they couldn’t fare any chance under pan-arabism. Even the Egypt’s name is an arab name today, Misr, not Kimi or Keme as it was in the coptic language. They dismantled ancient structures to get stones for their homes, they looted all the graves and pounded mummies of their ancestors to make medicine or fertilizer. Yes, uneducated Greeks, Italians, and other people would comete atrocities to their national heritage, but not today. How many poor village Egyptians do you think feel a connection to their past today?
    Egyptians were never a healthy people Even Pharaohs and high-ranking officials were afflicted with many diseases. Imagine what commoners would have. Most were of short stature, with damaged teeth due to grit in their flower and plagued by parasites. Their main sustenance was bread and a kind of bear. Their paradise was not a vegetarian world, as christians believe, but a place where you could hunt and fish as much as you want. They worked all day humbly in the field, with spade on hand and bent over and looking at soil and dung. In fact, they made the scarab rolling a ball of dung a symbol of the sun moving over the sky. Yet, they weren’t all of the time miserable, they tried to have some happy moments as well. Do you think such people are healthy, strong and determined enough to make a worthy army or to resist occupying forces?
    I wonder sometimes. Did inbreeding and poor nutrition led to the final collapse of the ancient egyptian civilization?
    ps. Greeks in Egypt today are nearly non-existent.


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