not the revolution they’re looking for

now (that the annual week-and-a-half of eating dark-chocolate easter eggs is over) where was i?

ah yes — i was saying that, even though i haven’t read Why Nations Fail, i don’t buy the authors’ explanation because, from what i can gather from the contents of the book and the snippets available online, they don’t appear to consider any biological reasons for the successes of some nations. acemoglu and robinson (a&r) think that nations fail because said nations lack the right institutions; i think nations fail because the populations of those nations lack the “right” happy combination of genes for all sorts of things like iq and altruistic behaviors, etc., etc. sure, the right institutions are important, but first of all you have to have the “right sort” of people who can build those right institutions.

a&r think that the glorious revolution in england established the right kind of institutions there — i presume they’re thinking of the english parliament’s bill of rights of 1689 presented to king billy as the conditions he would have to accept if he were to be allowed to invade ascend to the throne of england. and, yes, this was the point that constitutional monarchy was formally established in england; but i would argue (and i don’t think i’m alone in thinking this) that there was a long-term trend toward constitutional monarchy in england and that, really, the “revolution” that brought that about was the civil war (or civil wars) that happened thirty to forty years before the so-called glorious revolution. and even those wars don’t explain why the english (and anglos pretty much everywhere) established all the institutions that they did and suceeded in the ways that they did.

steve sailer and dearime didn’t like the glorious revolution as the answer to why england succeeded either. steve says that the people who benefited the most from the glorious revolution were oligarchs and not the common men of england — i don’t know about that, but knowing how “revolutions” often play out it sounds pretty plausible. dearime thought i was off my rocker with my comments about the events of the glorious revolution (bad writing — sorry), but what i think really happened is that there wasn’t any revolution at all in england like the one a&r have envisioned — a revolution in which:

“People fought for and won more political rights, and they used them to expand their economic opportunities.”

not any single revolution, anyway.

what i think happened in england is that the changes towards making that society a more individualistic one based on the rights of individuals (and not extended families or clans or tribes) happened gradually over several hundreds of years (see here and here and here). (those changes are biological, btw.) like i said in the previous post, i think a&r are looking for a single anglo revolution of indepedence which established the “right” institutions ’cause they want to sell their idea to whomever believes that events like an arab spring will somehow result in flourishing liberal democracies with modern capitalistic societies based on trust. ’cause, you know … all you need is one little revolution that establishes the “right” institutions to release all these untapped human resources in any population anywhere. only that’s not how it happened in england.

and whatever did happen in england (i think it was, comparatively speaking, lots of outbreeding over an extended period of time which resulted in changes in “genes for altruism” in the english population) happened unevenly across the country. from what i have gathered so far — and note that these conclusions of mine will likely change as i find out more about historical mating patterns in england/britian (and maybe i’ll find out i’m wrong altogether!) — the greatest degrees of outbreeding occurred in the east of england — east anglia and kent, for example — and, to a somewhat lesser degree, in areas of wessex. greater amounts of inbreeding continued until fairly recent times in areas of western britain — wales and cornwall (i think) and western scotland, as well as in the anglo-scottish border areas. (there are a couple of areas in britain for which i haven’t got a clue about the historical mating patterns — they include eastern scotland and northern areas of england like yorkshire. i’m working on those!)

so, very broadly speaking, there’s an east-west divide in england (britain?) between outbreeders in the east and inbreeders in the west … and another kinda/sorta north-south divide in england between places like essex and wessex and northumbria. these mating pattern differences were, back in the medieval period, paralleled by different family types present in different regions of england/britain.

and, afaics, the english civil war(s) between parliamentarians and royalists was just a war between eastern individualistic outbreeders and western and northern group-oriented inbreeders. think of the eastern association: essex, hertfordshire, norfolk, suffolk, cambridgeshire. in other words, the most outbred of the english. at the outset of the civil war, it was them vs. the inbreeders:

anonymous is not convinced that all the peoples of western britain have historically (well, throughout the medieval period) been inbreeders. he pointed out that the scots convenanters were not royalists and they were located in sw scotland, so if my inbreeding-outbreeding theory is right, they should be outbreeders.

i don’t know what the historic mating patterns were for large parts of scotland, but i intend to find out. i’m pretty sure that the populations of the western isles — the areas that had been part of the kingdom of dál riata — and the highlands must’ve been inbreeders (like the irish) until quite recently since (like the irish) they have been more clannish than other scots until quite recently. while the covenanters of the sw (where exactly?) were not royalists, the more inbred highlanders were. i need to find out more about the historic mating patterns of the scots. i’ll let ya know when i’ve done so.

anyway, to conclude — i think that acemoglu and robinson are looking for an english revolution that didn’t happen — not at any specific moment in time anyway.

oh, and the eastern english outbreeders and western and northern english inbreeders fought a couple of civil wars against one another: once (or a couple of times) in the seventeenth century, and again a couple of hundred years later, but that time on a different continent.

biological differences die hard.

previously: why nations fail and but what about the english? and english individualism and english individualism ii

(note: comments do not require an email. “Bite him peper.”)

35 Comments

  1. From Ed West:

    Britain is divided essentially into two cultural regions: the rainy bit, which encompasses the south-east, Thames Valley, East Anglia and parts of the Midlands and south-west; and the even rainier bit, which covers the north, west, Wales and Scotland. These distinctions pre-date the Roman invasion; they also reflect, to an extent, both the current Tory/anti-Tory divide and the political/religious split of 1642.

    Reply

  2. This is most fascinating. However I continue to maintain that any regime, however odious, will survive if the critical population that makes decisions is able to produce enough babies. No babies means no future. Go to http://nobabies.net/Orlando%20meeting.html and take a gander at the evidence. You need a lot of inbreeding or at least limited outbreeding if you want to have a society survive. That’s biology and it’s on the shelf. Look: everybody knows about heroes. The literate know about the gods. The eductated know about the fates. Few have noticed that without the stork, without a thread to spin and cut, the fates are meaningless. A handful of people in history have known that the stork needs a degree of conanguinity. So if you don’t believe it, you have a lot of company.

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  3. @ HBD*Chick „this was the point that constitutional monarchy was formally established in england”

    Most monarchies in continental Europe had been constitutional de jure or de facto by that time.
    Cities (like Hansa ligue cities) were self-governing, regions had vast autonomies, kings were bounded by countless rules.

    Example of constitution in Eastern Europe (that was traditionally later with such developments then Western Europe):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nihil_novi

    So regarding the constitutional monarchy, England at that time was even more retarded then Eastern Europe. I think this is due to the Norman conquest, as the Normans centralized power in Norman hands and abolished older constraints on royal rule.

    Novel with constitution in England was, who was going to check the kings power:
    People of low (merchant) classes.
    My guess is that the oligarchs were the new oligarchs from low (merchant) classes – not the old landed gentry.

    Anyway in France and Prussia kings managed to get rid of old constitutions and accumulated absolute power at that time.
    Only to be beheaded like a French king or return to previous standards like in Prussia century later.

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  4. This is very interesting. I’m going to follow this discussion, as I’ve been doing, with some attention.

    Reply

  5. @bjk – “Britain is divided essentially into two cultural regions: the rainy bit, which encompasses the south-east, Thames Valley, East Anglia and parts of the Midlands and south-west; and the even rainier bit, which covers the north, west, Wales and Scotland.”

    heh. (^_^)

    but, yeah. there is an environmental division as well, isn’t there — greying wanderer’s lowlands vs. highlands. the east vs. west thing is prolly also anglo-saxon-jutes(-frisians) vs. britons/welsh/scots/picts.

    the whole thing is definitely complicated.

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  6. @bleach – “if true, the wrong side one”

    well, that depends on who you were rootin’ for, doesn’t it? (~_^)

    a long-term shift did happen, though, from monarchy to parliamentary democracy. and the shift started off with some battles between the two sides and some compromises (magna carts, bill of rights 1689, etc.) along the way, until what we see in england (britain) today.

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  7. @germanschafff*cker – “Cities (like Hansa ligue cities) were self-governing…”

    the difference there which is intereting is that the hanseatic cities were citiescity-states. not quite the same as a nation which is … interesting. i don’t know what to make of that yet since i don’t yet know the mating patterns for medieval germans — only roughly.

    @germanschafff*cker – “Example of constitution in Eastern Europe (that was traditionally later with such developments then Western Europe):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nihil_novi

    i always thought the nihil novi sounded more like england’s magna carta since it was really a check on the monarch by the nobles. with the english bill of rights you suddenly get these features like the right of (some of) the people to bear arms and so forth. the nihil novi also entrenched serfdom further in poland. that’s probably not one of the institutions a&r had in mind when they thought about why some nations succeed.

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  8. One could argue that the American Civil War was the latest conflict in the ongoing struggle between those two sides of Britain…

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  9. @jayman – “One could argue that the American Civil War was the latest conflict in the ongoing struggle between those two sides of Britain…”

    i said: “…and again a couple of hundred years later, but that time on a different continent.” (~_^)

    Reply

  10. I recall that David Hackett Fischer stated in his book, “Albion Seed”, that the counties that favored Parliament in the English Civil War were mostly those counties held by Vikings 700 years prior and those counties that favored the Royalists were held by the Anglo-Saxons 700 years prior. Perhaps there are other causes.

    Reply

  11. Not sure how it figures in but a disproportionate fraction of the innovators and inventors who started the industrial revolution came from the border region in the north (including Scotland itself).

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  12. OT for sure:

    “If my brain conjecture is true (and I do not set great store by it) and I drew the idea from the empyrean, many others should have received it as well. If the mind can not only receive but transmit information by some invisible means, then the ghosts of a hundred civilizations, the atavistic energy of a billion unborn, the tears of a million women who will cry themselves to sleep tonight because they cannot get pregnant, this psychic nova should enhance my words until no one alive would remain ignorant. ”

    from Linton Herbert’s “Open letter to Brian Josephson on mind and physics”

    Still I think his hypothesis on inbreeding and fertility is interesting

    Reply

  13. @ Germanshaffflicker – “So regarding the constitutional monarchy, England at that time was even more retarded then Eastern Europe.”

    There was a flaw however. The Polish Commonwealth required unanimous consent before anything could be decided.

    I once lived for a summer in a vegetarian coop in Austin Texas in which all house policy was by consensus. We had a cockroach problem in the kitchen. Even though all food was suspended from the ceiling on strings the roaches kept getting at it. Finally a house meeting was called to discuss the possibility of calling an exterminator. There was near unanimous consent except for one holdout, an ethical vegetarian from NYC who proceeded to deliver the most impassioned plea for the life of cockroaches heard since Abraham pled for the just men of Sodom. We finally had to overrule him and proceed without unanimous consent. That’s when I realized unanimous consent is a close cousin of anarchy.

    Reply

  14. @luke – “Not sure how it figures in but a disproportionate fraction of the innovators and inventors who started the industrial revolution came from the border region in the north (including Scotland itself).”

    is that where they were from? i know there were a lot of scottish inventors — like mr. watt (whose family were covenanters, btw) — and i (think i) know that a lot of the early industrial revolution happened in the north of england — but were the industrial revolution’s innovators really from the border region? or were they from northern england and southern scotland, which is slightly different than, say, right around the border between the two countries?

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  15. Well, yes, from northern England and southern Scotland, that’s what I meant. They overwhelmingly came from dissenting families, too, not Church of England or even Scottish kirk if I’m not mistaken. (Less sure about the kirk.) It’s a fairly long list of people. I’ll look for a good reference if you like.

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  16. @luke – “Well, yes, from northern England and southern Scotland, that’s what I meant.”

    right. what i was thinking of, though, is it’s not these people (the border reivers) — or the descendents of those people. or is it?

    @luke – “They overwhelmingly came from dissenting families….”

    interesting, huh?

    @luke – “I’ll look for a good reference if you like.”

    yes, please! (^_^) only if/when you have the time.

    Reply

  17. “The rainy bit” includes areas with annual rainfall as low as 22 inches i.e. about the driest bits of Europe north of the Pyrenees. Anyway, the key division is geological – to summarise, the NW has soft water, hard rocks and hard men, the SE has hard water…oh, finish it yourselves.

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  18. @dearime – “‘The rainy bit’ includes areas with annual rainfall as low as 22 inches….”

    and some other areas in that region get 22″ of rain over a typical weekend, right? (^_^)

    Reply

  19. there is an environmental division as well, isn’t there — greying wanderer’s lowlands vs. highlands

    which i think ties into the inbreeding/outbreeding thing through population density. if you have an upland region with 12 villages averaging c200 people each and a lowland region averaging c600 each then i imagine the upland region will be more endogamous even if they’re trying not to be simply because of the smaller breeding population.

    .
    if true, the wrong side one

    too early to tell

    .
    So regarding the constitutional monarchy, England at that time was even more retarded then Eastern Europe.

    I think the same processes hbdchick is describing occurred along the whole of the north european coastal plain from eastern england to western poland however over 800 years or so england was where the process was *least* interrupted by war etc

    .
    What’s up with Pembroke and Cornwall on both Civil war and Danelaw maps?

    Cornwall like NW England (Cumbria) are rugged remote regions containing remnants of Brythonic Celts that were cut off from Wales so i don’t think that’s strange. Pembroke is odd though.

    .
    a disproportionate fraction of the innovators and inventors who started the industrial revolution came from the border region in the north (including Scotland itself)

    However the industrial revolution was built on the mechanical foundations of the agricultural revolution which started in the south and middle.

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  20. @g.w. – “if you have an upland region with 12 villages averaging c200 people each and a lowland region averaging c600 each then i imagine the upland region will be more endogamous even if they’re trying not to be simply because of the smaller breeding population.”

    yeah, that’s prolly exactly right. the uplanders would, no doubt, have to travel farther to be as endogamous as the more populous lowlanders.

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  21. @g.w. – “I think the same processes hbdchick is describing occurred along the whole of the north european coastal plain from eastern england to western poland however over 800 years or so england was where the process was *least* interrupted by war etc”

    i think you may be right about that, with the exception being the swampy, coastal areas. the frisians and, i think, the east anglians were able to hold on to inbreeding longer than more inland areas where the new medieval agricultural techniques could be applied and manorialism could be instituted. those are the only two coastal groups i know about so far, though — need to check out some others.

    some of the townies in the north european coastal plain preferred inbreeding or endogamous marriages like the (german?) “clans” or extended families of medieval/late medieval gdansk. so there is a mix of mating patterns across the region. but the broad pattern is lots of outbreeding, comparatively speaking.

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  22. “with the exception being the swampy, coastal areas”

    yes, makes sense

    .
    “so there is a mix of mating patterns across the region”

    only a theory but that could potentially fit with the idea of a patchwork of old and new settlements

    .
    “huh. pembrokshire’s got a quirky little history.”

    wow. i thought i knew most of those odd little regional quirks. it really shows you how all these old maps have these invisible tectonic plates underneath

    Reply

  23. from the wiki

    “Manorial villages are more common in Little England, particularly on the banks of the Daugleddau estuary, while the north has characteristically Welsh scattered settlements. Forms of agriculture are also distinct,[10] although this mainly accords with land fertility rather than culture”

    New settlements on heavier bottom soils?

    Reply

  24. […] the Cavaliers fought on the side of the king (the Royalists) against the Parliamentarian forces. In many ways, this war was the forerunner to the establishment of English democracy, as well as bein…. The Puritans, the historic arch-rivals of the Cavaliers, fought against the latter group as […]

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  25. […] The line on the above map is a division between the areas of Britain that practiced a greater degree of cousin marriage versus the areas that are more outbred. In general, the areas north and west of the line appear to have had a more recent history of cousin marriage. This division also marks the areas held by opposing sides in the English Civil War (as discussed by HBD Chick): […]

    Reply

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