more on albanians

there are two broad groups of albanians, the gheg speakers in the north of the country (the blues on the map) and the tosk speakers in the south (the greens):

Dialects_of_the_Albanian_Language

today, the ghegs are more clannish/tribal than the tosks. there are historical (stemming from topographical) reasons for this (emphases and links added by me):

“The social structure of the country was, until the 1930s, basically tribal in the north and semifeudal in the central and southern regions. The highlanders of the north retained their medieval pattern of life until well into the twentieth century and were considered the last people in Europe to preserve tribal autonomy. In the central and southern regions, increasing contact with the outside world and invasions and occupations by foreign armies had gradually weakened tribal society.

“Traditionally there have been two major subcultures in the Albanian nation: the Gegs in the north and the Tosks in the south. The Gegs, partly Roman Catholic but mostly Muslim, lived until after World War II in a mountain society characterized by blood feuds and fierce clan and tribal loyalties. The Tosks, whose number included many Muslims as well as Orthodox Christians, were less culturally isolated mainly because of centuries of foreign influence. Because they had came under the rule of the Muslim landed aristocracy, the Tosks had apparently largely lost the spirit of individuality and independence that for centuries characterized the Gegs, especially in the highlands.

“Until the end of World War II, society in the north and, to a much lesser extent, in the south, was organized in terms of kinship and descent. The basic unit of society was the extended family, usually composed of a couple, their married sons, the wives and children of the sons, and any unmarried daughters. The extended family formed a single residential and economic entity held together by common ownership of means of production and common interest in the defense of the group. Such families often included scores of persons, and, as late as 1944, some encompassed as many as sixty to seventy persons living in a cluster of huts surrounding the father’s house.

Extended families were grouped into clans whose chiefs preserved patriarchal powers over the entire group. The clan chief arranged marriages, assigned tasks, settled disputes, and set the course to be followed concerning essential matters such as blood feuds and politics. Descent was traced from a common ancestor through the male line, and brides usually were chosen from outside the clan. Clans in turn were grouped into tribes.

“In the Tosk regions of the south, the extended family was also the most important social unit, although patriarchal authority had been diluted by the feudal conditions usually imposed by the Muslim bey….”
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here’s a really (REALLY) long excerpt from Poverty in Albania: A Qualitative Assessment with some notes of my own thrown in here and there. the excerpted bits are italicized while my comments are not. the quote from the book comes from pages 83-90. the book itself was published in 2002 and comprises the results of a series of surveys undertaken across albania by world bank researchers in the late 1990s and early 2000s (again, emphases and links added by me):

“Civil Society

“People in all the study sites generally want a capable government that solves problems and creates opportunities. A combination of factors — inadequate government presence, poor management of government functions, corruption, and lack of confidence that elections will change conditions — has created a vacuum of authority in parts of Albania. In certain rural locations, particularly in the north and east, there is no functioning government. In these areas, institutions such as extended families/clans are filling the gaps of authority…. Further, Albanians’ wariness of other groups in general — other families, ethnic groups, and religious groups — fragments civil society and confines non-governmental solutions to local areas….

“Filling the Vacuum

“Two forces are rising to fill the vacuum of government authority — the traditional fis structure, and the small, ad-hoc aid programs of foreign governments and private organizations in some eastern parts of the country….

“The fis is even more important for filling the power vacuum. An elder in Mirdita describes authority there: ‘I am elected elder of this village. The water resources are distributed according to the old traditions, based on the fis. Here things are settled based on the fis, not the state. My fis is composed of my uncle, first cousins, and also fourth cousins. When there is discord that involves injuries … it is not the state that gets involved to resolve the problem, but the wisest of the elderly men in the fis. We discuss how to resolve the problem and develop a consensus. Then we make the decision and the problem is resolved.’

“Re-emergence of the Fis and Canun

A fis is a group of people descended from the same great grandfather. This extended family is bound together tightly by tradition, culture, and a set of rules called the Canun, which were formalized by Lek Dukagjini in the 1400s. The Canun withered under Communism but has resumed governing importance in some areas. As Remzi, a fis elder in Kukes, explains, ‘The Canun is now starting to function because the government is weak … and the government’s laws are not being properly implemented by the state.’ Fis in some areas are now using the traditional Canun, or a modern variation of it, to govern themselves. As noted in the chapter on agriculture, issues of land reform, land use, irrigation water distribution, and other matters are being determined by the fis structure using the Canun as the basis for decisions….

Fis are found primarily in northern rural Albania (Kukes, Mirdita, and Shkordra), but they also exist in the highlands of Korca and among the Roma populations….

“Fis Governance

In each village, there may be as few as 3 or as many as 10 fis. As noted earlier, a fis is defined as a group of those people who descend directly from a common great grandfather. In practical terms, each fis comprises three to four generations. The number of people in each fis can range from fewer than 10 to more than 500 people. The selection of leaders within a fis varies, but there are some common practices. Each fis is led by a male who is elected by other males in the fis. Often the elected leader is the oldest active male, who is responsible for setting and enforcing standards of behavior. He usually does not make important decisions alone, but in consultation with other respected males in the fis, including brothers and sons, and extending to cousins….

**textbox**
“Relations Within and Among the Fis

‘When someone in our fis makes a mistake, even if he is 40 years old, the entire fis gets together and orders him not to commit further mistakes and put shame on us all. This is our way to preserve tradition. There are seven or eight fis in the village, and we are in competition with each other to be the best one. When one of us makes a mistake or commits a crime, the entire fis is humiliated and its reputation is hurt…. When I have disputes within the fis, I try to resolve them within the fis. But if I cannot do so, I sometimes will invite and elder from another fis to listen to our problems and provide mature judgement. And if we do not get a satisfying result from this, we address the problem to the committee of elders in the village.’ – Hamit, an elder in Shkodra
**close textbox**

“Where the government is totally absent, the committee of elders governs without a government institution by managing common work and the relationships among the various fis. In these situations, the committee of elders uses some version of the Canun to set rules and govern. According to Preng, and elder in Mirdita, ‘I am the elected leader of the fis…. Here, things are settled by the fis and we do not rely on the government. My fis is composed of my uncle, first cousins, and also fourth cousins. When there is a dispute that results in injury, it is not the government that gets involved but the elders who get together and decide the fee. A committee of elders, the wisest men from all the fis, discusses the problem and resolves it based on consensus. When the fee is paid, then the problem is considered resolved…. If the criminal has no money to pay the fee, then he is killed. The fee depends on the issue and how events happened….

“Applying the Canun

“The application of Canun varies by fis. A few apply the traditional Canun, even though they recognize its shortcomings. They feel that, despite the traditional Canun’s weaknesses, it is the best solution in the absence of government. In one area of Kukes, an elder describes the Canun as ‘unprincipled and not fair as the laws. It is very tough and incites disputes and revenge. For instance, according to the Canun, if someone hits you, then you have the right to kill him…. It has some very precise rules, though in today’s society it is hard to implement the rules…. For instance, the Canun does not allow my daughter to bring bread or coffee in the room when guests visit. Women must wear a scarf on their head. A stranger who is visiting your house must not shake hands with your wife or daughter.’ The Canun has returned to an extent that blood feuds have re-emerged. In some areas, such as Shkodra and northern Kukes, families reportedly are confined to their own homes to protect themselves during a feud. In these cases, friends and neighbors bring them food because the family cannot grow their own food or otherwise work while feuding.

“Despite the use of traditional Canun rules in some areas, most fis have adapted the Canun to better fit, in their view, the values of the modern era….

“Dispute Resolution and Other Functions

“… The need for such dispute resolution increased after 1990, due to new freedoms and disputes over property rights, just as the government’s ability to resolves such disputes began to decline…. According to an elder in Shkodra, ‘After 1990, conflict increased compared to the time of my father. The Communist regime caused many fights because it took land from its owners and distributed it equally to everybody, and encouraged people to construct houses on other people’s land….

albania’s committee of nationwide reconciliation estimates that there were ca. “10,000 murders for honour, blood feud and revenge between 1990 and 2009” in the country, although it’s difficult to know for sure what the real numbers are. i think it’s safe to say A LOT, though. the albanian tradition of gjakmarrja is basically an eye-for-an-eye moral system in which honor is all-important — the honor of the extended family. albanians (and other groups in the balkans) have for centuries had purpose built boltholes to hide in when they and their families were the objects of a blood feud (check out the border reivers’ bastle houses, too):

i think the long history and current prevalence of blood feuds in albania and throughout the region illustrates that greying wanderer’s characterization of the balkans as “full of people who hate the people in the adjacent enclosed ancient valley” is not far off the mark.
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interestingly:

“Source of Power

The principle source of power for a fis is its moral standing among the other fis. An elder in Shkodra says, ‘Our moral force and authority derive from good behavior.’ This moral standing is built over generations. Fis that historically have been strong are more likely to enjoy power now. An elder in Shkodra says, ‘Blood is never forgotten. Mother and father have one name. Blood has one name. After 20 or 100 years, the blood of mothers and fathers is not forgotten.’

Moral standing is judged according to the behavior of the members of a fis. Living according to the laws set by the fis, working hard, being kind and gracious to both neighbors and strangers, showing generosity to others, and having a family that is free of conflict are some of the criteria by which fis judge each other. An elder in Shkodra explains, ‘A good man, according to the Canun, is one who works, is wise, is loved by everybody, who does not humiliate anyone, and who pulls his family together. A bad man is one who does the opposite. The good fis are polite, have culture, and use common sense. A bad fis is not able to run its own affairs properly, let alone enjoy proper relations with other fis.’ An elder in Kukes, who asserts that his family is the ‘best’ fis in the community, describes similar criteria for judging a fis there: ‘My grandfather was known as the representative of the best fis in the village. Now we have 20 families in the village and maybe someone from our fis has committed some wrongs, but we still enjoy the reputation of our generosity and hospitality. For instance, if I see a stranger passing by on the road, I invite him to visit my home and have coffee with us. I preserve the reputation of the fis. When I visit my neighbor, I make a contribution. When he visits me, he makes a contribution. When someone asks to marry my daughter who does not come from a well-respected fis, I do not permit my daughter to marry that person.’

so, unlike in western europe where a man is judged by his character and behavior alone, amongst albanians (and i’m guessing other balkan populations) one’s moral character is all wrapped up with that of one’s extended family. this is something we hear throughout muslim societies in the arab world and middle east as well (e.g. all the honor killings) — not surprising when they are very inbred, too.
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Marriages among members of the same fis are not permitted, even when the two people are seven or eight generations removed. Because one must marry someone from another fis, all marriages involve fis politics. Marriage is very important to determining the stature of a fis in the community. Much time is spent determining the suitability of various suitors, based on the reputation of the fis and the perceived behavior of the prospective bride and groom. Because the reputation of the fis is important to power relations in the community, a woman has little influence in selecting her husband. According to an elder in Kukes, ‘Couples are engaged not through love, but through a mediator….”

since the ban on marrying relations within the fis only applies to paternal relations, it could very well be that albanians frequently marry maternal relatives — close or distant maternal cousins. i haven’t seen any info on this either way for albanians, but another balkan group — bosnian muslims — actually have a preference for marrying in-laws which includes maternal relatives. some albanians are christians (orthodox and roman catholic), so presumably they more-or-less follow the christian ban on marrying close cousins — as a general rule, that is — although all sorts of europeans regularly work around this. there should be no such cousin-marriage ban amongst albanian muslisms.

in any case, albanians are marrying (especially traditionally) very endogamously since they normally marry someone from a fis in the village or, perhaps, a neighboring village.
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onwards:

“Wariness of Other Groups

“The re-emergence of the fis highlights the importance of family structures in addressing problems formerly handled by government. But the importance of family is not limited to northern districts and Korca. People throughout the country feel that family affiliations is an important factor in choosing their friends and neighbors. Ethnic and religious affiliation also affect relationships within and between communities. As a result, these groups tend to be wary of each other. Table 12 details people’s attitudes toward their neighbors. [click on table for LARGER view]:

About 77 percent of people prefer that their neighbors are members of the same fis or family, with 59 percent strongly preferring it. About 52 percent prefer that their neighbors share the same religion, while about 44 percent prefer that neighbors are of the same ethnicity. It appears that family affiliation is more important than religion or ethnicity in determining feels [sic] about neighbors.

The civil society that either shares space with government or fills a vacuum left by government comprises a series of groups that are wary of each other and sometimes conflict. Consequently, there are few informal institutions, organizations, and networks that cross large geographic areas. Those that do exist, such as the emigration networks into Greece and Italy, are based on single extended families or single local communities. So while informal institutions and organizations are significant assets, they may be limited in their capacity to address problems across different families, religions, and ethnicities.”

like other clannish/tribal societies, albania doesn’t manage to have a civil society. not in the sense that nw europeans have. clannishness and tribalism seem to go along with inbreeding — either consanguineous and/or endogamous mating patterns — and i think the causation goes from inbreeding -> clannishness/tribalism (although certainly being clannish probably encourages further inbreeding). and the underlying mechanism is, as steve sailer pointed out ages ago, somehow related to kin selection and inclusive fitness.

albanians seem to be some of the most inbred peoples in europe — looking at their genomes, they have the highest frequencies of within-country “blocks of ibd” (identity by descent) as compared to other europeans which suggests to me that they’ve been inbreeding for a long time, too. that, i think, is part of the reason for the high ibd rates amongst albanians. given their history, then, it shouldn’t be surprising that they still are very clannish/tribal and don’t manage to build a civil society.
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see also:
Albania: Blood Feuds — ‘Blood For Blood’ (Part 1)
Blood feuds still boiling in Albania – feuding taken to a new level when a 17 year old girl is killed.
Ancient blood feuds cast long shadow over hopes for a modern Albania
Peacemaker breaks the ancient grip of Albania’s blood feuds
No way out
The Forgiveness of Blood – movie.
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previously: balkan endogamy

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

37 Comments

  1. one thing I’m getting from this is that inbreeding receives a lot of positive feedback or itself. clannish socieities generate a lot of civil violence. we already know that people ‘stick with their own’ and inbreed more when there is a lot of social chaos. it seems like just the fact of many people marrying kin creates enough chaos to force people to continue the practice ad infinitum. I would think the rarity of endogamy in the world has a lot to do with how difficult it i to get started outbreeding in the face of clan feuds and a generally distrustful, unsympathetic attitude between unrelated people.

    Reply

  2. @ bleach ” how difficult it i to get started outbreeding in the face of clan feuds” And that I suspect is the biological fuction of such feuds. Ditto the disagreeable components of religion. Why is outbreeding bad from a biological standpoint? According to nobabies.net only a minor degree is compatible with viable fertility. You notice dog breeders are nigh psychotic about avoiding outbreeding? I doubt it’s because owning a dog has much influence on your interest in outbreeding. Dogs, after all, could care less. It’s just that those who didn’t care didn’t wind up with dogs.

    @hbd chick ” purpose built boltholes to hide in when they and their families were the objects of a blood feud” Great picture of the bolt hole. I would get homesick if I had ever been to Albania. It take your point of a parallel between Reivers and the Albanian Gegs. So looking at the building from a Scotch Irish standpoint, it would be handy in case of a feud and also handy in case the may-they-rot-in-burning-sulfur king’s men came through on one of their extermination campaigns. That cliff would be of little importance in an attack by another family, since there would not be the resources for a proper seige. But if it’s the king, (and like the Gegs the Scotch Irish accepted the legitimacy of no king ever, anywhere, anywhen, as I and perhaps you would not be willing to accept), then there would be the resources. That’s where the cliff comes into play. A few boys among the rocks could chuck down stones with lethal consequences. That would be the neighbor kids, who hate us maybe, but hate the king more. (Remember, the reason we were reivers was that the king had given all our lands to his own clique.) So the kings men send a small party around to the top to chase the boys away, only to be met with lots of neighbors, who have been waiting. Now the besieging force gets pelted with parts of the bodies of their friends.

    All right, maybe I’m delusional. But you might notice that the name of the bastle house you kindly liked to is “Rebellion House.”

    Reply

  3. Civil Society “People in all the study sites generally want a capable government that solves problems and creates opportunities.”

    That is certainly a definition of “civil society” which the political left would endorse, but not, I suspect, most American conservatives and libertarians.

    A combination of factors — inadequate government presence, poor management of government functions, corruption, and lack of confidence that elections will change conditions — has created a vacuum of authority in parts of Albania. In certain rural locations

    You could substitute “America” for “Albania” and “urban” for “rural” and the sentence would still be true. No word on whether the problems in Detroit are due to excessive inbreeding. (Although given the highly elastic definition of “inbreeding” employed by hbd-chick, I suspect that there are few problems anywhere in the world which cannot be associated with it)

    Reply

  4. In light of your hypothesis that endogamy and the extended family model of social organization lead to a lack of loyalty to and trust in civil society (along with the associated high levels of trust and violence), I’m curious about your explanation for the crime and corruption in Latin American countries. Is the same phenomenon at work there, or is there an an entirely separate cause? Varying degrees of outbreeding obviously are responsible for creating the mestizo and mullato populations of Latin America, and most abstracts of genetic studies I’ve read on the subject indicate that even indigenous communities that speak indigenous languages have non-trivial European admixture. However, admixture events may have been limited in duration, depending upon the group.

    I know very little about family organization in Colombia or Mexico, although I know their fertility rates have plummeted toward North American levels in recent years. Said cultures are commonly characterized as being more committed to extended family than North Americans, but perhaps you could supply the details.

    Reply

  5. @bleach – “I would think the rarity of endogamy in the world….”

    well, i don’t think endogamy is rare in the world. quite the opposite — i think the scale tips rather in favor towards endogamy rather than exogamy, but perhaps not as far as i would’ve guessed a couple of months ago.

    the cousin marriers/endogamous populations seem to be: peripheral europeans, arab/muslim world, farmers in africa, south asians, east asians, png’ers, native americans.

    the non-cousin marriers/exogamous populations seem to be: nw europeans, bushmen (and other african hunter-gatherers?), eskimos.

    others i don’t know about (yet!).

    Reply

    1. @hbd chick “nw europeans, bushmen (and other african hunter-gatherers?), eskimos. others i don’t know about (yet!).” Robin Fox recons that the exogamous people include only the modern urbanized and the Eskimo, and of course the population density among the Eskimo was pretty low. The rules were that you could marry anybody, but the opportunities were pretty limited – at least that’s my take on it. Bushmen, unless there is a more recent study, kept their band so separate that when they compared genes from two adjacent tribes they were as different as Asians and Europeans. So I think you can stick to you guns on that one. Exogamy is uniquely urban and probably modern, although we don’t know that much about the cities that have vanished.

      Reply

  6. @linton – “the Gegs the Scotch Irish accepted the legitimacy of no king ever, anywhere, anywhen, as I and perhaps you would not be willing to accept….”

    well, here’s the thing i never understood about kings and queens and all that lot: why would you have a monarch who was not one of your own? i might possibly (possibly) be able to get behind a figurehead monarch if he was actually from my population — but i don’t get importing royals from elsewhere just to have a royal. doesn’t make sense to me (but, then, i’m from one of those inbred populations (~_^) ).

    @linton – “Rebellion House”

    heh! (^_^) yeah — delicious, isn’t it? (^_^)

    Reply

  7. @frank – “That is certainly a definition of ‘civil society’ which the political left would endorse, but not, I suspect, most American conservatives and libertarians.”

    quite so. and quite telling, i’d say.

    @frank – “given the highly elastic definition of ‘inbreeding’ employed by hbd-chick”

    i don’t have a highly elastic definition of inbreeding, but the concept itself is elastic.

    the way i view it — and i’m trying to view it from a genetics p.o.v. — is:

    inbreeding = consanguineous matings (i.e. first and second cousin matings) + endogamous matings.

    endogamy is a tricky concept in anthropology ’cause it’s a bit floating (e.g. endogamy = marriage within a given group or category). i’ve said many times here on the ol’ blog that i’m thinking along the lines of third-, fourth-, fifth-cousin marriages. in other words, the people that you marry from your neighborhood who are prolly related to you but who you haven’t kept track of as relatives.

    i don’t know what the actual cut-off might be as to where endogamy might stop counting over the long run (fifth-cousins? sixth-cousins?) ’cause i haven’t done the maths (’cause i dunno how — yet).

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  8. @frank – “No word on whether the problems in Detroit are due to excessive inbreeding.”

    as i’ve already explained — to YOU specifically — the influence of mating patterns on the evolution of the innate social aptitudes of humans (which is what i am talking about on the blog here) does NOT explain everything about human behaviors. it is just ONE feature of human evolution that i (and unimportant, insignificant thinkers like bill hamilton) think ought to be taken into account when considering human biodiversity.

    as to the problems in detroit — obviously iq is a big factor there. a huge factor, in fact.

    in addition, i would guess that, yes, some of the average social behaviors exhibited by african-americans — which, just like their average iqs, they possess due to their ancestors’ evolutionary history back in africa — are probably related to the mating patterns of their ancestors and how they influenced the evolution of the average social behaviors (over the long term) in those populations.

    i’m not talking about magic here. i’m talking about the evolution by natural selection of human behavioral patterns.

    so far, i know very little about african mating patterns. some west africans certainly marry their cousins a lot. there is also a lot of endogamy in the sense of marrying within tribes or ethnic groups. and there is the polygamy which also narrows the gene pool. but, like i say, i don’t know much about african mating patterns (yet).

    Reply

  9. @anon666 – “Varying degrees of outbreeding obviously are responsible for creating the mestizo and mullato populations of Latin America, and most abstracts of genetic studies I’ve read on the subject indicate that even indigenous communities that speak indigenous languages have non-trivial European admixture. However, admixture events may have been limited in duration, depending upon the group.”

    to start, i don’t know much about latin american mating patterns yet. i’ve mostly read about europe, the muslim world and china. so, take everything i say here with a grain of salt.

    the little that i do know is this:

    1) the mayans appear to have been partial to maternal cousin marriage [opens pdf], although who knows what the rates were and for how long;
    2) mexicans in more historic times seem to have married quite locally (within the barrio);
    3) other native groups in south america certainly like to marry cousins and/or uncle-nieces (see brazil on pg. 3 here – opens pdf). another example: i’m given to understand that the yanomamo have a very endogamous mating pattern (i’m gonna read up on them soon, so i’ll let ya’ll know if that’s right or not!).

    perhaps these examples are indicative of a general pattern of close breeding over the long term in latin america. perhaps not.

    if (IF) this is correct, though, the cousin marriages weren’t really stopped by the introduction of christianity. mexicans, today, certainly avoid first cousin marriage, so they’ve (presumably) taken the church’s ban to heart. but the roman catholic church, in order to make conversion more palatable to native americans (and africans, too), gave them a big exemption from the cousin-marriage ban.

    so my guess (and this is just a guess) is that inbreeding — consanguineous and/or pretty close endogamous mating — has been the norm for latin americans up until very recently, despite the adoption of christianity by latinos. and if this was the case for a very long time, that might’ve allowed for the evolution of certain sorts of behavioral traits (since inbreeding may very well affect the evolution of such behavioral traits) that aren’t conducive to liberal democracy, low levels of corruption, etc., etc.

    then you add admixture with europeans. well, which europeans have latin americans mostly mixed with? europeans from the iberian peninsula who are some of those peripheral europeans that don’t have a long history of outbreeding. (it’s a bit of a mixed picture in spain, actually, because the northerners — esp. the north-easterners — do have somewhat of a history of outbreeding, but the southerners absolutely do not.) so if the iberians didn’t really evolve “genes for reciprocal altruism” and/or other reciprocal behaviors, they wouldn’t really have them to introduce to the latins, would they?

    over the long term, if latinos were to keep outbreeding, just like the english, you’d think they might wind up with more behavioral traits like the ones that the english have (individualism, reciprocal altruism, all that stuff). those traits would also have to be selected for, though.

    Reply

  10. hubchik
    This Albanian post is like a posterboy for all the things you’ve been saying.

    .
    Frank
    No complaints about data?

    .
    “illustrates that greying wanderer’s characterization of the balkans as “full of people who hate the people in the adjacent enclosed ancient valley” is not far off the mark.”

    I probably should have said “with a larger proportion of people who hate the people in the adjacent enclosed valley” as that’s closer to what i mean. One country might have 10% of its surface area made of enclosed feuding mountaineers and another country 90%. The mountain people / culture in both cases might be identical but the effect they have on the *average* metrics of their respective nation’s – if any – on various traits will vary markedly simply because of the arithmetic. Also in the first case the 10% mountaineers might have the lowland’s civil society imposed on them by force but in the second case that might not be possible – at least not until tanks and bombers are invented and maybe not even then.

    .
    Anon666
    “In light of your hypothesis that endogamy and the extended family model of social organization lead to a lack of loyalty to and trust in civil society (along with the associated high levels of trust and violence), I’m curious about your explanation for the crime and corruption in Latin American countries.”

    Personally i think the average level of relatedness within a population works a bit like gravity. When the ties are very strong the individual family / clan / tribal units are pulled into their own very close orbit and this continually acts against the formation and maintenance of larger scale co-operation and a wider civil society. However at the same time, if the average relatedness drops too low then the unifying effect of that gravitational pull becomes too weak also and civil society starts to fragment. I’d guess the difference between the two would be the latter would see a devolution into a more individualistic version of dog-eat-dog rather than the clannish version of dog-eat-dog.

    (In a way both inbreeding and outbreeding *too much* have the same effect i.e. reducing the average relatedness of the whole population to each other. In the clannish case it’s because the population sub-divides itself into what are effectively tiny little micro-nations. In the excessively outbred case it’s because the population drifts past some human optimum point of average relatedness to the point where they no longer cohere as a group. If so then the ideal would be a population that marries exogamously but within some kind of endogamous limit like a religious or national boundary where that limit has some optimal population number e.g. maybe around Denmark’s size.)

    There wil be a lot of other factors in South America of course, like the traits of the individual sub-components of the population and their proportions in the total, however if you accept the premise that levels of average relatedness have an effect then you can see how crucial a difference it may have been that North America was settled by people who brought women with them from the beginning.

    .
    @frank – “No word on whether the problems in Detroit are due to excessive inbreeding.”

    They’re due to people ignoring genetics.

    Reply

  11. @g.w. – “This Albanian post is like a posterboy for all the things you’ve been saying.”

    (^_^)

    i should really read/think more about the differences between the ghegs and the tosks — i mean, i should find out more about the tosks. ’cause these folks are pretty much the same people — the same ethnic group i mean — aren’t they? just with differing mating patterns between the north and south. (unless i missing something about their genetic history.) they’d make a great case study!

    Reply

  12. “they’d make a great case study!”

    Yes, it might show the differences in the average values of certain traits between ethnic groups who evolved in more or less the same part of the world are mostly differences in the *proportions* of their version of ghegs and tosks and also get at the base mechanisms why.

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  13. Frank
    No complaints about data?I

    I don’t understand the question.

    @frank – “No word on whether the problems in Detroit are due to excessive inbreeding.”

    They’re due to people ignoring genetics.

    In some sense we can say that all human problems are due to people ignoring genetics. I don’t think that’s a very useful observation to make though.

    Reply

    1. @ Frank HBD chick says “we can say that all human problems are due to people ignoring genetics. I don’t think that’s a very useful observation to make though.” Er. Um. Why do I feel like the Canadian chick on The Today Show? Anyway, excuse me but … Maybe all human problems are due to people ignoring genetics. Maybe not. I won’t take a position on that one BUT there is one genetic issue that Grey Wanderer brings up. His link to Discover Magazine I have yet to follow, (http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2008/02/why-cousin-lookin-fertile/ ) But it appears to refer to the Icelandic study I have read and have referred to. (and just possibly am ultimately responsible for.) The study shows that babies are due to consanguinity between the parents and at least for another generation back. Since babies are the source or all adults, and people are the source of all the problems people cause, then, yes, ignoring the genetics here could be the source of “all” human problems. So yes, I agree in detail if not quite in spirit. Whether this is a useful observation, again I must accept the literal truth. So long as the issue is ignored, trying to point it out is not “useful.” But I think it is still a noble effort.

      Reply

  14. “so if the iberians didn’t really evolve “genes for reciprocal altruism” and/or other reciprocal behaviors, they wouldn’t really have them to introduce to the latins, would they?”

    Has it actually been established that there is a “gene for that”? Reciprocal altruism as extended to strangers could just as easily be explained by the lack tight-knit bonds with the extended family, which is a cultural and not a genetic factor. In absence of such a bond to one’s extended family, it becomes necessary to adopt strategies for cooperation with strangers. People aren’t going to continue to be clannish with no clan, regardless of their genetic predispositions.

    Reply

  15. An alternative hypothesis might be that people feel a closer connection with those who are genetically similar, and given the existence of an outbred extended family, people will seek more connections within the broader society due to lack of options within the family.

    I’m not saying that there couldn’t possibly be an allele or group of alleles more common within the core regions of western Europe that make a person more predisposed to trust strangers. Of course it’s possible, although I haven’t seen any evidence yet.

    Reply

  16. Anon666
    “Reciprocal altruism as extended to strangers could just as easily be explained by the lack tight-knit bonds with the extended family, which is a cultural and not a genetic factor. In absence of such a bond to one’s extended family, it becomes necessary to adopt strategies for cooperation with strangers. People aren’t going to continue to be clannish with no clan, regardless of their genetic predispositions.”

    Yes, if you have populations along a sliding scale from maximally clannish to maximally outbred that creates different environments. Individuals can then react to those environments on an individual level. The question then is do those populations then culturally adapt to reinforce behaviors which work best for that environment. And the interesting question after that is do those cultural environments create selective pressures as well?

    I think they’re bound to create *some* pressure even if it’s null i.e. if clannish cultures select very strongly *against* certain traits while more outbred cultures don’t select either for or against them then you’ll get a difference between populations over time simply through randomness.

    .
    “An alternative hypothesis might be that people feel a closer connection with those who are genetically similar, and given the existence of an outbred extended family, people will seek more connections within the broader society due to lack of options within the family.”

    Yes, that’s what i call kin-gravity – people being pulled into the orbit of their family and held in place. If the kin-gravity weakens then a population will behave differently e.g. create substitute family groups with friends. Again however the question is does this create selective pressure? We know that W.E.I.R.D populations are outliers on a lot of metrics so i’d say yes even if it’s less of a selective pressure and more of an absence of the opposite selective pressures applied by clannish cultures.

    Reply

  17. Greying Wanderer over-simplifies the Balkans to an extreme and HBD Chick should verify who precisely the relatively more civil Orthodox “Albanians” are (hint: look to the people just south of Albania).

    Albania, one of the most backward societies on the planet, is hardly representative of or overly important to the wider Balkans (even taking into account the 90-10 hypothesis which has some truth to it in a few mainly Muslim areas). You have on the one hand peoples like the Serbs and Croatians with respectable lists of accomplishments (in science, art, literature, military, and sport) and then you have on the other end of the spectrum the Albanians. These are hardly related societies.

    The amount, endurance, and origins of / impetus behind the violence are misrepresented when people make these broad claims about the region.

    Most of the violence in the region is the result of two phenomenon, both of which invlove outside influences:

    1. Muslim invasions

    2. Western imperial meddling

    To understand violence in the Orthodox parts (Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece) first you must understand point #1.

    To understand violence in the Catholic parts (Croatia, parts of Bosnia) first you must understand point #2.

    All else – breeding patterns, family structures, local cultures, etc. is relevant but a minor footnote compared to the true causes of violence in the Balkans. And the Albanians themselves are largely a footnote to the broader Balkan history – a poor people who have served as nothing more than pawns for the forces behind points #1 and 2 and whose societal failings and (unlike Serbs and Croats, i.e., Orthodox and Catholic Balkans) an inability to foster civil society inbetween the wars are laregly due to their embrace of that failed cult called Islam.

    Reply

  18. I should have added more explicitly – the two phenomenon I list are but catch-alls for details that matter in understanding the violence. Simply citing Muslim invasions and western imperial meddling results in its own insufficient over-simplifcation. France and Spain were afterall invaded by Muslims (but actually completely liberated, unlike the Balkans who to this day are subjected to Turkish manipulation) and Poland and Czech Republic were certainly manipulated and occupied by some of the same western empires that have (and do) tormented the Balkans (but experienced no protracted religious confrontation involving the Vatican).

    Reply

  19. @anon666 – “Has it actually been established that there is a ‘gene for that’?”

    well, first of all, it’s almost certain that we’re not talking about one gene for any of these social behaviors/traits displayed by humans. like intelligence, we’re no doubt talking about huge complexes of genes all contributing towards these behaviors.

    and, no, it hasn’t been established that there are “genes for reciprocal altruism” — but as far as i know, there’s hasn’t been much searching for them. and even if there had been, it’s early days yet — i mean, look at all the research done on genes and intelligence and we still really don’t know much about what’s going on there.

    so, we are in the world of theory and speculation here.

    @anon666 – “Reciprocal altruism as extended to strangers could just as easily be explained by the lack tight-knit bonds with the extended family, which is a cultural and not a genetic factor.”

    maybe. but it could also be that reciprocal altruism is more common in some populations than others and that that behavior has been (or is being) selected for in those populations. i’m thinking along the lines of gregory clark’s middle class values that seem to have been selected for throughout the late medieval period in england because people with those values were more successful and left more children behind.

    alan macfarlane and clark and others have shown that individualism and nuclear families go way back in england — probably to at least 1200, but perhaps even to, say, 1000. how are you going to get on in life without the support of a big extended family? how about by forming alliances with (somewhat) unrelated neighbors? you scratch my back, i scratch yours.

    what if, then, in this “new” environment of individuals & nuclear families (vs. the more typical ones of extended families/clans/tribes), those who entered into alliances with their (somewhat) unrelated neighbors were, like clark’s middle class values people, more successful than others and were able to leave more children behind? in that scenario, i’d say that behavioral traits that enabled reciprocal altruism could’ve been selected for.

    in fact, i’d guess clark’s middle class values people and my reciprocal altruists are pretty much the same group. in medieval england, anyway.

    Reply

  20. @anonymous – “HBD Chick should verify who precisely the relatively more civil Orthodox ‘Albanians’ are (hint: look to the people just south of Albania).”

    yes. i did say that here.

    Reply

  21. @anonymous – “You have on the one hand peoples like the Serbs and Croatians with respectable lists of accomplishments (in science, art, literature, military, and sport) and then you have on the other end of the spectrum the Albanians.”

    sure, respectable lists of accomplishments. but what they have in common with the albanians (well, the serbians anyway) is an apparent inability to form civic socities. plus they seem to have a strong desire to fight like mad with other populations in the neighborhood.

    @anonymous – “Most of the violence in the region is the result of two phenomenon, both of which invlove outside influences…. All else – breeding patterns, family structures, local cultures, etc. is relevant but a minor footnote compared to the true causes of violence in the Balkans.”

    sure, history is important, but so is biology. humans are biological creatures subjected to selection pressures just like any of the other creatures on this planet. muslim invasions might go some way to explaining why it’s muslims vs. christians in that part of the world, but i find it hard to see how the invasions would’ve affected relations between clan groups within the same populations. why do the clan groups engage in blood feuds? and why is the blood feuding so similar to blood feuding in other parts of the world (arab countries, italy, medieval scotland & ireland)? what do all those groups have in common?

    Reply

  22. HBD Chick,

    Your links are hardly clear. The first one is seemingly to this same thread of discussion? My point was perhaps too nuanced: all I was leading you toward was discovering that Ghegs and Tosks aside, the Orthodox “Albanians” are in fact largely (perhaps entirely) ethnographically Greek and not Albanian. That’s all I meant by that comment.

    As to your final claim on clan feuding – on what facts are you basing this broad statement on?? No where from Serbia to Macedonia to Bulgaria to Greece has any such clan structure existed for a long time and there certainly has been no epidemic of inter-clan murder there. Serbia is one of the most heavily armed societies on the planet with one of the highest per capita private gun ownership rates around and rates of gun murder are lower – far lower – than in the US and comparable with wider Europe. Albania is unique in its clinging to clan structure and its high rate of murder that results from it.

    I am more than a bit disappointed in your smug and dismissive response as I wouldn’t have posted had I not expected more from what is often a thoughtful (and fun!) blog. Further, I would have expected an HBD enthusiast is less politically correct and less swayed by popular media cliches than your response indicates you are.

    The Serbs (as opposed to the Croats) are the mad dogs of of the Balkans, eh? I would have expected the biologist in you to have realized that numerous recent genetic studies now verify that Croats and Serbs are close – very close – genetic brothers. And IQ studies suggest virtually identical means (in the low to mid 90’s). How does the biological determinist in you square these biological and scientific findings with the wide differences you attribute the two societies?

    Do the Croats and Serbs differ in cousin marriage and clan structure or other substantive cultural factors that explain your claims? Let me be less nuanced in this post – the answer is effectively no outside of some of the highlanders of which BOTH the Croat and Serb variants exhibit similar clannish behavior. Abnd neither has anything resembling the Albanian clan structures or their associated violence.

    Your link as regards civic society was entirely uninformative in the context we are discussing and you leaned on the worst and dumbest American media prejudices in assuming the Serbs like to fight like mad with their neighbors. Which neighbors? The Croats whose communist dictator (Josip Broz Tito) violently seized Yugoslavia amidst the German-Nazi-backed Croat Ustasha WW2 chaos and redrew borders afterward to incorporate traditionally Serbian lands into Croatia such that a disintegration of Yugoslavia and secession of the communist republic Croatia was bound to lead to conflict?

    The Albanians whom the same Croat communists aided in populating the Serbian heartland of Kosovo where they proceeded to torch churches and evict the Serbs?

    Please, learn the basic geography and history of the region before making grand and incorrect conclusions. I’d expect this from the government propogandists who deny racial differences or the importance of IQ and yet smear entire nations in the Balkans to steer the political will – but I’d expect more from you.

    The most recent Balkan blood-letting of the 1990s had at its core the same combination of causes that WW2 violence had: Muslim and Euro-imperial meddling. The Croats egged on by the German countries. The Serbs by the Russians. The Bosnian Muslims by the Turks and Saudis. The Albanians by the Americans.

    Local clan structure while influential in the blood-letting (particularly wherever the Albanians were) is entirely insufficient to explain it and secondary at best as regards the past century’s fighting in the region. It’s too much to go into here but if you really cared it’s not too difficult to ascertain the facts I am mentioning.

    I am not saying you don’t make any valid points but I am saying you over-generalize too much on this particular topic and are ignoring folks that know a thing or two about it. Just for the record, I have travelled the Balkans from the Slovenian alps to the Bulgarian Black Sea coast to the Aegean and speak three of the local languages. I may not be an expert and I ackonwledge being swayed by ethnic ties to two of the ex-Yugoslav nations, but I believe I do know a thing or two about that peninsula and am arguing here with facts to dispell the generalizations which are way off base.

    Reply

  23. @anonymous – “Your links are hardly clear. The first one is seemingly to this same thread of discussion? My point was perhaps too nuanced: all I was leading you toward was discovering that Ghegs and Tosks aside, the Orthodox “Albanians” are in fact largely (perhaps entirely) ethnographically Greek and not Albanian. That’s all I meant by that comment.”

    hi, anonymous! yes, i realized what you were driving at, and the reason i pointed back to that comment of mine (this one) was because i had said:

    “’cause these folks are pretty much the same people — the same ethnic group i mean — aren’t they? just with differing mating patterns between the north and south. (unless i missing something about their genetic history.)”

    maybe that was too cryptic on my part, but what i was getting at is, like you suggested, maybe the ghegs and tosks are not the same people and, therefore, the albanians wouldn’t make a good case study for my idea.

    @anonymous – “As to your final claim on clan feuding – on what facts are you basing this broad statement on??”

    i was referring to the ablanians. i think it’s pretty clear that the albanians feud along clan lines.

    @anonymous – “I am more than a bit disappointed in your smug and dismissive response….”

    i am sorry that you were disappointed. i didn’t intend my comments to be smug or dismissive.

    @anonymous – “The Serbs (as opposed to the Croats) are the mad dogs of of the Balkans, eh?”

    i never, ever said — or even suggested — that the serbs are the mad dogs of the balkans as opposed to the croats or any other group in the balkans.

    @anonymous – “the answer is effectively no outside of some of the highlanders of which BOTH the Croat and Serb variants exhibit similar clannish behavior.”

    well, that’s interesting! i’ll have to read up more on all the highlanders vs. lowlanders in the balkans to see what their mating patterns are/have historically been.

    @anonymous – “Your link as regards civic society was entirely uninformative in the context we are discussing….”

    it’s not uninformative if you’ve been following the blog for a while. if you haven’t, then yes — you might’ve been a bit lost. sorry about that. my point is, when groups inbreed a lot over the long-term, they get very clannish/tribal in their behaviors (that’s the theory, anyway) and then they don’t manage to cooperate with unrelated groups — in all sorts of ways — from being able to have a functioning democracy to corruption levels to forming a civic society and, now i think we see, to feuding.

    the balkans — i mean, goodness. they gave us the word balkanization! i am aware of the historic reasons for balkanization, but i think one of the reasons that the ottomans were able to play these different groups off one another was because of their mating patterns. the historic mating patterns of the balkan population were not conducive to the formation of large groups which could stand up to the ottomans collectively (standard problem with being tribal — think of the britons trying to fight off the romans or the irish or scots facing the anglo-normans).

    there is a broad pattern across the balkans — across eastern europe, in fact — of long-term endogamous mating patterns and even strong cousin-marriage patterns which has led to different degrees of clannishness in the different populations. the albanians — the ghegs, anyway — are maybe some of the most clannish (although you mentioned upland serbs and croats, too) — but there still is a broad pattern of uncooperativeness between groups in the balkans. thus my link to my civic societies post.

    @anonymous – “Local clan structure while influential in the blood-letting (particularly wherever the Albanians were) is entirely insufficient to explain it and secondary at best as regards the past century’s fighting in the region.”

    i never said it could.

    @anonymous – “Just for the record, I have travelled the Balkans from the Slovenian alps to the Bulgarian Black Sea coast to the Aegean and speak three of the local languages.”

    i’ve been to the balkans, too.

    Reply

  24. “Greying Wanderer over-simplifies the Balkans to an extreme”

    True. I was trying to stress the point that people see national average IQs as a flat national average however if there are distinct variations for example between rural / mountainous / pastoralist regions vs urbanized regions then variations along the same line of latitude or between two very similar adjacent countries might simply be variations in the *proportions* of those regions.

    .
    “Has it actually been established that there is a ‘gene for that’?”

    Also it could be the other round i.e. genes for “distrust” being selected against (or not being selected for) which i guess would display as stress responses to being around strangers?

    .
    “Further, I would have expected an HBD enthusiast is less politically correct and less swayed by popular media cliches than your response indicates you are.”

    Speaking personally there probably is an element where the word “balkanized” itself carries over into perceptions of the present. However…

    .
    “How does the biological determinist in you square these biological and scientific findings with the wide differences you attribute the two societies?”

    I think the basic idea is

    – most human populations were clannish in the past
    – the form that clannishness takes follows similar patterns
    – some of the differences between modern societies are related to how recently (if at all) populations shifted from that form (since industrialization in most cases)
    – some of the differences within modern societies are related to some parts of that country (fertile high pop. density regions?) shifting earlier than others (low pop. density upland or pastoral regions?) which can feed back into national *average* differences if there is wide variation in the proportions of such regions within different countries

    so most of this stuff will happen with a time-lag (because even if it was 100% mendellian the process isn’t happening to the whole population at once). For example say for the sake of argument Turkish occupation delayed industrialization in one of two adjacent countries by 50 years but after that the rate at which regions of those two countries begin the ruralized to urbanized shift follows the same pattern then even if the two countries were otherwise identical in every other way you’d see gaps between the two populations on various metrics which gradually taper off as the early start country hits diminishing returns and the late-start country catchs up.

    .
    “Serbia is one of the most heavily armed societies on the planet with one of the highest per capita private gun ownership rates around and rates of gun murder are lower – far lower – than in the US and comparable with wider Europe.”

    A bit like the Scots-Irish in Apallachia.

    Reply

  25. Fascinating info. on the Albanians.

    There are seven or eight fis in the village, and we are in competition with each other to be the best one. When one of us makes a mistake or commits a crime, the entire fis is humiliated and its reputation is hurt….

    This comes up often in literature on clannish peoples, especially (but not only) Muslims. It almost seems the clan functions as one person–a body with different parts, and if one part is hurt the whole thing suffers. I wonder if that is an effect of inbreeding, and if MBD or FBD makes a difference here. Am I wrong, or does it seem that honor killings are very often the doings of FBD-bred groups?

    Personally i think the average level of relatedness within a population works a bit like gravity.

    What an apt comparison. It seems there is a ‘sweet spot’, as far as societal outcomes go, between too inbred and too outbred. I know long-term exogamy isn’t the only factor at work, but it is still striking to watch NW Euros today lay down and let millions of hostile strangers waltz in and take over their lands. Has history ever seen such a thing?

    Reply

  26. @m.g. – “Has history ever seen such a thing?”

    rome?:

    “[I]n the later Roman Empire frontiers became softer and immigration control more lax at the same time as citizenship and ethnic distinctions within the Empire were becoming blurred. The universal grant of citizenship by the Constitutio Antoniniana of 212 AD was only a formal recognition by the state of a long process that had diminished the concept of citizenship and eroded the distinction between cives and peregrini in the provinces. By the fourth century status and wealth counted for more socially and legally than citizenship….

    “To sum up, far from the homogenization of what the Constitutio Antoniniana called the patria communis, that is, the population of the Roman community, internal, social divisions became stronger. Ironically, however, the refinements of status distinctions and social divisions served as a more effective vehicle than any legal measure to allow immigrants to integrate at all levels. What mattered was not whether you were a citizen but whether you could attain equal social or economic status. In this respect, the Roman Empire of the fourth century was the reverse image of the nation-state in the nineteenth century. The juridical personality of the citizen was almost eliminated as frontier controls relaxed and as immigrants were accomodated in ever greater numbers….

    “Immigrants provided substitutes for rural recruits, thus leaving agricultural workers on the land to increase state revenue, since they increased the capitation tax and added extra income through the system of adaeratio, which bought them exemption from the military levy. There clearly were concerns in the imperial chancellery for the tax regime and for the rents from imperial estates, which was reflected in contemporary legislation….

    “These fiscal and economic benefits to rural production coincide with the concern expressed by the Gallic panegyricists about agri deserti and high taxes, and hence their praise for ‘so many farmers in the Roman countryside’, both as immigrants and as returning prisoners…. The essential point, however, is that … immigrants were officially perceived as good for the economy by bringing down the price of food and by servicing local markets through increased production.

    “Whether the peasants of the Gallic countryside felt the same pleasure at the fall in market prices is another matter, and it may have provoked resentment. If modern experience is any guide, there is a sharp difference between economists, who calculate that immigrants are essential to economic growth, and popular opinion, which always believes that immigrants are undesirable because they depress the labor market. But there is no evidence to show that there was institutional, social discrimination against foreign-born workers, once settled inside the Roman Empire….”

    the author also refers to (pg. 212):

    “The long history, since Augustus, of frontiers open to foreign migrants, and the even longer history of liberal access to citizenship and Romanization….”

    nihil novi sub sole, eh?

    quote from pgs. 205-212 in Rome and its Frontiers: The Dynamics of Empire – which is a hopelessly politically correct book, btw. *roll eyes* still, some good info can often be gleaned from bad sources!

    Reply

  27. @m.g. – “It almost seems the clan functions as one person–a body with different parts, and if one part is hurt the whole thing suffers.”

    yes! i was thinking that, too. i was thinking something along the lines of how the concept of “individual” shifts from (i think) one individual person in outbred societies to one individual extended family/clan/tribe in inbred socities. at least morally. and, it seems, often legally.

    Reply

  28. @m.g. – “Am I wrong, or does it seem that honor killings are very often the doings of FBD-bred groups?”

    there are some honor killings in india and i don’t think (although i’m not 100% sure) that indians are really into fbd marriage. i think they have more of a history of maternal cousin marriage.

    but my impression is that, yes, the rates of honor killings are much higher in fbd societies. there’s something about that mating pattern that seems to be an accelerant for the practice.

    Reply

  29. quote from pgs. 205-212 in Rome and its Frontiers: The Dynamics of Empire

    Thank you for this reference! I had not realized the extent of Roman welcoming of foreign workers in their lands. (and yes, wading through PC nonsense is often the price to pay to get some good information, c’est la vie…)

    Reply

  30. “I had not realized the extent of Roman welcoming of foreign workers in their lands.”

    In Italy itself it was initially via slavery. The Optimates vs Populares conflict that led to Caesar’s assassination revolved around that conflict with the rich being in favor and the rest of the original Roman citizens being against.

    Obviously the provinces outside Italy lost their ability to control their own borders after conquest and had to rely instead on Roman central authority – which was in the hands of the descendents of the Optimates. It’s a bit like the individual Euro states and the EU or the US states and the Federal government – a small minority of Optimates betraying the majority Populares for personal profit. Eventually the lack of cohesion leads to disintegration – which is where we are headed imo.

    History repeating itself – again.

    Reply

    1. #Greying Wanderer “It’s a bit like the individual Euro states and the EU or the US states and the Federal government – a small minority of Optimates betraying the majority Populares for personal profit. Eventually the lack of cohesion leads to disintegration – which is where we are headed imo. History repeating itself – again.” Hear! Hear! And there is also, pardom my intrusion, a fertility issue. Urban populations, inherently diverse, have a lower fertility. I infer a cause and effect relationship which perhaps none buy into, but things like your Discovery artilce (mea culpa I have not yet read, but I read the original study) suggest it’s true. Infertility of the senators is well known. It had to be true of the poorer people as well. Add infertility to lack of cohesion and everything else you say plays out and more so.

      Reply

  31. @g.w. – “…a small minority of Optimates betraying the majority Populares for personal profit.”

    boy, does that ever sound familiar. =/ i’m gonna start calling tptb that: the optimates!

    @g.w. – “Eventually the lack of cohesion leads to disintegration – which is where we are headed imo. History repeating itself – again.”

    it’s so depressing. =/ and here i thought we were supposed to be the clever species.

    Reply

  32. @linton – “And there is also, pardom my intrusion, a fertility issue.”

    weren’t the romans worried about fertility issues, too, at some point? augustus caesar — he issued some dictates encouraging romans (esp. v.i.p. romans) to make babies, didn’t he?

    Reply

    1. @hbd chick “augustus caesar — he issued some dictates encouraging romans (esp. v.i.p. romans) to make babies, didn’t he?” Absolutely. I heard about that years ago and finally ran down a reference. I had thought I had put it on my own blog nobabies.net but cannot find it now. It took me less time to lose it that it had taken to find it the first time. If I can find it I shall surely let you know.

      Reply

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