a sense of entitlement

i posted this before, but i want to post it again. it’s about modern rural egypt which is very tribal:

Development and Social Change in Rural Egypt (1986), pgs. 150-51:

“The importance that poor peasants attach to the brokerage services by a single wealthy patron can be seen in the continuing importance of the extended family unit in rural Egypt. In the village of El-Diblah [pseudonymous village representative of upper egypt], as well as other Egyptian communities, politics and much of life itself are organized on the basis of large, extended families numbering 500 members or more. These extended families are broad patrilineal structures, which may or may not be able to trace themselves back to a single historical founder. While these extended families do not represent monolithic social structures, most fellahin are animated by a real feeling of belonging to a particular extended family unit. When they need a loan or help with outside government officials, poor peasants will often turn to the leader or a prominent person within their extended family. In the village of El-Diblah three of the four leading extended families are headed by rich peasants. In the eyes of most fellahin, this is exactly as it should be. In the countryside wealth acquired by virtually any means provides a good indication of an individual’s ability to deal with (or against) the ouside world.

‘Zaghlul,’ for example, is the rich peasant head of one of the leading extended families in El-Diblah. A short, wiry 55-year-old fellah, whose dress and mannerisms are almost indistinguishable from those of other peasants in the village, Zaghlul now owns about 25 feddans of land. Much of this land is planted in sugar cane, a crop that he uses to supply his own cane press that produces black molasses for local sale. As the owner of 25 feddans of land, and the proprietor of one of the few ‘manufacturing’ enterprises in the village, Zaghlul is able to dispense a wide number of agricultural and non-agricultrual work opportunities to favored members of his extended family. Many of the poorer members of his extended family live in a mud-brick settlement surrounding Zaghlul’s modern two-story, red-brick house. In the evenings a steady stream of these poor people come to Zaghlul’s house, seeking brokerage and intercessionary services (for example, help in securing agricultural inputs and medical services from the government)….”

and now here’s something about modern rural china which is very clannish:

Rural China: Economic And Social Change In The Late Twentieth Century, pg. 235:

“Private entrepreneurs are not generally unpopular in villages and peasants do not dislike and envy them everywhere. They attempt to hide their wealth and feel that they are politically without much influence…. Normally, however, private entrepreneurs are integrated in rural communities by guanxi and family relationships, particularly where functioning clans exist. Preconditions for this integration are that they do not use their financial power against the community but for its profit and that their immediate social neighborhood shares in their wealth. Certainly, they take great care not to show off, as they want to protect themselves against being asked for donations by offices or individuals, against acts of envy and revenge by poor, unsuccessful families, and against criminality….

When private entrepreneurs let the community share in their wealth, their prestige grows and official as well as individual envy decreases. Such obligations are nothing new. It is tradition in peasant societies that there are customary obligations vis-a-vis village communities. It is expected that wealthy village residents and clan members share part of their means with members of these groups or with the entire village and support them in case of need. This moral tradition, called by Scott the ‘moral economy of the peasants,’ is still alive.

The Moral Economy of the Peasant. not available on google books. d*mn!

what these two clannish/tribal groups above appear to have in common — at least one thing anyway — is that those on the lower rungs of the clan/tribe feel that they are entitled to receive assistance from those on the higher rungs of the clan/tribe.

i mentioned this before wrt intelligence. if this is a typical pattern of clannish/tribal societies, then perhaps this brings down, or holds down, the average iqs of such population since the not-so-smart are helped along to have a successful life (including reproducing) by the smarter members of their extended families. it’s certainly the opposite sort of pattern outlined by gregory clark in A Farewell to Alms in which self-reliant individuals and their nuclear families had to make it on their own using all those middle-class values.

but what about a sense of entitlement being selected for? imagine that the pattern of clever clansmen aiding not-so-clever clansmen goes on for many, many generations. and imagine that, in addition to the clever clansmen, those not-so-clever clansmen who asked for/expected help from above the most were the most successful in reproducing. you’d think that it wouldn’t take that long for feelings of entitlement to be pretty common in the population.

which populations out there seem to have the strongest senses of entitlement? which don’t? how about which ethnic groups in america do/don’t? i’m sure the awesome epigone and/or the inductivist have a relevant post or two, but i can’t recall any off the top of my head right now.

*update 08/14: see also a sense of entitlement ii

(note: comments do not require an email. why hello there!)


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