more on the origins of guilt in northwestern european populations

in a previous post — the transition from shame to guilt in anglo-saxon england (and “core” europe) — i responded to a post by peter frost in which he argued that sentiments of guilt vs. shame in nw european populations, in particular anglo-saxon (i.e. english) society, go back to at least pre-christian anglo-saxon days. my response was that i think that’s unlikely — there’s no good evidence that feelings of guilt motivated the pre-christian anglo-saxons — and rather that innate feelings of guilt were selected for after the anglo-saxons (and other nw europeans) converted to christianity, and primarily because they quit marrying close relatives which triggered a whole chain of selection processes (if that’s the right way to put it).

peter wrote a part ii to his guilt vs. shame post — Origins of Northwest European guilt culture. Part II (go read it if you haven’t already!) — and this post is a response to that.
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in part ii, peter makes the argument that guilt in nw european populations goes way back to before the arrival of neolithic peoples in the region, and that the fact that there were large-sized, rather complex, semi-sedentary hunter-gatherer (fisher) populations in scandinavia and the baltic area meant that lots of non-kin individuals would’ve interacted with each other and, therefore, feelings of guilt could’ve arisen (read his post if you didn’t follow that — read it in any case, ’cause it is an interesting post!).

unfortunately, he doesn’t offer any evidence for a guilt culture existing in these societies. as far as i can tell, he just sorta assumes it:

“When did this guilt culture emerge? Historians usually link it to the rise of Protestantism, the expansion of the market economy, and the emancipation of the individual from the kin group, all of which happened — or are said to have happened — over the last thousand years. Yet there is compelling evidence for an earlier time frame. At the dawn of history, the peoples along the North Sea and the Baltic already had relatively loose kinship ties, a tendency toward prolonged celibacy, and a high level of circulation of non-kin individuals between households.

where is the evidence for these loose kinship ties, tendency toward prolonged celibacy, and high level of circulation of non-kin individuals between households? he does offer evidence for increased complexity in northern european mesolithic societies, but nothing about the kinship ties/celibacy/circulation of non-kin (unless i missed something -?-).

peter also presents the argument that, since the advance of the neolithic farmers stopped at the edges of where these mesolithic hunter-gatherers in scandinavia/the baltic region lived, that somehow the mesolithic hunter-gatherers were able to stop that advance by some collective action. possibly — but that doesn’t mean they had a guilt-based culture. and, anyway, the advance of neolithic peoples northwards and eastwards in europe seems to have stalled on more than one occasion, like in southeastern europe [pg. 34]:

“As had happened earlier in Greece, the expansion of farming communities into southeastern Europe went only so far and then stopped. The initial phase of rapid, long-distance colonizing movements was followed by consolidation. A frontier was established in Hungary south of Lake Balaton that persisted for at least five hundred years, about 6100-5600 BC…. When another wave of colonizing migrations began about 5600-5500 BC, carrying the farming and stockbreeding way of life over the Carpathians and into Poland, Germany, and France, the villages of southeastern Europe were already old and well established, and had a history of interconnection.”
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the reality of it is, late iron age/late antiquity/pre-christian northwestern european societies were not guilt-based. of the regions peter mentioned, the scandinavians were busy feuding between clans (their ætts) just like all the other germanic (and celtic) clans and tribes of pre-christian europe (stay tuned in the coming weeks for more on the scandis!). and the baltic populations — well, h*ll, they’re STILL barely guilt-based today (they’ve got the highest homicide rates in europe, some of the highest corruption levels, etc., etc.) — probably because the avoidance of close cousin marriage came really late to the baltic region. if mesolithic northern european societies had been guilt-based (and there’s not much evidence that they were), that guilt was long gone by the iron age.

again, peter said:

When did this guilt culture emerge? Historians usually link it to the rise of Protestantism, the expansion of the market economy, and the emancipation of the individual from the kin group, all of which happened — or are said to have happened — over the last thousand years.

the historians are right — or they are sorta right. northwestern (my “core”) european guilt culture emerged not because of the rise of protestantism — that was just the flowering of it — but, rather, had its roots several centuries before that in the early medieval period (see previous post).

the center of the guilt culture in northwestern europe — the core region which (historically anyway) has been characterized by the least corruption, the highest levels of trust, liberal democracy, free societies, low levels of internal violence, high levels of human accomplishment, the invention of capitalism, the advancement of science, the development of the ideas and ideals of the enlightenment, and pretty much everything else we call western civilization today — is the core where The Outbreeding Project began the earliest in europe. here is that core encircled (roughly) in green right here on this map for you (quite possibly denmark and parts of northern italy should be included, too — i’ll keep you posted on that) — the hajnal line represents the outer limits of The Outbreeding Project and the rise of western europe’s guilt culture:

hajnal line - core europe

see these previous posts — mating patterns of the medieval franks and going dutch — for more about the history of mating patterns/The Outbreeding Project in this core region.

we are in The 10,000 Year Explosion territory here. in fact, we are more in the neighborhood of “Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence.” human evolution did not slow down or stop since the rise of culture and civilization — our natures of today were not wholly shaped in the paleolithic — human evolution has, in fact, sped up since the agricultural revolution. and, with strong enough selective pressures, human evolution can happen in ca. 40-50 generations. this is what we’ve got in core europe since the early medieval: ca. 48-52 generations, counting generations at a conservative 25 years in length.

no, i haven’t proven either that the medieval Outbreeding Project in europe led to the guilt culture of northwest europeans (it’s just a theory!), but the circumstantial evidence for the presence of a guilt culture (lack of corruption, low internal violence, etc.) does seem to match the boundaries of The Outbreeding Project awfully well. (^_^)
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p.s. – here’s something that i wrote to someone in an email recently that sums the situation up:

“The connection here, I believe, is in length of time spent outbreeding — and there is also a connection between length of time outbreeding and the Hajnal line. Michael Mitterauer examined and explained this latter connection in chapters two and three of his Why Europe? (I HIGHLY recommend reading the book): during the medieval period, the economy of most of the region that falls within the Hajnal Line was based upon manorialism, and this manor system ‘pushed’ for both outbreeding and late marriage (the late marriage part was Hajnal’s discovery). It also ‘pushed’ for nuclear families.

“The idea of avoiding cousin marriage in Europe was, indeed, one first proposed by the Roman Catholic church, but it really became important — and was implemented to its fullest extent — under the manor system. This is why the range of outbreeding coincides almost perfectly with the Hajnal line: with the expansion of the manor system eastwards across the continent during the medieval period, ideas about cousin marriage — and, indeed, all sorts of Roman Catholic practices — went with it. That expansion stopped in the east when it ran up against the wall of Slavs and vast forests. (This is all covered by Mitterauer.)

“Manorialism also failed to reach all sorts of other areas in Europe where the heavy plow and large agricultural fieds were not practical: the mountainous regions of Italy and Greece, for instance….

“[O]n the whole, yes, Eastern Europeans converted to Christianity quite a bit later than many of the groups in Western Europe. The Russians converted in the late-900s, which is just so very different from the Franks who converted around 500 a.d. That’s a four hundred year delay in any possible implementation of any cousin marriage bans amongst the Kievan Rus vs. the Franks! Complete conversion of the entire populations and the implementation of cousin marriage bans would also have taken time, of course — for instance, I showed in a recent post that, although the Catholic Church banned cousin marriage in the early 500s, the practice of avoiding cousin marriage probably didn’t fully take hold amongst the Franks until the 700-800s. I would imagine that there were similar delays, too, in Eastern Europe — and, in fact, in one post I quoted some evidence that there may have been quite a bit of ‘flip-flopping’ in Russia when it came to enforcing the cousin marriage bans during the medieval period. Again, this is likely due to the fact that the manor system was not in place in Eastern Europe and, so, it just wasn’t considered as necessary to enforce the cousin marriage bans and/or the infrastructure just wasn’t there to properly implement enforcement.

“A curious area of Europe — which I plan on looking into next on the blog — is Scandinavia. They converted to Christianity comparatively late (ca. 1000 a.d.), however, at least in Sweden, they enforced the cousin marriage bans for longer than other Protestant nations. Most of the Protestant nations dropped the cousin marriage bans around the time of the Reformation, but the Lutheran church in Sweden kept prohibiting cousin marriage until the mid-1800s! Oddly, too, cousin marriage doesn’t really seem to have increased much in the Protestant nations after the Reformation — I suppose social norms meant that people just continued to mostly avoid marrying their close cousins. Old habits die hard. (~_^)”

previously: the transition from shame to guilt in anglo-saxon england (and “core” europe)

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

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24 Comments

  1. “Counting generations at a conservative 25 years in length” – why is this conservative? If this is your estimate of mean maternal age of the whole population it feels a bit low given age at marriage (for each sex) and subsequent fertile period of at least a decade for women and much more than that for men. Are you sure you’re not looking at only the mothers’ ages and only when having their first babies?

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  2. @r321 – “why is this conservative?”

    iirc, teh anthropologists, etc., usually reckon generations at 20 years. i thought i’d up that a bit given the later age of marriage for western europeans which probably started in the high middle ages (it wasn’t the case in the early medieval period). it was really just a cocktail napkin calculation on my part. even if we call it 30 years, tho, we still have ~40-43 generations to work with from the early medieval period to now.

    my point is it’s not just ten generations we’re talking about here. it’s time enough for something to have happened, evolutionarily speaking.

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  3. Most interesting. My own hunch is based on the fact that there is evidence that Homo erectus was capable of open ocean travel a million years ago. You don’t take on the sea (sucessfully) unless you know that there is such a thing as getting it right and getting it wrong. So guilt and shame must have been around at that time. Sure we obsess with our guilt. The Victorians were obsessed with sex. That doesn’t mean they invented it.
    Just a personal feel for it. Don’t mean to detract from the debate.

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  4. hbd chick , is it possible that the reason the regions noted for having low levels of internal violence have this distinction because they mastered the art of exporting it?. A from of outward projection of internal issues in line with Wilhelm Reich’s theories maybe?. While I’m very aware of the negative aspects of clannishness in Ireland as I’m a native who lives in Ireland the ‘full has never been told’ as they say in relation to Irish history. No race is flawless but the level of sophistication in ancient Irish culture is generally not broadcast in the same way as other cultures for some reason. Yes we are pretty homogenous to a certain extent but can it really be said that it’s because of a self imposed social order or an adaption to harsh circumstances?. With so much manufactured strife on the island and the pitting of clans against each other by clandestine forces who exactly were the native Irish supposed to outbreed with?.

    I’m not a scientist but do you know for sure that the genetic studies you quoted really prove such a high level of cousin mating?.

    Of late there also seems to be a strange undercurrent of anti-Irish sentiment among certain quarters in Europe. It’s not unusual for us to have to defend ourselves against ill informed opinions from Europeans in relation to the current state of our country. Do you like Irish people in general hpd chick?.

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  5. Let assume that the correlation of your core europe and outbreeding with guilt culture stands: how do you propose guilt to emerge from outbreeding?
    I mean, one can at least come up with explanations for altruistic behaviour to be extended towards not (immediate) kin if people start to outbreed. But to have a similar transition to guilt [assuming a similar process is in action for both altruism and guilt] we would need feelings of guilt in case of wrongdoings against close relatives to be present in clannish people as well. Is there any evidence for that? – I do not think so but I really do not have much information about the inner workings clannish people so….
    Also I might not even understand guilt. Is there a difference between guilt (the feeling) and remorse?

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  6. Hi, cool blog :-)

    @ Your question about early sexual restraint around North Sea. Tacitus said in “Germania” that the Germanii in Roman times tended to be monogamous, that adultery was rare among them, and that women ruled in our tribe (the Sitones). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germania_%28book%29

    @ Core Europeans. If there was anything like that, they might have been like EEF (see Laziridis), which is the one of two unifying factors in Europe (EEF and WHG). If the medieval Franks were relatively open to learning and intelligent people, then they would have been a good place for a more open society (i.e., more “European” and less parochial) to be cultivated.

    Smart/skilled people would move there and influence the society for the better. Some of them might have been descended from the educated classes of Rome (thus, any medieval evolution was continuing something already underway). I doubt very much that they were the muscle behind the barbarian invasions, although some of them might have lived in the northern areas.

    Names change, kingdoms rise and fall, but good societies take care of the salt of the earth that act as positive role models and help everyone flourish (even if others are jealous of them at times).

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  7. Correction to my post: “our tribe (the Sitones)” should read “one tribe (the Sitones)”

    Strange but amusing typo on my part. Cheers.

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  8. If the kindred marriage model does have any connection to the development of guilt vs shame then I think the place to look for it would be among other groups which also had/have the kindred marriage model as as far as I can tell that model isn’t unique to Europe. I’d assume (me assuming again) the kindred model happens when a large enough but still small group of people collectively share a food-getting resource so that inheritance is via membership of the kindred rather than familial inheritance e.g. fishing populations and/or slash and burn farmers.

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  9. @murphy – “is it possible that the reason the regions noted for having low levels of internal violence have this distinction because they mastered the art of exporting it?”

    i think it’s probably the other way around: that once some societies quit fighting internally — lost their clannishness and, thus, quit fighting between clans, etc. — then they were able to organize as a very large group (a nation) and were able to direct any fighting tendencies towards the outside world. this is greying wanderer’s idea, btw — i’m just stealing it (’cause i think he’s probably correct). (^_^)

    @murphy – “With so much manufactured strife on the island and the pitting of clans against each other by clandestine forces who exactly were the native Irish supposed to outbreed with?”

    the idea of outbreeding is to avoid close cousin marriage (over the long term), not to outbreed with people from other populations.

    @murphy – “I’m not a scientist but do you know for sure that the genetic studies you quoted really prove such a high level of cousin mating?”

    i’m not a scientist either, but i think that i’ve now compiled a LOT of historical data on the history of mating patterns in ireland vs. other areas of europe (see the posts on ireland in the left-hand column below under “mating patterns in europe series”), and i’ve posted a little genetic evidence, too, which indicates a history of more close matings in ireland compared to, say, the english. further work needs to be done on the history of mating patterns in ireland, though — i’m missing the story of what happened between ca. the 1500s and 1800s. (bit annoying that.)

    having said that…

    @murphy – “While I’m very aware of the negative aspects of clannishness in Ireland….”

    in my reckoning, the irish are probably middling-clannish these days: they got started on outbreeding relatively late — sometime after the 1500s — but they have been outbreeding (unlike, say, the arabs), so some changes have probably happened. the irish today show some signs of clannishness — bit of corruption (you’re one of the piigs, after all), clientelism — but you’re not at all as clannish as the pre-christian irish, of course! or the greeks or sicilians or arabs of today.

    @murphy – “Do you like Irish people in general hpd chick?”

    i got nothing against irish people. (^_^) guinness was a great idea, btw! (~_^)

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  10. @nador – “how do you propose guilt to emerge from outbreeding?”

    in an indirect sort-of way.

    lots of outbreeding just alters the social environment (from extended family/clan based to more individual/nuclear family based) which results in different sorts of selection pressures for different sorts of behaviors.

    i described it in a previous post as a two-staged rocket:

    “- FIRST you have either inbreeding or outbreeding (or any range in between those), and these mating patterns either focus or disperse ‘genes for altruism’ … within extended family groups, which….

    “- THEN sets the stage for creating different selection pressures in that different social environments are created (egs. nuclear families, extended families, clans, larger tribes). it’s HERE in this second stage where the behaviors — either clannish or not (or any range in between those!) — are selected for (or can be selected for).”

    different long-term mating patterns produce different selection pressures. or something like that. i think. (~_^)

    @nador – “Is there a difference between guilt (the feeling) and remorse?”

    good question! i don’t know, either. i’ve got some guilt/shame reading lined up for myself, and i plan on doing more posts on the topic (it’s interesting!) — i’ll try to check into remorse, too, while i’m at it.

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  11. @galus – “Tacitus said in ‘Germania’….”

    tacitus is great, but you have to take what he said about the germans with a grain of salt — 1) he never went to germania, so he’s relying on secondary sources; and 2) he was using the example of the germans to preach to the romans — to get them (the romans) to behave better — so he may have exaggerated some (or all) features of germanic behavior.

    @galus – “Some of them might have been descended from the educated classes of Rome….”

    some of the franks, themselves, were definitely gallo-roman. when the franks first moved into gaul and took over, the frankish kings and princes tended to marry gaulish women. and in the early days of the frankish kingdom, most of the bishops and clergy were gallo-roman.

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  12. @grey – “If the kindred marriage model does have any connection to the development of guilt vs shame then I think the place to look for it would be among other groups which also had/have the kindred marriage model as as far as I can tell that model isn’t unique to Europe.”

    yeah, good idea! the bamileke of cameroon? the igbo of nigeria? the semai?

    i’ve got some references for cross-cultural studies on guilt/shame that will hopefully provide some clues. (^_^)

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  13. @Nador

    “But to have a similar transition to guilt [assuming a similar process is in action for both altruism and guilt] we would need feelings of guilt in case of wrongdoings against close relatives to be present in clannish people as well. Is there any evidence for that?”

    Interesting thought.

    If the guilt-shame idea is correct my take would be feelings of guilt towards non-kin is a genetic mistake that exists in low frequencies in most populations that just happened to be beneficial in a particular cultural environment and so expanded.

    .

    “Also I might not even understand guilt. Is there a difference between guilt (the feeling) and remorse?”

    Guilt will be a chemical that gets released by certain triggers – same chemical as remorse? Dunno. As guilt can trigger *before* you do a thing and stop you doing it then it can’t be remorse or maybe it can – remorse in advance?

    Interesting thoughts.

    .

    @hubchik

    “this is greying wanderer’s idea, btw”

    open source :)

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  14. @hubchik

    “yeah, good idea! the bamileke of cameroon? the igbo of nigeria? the semai?”

    I don’t know about the other two but yeah I was wondering about the Semai and some of those small Polynesian islander fishing tribes you blogged about a long way back.

    I doubt it will as I think kindred scale populations are small enough for everyone in them to still be very closely related – but at an average of say all 3rd-4th cousins rather than a clannish 2nd-3rd – but if there’s even a *glimmer* of a difference in guilt-shame among kindred populations then that actually reinforces your point.

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  15. A big problem with guilt-shame culture clashes is that Guilt (G) people might really internalize the moral scolding (negative feedback from others) in the form of a moral code. This moral code becomes independent of circumstances and thus universalistic (applying equally and absolutely to all people in all situations – like Kant’s categorial imperative).

    Shame (S) people might be much more ad-hoc, since their sense of right and wrong is circumstantial and based on circumstantial reactions of others. Shame people might lack a real moral code that applies equally to themselves and to others. They would rely only on in-the-moment emotional language to determine “right from wrong.”

    For S people, if a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, it didn’t happen. What you don’t know about can’t hurt you. For G, it matters whether or not anyone knows.

    This also leads to a situation where S people can exploit G people, by finding ways to socially reshape the emotional/moral meaning of acts depending on who does them, since morality is a type of expressive social theater for them. S can make a ruckus about immorality of G people, which G people internalize and actually try to enforce on themselves. Meanwhile S don’t apply to same rules to themselves and don’t have any internal sense of guilt, so long as the social “shame theater” can be avoided or manipulated.

    The difference becomes more clear here. G morality has an emotional component, but also has a strong intellectual component (the sense of Law or Universal Morality – a la Kant’s Categorial Imperative). S morality is emotional and kinesthetic (based on social acts) and can avoid intellectual principles that must apply to everyone.

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  16. Yes HBD chick we are one of the ‘piig’ nations and what a disgusting term it is , even though the crisis in our country is partly caused by a corrupt element of our own government ( advised by an ever dodgier element in the high levels of the civil service ) there is a definite agenda amongst the ruling class in the EU to transfer wealth. Things are going to kick off in Europe pretty soon , people who bit the bullet and resigned to accepting five years or so of austerity for re-adjustment as they call it have realised to their horror that the elite want to maintain it as a permanent fixture. What does the ordinary person do? , knuckle down , vent spleen , emigrate. There are however glimmers of hope that people are breaking out of apathy and at least trying to form grassroots resistance.

    There were recent cases of our job centres sending out brochures for Australia and Canada with documents for training courses and social welfare applications.

    Like other countries historically the working people have had to adopt a reluctant capitulance to an upper class to supply work , keeping sweet with the people in the ‘big house’ and not upsetting the apple cart too much. There has been and there is an overwhelming sense of resignation amongst Irish people and it is has become a part of the national psyche , a ‘this is the way things are’ mentality. While there are certainly exceptions to this rule it does seem to be the way with a lot of the population , but as I said it does seem to be changing.

    Ireland can be a very beautiful but often times strange place especially for outsiders to fathom , some of the more left brained continentals are baffled by us. We can be erratic , maudlin , and seem reckless about future planning. There’s a Native American term ‘Heyoka’ which comes close to describing the national character. The antiquity and origins of the Irish are largely obscured due in no small part to the Roman church and even the archaeological record is closely guarded by a certain clique. There is strong evidence of linkages to North Africa , Syrian coptic church and the Phoenician civilisation and even North America thousands of years before the Vikings. The Natives themselves will tell you to your face about the white sailors making contact with them far back into history. Academia will scoff at you however if you dared to contradict the status quo , that is until when at a time of their choosing , surprise , surprise a site or artefact is found and out roll the books , documentaries and general ego tripping which abounds in the academic world.

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  17. Just musings, but I’m not sure if it makes sense to think of guilt, in the sense of feeling bad about your moral actions only when you yourself judge yourself to have done something wrong, as an independent complex adaptation of its own.

    I think seems an alternative possibility is that it is a combination of

    – a sort of disregard for the opinion of others and privilege to the self as special (a kind of mild / subclinical psychoticism)
    – combined with gentle, tolerant and warm feelings for others and empathy when they have problems

    This seems could be a result of two factors

    selection for – individualist economic and status competition, as part of a relatively “every man for himself” social arrangement (unlike those emphasized historically in East Asia or even Africa, where its either every clan for itself or society as a whole), perhaps part of the church order breaking up traditional communal social arrangements and not really replacing it with very much in the way of institutions.

    selection against – revenge / anger and vengeful, unforgiving emotions, as part of Christianity, which practiced selection against violence and for pro-social humility and warmth like many other social philosophies, but also emphasized forgiveness as divine, so while being somewhat less harsh on psychos who begin violent feuds, was harsher against psychos who were ridiculously unforgiving and touchy to minor and meaningless insults.

    This seems like it would lead to what is typically thought of (or idealised or satirised) as the English character – eccentricity, social climbing and supercilious arrogance combined with tolerance, meek politeness (particularly in the face of insult) and gentleness.(Perhaps this is “Anglo-centric”?).

    You could contrast this to the Confucian societies, where there were stronger pressures against people who weren’t humble, the breaking up of clans was not so stressed (preventing an individualist striver economy) and where forgiveness was not so stressed (preventing as strong selection against vengefulness).

    So the people there tend to be more publicly humble than is normal for Northwest Europe (and other Europeans, particularly other European origins in Anglo societies), but are more touchy, harsh and unforgiving to people such as children who don’t get an A on the test or workers who “let down the team” etc.

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  18. @matt – “I think seems an alternative possibility is that it is a combination of

    – a sort of disregard for the opinion of others and privilege to the self as special (a kind of mild / subclinical psychoticism)
    – combined with gentle, tolerant and warm feelings for others and empathy when they have problems”

    i like this! thanks! will ruminate upon it.

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  19. @galus – This also leads to a situation where S people can exploit G people, by finding ways to socially reshape the emotional/moral meaning of acts depending on who does them, since morality is a type of expressive social theater for them. S can make a ruckus about immorality of G people, which G people internalize and actually try to enforce on themselves. Meanwhile S don’t apply to same rules to themselves and don’t have any internal sense of guilt, so long as the social ‘shame theater’ can be avoided or manipulated.”

    yes. exactly. =/

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  20. @murphy – “…there is a definite agenda amongst the ruling class in the EU to transfer wealth.”

    oh, yes. absolutely! agreed. and the global ruling elite, too (many of them are the same players).

    @murphy – “There were recent cases of our job centres sending out brochures for Australia and Canada with documents for training courses and social welfare applications.”

    yup. there was a story a while back about (i think it was) sweden who had/have a government job center (and benefits office, too, iirc) set up in somalia. *facepalm*

    @murphy – “There’s a Native American term ‘Heyoka’ which comes close to describing the national character.”

    contrarians! yes. that fits with a lot of irish people that i know. (thanks for that term — never heard of it before!)

    @murphy – “…even though the crisis in our country is partly caused by a corrupt element of our own government….”

    most politicians — i’d say nearly all — everywhere on the planet seem to be the scum that floats on the surface. (really, i have NO time for ANY of them.) having said that, some populations are simply more corrupt than others. from what i understand, ireland is not the most corrupt — you don’t have to slip 20 euros to the doctor (who is part of the national healthcare system) every time you visit him unlike in greece. still, there are problems in ireland with clientelism — chances are you will go have a friendly chat with your local politician when you want planning permission for a new house, and someday you’ll return the favor somehow, whereas in sweden (or the midwest u.s.) that rarely happens. and the irish imported that system to the u.s. (see the daley machine in chicago where i grew up).

    the irish aren’t the most clannish/corrupt, but you’ve got some issues — innate behavioral tendencies — which result in the country running the way that it does — i.e. pretty ok, but a bit corrupt.

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  21. I’ve just been reading Nathaniel Hawthorne’s collection of short stories, Mosses from an Old Manse, are a mine of guilt-ridden human types. The ones in the middle especially — with titles like “Egotism, the Bosom Serpent,” “The Christmas Banquet,” “Earth’s Holocaust” — are especially interesting. I’ve never been able to get into his longer works of fiction, but these short story/essays are sheer genius.

    Reply

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