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.
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.”
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:
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. (^_^)
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. (~_^)”
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