community vs. communism

it is a truth universally acknowledged, that whenever someone posts a map like this

cpi 2014 - europe

…on twitter, that a chorus of people will respond: oh, just look at the terrible effects communism had on eastern europe! for no good reason really because, as we all know, correlation does not equal causation — although it does “waggle its eyebrows suggestively and gesture furtively while mouthing ‘look over there.'”

just because soviet regimes were present in the past in the same areas of europe where there are high corruption levels today does not mean the one is the cause of the other. (and anyway…look at the regions beyond europe! or southern europe, for that matter.) the relationship is certainly suspicious though, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the two were somehow connected.

one way to try to settle this debate would be to look at pre-soviet corruption rates in eastern europe versus the west to see if the situation was any different beforehand.

i have not done that in this post, in large part because i don’t speak any slavic or other eastern european languages, but primarily because it seemed like way too much work. instead, i’m going to take a look a civicness, a set of behaviors — along with things like intelligence, low amounts of corruption, and low levels of violence — that many researchers reckon are necessary in order to have western-style liberal democracies and economies, if that’s what you want in life. i’ll be focusing on russia, again just to kept this little project manageable. but first, italy.
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in Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy, robert putnam (yes, that robert putnam) concluded that democracy in northern italy functions better than in the south because the north has had a longer tradition — stretching back to the middle ages — of civicness or of having a civic community. (see previous post: democracy in italy.) according to putnam [pgs. 88-89, 91]:

“Citizenship in the civic community entails equal rights and obligations for all. Such a community is bound together by horizontal relations of reciprocity and cooperation, not by vertical relations of authority and dependency. Citizens interact as equals, not as patrons and clients nor as governors and petitioners….

“Citizens in a civic community, on most accounts, are more than merely active, public-spirited, and equal. Virtuous citizens are helpful, respectful, and trustful towards one another, even when they differ on matters of substance….

“One key indicator of civic sociability must be the vibrancy of associational life.”

in civic societies and civic societies ii, i looked at (self-reported) participation rates in voluntary associations across the world as found in the 2005-2008 wave of the world values survey. specifically, i tallied up the number of individuals who responded that, yes, they were ACTIVE members of the following voluntary associations (thus giving some indication of how civic-minded each of the populations is):

– Church or religious organization
– Sport or recreation organization
– Art, music or educational organization
– Labour union
– Political party
– Environmental organization
– Professional association
– Charitable organization
– Any other voluntary organization

the response rates for eastern europe were abysmal, often vying for last place with the middle east (see previous post for more):

wvs - membership voluntary organizations - totals

not much has changed in the latest wave (2010-2014). here, for example, are the active membership rates for the russian federation for each of the organization types — the first figure is from the 2005-2008 wave, the second from 2010-2014:

– Church or religious organization = 2.60% – 2.00%
– Sport or recreation organization = 5.90% – 2.40%
– Art, music or educational organization = 4.20% – 1.50%
– Labour union = 3.40% – 2.00%
– Political party = 0.80% – 0.50%
– Environmental organization = 0.40% – 0.40%
– Professional association = 1.60% – 1.40%
– Charitable organization = 1.10% – 0.6%
– Any other voluntary organization = n/a – 1.4%

as joseph bradley says in Voluntary Associations in Tsarist Russia: Science, Patriotism, and Civil Society (2009), russia is “not known as a nation of joiners.” apparently not! (mind you, i am not in a position to cast any stones on this account. *ahem*)
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but were the russians more civic-minded before the revolution?

unfortunately, i don’t have any figures which can be directly compared to our modern world values surveys, but, yes, there was some amount of participation in voluntary civic institutions in russia in the two hundred years or so preceding 1917. however, civic participation didn’t begin in russia until the mid-1700s (and that is a key point to which i’ll return), and for most of that period, it occurred mostly among the upper classes. participation rates did grow across the nation and classes over the next century and a half, until just after the revolution of 1905 when there was a rapid rise in one sort of voluntary association — consumer cooperatives — among all classes of russians. however, civil society was still comparatively shallow in early-twentieth century russia — it hadn’t fully penetrated the whole of society by that point yet because the concept was so relatively new to the populace. here is laura engelstein in “The Dream of Civil Society in Tsarist Russia: Law, State, and Religion” (2000) quoting the sardinian antonio gramsci on the matter [pg. 23]:

“On the margins of the European state system, sharing but not fully integrating the Western cultural heritage, Russia, it is said, has always lacked just these civic and political traits. Antonio Gramsci provides the classic statement of this contrast: ‘In Russia,’ he wrote in the 1920s, ‘the state was everything, civil society was primordial and gelatinous; in the West there was a proper relation between state and civil society, and when the state trembled a sturdy structure of civil society was at once revealed.’ When in 1917 the Russian autocracy not only trembled but tumbled to the ground, there was no ‘powerful system of fortresses and earthworks,’ in Gramsci’s phrase, to prevent the Bolsheviks from erecting another absolutist regime in its place.”

civic society in russia first came to life under catherine the great (1729-1796), who did go some way to promote enlightenment ideals in the empire; perhaps more so when it came to the arts rather than politics, but still…it was a start, albeit one restricted in extent. from engelstein again [pg. 26 – my emphasis]:

“Eighteenth-century Russia had a lively public life. Private presses, a market in print, debating societies, literary salons, private theaters, public lectures, Masonic lodges — all linked inhabitants of the capitals and provincial centers in something of an empirewide conversation. Yet this world was limited in scope, audience, and resources and was fatally dependent on the autocrat’s good will. Catherine, when it pleased her, cracked down on independent publishers.”

this public life did continue to grow, however, although in fits and starts. nicholas i (1796-1855) was not too thrilled by it all, and alexander i (1777-1825) actually banned the freemasons, but by the nineteenth century, alexander ii (1818-1881) was, for a tsar, positively a radical when it came to permitting and promoting civic society as was evident in his great reforms. by the late nineteenth century then [pg. 16]:

“…an increasingly active public sphere of debate that included advocacy and representation was no longer in doubt in tsarist Russia. Thus well before the Revolution of 1905, the groundwork was laid for the participation of private associations in the public arena.”

the practice of joining voluntary organizations came later to the russian lower classes. consumer cooperatives began to appear in russia and the empire in the 1860s, but these first cooperatives were organized and run by the upper classes. peasants and workers would’ve been customers only. cooperatives among middle class professionals in towns and cities appear in the early-1890s. the idea spread to villages in 1900 via proselytizing intellectuals (also worth noting), and after 1905, the cooperative movement exploded right across the country. from The Co-operative Movement in Russia: Its History, Signficance, and Character (1917) by j.b. bubnoff — delightfully published in manchester by the co-operative printing society limited (so the work could be a bit biased) [pg. 49]:

“In 1891 consumers’ societies were formed in towns among the lower-grade officials, various classes of employees, teachers, members of liberal professions, and other sections of the population. These societies were of two types. One open only to members of a particular class of officials or to employees of a particular firm or institution; the other was open to all. These latter societies were already marked by the spirit of independence.

“Throughout this period the number of consumers’ societies was not large, and their output was small…. In 1900 the position was the same. Beginning from 1900, the Co-operative Movement spread in the villages…. [T]he first consumers’ societies in the villages were initiated by the intellectuals and by the authorities and were not the outcome of free enterprise on the part of the peasants themselves. At the end of the last century, and particularly at the beginning of the present one, an agrarian movement spread among the peasantry and ended in the revolution of 1905.”

by 1917, provided bubnoff wasn’t exaggerating, there were ca. 20,000 consumer cooperatives in russia (bubnoff notes that the other organizations listed in the table below — credit and loan savings associations, agricultural societies, and the artels — were all either government run or arranged by the large landowners, so they weren’t really voluntary associations in the sense of being organized by the members.):

Russia - The co-operative movement in Russia - table

again, though, this is late for finally getting around to launching civic institutions in your country. nineteen hundred and seventeen (1917) is very, very late compared to what happened in northwestern europe. even compared to what happened in northern italy. as valerie bunce says in “The Historical Origins of the East-West Divide: Civil Society, Politcal Society, and Democracy in Europe” [pg. 222]:

“By the end of the nineteenth century, then, it was evident that there were two Europes, long separated by their histories and, thus, by their politics, economics, social structure, and culture.”

not to mention their evolutionary histories.
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so how did northwestern “core” europe (including northern italy) differ from russia historically as far as participation in civic institutions goes? the short answer is: civicness in “core” europe began centuries before it did in russia or the rest of eastern europe, at least 500-600, if not 800-900, years earlier.

here is putnam on the formation and functioning of communes in northern italy beginning in the 1000s [pg. 124-126]:

“[I]n the towns of northern and central Italy…an unprecedented form of self-government was emerging….

“Like the autocratic regime of Frederick II, the new republican regime was a response to the violence and anarchy endemic in medieval Europe, for savage vendettas among aristocratic clans had laid waste to the towns and countryside in the North as in the South. The solution invented in the North, however, was quite different, relying less on vertical hierarchy and more on horizontal collaboration. The communes sprang originally from voluntary associations, formed when groups of neighbors swore personal oaths to render one another mutual assistance, to provide for common defense and economic cooperation…. By the twelfth century communes had been established in Florence, Venice, Bologna, Genoa, Milan, and virtually all the other major towns of northern and central Italy, rooted historically in these primordial social contracts.

“The emerging communes were not democratic in our modern sense, for only a minority of the population were full members…. However, the extent of popular participation in government affairs was extraordinary by any standard: Daniel Waley describes the communes as ‘the paradise of the committee-man’ and reports that Siena, a town with roughly 5000 adult males, had 860 part-time city posts, while in larger towns the city council might have several thousand members, many of them active participants in the deliberations….

“As communal life progressed, guilds were formed by craftsmen and tradesmen to provide self-help and mutual assistance, for social as well as for strictly occupational purposes. ‘The oldest guild-statute is that of Verona, dating from 1303, but evidently copied from some much older statute. “Fraternal assistance in necessity of whatever kind,” “hospitality towards strangers, when passing through the town”…and “obligation of offering comfort in the case of debility” are among the obligations of the members.’ ‘Violation of statutes was met by boycott and social ostracism….’

“Beyond the guilds, local organizations, such as *vicinanze* (neighborhood associations), the *populus* (parish organizations that administered the goods of the local church and elected its priest), confraternities (religious societies for mutual assistance), politico-religious parties bound together by solemn oath-takings, and *consorterie* (‘tower societies’) formed to provide mutual security, were dominant in local affairs.”

in general, nothing like this existed in medieval russia (or eastern europe) — not on this scale anyway — the novgorod republic, which lasted for three centuries and came to an end in 1478, probably being the most notable exception. eastern european society was still very much founded upon the extended family for much of the period (although, again, in certain times and locales that was not the case — russia’s a big place). only a handful of merchants’ guilds were given permission to exist in russia between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries, and the powers that be (including the orthodox church) regularly suppressed craftsmen’s guilds [pg. 13]. by contrast, northern italy was full of civic-mindedness already by the high middle ages.

meanwhile, in england (and other parts of northwestern europe) [pgs. 3-4]:

“As a form of voluntary association, bound by oath and by a (usually modest) material subscription, the fraternity or guild was widespread in late-medieval England and continental Europe. Both the ubiquity and the frequency of the form have been underlined by recent historical case-studies. While the particular purpose and activities of a fraternity might be infinitely various, the organization may be characterized in general as combining pious with social, economic, and political purposes. Its declared aims invariably included important religious functions, expressed in the invocation of a saintly patron and an annual mass with prayers for deceased members. With equal certainty, the annual feast day would bring the members together for a drink or a meal to celebrate their community. The overwhelming majority of English guilds admitted women alongside men: a feature generally characteristic of guilds of medieval northern Europe, although not so prevalent in the Mediterranean world. Sometimes described in modern English accounts as ‘parish fraternities’, these clubs indeed were often founded by groups of parishioners and regularly made use of an altar in a parish church as a devotional focus; yet they as often drew their memberships from a wider field than that of the parish, whose bounds they readily transcended…. An individual might join more than one guild, thereby extending still futher the range of his or her contacts. A significant minority of fraternities crystallized around a particular trade…. The overwhelming majority of guilds, however, were not tied by such association to a single craft, but brought together representatives of various trades and professions.”

extraordinarily, one type of fraternity — of non-kin remember (the whole point of voluntary associations is that they’re made up of non-kin) — appeared in england as early as the late-800s. from a previous post, the importance of the kindred in anglo-saxon society:

“the *gegildan* appears in some of the anglo-saxon laws in the late-800s as an alternative group of people to whom wergeld might be paid if the wronged individual had no kin. by the 900s, though, in southern england, the gegildan might be the only group that received wergeld, bypassing kin altogether. from Wage Labor and Guilds in Medieval Europe [pgs. 39-42]:

“‘The laws of King Alfred of Wessex, dated to 892-893 or a few years earlier, are more informative about the *gegildan*. Again, the context is murder and the wergild — the compensation required for the crime. By Alfred’s time, if not during Ine’s, the *gegildan* is clearly a group of associates who were not related by blood. The clearest example of this is in chapter 31 of the laws: ‘If a man in this position is slain — if he has no relatives (maternal or paternal) — half the wergild shall be paid to the king, and half to the *gegildan*.’ No information exists on the purpose of the *gegildan* other than its role as a substitute for kinship ties for those without any relatives. These associates, who presumably were bound together by an oath for mutual protection, if only to identify who was responsible, would benefit anyone, whether the person had relatives or not…. Although the evidence from the laws of Ine may be read either way, the *gegildan* seems to be an old social institution. As seen more clearly in the tenth and eleventh centuries, it acquired additional functions — a policing role and a religious character.

“‘The nobles, clergy, and commoners of London agreed upon a series of regulations for the city, with the encouragement and approval of King Athelstan, who caused the rules to be set down some time in the late 920s or 930s. The primary purpose of these ordinances was to maintain peace and security in the city, and all those supporting these goals had solemnly pledged themselves to this *gegildan*. This type of inclusive guild, sometimes referred to as a peace guild, was an attempt to create one more additional level of social responsibility to support the king and his officials in keeping the peaces. This social group of every responsible person in London is a broad one, and the law does not use the term *gegildan* to describe the association in general….

“‘The idea of a guild to keep the peace was not limited to London, and a document from the late tenth century contains the rules and duties of the thegn‘s guild in Cambridge. This guild appears to have been a private association, and no king or noble is mentioned as assenting to or encouraging this group. Most of the rules concern the principle purposes of this guild — the security of the members, which receives the most attention, and the spiritual benefits of membership itself. The guild performed the tasks of the old *gegildan*: the members were obliged to defend one another, collect the wergild, and take up vengeance against anyone refusing to pay compensation. The members also swore an oath of loyalty to each other, promising to bring the body of a deceased member to a chosen burial site and supply half the food for the funeral feast. For the first time, another category of help was made explicit — the guild bound itself to common almsgiving for departed members — and the oath of loyalty the members swore included both religious and secular affairs. Although in many respects this guild resembles a confraternity along the lines Hincmar established for the archdiocese of Rheims, the older purpose of the group — mutual protection with its necessary threat of vengeance — makes the Anglo-Saxon guild something more than a prayer meeting. To include almsgiving to members in distress would be a small step, given the scope of activities this guild established. There is no sign that the thegns cooperated in any economic endeavors, but older rules of rural society had already determined methods of sharing responsibility in the villages, and the thegns cooperated on everything that was important in their lives. The thegns of Cambridge had a guild that resembles in some important ways the communal oath, that will be discussed below, of some Italian cities in the next century.'”

the gegildan of early medieval england, then — a voluntary association, a fraternity — appeared on the scene something like two hundred years before the communes of northern italy arose, three hundred plus years before the novgorod republic was formed, and nearly nine hundred years before the russians gave civiness another shot (after novgorod). i’m not aware of any earlier such associations in western medieval europe, although they may have existed. it appears, too, that the gegildan appeared in situ in england, a newly developed social structure to take over some of the earlier functions of the rapidly disappearing kindred (including feuding and protection), although maybe the concept was imported from the carolingians — the heart of the preceding frankish kingdoms, austrasia, was where manorialism had begun, which was then imported across the channel, so perhaps the gegildan concept was as well.

whatever the case, it’s in the core of “core” europe, once again, that we find the earliest evidence for behavioral patterns that are now the hallmarks of western civilization: late marriage and nuclear families, lowest levels of cousin marriage for the longest period of time, low levels of violence, high levels of civic-mindedness (see above), universalism, unparalleled accomplishment — they all appear earliest (in medieval europe), and are still the strongest, in this central area (very roughly the area indicated by the green oval on this map).

so, now we come to it: why? why was it “evident” by the end of the nineteenth century that there were two europes, and what do all these long-standing historical differences have to do with it?
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the ultimate cause must lie in our biologies. humans are biological creatures, so there’s no way around it. we know that all behavioral traits are heritable, so we have to look to differences in the populations’ genetics and evolutionary histories.

as i wrote recently: evolution in humans is ongoing, recent, can be pretty rapid (within some constraints), and has been/is localized (as well as global). in fact, human evolution has sped up since the agricultural revolution since the number of individuals, and therefore mutations, on which natural selection might work skyrocketed in post-agricultural societies. remember, too, that “every society selects for something,” and that we’re talking about frequencies of genes in populations and that those frequencies can fluctuate up and down over time.

so there is NO reason NOT to suppose that the differences in behavioral traits that we see between european sub-populations today — including those between western and eastern europe — aren’t genetic and the result of differing evolutionary histories or pathways.

even rapid evolution takes time, though. we’re not talking one or two generations, but more like thirty or forty — fifty’s even better. point is, evolutionary changes don’t only occur on the scale of eons. they can also happen over the course of centuries (again, multiples of centuries, not just one or two). the circa eleven to twelve hundred years since the major restructuring of society that occurred in “core” europe in the early medieval period — i.e. the beginnings of manorialism, the start of consistent and sustained outbreeding (i.e. the avoidance of close cousin marriage), and the appearance of voluntary associations — is ample time for northwestern europeans to have gone down a unique evolutionary pathway and to acquire behavioral traits quite different from those of other europeans — including eastern europeans — who did not go down the same pathway (but who would’ve gone down their own evolutionary pathways, btw).

what i think happened was that the newly created socioeconomic structures and cultural (in this case largely religious) practices of the early medieval period in northwest “core” europe introduced a whole new set of selective pressures on northwest europeans compared to those which had existed previously. rather than a suite of traits connected to familial or nepostic altruism (or clannishness) being selected for, the new society selected for traits more connected to reciprocal altruism.

before the early medieval period, northwest europeans — looking away from the urbanized gallo-romans who may have been something of a special case (more on them another day) — had been kin-based populations of agri-pastoralists whose societies were characterized by inter-clan feuding, honor/shame (vs. integrity/guilt), and particularism (vs. universalism). i think these traits were under constant selection in those populations because: reproductive success in those societies was dependent upon one’s connection to, and one’s standing within, the extended kin-group, so, thanks to being tied to kin rather than non-kin, nepotistic altruism genes would’ve been favored over reciprocal altruism ones; the extended kin-group was the element within which most individuals would’ve interacted with others, those others being related individuals who would’ve been likely to share the same nepotistic altruism genes (alleles) [see here for more]; and cousin marriage was rife, which again would’ve further fuelled the selection for these genes, since members of the same kin-group would’ve had an even greater likelihood of sharing the same versions of their nepotistic altruism genes.

pretty much the opposite happened during the early and high middle ages in “core” europe. manorialism pushed for nuclear families rather than extended family groupings, and so people began to interact more with non-kin rather than kin, enabling the selection for more traits related to reciprocal altruism. the avoidance of close cousin marriage meant that family members would’ve shared fewer altruism genes in common, so any selection for nepotistic altruism would’ve slowed down. and once voluntary associations of non-kin appeared, the selection for reciprocal altruism really would’ve (or, at least, could’ve) taken off. reproductive success was no longer dependent upon connections to the extended family group, but, rather, unrelated individuals living with the community.

the manor system developed in the 500s in “core” europe (austrasia), but did not arrive in russia (and much of eastern europe) until the late medieval/early modern period. (it never got to the balkans.) the extended family was most likely gone on the manors in the west by the 800s (see mitterauer), although it is conceivable that the nuclear families found on the manors in the earliest days were residential nuclear familes rather than the fully atomized ones that we see in the west today. certainly by the 1500s, there are no longer any traces of the extended family among “core” europeans (although there are still some pockets). the avoidance of cousin marriage was underway in earnest by the 800s (possibly earlier, but definitely by the 800s). it was still on shaky ground as late as the 1400s in russia. and, as we’ve seen, voluntary associations appeared very early in “core” western europe, but only very recently in russia (and, presumably, other areas of eastern europe).
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most of you will recognize this as the hajnal line story (yet again!) with a few new nuances thrown in. manorialism, outbreeding, and voluntary associations all began in “core” europe — again very roughly the area outlined by the green oval on the map below (the other lines indicate, again roughly the extent of the hajnal line) — and they spread outwards from there over time, eventually reaching russia and other parts of eastern europe, but not until very late. (and the manor system in russia, once it was adopted there, was of a very different form than what had existed in western europe.)

hajnal line - core europe

inside the hajnal line, which (imo) reflects the extent of the strongest selection for behavioral traits related to reciprocal altruism over nepotistic altruism, the populations have stronger democratic traditions, are more civic-minded, are less corrupt, and score higher on individualism (vs. collectivism) on hofstede’s idv dimension than the populations outside the hajnal line. (please, see my big summary post on the hajnal line for more details.) all of these behavioral patterns “fit” better with the idea that these populations are characterized by innate reciprocal altruism tendencies rather than more nepotistic altruism ones. the populations outside the hajnal line seem to be more oppositely inclined.

there is no doubt that soviet communism wreaked havoc on eastern european populations. some untold millions died in the gulags, families and towns and villages were ripped apart, political repression was beyond belief. but smart money says that, along with civicness, many of the “non-western” features of contemporary eastern europe — high corruption rates, etc. — have deeper roots, and are not the consequences of communism, but rather of recent evolution by natural selection.

previously: civic societies and civic societies ii and democracy in italy and big summary post on the hajnal line

(note: comments do not require an email. sorry there’s no tl;dr summary!)

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42 Comments

  1. I think the reunification experience of East and West Germany offers the best evidence for the effects of a political system. I had a mild dustup with Jayman on this on Twitter, but c’mon: What became East Germany was the home of the Prussians, for heavens sake. I’ll grant the genetic explanations for differences with people farther east (Poland, Slovakia), but my understanding is that the great bulk of the people living in East Germany started 1945 as as German in the ways that count as those in the west.

    >

    Reply

    1. @Charles Murray:

      “I think the reunification experience of East and West Germany offers the best evidence for the effects of a political system. I had a mild dustup with Jayman on this on Twitter, but c’mon: What became East Germany was the home of the Prussians, for heavens sake.”

      There were considerable population movements post 1945. That alone is another the make the people of East and West Germany different. This is not even considering the fact that they were different to begin with, as the 1933 election illustrates:

      (Featured here: Germania’s Seed?)

      Yes, regional electoral differences represent genetic differences between people (see the U.S., or many other regionally diverse countries).

      And as we see in the above post, there are plenty of other regional differences across Germany, not at all limited to differences between East and West (there is a North-South difference as well, see also A Tale of Two Maps

      Now, this is not to say that communism didn’t have an effect (especially while it was in place), but the fallacy here…

      “I’ll grant the genetic explanations for differences with people farther east (Poland, Slovakia), but my understanding is that the great bulk of the people living in East Germany started 1945 as as German in the ways that count as those in the west.”

      …is in assuming any visible difference today represents the legacy of communism, rather than reflecting (at least in part) genetic differences in the people under examination. As Razib Khan once put it, never forget about the genetic confound.

      Of course, at this point, communism in Germany has been gone for coming up on 25 years. I’d argue that the differences we see across Germany are in fact entirely genetic in origin, much as regional differences elsewhere.

      Reply

  2. This is a vital post.

    “so there is NO reason NOT to suppose that the differences in behavioral traits that we see between european sub-populations today — including those between western and eastern europe — aren’t genetic and the result of differing evolutionary histories or pathways.”

    Actually, this should be our assumption a priori, given this key passage from my latest piece:

    Clever people might notice that all of HBD is based on just two concepts: behavioral genetics (or again, more broadly, heritability) and the breeder’s equation. Know those two things and most of the rest follows

    Readers see also:

    Clannishness – The Series: Zigzag Lightning in the Brain

    and

    National Prosperity

    Reply

  3. Do you use “Eastern Europe” and “Russia” interchangeably? For example, in Poland the civic participation raised; There are huge differences even within Poland (e.g. between boring workaholics from Greater Poland and merry alcoholics from Warsaw), between Poland and Czechs, and of course between Poland and Russia.

    Reply

  4. One of your most fascinating posts in my opinion. I will link to it in the years ahead. Meanwhile a few random comments/questions in no particular order:

    Could you do a similar analysis for Mexico? Does it matter from which parts of the Iberian peninsula the Spanish and Portugese settlers in Latin America emigrated (on which side of the Hajnal line) and the fact that it was mostly single men, often adventurers from the lower nobility, who married native women (as opposed to couples and even whole families who came over as happened in much of pre-colonial North America)? Was the settlement of Manhattan an outlier in this respect? Is it still? (You might want to read the book Gotham if you haven’t already; it’s great history of NYC, though so thick I had to slice my copy into 4 reasonably-sized paperbacks I could hold in my hand.)

    The early Christian churches (before Constantine) seemed to be civic organizations in the Roman empire. What was their fate (did they survive) and what, if any, was their influence during and after the Dark Ages? Might the underground churches in China play a similar role in the decades ahead? Past voluntary charitable organizations in China in cities and towns were traditionally based on the clan; but with the one child policy and the migration from countryside to big cities (especially the migrant worker phenomenon) should we expect the notion of civil society to gradually spread and even gain Party recognition?

    You have already documented the role (and motives) of the Catholic Church in prohibiting cousin marriage and the unintended consequences (in this case benign, at least by the standards of Western civilization) these were. What about the role of kings as it relates to the rise of the European states (you’ve probably discussed this before but I can’t remember)?

    What was the state of civil society within the Jewish population of Eastern Europe? I have read that at the local level there was very little democracy, the local mercantile and scholarly elites (top 1%) pretty much running the show, but with some charitable relief for the poor. This changed with the rise of the Hasidic movement, but then how do contemporary Hasidic communities in the US and Israel fit into this scheme? What is the state of civil society among the secular majority in Israel today? Does it differ between the Ashkenazi and non-Ashkenazi halves?

    Based on your analysis we are still a long way from the end of history. There are still centuries to go, especially throughout Asia and the Middle East and, perhaps, Latin America. Meanwhile what can we expect in Europe and the Anglosphere? Will there be decay, stasis, further positive developments, or a patchwork of all of the above? How might the EU, assuming it survives as a set of political institutions with real power, affect these developments?

    Anyway, your job on earth is still far from over. Keep up the good work!

    Reply

  5. ”including those between western and eastern europe — aren’t genetic and the result of differing evolutionary histories or pathways”

    Genetic factors are *essential* but not 100% causal all the time during life-time of certain culture. Some cultures can be imposed by ”elites” and culture-co-adaptability happens. Every behavior about every being is essentiallly caused by himself firstly (genes/dna/whatever).

    Behaviour of instinctive living beings, i mean, almost of living beings, by logic, will be strongly causal with its biology/genes. Action/reactions or survive transcendence.

    Remember about domesticated behavior, training and sociability-prone as long term behavior/transcendence.

    Cultural memes can be subconsciously negotiable but still depend on individual pre-dispositions.

    Humans are less strongly influenced by their instinctive responses than other animals, where reaction will tend to be immediate.

    Human behavioral reactions, seems, will be/are more complex, with (little) more choices than a parasitic wasps for example.

    living being= its biology, its genes, our body is framed by genes is not**

    Hbd Chick,
    what happen in Eastern Germany about religion*
    Before the communism, they were religious as polish and other germans* A german thing maybe, million of million of non-communist-prone germans go to West..

    well, again, just thoughts and doubts.

    Reply

  6. What I find fascinating is how low trust (post) communistic countries were/are DESPITE high nationalism, the themes of universal suffrage (“Workers of the world, unite!”) or any unity signaling in general…
    There are countless accounts (from extreme gulag memorials to anecdotal reports from individuals who were never directly threatened by the communistic regime) of feeling constantly observed, silently judged by the general public, with no one (but closest friends/family) to truly trust.

    WHY do these communities/gene setups select for this type of behavior? What’s the payoff (considering the difference in quality of life around the Hajnal line?)
    But maybe I am asking as a hunter with a gun looking a lion hunting and wondering why doesn’t the predator procure some guns to be more efficient..?
    (For the record, I do come from the low trust/shame based society).

    Reply

  7. 1. I thought you’d never get to the Hajnal Line
    2. I am somewhat familiar with Romania, and always shudder when I see that it is only middling on the corruption scales. It’s plenty bad.
    3. I wonder if socialism is more of a reflection of the prior existence of non-kin voluntary supports systems, as in the Scandinavian countries, while communism is more an attempt to shortcut the long slow development of such systems by force. Speaking in favor of this idea would be to notice that the “non-kin” of NW European nations still look like second cousins and are essentially a tribe, an attenuated family, not just anyone. Those countries can be pretty sharply capitalistic and competitive in the world market.

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  8. “Correlation does not equal causation” — you’ve just (rightfully) invalidated almost every post you’ve written on the subject.

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    1. @0987654321:

      “‘Correlation does not equal causation’ — you’ve just (rightfully) invalidated almost every post you’ve written on the subject.”

      There’s a right way to use correlation, and there is a wrong way. HBD Chick uses it the right way.

      What is that right way, you may wonder? That is when one factor could not be caused by the other – a factor like DNA. The genes of the people aren’t shaped by their present day circumstances, but reverse can certainly be (and in fact largely is) true.

      Reply

  9. @0987654321 – “you’ve just (rightfully) invalidated almost every post you’ve written on the subject.”

    i’ve always maintained — and still do — that what i write about my thoughts on altruism, etc., here on the blog are ideas. i haven’t (dis-)proved anything. obviously.

    Reply

  10. @2ponder:

    “WHY do these communities/gene setups select for this type of behavior? What’s the payoff (considering the difference in quality of life around the Hajnal line?)”

    Very good question. That’s one of the key things investigated at the blog.

    Reply

  11. @2ponder
    In communism, you couldn’t trust anyone because anyone could be an agent of Special Service. Really. In that case it weren’t genes which caused low trust; it were the institutions. I guarantee that if you would be sure that anyone who you met could be from Special Service, who could denounce you, you would quickly become wary of people too.

    During January uprising we had underground government which functioned just fine, even though it was based almost solely on trust. And no, there were no big demographic changes – the emigration, though relatively large, was too small too cause big demographic changes.

    I start to be really tired of saying that while genes may restrict the range of possibly successful institutions, institutions will have effect too and you simply cannot conclude that every aspect of the culture is an inevitable effect of genetic structure of the population.

    Here is membership in societies and foundations in Poland over the course of last decades:

    If the institutions doesn’t matter, why civic participation is raising? For that matter, why corruption in Poland is much lower than it was? Why the values of “you can trust other people” is constantly, with small bumps, going up?

    In the below, percentage of people in Poland who thought “you can trust other people”. 2002 is the date of one of the largest corruption affairs in Poland (during rule of the former communists aparatchiks). 60% increase in levels of trust. I’d say it was the change of institutions which caused this.

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  12. And here is my simple, and probably not very original, idea: there is a feedback between culture and genetical structure of the population (let’s call it “demotype” for short). Populations are not monolithic; there always be, for example, introverts and extroverts, though in some populations there would be more natural introverts. Therefore, for some cultures it would be more natural to create cultures promoting introverts, which causes shifting of the whole population character to the introvert-extreme values. That is, if my genotype would be “predispositions for being an introvert”, that would however manifest in different values of introvertism depending on the culture in which I was raised.

    What would happen if we would impose new culture, promoting extrovertism on this population? Suddenly, over course of time, the number of introverts would be smaller. The demotype would not be changed; simply, culture caused shifting in all people’s attitudes (ranges delimited by their genetical predispositions) to the more extreme “extrovert” positions.

    Or say we have a culture in which there are people in low trust and high trust. Say that demotype overall has “low trust”, so naturally institutions would be skewed towards “low trust”. But if due to the external shock, institutions would be changed, the naturally “higher trust” people would have chance to influence the culture, change the institutions and – without any change of the demotype – the whole culture trust level could be shifted. Or, the external pressure could simply change the positions of power within a society, and other kind of people would start to have larger influence on culture, which in turn would then change the populations “phenotype” (We would need to have also some nice neologism for “population phenotype”).

    Every demotype could result in a range of different “naturally” occuring cultures. However, it could adapt also larger range of other, “externally imposed” cultures.

    Ok, it’s late at night here, and I am not native speaker, but I hope that what I have written above makes sense

    Reply

  13. Small edit: I found another data for ivi trust and it seems that 95 was actually lowest trust in 1990s, nad in 1989 it was something like 10+ – so it was like 30+% rise in trust between ’89 and 2015 – still very significant. And the drop of trust between 89 and 95 also was significant, I think.

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  14. People here is forgetting that modern cults are quasi-always imposed, hierarchically speaking. What was the genetic change that happened between 1950’s and 1970’s???

    Again, i’m not denying the strong and logically fundamental/essential role of genetics in human behavior, is just stupid think that people are influenced by environment alone and no by themselves, themselves no have any influence about their own attitudes (we are rocks, durr). ignorant people on human behavior who say this kind of crap.

    Why many people think that conceptually correct and classical brainwashing is really happening in the West??

    And other observation, ”stupid/naive/ignorant people look brainwashed specially when they are being created inside a ignorant factoid system”, but they wasn’t brainwashed. Stupid people just internalize dogmas/factoids what wise people internalize facts.
    The ideia that no have ANY possibility to choice look very superficial and wrong, of course, no have a ”FREE” will, but it doesn’t mean that we no have ANY possibility to choice our destiny. Intelligence, or better, higher intelligence, specially higher wisdom, is a kind of real free will.

    SOMEtimes, cultural changes depend learning about what ”smart” people do or what smart people found, what James Thompson said in your blog, ”education is learn what smart people to do or found how to do more correctly”.

    Culture systems is not easy to be changed.

    We need try to put in the place of common people to understand why they tend to act like that. All the time most people, less pure anti-social ones, is trying to do the better that they are able.

    Seems my speculations here aren’t against Hbd Chick theory, just in the try to analyse this relation ”genetics vs culture”. In essence, people change very little.

    Reply

  15. @szopeno and Santoculto – I would say that people respond to incentives, though they have a default position they otherwise tend to. When the incentives change, the behavior changes as well, but it is not stable.

    BTW, In Romania, later records showed that 1/3 of adult Romanians had provided some information to the Securitate at one time or another (though most of these were very occasional, less than once/decade).

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  16. Also, more generally, people have more than one set of behaviors on disk, as we have learned in teaching people to extinguish habits. A new response to the old stimulus is learned to supplant the old behavior. But the old behavior/memory/style is not forgotten, just disattached, like an unused gear in a car. If you reattach the old response in some way – if you resume drinking or move back to Finland or whatever – the old behavior roars back in.

    Reply

  17. @szopeno:

    First, let’s be clear on something. As I said above:

    “Now, this is not to say that communism didn’t have an effect (especially while it was in place),”

    “If the institutions doesn’t matter, why civic participation is raising? For that matter, why corruption in Poland is much lower than it was? Why the values of “you can trust other people” is constantly, with small bumps, going up?”

    J.P. Rushton had the most succinct answer to that (in this case in regard to development in India and across the developing world):

    a steep inflection in economic growth [or in this case, trust/civicness/corruption] from a depressed level is not incompatible with an ultimate inability to match western … levels.

    As I said above,

    “communism in Germany has been gone for coming up on 25 years. I’d argue that the differences we see across Germany are in fact entirely genetic in origin, much as regional differences elsewhere.”

    This applies to all of Eastern Europe. There is definitely a gradient as you go east in Europe, such that the western-most (and northern-most) Easterners are doing best, and vice versa.

    “That is, if my genotype would be “predispositions for being an introvert”, that would however manifest in different values of introvertism depending on the culture in which I was raised.”

    Yet, somehow, all the experiences children raised in the same family share fail to have such an effect – but this does?

    There’s simply no evidence for that.

    Reply

  18. [i]Yet, somehow, all the experiences children raised in the same family share fail to have such an effect – but this does?[/i]

    If this effect is the same for ALL families (i.e. culture promoting some traits over other) then it would not be detected in twin studies, unless twin studies would include twins from several different cultures at once, over the course of several decades.

    Reply

  19. Actually, to think about it, parents share half of genes with their offspring, but they were raised in slightly different cultural environment. Maybe someone could design a study to compare correlations between parents, MZ and DZ twins and so on. That could capture influence of “common culture factors” which impact everyone in almost the same way (i.e. not making people more similar, but shifting their characteristics uniformly in one direction)

    Reply

  20. ”Also, more generally, people have more than one set of behaviors on disk, as we have learned in teaching people to extinguish habits. A new response to the old stimulus is learned to supplant the old behavior. But the old behavior/memory/style is not forgotten, just disattached, like an unused gear in a car. If you reattach the old response in some way – if you resume drinking or move back to Finland or whatever – the old behavior roars back in.”

    Assistant Village Idiot,
    exactly what i was try to say, you summarize very well, thanks!!
    I don’t think exactly that behavior’s’ are learned but supplanted. People generally/usually don’t change behavior consciously but subconsciously and ”behaviour” are set of addicted preferred routines”. And this changes is likely to be impossible to happen without previous trends.

    Some behavior are so strong that they will be expressed all the time or most of time during life, others can be internalized and it need language to give him shape.

    Reply

  21. @szopeno:

    “Actually, to think about it, parents share half of genes with their offspring, but they were raised in slightly different cultural environment. Maybe someone could design a study to compare correlations between parents, MZ and DZ twins and so on.”

    It’s been done: “extended twin studies”. I talk about several of them on my blog.

    I’ll have more later.

    Reply

  22. I’m an east european and I unsuccessfully tried to do volunteer work for any NGO for the last 2 years. The only ones I could find that wanted volunteers needed people to work with special needs children, something that I’m not capable of, or looked for younger volunteers (high school or college aged)
    I’m part of a professional organization because it’s compulsory for my job. None among my family and friends are part of a civic organization, except my feminist ex who basically makes a living out of it.
    She leads an NGO and is a member in several others whose leaders are often members in her own. This cross membership is done for the purpose of gaining grants from the european union, other western donors or the government who keep pumping money for liberal causes. In local slang making a living out of this is called NGOing and it’s an important source of money for academics.

    I’m curious if there are differences of civic participation at this moment between West and East Germany.
    In Eastern Europe communism destroyed civic institutions and the current european nanny state discourages their growth by being involved in everything from arts to welfare.

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  23. Why not estimate”environmental factors” among other animals as primates?? 😁… If humans evolve from them…
    What is the roots of this environmental beliefs??

    Domesticated non human animals are more affected by ” environmental factors” than wild ones??

    “Dog and cat street” are less intelligent than house “pets” ??

    Reply

  24. […] The line, it turns out, is the one that keeps appearing whenever we peer closely at European societies. Does the culture corrupt the people, or do the people corrupt the culture? At her always-fascinating blog, “hbd chick” — to whom I really must link more often, as she is one of the keenest and most inquisitive writers anywhere to be found on the subject of human diversity — takes a look. […]

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  25. Jayman: “Of course, at this point, communism in Germany has been gone for coming up on 25 years. I’d argue that the differences we see across Germany are in fact entirely genetic in origin, much as regional differences elsewhere.”

    Some fair points, as usual, but nonetheless: when you map virtually social or economic data at the Land level in Germany, what shows up like a sore thumb is the old DDR-BRD border. That border reflects the Allies’ political decisions in 1945 and does not correspond to any previous ethnic, religious, cultural, or political border. So, the notion that these differences are largely due to Communism seems very tenable. The emigration thesis is a possible out, if you want to argue heredity in this case, but obviously requires more research.

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  26. Greatest flynn effect seems happened in The transition from Tsaristic Russia to ex Soviet Union in terms of literacy, 75% of Russians were illiterate in the 20’s. Total literacy in the 40’s. And better nutrition.

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  27. @JayMan?

    “communism in Germany has been gone for coming up on 25 years. I’d argue that the differences we see across Germany are in fact entirely genetic in origin, much as regional differences elsewhere.”

    Only if you’re unfamiliar with the literature.

    https://lesacreduprintemps19.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/roivainen.pdf

    By the way, most of the people who were expelled from Eastern Europe post WW2 were ethnically german and most of them migrated to the West.

    Sorry space cadet but communism made people stupid.

    Reply

  28. @christopher – “That border reflects the Allies’ political decisions in 1945 and does not correspond to any previous ethnic, religious, cultural, or political border.”

    incorrect. stay tuned! (^_^)

    Reply

  29. @hbdchick

    i have not done that in this post, in large part because i don’t speak any slavic or other eastern european languages, but primarily because it seemed like way too much work.

    But baby, that’s where the money is!

    But seeing that I’m now in you bad books I thought I would try to make amends. What would be interesting to see is the criminality rates amongst Eastern Europeans compared to Western Europeans prior to their exposure to Communism, controlling for current environment. Sort of like the state of affairs that existed in the 1920’s and 1930’s in the U.S, when most of the Eastern Europeans migrants to that country had very little exposure to communism. And whilst the U.S. justice system did have it faults, relatively speaking, it was unbiased.

    Well what do you know! I’ve managed to find some data!

    Table 3.6 of This report breaks down criminality rates by country of birth. The data here shows that, by and large, Eastern European criminality rates are lower than the Native population rate. Quelle Surprise! Even though the foreign types were predominantly drawn from the lower classes.

    The other interesting thing to note from this data is the divergence in crime rates between Americans and their founding English stock. The changes can’t be attributed to genetics.

    Reply

  30. @slumlord–

    Re: Pre-WWII crime numbers from Eastern Europeans, in 1943 Dutch criminologist Willem Bonger published ‘Race and Crime’, where he catalogued crime data on loads of Euro groups, both in their countries and as immigrants.

    I found some quite interesting, here is assault/murder data from home countries in the 1920s, on migrants to the U.S. in 1910, booze crimes for migrants to the U.S. in 1923, and crimes by different groups in the Russian Empire 1908-12. (More references at link.)

    Reply

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