Archives for posts with tag: assimilation

pretty much the only political issue that i get worked up about is immigration — mass immigration to be specific. too much immigration (esp. all at once) just doesn’t seem like a good idea to me, for several reasons: 1) assimilation is *not* a thing (’cause of human biodiversity) — what you get with a large influx of a different people (or peoples) into a society is change, or at least division (see Albion’s Seed and American Nations), not assimilation — and while change is not necessarily a bad thing, i think we should be cautious, since no one can know what the outcome will be; 2) diversity doesn’t seem to work very well, not if you want a free and open and liberally democratic nation; and 3) the negative economic effects, in particular the supply of too much cheap labor.

that last reason really applies to african americans, which is why i can never figure out why they’re not more p*ssed off at the current immigration situation.

in 2013, three members of the u.s. commission on civil rightsabigail thernstrom, gail heriot, and peter kirsanow — wrote a letter to the congressional black caucus (cbc) outlining the disastrous consequences the recent mass immigration has had on lower-skilled african-americans and how an amnesty would just further exacerbate those. i can’t see anything to argue with in their letter (looking away from their obvious cluelessness re. human biology and hbd), so i’m just going to reproduce it here (stole it from here — my bolding). too bad the cbc are just another bunch of corrupt politicians who don’t give a sh*t about their constituents:

Hon. Marcia L. Fudge, Chair Congressional Black Caucus
2344 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Fudge:

We write in our individual capacities as three members of the eight-member U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and not on behalf of the Commission as a whole. In light of recent debates on comprehensive immigration reform, we are writing to address a rarely-discussed effect of granting legal status or effective amnesty to illegal immigrants. Such grant of legal status will likely disproportionately harm lower-skilled African-Americans by making it more difficult for them to obtain employment and depressing their wages when they do obtain employment. The increased employment difficulties will likely have negative consequences that extend far beyond economics.

In 2008, the Commission held a briefing regarding the impact of illegal immigration on the wages and employment opportunities of African-Americans.1 The testimony at the briefing indicated that illegal immigration disproportionately impacts the wages and employment opportunities of African-American men.2

The briefing witnesses, well-regarded scholars from leading universities and independent groups, were ideologically diverse. All the witnesses acknowledged that illegal immigration has a negative impact on black employment, both in terms of employment opportunities and wages. The witnesses differed on the extent of that impact, but every witness agreed that illegal immigration has a discernible negative effect on black employment. For example, Professor Gordon Hanson’s research showed that “Immigration . . . accounts for about 40 percent of the 18 percentage point decline [from 1960-2000] in black employment rates.”3 Professor Vernon Briggs wrote that illegal immigrants and blacks (who are disproportionately likely to be low-skilled) often find themselves in competition for the same jobs, and the huge number of illegal immigrants ensures that there is a continual surplus of low-skilled labor, thus preventing wages from rising.4 Professor Gerald Jaynes’s research found that illegal immigrants had displaced U.S. citizens in industries that had traditionally employed large numbers of African-Americans, such as meatpacking.5

Illegal immigration has a disparate impact on African-American men because these men are disproportionately represented in the low-skilled labor force. The Census Bureau released a new report on educational attainment after the Commission issued its report. This report, released in February 2012, found that 50.9 percent of native-born blacks had not continued their education beyond high school.6 The same report found that 75.5 percent of foreign-born Hispanics had not been educated beyond high school, although it does not disaggregate foreign-born Hispanics who are legal immigrants from those who are illegal immigrants.7 However, Professor Briggs estimated that illegal immigrants or former illegal immigrants who received amnesty constitute a third to over a half of the total foreign-born population.8 Foreign-born Hispanics who are in the United States illegally are disproportionately male.9 African-Americans who have not pursued education beyond high school are also disproportionately male.10 These poor educational attainment levels usually relegate both African-American men and illegal immigrant men to the same low-skilled labor market, where they must compete against each other for work.11

The obvious question is whether there are sufficient jobs in the low-skilled labor market for both African-Americans and illegal immigrants. The answer is no. As Professor Briggs noted in his testimony to the Commission, “In February 2008 . . . the national unemployment rate was 4.8 percent, but the unemployment rate for adults (over 25 years old) without a high school diploma was 7.3 percent.”12 During 2007, “Black American adult workers without a high school diploma had an unemployment rate of 12.0 percent, and those with only a high school diploma had an unemployment rate of 7.3 percent.”13 These statistics suggest both that there is an overall surplus of workers in the low-skilled labor market, and that African-Americans are particularly disfavored by employers.14 More recently, Professor George Borjas of Harvard wrote:

‘Classifying workers by education level and age and comparing differences across groups over time shows that a 10 percent increase in the size of an education/age group due to the entry of immigrants (both legal and illegal) reduces the wage of native-born men in that group by 3.7 percent and the wage of all native-born workers by 2.5 percent. . . . The same type of education/age comparison used to measure the wage impact shows that a 10 percent increase in the size of a skill group reduced the fraction of native-born blacks in that group holding a job by 5.1 percentage points.15

Furthermore, these statistics reflect an economy that was not experiencing the persistent stagnation we are experiencing today. The country’s economic woes have disproportionately harmed African-Americans, especially those with little education. In 2011, 24.6 percent of African-Americans without a high school diploma were unemployed, as were 15.5 percent of African-Americans with only a high school diploma.16 Two and half years into the economic recovery, African-Americans face particular difficulty obtaining employment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the seasonally adjusted January 2013 unemployment rate for all black Americans — not just those with few skills — was 13.8 percent, nearly twice the white unemployment rate of 7.0 percent.17 The economy has a glut of low-skilled workers, not a shortage.

Not only do illegal immigrants compete for jobs with African-Americans, but that competition drives down wages for the jobs that are available. Harvard professor George Borjas writes:

‘Illegal immigration reduces the wages of native workers by an estimated $99 to $118 billion a year . . . . A theory-based framework predicts that the immigrants who entered the country from 1990 to 2010 reduced the average annual earnings of American workers by $1,396 in the short run. Because immigration (legal and illegal) increased the supply of workers unevenly, the impact varies across skill groups, with high school dropouts being the most negatively affected group.18

Immigration, both legal and illegal, resulted in a disproportionately large increase in the number of high school dropouts in the labor pool. This caused a drop in wages among the poorest and least-educated members of the workforce.19 As discussed above, these people are disproportionately likely to be African-American men. Furthermore, there is evidence that wages for these men have not just failed to increase as much as they would have in the absence of illegal immigration. Their real wages, the number of dollars they take home at the end of the week, have actually diminished. Julie Hotchkiss, a research economist and policy advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, estimated that “as a result of this growth in the share of undocumented workers, the annual earnings of the average documented worker in Georgia in 2007 were 2.9 percent ($960) lower than they were in 2000. . . . [A]nnual earnings for the average documented worker in the leisure and hospitality sector in 2007 were 9.1 percent ($1,520) lower than they were in 2000.”20 A $960 annual decrease may not seem like much to a lawyer or a doctor. But as President Obama noted in regard to the 2012 payroll tax cut extension, an extra $80 a month makes a big difference to many families: “It means $40 extra in their paycheck, and that $40 helps to pay the rent, the groceries, the rising cost of gas . . . .”21

The consequences of illegal immigration for black men and the black community in general are not limited to wages. In another study, Borjas found that lower wages and fewer jobs also correlate with an increase in the black incarceration rate.

‘Our study suggests that a 10% immigrant-induced increase in the supply of a particular skill group is associated with a reduction in the black wage of 2.5%, a reduction in the black employment rate of 5.9 percentage points, and an increase in the black institutionalization rate of 1.3%. Among white men, the same 10% increase in supply reduces the wage by 3.2%, but has much weaker employment and incarceration effects: a 2.1 percentage-point reduction in the employment rate and a 0.2 percentage-point increase in the incarceration rate. It seems, therefore, that black employment and incarceration rates are more sensitive to immigration rates than those of whites.22

Both lower wages and incarceration likely contribute to one of the most serious problems facing the African-American community today: the dearth of intact nuclear families. The disintegration of the black family began to accelerate during the 1960s. It is one of the great tragedies of modern America that the disintegration of the African-American family has shown no signs of abating.23 Seventy-two percent of African-American children are born out of wedlock.24 It is now commonly recognized that children born out of wedlock are far more likely to experience a host of negative outcomes than are children raised by their own biological, married parents.25

Married men are more likely to be employed and to have higher earnings than unmarried men, although the relationship between marriage and economic success is complex. However, it is obvious that men who are unemployed or are incarcerated are far less appealing prospective spouses than men who hold down a steady job.26 Yet there are fewer and fewer jobs available — and at lower wages — for men in traditionally masculine industries.27 Giving amnesty to illegal immigrants would only exacerbate this problem facing low-skilled men, who are disproportionately African-American. The dearth of job opportunities gives these men less confidence in their ability to support a family, and gives women reason to fear that these prospective husbands will be only another mouth to feed.

Granting amnesty to illegal immigrants will only further harm African-American workers. Not only will the low-skilled labor market continue to experience a surplus of workers, making it difficult for African-Americans to find job opportunities, but African-Americans will be deprived of one of their few advantages in this market. Some states require private employers to use E-Verify to establish that their workers are in the country legally. This levels the playing field a bit for African-Americans. If illegal immigrants are granted legal status, this small advantage disappears.

Furthermore, recent history shows that granting amnesty to illegal immigrants will encourage more people to come to the United States illegally. The 1986 amnesty did not solve the illegal immigration problem. To the contrary, that amnesty established the precedent that if you come to America illegally, eventually you will obtain legal status. Thus, it is likely that if illegal immigrants are granted legal status, more people will come to America illegally and will further crowd African-American men (and other low-skilled men and women) out of the workforce.

Before the federal government decides to grant legal status to illegal immigrants, due deliberation should be given to what effect such grant will have on the employment and earnings prospects of low-skill Americans generally and black Americans specifically. We respectfully submit that granting such legal status is not without substantial costs to American workers.

Abigail Thernstrom Vice Chair
Gail Heriot Commissioner
Peter Kirsanow Commissioner

Cc: Congressional Black Caucus

2 Id. at 3, Finding 5:

Illegal immigration to the United States in recent decades has tended to depress both wages and employment rates for low-skilled American citizens, a disproportionate number of whom are black men. Expert economic opinions concerning the negative effects range from modest to significant. Those panelists that found modest effects overall nonetheless found significant effects in industry sectors such as meatpacking and construction.

3 Id. at 26.
4 37, 38-39
5 Id. at 31.
7 Id.
8 THE IMPACT OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION, supra note 1, at 35-36.
9 Peter Skerry, Splitting the Difference on Illegal Immigration, NATIONAL AFFAIRS (Winter 2013), at 5 (“Of the undocumented immigrants over the age of 18 currently residing in the U.S., there are approximately 5.8 million males, compared to 4.2 million females.”), available at
10 THE IMPACT OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION, supra note 1, at 52; see also Anne McDaniel, Thomas A. DiPrete, Claudia Buchmann & Uri Shwed, The Black Gender Gap in Educational Attainment: Historical Trends and Racial Comparisons, 48 DEMOGRAPHY 889, 890 (2011) (“It is well known that black males trail black females on a range of key educational outcomes, including high school graduation, college enrollment, and college completion.”), available at
11 THE IMPACT OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION, supra note 1, Statement of Vernon M. Briggs, Jr., at 37.

[I]t is not everywhere that there is likely to be significant competition between low skilled black workers and illegal immigrant workers, but there are ample circumstances where there is – such as the large metropolitan labor markets of Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami and Washington-Baltimore. Moreover, some of the fastest growing immigrant concentrations are now taking place in the urban and rural labor markets of the states of the Southeast – such as Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia, which never before were significant immigrant receiving states in previous eras of mass immigration. Indeed, about 26 percent of the nation’s foreign-born population are now found in the states of the South – the highest percentage ever for this region. There is mounting evidence that many of these new immigrants in this region are illegal immigrants.

12 THE IMPACT OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION, supra note 1, Statement of Vernon M. Briggs, Jr., at 36. 13 Id.
14 Id., Statement of Harry J. Holzer, at 41.

Other evidence, including that by ethnographers, indicates that employers filling low-wage jobs requiring little reading/writing or communication clearly prefer immigrants to native-born blacks, and encourage informal networks through which immigrants gain better access to these jobs. The native-born black workers likely would be interested in some, but not all of these jobs, depending on their wages.

15 George Borjas, Immigration and the American Worker: A Review of the Academic Literature, Center for Immigration Studies (April 2013), available at
16 U.S. DEPT. OF LABOR, The African-American Labor Force in the Recovery (Feb. 29, 2012), at Chart 3, available at
17 BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS, Employment situation summary (Feb. 1, 2013), available at
18 Borjas, supra note 15.
19 Id.:

[The simulation] shows that immigration particularly increased supply at the bottom and top of the education distribution. Immigration increased the effective number of hours supplied by high school dropouts to 25.9 percent, and those of workers with more than a college degree by 15.0 percent. In contrast, immigration increased the number of hours supplied by workers with 12 to 15 years of school by only 6 to 8 percent. Overall, immigration increased effective supply by 10.6 percent during the two-decade period. Because of the skewed nature of the supply shift, the simulation shows that immigration particularly affected the wage of native workers at the two ends of the education distribution. The large supply increase experienced by high school dropouts decreased the wage of this group by 6.2 percent in the short run and 3.1 percent in the long run. Similarly, the wage declines for the most highly skilled workers (those with more than a college degree) were 4.1 percent in the short run and 0.9 percent in the long term.

21 Amie Parnes, Obama: Payroll tax cut extension will help with higher gas prices, THE HILL, Feb. 21, 2012, available at
22 George J. Borjas, Jeffrey Grogger, and Gordon Hanson, Immigration and the Economic Status of African-American Men, 77 ECONOMICA 255, 256 (2010).
23 Kay Hymowitz, The Black Family: 40 Years of Lies, CITY JOURNAL (Summer 2005), available at
24 Jesse Washington, Blacks struggle with 72 percent unwed mothers rate, ASSOCIATED PRESS, Nov. 7, 2010, available at
25 See id. (“Children of unmarried mothers of any race are more likely to perform poorly in school, go to prison, use drugs, be poor as adults, and have their own children out of wedlock.”); see also W. Bradford Wilcox and Jeffrey Dew, Protectors or Perpetrators: Fathers, Mothers, and Child Abuse and Neglect, Center for Marriage and Families (Feb. 2008), available at

[A] 1996 federal study found that the overall rate of child maltreatment among single- parent households was nearly double that of two-parent families: 27.3 children per 1,000 were maltreated in single-parent families, whereas 15.5 children per 1,000 were maltreated in two-parent families. Another study found that 7 percent of children who had lived with a single parent had been sexually abused, compared to 4 percent of children who lived in an intact, biological family. Still another study found that children were half as likely to suffer physical abuse involving a traumatic brain injury when they lived in a household with their father, compared to children living in a fatherless family.

Research also indicates that children living in stepfamilies are more likely to suffer from abuse. One study by David Finkelhofer of the University of New Hampshire and his colleagues found that “children currently living in single parent and stepfamilies had significantly greater lifetime exposure than those living with two biological or adoptive parents” to five different forms of victimization—sexual assault, child maltreatment, assault by peers or siblings, being a victim of a crime, or witnessing violence. Other studies have found that children are markedly more likely to be killed or sexually abused by stepfathers, compared to children living in an intact, married household.

26 See Hannah Rosin, THE END OF MEN (2012) 8–10 (a single mother’s description of her daughter’s underemployed father as “one less granola bar for the two of us”).
27 Id. at 71–97 (2012).

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at the beginning of last year, i outlined my best laid plans for 2014 — what topics i hoped to post about during the year — and, looking back on that post, i kinda-sorta stuck to that plan, but i did drop the ball in some instances (assimilation, for example — did i even post on that in 2014? don’t think so. did i ever mention that i come from a population that’s not very strong in future-time orientation? (~_^) ).

so, lemme try again this year. topics i plan on blogging about in 2015, not necessarily in this order (and with no guarantees!):

assimilation: “you keep using that word….” (hint: i don’t think assimilation is as easy as most people assume it is. example: the four anglo “folkways” of north america, a la albion’s seed, which STILL haven’t assimilated to one another after 300 to 400 years. and they all originated from the same country/broad cultural background!)

– speaking of assimilation, i’d also like to look at how populations and subpopulations self-sort (egs. the Albion’s Seed populations mentioned above, the American Nations pops discussed at length by jayman on his blog, The Big Sort, etc.) and the significance of that. the migration of populations/subpopulations basically.

manorialism: going to continue (and hopefully complete!) my planned series on the history of manorialism in europe and its different regional types.

– i will also dig in further into the origins of The Outbreeding Project in christian europe. (hint: i think it wuz the romans.)

violence: want to look more into the decline in homicides/impulsive violence in western european populations. last year i wrote a sneak preview of where i think my readings on this are leading, at least for england. we shall see how it pans out.

shame vs. guilt cultures: more on this, too.

the tswana: i’m VERY keen on taking a close look at the tswana of southern africa, because they are the one group outside of the arabized world which has a history of father’s brother’s daughter marriage (see here), but botswana is one of the most successful and functional nations in subsaharan africa. ‘sup with that?!

the french: i have started reading The Discovery of France (thanks to everyone who recommended it!), so i want to discuss the french a bit.

italians: my christmas present to myself was a copy of Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy by robert putnam et al., so i want to discuss the italians a bit, too.

democracy: really want to look at the histories/evolution of and differences between liberal and other forms of democracy (like consensus democracy). this is important, i think.

history of mating patterns in various populations: i’ll probably just continue trawling around for more info/data on the historical mating patterns of various populations. it’s what i do.

hbd between individuals (as opposed to between groups): ’cause i think we need to talk about that.

– prolly other stuff, too.

note that i do take reader requests! (especially if i find the topic interesting.) (^_^)

i will also have to find someone who can clone me so that i have the time to do all this blogging! (~_^)

also, my new year’s resolution is to no longer enter into “discussions” with people who feel that the existence of human biodiversity or having an interest in it is somehow wrong or waaaaycist or whatever. that is just a waste of my time. from now on, those people will simply be directed to my what is human biodiversity (hbd)? series.

that is all! (^_^)

previously: best laid plans 2014

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i’ve said it before and i’ll say it again: stanley kurtz is a really, really smart guy. he’s especially smart when it comes to mating patterns and family types in the middle east/arab world and how those affect the social and political workings of the nations in those regions. which is why i had a little #StanleyKurtzFest to myself on twitter the other day. (^_^) and i thought i’d repeat it here.

kurtz trained as a social anthropologist (at harvard) and did his fieldwork in india, so he knows anthropology. he wrote several articles about mating patterns and things like democracy in the arabized world, some of them back before we got involved in iraq in the early 2000s, so the guy is aware. but EVERYthing he wrote back then still very much applies to iraq today, not to mention to afghanistan, syria, libya, egypt — in other words, the whole arab autumn movement.

i’m going to cut-and-paste some excerpts from his articles here, but i highly recommend clicking through and reading them all! the only aspect kurtz misses is, of course, the biological underpinnings for the behavioral patterns we see in the arab world — which is unfortunate, since the biology is fundamental to it all, but hey — nobody’s perfect! for the biological explanation (which you should hold in your mind the entire time while you’re reading kurtz — which you’re going to do, right? promise?!), you should see steve sailer’s classic Cousin Marriage Conundrum — and any random post on this blog. (~_^)

oh. one other thing that stanley — along with many others — gets wrong is the idea that people let go of their extended families if and when they have some sort of just state in charge that will take care of the rights of the individual. that is, imho, exactly backwards. states that are (more or less) of, by, and for the people only come into existence — can only come into existence — after a population has moved away from the extended family as the basic unit of society. there is evidence that this was the order of events in medieval england, and i’m betting that it will hold for elsewhere as well. more on all that another time.

right. here we go…

“I and My Brother Against My Cousin”
“Is Islam the best way to understand the war on terror? Tribalism may offer a clearer view of our enemies’ motivations.”
Apr 14, 2008

“In the Islamic Near East, however, the term ‘tribe’ has a fairly specific meaning. Middle Eastern tribes think of themselves as giant lineages, traced through the male line, from some eponymous ancestor. Each giant lineage divides into tribal segments, which subdivide into clans, which in turn divide into sub-clans, and so on, down to families, in which cousins may be pitted against cousins or, ultimately, brother against brother. Traditionally existing outside the police powers of the state, Middle Eastern tribes keep order through a complex balance of power between these ever fusing and segmenting ancestral groups.

“The central institution of segmentary tribes is the feud. Security depends on the willingness of every adult male in a given tribal segment to take up arms in its defense. An attack on a lineage-mate must be avenged by the entire group. Likewise, any lineage member is liable to be attacked in revenge for an offense committed by one of his relatives. One result of this system of collective responsibility is that members of Middle Eastern kin groups have a strong interest in policing the behavior of their lineage-mates, since the actions of any one person directly affect the reputation and safety of the entire group.

“Universal male militarization, surprise attacks on apparent innocents based on a principle of collective guilt, and the careful group monitoring and control of personal behavior are just a few implications of a system that accounts for many aspects of Middle Eastern society without requiring any explanatory recourse to Islam. The religion itself is an overlay in partial tension with, and deeply stamped by, the dynamics of tribal life….

“Looking at a political map of the Middle East, we tend to assume government control of the territories lying within all those neatly drawn borders. It is a serious mistake. As Salzman puts it, traditional Middle Eastern states are more like magnets, exerting force on territory near the center, while losing power with distance. The Ottoman Empire (and the British) ruled the tribes loosely, demanding an annual tribute but generally leaving them to govern themselves. To a remarkable extent, this holds true today. While the precise degree of centralized power ebbs and flows, tribes living in what are often quite large territories on national peripheries exist largely free of state power.

“Far from viewing this as a disability, Middle Eastern tribesmen consider life beyond the state as the surest way to avoid dishonorable submission. Statelessness is an essential condition of dignity, equality, and freedom. The traditional relation of the state to the peasant, notes Salzman, ‘is that of the shepherd to his flock: the state fleeces the peasants, making a living off of them, and protects them from other predators, so that they may be fleeced again.’ Salzman asks us to think of traditional states as ‘cliques determined to impose their power for the pleasure of dominance and the profit of extortion.’

“Saddam Hussein comes to mind. Not only was his regime exploitative, it was built around a tribal coalition, at the center of which was Saddam’s Tikriti clan. In the traditional system, says Salzman, states were bereft of any wider sense of civic responsibility or benevolence. Secure in distant mountains or deserts, traditional Middle Eastern tribes (like the Yahi in the hills of California) engaged in predatory raiding against settled peasants. Once a particularly powerful tribe or tribal coalition actually captured a state, they simply routinized their predation under official guise. (Saddam and his Sunni tribal allies fit the bill.) From that perspective, avoiding a life of peasant humiliation and exploitation through membership in an independent tribe begins to look good — endemic violence notwithstanding….”

“Marriage and the Terror War, Part I”
“Better learn up on your anthropology if you want to understand the war.”
February 15, 2007

“In this first in a series of essays on Muslim cousin-marriage, I want to begin to make the case that Muslim kinship structure is an unexamined key to the war on terror. While the character of Islam itself is unquestionably one of the critical forces driving our global conflict, the nature of Islamic kinship and social structure is at least as important a factor — although this latter cluster of issues has received relatively little attention in public debate. Understanding the role of Middle Eastern kinship and social structure in driving the war not only throws light on the weaknesses of arguments like D’Souza’s, it may also help us devise a new long-term strategy for victory in the war on terror.

“Self-Sealing Society

Think of the culture of the Muslim Middle East as ‘self-sealing.’ Muslim society has a deep-lying bias toward in-group solidarity, the negative face of which manifests itself in a series of powerful mechanisms for preventing, coercing, or punishing those who would break with or undermine the in-group and its customs. This bias toward in-group solidarity serves to shelter Muslim society from interaction with the forces of modernity, and also explains why Muslim immigrants so often fail to assimilate. Of course, no society can function without some sort of ‘in-group solidarity.’ Yet the Muslim world is truly distinctive on this score. When it comes to the core principles of kinship, Muslim practices strengthen and protect the integrity and continuity of the in-group in a way that sets the Middle East apart from every other society in the world. To appreciate this fact, we’ve first got to understand some fundamental things about the nature of kinship.

“For the greater part of human history, nearly every society has been organized into units based on kin ties. Modern life greatly reduces the significance of these ties, since capitalism tends to allocate jobs based on ability (instead of who your father is), while democracies apply laws, and assign benefits, on the principle of equal citizenship (not birth). By contrast, in most traditional societies, a man’s security, health, prosperity, and religious standing all depend, first and foremost, on his relatives. So to understand the kinship structure of a traditional society is to make sense of a good deal of life there. Unfortunately, our contemporary thinned-out notion of kinship has made it tough to recognize just how profoundly societies are shaped by variations in marriage practices. That’s why we’re far more comfortable making sense of the war on terror through the lens of a familiar phenomenon like religion, than in the light of something alien, like cousin marriage….

“All right, let’s say we have a society made up of clans organized by descent through the father. (Imagine a grander version of your own father’s family line, or something like the Hatfields and McCoys.) In any given clan, the men all trace their descent from a common male ancestor. In such a society, a rule or preference for cross-cousin marriage would create a systematic form of exogamy. In other words, if every man in a patrilineal, clan-based society were to marry his mother’s brother’s daughter, every man would be marrying someone from a different clan. (For example, if you were to marry your own mother’s brother’s child, you would be marrying someone from outside of your father’s family line.) Since every man’s mother in our imaginary society is born into a different patriclan than his own, when a man marries the daughter of his mother’s brother (i.e., his cross cousin) he is renewing an alliance with another patriclan (i.e. his mother’s birth clan) by bringing a woman from his mother’s birth clan into his own clan as a wife, just as his father did before him.

“On the other hand, in a society made up of competing patriclans, a rule or preference for parallel-cousin marriage would have exactly the opposite effect. Parallel-cousin marriage would seal each and every clan off from all of the others. If, say, every man in a society made up of patrilineal clans was to marry his father’s brother’s daughter, every man would be married to a descendent of his own birth clan. (For example, if you were to marry your own father’s brother’s child, you would be marrying someone from within your father’s family line.) That would be a very strong form of endogamy, or “marrying in,” which, according to Tylor, would encourage social isolation, cultural stasis, rivalry, and high levels of conflict between clans….

And as we’ve already seen, parallel-cousin marriage [i.e. fbd marriage-h.chick] has an effect precisely the opposite of the alliance-building interchange encouraged by cross-cousin marriage — and praised by Tylor and Levi-Strauss. Instead of encouraging cultural exchange, forging alliances, and mitigating tensions among competing groups, parallel-cousin marriage tends to wall off groups from one another and to encourage conflict between and among them. However strong the urge among anthropologists to identify the cooperative advantages of exogamy as a core characteristic of human nature itself, the hard fact of the matter is that a significant minority of human societies have chosen to organize themselves according to principles quite the opposite of alliance-based exogamy. Care to hazard guess as to exactly where in the world those societies might be?

“While the vast majority of societies that practice cousin marriage favor the marriage of cross cousins, the relatively small number of societies that encourage parallel-cousin marriage can be found in the Islamic cultures of North Africa and west and central Asia. Russian anthropologist Andrey Korotayev has shown that, while the region that practices parallel-cousin marriage does not map perfectly onto the Islamic world as a whole, it does (with some exceptions) closely resemble the territory of the eighth-century Islamic Caliphate — the original Islamic empire. So there is one great exception to the claim that human society — and even human nature itself — are built around the principle of extra-familial marriage. Almost every known contemporary case of preferential parallel-cousin marriage is the result of diffusion from a single source: the original Islamic Caliphate. And while parallel-cousin marriage may not be Islamic in any strict or formal sense (in fact, the practice apparently predates Islam in the region), as Korotayev puts it, ‘there seems to be no serious doubt that there is some functional connection between Islam and FBD [father’s brother’s daughter — i.e., parallel cousin] marriage.’ Sounds like we’d best find out what that ‘functional connection’ is….”

“Marriage and the Terror War, Part II”
“Protecting the honor of the family; protecting the honor of Islam.”
February 16, 2007

“[O]nce you understand how Muslims construct society as a collection of counterbalanced, sometimes allied, sometimes feuding, closed-off, and self-sufficient family cells, the problem of Muslim cultural persistence begins to make sense. Holy also allows us to appreciate that the Muslim seclusion of women (another critical barrier to modernization and assimilation) is part and parcel of a larger complex of practices, at the center of which is parallel-cousin marriage….

“With all the economic and social diversity in the Middle East, one factor remains constant. Wherever parallel-cousin marriage is practiced, the notion that the honor of the male family-line depends upon the sexual conduct of women is strong. For this reason, a woman’s father’s brother’s son (her parallel cousin) has the right-of-first-refusal in the matter of her marriage. To protect against the possibility of a woman’s shameful marriage (or other dangerous sexual conduct) damaging the honor of the men of her lineage, male relatives have the right to keep her safely within the family line by marrying her off to her parallel cousin.

“As I’ll show in a follow-up piece, all of these kinship mechanisms are much at work in Europe today. Muslim immigrants in Europe use cousin marriage to keep wealth within already tight family lines, and to prevent girls from entering ‘shameful’ marriages with cultural outsiders. All this serves to reinforce family ‘solidarity,’ thereby blocking the assimilation of Muslim immigrants into society at large. We’ve all heard about full-body veiling, the seclusion of women, forced marriage, honor killing, and the like. Europe is struggling with the question of how to handle these practices. What we’ve missed up to now is the sense in which cousin marriage tends to organize and orchestrate all of these controversial practices, thereby serving as the lynch-pin of a broader pattern of resistance to assimilation and modernization. In effect, parallel-cousin marriage in Europe acts as a social ‘sealing mechanism’ to block cultural interchange — just as, over a century ago, Sir Edward Tylor theorized it would….”

“With Eyes Wide Open”
“Who they are; what we’re getting into.”
February 20, 2002

“The split between the state and society-at-large has a long history in the Middle East. The governments of Mohammad and his immediate successors, the ‘rightly guided Caliphs,’ were successful theocracies. But as Islam’s empire grew, the Caliphs were forced to resort to strategies of authoritarian rule and hereditary recruitment that violated strict Islamic principles of equality and consultation. The result was that the state itself lost legitimacy. Righteous Muslims grew more interested in avoiding the state than in serving it. The image of Mohammad’s just theocracy lived on, and religion was still blended with everyday social practice through the regulations of Islamic law, but for much of Islamic history, the state itself was devalued and delegitimated.

“That was less of a problem before the modern era. The great Islamic empires ruled their subjects lightly taxing and offering military protection, but for the most part depending on tribal ties and kinship (along with Islamic law) to regulate the daily business of life. The rulers stayed out of the day-to-day affairs of the people, and the people liked it that way. The old system allowed Muslim governments to cobble together huge empires out of essentially self-governing populations. Yet under modern conditions, the traditional split between the self-contained world of tribe and kin, on the one hand, and the state on the other, sets up a debilitating struggle between tradition and modernity.

“The meltdown in the Middle East has been fueled by massive population growth and a flood of rural immigrants into cities like Cairo and Istanbul. Governments have been hard pressed to provide the new urban immigrants with municipal services, much less jobs. That’s where those kin networks come in. In European history, even in rural areas, extended kinship ties grew progressively less important, until the collapse of feudalism and the rise of cities created a society of truly modern individuals. The new European society was ruled by powerful centralized governments, and bureaucracies that applied the law equally to all. But unlike the urban masses of Europe, the rural migrants powering the Middle East’s urban population explosion have brought their traditional kinship networks with them. Those networks offer support to the common man where weak Middle Eastern governments cannot — while also making it impossible for a modern political and economic system to take root. Family connections get you food when neither government nor the economy can provide it. But the corruption fueled by the family ethos sabotages the government’s distribution plans, undercuts the government’s legitimacy, and blocks the path to societal liberalization….

In short, the entire kinship system and its associated economic apparatus constitutes almost a society within a society, the massive holdings of which aren’t even counted toward Egypt’s GNP. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that the modern Egyptian government and economy are virtual alien implants, floating lightly on the surface of a still remarkably traditional society, even in a big city like Cairo. Yet people still expect the government to deliver cheap foodstuffs and other staples. It’s the government food subsidies that enable parents to squirrel away money for their children’s marriages — alliances that cement social connections that bring the security, opportunity, and prosperity that the government cannot deliver. That’s why threats to the food subsidies bring riots….”

“Veil of Fears”
“Why they veil; why we should leave it alone.”
December 15, 2001

“The conflict between modernity and the traditional Muslim view of women is one of the most important causes of this war. The tiresome claim of the leftist academy that poverty causes terrorism misses the point. So far from being poor, Muslim fundamentalists tend to come from a relatively wealthy modernizing class. The terrorists and their supporters are generally newly urbanized, college-educated professionals from intact families with rural backgrounds. They are a rising but frustrated cohort, shut out of power by a more entrenched and Westernized elite. True, the new fundamentalists often find themselves stymied by the weak economies of Muslim countries, but as a class they are relatively well off. Like many revolutions, the Muslim fundamentalist movement has been spurred by increased income, education, and expectations. But it is the clash between traditional Middle Eastern family life and modernity that has decisively pushed so many toward fundamentalism. And women are at the center of the problem….

“The Taliban’s code of womanly behavior was intentionally directed toward the cities. The aim was to ‘purify’ those areas of Afghanistan that had been ‘corrupted’ by modernization. But the Taliban never bothered to enforce its rules in traditional areas. Actually, in most Afghan villages, women rarely wear the burka. That’s because villages in Afghanistan are organized into kin-oriented areas, and the veil needs wearing only when a woman is among men from outside of her kin group. A rural woman puts on a burka for travel, especially to cities. Yet just by exiting her home, a woman in a modern city inevitably mixes with men who are not her kin. That’s why the Taliban prohibited the modernized women of Kabul from so much as stepping onto the street without a male relative. So the real problem with the veil in Afghanistan was the Taliban’s attempt to impose the traditional system of veiling on a modernizing city. Yet, remarkable as it may seem, many modernizing urban women throughout the Middle East have freely accepted at least a portion of the Taliban’s reasoning. These educated women have actually taken up the veil — and along with it, Muslim fundamentalism. To see why, it is necessary to understand what makes traditional Muslim women veil in the first place.

Life in the Muslim Middle East has long revolved around family and tribe. In fact, that’s what a tribe is — your family in its most extended form. For much of Middle Eastern history, tribal networks of kin functioned as governments in miniature. In the absence of state power, it was the kin group that protected an individual from attack, secured his wealth, and performed a thousand other functions. No one could flourish whose kin group was not strong, respected, and unified.

“In the modern Middle East, networks of kin are still the foundation of wealth, security, and personal happiness. That, in a sense, is the problem. As we’ve seen in Afghanistan, loyalty to kin and tribe cuts against the authority of the state. And the corrupt dictatorships that rule much of the Muslim Middle East often function themselves more like self-interested kin groups than as rulers who take the interests of the nation as a whole as their own. That, in turn, gives the populace little reason to turn from the proven support of kin and tribe, and trust instead in the state.

“So from earliest youth, a Middle Eastern Muslim learns that his welfare and happiness are bound up in the strength and reputation of his family. If, for example, a child shows a special aptitude in school, his siblings might willingly sacrifice their personal chances for advancement simply to support his education. Yet once that child becomes a professional, his income will help to support his siblings, while his prestige will enhance their marriage prospects.

“The ‘family’ to which a Muslim Middle Easterner is loyal, however, is not like our family. It is a ‘patrilineage’ — a group of brothers and other male relatives, descended from a line of men that can ultimately be traced back to the founder of a particular tribe. Traditionally, lineage brothers will live near one another and will share the family’s property. This willingness of a ‘band of brothers’ to pool their labor and wealth is the key to the strength of the lineage.

“But the centrality of men to the Muslim kinship system sets up a problem. The women who marry into a lineage pose a serious threat to the unity of the band of brothers. If a husband’s tie to his wife should become more important than his solidarity with his brothers, the couple might take their share of the property and leave the larger group, thus weakening the strength of the lineage.

“There is a solution to this problem, however — a solution that marks out the kinship system of the Muslim Middle East as unique in the world. In the Middle East, the preferred form of marriage is between a man and his cousin (his father’s brother’s daughter). Cousin marriage solves the problem of lineage solidarity. If, instead of marrying a woman from a strange lineage, a man marries his cousin, then his wife will not be an alien, but a trusted member of his own kin group. Not only will this reduce a man’s likelihood of being pulled away from his brothers by his wife, a woman of the lineage is less likely to be divorced by her husband, and more likely to be protected by her own extended kin in case of a rupture in the marriage. Somewhere around a third of all marriages in the Muslim Middle East are between members of the same lineage, and in some places the figure can reach as high as 80 percent. It is this system of ‘patrilateral parallel cousin marriage’ [fbd marriage-h.chick] that explains the persistence of veiling, even in the face of modernity.

By veiling, women are shielded from the possibility of a dishonoring premarital affair. But above all, when Muslim women veil, they are saving themselves for marriage to the men of their own kin group. In an important sense, this need to protect family honor and preserve oneself for an advantageous marriage to a man of the lineage is a key to the rise of Islamic revivalism….”

“After the War”
Winter 2003

“[I]f we do decide to try to impose democracy on Iraq, it will be far harder than proponents of democratization recognize. It will entail long, unremitting U.S. effort….

“The democratizers’ model for transforming Iraq is America’s post–World War II occupation of Japan….

“Efforts to democratize a country require more than modern liberal ideas; they require a class of people who embrace those ideas and make them effective. Had a sophisticated modern bureaucratic class not been on hand to accept and implement democratic reforms, the American occupation of Japan would not have succeeded. To be sure, excessive bureaucracy can suffocate democratic liberty, but modern bureaucracies are generally democratizing forces. They embody intrinsically modern, democratic ideas — that the government office is distinct from the individual who holds it, for example, and that rules apply to all with equal force. They blow apart traditional social relations — relations that are often powerful barriers to democratic reform—by centralizing authority and power in a national government.

“Japan’s relatively modern bureaucratic class was in place even before the Meiji Restoration. Many former samurai, displaced by history from their traditional military role, had moved into administrative positions. No egalitarians, these men possessed a profound sense of superiority and entitlement, based on a conviction that they had transcended the petty selfishness of the ordinary man to devote themselves to a higher good. In the administrative realm, their elite spirit of nobility and sacrifice took the form of an ethic of detachment, incorruptibility, and public-spiritedness — ideal virtues for modern bureaucratic elites. Once Meiji Japan began to copy Western bureaucratic and meritocratic models, the samurai, with their background in government service, fit right in and helped make those models work in their new Japanese setting, especially since these men had come under the influence of the liberty and popular-rights movement, whose leaders were displaced samurai like themselves.

“The distinctive samurai ethic of public service put an enduring stamp on the Japanese democracy that emerged from the American occupation. To this day, many scholars describe Japan as a ‘bureaucratic polity,’ with government bureaucrats running the country, the political parties, and the industries too.

Nothing comparable to Japan’s liberal intellectual tradition and modern, public-spirited bureaucratic class exists in Iraq or in any Arab country. The influence of fundamentalist Islam in the Arab world reflects a culture deeply inhospitable to democratic and liberal principles. In a perceptive recent National Interest article, Adam Garfinkle explains that, whereas democracies take as bedrock assumptions that political authority lies with society, that the majority rules, and that citizens are equal before the law, Arab societies vest political authority in the Qur’an, rest decision-making on consensus, and understand law and authority as essentially hierarchical. They lack such essential cultural preconditions for democracy as the idea of a loyal opposition or the rule of law or the separation of church and state. No surprise, given their nonmodern political beliefs, that not one Arab Muslim country qualifies as ‘free’ in Freedom House’s annual survey, and that a disproportionate number of Arab regimes qualify in the ‘worst of the worst’ category — the least free and least democratic on earth.

Arab Muslim societies remain un-modern and un-democratic not just in their attitudes toward political authority and law but also in their social organization. For men and women living within a universe where tribal identity, the duties and benefits of extended kinship networks, and conceptions of collective honor organize the relations of everyday life, democratic principles will be incomprehensible.

“And therefore democracy would be impossible. How could a modern, democratic bureaucracy function, for example, if officials remain loyal primarily to tribe, faction, or family? The power of such ties preempts any ethic of disinterested public service. A government office becomes a means of benefiting your family and harming your enemies, not applying the rules fairly. Saddam’s Iraq largely functions like one big tribal patriarchy, with Saddam the patriarch. His kin, together with members of his tribe and allied tribes, rule….”

“Assimilation Studies, Part I”
“Muslim and non-Muslim immigrants to Britain originating from the same region.”
March 21, 2007

“It’s a commonplace that Muslim immigrants in Europe have been slow to assimilate. In a general way, the public attributes this relative isolation to Muslim religion and culture. But if you’re looking for a clear, powerful, and detailed account of exactly what it is that’s been blocking Muslim assimilation in Europe, there is no better place to begin than Ballard.

“Variation on a Theme

“Before turning to Ballard’s work, I need to note that the form of cousin marriage favored by the Pakistani Muslims who immigrate to Britain is a regional variant on the ‘parallel cousin’ marriage [fbd marriage-h.chick] favored by Muslims in the heart of the Arab World. (I discussed the nature and significance of ‘parallel cousin’ marriage in ‘Marriage and the Terror War’ Parts I and II.) While many Pakistani Muslims do in fact marry their first or second ‘patrilateral parallel cousins’ (their father’s brother’s child), many others marry first and second cousins of other types. In contrast to Muslims in North Africa and the Arab World, Muslims in Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, and parts of Pakistan prefer marriage with any closely related cousin — not merely ‘patrilateral parallel cousins….’

Part of what makes Ballard’s 1990 ‘Migration and kinship’ piece so powerful is that he has identified Punjabi migration to Britain as something like a natural controlled experiment, with cousin marriage as the key variable. Somewhere between two-thirds and three-quarters of all South Asians in Britain are Punjabis. The Punjab sits athwart the border of India and Pakistan and is home to substantial communities of Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs. Muslims live almost exclusively in the Pakistani half of Punjab, while Sikhs and Hindus live largely in Indian Punjab. Whatever their religion, Punjabi migrants to Britain have a great deal in common. Most come from small, peasant, farming families, share basic cultural premises, speak a common language, and originally entered Britain intending to pocket savings from manual labor and return home. (In the end, many Punjabi guest workers remained in Britain.)

“In family life, Punjabis of whatever religion organize themselves into patrilineal descent groups. Within those patrilineal clans, a ‘joint family’ forms around a man, his married sons, and their children, with women leaving their natal homes to move in with their husbands. The family lives communally, sharing wealth and property, with grown sons under their father’s authority, and in-marrying wives working under the direction of their mother-in-law. And whether Muslim, Hindu, or Sikh, the modesty of women in dress and behavior is a key cultural value for all Punjabis.

Despite these many similarities, the position of Punjabi Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu immigrants in Britain dramatically differs. Ballard focuses his comparison on two immigrant groups: Punjabi Muslims from the Mirpur region of Pakistan and Punjabi Sikhs from the Jullundur region of India. (Ballard frequently invokes Punjabi Hindus for comparative purposes as well.) Far from being obscure or isolated examples, it turns out that nearly three-quarters of British Punjabis are either Mirpuri Muslims or (largely Sikh) Jullunduris. With Punjabis making up the great majority of all British South Asians, Ballard’s careful comparison is therefore telling us about two of the largest and most influential South Asian immigrant groups in Britain.

So what’s the difference between Jullunduri Sikhs and Mirpuri Muslims? Quite simply, Jullunduri Sikh’s have moved relatively far down the road of assimilation, while Mirpuri Muslims have not. Now largely middle class, many British Sikhs have abandoned manual labor to start their own businesses, have moved from the inner city to the suburbs, and currently see their children performing academically at the same level as other middle-class Britons. British Mirpuri Muslims, on the other hand, move between unemployment and manual labor, are still largely confined to poor, inner-city ethnic enclaves, and rear children with a limited grasp of English and a notably low level of academic achievement.

“Given the broad social, cultural, and linguistic similarities between Mirpuri Muslims and Jullunduri Sikhs (and Hindus), how are we to account for the radically different trajectories of these immigrant communities in Britain? Can religion explain the difference? In a sense, it can. Yet the key barriers to assimilation aren’t always religious in the strict sense. The factors that inhibit assimilation have less to do with Muslim beliefs per se than with the distinctive, non-textual practices that organize Muslim society.

In particular, the practice of cousin marriage has served to create a culturally insulated community of Mirpuri Muslims in Britain….

“After noting that economic factors can have only limited explanatory value in this case, Ballard goes on to highlight the influence of marriage practices on patterns of immigrant assimilation. Ballard suggests that the Muslim practice of cousin marriage may account for the formation of ‘far more in-turned and all-embracing’ kinship networks than we find among British Sikhs, thus helping to explain the two groups’ divergent patterns of economic achievement and cultural accommodation….

“Assimilation Studies, Part II”
“On cousin marriage and Pakistani Muslims in Britain.”
March 22, 2007

The practice of cousin marriage among Pakistani immigrants has significantly slowed Muslim assimilation in Britain. Muslim cousin marriage has also facilitated a process of ‘reverse colonization,’ in which large, culturally intact sections of Pakistani Muslim society have been effectively transferred to British soil. These conclusions emerge from the work of British South Asianist Roger Ballard — particularly from his path-breaking paper ‘Migration and kinship: the differential effects of marriage rules on the processes of Punjabi migration to Britain.’ In the first part of ‘Assimilation Studies,’ I laid out the background necessary to follow Ballard’s case. Here in Part II, I’ll run through the core of his argument. I’ll also explain why highlighting the significance of Muslim cousin marriage is such a difficult and controversial enterprise….

“Ballard (who’s done extensive fieldwork in Pakistan’s Mirpur district) estimates that ‘over 60% of all Mirpuri marriages are contracted between first cousins.’ In 2002, Ballard noted that: ‘At least half (and possibly as many as two-thirds) of the marriages currently being contracted by young British-based Mirpuris are still arranged with their cousins from back home….’

“What differences did Ballard find between the two big groups of British immigrants from the Punjab: Muslims from the Mirpur district of Pakistan, and Sikhs from the Jullundur district of India? Although both of these groups share a broadly similar social and cultural background, their patterns of assimilation have been strikingly different….

“Even in the 1970s, when Mirpuri Muslim laborers finally did begin to bring their wives and children to live with them in Britain, ties to Pakistan were sustained through ‘chain migration.’ With immigration regulations in Britain reflecting a lesser need and desire for foreign workers, villagers back in Mirpur could obtain visas only by marrying Mirpuri migrants already in Britain. Children of these couples, in turn, married and brought to England yet another generation of Mirpuri villagers, with each link in the chain of marriage migration insuring that the process of adjustment to English language and culture would begin again from scratch. These relatively unassimilated Mirpuri marriage-migrants were largely confined to the inner-city — to neighborhoods that recreated, insofar as possible, the linguistic and cultural conditions of Pakistan itself. Given their limited contact with English-speaking neighbors, Mirpuri children in these ethnic ghettos continued to have problems in school.

So, even when Mirpuri migrant men finally did reunite their families in Britain, it was less a breaking of the bonds that linked them to Pakistan than an effective transfer of a South Asian village society to Britain itself — a sort of ‘reverse colonization’ — with marriage-driven chain migration keeping the ties between the ‘reverse colony’ and the Punjabi homeland as strong as ever. In combination with the original post-war labor inflow, marriage-driven chain migration has now succeeded in transferring well over 50 percent of Mirpur’s original population to Britain. ‘We don’t cultivate wheat here any more,’ one of Ballard’s Mirpuri informants commented, ‘we cultivate visas instead….’

“As Muslim and Sikh immigrants gradually adjusted to life in Britain, it became increasingly evident that marriages arranged with villagers from back home tended to be riven with conflict. Cultural differences, the language gap, and the wide divergence in general social competence between British-raised youth and their spouses from South Asia frequently made for trouble and strife. So when the parents of British-born Sikhs were faced with the offer of an arranged marriage with a villager from Punjab, their children invariably opposed the match. In doing so, these young Sikhs had the advantage of knowing that their parents were under no obligation to accept any particular proposal of marriage. Given the Sikh practice of clan exogamy, every marriage is arranged from scratch with an outsider. In short order, therefore, the new generation of British-born Sikhs successfully pressed their parents to arrange marriages with British-born (or perhaps even North American-born) Sikh partners.

“The situation was very different for children of Mirpuri Muslims. Among Mirpuris, it’s taken for granted that cousins have a virtual right-of-first-refusal in the matter of marriage. Even in the absence of immigration, it would have been entirely expected that the children of Mirpuri migrants would marry their cousins. How much more so was this the case when a marriage meant a British visa, and a vast increase in wealth — all redounding to the honor of the patriclan? Many Mirpuri migrants had only made it to Britain in the first place with economic help from a brother back in Pakistan. This practice of sharing of resources within the joint family created a powerful moral obligation to repay that financial help by arranging a marriage (and a visa) for the child of the brother who remained in Pakistan.

“The British-born children of these Mirpuri Muslim migrants were perhaps a bit less apprehensive than their British Sikh counterparts about the idea of marrying villagers from back home. After all, these young Mirpuris had gotten to know their cousins on those long visits to Pakistan, and some affectionate attachments had developed. Yet the chronic problems of transnational marriages did indeed call forth opposition to such matches from many young Mirpuris. In contrast to the situation among immigrant Sikhs, however, the hands of Mirpuri parents were largely tied. To refuse a marriage with a relative back in Pakistan, when customary rights, financial obligation, and family honor were all at stake, would have been tantamount to a repudiation of siblingship itself. Such a severing of ties could bring retaliation in the form of efforts to blacken the honor of an immigrant and his family — a particularly severe sanction among Muslims.

So while Sikh immigrants increasingly broke the links of marriage-driven chain migration, the practice of Muslim cousin-marriage insured that assimilation itself would virtually begin again from scratch with each new generational infusion of Mirpuri spouses. The result has been economic stagnation and the literal transfer of more than half of Mirpur’s population to an archipelago of ‘reverse colonies’ in the heart of Britain….”

previously: stanley kurtz rocks and nowhere to run and father’s brother’s daughter marriage and tribes and types of cousin-marriage

(note: comments do not require an email. british mirpuri community.)

sorry for the slow posting lately. yes, i’m still slacking off. (~_^) regularly scheduled programming should resume this weekend. (^_^)

in the meantime, i thought i’d steal a blogging idea from peter frost, and give ya’ll an idea of what to expect from this blog during 2014. (tl;dr: more of the same, really. (~_^) )

– more on mating patterns: long-term inbreeding and outbreeding practices in human societies and why some peoples go for inbreeding and why others do not. also, the relationship(s) (if any) between mating patterns and family types (think emmanuel todd). also, more on the connections between mating patterns and clannishness (or not) and behavioral patterns like civicness, corruption, and nepotism.

– i hope to explore further how different long-term mating patterns and family types create/affect selection pressures for various innate social behaviors in populations.

individualism/collectivisim vs. familism/non-collectivism

universalism vs. particularism

democracy: including the contrasts between liberal vs. consensus democracy and the idea that there are democratic tendencies in a lot of societies — probably the majority of societies — but very few places where you’ll find liberal democracy and even fewer places where liberal democracy works.

– i want to look further at how renaissances and reformations happen, and why human accomplishment has most definitely not been uniform across the globe.

violence: mostly the differences (if any) between societies where feuding is common vs. those that engage in large-scale warfare (thanks, grey!).

– also, i’ll continue to ask (in a hopefully annoying, gadfly-like way): where does culture come from?

– i’ll also be asking: how does assimilation happen? and i’ll be asking/looking for evidence for if/how it does.

this past summer, i started posting about the history of mating patterns in europe, and i had a plan all worked out, but i got (seriously) side-tracked. typical! i’m going to pick up that posting plan!…right after i post about the history of mating patterns/family types/social structures in the nordic nations…right after i post about the mating patterns/family types/social structures of the franks.

got all that? good. (^_^)

p.s. – oh. i also take reader requests! (^_^)

previously: top ten list 2013

(note: comments do not require an email. keep calm and… (^_^) )

The breeder’s equation – R = h2S – from greg cochran.

Making Europeans kinder, gentler – from peter frost.

Napoleon Chagnon: Blood is their Argument“‘It’s almost always for revenge. Blood is their argument. The Yanomamö will always attempt to avenge the death of a kinsman. It may take them a long time, and when the tables are turned on the guys that did it, like they get too small as a group, then it may appear to be a preemptive strike, but it has some historical roots. It’s almost never a case where they attack another Yanomamö village preemptively for no reason at all. It’s usually a consequence of some previous argument.'” – via habitable worlds: Darwin’s Dangerous Clan. see also Historical Reality: Infanticide vs Abortion @occam’s razor.

Zazes, Flurps and the Moral World of Kids – four-year-olds “assume that everybody else will be biased against other groups. And this extends beyond race, gender and religion to the arbitrary realm of Zazes and Flurps.” – h/t charles!

Manly Sweat Makes Other Men More Cooperative“A chemical component of other guys’ sweat makes men more cooperative and generous, new research says. The study is the first to show that this pheromone, called androstadienone, influences other men’s behavior and reinforces the developing finding that humans are susceptible and responsive to these chemical signals.”

120,000 Years of Cancer“A Neanderthal who lived more than 120,000 years ago had cancer of the bones, in the earliest known incidence of the disease found in the human fossil record, a new study reports.”

How does inbreeding avoidance evolve in plants?“Case study of Leavenworthia suggests that loss of complex traits may be reversed.”

A Requiem for Science – from john derbyshire.

The Gentleman Naturalist“[Darwin and Wallace’s] papers were presented to the Linnean Society in July 1858, and met with silence: as Desmond and Moore say, ‘no fireworks exploded, only a damp squib’.”

ORIGINAL PAPER: How clever were the Victorians? A comment on Woodley et al. (2013) – from elijah armstrong!

The Onset and Development of B-W Ability Differences: Early Infancy to Age 3 (Part 1) – from jason malloy. see also dr. thompson: By the age of three, a clear gap in ability.

Slowing immigrant assimiliation“George Borjas’s latest paper released at NBER shows that newer waves of immigrants are less able to assimilate than previous immigrants waves.” – @gucci little piggy. see also: Two books, one conclusion. Immigration has been and is too high. @conservative home (u.k.).

The Real Threat to British Elites“Why British elites covered up the Pakistani pimps’ child gangrape horror.” – from steve sailer.

Population history of the Caribbean (Moreno-Estrada et al. 2013) and IBD sharing between Iberians and North Africans (Botigué et al. 2013) – @dienekes.

How Game Might Have Benefited Jason Richwine – ask and ye shall receive! [no double entendre intended. you guys have been reading too much roissy! (~_^) ] – good stuff from heartiste! (thanks, h!)

Geography, race, religion, and class“[W]ealthy suburban and rural blacks go to church more than poor inner-city blacks do, and wealthy suburban and rural whites attend more than poor inner-city whites do.” – from the awesome epigone.

People Are Overly Confident in Their Own Knowledge, Despite Errors

Ethnic policy in ancient Japan – from spandrell!

“‘[F]ertility may be a strategic choice for ethnic groups engaged in redistributive conflict'” [pdf] – via race/history/evolution notes.

Atheists turn to science during times of stress

Genetics and the increase in obesity – from jason collins. see also mr. mangan, esq.: The Rise of Mental Illness and Obesity.

100 Blog Posts – A Reflection on HBD Blogging And What Lies Ahead – from jayman. and jayman jr.!! (^_^)

Back in the saddle – m.g. @thosewhocansee is back (or will be back shortly)! yaaaaayyyyyy!!!! h/t nelson!

Human Biodiversity – Things You Are Not Supposed to Know About – from staffan!

bonus: Review of “Blood Meridian” by Cormac McCarthy – from foseti. see also this great set of “randoms” from mr. f. you should click through to every last one of them (if you haven’t already)!

bonus bonus: How the chicken lost its penis – a lesson for all!

bonus bonus bonus: Leviathan Unbound – from malcolm pollack.

bonus bonus bonus bonus: light entertainment – @PRISM_NSA on twitter and Obama Is Checking Your Email on tumblr. (~_^)

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Life wasn’t all trouble at mill“[T]he Industrial Revolution came as a tremendous boom to a lot of working people: they earned far more than they had done before, escaped lives of crushing poverty and for the first time began to exert some measure of control over their lives.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Is Humbert Humbert Jewish?

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: The Fight to Save Ping Pong – excellent!

(note: comments do not require an email. dirty jobs – sexing baby chickens!)

*two updates – see below*

dr. faheem younus said he thinks we ought to have a conversation about the bans on cousin marriage in various states in the u.s. he also said he’s looking for a “data driven case to justify a BAN on cousin marriages.”

i’m beginning to wonder if he really means either of those things.

here’s our (short) conversation that we had about the topic on twitter (all of the links i included in these tweets can be found in the previous post):

faheem younus conversation

still waiting for a reply….

update 02/02: i wanted to double-check that figure i gave for 70% cousin marriages in pakistanis in the u.k. just to make sure i remembered right (i have been known to remember incorrectly before! (~_^) ).

the correct figure is (very close to what i recalled): 67% for pakistanis in bradford [page 10 – opens pdf]. that includes first cousins, first cousins-once-removed, and second cousins.

there’s another figure of 46.9% for pakistanis in birmingham, but that’s just first cousins. the figure would likely be quite a bit higher if first cousins-once-removed and second cousins were included.

no mention of double-first-cousin unions. there’s probably some of them, too.

another update 02/02: i checked the following article (the one about bradford) — The frequency of consanguineous marriage among British Pakistani [pdf] — to see if there was anything about double-first-cousin marriages. there were none, but there had been some in the grandparent’s generation [pgs. 187-89] — 100 women were randomnly sampled:

“Fifty five of the women interviewed were married to first cousins. All four possible types of cousin marriage occurred, with the frequencies given in table 3 [mostly fzd (20) and then fbd (17) – h.chick]. No double first cousin marriages were reported in this generation. Nine women were married to first cousins once removed, three to second cousins, and three to more distant relatives (one first cousin twice removed, on second cousin once removed, one third cousin). Thirteen were married with the ‘Biraderi’, a term describing the wider family group. Some of these husbands would be distant relatives, some relatives only by marriage, and some simply originating from the same locality and social group. Only 17 women definitely had completely unrelated husbands….

“In this group of [the respondent’s] grandparents there was a maximum of 33 first cousin marriages, with more marriages (24) among the Biraderi and more (30) to unrelated partners. [there were also 5 double-first-cousin marriages in that generation per table 2. – h.chick]…

“Table 4 shows that the pattern of inbreeding in the population is not uniform: unrelated couples are more likely to have unrelated parents, while married couples of first cousins more often have closely related parents.

The frequency of consanguineous marriage is thought to be falling in most populations as a result of social change and increased mobility…. By contrast, among British Pakistanis the coefficient of inbreeding seems to have increased in a single generaion, from about 0.024 to 0.0375, a figure approaching the highest reported for human populations.

previously: so … why ban cousin marriages?

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update 02/01: i’ve tried to leave a couple of (very civil, of course) comments on huffpost — to try to, you know, have a conversation about the bans on cousin marriage in parts of the u.s. — but to no avail. my comments are not allowed through moderation. just thought i’d share.

another update 02/01: on huffpost, somebody calling themselves tylerious linked to this from wikipedia:

“A BBC report discussed Pakistanis in Britain, 55% of whom marry a first cousin. Given the high rate of such marriages, many children come from repeat generations of first-cousin marriages. The report states that these children are 13 times more likely than the general population to produce children with genetic disorders, and one in ten children of first-cousin marriages in Birmingham either dies in infancy or develops a serious disability. The BBC also states that Pakistani-Britons, who account for some 3% of all births in the UK, produce ‘just under a third” of all British children with genetic illnesses.'”

that is exactly the point i made in the first section (“disease”) of my original post below, i.e. in regularly inbreeding societies, the risks of genetic defects are higher than what dr. younus quoted. the figures he quoted are for western societies with little inbreeding.

jayman tweeted about an article written by a dr. faheem younus and published (originally) in the huffington post entitled “Why Ban Cousin Marriages?” dr. younus writes (link added by me):

“[L]et’s be clear. I don’t intent to *promote* cousin marriages. But when 25 US states ban such marriages in a free society, we ought to at least have a conversation about it.”

absolutely! i agree. (see entire blog…. (~_^) )

dr. younus, who is orginally from pakistan btw, goes on to present arguments against what he calls “the ‘Disease-Incest-Einstein’ line of American reasoning” that stands in opposition to cousin marriage — in other words “you don’t have to be an Einstein to know that incestuous relationships lead to diseases in the babies.” he attempts to show how these three objections to cousin marriage — disease (or congenital conditions), incest (the ewwww factor), and that all smart people know it’s a bad thing — are just flat out wrong….

1) disease. dr. younus says:

“The risk of birth defects in children born to first cousins is increased from a baseline of 3-4 percent to 4-7 percent according to the National Society of Genetic Councilors (NSGC). In this modern age, this risk could be mitigated by mandating — as the State of Maine has done — pre-marital genetic testing. The NSGC, however, considers the risk to be so insignificant that it does not recommend additional testing or screening.”

the above statement demonstrates a gross misunderstanding on dr. younus’ part of the risks of congenital conditions in consanguineous relationships. sure the risk of birth defects in children born to first cousins is pretty low (4-7%) in the united states (and other western countries) where cousin marriage is not the usual practice. but in societies where cousin marriage is the norm (egs. saudia arabia, pakistan, afghanistan, sudan), the risks are much higher. in, for instance, dr. younus’s country of origin, pakistan [pdf]:

“It is estimated that about 10 percent of congenital and genetic disorders worldwide are associated with customary consanguineous marriage; in most of the Middle East, the proportion is 30 percent, and in Pakistan, it is 40 percent.

the higher (much higher) risks of birth defects from cousin marriages in these other societies are a result of the fact that these populations have been practicing cousin marriage for generations — many, many generations. probably for literally millennia in saudi arabia and nearly as long, if not as long, in south asia.

when you have multiple (upon multiple) generations of inbreeding, cousins from these families will inevitably share many more genes in common on average — including genes related to diseases — than cousins in western societies where there is little inbreeding. the inbreeding coefficient of first cousins is usually reckoned at 6.25%, but this can be twice as high in long-term, regularly inbreeding populations — such as in pakistan.

in addition, as my long-suffering regular readers already know, the type of cousin marriage favored in the arab world and places like pakistan and afghanistanfather’s brother’s daughter (fbd) cousin marriage — leads to even greater inbreeding than other forms of cousin marriage (cross-cousin marriage, for instance) since it promotes a tendency towards double-first-cousin marriages (see previous posts for more on why this is — here and here and here).

all of this amounts to no small set of problems. the saudis and other arab nations have probably spent something like half their oil profits (<<possible hyperbole alert) on studying and trying to come up with solutions to deal with all of the genetic defects connected to consanguineous mating in their populations, and concerns were recently raised about the high rates of genetic defects in the u.k.’s pakistani population, a highly consanguineous group.

2) incest. dr. younus says:

“As you cross the scientific hurdles, you will be confronted with a mountain of taboo cloaked in words like ‘gross,’ ‘icky,’ ‘yucky. But where do such taboo feelings originate from? Not a single verse in the Torah, Bible or Quran — books revered by three billion followers of the three Abrahamic religions — prohibits cousin marriage, which were common in Jewish, Christian and Islamic history.”

uh … no, actually. cousin or other close marriages have, indeed, been common in jewish and islamic societies, but not so much in christian societies. i should qualify that: not so much in european christian societies.

again this is familiar ground for my regular readers out there — cousin marriage began to be banned by the christian church in europe as early as the 500s. since then, cousin marriage has been banned to various degrees and at various points in time by the roman catholic church, the eastern orthodox church, and even some of the protestant churches — not to mention secular authorities. (for more on this, see my mating patterns in europe series below ↓ in the left-hand column, and jack goody’s The Development of the Family and Marriage in Europe and michael mitterauer’s Why Europe?, in particular chapter three).

the avoidance of cousin marriage has been especially strong over the past one thousand to fifteen-hundred years in northern and western europe (with some notable exceptions) — and a bit weaker (or having a later commencement) in eastern and southern europe. (there have also been some pockets of long-standing close marriage practices in northwestern europe — see the auvergnats in france and the border reivers of england whose descendents moved to appalachia for example).

since a large percentage of americans are of northwest european extraction, it shouldn’t be surprising that they aren’t fond of the thought of cousin marriage. whether they experience an ewwww response to the thought of cousin marriage for cultural reasons, or perhaps even biological ones, i don’t think it’s unreasonable that they (we) should desire american society — which was founded by northwest europeans after all — to remain one in which cousin marriage is not a regular occurence.

3) einstein. dr. younus says:

“This is the ultimate argument made in support of banning cousin marriages. It’s so obviously wrong that ‘You don’t have to be an Einstein to figure it out.’ In the evidence driven societies we have a different word to describe such claims: myth. Myths are best broken by data. The fact that 20 percent of global marriages take place between first cousins and most societies, including Europe and Canada, consider cousin marriages to be legal should give us a pause.

just because a lot of people in the world do something does not necessarily mean that it’s a good idea.

research has shown strong negative correlations between inbreeding rates and national average iqs — in other words, the greater the amount of inbreeding, the lower the average national iq — see here and here. there is also a pretty strong correlation between consanguinity rates and corruption levels (see also here) — the greater the amount of cousin marriage, the greater the amount of corruption in a society. finally, there is a strong negative correlation between cousin marriage and democracy — the more cousin marriage in a society, the less democratic it’s likely to be (see here).

it’s not completely clear, yet, why any of this should be — i have my own theories which you can find by poking around on the blog (if you’re really curious, you could do worse than starting here or here) — but whatever the reasons behind these not-so-optimal connections between cousin marriage and the characteristics of a modern, open, and free society, it doesn’t take an einstein to figure out that the two DO NOT seem to go together.

see also: Cousin Marriage Conundrum by steve sailer, Veil of Fears by stanley kurtz, and Consanguinity prevents Middle Eastern political development by parapundit.

(note: comments do not require an email. kissin’ cousins.)

vasilis asked a good set of questions the other day:

“I wonder, doesn’t immigration break apart the extended family into nuclear family fragments? Does anyone actually bring along all 52 first cousins with them, along with spouses, children, parents etc? Of course ‘familismo’ values will be carried over the border, but to what degree can they be instilled in the next generation in the absence of all these people in their daily lives?”

now that i’ve thought about it a bit, though, i wonder if the picture he paints isn’t one that was more true of 20+ years ago than it is today in our über-connected world. i mean, i can follow in real time how my 12 year-old first cousin-once-removed’s gymnastics competition is going — or commiserate with her on how horrible her school lunch was today — and she lives in a different country! i can keep in touch with her and her brother and all my other cousins’ kids in a way i couldn’t do with their parents. back in the day, it was the odd phone call and even (omg) letters. now it’s email, facebook and txt messaging. instant gratification for the familist! (~_^)

and anyway, we’ve seen that both italian-americans and r.c. irish-americans are more familistic than anglo-americans, and … how long have they been in the country now? how long does this assimilation business take anyway?

assmiliation? pshaw. here from “Who is to blame for fractured Britain?” published last year in the telegraph:

“What ruined our community and the personality of our neighbourhood were the young Eastern Europeans who poured in from 2004 onwards. I am not criticising the character of these young migrants. They were generally hardworking, eager and ambitious. But they arrived all at once in large numbers and, most significantly, had zero interest in integrating. They lived and socialised exclusively together, watched Polish television channels via their satellite dishes, chatted to family back home for free on Skype, set up Polish shops to sell Polish food, newspapers and books, and they learnt only as much English as they had to. Seeing shop after little shop put up the words Polski sklep marked the end of the village I knew.”

mexicans in the u.s. don’t even need satellite television. they’ve got univision which is available on cable. any idiota can hook it up. i don’t know how much mexicans/hispanics in the u.s. use facebook, or if they’re all still on myspace, but they’ve (nearly) all got cellphones afaict and, i’m sure, can txt pretty easily to family members back home in mexico/wherever.

nope. i have a bad feeling that modern communications — not to mention the ease of travel nowadays — prolly lends itself to greater opportunities for immigrants to practice familism if they want than ever before. i know i can.

previously: hispanic family values and anglo-american vs. mexican family values and familism in the u.s. of a.

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