Archives for posts with tag: commonweal

northern europeans began to think of — or at least write about — themselves as individuals beginning in the eleventh century a.d. [pgs. 158, 160, and 64-67 – bolding and links inserted by me]:

The discovery of the individual was one of the most important cultural [*ahem*] developments in the years between 1050 and 1200. It was not confined to any one group of thinkers. Its central features may be found in different circles: a concern with self-discovery; an interest in the relations between people, and in the role of the individual within society; an assessment of people by their inner intentions rather than by their external acts. These concerns were, moreover, conscious and deliberate. ‘Know yourself’ was one of the most frequently quoted injunctions. The phenomenon which we have been studying was found in some measure in every part of urbane and intelligent society.

“It remains to ask how much this movement contributed to the emergence of the distinctively Western view of the individual…. The continuous history of several art-forms and fields of study, which are particularly concerned with the individual, began at this time: auto-biography, psychology, the personal portrait, and satire were among them….

“The years between 1050 and 1200 must be seen…as a turning-point in the history of Christian devotion. There developed a new pattern of interior piety, with a growing sensitivity, marked by personal love for the crucified Lord and an easy and free-flowing meditation on the life and passion of Christ….

“The word ‘individual’ did not, in the twelfth century, have the same meaning as it does today. The nearest equivalents were *individuum*, *individualis*, and *singularis*, but these terms belonged to logic rather than to human relations….

“The age had, however, other words to express its interest in personality. We hear a great deal of ‘the self’, not expressed indeed in that abstract way, but in such terms as ‘knowing oneself’, ‘descending into oneself’, or ‘considering oneself’. Another common term was *anima*, which was used, ambiguously in our eyes, for both the spiritual identity (‘soul’) of a man and his directing intelligence (‘mind’). Yet another was ‘the inner man’, a phrase found in Otloh of Saint Emmeram and Guibert of Nogent, who spoke also of the ‘inner mystery’. Their vocabulary, while it was not the same as ours, was therefore rich in terms suited to express the ideas of self-discovery and self-exploration.

“Know Yourself

“Self-knowledge was one of the dominant themes of the age…. These writers all insisted on self-knowledge as fundamental. Thus Bernard wrote to Pope Eugenius, a fellow-Cistercian, about 1150: ‘Begin by considering yourself — no, rather, end by that….For you, you are the first; you are also the last.’ So did Aelred of Rievaulx: ‘How much does a man know, if he does not know himself?’ The Cistercian school was not the only one to attach such a value to self-knowledge. About 1108 Guibert of Nogent began his history of the Crusade with a modern-sounding reflection about the difficulty of determining motive:

“‘It is hardly surprising if we make mistakes in narrating the actions of other people, when we cannot express in words even our own thoughts and deeds; in fact, we can hardly sort them out in our own minds. It is useless to talk about intentions, which, as we know, are often so concealed as scarcely to be discernible to the understanding of the inner man.’

“Self-knowledge, then, was a generally popular ideal.”
_____

there seem to be two broad sociobiological/genocultural packages when it comes to average nepotistic vs. not-so-nepotistic altruistic behaviors in human populations — these are not binary opposites, but rather the ends of some sort of continuum of behavioral traits [click on table for LARGER view]:

nepotistic vs. not-so-nepotistic

the common thread running through the not-so-nepotistic groups of today (primarily northwest europeans) is a long history of outbreeding (i.e. avoiding close matings, like cousin marriage). (and a long history of manorialism. yes, i WILL start my series on medieval manorialism soon!) while individualism and guilt cultures may have been present in northern europe in paleolithic or even mesolithic populations, these behavioral traits and mindsets were definitely not present in the pre-christian germanic, british, or irish populations of late antiquity. those populations were very much all about clans and kindreds, feuding and honor, shame, and group consensus. guilt/individualistic cultures (i.e. not-so-nepostic societies) can come and go depending at least partly on long-term mating patterns. human evolution can be recent as well as aeons old.

the individualistic guilt-culture of northwest (“core”) europeans today came into existence thanks to their extensive outbreeding during the medieval period (…and the manorialism). the outbreeding started in earnest in the 800s (at least in northern france) and, as we saw above, by 1050-1100 thoughts on individualis began to stir. around the same time, communes appeared in northern italy and parts of france — civic societies. violence rates begin to fall in the 1200s, especially in more outbred populations, i would argue (guess!) because the impulsive violence related to clan feuding was no longer being selected for.

by the 1300-1400s, after an additional couple hundred years of outbreeding, the renaissance was in full swing due to the “wikification” of northern european society — i.e. that nw europeans now possessed a set of behavioral traits that drove them to work cooperatively with non-relatives — to share openly knowledge and ideas and labor in reciprocally altruistic ways. the enlightenment? well, that was just the full flowering of The Outbreeding Project — an explosion of these not-so-nepotistic behavioral traits that had been selected for over the preceding 800 to 900 years. individualism? universalism? liberal democracy? tolerance? reason? skepticism? coffeehouses? the age of enlightenment IS what core europeans are all about! hurray! (^_^) the Project and its effects are ongoing today.

it could be argued that the fact that certain mating patterns seem to go together with certain societal types is just a coincidence — or that it’s the societal type that affects or dictates the mating patterns. for example, i said in my recent post on shame and guilt in ancient greece that:

“shame cultures are all tied up with honor — especially family honor. japan — with its meiwaku and seppuku — is the classic example of a shame culture, but china with its confucian filial piety is not far behind. the arabized populations are definitely shame cultures with their honor killings and all their talk of respect. even european mediterranean societies are arguably more honor-shame cultures than guilt cultures [pdf].

“if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you’ll recognize all of those shame cultures as having had long histories of inbreeding: maternal cousin marriage was traditionally very common in east asia (here’re japan and china); paternal cousin marriage is still going strong in the arabized world; and cousin marriage was prevelant in the mediterranean up until very recently (here’s italy, for example).”

perhaps, you say, the causal direction is that nepotistic, clannish shame-cultures somehow promote close matings (cousin marriage or whatever). well, undoubtedly there are reinforcing feedback loops here, but the upshot is that both ancient greece and medieval-modern europe clearly illustrate that the mating patterns come first. (possibly ancient rome, too, but i’ll come back to that another day.) the pre-christian northern european societies were clannish shame-cultures until after the populations switched to outbreeding (avoiding cousin marriage) in the early medieval period. late archaic-early classical greek society was rather (a bit borderline) universalistic, individualistic [pg. 160+] and guilt-based until after they began to marry their cousins with greater frequency (at least in classical athens). the not-so-nepotistic guilt-culture we see now in northwest european populations is particularly resilient, i think, because the outbreeding has been carried out for a particularly long time (since at least the 800s) and thanks to the complementary selection pressures of the medieval manor system (which ancient greece lacked), but it did not exist before the early medieval period.

so, the direction of causation seems to be: (long-term) mating patterns –> societal type (nepotistic vs. not-so-nepotistic).

i think.

previously: there and back again: shame and guilt in ancient greece and big summary post on the hajnal line and individualism-collectivism

(note: comments do not require an email. earliest formal self-portrait, jean fouquet, 1450.)

Advertisements

’bout time, right? right.

the first thing — one of the most important things — to remember is that clannishness does NOT just apply to peoples who live in clans (or, like the arabs, lineage-based tribes). a population that is clannish, or exhibits traits of clannishness, does NOT have to be one arranged along clans/tribes. all — or maybe most (dunno) — societies that are arranged along clan/tribal lines are normally clannish — at least i think so — i can’t think of any that are not. but clannishness extends beyond that — some societies are clannish even though their members don’t spend their everyday lives surrounded by their fellow clan members.

so what is clannishness then? clannishness is (and i reserve the right to alter this definition) a set of behaviors and innate behavioral traits and predispositions which, when found in a population, result in the members of that population strongly favoring, in all areas of life, themselves, their family members — both near and extended, and even closely allied associates (esp. in clannish societies which are not arranged into clans), while at the same time strongly disfavoring those considered to be non-family and all unrelated, non-allied associates. (i know — it’s messy — it needs work. i agree. feel free to leave suggestions in the comments! thnx.)

the most important thing to remember here is: take the clannish individuals out of their native clannish environment — for instance, away from their extended families or clans — and they will still, on average, behave in clannish ways. why? because (i think) that what we’re looking at are innate traits — innate traits that are found to different degrees, on average, in different populations. and why should that be? evolution by natural selection, that’s why. to quote myself:

think of it like a two-stage rocket:

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

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

“either clannish or not (or any range in between those!).” in other words, clannishness should be viewed as a spectrum. to quote myself again:

clannishness should be viewed as a spectrum.

the pattern seems to be that, the longer and greater the inbreeding, the more clannish — and the opposite — the longer and greater the outbreeding, the less clannish.

if we take 1 as the least clannish and 10 as the most clannish, i would rate various groups as follows (these are today’s judgements — i reserve the right to alter these as i go forward and learn more about all of these populations!):

1 – the english (not all of them — probably not the cornish, for instance), some of the dutch
2 – the scandinavians
3 or 4 – the irish
6-7 – the italians, the greeks, the chinese
7-8 – the albanians
10 – the yanomamo
11 – the arabs

(see also jayman’s A Tentative Ranking of the Clannishness of the “Founding Fathers”)

since we’re talking (i think) about evolution and the selection for behaviors here, it should be obvious that populations can go from being more or less clannish — and also that populations can, and do, head down slightly different evolutionary pathways depending on their own, unique circumstances, and so probably all will be clannish (or non-clannish) in their own ways. there will be broad similarities, of course — but maybe mostly the patterns will be generally the same, just not very specifically.
_____

so what are these clannish behaviors/traits?

well, i’m not the only one who’s interested in clannishness and the effects that has on the functioning (or not) of societies. here is mark weiner on “clannism” [kindle locations 128-138]:

“[B]y the rule of the clan I mean the political arrangements of societies governed by what the ‘Arab Human Development Report 2004’ calls ‘clannism.’ These societies possess the outward trappings of a modern state but are founded on informal patronage networks, especially those of kinship, and traditional ideals of patriarchal family authority. In nations pervaded by clannism, government is coopted for purely factional purposes and the state, conceived on the model of the patriarchal family, treats citizens not as autonomous actors but rather as troublesome dependents to be managed.

“Clannism is the historical echo of tribalism, existing even in the face of economic modernization. It often characterizes rentier societies struggling under the continuing legacy of colonial subordination, as in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, where the nuclear family, with its revolutionary, individuating power, has yet to replace the extended lineage group as the principle framework for kinship or household organization. A form of clannism likewise pervades mainland China and other nations whose political development was influenced by Confucianism, with its ideal of a powerful state resting on a well-ordered family, and where personal connections are essential to economic exchange.”

that’s a good start, but here’s a more general list of non-clannish–clannish traits/behaviors (again, these should be viewed as spectrums … spectra?):

individualism/collectivism vs. familism/non-collectivism
universalism vs. particularism
civic-minded/commonweal oriented vs. not civic-minded/not commonweal oriented
liberal democracy vs. consensus democracy (or no democracy at all)
– low corruption vs. high corruption
low-violence vs. high-violence(?)
– no feuding vs. feuding

put all of these selected for behaviors together (plus, i’m sure, others that i haven’t thought of) in different average degrees in different populations, and you get different degrees of clannishness — or very little at all — in different populations.

previously: where do clans come from? and mating patterns, family types, social structures, and selection pressures and inbreeding and outbreeding and theories

(note: comments do not require an email. (^_^) )

in Individualism-Collectivism and Social Capital (2004) [pdf], allik & realo — after looking at some, you know, actual data — come to the same conclusion that i have been babbling on about here on the blog (if you can read between the lines/read my mind, that is), and that is that paradoxically it appears that, in societies in which the members are MORE individualistic, those same members are oriented MORE towards the group, the whole group, and nothing but the group (i.e. NOT their extended families or clans or tribes) than in societies in which the members are NOT so individualistic.

this seems paradoxical, because you would think that the more individualistic a bunch of individuals were, the more selfish and self-oriented they’d become; but what in fact seems to have happened out there in The Big World is that those individualistic individuals are more concerned about the commonweal than non-individualistic peoples are — the individualistic individuals are, in fact, more civic minded, more democratically minded, and NOT very family minded (in the sense of the extended family, that is).

oddly, the whole world is not like this, only some peoples are. as riley jones said on twitter the other day, it’s almost like people evolved…to be different!

from allik & realo [pg. 32]:

“[I]ndividualism does not necessarily jeopardize organic unity and social solidarity. On the contrary, the growth of individuality, autonomy, and self-sufficiency may be perceived as necessary conditions for the development of interpersonal cooperation, mutual dependence, and social solidarity…. Psychologists have also noticed that the consequences of individualism are not always detrimental. For instance, it has been noticed that individualism (as it is conceptualized in psychology) is also associated with higher self-esteem and optimism (Kitayama, Markus, Matsumoto,&Norasakkunkit, 1997); individualistic cultures are higher on subjective wellbeing (Diener & Diener, 1995; Diener, Diener, & Diener, 1995; Diener & Suh, 1999; Suh, Diener, Oishi,&Triandis, 1998), and they report higher levels of quality-of-life (Veenhoven, 1999). People in individualistic cultures tend to have more acquaintances and friends (Triandis, 2000); they are more extraverted and open to newexperience (McCrae, 2001); and they are more trusting and tolerant toward people of different races (Hofstede, 2001)….

“According to Hofstede’s (1991) definition, ‘individualism pertains to societies in which the ties between individuals are loose: everyone is expected to look after himself or herself and his or her immediate family.’ Collectivism, on the other hand, ‘pertains to societies in which people from birth onwards are integrated into strong, cohesive in-groups, which throughout people’s lifetime continue to protect them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty’ (p. 51). Linking to theories of modernization, Hofstede (1991) claimed that industrialized, wealthy, and urbanized societies tend to become increasingly individualistic, whereas traditional, poorer, and rural societies tend to remain collectivistic….”

now’s the point where, if you haven’t read them before, have a look at these two previous posts of mine: mating patterns and the individual and where do clans come from?

back? ok!

here are the results from allik & realo. they took at look at the degrees of individualism both in different countries and in different u.s. states to see if there was any correlation between individualism and collectivism (measured by looking at social capital or interpersonal trust) in those places (see their paper for their methodology and where they got the data from — putnam was one of their sources). first, the countries (click on charts for LARGER views!):

allik and realo - nations

you’ll recognize all the usual, long-term outbreeding suspects** in the upper right-hand corner (most individualistic and most trusting): great britain, the anglo nations, and the netherlands in the lead; the scandinavians (a bit less individualistic than the brits/dutch) following; then the swiss, germans/other germanic populations, and the french and italians; then the eastern europeans; trailing way behind are groups like the turks, brazilians, and nigerians. the one big outlier is the chinese, and the authors, as well as other researchers to whom they refer, all admit that they have no idea why the chinese show up as so trusting — in other surveys, too, apparently. i can’t explain it, either — but, then, there are always exceptions that prove the rule. (~_^) (maybe.)

next, the u.s. states. it’s south dakota all over again!:

allik and realo - u.s. states

hackett fischer couldn’t have drawn a tidier chart of his four folkways! there are the yankees (and scandinavians) in the upper left-hand corner — the most individualistic with the most “social capital” a la putnam [pdf]. in other words, the longest outbreeders again. in the lower right-hand corner are the backcountry southerners who stem from populations that inbred for longer (i.e. the scots-irish and border reivers**). they all have the lowest amounts of individualism and social capital (although, paradoxically again, they probably feel like strong individualists, but that’s just antipathy towards government, i.e. outsiders having any control over their lives — i know the feeling! (~_^) ). and states with a mix of outbreeders and inbreeders — like new york and illinois — fall in between.

more from allik & realo [pgs. 44-45]:

“Where Does Social Capital Come From?

“A mere correlation (no matter how high it is) between measures of social capital and individualism tells us nothing of course about their causal linkage. What we can conclude is that individualistic values appear to be conducive to social capital and social capital appears to be conducive to individualism (see also Inkeles, 2000)…. As noted in our introduction, individualism can be seen as a consequence of modernization. Modern, rational societies are built on the self interest of individual actors whose independence and inalienable individual rights form the core of their political and economical life. Many social scientists have predicted that one inevitable consequence of modernization is the unlimited growth of individualism, which poses serious threats to the organic unity of individuals and society by paving a road to social atomization, unbounded egoism, and distrust (Etzioni, 1993, 1996; Lane, 1994). Existing data, however, provide no support for such pessimistic prognoses. On the contrary, we saw that individualism appears to be rather firmly associated with an increase of social capital, both within and across cultures. Paradoxically, in societies where individuals are more autonomous and seemingly liberated from social bonds, the same individuals are also more inclined to form voluntary associations and to trust each other and to have a certain kind of public spirit…. Thus, the autonomy and independence of the individual may be perceived as the prerequisites for establishing voluntary associations, trusting relationships, and mutual cooperation with one another.”

i think that the social scientists have it exactly backwards: individualism is not a consequence of modernization, but rather modernization is a consequence of individualism. and this individualism first got going in the early medieval period (although its roots may go even further back — see here and here) in the northwest corner of europe (barring ireland and the highlands of scotland) with the outbreeding program put into place by the catholic church and tptb.**

the english were some of the earliest individualists (see here and here and here), and they pretty much invented the industrial revolution and neat things like liberal democracy. oh, and they were also the first in europe to cease being so crazy violent in the medieval period.

peoples are individualistic because they have certain innate traits that were selected for via evolution, and one way (i think) to set up the conditions for those traits to be selected for is to avoid close mating, i.e. get rid of clannishness. over the long-term — we’re talking evolutionary processes here, not overnight quick fixes. the process started in northern europe in the early medieval period (or perhaps even a bit earlier), and after a thousand years or so, these societies were filled with individualistic individuals having a strong orientation towards the wider group, i.e. societies with a lot of trust and a lot of social capital. that’s the recipe for individualism-collectivism.
_____

**for more on the historic mating patterns of various european (and other) populations, see the “mating patterns in…” series below (↓) in the left-hand column.

previously: me and max and mating patterns and the individual and where do clans come from? and corporations and collectivities and liberal democracy vs. consensus building and mating patterns, family types, social structures, and selection pressures

(note: comments do not require an email. individualist.)

i remember reading a long time ago about how, when bangkok’s elevated train system was built (don’t recall if it was the failed berts or the skytrain or what), everything from the pillars to the platforms was made over dimensioned, because everyone, all the city planners and the engineers, knew — they all knew — that there would be cheating involved at every stage of the construction process — watered down concrete would undoubtedly be used, reused steel reinforcements would take the place the new ones that should’ve been installed, etc., etc. everything had to be over dimensioned to ensure that the whole thing wouldn’t just fall over. (costly, no?)

china has the same fundamental problem — what m.g. has referred to a disregard for the commonweal. the chinese (and other asians, with the apparent exception of the japanese) simply care less about unrelated members of their society than northwest europeans do. and this goes way back — from greif and tabellini [pgs. 18-20]:

“Charity in pre-modern China was generally given to kin. The innovator of the clan trust, Fan Chung-yen (989-1052), “had ruled that the lineage should aid only relatives with lineage ties that were clearly documented in the genealogy” (Smith, 1987, p. 316). Only in the early 17th century non-Buddhist, impersonal charity permanent organizations were established on some scale. Although the Chinese authorities encouraged impersonal charity, moral philosophers decried it viewing the diversion of assistance way from kin immoral. A popular 17th century morality book “tells of a generous scholar who was derided by a member of his lineage for lightly giving money away to strangers ”(ibid)….

“The lack of self-governed cities in China was not simply due to a more powerful state, but also to a pervasive kinship structure that facilitated state control over cities. Indeed, immigrants to cities remained affiliated with their rural kinship groups. As late as the 17th century, in a relatively new city “the majority of a city’’s population consisted of so-called sojourners, people who had come from elsewhere and were considered (and thought of themselves as) only temporary residents …. suspicions were always rife that sojourners could not be trusted ”(Friedmann, 2007, p. 274). As noted above, families that moved to cities retained ‘their allegiance to the ancestral hall for many generations, the bonds of kinship being much closer than those of common residence’ (Hsien-Chin, 1948, p. 10).”

allegiance in china, for a very long time, has been to the clan, not the broader community.

china’s being touted nowadays as the “IT” country of the twenty-first century (third millennium?). maybe. certainly the chinese seem to have the requisite number of iq points — and intelligence is, of course, essential in succeeding in this world. you definitely don’t get very far without it.

but — and if anyone ever takes anything away from this blog, i’d like it to be this — there’s more to human biodiversity than iq.

think, for example, about the probable differences in the life histories of your average person with an iq of, say, 135, and a psychopath with an iq of 135. or a neurotypical with an iq of 135 vs. an aspie with 135. different, right? (no, i’m not saying that the chinese are a bunch of psychopaths — i’m just trying to illustrate that iq is not everything.)

the chinese are not trusting — read greif and tabellini — nor particularly trustworthy (they don’t trust each other!). not when it comes to non-family members anyway.

it’s mighty difficult to build a civil society — or, i think, a successful market economy — without trust — without concern for the commonweal. i don’t see the chinese doing it anytime soon — not without a little evolution first.

china might turn out to (continue to) be a smashing economic success story — if it does, it’s going to look very different from what happened in europe/the u.s. the system won’t be built on trust in strangers — maybe in families/clans, but not strangers — so it won’t be built on corporate entities, not public ones anyway (see greif and tabellini, pg. 24). something to keep in mind if you’re gonna do some, what half sigma has dubbed, hbd investing in china.

(note that none of this is meant to be a criticism of the chinese, nor should it be taken as such. they’re merely hbd observations. we westerners might not particularly like how the chinese operate, but in terms of numbers, they are clearly in the lead right now in the Game of Life. their system may prove to be the superior one — although it didn’t get them to the moon first. or mars.)

previously: the return of chinese clans and the return of the return of chinese clans

(note: comments do not require an email. wake me when it’s all over.)