going dutch

daniel hannan (Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking Peoples Made the Modern World) is full of admiration for the dutch (so am i!). here from a blogpost of his — I’ve realised why I like the Dutch so much: they invented capitalism — from the other day:

“Only recently, though, was I able to put my finger on what I liked so much. It’s this: for centuries, the Dutch made the honest pursuit of self-betterment a supreme virtue. Other European nations elevated honour and faith and martial glory, but the people Shakespeare called ‘swag-bellied Hollanders’ quietly got on with trade….

“I’ve just written a book about Anglosphere exceptionalism, published in the US next week and in Britain the week after. While writing, I couldn’t help noticing that one place had kept pace with the English-speaking peoples in the development of property rights, representative institutions, limited government and individualism. Indeed, on one critical measure, the Dutch beat us to it: modern capitalism, as defined by the twin concepts of limited liability and joint stock ventures, was invented in the Netherlands….”

meanwhile, in another corner of the internet, t.greer has been asking — and nicely answering! — a neat question: why the rise of the west? specifically, why in the middle ages did europe “diverge” from the rest of the world economically, never to look back? from Another Look at ‘The Rise of the West’ – But With Better Numbers (see also The Rise of the West: Asking the Right Questions):

“A few months ago I suggested that many of these debates that surround the ‘Great Divergence’ are based on a flawed premise — or rather, a flawed question. As I wrote:

“‘Rather than focus on why Europe diverged from the rest in 1800 we should be asking why the North Sea diverged from the rest in 1000.

“By 1200 Western Europe has a GDP per capita higher than most parts of the world, but (with two exceptions) by 1500 this number stops increasing. In both data sets the two exceptions are Netherlands and Great Britain. These North Sea economies experienced sustained GDP per capita growth for six straight centuries. The North Sea begins to diverge from the rest of Europe long before the ‘West’ begins its more famous split from ‘the rest.’

[W]e can pin point the beginning of this ‘little divergence’ with greater detail. In 1348 Holland’s GDP per capita was $876. England’s was $777. In less than 60 years time Holland’s jumps to $1,245 and England’s to 1090. The North Sea’s revolutionary divergence started at this time.

so, by the early 1400s, england and holland had taken off.

i’ve been in awe of the dutch golden age and the dutch during the renaissance/age of enlightenment (fwiw) in general (i love the art!).

why the dutch (and the english)? and why then? (you already know what i’m going to say….)

the netherlands — the low countries in general — were, once upon a time, a part of the early frankish kingdom of austrasia (i’ve more-or-less outlined the netherlands here — *ahem* — roughly):

austrasia - the netherlands

the franks converted to roman catholicism early — in the late 400s — so they were positioned to adopt the church’s cousin marriage bans right away when they were instituted in the very early 500s (502 a.d.?), nearly one hundred years before the anglo-saxons in england. and there’s evidence that the franks did, indeed, adopt the cousin marriage bans early on — definitely by the late 500s (there’s always a lag time with these things). in fact, they seem to have taken pretty seriously all of the church’s marriage bans, including the ones regarding spiritual kinship (i.e. you couldn’t marry any of your godparents’ relatives because, since you were spiritually related to your godparents, you were also spiritually related to your godparent’s relatives). as i quoted in a previous post:

“St Boniface [d.754] expressed surprise when he learned that ‘spiritual kinship’ was created by lifting a child from the baptismal font and was being treated as an impediment to marriage among the Franks. But it was the law.”

The Outbreeding Project was so successful in franco-belgia and southern england that, by the 1300s, cousin marriage was a complete non-issue in the ecclesiastical courts in those regions.

the exception in the low countries was the group of frisians along the coast who didn’t convert to christianity until the late 700s [pg. 11], so they were at least three hundred years behind the franks as far as The Outbreeding Project went.

in addition, the frisians went untouched by manorialism, which served to reinforce the cousin marriage bans as well as to push for nuclear families. and the frisians (like their coastal neighbors the ditmarsians) remained a bit wild and clannish until rather late in the medieval period. from michael mitterauer’s Why Europe? [pgs. 41-41 & 76]:

“The area settled by the Frisians along the North Seas coast is an interesting case from within the Frankish Empire itself. Manorial estates had not been established there — not by the king, the church, or the nobility — although the imperial heartland lay very close by. The reason for this may well be the ecological conditions that determined the economy. The region was admirably suited for grazing, so that agriculture faded into the background…. Natural conditions were lacking for the cerealization that had been implemented by Frankish neighbors. That a region in the Frankish Empire specializing in animal husbandry did not even begin to come close to establishing the bipartite estate confirms, e contrario, the belief in a connection between increased grain production and the rise of the manorial system. Nor was the agricultural system in Frisian settlements shaped later on by manorial structures. Very strong rural communal groups were established instead, placing the local nobles dispensing high justice in a percarious position….

“Ecological conditions might well have blocked the [hide] system’s progress in Friesland and the North Sea coastal marshes. It is striking that those are precisely the areas where we find features — such as the clan system and most notably blood revenge — that typify societies strongly oriented toward lineage. Blood revenge is rooted in a concept of kinship in which all men of a group are treated almost like a single person. The agnates together are considered to be the bearers of honor — and guilt. That is why the guilt of one relative can be avenged on someone else who had utterly no part in the deed. The idea of blood revenge is completely incompatible with Christian views of guilt and innocence. Nevertheless, the institution of blood revenge was still alive in several European societies even after they were Christianized, those in the North Sea marshes among them.”

the frisians were free!

the dutch and the anglo-saxons are exceptional in terms of being individualistic (versus clannish) and, yet, oriented toward the commonweal — they’re both groups that developed capitalism and liberal democracy (perhaps the anglos are more fond of liberal democracy) — because these were the two populations in northwest europe that started outbreeding the earliest.

and now i’ve arrived back where i started two-and-a-half years ago (boy, will i ever shut up??) — with avner greif‘s paper Family Structure, Institutions, and Growth: The Origin and Implications of Western Corporatism [opens pdf]:

“There is a vast amount of literature that considers the importance of the family as an institution. Little attention, however, has been given to the impact of family structures on institutions, their dynamics, and the ability to change them…. This paper illustrates this by highlighting the importance of the European family structure in one of the most fundamental institutional changes in history.

This change has been the emergence of economic and political *corporations* in late medieval Europe. ‘Corporations’ are defined here, consistent with their historical meaning, as intentionally created, voluntary, interest-based, and self-governed permanent associations. Guilds, fraternities, universities, communes and city-states are some of the corporations that dominated Europe in the past. Businesses and professional associations, business corporations, universities, consumer groups, republics and democracies are some of the corporations in modern economies.

Providing institutions through corporations is a novelty. Historically, the institutions that secured one’s life and property and mitigated problems of cooperation and conflicts were initially provided by large kinship groups. Subsequently, such institutions that rely on this family structure were complemented or replaced by those provided by self-interested rulers. Corporation-based institutions can substitute for those provided by both kinship groups and self-interested rulers. When they substitute kinship-based institutions, corporations are complementary to a different family structure, namely, the nuclear family structure. For an individual, corporations reduce the benefits from belonging to a kinship group while a nuclear family increases the benefits from being a member of a corporation….

[T]he actions of the Church caused the nuclear family — constituting of husband and wife, children, and sometimes a handful of close relatives — to dominate Europe by the late medieval period.

The medieval church instituted marriage laws and practices that undermined large kinship groups. From as early as the fourth century, it discouraged practices that enlarged the family, such as adoption, polygamy, concubinage, divorce, and remarriage. It severely prohibited marriages among individuals of the same blood (consanguineous marriages), which had constituted a means to create and maintain kinship groups throughout history. The church also curtailed parents’ abilities to retain kinship ties through arranged marriages by prohibiting unions in which the bride didn’t explicitly agree to the union.

“European family structures did not evolve monotonically toward the nuclear family nor was their evolution geographically and socially uniform. However, by the late medieval period the nuclear family was dominate. Even among the Germanic tribes, by the eighth century the term family denoted one’s immediate family, and shortly afterwards tribes were no longer institutionally relevant. Thirteenth-century English court rolls reflect that even cousins were as likely to be in the presence of non-kin as with each other.

“The practices the church advocated, such as monogamy, are still the norm in Europe. Consanguineous marriages in contemporary Europe account for less than one percent of the total number of marriages. In contrast, the percentage of such marriages in Muslim, Middle Eastern countries, where we also have particularly good data, is much higher – between twenty to fifty percent. Among the anthropologically defined 356 contemporary societies of Euro-Asia and Africa, there is a large and significant negative correlation between Christianization (for at least 500 years) and the absence of clans and lineages; the level of commercialization, class stratification, and state formation are insignificant.

in general, the dutch and the english have been outbreeding for the longest of all the europeans (of anybody, really), and they are two of the groups having the longest history of corporations in europe (there’s the northern italians, too), and they also have the strongest tendencies towards cooperative, voluntary, corporate groups today.

however, some of the dutch — and some of the english — actually did inbreed longer than some of the others: the frisians vs. the franks, the east anglians vs. the southeastern english. these groups were some of my in-betweeners — more outbred than your average arab, but less outbred than the longest of the long-term outbreeders. and the puritans (largely from east anglia) were big into business if Albion’s Seed is to be believed. and the frisians, too, were some of the earliest businessmen/traders in the low countries. from A Brief History of the Netherlands [pg. 15 – see also The Evolution of the Money Standard in Medieval Frisia: A Treatise on the History of the Systems of Money of Account in the Former Frisia (c.600-c.1500)]:

“Frisia (Friesland), however, remained a land apart. The Frisians were traders, stockbreeders, and fishermen, and feudalism took little hold in the swampy soil here.”

the combination of two not wholly dissimilar groups (franks+frisians, for instance), with one of the groups being very outbred (the franks) and the other being an in-betweener group (the frisians), seems perhaps to be a winning one. the outbred group might provide enough open, trusting, trustworthy, cooperative, commonweal-oriented members to the union, while the in-betweener group might provide a good dose of hamilton’s “self-sacrificial daring” that he reckoned might contribute to renaissances.

(and, yes, i am talking about the natural selection of innate behaviors.)

i could be wrong, but that’s my theory, and i’m sticking to it! (for now.) (^_^)

p.s. – in case you’ve forgotten, the nations that saw the earliest reduction of homicides in the medieval period…yes…england and the netherlands/belgium: kinship, the state, and violence.

previously: what about the franks? and trees and frisians and the radical reformation and whatever happened to european tribes?

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corporations and collectivities

i’ve been referring to western society — especially since the middle ages and forward — as being “corporate” in nature, i.e. that unrelated individuals in western societies tend to get together and form “corporate” sorts of groups, like guilds and mutual aid societies and even quite a few protestant churches, more than people in other societies do. this is as opposed to more family-based societies where social life and affairs are based on … yeah … the family — especially the extended family or clan or tribe. i thought i picked up the term “corporate” from avner greif [opens pdf], but he talks about “corporatism” and not strictly a society having a “corporate” nature, so i guess i sorta coined it myself (sorta) or got it from elsewhere.


in Family in Contemporary Egypt [available on questia] by andrea rugh, the author uses the term “corporate” or “corporations” not to refer to the individualistic groupings in western society, which she calls “collectivities”, but to family-based societies instead. i’ll let her explain it [pgs. 32-34]:

“Corporateness is used here to define that sense the Egyptian has of the inviolability of his social groups, of their indivisible unity that persists regardless of the constituent members. The term is contrasted with the concept of collectivity which is meant to refer to the Western perception of groups as collections of individuals joining to achieve the common interests of the individual members. Within the collectivity individual rights supercede group rights and are only restricted where they may conflict with the rights of other individuals. It is the exception to discern in the collectivity any supra-individual rights that might devolve on the larger group. The individual is generally protected by legal rule or social custom from too great a tyranny of the group.

“In a corporation, the group comes first and the individuals are expected to sacrifice their own needs for the greater good of the group. The personal status of individual members is defined by the group and not more than incidentally by individual achievement. Individual behaviors are evaluated primarily by how they reflect on the group, the group taking the blame or the rewards for these behaviors. Personal lapses in behavior, if kept secret, are of little consequence; it is only their public acknowledgement and association with the lowering of group status that causes an individual a sense of shame and personal guilt.

“The collective view, by contrast, considers the individual on his own merits. He can excel or not live up to the expectations of his group without reflecting more than marginally on that group. The individual draws on the group for support in achieving his own status level. He can personally overcome the deficiencies of his group, and the world will recognize his achievements. Society, as a result, holds him responsible for developing his own potentialities and only in special cases of disadvantage accepts the view that his group might hinder this effort.

“A person holding a corporate view or a collective view organizes his life quite differently from one holding the opposing view. Each view is so deeply engrained in the cultural consciousness of a people [i would say in the biology of a people – h. chick] that it is difficult for people to stand outside their own cultural perspective and project themselves into the consciousness of those holding the opposing view. People conceive of their own world view as representing logic, common sense, and other valued characteristics, and, indeed, given the whole social system within which the world view functions, it *is* the view with the best ‘fit’ to provice coherence for the society as a whole.

“The following illustration demonstrates the conflict in world view that occurs when member of a society that is corporate-based are to comment on the principles of a collectively based society:

“‘An American literature class in an Egyptian University had just finished Thoreau’s ‘Walden’. The American professor had explained all the pertinent points of Thoreau’s return to nature, his attempt at realizing self-sufficiency, his strong sense of individualism. The class was clearly uncomfortable with what they had been reading and were having difficulty in putting the book into some sort of familiar perspective.

“‘”How do you feel about Thoreau, the man, and do you think that a life style like his would be appropriate in the Egyptian context?” the professor asked. Hands flew up and a number of answers came at once:

“‘”He is a miser–he lacks generosity.” The student based his comments on the lengthy accounting Thoreau made of all the materials he had bought to sustain himself in the woods. “What is the purpose of going off and living alone? What kind of life is that?” “Doesn’t he have any family? He doesn’t speak about them. How can he leave all his responsibilities behind like that?”

“‘The consensus of the class was that Thoreau was not accomplishing anything useful by his anti-social behavior; he had abrogated his role as a social being. He should in fact be considered “crazy” and would be so considered if he should try to live in this way in the Egyptian context. The concept of self-realization and self-reliance were totally lost on the students.’

“Individualism has little positive value in Egyptian society, and often is equated with a number of negative outcomes. As one student later commented: ‘Individualism leads to sexual license and social chaos since everyone is seeking his own ends.'”

whatever way you wanna use the words — corporate vs. family-based or collectivities vs. corporations — what matters here is that, broadly speaking, there are two different types of societies: individualistic and group oriented. and the group oriented societies are based, not on random groupings of individuals, but on extended families, clans and tribes. and you get varying degrees of all that by greater or lesser amounts of inbreeding; you get individualism by outbreeding.

one thing i’d really like the hbd-o-sphere to think about and understand even more, though, is what rugh said about the difficulties that the two types of peoples have in understanding one another:

“Each view is so deeply engrained in the cultural consciousness of a people that it is difficult for people to stand outside their own cultural perspective and project themselves into the consciousness of those holding the opposing view.”

it’s not just difficult for people to stand outside their own cultural persepctive to understand others — it’s difficult for people to stand outside their own biological natures to understand other peoples’ biological natures. and this applies to all areas of human biodiversity, not just the inbreeding/outbreeding thing.

it’s hard to understand other individuals or peoples, unless you try, which most people don’t. most people don’t even ever consider trying to view things from a totally different perspective than their own. they don’t and/or can’t imagine that other people might, on a very fundamental level, think and feel differently about life.

for instance, if you’re one of those people who can wait on eatin’ the marshmallow so that you can have two later (mmmmmm!), imagine that there are some people who can’t do that. it’s not just that they choose not to wait, they CAN’T. then imagine what they must think about people who do. it’s not easy for either side. (i suspect it’s easier for higher iq people to imagine how others experience the world — if they bother trying — but think about the legions of people with below average iqs….)

anyway. enough soapboxing. (^_^) different peoples are different. i know you know that already, but think about it some more anyway. that is all! (^_^)

update: a couple of more passages from rugh [pgs. 281-82]:

“Corporateness has other social implications that can be discovered by reviewing some of the points made in earlier chapters….

First, group — most often family — becomes the bottom line for most kinds of social and economic organization. There is little use in talking about how an isolated individual copes in his socioeconomic environment since so much depends on the back-up support he commands….

Second, people feel a strong sense of who stands in a relation of outsider or insider, however they may momentarily define these categories. The zero-sum game, attributed to Egyptian social behavior, is based to a large extent on the sliding perception of who stands outside and who inside the group in any attempt to garner resources. Kin of varying degrees of distance can at different times fall in or outside the circle of alliance depending upon the activity at hand….

The villain for the individual Egyptian is almost always perceived as an outside aggressor rather than the Egyptian himself, his failings, or the failings of someone of his committed inner circle. This allows projection of problems on outside others rather than on introspective self-doubts or vital group members. The greater good requires that these kinds of deceptions be sustained by everyone concerned lest the solidarity of group be threatened. To combat the outside threat people seek to consolidate groups which can either strengthen life’s chances or spread life’s burdens. Limited and versatile groupings like the family are effective tools under these circumstances.

Third, confidence between people is based on trust which in turn is more likely to occur where structural relationships of group exist. The stronger the overlay of ties, jural and affective, the more confidence a person invests in another person. The jural ties of kinship are strongest, even without affective ties, for there is a strong moral obligation for kin to come to the aid of other kin, even when there have been no effective relationships between them over a long period of time…..”

previously: mating patterns and the individual

update: see also family type in egypt and mating patterns in egypt

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the corporate nature of european societies and liberal democracy

after describing how the catholic church put an end (for the most part) to clans and tribes in western europe via its regulations on marriage, a topic which has been discussed at length here on the ol’ blog (see the Inbreeding in Europe series down below in the left-hand column), economist avner greif explains in “Family Structure, Institutions, and Growth: The Origins and Implications of Western Corporations” how the new, individualistic europeans developed a corporate society, one which eventually lead to democratic nations in europe [pgs. 309-10]:

“The decline of large kinship groups in Europe transpired during a period in which the state was also disintegrating and the church’s secular authority was diminishing…. A new solution was needed to solve problems of conflict and cooperation, and people got together to form corporations.

“These corporations were voluntary, interest-based based, self-governed, and intentionally created permanent associations. In many cases, they were self-organized and not established by the state. Participation was voluntary in the sense that one had to be attracted to be a member and, therefore, corporations had to cater to their members’ interests….

“By the late medieval period, economic and political corporations dominated Europe….

“Monasteries, fraternities, and mutual-insurance guilds provided social safety nets against famine, unemployment, and disability. The majority of the population belonged to such fraternities and guilds, at least in England. Because corporations provided social safety nets that were alternatives to those provided by kinship groups, they enabled individuals to take risks and make other economic decisions without interference by members of such groups. Relative to a society dominated by kinship groups, the nuclear family structure increased capital per worker by encouraging later marriages and fewer children, and it led to a more efficient distribution of labor and knowledge by facilitating migration.

“Craft guilds regulated production, training, and the protection of brand names. Universities, monastic orders, and guilds developed and distributed scientific and technological knowledge. Merchant guilds and communes protected property rights at home and abroad, secured brand names, and provided contract enforcement in exchange. Corporations, such as the Italian citystates and military orders, mustered armies to expand the European resource base.

“Many late medieval corporations were political; they had their own legal systems, administrations, and military forces. The Italian city-republics were literally independent, but most European cities west of the Baltic Sea in the north and the Adriatic Sea in the south were also political corporations (communes). Political corporations also prevailed among Western European peasants. Because such corporations preceded the pre-modern European states, they often provided these states with indispensable services, such as tax collection, law and order, and an army. Self-interested rulers were constrained in adopting policies that hindered these corporations’ economic interests or abusing their property rights (Greif, 2005). Indeed, by the thirteenth century, most European principalities had representative bodies to approve taxation and communes were represented in all of them. Economic corporations, therefore, had the ability to impact policies and, in the long run, they were influential in transforming the European state into a corporation in the form of a democracy.

that is all. (^_^)

previously: whatever happened to european tribes? and “hard-won democracy” and democracy and endogamous mating practices

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