Archives for posts with tag: inbreeding in europe series

been reading robert putnam, et. al.’s “Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy” that i learned about via m.g. miles over @those who can see. (yes, that’s the “Bowling Alone” and E Pluribus Unum putnam. i have to say, the man has certainly done some very interesting research, despite the fact that he sometimes doesn’t like his own findings.)

in “Making Democracy Work,” putnam and his colleagues found that … gee whiz … democracy just works better in northern italy than in southern italy. way better, in fact. i haven’t finished the book yet, but the authors seem to put it down to the histories and political traditions of the two regions — and there is, of course, something to that. but there are even more obvious (at least to me), underlying, biological reasons that i think explain the differences: 1) different populations — broadly speaking, more germanic in the north, more greeks and arabs and others in the south; 2) the old iq differences; and 3) differences in mating patterns which, no doubt, affect social behaviors like trust. these biological aspects of the two(+) populations and their histories are all related — intertwined — next to impossible to tease apart.

i’ll write about putnam’s finding some more when i’ve finished reading the book, but for now, here are some teasers [pgs. 91, 94, 98-99]:

“The Civic Community: Testing The Theory

“Lacking detailed ethnographic accounts of hundreds of communities throughout the regions of Italy, how can we assess the degree to which social and political life in each of those regions approximates the ideal of a civic community? What systematic evidence is there on patterns of social solidarity and civic participation? We shall here present evidence on four indicators of the ‘civic-ness’ of regional life — two that correspond directly to Tocqueville’s broad conception of what we have termed the civic community, and two that refer more immediately to political behavior.

“One key indicator of civic sociability must be the vibrancy of associational life. Fortunately, a census of all associations in Italy, local as well as national, enables us to specify precisely the number of amateur soccer clubs, choral societies, hiking clubs, bird-watching groups, literacy circles, hunters’ associations, Lions Clubs, and the like in each community and region of Italy….

“Leaving aside labor unions for the moment, sports clubs are by far the most common sort of secondary association among Italians, but other types of cultural and leisure activities are also prominent. Standardized for population differences, these data show that in the efflorescence of their associational life, some regions of Italy rival Tocqueville’s America….

“Membership in sports clubs, cultural and recreational groups, community and social action organizations, educational and youth groups, and so on is roughly twice as common in the most civic regions as in the least civic regions….”

the most civic regions being in northern italy, and the least civic ones in the south.

“Although turnout itself in general elections is not a good measure of citizen motivation, one special feature of the Italian ballot does provide important information on regional political practices. All voters in national elections must choose a single party list, and legislative seats are allocated to parties by proportional representation. In addition, however, voters can, if they wish, indicate a preference for a particular candidate from the party list they have chosen. Nationally speaking, only a minority of voters exercise this ‘preference vote,’ but in areas where party labels are largely a cover for patron-client networks, these preference votes are eagerly solicited by contending factions. In such areas, the preference vote becomes essential to the patron-client exchange relationship.

“The incidence of preference voting has long been acknowledged by students of Italian politics as a reliable indicator of personalism, factionalism, and patron-client politics, and we shall shortly present additional confimation of this interpretation. In that sense, preference voting can be taken as an indicator for the absence of a civic community. Regional differences in the use of the preference vote have been highly stable for decades, ranging from 17 percent in Emilia-Romagna and Lombardia [in the north] to 50 percent in Campanis and Calabria [in the south]….

“Regions where citizens use personal preference votes, but do not vote in referenda, do not join civic associations, and do not read newspapers are the same regions whose leaders [when asked by the researchers] describe their regional politics as clientelistic, rather than programmatic.

“Evidence from both citizens and politicians helps us trace the incidence of personalized patronage politics. Citizens in the less civic regions report much more frequent personal contact with their representatives than in the civic north. Moreover, these contacts involve primarily personal matters, rather than broader public issues. In our 1988 survey, 20 percent of voters in the least civic regions acknowledged that they occasionally ‘seek personal help about licenses, jobs, and so on from a politician,’ as contrasted with only 5 percent of the voters in the most civic regions.”

and, the inevitable godfather reference:

previously: democracy and endogamous mating practices and clientelism in greece

update 11/11: see also italian genetics

(note: comments do not require an email. why, yes, i am a little tired today now that you mention it.)


*update 08/09/13: i should’ve mentioned that the kroyl and penifader families that judith bennett looked at in her research lived in bridgstock, northamptonshire which is in the east midlands.

it goes back a long way.

in “The Origins of English Individualism,” which i haven’t actually read (yet), alan macfarlane apparently puts forth the argument that english society was comprised of a bunch of independent, “atomized” individuals by at least the thirteenth century. we’ve already seen that the nuclear family — not clans or tribes or even extended families — was the fundamental social unit in england by the 1200s. this is quite different from how things stood between two- and seven-hundred years earlier.

in “The Tie that Binds: Peasant Marriages and Families in Late Medieval England,” judith bennett examined the manor court records from a couple of neighboring villages in england in the early 1300s, specifically looking for info on the social networks of one married couple (henry kroyl and agnes penifader) and their families. neither the kroyls nor the penifaders were wealthy families, but they were well-to-do, juding by the court cases in which they were involved (property transfers, etc.).

by mapping out the social networks of henry and agnes kroyl, bennett finds no evidence that their extended families or kin played a significant role in their socio-economic circle. henry kroyl had quite a few dealings with one of his brothers, with whom he obviously shared quite a strong bond, but apart from some not very surprising transfers of property at marriage and the death of parents, henry and agnes kroyl had made their own way in life via exchanges and alliances with various, unrelated members of their community. in other words, the kroyls were quite independent [pgs. 127-28]:

“When Kroyl junior and Agnes exchanged marriage vows in the summer of 1319, the importance of their union redounded strongly on themselves, but only minimally on their families of origin. Their marriage was a binding tie within narrow limits. Its impact was felt most keenly at the center, by the principals, and then expanded out in waves that created options, not requirements. These possibilities moved horizontally and extended neither up nor down generationally. Actual responses were always strongly oriented toward the marital couple, and most social linkages moved to that center, not beyond or through it. This marriage joined together two individuals, not their families. It created a conjugal family, not a family alliance.

The image of marriage that emerges from these analyses is strongly individualistic. The lives of Kroyl junior and Agnes were profoundly affected by their marriage, but its impact upon their siblings, their parents, and their descendants was fairly insubstantial. It would be unreasonable, in view of this evidence, to think that the Kroyl and Penifader parents manipulated or coerced their children into this marriage. Neither the parents nor their other children benefited enough to merit excessive familial interference in the decision. Kroyl junior and Agnes almost certainly did not marry without recourse to familial advice and support, but such familial input probably did not overshadow the essentially personal nature of their undertaking. More than likely, the actions that culminated in this marriage conformed to ecclesiastical prescriptions; the primary decisions and commitments rested upon the principals, supported secondarily by their families and their community.

The family structure that most dominated the social lives of the Kroyls and Penifaders was the small, nuclear group.

edit: boilerplate and boilerplate 2.0

previously: but what about the english?

(note: comments do not require an email. brigstock — where the kroyls were from.)

ninth century european (and by european i mean mitterauer’s europe: germanic areas, northern france and england, more-or-less) and nineteenth century amharic society are rather reminiscent of one another. they’re not exactly alike, of course — different peoples, different environments, different histories — but there are some interesting similarities, particularly in family/societal relations. (there are also some interesting differences that i’ll talk about in a follow-up post.)

both societies practiced outbreeding:

– the europeans were not allowed to marry anyone closer than second-cousins — this included in-laws. no polygamy and absolutely no divorce. all of this was pretty strictly enforced by the church since you had to marry in the church, although dispensations were sometimes granted. these marriage laws were introduced to the northern europeans during the fifth and sixth centuries, although it may have taken a couple of generations for everyone to comply. so, by the ninth century, early medieval europeans had been outbreeding for three- to four-hundred years — something like twelve to sixteen generations of outbreeding, counting a generation as twenty-five years.

– the amharans were not allowed to marry anyone closer than sixth cousins, although divorce was common and “serial monogamy” was the norm. (at different points during its history, the shewa kingdom, where the amharans live, was under the control of muslims. i’m guessing that the amharans picked up the quick-and-easy divorce thing from them, unless it was an indigenous practice.) it’s not clear to me how the cousin-marriage prohibition was enforced apart from it simply being tradition — despite being christians, most amharans did not traditionally marry in the church — but the tradition seems to have be pretty well-enforced amongst ethiopian jews, and so may it have amongst the amharans as well. (it’s also not clear to me if every marriage had to be beyond the sixth cousin, or just the first one.) this sixth cousin proscription seems to have been introduced to ethiopia in the 1400s or 1500s, so by the mid-nineteenth century, the amharans would’ve been outbreeding for three-hundred-fifty to four-hundred years — or fourteen to eighteen generations — comparable to the europeans.

so, what was ninth century european society — in particular its family-relations — like? from “Why Europe? The Medieval Origins of Its Special Path” [pgs. 60, 62-5, 67-8, 77]:

It was primarily the parent-child group that lived on the mansi and hides of the Carolingian villicatio, occasionally with servants or people who may or may not have been their relatives. This kind of group indicates a conjugal family structure. From today’s point of view, this type of structure does not seem worth emphasizing at first glance because it has become generally accepted in European societies….

“In his survey ‘Characteristics of the Western Family Considered over Time,’ Peter Laslett grouped specific characteristics of the European family into four areas. His first point is that family membership ‘in the West’ was confined for the most part to parents and children, the so-called nuclear family or the simple family household. Carolingian sources show that with regard to generational depth this form of household was clearly dominant at the time….

“Laslett’s fourth characteristic of the ‘Western family’ is particularly important: the presence of servants who were not kin but were still fully recognized household members. These servants who were not related by bonds of kinship did not serve in one household throughout their lives but only from youth to marriage. This is why Laslett speaks of ‘life-cycle servants.’ Life-cycle servants were people in the household who were different from the domestic slaves found in many cultures, and they were sometimes included among members of the family…. [T]hese domestics were often found in property registers as early as the Carolingian period.

“All four characteristics of the ‘Western family’ that Laslett lists go far back in history. All four indicate the influence of the manorial system. All four can be connected with the hide system. All four point toward different facets of the conjugal family: In the simple family household, the conjugal couple were the nucleus….

The most important feature of the Western family is doubtless the fact that it was not constituted by bloodlines but was a house or household community largely free of kinship ties. English-language family research uses the very apposite concept of the ‘coresident domestic group’ that is based on family contexts in more modern time but also fits medieval ones perfectly. Living in a family that includes non-kin goes back a long way in European history…. The life-cycle servant was the prototype of the non-kin coresident who would be taken into the family to augment the work force temporarily. We already find him listed in the polyptychs of Carolingian monastic estates in the early days of the manorial system. Other kinds of unrelated coresidents were added wherever the manorial system continued to develop in Europe: inmates, lodgers, guests, foster children, and elderly reirees and children left behind by previous owners who shared no bond of kinship.”

so, the basic unit in early medieval (north-western) european society was the nuclear family which was not attached to extensive kinship groups like clans or tribes. households would also typically include non-relatives. this is quite a contrast from many areas of the world where a large, extended family would make up the household and the labor force of that household. also, young people in medieval europe were particularly mobile, often leaving home to work as servants in other households.

mitterauer continues:

“As a rule, manorial and lineage structures are in conflict with each other, but this opposition alone cannot satisfactorily explain the profound changes in European kinship systems. These processes of change go back to well before the rise of the Frankish agrarian system; in spatial terms, they extend beyond that system’s area of dissemination. So we must look for other determining factors that might allow us to understand why Frankish systems of agrarianism, lordship, and family could evolve in which lineage principles play so minor a part….

“The introduction of Christianity always preceded the introduction of the hide system throughout the entire area of colonization in the East — often by only a slight difference in time, but occasionally centuries earlier. The time sequence was never reversed, anywhere. The western agrarian system at all times found a state of affairs where Christian conversion had either relaxed or weakened older patrilineal patterns. This process had already paved the way for the transition to a bilateral system of kinship and the conjugal family.”

in other words, you can’t have a manorial system in your society when you have large kinship groups like clans. you have to get rid of, or at least reduce, the inbreeding (in order to get rid of the kinship groups) if you want to have a manorial system. on the other hand, the manorial system further breaks down kinship connections since people shift and are shifted around throughout the system.

so, what about the mid-nineteenth century amharans? from “Class, State and Power in Africa: a case study of the Kingdom of Shewa” [pgs. 49-50, 52, 54-56]:

The Amhara lived in hamlets and scattered homesteads rather than in nucleated villages [so did the europeans, btw – hbd chick]; the parish grouped together a number of hamlets into a unit of worship and cooperation for religious purposes; the estate of the local lord (gultagna or malkagna) served as the smallest political entity and would often differ from both the former. All three units were cut across by significant ties of kinship, friendship, and allegiance, which high mobility contributed to weakening the loyalty to any particular institution. Communal ties were thus numerous, diffuse, and subject to manipulation….

“The Shewan economy was predominantly agricultural, but there was also a considerable trade….

“A well-developed agriculture laid the basis for a class society by providing a large agricultural surplus. Shewa was set in a rich ecological milieu, the plough was in general use, crop rotation was widely practised; manure, irrigation, and terracing were well-known techniques and practised where feasible. This set the peasantry of Shewa, and northern Ethiopia in general, off from the common African agriculturalists using the hoe….

The household was the unit or production, but was an institution which also had a wider social significance…. The household consisted of two elements, ‘tasks’ and personnel. The tasks formed a fairly stable structure, divided into male and female spheres, each strictly ranked. The personnel changed frequently and was assigned its tasks according to the size of the household and the relative standing of its members.

The central cohesive link was the tie of marriage, but the household was often not identical with the nuclear family; it included non-kin or distantly related members according to its stage within the domestic cycle. Furthermore, marriage did not provide a basis for a stable family. Common marriage (as opposed to religious marriage) was entered into by swearing on the life of the king in the presence of witnesses and taking account of the property brough by each party. The laxity and dissolubility of this form of marriage has often been emphasied; in Menilek’s time one enterprising lady of twenty-seven was known to have had fifteen or sixteen husbands. Religious marriage, which in theory bound husband and wife together for ever, was mostly left to priests and old persons….

“Among the peasants the husband-wife relationship was one of equals, performing complementary tasks, both a man and a woman being necessary to form even a minimal household. Women had a fairly strong position in Shewan society, keeping their own name and property when marrying; the husband managed all the household’s land, but on divorce the wife resumed possession of whatever she had brought into the marriage….

“If there were no servants, the children played their part, also serving as a form of education. From the age of five or six they were given small duties in the fields or made to fetch wood or water. However, children were an unstable labour force; at about twelve many left their parents to take service in other households, only the favourite son remaining on the farm….

“The Amhara household faced two basic problems, reproduction and recruitment. Its holding of land was not a family estate cultivated for generations; the rule of equal inheritance, although not strictly adhered to, greatly reduced continuity from generation to generation. Even a favoured child inherited a share that was significantly smaller than that of his father; each generation had to build its own fortune anew, implying competition and a need for personal achievement, not an equal or inherited starting point.

Recruitment of household members took several forms. The couple’s children, or children of a former marriage, stayed with their parents for a number of years; servants were numerous, even the peasants had at least one; finally the institution of slavery eased recruitment of personnel for the lowly household tasks….

like medieval europe, then, the basic unit of nineteenth century amharan society was the nuclear family plus servants who came and went in the household. young people in amharan society, like their european counterparts, would also leave home to become servants in other households. the amharan nuclear family stood independent from a larger kinship group like the european nuclear family (but there is one difference here related to the inheritance of property which i’ll get to in a follow-up post — or you can just check out ege’s book starting on pg. 59). the main difference here is the fragility of the husband and wife team in amharan society — that could break-up at any moment and, apparently, did. the ethiopians also had slaves in their households.

the commonality here? i think it’s that the outbreeding creates this sort-of centrifugal force that flings kin farther away from one another in terms of social relations. with lots of regular inbreeding you get extended families, clans, tribes, etc. with lots of outbreeding, you get nuclear families and strangers in your household. of course, every society has its own particular historical (evolutionary) course, and so there are unique elements to them all.

edit: boilerplate and boilerplate 2.0

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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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well, i’m working on filling in the blanks for mating patterns amongst the germanics (and other european populations, too). it’s just a small gap from ca. 400 a.d. to … oh … 2011. (~_^) so, this is an ongoing project — i suggest you don’t hold your breath waiting for the final product.

the problem with the germanics and all the other protestant groups in europe is that, once they’d left the catholic church, no one kept any records of cousin marriages. dr*t! the catholic church kept records because cousin marriages were verboten; but as of the 1500s, cousin marriage was generally ok with protestant groups — not always, but generally — so they didn’t bother to record them anymore. at least that’s the picture i’ve gotten from what i’ve read so far, but see below.

the other major changes to marriages laws in the protestant churches were: 1) that the clergy no longer had to remain celibate (whew!), and 2) that persons wishing to marry also had to get permission from their parents. as of the twelfth century in the catholic church, permission to marry wasn’t required from anybody — just the consent of the two individuals marrying. the germanics changed that as of the 1500s.

now, from “Reordering marriage and society in Reformation Germany” [pgs. 85-86]:

“The canonical impediment system, harshly attacked from all sides, was the first part of the indissoluble definition to be put to the scriptural test. Most early Evangelicals initially proposed basing the entire marriage impediment system on Mosaic prohibitions, particularly Leviticus 18. The practical limitations of the relevant passages, however, and the need for extensive interpretation soon became apparent. Once again, reformers were presented with an opportunity — comparable with that of their twelfth-century predecessors — that might have resulted in a radical reformation of the entire marriage legal system; the fact that it did not is just one more sign of their conservatism.

“Rather, most theologians and jurists chose to treat impediments as ‘indifferent’ matters, rejecting only those restrictions explicitly in conflict with Scripture and otherwise rely on the discretion of the pastor or secular authority involved. Like their canonical predecessors, all the reformers accepted Leviticus’s second-degree [uncle-niece, first cousins] prohibition as absolute and indispensable. Many (including Luther, Melanchthon, and Osiander) also favored maintenance of the canonical third-degree [second cousins] limitation, while others, most notably Brenz and Calvin, even proposed keeping the traditional fourth-degree [third cousins] prohibition. Similarly, on the subject of affinity [in-laws] restrictions, few Protestant leaders eliminated all traditional impediments, and none but Luther mentioned reform of ‘public honesty’ and ‘illegitimate affinity….’

Forbidden degrees of consanguinity had in fact already returned to the fourth degree [third cousins] in the 1533 diet of the Swiss Confederation (Zurich, Bern, Basel, Schaffenhaussen, and Saint Gallen participating), with many other cities and principalities following suit. Kohler attributes the Confederation’s return to canonical consanguinity standards in 1533 to immediate Catholic political pressure, but throughout the rest of the century in Protestant Germany the unmistakable trend remained a return to the previous canonical standards. Some Protestant marriage codes, such as those of Zurich and Strasbourg, maintained the forbidden degree of consanguinity at the third [second cousins] or even second level [uncle-niece, first cousins], and eliminated affinity [in-laws] prohibitions altogether. Others, most notably Geneva and the Duchy of Wurttemberg, never deviated from the Canon law definition of either in the first place (at the urging of Calvin and Brenz, respectively). By the end of the sixteenth century, the only canonical impediments unanimously rejected by Protestant jurists and marriage codes were those of spiritual affinity [godparents] and public honesty (both simultaneously redefined by the Council of Trent and frequently dispensed in Catholic areas). Impediments of affinity [in-laws] in general were limited to the second degree [uncle-niece, first cousins-in-law] and consanguinity to the third [second cousins-in-law], with the remainder of pre-Reformation restrictions (condition, person, etc.) preserved intact.”

so, neither the germans nor the swiss really started inbreeding more immediately after the reformation. it seems that, generally, they kept on marrying beyond second cousins.

at some point those regulations were relaxed, but i don’t yet know when that happened. stay tuned!

as an aside, here’s a little note about the difficulties with the celibacy regulations before the reformation [pg. 35]:

“More sympathetic observers, usually clerics themselves, recounted the trials and tribulations of celibate life that led to such abuses. In ‘The Lamentations of seven pious but disconsolate priests whom no one can comfort’ (1521), one unhappy cleric relates his own unsuccessful attempts to conquer the sexual urge, resulting in masturbation, wet dreams, lechery (including an affair with the wife of a friend), and eventually a concubine who bears him seventeen children in twenty years. Though tolerated by his bishop (because of the ‘whore tax’) and his parishoners (‘like stableboys accustomed to dung’), the pastor himself is continuously tormented by his own conscience, regretting the moral harm done his flock almost as much as that done his own soul:

“‘Thus am I entagled: on the one hand, I cannot live without a wife; on the other, I am not permitted a wife. Thus, I am forced to live a publicly disgraceful life, to the shame of my soul and honor and to the damnation of many who have taken offense at me [i.e., who refuse to receive sacraments from his hands]. How shall I preach about chastity and promiscuity, adultery, and knavish behavior, when my whore goes to church and about the streets and my bastards sit before my eyes? How shall I read the Mass under such circumstance?'”

poor guy, but … SEVENTEEN CHILDREN?! whoa.

edit: boilerplate and boilerplate 2.0

previously: whatever happened to european tribes? and inbreeding amongst germanic tribes and more on inbreeding in germanic tribes and what about the franks? and early medieval germans … again!

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a little bit more from robin fox (links added by moi) [pg. 325-26]:

“What is closed in the Closed Society [as opposed to popper’s open society] is the future, because it is thought either to eternally repeat the present, or to recycle fixed ages, or to change in completely known and fixed ways. The Closed Society seeks to ignore, deny, and arrest, or to predict and hence totally control, social change. The Open Society accepts the unpredictable reality of change and deals with it. (The roots of this idea were there in Henri Bergson’s philosophy, and his ‘open morality’ and ‘closed moratlity’ — but that is another essay: see The Search for Society.)

“This contrast was present from the start in the great conflict between democratic Athens (potentially Open but with a heavy burden of Closed features) and tribal Sparta (completely and utterly Closed): the subject of Popper’s first volume (The Spell of Plato). Athens had passed consciously from a tribal society to a democratic city-state, which in turn morphed into a maritime empire. (Curiously, Popper, while making much of Solon and Pericles, does not mention the reforms of Cleisthenes, which were critical to the change. [yes, they were. – hbd chick] Athens struggled to maintain its democratic system, both against outside opponents and against inside forces. By becoming an empire it threatened its own democracy. [hmmmm – sounds familiar.]

The old order of tribal families, which Cleisthenes had tried to break down, hated democracy and conspired with Sparta, the archtypal closed tribal society, which just as consciously arrested change as Athens had embraced it. Many of the Athenian intellectuals took the pro-Spartan side. Plato, Popper’s nemesis, led the intellectural justification for a Spartan-style society in The Republic and The Laws. Plato’s relatives were active in the council of the Thirty Tyrants, who conspired with Sparta and led a reign of terror in Athens.

didn’t know that about plato.

previously: demokratia (in case you missed that link in the text. (~_^) )

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this post is prompted by a (brief) discussion in the comments over @dennis’ place. anonymous objected to me saying that pre-christian (i.e. pre-outbreeding) europeans were not, amongst other things, democratic — germanic tribes had things, for instance, he says.

yes, a lot of societies have democratic elements to them — even hunter-gatherer bands, i do believe, generally operate according to a system in which everyone (at least all the men) gets to voice their opinion on which way the band should head tomorrow or something like that. but no other society ever developed a western-style, parliamentarian-type democratic system except for europeans. here’s robin fox on this curious phenomenon [pgs. 60-61]:

“Again in England, it was not until 1688, after a bitter civil-religious war and a period of hard totalitarianism, that we were able to set up a system whereby political factions would compete for votes and, most amazingly, the losers would vountarily cede power. [fox’s emphasis.] This transformation took a long time and hard practice with many missteps….

“But far from being a fact of human nature, this voluntary ceding of power after elections, this basic feature of liberal democracy, actually flies in the face of nature. It is self-evidently absurd. Our political opponents are always disreputable, and their accession to power will be the ruin of the country. Listen to the rhetoric of campaigns: it almost amounts to criminal malfeasance to allow the opponents to take over. Yet that is what we do after a mere counting of heads: cede control to the villains and incompetents.

“The cynic will say that the only reason we allow this to happen is because we know that in truth there is no real difference between political parties in these systems, and so we join in a conspiracy of the willing to take turn and turn about. Even so, this willingness that we take so for granted is an amazing and unusual and a fragile thing. Ajami quotes an Arab proverb, min al-qasr ila al-qabr: ‘from the palace to the grave.’ Once you have power, in the name of God and the good of the people, you keep it, and the voluntary relinquishment of power is simply seen as weakness or stupidity….

“And our Western democracies still struggle with nepotism, corruption, and cronyism, whose energetic persistence should tell us something…. How could we believe, then, that we could walk into a country like Iraq and do in a few months, or even a few years, or even several decades, what millennia had failed to evolve spontaneously? Because ‘the Iraqi People,’ like everyone else, ‘loved freedom’?”

earlier in this chapter, fox explains how, of course, there is no such thing as “the iraqi people,” but instead that there are lots of tribes in iraq who do not want to share power with other tribes, and certainly do not want the members of other tribes governing over them.

parapundit, waaaay back in 2002, wrote about how the inbreeding practices of middle easterners hampers the development of democracy in those regions. he referred to stanley kurtz’s writings on the matter (stanley kurtz, btw, is a very, very smart fellow and i recommend reading anything and everything by him and taking what he says very seriously) — here are just a couple: Marriage and the Terror War and Marriage and the Terror War, Part II. in that second essay, kurtz wrote:

“Once your subject is the social meaning and function of kinship, the Muslim world stands in stark contrast to every other society in the world — traditional or modern. This contrast, I argue, has everything to do with why Muslim societies have difficulty accommodating modernity, why Muslim immigrants resist assimilation, and why some Muslims are attacking us.

“The key ‘functional connection’ between Middle Eastern marriage practices (which are not religiously dictated, although they are sometimes justified in religious terms) and Islam itself would appear to be the creation and reinforcement of a pervasive cultural tendency to form in-groups with tightly monitored boundaries….

“If we want to change any of this, it will be impossible to restrict ourselves to the study of religious Islam. The ‘self-sealing’ character of Islam is part and parcel of a broader and more deeply rooted social pattern. And parallel-cousin marriage is more than just an interesting but minor illustration of that broader theme. If there’s a ‘self-sealing’ tendency in Muslim social life, cousin marriage is the velcro.

there’s no way a “self-sealing” society is going to adopt modern, liberal democracy (and why do we keep insisting that they do, anyway?). our modern, liberal democratic system requires an open society. it requires the “atomization” of individuals — i.e. that they are not joined at the hip to their extended family members or clans or tribes. it requires society to be corporate in nature [opens pdf] — and that requires outbreeding.

if stanley kurtz explained to all of us online that the muslim world would not become democratic over-night because of their endogamous, cousin-marriage practices, steve sailer explained the why.

in an essay published waaaay back in 2003, steve wrote:

“The biggest disadvantage [from inbreeding], however, may be political.

“Are Muslims, especially Arabs, so much more loyal to their families than to their nations because, due to countless generations of cousin marriages, they are so much more genealogically related to their families than Westerners are related to theirs? Frank Salter, a political scientist at the Max Planck Institute in Germany whose new book ‘Risky Transactions: Trust, Kinship, and Ethnicity’ takes a sociobiological look at the reason why Mafia families are indeed families, told me, ‘That’s my hunch; at least it’s bound to be a factor.’

One of the basic laws of modern evolutionary science, quantified by the great Oxford biologist William D. Hamilton in 1964 under the name ‘kin selection,’ is that the more close the genetic relationship between two people, the more likely they are to feel loyalty and altruism toward each other. Natural selection has molded us not just to try to propagate our own genes, but to help our relatives, who possess copies of some of our specific genes, to propagate their own.

Nepotism is thus biologically inspired. Hamilton explained that the level of nepotistic feeling generally depends upon degree of genetic similarity. You share half your personally variable genes with your children and siblings, but one quarter with your nephews/nieces and grandchildren, so your nepotistic urges will tend to be somewhat less toward them. You share one eighth of your genes with your first cousins, and one thirty-second with your second cousin, so your feelings of family loyalty tend to fall off quickly.

But not as quickly if you and your relatives are inbred. Then, you’ll be genealogically and related to your kin via multiple pathways. You will all be genetically more similar, so your normal family feelings will be multiplied. For example, your son-in-law might be also be the nephew you’ve cherished since his childhood, so you can lavish all the nepotistic altruism on him that in an outbred family would be split between your son-in-law and your nephew.

Unfortunately, nepotism is usually a zero sum game, so the flip side of being materially nicer toward your relatives would be that you’d have less resources left with which to be civil, or even just fair, toward non-kin. So, nepotistic corruption is rampant in countries such as Iraq, where Saddam has appointed members of his extended family from his hometown of Tikrit to many key positions in the national government.”


steve and stanley and parapundit were all talking about a particular sort of tribal society with a particular form of cousin marriage — father’s brother’s daughter marriage. this form of marriage has been practiced by the arabs since before mohammed arrived on the scene (iow, they have been inbreeding for a very long time). the arabs introduced it to iraq and other places like afghanistan and pakistan and libya in the 700s. the peoples in those places may, of course, have been inbreeding in other ways before their conversion to islam. in any event, they’ve all been inbreeding for many centuries, so liberal democracy is not going to come natural to any of these populations.

but, edogamous mating is endogamous mating, and inclusive fitness is inclusive fitness. what has to be remembered is that there are different degrees of inbreeding (uncle-niece, first-cousin, second-cousin, third-cousin … tenth-cousin, etc.) as well as different types (paternal and maternal being the basic division — paternal results in the “self sealing” societies kurtz described; maternal gets you more alliances with outside groups). while centuries of father’s brother’s daughter marriage results in strongly tribal societies in which liberal democracy doesn’t fit at all, even lesser degrees of endogamous mating don’t seem to be all that great for fostering democracy.

example: the greeks.

we’ve seen that greeks have been practicing endogamous mating for who knows how long (at least back into the mid-1800s, presumably since forever). they don’t marry their first-cousins since that is against the greek orthodox church’s regulations, and they tend to avoid second-cousin marriage. but they do marry very locally — within the same village or neighboring village — preferentially to a third-cousin. (of course, things are probably changing nowadays with moves to urban centers.) the result? the extended-family is very important to greeks — and those familial sentiments spill over into the larger society. nepotism and corruption are very common in greece. almost nobody pays any taxes if they can help it.

how about democracy? how well does does liberal democracy work in what’s considered the birth-place of demokratia? from the nyt:

In the last half-century, three main families have dominated Greek politics.

“The center-left Papandreous have produced three prime ministers: George; his powerful father, Andreas, who founded Pasok, the governing Socialist party; and Andreas’s centrist father, also named George.

“The previous prime minister, Kostas Karamanlis, is the nephew of Konstantinos Karamanlis, a four-time prime minister who founded the New Democracy Party and led Greece in 1974 after the fall of the seven-year military dictatorship.

“Mrs. Bakoyannis and Kyriakos Mitsotakis, a member of Parliament with New Democracy, are the children of former Prime Minister Konstantinos Mitsotakis, who led New Democracy in the 1980s and early 1990s and who often sparred with Andreas Papandreou.

“‘These personalities’ — especially Andreas Papandreou and Konstantinos Karamanlis — ‘helped Greece’s development in recent decades as much as they obstructed it,’ said Dimitris Sotiropoulos, a political scientist who has written on post-junta politics in Greece.

“These governments helped rebuild a traumatized country, but they also hardened the system to serve their own cadres and supporters, Mr. Sotiropoulos said….

“Over the years, leaders from each of the families have promised to end corruption. Kostas Karamanlis, a cigar-smoking lawyer with a doctorate in international affairs from Tufts University in the United States, led New Democracy to victory in 2004 on the promise that he would make government transparent, efficient and clean. Five years later, he left politics in disgrace, after his scandal-ridden party lost to Mr. Papandreou and Pasok, who have also promised to stamp out corruption.”

uh … not a good sign that liberal democracy is working very well in your country when political dynasties keep dominating the scene. (er, oops. *ahem*)

but what about on the ground? how do the greeks decide for whom to vote? according to their consciences or according to family ties? well, kinda-sorta both. here’s an account of a sticky voting situation in some local politics in meganisi (featured previously in this post) which pitted one man’s (babis’) brother (stathis) against his father-in-law (petros m.) [pg. 128]:

“[S]ince kinship could not be discounted, Nikos and his family were quite literally placed in a genealogical double bind. The person in the most invidious position was of course Babis, who had to choose between his brother and his wife’s father. I do not know on what grounds he based his choice, though I suspect they were ones of political conviction. At all events, he opted for his father-in-law and quite decisively. But if Babis’s dilemma was resolved according to political convictions, this certainly did not prevent him from trying to further his cause through family connections. Indeed, he went the rounds of all his and Stathis’s relatives and advised them not to vote for his brother. In this he must have been quite successful, for, as Nikos later explained to me, though Stathis made a respectable showing, the votes he secured were all philika psiphismata (friendly votes) and not oikoyeneiaka psiphismata (family votes). In fact the family had ‘brought him down.’

“Needless to say, my host, Nikos, was himself caught up in these unfortunate events and, with the rest of the family, voted against his relative Stathis, and for his (more distant) relative, Petros M. The exception was Nikos’s wife, who voted for her brother Stathis, As Nikos explained, she could scarcely have done anything else — though, as he admitted, it did result in the embarassing oddity of a husband and wife voting differently. As for Nikos’s old mother, Stavroula, she simply voted for whom she was told — Petros M.

“Stathis himself was outraged by this family betrayal and went so far as to boycott Nikos’s kaphenio for several months. Nikos thus paid a price for his part in the family/antifamily pact — and it should be noted that the price itself was measurable in terms of the values of kinship: the loss of the patronage of his beloved kouniados [baptismal/marriage sponsor]. But the real interest of this episode lies in the fact that although it was clearly recognized that votes could be cast along family lines — hence Babis’s visiting of all his relatives; hence Nikos’s contrast between “friendly votes” and “family votes” — in the final analysis kinship was incapable of controlling the vote, and not because an appeal to kinship lacked persuasion or because individuals had their own political ideas, but because kinship itself [author’s emphasis] actually split the vote. Instead of providing the basis for corporate action, the very complexity and multiplicity of kinship connections meant that, politics aside, people’s loyalties were divided. Kinship could be appealed to; its weight could be thrown on the scales; but nothing resulted from it automatically. It might be expected that one would vote for a relative, but in the end one could only vote for the relative by whom one was most persuaded.”

so, close kinship did not entirely win the day — babis did not vote for his own brother, stathis, but rather for his father-in-law. however, babis and stathis’ sister, nikos’ wife, did vote for her brother. and although nikos didn’t vote for his brother-in-law, in voting for petros m. he was voting for a more distant relative.

but the expectation that family would vote for family was obviously there. stathis boycotted his brother-in-law’s establishment afterwards because he hadn’t voted for him. and the greeks have set phrases for distinguishing family votes (oikoyeneiaka psiphismata) from friendly votes (philika psiphismata)? well, that right there illustrates that liberal democracy is not working 100% in greece.

as the author describes it, all of the kinship ties in greece (from all of the inbreeding) means that corporate action is difficult. family looms large in greek politics — it is not a situation of community members voting for representatives — it is family members picking and choosing amongst family members to best represent — or to get them into a position from where they’ll be able to dole out favors to — other family members.

a lot of endogamy creates tribes, for which a liberal democratic system is anathema. but even a lesser amount of endogamy seems to throw up hindrances to liberal democracy as the members of such a population are more focused on getting the best for their extended families, or even clans, rather than on what is best for all. obviously, other hbd traits, like the average iq and average personality type of a population, play huge roles in all of this. genetic relatedness and the consequent inclusive fitness-related drives and behaviors that influence the patterns of social behaviors within a society are simply another layer of biological factors to be considered when trying to understand human actions.

edit: boilerplate and boilerplate 2.0

previously: “hard-won democracy” and cousin marriage conundrum addendum

update 11/25/11: see also the corporate nature of european societies and liberal democracy

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so, i’m about half-way through “A Farewell to Alms” (ok, ok — one-third of the way) and i have to admit that all of clark’s charts are starting to make my eyes glaze over … so i cheated. i (re-)read steve sailer’s posts (here and here) on the book as well as nicholas wade’s review in the nyt just to get a quick over-view of clark’s thesis.

so, what i got out of reading those (and the first third of the book) is that clark looked at historical records (parish records, wills, etc.) in england from 1200 through 1800 and found that well-to-do people left behind more descendants than poorer folks — in fact, the surnames of some poorer folks disappeared altogether during the time period — and, therefore, by the time of the industrial revolution the english were mostly the descendants of medieval well-to-do folks. furthermore, because of this, for either cultural or genetic reasons (i’ll put my money on genetic), the nineteenth century english were the bearers of “middle class values”: “nonviolence, literacy, long working hours and a willingness to save.”


but, by the 1200s in england, the fundamental social unit in society was the nuclear family (see also jack goody) — and not even the stem family (nuclear family + one set of grandparents) as is found in many european societies. nope. it was just the bare-bones nuclear family in england. and this is important because the earlier state of affairs — tribal britain — would not have been conducive to any of the middle-class values that clark talks about. you needed to get rid of the tribes first before you could have the eugenic scenario clark outlines.

tribes and nonviolence? not possible. tribes and violence go together like laurel and hardy. the basic premise of tribal society is hostility toward non-members — hostile toward non-members of your sub-clan or your clan or your sub-tribe or your tribe. h*ck, you might even be hostile toward your brother. the “rules” of inclusive fitness are simply built into tribal society on such a basic level that tribal societies are never, ever going to evolve to be non-violent. to be non-violent in a tribal society means you lose. losers don’t leave descendants behind.

you have to get rid of tribes before you can become (relatively) non-violent. at least non-violent on a day-to-day basis. war is still possible in non-tribal societies, of course (think wwi and wwii) — but the regular beating-your-neighbor-over-the-head-with-a-club just sorta disappears when you loosen up tribal genetic ties. (a high average iq prolly helps to become non-violent, too — everyone can see that all the violence is non-productive.)

tribes and literacy? well, literacy could be something cultural — but it also points to a high-ish average iq, no? this is just me thinking out loud — but i wonder if being tribal is dysgenic iq-wise, not just because of possible inbreeding depression effects (and, of course, inbreeding with the “right” selection pressures can lead to high iq), but also because all the individuals in a tribe, no matter how smart or dumb, get carried through life by the tribe. even the dumbest might get to reproduce via arranged marriages with other not-so-smart cousins. (i don’t know if this is true or not — just speculating here.) nuclear families, on the other hand — they’ve got to survive alone — or almost alone — maybe they ally with friends or neighbors, which you would think would select for other traits not seen so much in tribal societies (more reciprocal altruism?). but you have to be pretty smart to survive as a nuclear family — not so much opportunity for riding along on someone else’s coat-tails, you know?

tribes and long-working hours? heh! this goes back to the previous point — nuclear families have got to be prepared to work long and hard in order to survive ’cause they only (or mostly) have themselves on which to rely. not so in a nice, big tribe. plenty of time for slacking off.

tribes and a willingness to save? not possible. if you happen to become the Big Man in your tribal society, you’ve go to share with your really extended family. it’s just not possible to save ’cause you’re expected to redistribute. a lot of individuals in tribal societies might even be put off working too hard in order to obtain lots of wealth ’cause they’d just have to share with their second-cousin-once-removed. why bother?

the “Farewell to Alms” theory and clark’s evidence is really neat (altho i think steve sailer is right in that he didn’t exactly demonstrate why the industrial revolution happened in england as opposed to, say, the netherlands — altho maybe i should finish the book before saying that!). but none of these middle class values would’ve appeared in the english population had they remained tribal. and the only reason the english didn’t remain tribal was ’cause they started to outbreed — (oddly) thnx to the church. it’s a funny old world!

edit: boilerplate and boilerplate 2.0

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