kinship, the state, and violence

earlier this month, the inestimable peter frost wrote:

“Over the past millennium, Western Europeans have created a social environment where the individual is largely free from collective ties of kinship and ethnicity. Because the State has imposed a monopoly on the use of violence, there is less need to rely on kinsmen to safeguard one’s life and property. That’s what the government is for. In many other societies, however, the State is much more recent and often foreign. Collective identity still matters most and, when the chips are down, personal ties of friendship matter little. Your real friends are your ‘blood’.”

in The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (2011), steven pinker says that, in england, this process of the state taking over and monopolizing violence began during the reign of henry i, which lasted from 1100-1135 a.d. [kindle locations 1830-1839]:

“Feuding among knights and peasants was not just a nuisance but a lost opportunity. During Norman rule in England, some genius recognized the lucrative possibilities in nationalizing justice. For centuries the legal system had treated homicide as a tort: in lieu of vengeance, the victim’s family would demand a payment from the killer’s family, known as blood money or wergild (‘man-payment’; the *wer* is the same prefix as in *werewolf*, ‘man-wolf’). King Henry I redefined homicide as an offense against the state and its metonym, the crown. Murder cases were no longer *John Doe vs. Richard Roe*, but *The Crown vs. John Doe* (or later, in the United States, *The People vs. John Doe* or *The State of Michigan vs. John Doe*). The brilliance of the plan was that the wergild (often the offender’s entire assets, together with additional money rounded up from his family) went to the king instead of to the family of the victim. Justice was administered by roving courts that would periodically visit a locale and hear the accumulated cases. To ensure that all homicides were presented to the courts, each death was investigated by a local agent of the crown: the coroner.”

pinker cites daly and wilson (1988) on this who, in turn, cite hurnard (1969). there is also green (1972). see also The Aristocracy of Norman England (2002), pg. 243.

the only problem with this picture is, as was discussed on this blog in a previous post, there is good evidence that the kindred in anglo-saxon england — the importance of kinship, in other words — was already beginning to disappear (in southern england, anyway) in the early 900s, or maybe even the late 800s, a full two hundred years before henry i and his coroners showed up on the scene.

as i said in that post:

“the *gegildan* appears in some of the anglo-saxon laws in the late-800s as an *alternative* group of people to whom wergeld might be paid if the wronged individual had no kin. by the 900s, though, in southern england, the *gegildan* might be the only group that received wergeld, bypassing kin altogether.”

again, from Wage Labor and Guilds in Medieval Europe (1991) [pgs. 39-42]:

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

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

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

so, in england anyway, the individual didn’t become “largely free from collective ties of kinship and ethnicity” thanks to the state. anglo-saxon individuals were already on their way to becoming free from the collective ties of kinship before the state stepped in.
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pinker has a neat chart in Better Angels — Fig. 3.3 – Homicide rates in five Western European regions, 1300–2000:

pinker - fig. 3.3

as he says about england [kindle locations 1581-1584]:

“Once again we see a decline in annual homicide rates, and it is not small: from between 4 and 100 homicides per 100,000 people in the Middle Ages to around 0.8 (eight-tenths of a homicide) per 100,000 in the 1950s. The timing shows that the high medieval murder rates cannot be blamed on the social upheavals that followed the Black Death around 1350, because many of the estimates predated that epidemic.”

and [kindle locations 1599-1603]:

“Were the English unusual among Europeans in gradually refraining from murder? Eisner looked at other Western European countries for which criminologists had compiled homicide data. Figure 3–3 shows that the results were similar. Scandinavians needed a couple of additional centuries before they thought the better of killing each other, and Italians didn’t get serious about it until the 19th century. But by the 20th century the annual homicide rate of every Western European country had fallen into a narrow band centered on 1 per 100,000.”

i discussed this difference in the timing of the drop in homicide rates between various european countries in a previous post — outbreeding, self-control and lethal violence — in which i looked at manuel eisner’s paper, Modernization, Self‐Control and Lethal Violence. pinker also drew on eisner’s work for Better Angels. in that paper, eisner said:

“[T]he data suggest that the secular trajectories of low homicide rates differ among large geographic areas. It appears that English homicide rates were already considerably lower in the late sixteenth century than during the late Middle Ages and that they declined continuously along a log-linear trend over several centuries. Extant estimates for the Netherlands and Belgium suggest a very similar structure trend in these areas. In the Scandinavian countries, the transistion to the decreasing trend occurs notably later, namely in the first decades after 1600. Despite huge gaps in the data, the German-speaking areas may also be assumed to have joined the declining trend from the early seventeenth century onwards. For Italy, however, all the available data indicate that acts of individual-level lethal violence remained very frequent until the early nineteenth century. It is not until the mid-nineteenth century that the rate begins to decline, but then very steeply.”

and, as i said in my previous post:

“hmmmm. now where have i heard a pattern like this before? england, the netherlands, germans earliest in *some*thing … scandinavians later … italians last.”

that “something” that i was referring to is, of course, the avoidance of close cousin marriage — or The Outbreeding Project, as i like to call it. (i guess i should really call it The European Outbreeding Project or The Norwestern European Outbreeding Project.) the importance of kinship — extended families and kindreds — disappeared in large parts of northwestern europe, because northwest europeans quit marrying their close cousins, and the ties (including genetic) between individual northwest europeans and their extended family members simply loosened. loosened to the extent that, after several hundreds of years, extended families and kindreds just didn’t matter to people anymore. and, so, kindred-driven activities like feuding ceased and homicide rates decreased markedly.

the dutch — thanks to having been a part of frankish austrasia — and the southern english (especially the ones in kent) — thanks to being heavily influenced by the franks just across the channel — began avoiding cousin marriage very early in the medieval period, probably already in the 600-700s (see “mating patterns in europe series” below ↓ in left-hand column — also more on medieval england and france). the germans weren’t far behind, especially since the franks had so much influence in what would eventually become germany over the course of the medieval period (see the ostsiedlung). the scandinavians lagged behind since they were comparatively late in adopting christianity (and, therefore, in adopting the cousin marriage bans). and the italians were very late since they mostly did not have manorialism (which reinforced the cousin marriage bans). the italians, in fact — especially southern italians — kept marrying close cousins up until very recently.
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eisner offered several explanations — not necessarily mutually exclusive — for why homicide rates should’ve dropped so much in western europe over the course of the middle ages. one of the ones that steven pinker latched on to was the idea of the leviathan — the replacement of family feuds and compensation for killings with punishment (esp. execution) by the state. certainly there’s probably something to this — removing enough violent individuals from the gene pool could very well reduce the frequencies of “genes for violence” in a population in just one thousand years or so. (see also peter frost on rome – pdf.)

eisner also suggested another explanation, though, one that he drew from emile durkheim [pg. 632]:

Durkheim saw the decline of homicide rates as resulting from the liberation of the individual from collective bonds rather than as the consequence of the coercive potential of the state. High levels of lethal violence thus mirror the intensity of ‘collective emotions’, which bind the individual to ‘groups of things that symbolically represent these groups’. Violence thus declines to the degree that the person becomes liberated from its sacred obligation to the group, and the rise of moral individualism brings about both subjective reflexivity and emotional indifference in conflict situations (Durkheim 1957: 115).”

replace “liberated from its sacred obligation to the group” with “more and more outbred” and you’ve got a nice, little sociobiological theory there!

“This theoretical approach offers valuable insights into the historical patterns of declining homicide rates. First, the Durkheimian argument offers a theoretical framework for understanding the multifarious cultural meanings of violence in medieval society. Much empirical research on the topic emphasizes the crucial role of insults in triggering situational conflicts. This is in accordance with a society in which ‘honour’ constitutes highly important social capital of the male person as a representative of his group. It requires retributive violence as a potential and culturally accepted means for maintaining one’s honour. Such a theoretical framework may help to better understand why the secular decline in homicide rates primarily seems to have been due to a decrease in male-to-male fights. And it may also offer a point of departure for understanding the high violence rates in italy, where a culture of honour persisted despite the early development of administrative and judicial structures in the city states.

in anglo-saxon england, then, the kinship groups and their “culture of honor” (feuds, etc.) declined before the state got involved in safeguarding the lives of individuals. meanwhile, in medieval italy, the culture of honor persisted despite the presence of states that punished violent offenders. the difference, of course, is that italy — especially southern italy — barely ever joined in The Outbreeding Project, whereas england was one of its leading nations.

previously: the importance of the kindred in anglo-saxon society and outbreeding, self-control and lethal violence and what pinker missed and more on genetics and the historical decline of violence and clannishness defined

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quaker individualism

so … the quakers. where was i?

oh, yes: from the north of england originally — mostly from the highland zone (and we know what that usually means).

the general pattern seems to have been closer marriages (i.e. greater inbreeding) for a longer period in the north and west of england than in the south and east (except for parts of east anglia), but more data would be nice. that would fit the topography of britain, as well as the family patterns found by todd in britain in the 1500-1900s — nuclear families more in the south and east, extended (“stem”) families more in the north and west. (i think that the connection is: the greater/longer the inbreeding, the larger the families become [extended families/clans/tribes] — the greater/longer the outbreeding, the smaller families get.)

barry levy points this out in Quakers and the American Family — that family structure was not the same across seventeenth century england. yes, in the southeast the english were all about nuclear families — their “little commonwealths” — but in the north and the west of england (not to mention wales), it was the extended family that still held sway [kindle locations 452-461, 635-637]:

“Many middling northwestern lineages, nevertheless, did survive without the means to form ‘little commonwealths’ or compensatory formal institutions. Lacking alternatives, many northwesterners relied upon the family. They tended to emphasize familialism, as would the northwestern Quakers. In order to provide family continuity and personal dignity in the face of scarcity and individual household poverty, however, many middling northwestern households had learned to pool their meager resources among a number of different people and households. These alliances did not merely highlight the economic deficits of northwestern middling households; they provided the sinews of northwestern society. Northwestern Quakerism would develop as a radical, charismatic version of northwestern farmers’ traditional reliance on informal human relations.

Many northwestern farmers preferred an ‘extended commonwealth’ to the ‘little commonwealth’ of southeastern English and New English fame. An impressive number of very poor middling northwesterners left wills for just this reason…. In Wales, will-writing was inspired partly by English law. Welsh people were forced legally to translate their wills into English or Latin. Poor Welsh people accepted this insult in order to avoid a worse indignity: English intestate law which confined intestate distribution of wealth to the nuclear family and thereby violated the way northwest people had learned to preserve their own families and dignity….

“Because they were middling northwesterners, northwestern Quakers were fascinated by the potentialities of familial relations. Because they were sincere religious fanatics, they sought to change the ethics of northwestern British middling society at the most intimate level. Quakers came to disagree with most northwestern farmers over the farmers’ emphasis upon clan honor and their willingness to merge their households and children promiscuously with their neighbors and landlords.”

the quakers were obviously a self-sorted group of individuals, so, on the one hand, while the characteristics of the broader population from which they sprang might tell us something about them — something about their behavioral traits and evolutionary history — on the other hand, this self-sorted group probably had a lot of rather unique traits and was somewhat unlike its parent population in many ways. that, after all, is why they split off from their parent population.

one remarkable thing about the quakers, which levy dwells on a lot, is that they abandoned the extended family. at the same time, though, they became hyper-focused on the nuclear family AND the “family of god” (i.e. their fellow quakers). so they didn’t leave familialism behind entirely. in my opinion, they sound like part of a population in flux. the northern and western english were some of my “in-betweeners” — northwest europeans who came a bit late to the outbreeding project, so still in the late medieval/early modern period they were dealing with shedding their extended family-ness — something which seems to have been over and done with amongst my “core europeans” (who began outbreeding earlier) as early as, perhaps, the thirteenth-/fourteenth-centuries. but the individuals who became quakers in the north of england in the 1600s were those at the leading edge of this delayed outbreeding project in that corner of the world.
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here are some quotes from levy related to the sort of individualism that seventeenth century northerners/quakers displayed. to me, the quakers sound more like anti-institutional individualists (along the lines of southern libertarians or greeks or moi) rather than individualist-collectivists:

“The Friends’ great tenets and the outlines of their early history are widely known…. Quaking when the power of Truth first struck them in meeting and rudely invading the pulpits of more staid Protestants, the early Friends believed that God’s Truth, Grace, or Light was reborn on earth with the birth of every individual. They insisted that Truth in both individuals and society could only be hampered by excessive external coercion. They rejected intolerance, university-educated ministerial authority, and most forms of civil and international force.” – [kindle locations 74-77]

When George Fox and other Quaker prophets appeared in these hills in the late 1650s, they appeared defiantly, yet plausibly, anti-institutional…. The central medium of Quaker worship was not the reception of a well-produced sermon, as among the Puritans, but a silent meeting, a gathering where all social criticism or support was purposefully suspended to reveal and communicate the divine truths embedded in the spiritual human body…. Each Quaker was an embodiment of the Word and therefore preached within or without meeting, or with or without words, to other Quakers or ‘tender’ people.” – [kindle locations 161-167]

and from Albion’s Seed:

“The ecclesiology of the Quakers was an extension of their theology. They invented a system of church government which differed radically from those of Anglicans and Puritans. Quakers condemned what they called a ‘hireling clergy,’ and ‘steeple house ways.’ They repudiated all sacraments, ceremonies, churches, clergy, ordinations and tithes, and maintained no ministers in the usual sense — only lay missionaries and exhorters whom they were sometimes called ministers.” – [kindle locations 7032-7036]

i don’t think it was very strange, then, that when the quakers set up their ideal society in the new world, it looked like this [from colin woodard’s American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America – kindle locations 1620-1631]:

The Quakers’ ideals proved to be at odds with successful governance. Believing that all people were followers of Christ and innately good, the Quakers assumed citizens could govern themselves through mere self-discipline and the application of the Golden Rule. This turned out not to be the case, as Quakers were also by nature inclined to challenge authority and convention at every juncture. The community’s leaders quarreled with one another over doctrinal questions while government fell into disarray, failing to maintain public records or to pass laws essential to the functioning of the court system. The governing council couldn’t manage to hold regular meetings, while the colony went through six governors in its first decade. The Dutch, Swedes, and Finns of the ‘lower counties’ became so desperate for proper government that they broke away to form one of their own, founding the tiny colony of Delaware in 1704. ‘Pray stop those scurvy quarrels that break out to the disgrace of the province,’ Penn wrote from London. ‘All good is said of [Pennsylvania] and but little good of [its] people. These bickerings keep back hundreds [of settlers], £10,000 out of my way, and £l00,000 out of the country.’ In desperation Penn finally appointed a succession of outsiders to run the place, including a Yankee Puritan (John Blackwell), a successful Anglican merchant from Boston (Edward Shippen), and an arrogant English gentleman (David Lloyd). None of them succeeded in getting Quaker leaders to assume responsibility for the community they’d created.”

not quite individualist-collectivists, yet. (~_^)

previously: geographical origin of the quakers and on the topographical origins of the quakers and the flatlanders vs. the mountain people and random notes: 07/30/13 and the myddle people and more on consanguinity in england (and scotland) and traditional family systems in medieval britain and ireland and the radical reformation

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national individualism-collectivism scores

from geert hofstede‘s national cultures, we have the individualism versus collectivism (IDV) dimension:

“The high side of this dimension, called Individualism, can be defined as a preference for a loosely-knit social framework in which individuals are expected to take care of themselves and their immediate families only. Its opposite, Collectivism, represents a preference for a tightly-knit framework in society in which individuals can expect their relatives or members of a particular in-group to look after them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty. A society’s position on this dimension is reflected in whether people’s self-image is defined in terms of ‘I’ or ‘we.'”

here i’ve made a great, big table for you! — high scorers (the individualists) at the top — low scorers (the collectivists) toward the bottom. the anglo nations i’ve highlighted in blue text — they’re mostly at the top; the father’s brother’s daughter’s (fbd) marriage practitioners are in red — mostly between 25 and 40; and the east and southeast asians are in green. all of the anglo nations are in the top ten wrt to individualism (79+), and, with the exception of israel, no non-european nation scores above 50 — and israel’s population includes a good portion of european jews, so … so there. greece, croatia, bulgaria, romania, portugal, slovenia, and serbia (a lot of balkan nations there) are the european nations that score below 50 (between 25 and 35). nearly all the latin american/caribbean nations clump towards the bottom, and many of the east/southeast asian nations are down there, too. (the asterisks refer to nations that have their own entries as well as being part of hofstede’s group categories.)

individualism-collectivism hofstede

remember that it’s the individualists who seem to work together best towards the collective — the BIG collective — society as a whole — a nation, for instance. meanwhile, the “collectivists” (as hofstede calls them) — or the clannish groups (as i call them) — don’t manage to handle, or even to create, commonweals hardly at all.

most of my “core” europeans — my longest outbreeding europeans — appear in the top ten of european nations in this list: uk, netherlands, (northern) italy, belgium, denmark, france. i’m surprised germany’s not in that top ten, though — the germans come in at number 12 amongst the europeans. three populations which started outbreeding slightly (or much in the case of ireland!) later than the “core” europeans also appear in the top ten: sweden, norway, and ireland.

i’m also surprised to see hungary there! although to be honest, i don’t know anything about the history of hungarian mating patterns. i will endeavor to find out!
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someone calling themselves maciamo created a map of europe using these figures, although i believe he used numbers as they stood in 2011 which have since been updated on the hofstede site — especially those for the arab world and other non-european nations — so the middle east, arab peninsula, and north africa parts of maciamo’s map should really be ignored, since many of the numbers are simply wrong (for instance, maciamo only had a general score of 38 for the arab world when he made the map, but now there are new scores of 25 for saudia arabia and kuwait).

i like this map a lot! but i think we should be a bit cautious about it, since maciamo’s methodology was a bit … involved. from what i can tell, he attempted to overlay the hofstede scores onto y-chromosome haplogroup distributions (his explanation of what he did is here). yeah … hmmmm. still, going by my gut instincts, his map looks really right! still — caution! caution. here it is. ‘sup with hungary?! [click on maps for LARGER views]:

individualism-map-2

and here is macaimo’s map with the hajnal line on it (like i like to do):

individualism-map-2 + hajnal line

have a look at the thread @eupedia, ’cause there were a lot of interesting points brought up there! and i’m liking this maciamo fellow (^_^):

“I believe that individualism is an innate (hence genetic/hereditary) trait of character. It’s opposite is collectivism…. I believe that the individualism-collectivism dichotomy is responsible for many fundamental cultural differences between European countries.”

btw, if you’re looking for something good to read this evening, check out jayman’s latest post!: How Inbred are Europeans?

(note: comments do not require an email. i’m hungry!)

clannishness defined

’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.
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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

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the radical reformation

first of all, let me apologize upfront for getting ahead of myself in this post. i wasn’t going to write this post until after i covered more thoroughly, and on an individual basis, the histories of the mating patterns/family types for each of the countries discussed in this post — as i did for ireland recently (4+ posts) — but i’m too impatient to wait for me to get that done! so you’ll just have to trust me for the meantime as i give you some abridged versions of the mating pattern histories for these european societies. i promise to cover them all in greater depth in the near future! (i’ve actually already looked at most of them to some degree or another in the “mating patterns in europe series” below ↓ in left-hand column.)

this post is about the radical reformation and its connections to the long-term mating patterns/family types of various european populations beginning in the medieval period. please keep in mind that i’m about to paint a picture in VERY broad strokes. this is an idea which will likely change, if not be debunked completely by me, myself, and/or someone(s) else out there.

to begin with, the reformation (primarily lutheranism) seems to have been a reaction on the part of the northern european outbreeding populations — which, thanks to intensive outbreeding and the new social structures/selection pressures which followed from that, were becoming more and more individualistic/universalistic over time — to the relatively more clannish/particularistic attitudes and behaviors of inbreeding southern europeans (italians, for example) that infused the roman catholic church of the day. (for more on individualism/universalism vs. clannishness/particularism see here and here and here.) the northern europeans — in this case the germans — wanted, amongst other things, to have a more personal interaction with god (i.e. reflecting their greater individualism, i think), and they were also reacting strongly (as good individualists/universalists do) to all of the corruption in the roman catholic church.

but this post isn’t about them. rather, it’s about the reactionaries to these reactionaries — mainly the calvinists (including the puritans) and the anabaptists, but also arminianism and (later) methodism and (even later, one my favorite groups) the unitarians. obviously this is not a comprehensive listing of all the radical reformers — like i said, broad strokes.
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let’s first remind ourselves about the general pattern of outbreeding (i.e. the avoidance of cousin marriage) in northwestern europe — where it started in the early medieval period and how it spread.

some of the earliest evidence for outbreeding/nuclear families (the two go together) in early medieval europe appears in the frankish kingdom of austrasia and, shortly afterwards, in the anglo-saxon kingdom of wessex (see map below). this is where medieval manorialism started (see mitterauer’s Why Europe?), and, as i’ve discussed previously (see also here), manorialism and outbreeding — not to mention late marriage — all went together as a package.

here’s a map that i made previously of the extent and spread of manorialism in medieval europe based on mitterauer’s book — i’ve indicated the core spots where manorialism started in green:

extent and spread of manorialism

for reasons that are not entirely clear to me, manorialism spread outwards from austrasia mainly to the east and southeast — not so much to the west or southwest. from mitterauer [pgs. 45-46 – links added by me]:

“The most significant expansion of the model agricultural system in the Frankish heartland between the Seine and the Rhine took place toward the east. Its diffusion embraced almost the whole of central Europe and large parts of eastern Europe. The German term for this, *Ostkolonisation* — the ‘colonization of the East’ (the *German* colonization of the East is what is understood here) — has suffered from the abuses of nationalist historiography; but if we leave these connotations aside, the word hits the nail on the head. This great colonizing process, which transmitted Frankish agricultural structures and their accompanying forms of lordship…”

AND mating patterns via the church and secular laws…

“…took off at the latest around the middle of the eighth century. Frankish majordomos or kings from the Carolingian house introduced manorial estates (*Villikation*) and the hide system (*Hufenverfassung*) throughout the royal estates east of the Rhine as well — in Mainfranken (now Middle Franconia), in Hessia, and in Thuringia. Research on German historical settlement refers to ‘Frankish state colonization’ in this context…. The eastern limit of the Caronlingian Empire was for a long time an important dividing line between the expanding Frankish agricultural system and eastern European agricultural structures…..”

AND an important dividing line between mating patterns/family types, i.e. there was more outbreeding for a longer period of time, and smaller nuclear families rather larger extended families, the farther WEST of that eastern limit of the carolingian empire that one went.

“When the push toward colonization continued with more force in the High Middle Ages, newer models of *Rentengrundherrschaft* predominated — but they were still founded on the hide system. This pattern was consequently established over a wide area: in the Baltic, in large parts of Poland, in Bohemia, Moravia and parts of Slovakia, in western Hungary, and in Slovenia. Colonization established a line stretching roughly from St. Petersburg to Trieste. We will come across this line again when studying European family systems and their diffusion. The sixteenth century witnessed the last great attempt to establish the hide system throughout an eastern European region when King Sigismund II of Poland tried it in the Lithuanian part of his empire in what is modern-day Belarus. The eastward expansion of Frankish agrarian reform therefore spanned at least eight centuries….

“The more ancient agrarian economic structures of the East and the newer structures of the West stood in especially strong contrast to each other in the areas annexed by the colonization of the East.”

the region that was austrasia is today comprised of: a bit of northeastern france, a bit of western germany, belgium, luxembourg, and the netherlands. this — along with wessex (and, probably, western kent) in southern england — is the area of northwestern europe where the medieval outbreeding project began, so this is the region of europe that we should expect to be the most individualistic/universalistic and that should have started to show those features the earliest.

and, indeed, by the 1300-1400s, cousin and other forms of close marriage were a non-issue in these regions of former austrasia as well as southern, and even central, england — they simply don’t appear in ecclesiastical court records. in the 1200s, the english were already very individualistic and busy in the early stages of inventing liberal democracy, while by the 1500s, places like amsterdam were reknowned for their religious and intellectual tolerance and were positively multi-cultural. this is all in stark contrast to peripheral europe — places like the highlands of scotland, ireland, the iberian peninsula, southern italy, greece and the balkans, and pretty much all of eastern europe east of the hajnal line — which were all very clannish places throughout the medieval period, and even later in many of those regions.
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so what does this have to do with the radical reformers? well, check out this map (taken from here. anthony suggested that i add the calvinists in england, i.e. the puritans+some others, to the map, so i did — based upoon hackett fischer’s Albion’s Seed, i added purple stripes [didn’t know if it should be stripes or solid, so i just went for stripes] to east anglia and the wiltshire/somerset area.):

religious divisions of europe map + puritans

i know that there’s a lot going on on this map, but what strikes me is that, the less universalistic reformers — the calvinists and the anabaptists (some of whom formed very closed, non-universalistic groups like the amish and the mennonites) — are found in the border regions between or including both outbreeders and inbreeders — i.e. between the roman catholics and the lutherans (and, later, the anglicans).

– scotland: we find calvinists mostly in the scottish lowlands which is practically a dmz between the clannish highlanders & islanders and the clannish border reivers. throughout the medieval period in scotland, there was more feudalism/manorialism in lowland scotland than in the highland areas, which, being mountainous, were populated by pastoralists — and pastoralists/mountaineers tend to be inbreeders. so, given the presence of manorialism, outbreeding was probably encouraged at least somewhat in the lowlands. also, a good number of foreigners from the continent settled in the lowlands in the medieval period, some of whom had been outbreeders back from whence they came. from A History of Everyday Life in Medieval Scotland: 1000 to 1600 (the chapter entitled The Family):

“The Historiographer Royal, Chris Smout, has commented memorably that, ‘Highland society was based on kinship modified by feudalism, Lowland society on feudalism tempered by kinship’, although even this statement needs further refinement. There is the additional complication that, as late as the twelfth century, the kingdom of the Scots was an amalgam of several different peoples: by the reign of King David I (1124-53) the Picts may have been a distant memory but David and his successors regularly addressed the men of their realm as *Francis* (a description which included French, Normans and Bretons), *Anglis* and *Scottis*, and sometimes also as Cumbrians and Galwegians.”

so kinship was still important to the lowlanders — as is evidenced by lowland scottish clans — but they were less clannish than the highlanders.

– england: we’ve got calvinists (puritans) in east anglia and southwestern england (but not cornwall), pretty much bordering either side of wessex where manorialism was first founded in england and where, therefore, outbreeding is likely to have the longest history on the island. at least the wiltshire/somerset area bounds on the wessex area. we’ve also seen previously that east anglia (and eastern kent) never experienced manorialism AND had a tendency towards extended families, so this, too, was probably a region that didn’t experience as much outbreeding as south-central england did. the east anglians don’t sound at all as clannish as, say, the medieval or even early modern irish, but extended family ties lingered until quite late, so it may be that this region of england saw some sort of intermediary range of outbreeding. (further research is required!)

– northern france/belgium/the netherlands: according to my theory, this region shouldn’t have any calvinists or anabaptists (reactionary radical reformers) at all, since this is smack-dab in the middle of what was once austrasia. the thing is, though: frisia. the frisians along the coastal areas of the netherlands never experienced manorialism and, in fact, remained very clannish until very late — as a group, they were very independent-spirited (quite like, say, the scots-irish) and took pride in their “frisian freedom.” in fact, the entire coastline of northern europe from the netherlands to denmark was inhabited by group-oriented, likely inbreeding (although i don’t know that for sure — still need to find out) groups who lived in the swampy areas of the coast — from the frisians in the netherlands to the ditmarsians in northern germany. the east anglians can really be considered a part of these clannish coastal swamp dwellers, too. the (likely) close mating in these populations didn’t happen as a result of remote mountain dwelling, but, rather, from living in remote, inaccessible corners of these swamp lands. (did i mention that menno simons, the founder of the mennonites, was a frisian?)

– southern france: i don’t have a good idea at all of the historic mating patterns for southern france, but if the modern patterns are anything to go by (and they might not be), then greater numbers of close marriages are likely for southern france. this is also indicated by the topography (upland/mountainous) of the region. certainly the hotspots of calvinism in southern france seem to coincide with the mountainous areas. even the area northwest of tours, too. further research is required!

– switzerland: switzerland is more mountainous to the south than the north (although it’s pretty mountainous all over!). according to the map above, the calvinists were located solidly in the northern part of the country, and not really in the south. on the other hand, according to this other map, they were in the west and not in the east. not sure who to believe, so i need to do more reading on the reformation in switzerland. i can tell you, though, (and you’ll have to trust me on this for now), that historically there’s been more and closer inbreeding up in the mountain villages in switzerland rather than in the valleys. again, though, switzerland seems to be an example of the reactionary radical reformation happening in border areas between inbreeders and outbreeders — not sure which of the groups adopted calvinism, though! perhaps both. dunno.

– poland (belarus?) and — what is that? — hungary/romania?: these areas represent the frontier of the ostkolonisation that mitterauer described. this is at the edge of the hajnal line — the edge of the hard-core outbreeding project in europe (the eastern orthodox churches did discourage cousin marriage, but generally starting at a later date and, quite likely, not as strictly — the regulations in medieval russia, for example, flip-flopped several times). this is where western outbreeding and eastern inbreeding meet — and we find calvinism there.
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the calvinists and anabaptists (and others) were less universalistic radical reformers as compared to the lutherans. on the other hand, there were some radical reforemers who leaned towards greater universalism. not surprisingly, they turned up in the netherlands and england (and maybe some other places, too — poland, i think! — remember broad strokes — further research is required!):

– arminianism: arminianism seems to be a reaction to the sorts of ideas espoused by the calvinists who were, in turn, reacting to lutheranism (who were, in turn, reacting to roman catholicism!). i might be wrong since i don’t know a whole lot about arminianism, but it seems more individualistic/universalistic than calvinism since salvation is dependent upon the rational choice of men to believe in/follow god, whereas the calvinists have got this double predestination thing in which god really has a set plan for everybody beforehand. that does not seem universalistic to me at all — in fact, it seems quite closed — so, perhaps it’s not strange that calvinism appealed to somewhat inbred groups and/or groups found in inbreeding/outbreeding borderlands. jacobus arminius, btw, was from the place formerly known as austrasia.

arminianism influenced other reformationists/protestant groups such as:

– the baptists: baptists are very individualistic in that they believe in “soul competency,” i.e. that each and every individual is responsible for his own faith. the first baptist preacher was an englishman, john smyth, who happened to be residing in (tolerant) amsterdam at the time he developed his ideas/founded his church. smyth was from nottinghamshire in the east midlands.

– the methodists: arriving on the scene much later (the eighteenth century), the methodists are the quintessential individualists/universalists who are endlessly concerned about the commonweal and helping their fellow man. they’re into “unlimited atonement,” so in their view, everyone can be (is!) saved. jesus died for EVERYone. THAT is universal. the wesley family (the founder of methodism being john wesley) was originally from dorset — in the heart of wessex (see above).

and, my favorites…

– the unitarians: for whom, well, anything goes really! (~_^)
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that’s all i’ve got for you for now. i promise to go back and take a closer look at all these different populations — and i’ll try to find out if they’ve really been inbreeders or outbreeders like i’ve said (guessed!)! (^_^)

one final note — i think there’s a progression towards greater and greater universalism over time within christianity amongst the northwest europeans (the outbreeders) — not just in protestantism, but in roman catholicism, too — until eventually we wound up with simply humanism (not attached to a god at all) — and even movements for human rights to be extended to certain animals like chimpanzees, some of our closest relatives. apart from something like jainism, it starts to be hard to imagine a more universalistic belief system at all!
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footnote: for those of you interested in hbd blogging history, the germ of the idea for this post first came to my mind (accidentally, as is usually the case) in this comment back in march of this year. i’ve been ruminating on the idea ever since.

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

universalism vs. particularism again

via t. greer (thanks, t!), here are some excerpts from nisbett‘s The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently…and Why [pgs. 62-65, 69 – links and highlights added by me]:

“Similar data have been collected by Charles Hampden-Turner and Alfons Trompenaars, who are professors at an international business school in Holland. Over a period of several years they gave dozens of questions to middle managers taking seminars they conduct throughout the world. The participants in their seminars — fifteen thousand all told — were from the U.S., Canada, Australia, Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Singapore, and Japan (and a small number from Spain and Korea, as well). Hampden-Turner and Trompenaars presented their students with dilemmas in which independent values were pitted against interdependent values.

“To examine the value of individual distinction vs. harmonious relations with the group, Hampden-Turner and Trompenaars asked the managers to indicate which of the following types of jobs they preferred: (a) jobs in which personal initiatives are encouraged and individual initiatives are achieved; versus (b) jobs in which no one is singled out for personal honor, but in which everyone works together.

More than 90 percent of American, Canadian, Australian, British, Dutch, and Swedish respondents endorsed the first choice — the individual freedom alternative — vs. fewer than 50 percent of Japanese and Singaporeans. Preferences of the Germans, Italians, Belgians, and French were intermediate….

“Hampden-Turner and Trompenaars asked their participants to choose between the following expectations: If I apply for a job in a company, (a) I will almost certainly work there for the rest of my life; or (b) I am almost sure the relationship will have a limited duration.

More than 90 percent of Americans, Canadians, Australians, British, and Dutch thought a limited job duration was likely. This was true for only about 40 percent of Japanese…. The French, Germans, Italians, and Belgians were again intermediate, though closer to the other Europeans than to the Asians.

“To examine the relative value placed on achieved vs. ascribed status, Hampden-Turner and Trompenaars asked their participants whether or not they shared the following view: Becoming successful and respected is a matter of hard work. It is important for a manager to be older than his subordinates. Older people should be more respected than younger people.

More than 60 percent of American, Canadian, Australian, Swedish, and British respondents rejected the idea of status being based in any way on age. About 60 percent of Japanese, Korean, and Singapore respondents accepted hierarchy based in part on age; French, Italians, Germans, and Belgians were again intermediate, though closer to the other Europeans than to the Asians….

“Westerners prefer to live by abstract principles and like to believe these principles are applicable to everyone. To set aside universal rules in order to accomodate particular cases seems immoral to the Westerner. To insist on the same rules for every case can seem at best obtuse and rigid to the Easterner and at worst cruel. Many of Hampden-Turner and Trompenaar’s questions reveal what a marked difference exists among cultures in their preference for universally applicable rules vs. special consideration of cases based on their distinctive aspects. One of their questions deals with how to handle the case of an employee whose work for a company, though excellent for fifteen years, has been unsatisfactory for a year. If there is no reason to expect that performance will improve, should the employee be (a) dismissed on the grounds that job performance should remain the grounds for dismissal, regardless of the age of the person and his previous record; or (b) is it wrong to disregard the fifteen years the employee has been working for the company…?

More than 75 percent of Americans and Canadians felt the employee should be let go. About 20 percent of Koreans and Singaporeans agreed with that view. About 30 percent of Japanese, French, Italians, and Germans agreed and about 40 percent of British, Australians, Dutch, and Belgians agreed. (Atypically for this question, the British and Australians were closer to continental Europeans than to the North Americans.)

“As these results show, Westerners’ commitment to universally applied rules influences their understanding of the nature of agreements between individuals and between corporations….

“The work of Hampden-Turner and Trompenaars makes clear that the West is no monolith concerning issues of independence vs. interdependence. There are also substantial regularities to the differences found in Western countries. In general, the Mediterranean countries plus Belgium and Germany are intermediate between the East Asian countries on the one hand and the countries most heavily influenced by Protestant, Anglo-Saxon culture on the other….
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i see dead people more or less this same pattern over and over again:

– brits, americans, canadians, australians, dutch, swedes
– germans, italians, belgians, french, other mediterraneans
– japanese, koreans, singaporeans

the top group — especially the anglos wherever they be in the world — are:

– the most outbreeding of populations in the world — AND have a long history of doing so (see mating patterns series below ↓ in left-hand column)
– the most civic
– amongst the least corrupt
– the best at handling liberal democracy — in fact, they invented it
– and, what else … oh yes … are amongst the least violent populations in the world.

and the funny thing about that last point is that the violence rates — the homicide rates — dropped in these various countries over the course of the medieval period in pretty much (afaict) the very same pattern as hampden-turner and trompenaars’ independence/universalism vs. interdependence/particularism pattern above:

– england
– belgium/netherlands
– germany/switzerland
– scandinavia
– italy

i find it hard to believe that all of these co-incidences are all just a bunch of coincidences.

and given that the history of outbreeding in all of these places also seems to fit the same pattern (again, see mating patterns series below ↓ in left-hand column), i think (as you already might have started to suspect) that the mating patterns and all these behavioral/cultural patterns are tied together.

(however, if some of the apparent cognitive differences are also tied to the mating patterns, i will be genuinely shocked!)

need to have a look at the hampden-turner and trompenaars book to see where the scores of the middling european countries fall. another reason to get out of my pjs (and put on some street clothes!) and head to the library. (^_^)
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see also t. greer’s “West and East and How We Think.”

previously: universalism vs. particularism

(note: comments do not require an email. not my pjs. =( )

universalism vs. particularism

these are really just some notes on universalism vs. particularism that i want to jot down before i forget about them. (been known to happen.) i’ll be coming back to these ideas of universalism and particularism — particularly wrt ideas about morality and actual moral behaviors — in a later post(s).

previously, in this post:

“in ‘Corruption, Culture, and Markets,’ lipset & lenz…[pgs. 119-120 – links and emphases added by me]…

“‘The second major cultural framework, one derived from Plato via Banfield, assumes that corruption is in large part an expression of particularism — the felt obligation to help, to give resources to persons to whom one has a personal obligation, to the family above all but also to friends and membership groups. Nepotism is its most visible expression. Loyalty is a particularistic obligation that was very strong in precapitalist, feudal societies. As Weber implied, loyalty and the market are antithetical. The opposite of particularism is universalism, the commitment to treat others according to a similar standard. Market norms express universalism; hence, pure capitalism exhibits and is sustained by such values.'”

now, from Communicating Across Cultures [pgs. 81-82 – links and emphases added by me]:

“Universalistic-Based versus Particularistic-Based Interaction

“Independent-self individuals like to use a ‘universal’ set or a ‘fair’ set of standards to measure others’ performance. In comparison, interdependent-self individuals prefer to use a ‘contextual’ or a ‘particular’ set of criteria to evaluate others’ performance in different situations.

“According to Parson’s (1951) work, there are two kinds of societies: ‘universalistic’ and ‘particularistic.’ Independent-self individuals tend to be located in universalistic societies, whereas interdependent-self individuals tend to be located in particularistic societies. People in universalistic societies, such as Canada, the United States, Sweden, and Norway, believe that laws and regulations are written for everyone and must be upheld by everyone at all times. In contrast, for people in particularistic societies, such as China, South Korea, Venezuela, and Russia, the nature of the particular relationship in a given situation will determine how you will act in that situation (Trompenaars, 1994).

For members of universalistic societies, the law or regulations should treat everyone equally. On the other hand, for members of particularistic societies, the laws or regulations can be molded to fit the specific relationship or the in-group needs. Universalistic work practice emphasizes the importance of detailed contracts and penalty clauses in order to conduct business properly; particularistic work practices focuses on developing interpersonal trust and close social ties to maintain work commitment.

“The in-group asserts a profound impact, especially in particularistic societies. The concept of an ‘in-group’ can refer to both the actual kinship network to which you belong (e.g., your family group) and the reference groups (e.g., work group, political group) with which you identify closely. On the cultural level of analysis, the definition of the in-group can vary tremendously across cultures. For example, in the United States, the in-group is typically defined as ‘people who are in agreement with me on important issues and values’ (Triandis, 1989, p. 53 [pdf]). For the traditional Greeks, the in-group is defined as ‘family and friends and people who are concerned with my welfare’ (Triandis, 1989. p. 53). For the Western Samoans, the in-group consists of the extended family and the immediate village community (Ochs, 1988). For many of the Latin American groups, in-group refers to the extended family and the immediate neighborhood. For Arab cultures, in-group refers to immediate and extended family networks of parents, spouses, siblings, related cousins, and even honored guests who are unrelated to the host….

“For individualistic [universalistic] cultures, the in-group and out-group share a permeable boundary; for collectivistic [particulartic] cultures, in-group and out-group interaction follows a clear set of prescribed, identity-related behaviors.”

i think that there’s a connection between individualistic [outbred] societies having more universalistic ideals/morality and clannish [inbred] societies having particularistic ideals/morality.

kevin macdonald wrote extensively on how gypsy morality applies only within gypsy society — gypsy morality does not apply to non-gypsies [pdf]. in other words, gypsies are inbred [pg. 10 – pdf], clannish, and have a very particularistic moral system. at the other end of the spectrum we’ve got groups like the unitarians where everything goes, really, and just about everybody is included.

i’d like to think more about all the different religions/religious denominations and all the various moral systems in general and work out which ones are universalistic and which ones are particularistic — and how much. if you’ve got any ideas about all this, drop them in the comments, please! (^_^) for instance, roman catholicism is pretty universalistic (“catholic”) in that anybody can join up, but you do have to join up to be saved, so it’s not 100% universalistic. then you have judaism in which, i think, there’s a range of universalism-particularism — you can’t join the hasidim (i’m assuming), but you can convert to (is it?) reform judaism. but, again, you’ve got to join up.

one group that i think is particularly interesting is the calvinists. calvinism is often characterized as being individualistic in that the reform churches broke with roman catholicism and, like other protestants, argued for a more direct connection between individuals persons and god; but calvinism is, in fact, very particularistic in its ideas of reprobation and double predestination. you can’t just join up — god has to choose you. that’s particularistic.

previously: individualism-collectivism and familism, respect for parents, and corruption

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

english victorian working class pugilists

lest you think it was only the nineteenth century irish boxing each other’s ears, check out the pugilistic tendencies of english victorian miners (these are some of john derbyshire’s folks, don’t ya know! (~_^) ).

from Leisure And Recreation In A Victorian Mining Community: The Social Economy of Leisure in North-East England, 1820-1914 [pgs. 111-112]:

“Fighting and boxing

“It is critically important to emphasize how important fighting was in mining society. It was fundamental to life itself — miners always fought, down the mine, in the street and, in particular, on Friday and Saturday nights. It was deeply engrained in the very fabric of mining life. It was one of the most visible elements of the whole concept of masculinity. Life down the mine was dangerous and brutal — only the fittest survived. A ‘man’ was one who could stand up for himself and was always willing to test himself against anyone else. It is important to emphasize the pervasiveness and importance of fighting in the mining villages. More than anything else fighting spoke to questions of manhood. Physical prowess defined who a man was and fighting was a manifestation of manhood.

“Evidence as to the popularity of fighting flowed through the nineteenth century. The Commission on Mining Districts in 1842 reported on the prevalence on fighting. In the first half of the century some colliery owners place a prohibition of fighting within the bond. Several court cases were brought against miners for fighting in the mine. Comments were made as to the frequency of ‘pitman fights’ in the 1860s. Without exception these took place on pay Fridays or pay Saturdays. The pay weekends became the times when grudges were worked out and money was bet. This remained the same throughout the century. Jimmy Tabarar, a miner from New Hartley, commenting on the second decade of the twentieth century, stated that there ‘always was a battle on Saturday afternoon. Bare fist. Strip to waist.’ Talking about the same time, James Wilson, from Ashington, commented that there were ‘rough nights on pay weekends…Fights were frequent. Used to lay into one another, stripped to the buff, bare knuckled — until the police intervened.’ That these were, in some sense, organized affairs is implicit in a comment made about the 1850s. ‘I once heard of a pitman who always gave himself an extra clean wash on pay Friday, because he wanted to look “decent” when he put his shirt off to fight.’ It was this semi-organized fighting that provided the foundations of the organized boxing that developed in the 1890s.”

notice, though, the key difference between the faction fighting in 1800s ireland and the fist fights in 1800s england: in ireland you had literally hundreds of men involved in these fights, and the “factions” typically revolved around families or sets of families (the connors, the delahantys, the maddens) — in england, it was one man vs. one other man. two individuals duking it out for their individual honor, not great hordes fighting for their families’ honors.

and the women waiting at home for the pay packet (which was spent in the pub!) in order to buy milk for the kids. men! (~_^)

(p.s. – if anyone can give me any example of “faction fighting” in england, please lemme know!)

previously: english individualism and english individualism ii and english individualism iii

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