Anthropology Friday: Crackers pt 2

uk-origins3
From JayMan’s post on the American Nations

I am frequently frustrated by our culture’s lack of good ethnonyms. Take “Hispanic.” It just means “someone who speaks Spanish or whose ancestors spoke Spanish.” It includes everyone from Lebanese-Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim to Japanese-Peruvian Alberto Fujimori, from Sephardi Jews to native Bolivians, from white Argentinians to black Cubans, but doesn’t include Brazilians because speaking Portuguese instead of Spanish is a really critical ethnic difference.*

*In conversation, most people use “Hispanic” to mean “Mexican or Central American who’s at least partially Native American,” but the legal definition is what colleges and government agencies are using when determining who gets affirmative action. People think “Oh, those programs are to help poor, brown people,” when in reality the beneficiaries are mostly well-off and light-skinned–people who were well-off back in their home countries.

This is the danger of using euphemisms instead of saying what you actually mean.

Our ethnonyms for other groups are equally terrible. All non-whites are often lumped together under a single “POC” label, as though Nigerian Igbo and Han Chinese were totally equivalent and fungible peoples. Whites are similarly lumped, as if a poor white from the backwoods of Georgia and a wealthy Boston Puritan had anything in common. There are technical names for these groups, used in historical or academic contexts, but if you tell the average person you hail from a mix of “Cavalier-Yeoman and Cracker ancestors,” they’re just going to be confused.

north-american-nations-4-3
map of the American Nations

With the exception of Cajuns and recent immigrants who retain an old-world ethnic identity (eg, Irish, Jewish,) we simply lack common vernacular ethnonyms for the different white groups that settled the US–even though they are actually different.

The map at left comes from Colin Woodard’s American Nations: A History of the 11 Rival Regional Cultures of North America. 

As Woodard himself has noted, DNA studies have confirmed his map to an amazing degree.

American ethnic groups are not just Old World ethnic groups that happen to live in America. They’re real ethnicities that have developed over here during the past 500 years, but we have failed to adopt common names for them.

Woodard’s map implies a level of ethnic separation that is probably not entirely accurate, as these groups settled the American frontier in waves, creating layers of ethnicity that are thicker or thinner in different places. Today, we call these social classes, which is not entirely inaccurate.

Take the South. The area is dominated by two main ethnic blocks, Appalachians (in the mountains) and Cavalier-Plantation owners in the flatter areas. But the Cavalier area was never majority wealthy, elite plantation owners; it has always had a large contingent of middling-class whites, poor whites, and of course poor blacks. In areas of the “Deep South” where soils were poor or otherwise unsuited to cultivated, elite planters never penetrated, leaving the heartier backwoods whites–the Crackers–to their own devices.

If their ancestors spoke French, we recognize them as different, but if not, they’re just “poor”–or worse, “trash.”

Southern identity is a curious thing. Though I was born in the South (and my ancestors have lived there for over 400 years,) I have no meaningful “Southern identity” to speak of–nor do, I think, most southerners. It’s just a place; the core historical event of going to war to protect the interests of rich elites in perpetuating slavery doesn’t seem to resonate with most people I’ve met.

My interest in the region and its peoples stems not from Southern Pride, but the conventional curiosity adoptees tend to feel about their birth families: Where did I come from? What were they like? Were they good people? and Can I find a place where I feel comfortable and fit in? (No.)

My immediate biological family hails from parts of the South that never had any plantations (I had ancestors in Georgia in the 1800s, and ancestors in Virginia in the 1700s, but they’ve been dead for a while; my father lives within walking distance of his great-grandparent’s homestead.)

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Dust Storm, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1935 “This was a bad idea.”–Grandma

As previously discussed, I don’t exactly feel at home in cities;  perhaps this is because calling my ancestors “farmers” is a rather generous description for folks who thought it was a good idea to move to Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl.

(By the way, the only reason the prairies are consistently farmed today is due to irrigation, drawing water up from the Ogallala and other aquifers, and we are drawing water from those aquifers much faster than it is being replenished. If we keep using water at this rate–or faster, due to population growth–WE WILL RUN OUT. The prairies will go dry and dust storms will rage again.)

To be fair, some of my kin were successful farmers when it actually rained, but some were never so sedentary. Pastoralists, ranchers, hoe-farmers–they were the sorts of people who settled frontiers and moved on when places got too crowded, who drank hard and didn’t always raise their children. They match pretty closely Richard Sapp’s description of the Florida Crackers.

6KmUzif

From a genetic standpoint, the Crackers are either descended from borderlanders and Scotch-Irish (the pink region on the map at the top of the post,) or from folks who got along well with borderlanders and decided to move alongside them. I find it amazing that a relatively small place like Britain could produce such temperamentally different peoples as Puritans and Crackers–the former hard working, domesticated, stiff, and proper; the latter loud, liberty-loving, and more violent.

Peter Frost (evo and proud) has a theory that “core” Europe managed to decrease its homicide rates by executing criminals, thus removing them from the gene pool; the borderlands of Scotland and Ireland were perhaps beyond the reach of the hangman’s noose, or hopping the border allowed criminals to escape the police.

individualism-map-2-hajnal-line
from HBD Chick’s big summary post on the Hajnal Line

HBD Chick’s work focuses primarily on the effects of manorialism and outbreeding within the Hajnal line. Of the Crackers, she writes:

“The third American Revolution reached its climax in the years from 1779 to 1781. This was a rising of British borderers in the southern backcountry against American loyalists and British regulars who invaded the region. The result was a savage struggle which resembled many earlier conflicts in North Britain, with much family feuding and terrible atrocities committed on both sides. Prisoners were slaughtered, homes were burned, women were raped and even small children were put to the sword.” …

i’ve got a couple of posts related to those rambunctious folks from the backcountry whose ancestors came from the borderlands between england and scotland. libertarian crackers takes a quick look at why this group tends to love being independent and is distrustful of big gubmint — to make a long story short, the border folks married closely for much longer than the southern english — and they didn’t experience much manorialism, either (the lowland scots did, but not so much the border groups). did i mention that they’re a bit hot-headed? (not that there’s anything wrong with that! (~_^) ) see also: hatfields and mccoys. not surprising that this group’s war of independence involved “much family feuding.”

Less manorialism, less government control, less executing criminals, more cousin-marriage, more clannishness.

And the differences here aren’t merely cultural. As Nisbett and Cohen found (PDF; h/t HBD Chick):

During the experiment, a confederate bumped some subjects and muttered ‘asshole’ at them. Cortisol (a stress hormone) and testosterone (rises in preparation for violence) were measured before and after the insult. Insulted Southerners showed big jumps in both cortisol and testosterone compared to uninsulted Southerners and insulted Northerners. The difference in psychological and physiological responses to insults was manifest in behavior. Nisbett and Cohen recruited a 6’3” 250 lb (190 cm, 115 kg) American style football player whose task was to walk down the middle of a narrow hall as subjects came the other direction. The experimenters measured how close subjects came to the football player before stepping aside. Northerners stepped aside at around 6 feet regardless of whether they had been insulted. Un-insulted Southerners stepped aside at an average distance of 9 feet, whereas insulted Southerners approached to an average of about 3 feet. Polite but prepared to be violent, un-insulted Southerners take more care, presumably because they attribute a sense of honor to the football player and are normally respectful of others’ honor. When their honor is challenged, they are prepared and willing to challenge someone at considerable risk to their own safety.”

It’s genetic.

(The bit about honor is… not right. I witnessed a lot of football games as a child, and no one ever referred to the players as “honorable.” Southerners just don’t like to get close to each other, which is very sensible if people in your area get aggressive and angry easily. The South also has a lower population density than the North, so people are used to more space.)

As my grandmother says, “You don’t get to pick your ancestors.” I don’t know what I would think of my relatives had I actually grown up with them. They have their sins, like everyone else. But from a distance, as an adult, they’re fine people and they always have entertaining stories.

“Oh, yes, yet another time I almost died…”

As for racial attitudes, if you’re curious, they vary between “probably marched for Civil Rights back in the 50s” and “has never spoken a word, good or bad, generalizing about any ethnic group.” (I have met vocally anti-black people in the South; just not in my family.) I think my relatives are more interested in various strains of Charismatic Christianity than race.

It seems rather unfortunate that Southern identity is so heavily linked to the historical interests of the Plantation Elites. After all, it did the poor whites no good to die in a war fought to protect the interests of the rich. I think the desire to take pride in your ancestors and group is normal, healthy, and instinctive, but Southerners are in an unfortunate place where that identity is heavily infused with a racial ideology most Southerners don’t even agree with.

> Be white
> Be from the south
> Not into Confederacy
> Want an identity of some sort

> Now what?

In my case, I identify with nerds. This past is not an active source of ethnic identity, nor is the Cracker lifestyle even practical in the modern day. But my ancestors have still contributed (mostly genetically) to who I am.

Well, this was going to just be an introduction to today’s anthropology selection, but it turned out rather longer than expected, so let’s just save the real anthropology for next week.

The Good Side of Clannishness

So I was reading a conversation over at HBD Chick’s the other day about why some people take her work way too personally (and confrontationally,) even though it clearly isn’t meant that way, in which someone pointed out that even if she doesn’t exactly mean it that way, if you call people clannish or tribal, they’re bound to get offended, because nobody likes clannishness.

But wait, I thought. I know people who like clannishness.

This seems obvious when you consider that the majority of people who live in societies-that-are-more-clannish-than-mine probably like their societies and prefer their level of clannishness to my society’s level, otherwise they would take steps to change their society. Even if they might balk at the words like “clannish” or “tribal” (or the insinuation that their society has higher levels of in-breeding than some other society,) there are plenty of practical aspects of clannishness that some people actually like.

In the clannish society, you can depend on your extended kin network to always have your back. Clannish societies are generally very friendly–compare the outgoing friendliness of southern Italians to the more reserved-natured Germans. People with strong kin networks are born with a supply of friends, role models, advice givers, and potential business partners. Their kinfolk will even stick up for them, defending them against outsiders.

The inverse of clannishness is atomization, and atomization is lonely and stressful. In the atomized society, you are stuck on your own, with no one to catch you if you fall. You might be a single mother or an only child, or a hikikomori. Either way, you’re alone–and most people don’t seem to cope well with loneliness.

(The downside to tribal societies is that friendly extroverts are more likely to punch you in the face.)

Several of my friends have visited or lived in societies that fall outside the Hajnal Line, and absolutely loved them. “The friendliest place I have ever been,” raved one. “The people there are so friendly, I hear they’d stop and talk to their neighbors on the way to the hospital!” said another. “I just got hit on for the first time in my life,” said a third. “The only place I have ever felt what it meant to have a loving family–if only my family were like that.” “Everyone was so hospitable and polite and absolutely mortified when my hotel got bombed.” “If it weren’t for my [obligations], I would move there in a heartbeat.” (Quotes from five different places.)

Some of these same people have gone through decades of loneliness in outbred societies. One friend had literally no friends for a decade, after losing a spouse to a divorce and a child and parent to death; two are considered unattractive and are perennially alone. Several have little to no relationship with their extended families; most live quite far from their nearest relatives.

So even if people may not like being called “clannish” or “tribal,” these societies certainly have their fans.

“Politics” is just Gossip

(Except when it’s just social status whoring. Then it’s even worse than gossip. But I’ll talk about that later.)

When Sweden is having the same issues with immigration as France and the US, I find it hard to believe the problem is Obama.

It’s probably the Hajnal Line.

All my life (or at least since I was 12,) I have been surrounded by people claiming that it is immoral not to closely follow politics. So as a middle schooler I dutifully memorized the Supreme Court Justices, my Congressmen and Senators, all of the candidates for President and Vice President, members of the state government, even our ambassador to the UN (even though that guy probably has zero independent decision-making authority.)

I went on to major in political science, which has to be one of the most trying to prove you follow politics majors out there. But I realized rather quickly that I was more interested in what makes countries (and people) tick than in the exact names of the guys in charge. I would rather read about hunter gatherers, neurology, or genetics than about what Congress did yesterday. The Supreme Court changed and I forgot the names. I moved, Bakunin in hand, and failed to learn my new Senators. Political economy and philosophy were my constant companions, not the news.

Throughout, I felt guilty. Yes, I followed all of the latest online trends, yes, I participated in daily, often quite vociferous political discussion with literally almost everyone I knew, but I couldn’t be bothered to learn my Senator’s name and so I must be failing my duty to be an informed citizen. Sooner or later, I was bound to be uncovered for the politically ignorant immoral bum I am.

And yet, somehow, so much seemed not to really matter. Primaries came and went, and what was the point of learning all of the names when I was just going to vote for one of the two guys at the end? I remember my friends who loved Dean, only to have their hopes crushed when he didn’t get the Democratic nomination. So why bother?

So the other day, an older conservative relative sent me Ben Carson’s book, “One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America’s Future,” which I began reading out of politeness. I find Dr. Carson an affable writer–he seems like a well-intentioned guy.

The book calls (among many things) for people to pay more attention to politics.

Since almost 100% of people I know are already quite vociferously following politics, to the point where “outrage fatigue” is a real thing, what is the bloody point of asking us to follow it more?

Of course, the exhortation isn’t meant for people like me; it’s meant for people who don’t follow politics. Saying you should know the names of the people in charge is trying to translate politics into a form that will be recognizable to people who watch TV or read magazines in order to learn more about Kim Kardashian’s ass. It’s politics as gossip: OMG did you hear what Senator so-and-so wore to the Senator’s event? OMG  did you know that the President had sex with someone? Hey did you hear what Congressman so-and-so said about stuff?

Unfortunately, this is a terrible model for understanding politics. Politics is not socialite gossip. It’s fine if you want to memorize all of the names and personalities–whatever floats your boat–but this is not the same as understanding the political system. Why do the US and Sweden have very similar political movements, with very similar effects? Do we have the same president? The same Supreme Court? No. And people who try to understand politics as gossip aren’t going to figure this out.

And since all of the smart people are already following politics so much that you can’t goddamn escape it, we’re talking about trying to get a bunch of dumb people to vote more based on the assumption that somehow thinking about interest rates in the same way they think about celebrity butts will lead to good public policy.

Jesus effin’ Christ, no it won’t.

I am through with feeling guilty.

No, hunter gatherers were not peaceful paragons of gender equality

They aren’t today, either.

It seems like people are always trying to use hunter gatherers to further some wacky theory or other. The Paleo Diet isn’t too bad; it is at least a reasonably accurate representation of what hunter-gatherers actually eat, though your chances of replicating hunter-gather food at home are slim–which is why we end up with things like “Paleo Bread.” But then you have the far less accurate theories, often pushed by people who really ought to know better. Like the theory that hunter gatherers had no wars, or that they were all gender egalitarians. Or that there was once a global civilization of feminist goddess-worshipers who were wiped out by evil agriculturalists.

Oh, those evil, evil agriculturalists:

Share of violent deaths, non-state societies vs. state societies
Share of violent deaths, non-state societies vs. state societies
Violence in state and non-state societies
From “The Better Angels of our Nature,” by Steven Pinker

 

But let’s backtrack a minute. Where do these wacky theories come from?

The short answer is that they come from Marxists. You may laugh or roll your eyes, but I was actually assigned Das Kapital twice in college–once in my major, political science, and once in my minor, anthropology. I was also assigned explicitly Marxist papers in my Feminism class. This was a reputable university where many of my professors were identifiably conservative, not an obvious liberal bastion like Berkley or Reed.

Marx is deep in academia.

You do not have to be explicitly citing Marx or realize that you are using theories of the world derived from Marx to be using one of Marx’s theories, anymore than you have to have studied the Chicago School of Economics or the Austrian School to pick up one of their theories and start using it. But most academics of the past 100 years or so have known the intellectual provenance of their ideas, because like me, they were assigned it in class and no one in academia is shy about explicitly citing Marx.

To be honest, I don’t hate Marx’s theories. I enjoy Bakunin better than Marx, but I understand Marx’s attempt at making a science out of economic history. Not a terribly rigorous science, unfortunately.

This isn’t the time or place for a full explanation of where exactly Marx went wrong–there are far better authors than me who have spilled plenty of ink on the subject if you want to take a look. But suffice to say, real-life experience has not been terribly kind to Marx’s theories. Nonetheless, they still undergird a great deal of academic thinking and were formative in the educations of many, many anthropologists.

And the basic thought process went like this:

Jesus Effin’ Christ, WWII was the most awful, worst thing ever. Nazis are horrifying, racist scum. We need different theories.

Marxism explains human behavior through entirely environmental means, namely the means of production (ie, whether you live in a hunter-gatherer, agricultural, industrial, etc., kind of society.)

Marxism says that humans have wars because capitalists make them–that is, war is a side effect of capitalist society.

Therefore, in the pre-capitalist society, people didn’t have wars.

And then academics went and wrote a lot of things about how they now realized that pre-state people didn’t have wars or violence or were ever mean to each other.

Alas, many a beautiful theory has been destroyed by an ugly fact, and the ugly fact in this case is that pre-state people killed each other all the damn time. Take the Dorset, completely wiped out by the Thule (Inuit) about 700 years ago:

The genetic prehistory of the New World Arctic
The genetic prehistory of the New World Arctic, from

Science 29 August 2014: Vol. 345 no. 6200 DOI: 10.1126/science.125583,  Maanasa Raghavan et al.

 

Those blue bars represent Dorset DNA found in ancient gravesites around the arctic. The red guys represent Thule (Inuit) DNA. The Dorset are gone; their DNA did not make it into the Thule.

Anthropologists and archaeologists have spent the last 70 years or so arguing that if you find one kind of pots in one layer of your excavation, and radically different pots in the next layer, all it means is that people traded for some different pots. In the case of the Dorset, it means the Thule killed them all, a good 200 years before Columbus even set foot anywhere near Cuba.

Speaking of Columbus, he wrote of the Indians he met in the Bahamas, “Many of the men I have seen have scars on their bodies, and when I made signs to them to find out how this happened, they indicated that people from other nearby islands come to San Salvador to capture them; they defend themselves the best they can. I believe that people from the mainland come here to take them as slaves.”

But what of other hunter-gatherers?

According to the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica,

“[The Bushman’s] courage is remarkable, and Fritsch was told by residents who were well qualified to speak that supported by a dozen Bushmen they would not be afraid of a hundred Kaffirs. The terror inspired by the Bushmen has indeed had an effect in the deforestation of parts of Cape Colony, for the colonists, to guard against stealthy attacks, cut down all the bush far round their holdings.

Marriage is a matter merely of offer and acceptance ratified by a feast. Among some tribes the youth must prove himself an expert hunter. Nothing is known of the laws of inheritance. … As among other African tribes the social position of the women is low. They are beasts of burden, carrying the children and the family property on the journeys, and doing all the work at the halting-place. It is their duty also to keep the encampment supplied with water, no matter how far it has to be carried.”

Yes, clearly they are bastions of peaceful gender egalitarianism!

“A recent study… gave some astonishing cross-cultural figures. The homicide rate in modern Britain is roughly 0.5/100,000; in the USA it is about 20 times as high, at about 10.5. The highest death rate recorded in a nation, as opposed to a tribe, is 34 / 100,000, in Colombia. Though it is difficult to calculate exact correspondences for much smaller populations, about whom much less is known, it is still clear that Stone Age tribes make up in enthusiasm what they lack in the technology of murder. Even the !Kung bushmen, popularised as “The Harmless People”, had a had a homicide rate of 41.9 on this scale; the Yanomamo come in at 165. The record appears to be held by the Hewa people of New Guinea, with a score of 778. … the Murngin hunter-gatherer aborigines of Northern Australia come in with a score of 330.” –from The Darwin Wars, by Andrew Brown, (you can find excerpts on Brown’s promotional website for the book.)

Of the Yanomamo, Brown notes, ” There are fashions in noble savages as in other things, and the Yanomamo, a warlike and intermittently cannibal tribe living on the borders of Brazil and Venezuela, are one of the most heavily studied and nastiest in their habits of all the unspoiled people in the Seventies and Eighties. …

The tribes are quite exceptionally violent and sexist. The Yanomamo term for marriage translates literally as “dragging something away”; their term for divorce is “throwing something away.” [My emphasis, not Brown’s.] Villages war with villages; villagers with each other. They use poisoned arrows, spears and wooden clubs. When nothing much seems to be happening in the world outside, villagers will fight with long poles: two men will stand facing each other, and exchange insults. Then they will take turns to punch each other in the chest as hard as possible. Finally they take up long flexible poles, and — once more taking turns — smash each other around the head with them until the loser is felled, unconscious and bleeding all over his head. To quote one lurid description: “A man with a special grudge against another challenges his adversary to hit him on the head with an eight foot long pole shaped like a pool cue. The challenger sticks his own pole in the ground, leans on it, and bows his head. His adversary holds his pole by the thin end, whipping the heavy end down on the proffered pate with bone-crushing force. Having sustained one blow, the recipient is entitled to an immediate opportunity to wallop his opponent in the same manner.”

And if we go back to the data cited at the top of the post, Steven Pinker estimates, in The Better Angels of our Nature, that about 15% of people died of violence–murder or warfare–in pre-state societies.

This is about the same % as the Russians lost in WWII, if we go with the high estimate of Soviet casualties–about half that if we take the low estimate. Of course, hunter gatherers live to be about 45, while WWII was compressed into 6 years, so the death rate was rather faster during WWII, but if you did manage to survive, you lived the rest of your 60 or 70 years in relative peace.

 

In short, Marx obviously missed some major factors that lead people to kill each other, and anthropologists, not necessarily trained in things like analyzing crime statistics, ran with the idea, producing books with titles like “The Harmless People” about the Bushmen.

Unfortunately, wanting something to be true is not the same as it being true.

So what’s the real story?

Put yourself in the bare feet of a hunter-gatherer, unfettered by the rules and oppressions of the modern state. You meet a random stranger. Kill him, and you can take his pile of nuts, his gourd of water, and his wife. Don’t kill him, and he can kill you and take your nuts, water, and wife. There are no police in your society, so who’s going to stop you?

Throughout pre-history, the men who killed their neighbors and took their wives became your ancestors, and the men who didn’t got killed.

“Citing recent DNA research, Dr. Baumeister explained that today’s human population is descended from twice as many women as men. Maybe 80 percent of women reproduced, whereas only 40 percent of men did.”–Is There Anything Good About Men?

1 in 200 people today is descended from Genghis Khan’s immediate family, or perhaps the Great Khan himself. (I challenge you to tell the difference between Genghis’s Y chromosome and his brother’s.)

This is, literally, evolution in action. This is survival of the fittest, the struggle to reproduce and pass your genes on to the next generation.

Interestingly, Genghis Khan’s empire, after the massacres, was supposedly very safe–it was said that a woman carrying a bag of gold could walk unmolested, alone, from one end of the empire to the other. Probably an exaggeration, but in general, you did not mess with Genghis Khan’s money-making trade routes unless you wanted to be dead.

As has been said many times, the State demands a monopoly on the use of violence, punishing–often killing–those who would take the ancestral route to paternity. This is a novel evolutionary pressure–the collective pressure of the state against the violent.

Thus violent crime rates have plummeted in state-societies over the past 5,000 years or so:

homicide_in_europe_1200_2000

(Look, if you find a better graph, let me know.)

Genetic Pacification in England
Genetic Pacification in England, Eisner, 2001

Peter Frost lays out this argument excellently in his post, “The Genetic Pacification of Europe“–basically the idea that European governments have been executing their violent criminals (or otherwise letting them die in jail) for centuries, resulting in a drastic reduction in the prevalence of genes coding for violence in areas with long histories of strong, organized state rule.

According to Wikipedia, monoamine oxidase A, also known as the “warrior gene”, is associated with several types of antisocial behavior.  “…individuals with the low activity MAO-A gene, when faced with social exclusion or ostracism showed higher levels of aggression than individuals with the high activity MAO-A gene. Low activity MAO-A could significantly predict aggressive behaviour in a high provocation situation, but was less associated with aggression in a low provocation situation. Individuals with the low activity variant of the MAO-A gene were just as likely as participants with the high activity variant to retaliate when the loss was small. However, they were more likely to retaliate and with greater force when the loss was large.”

Also, “The frequency distribution of variants of the MAO-A gene differs between ethnic groups. 59% of Black men, 54% of Chinese men, 56% of Maori men, and 34% of Caucasian men carry the 3R allele. 5.5% of Black men, 0.1% of Caucasian men, and 0.00067% of Asian men carry the 2R allele.”

Now, as HBD Chick has pointed out, we aren’t just looking at states at agents of pacification, we’re looking especially at a specific sub-set of states. Like those inside the Hajnal Line, where the Catholic church forbade cousin marriage (one of the preferred forms of marriage throughout the rest of the world, actually,) a thousand and a half or so years ago, leading to the breakup of the barbarian tribal/clan systems and the genetic prerequisites for living in modern states (I assume something functionally kinda similar has happened in China and Japan, since they also have low crime rates, but that requires more research.)

One final point on gender equality, again from Peter Frost:

“According to a survey of 93 nonindustrial cultures, men were expected to dominate their wives in 67% of them, the sexes were expected to be about equal in 30%, and women were expected to dominate their husbands in 3% (Whyte, 1978). Sex roles differ to varying degrees even among hunter-gatherers, who correspond to the earliest stage of cultural evolution. In the tropics, women provide more food through gathering than men do through hunting. The reverse is true beyond the tropics, where women have few opportunities to gather food in winter (Kelly, 1995, pp. 128-132; Martin, 1974, pp. 16-18).”

Also:

“English psychologist John T. Manning has pioneered the use of this digit ratio as a way to measure how prenatal male and female hormones influence various behavioral traits. In a recent study, he looked at how prenatal hormones might influence gender equality in different populations. After measuring the digit ratios of participants from 29 countries, his research team averaged the score for each country and compared it with indices of gender equality: women’s share of parliamentary seats; women’s participation in the labor force, women’s education attainment level; maternal mortality rates; and juvenile pregnancy rates. To ensure comparability, all of the participants were of European descent.

… the more similar the two sexes were in 2D:4D, the more equal were the two sexes in parliamentary and labor force participation. The other variables were not as strongly correlated. (Manning et al., 2014)

In general, women from Northwest Europe have more masculine digit ratios, whereas women from farther east and south have more feminine digit ratios. This geographical trend is more pronounced for the right hand than for the left hand. Since the right-hand digit ratio is associated with social dominance, Northwest Europeans may be less sexually differentiated for that particular trait, as opposed to being less sexually differentiated in general.

Presumably, this isn’t a new tendency. Women must have been more socially dominant among Northwest Europeans even before the late 19th century and the earliest movements for women’s suffrage. So how far back does the tendency go? To medieval times? To pre-Christian times? It seems to go back at least to medieval times and, as such, forms part of the Western European Marriage Pattern:

‘The status of women differed immensely by region. In western Europe, later marriage and higher rates of definitive celibacy (the so-called “European marriage pattern”) helped to constrain patriarchy at its most extreme level. 

[…] In eastern Europe however, the tradition of early and universal marriage (usually of a bride aged 12-15 years, with menarche occurring on average at 14) as well as traditional Slavic patrilocal customs led to a greatly inferior status of women at all levels of society. (Women in the Middle Ages, 2014)’ ”

 

If you’re looking for a peaceful, gender-egalitarian society, don’t look to prehistory, hunter gatherers, or non-state societies. Look at your own country. It’s probably pretty good.

Has Christianity Selected for an Atheistic Upper Class?

I’ve been trying for a while to figure out when atheism became mainstream in the West. Sometimes I answer, “Around the end of the English Civil War,” (1650) and sometimes I answer, “Late 1980s/early 1990s.”

Medieval Europeans seem to have been pretty solidly Christian–probably about as Christian as modern Muslims are Muslim.

Modern Westerners are highly atheistic–even many of the “Christians”. So what happened?

I speculate that the upper classes in France, Britain, and the Colonies (and probably that-which-would-become-Germany and a few other places I’m less familiar with, like the Netherlands,) were largely atheistic by the 1700s. Look at the writings of the Enlightenment philosophers, the behavior of the French nobility, the English distrust of any kind of religious “enthusiasm,” German bishops actively encouraging Jewish settlement in their cities and attempting to protect the Jews from angry peasant mobs, various laws outlawing or greatly limiting religious power passed during the French Revolution, the deism of the Founding Fathers, etc.

By contrast, the lower classes in NW Europe and especially America retained their belief for far longer–a few isolated pockets of belief surviving even into the present. For example, see the Pilgrims, the Counter-Revolution in the Vendee, maybe German peasants, televangelists in the 80s, blue laws, and Appalachian snake handlers in the ’50s, etc.

So how did that happen? I propose that the upper class and lower class followed different evolutionary trajectories (due to different conditions), with strong religiosity basically already selected out by the 1700s, meaning the relevant selection period is roughly 500-1700, not post-1700s.

During this time, the dominant religion was Catholicism, and Catholicism has generally forbade its priests, monks, nuns, etc., from getting married and having children since somewhere abouts the 300s or 400s. (With varying levels of success.)

Who got to be an official member of the Church hierarchy? Members of the upper class. Peasants couldn’t afford to do jobs that didn’t involve growing food, and upper class people weren’t going to accept peasants as religious authorities with power over their eternal souls, anyway. Many (perhaps most) of the people who joined the church were compelled at least in part by economic necessity–lack of arable land and strict inheritance laws meant that a family’s younger sons and daughters would not have the resources for marriage and family formation, anyway, and so these excess children were shunted off to monasteries.

There was another option for younger sons: the army. (Not such a good option for younger daughters.) Folks in the army probably did have children; you can imagine the details.

So we can imagine that, given the option between the army and the Church, those among the upper class with more devote inclinations probably chose the Church. And given a few hundred years of your most devote people leaving no children (and little genetic inflow from the lower classes,) the net result would be a general decrease in the % of genes in your population that contribute to a highly religious outlook.

(This assumes, of course, that religiosity can be selected for. I assume it can.)

Since the lower classes cannot join the Church, we should see much more religiosity among them. (Other factors affected the lower classes, just not this one.) If anything, one might speculate that religiosity may have increased reproductive success for the lower classes, where it could have inspired family-friendly values like honesty, hard work, fidelity, not being a drunkard, etc. A hard-working, moderately devout young man or woman may have been seen as a better potential spouse by the folks arranging marriages than a non-devout person.

Religiosity probably persisted in the US for longer than in Europe because:
1. More religious people tended to move from Europe to America, leaving Europe less religious and America more;

2. The beneficial effects of being a devout person who could raise lots of children were enhanced by the availability of abundant natural resources, allowing these people to raise even more children. NW Europe has had very little new land opened up in the past thousand years, limiting everybody’s expansion. The European lower classes historically did not reproduce themselves (horrific levels of disease and malnutrition will do that to you), being gradually replaced by downwardly-mobile upper classes. (There are probably regions in which the lower classes did survive, of course;)

3. By the time we’re talking about America, we’re talking about Protestant denominations rather than Catholicism, and Protestants generally allow their clergy to marry.