Thursday, August 28, 2014

rule of law: Demography, Territory, Law: Land Tenure and the Origins of Capitalism in Britain

researchgate |  The principal thesis of The Rules of Animal and Human Populations is that both human and animal societies have distinct patterns of dispersal. These patterns affect the size of populations, and in humans, the very nature of economic and political systems. Thus, different land-use, planning and inheritance systems have different outcomes, with some systems resulting in sustainable steady-state economies, while others are geared to exponential growth, the ultimate price of which is collapse. Peeping ahead, clan-based communities, in the Pacific and New Guinea for example, where traditional land-use and inheritance systems are retained, people retain control over natural resources and do not commodify the land by buying and selling it. People strive to prevent, as best they can, natural resources from being alienated and destroyed. This contrasts with the fossil-fuel intensive Anglophone countries where almost everything which can be commodified, has been. These countries are facing a multi-dimensional environmental crisis that is likely to result in social breakdown and dislocation. When collapse does occur societies' property ownership returns to family connections with the land, and over time the family and clan system re-emerges. Newman hopes that people in the rapidly growing Anglophone societies may be able to regain these organic systems of social organisation as protection against the onslaught of global capitalism.

Newman argues that these seemingly unstoppable forces of population and economic growth which are leading Anglophone countries like the United States, Australia, Britain and Canada to overshoot, do not exist in the Western continental European systems. Europe's population is already too big and is causing environmental destruction, but natural attrition is downsizing the population to more sustainable levels. Writers like "Spengler", David P. Goldman, in books with melodramatic titles such as It's Not the End of the World, It's Just the End of You, (RVP, New York, 2011), raise an alarm about such a decrease in population, but ecologically it is really just the population returning to more sustainable levels. By contrast, countries such as Australia, through undemocratically imposed immigration, largely produced by the lobbying muscle of powerful ethnic and business groups (especially the housing/real estate lobby), are set to push their populations to completely unsustainable levels, paying no respect to environmental and resources crises such as peak oil. Part of the problem with Australia's runaway growth in population, Newman points out, is that people, as in other Anglophone countries, have little democratic power to defend communities from the assault of the forces of the market, by contrast to continental Europe where the state controls most of the land-use.

Anglophone countries have political and business elites dogmatically committed to unending economic growth and "progress." Progress has become a secular religion for them. In chapter 1 Newman subjects this religion of progress to a penetrating critique. Progress requires vast quantities of materials and energy, in the form of fossil fuels. What happens in complex computer societies if there is no longer abundant fossil fuel? Is freedom, democracy and "progress" in such complex societies a product of relatively cheap fossil fuel, and will these institutions disappear in the coming age of scarcity? Her answer is "yes", for democracy in the sense of full participation in decisions is more likely in small communities not based on techno-industrialism. She sees "peak oil" and the rapid depletion of other resources needed for techno-industrial societies to grow, as major forces terminating their lives.

If economists have been wrong about the ideology of progress, what else have they been wrong about? Chapter 2 of Rules of Animal and Human Populations discusses myths of fertility and mortality that have dominated contemporary anthropology, especially the idea that hunter-gatherer societies, supposedly lacking mechanical contraception, only maintain stable populations through Malthusian forces and violence, producing high mortality. Newman goes to considerable lengths in this chapter to show that modern anthropology has forgotten a massive body of evidence about "pre-transitional" societies, such as the Kunimaipa people in the highlands of Papua New guinea, who maintain stable populations through a variety of strategies such as breastfeeding for four or five years, abortion, infanticide and post-partum taboos. Other societies have used equally as innovative strategies to prevent women being sexually active during a large part of their adult life, including norms of premarital virginity, incest avoidance and other restrictions. For example, brothers traditionally shared one wife in Tibet leaving 30 percent of women without an opportunity for marriage. Surprisingly enough, even Malthus documented cases of stable populations in continental Europe at the end of the 18th century, such as the Swiss parish of Leyzin. There are, though, other important factors including incest avoidance and the Westermarck effect which Newman discusses in depth.

Newman advances a new theory about how incest avoidance and the Westermarck effect impact upon patterns of human settlement and population growth. Incest avoidance, the avoidance of inbreeding, is not limited to humans but occurs in many other organisms including cockroaches. Second, the Westermarck effect, first observed by 19th century Finnish sociologist Edvard Westermarck (1862-1939), is that incest avoidance also applies to people raised together independent of whether or not they are genetically related. The effect has been confirmed many times. Newman argues that contrary to received sociology, incest avoidance and the Westermarck effect are probably indistinctive norms in humans, a product of genetic algorithms underpinning human social organisation. Inbreeding avoidance occurs in many other species, including plants, suggesting that a mechanism such as hormones may be the generative mechanism rather than conscious calculations. In short; "hormones will deliver more or less fertility according to the availability of living space. Space (territory) required per individual will be affected by density and reliability of food distribution, and all of this will be mediated by some degree of incest avoidance/Westermarck effect, which is also related to social dominance." (p.83)


21 comments:

John Kurman said...

The Tragedy of the Commons, as pointed out, was a bullshit argument made out of thin air that Hardin later recognized as such, and regretted. It had no basis in historical fact. If there is a tragedy in unmanaged, unregulated common resources, it is private property ownership that creates the tragedy. The use of the common grass is not the problem, it is the private ownership of the cattle, or sheep, that causes the problem.


http://johnkurman.blogspot.com/2011/06/tragedy-of-commons.html

CNu said...

The new little piece of the puzzle I stumbled upon today was that the drive for land privatization was predicated on some or another minor technical advantage impacting yield or land use that the innovator was bound and determined NOT to share with other users of the commons. In other words, quite literally - not wanting for others what you wanted for yourself.

BigDonOne said...

Enlightened governments have realized that the best way to effectively improve the land is for folks to have an individual stake in the results, e.g., homesteading in early America. The only people griping about this process are those genetically FTO-lacking low-IQ types who have failed in the competition.....

Dale Asberry said...

This is most definitely antithetical to hacker culture. And although I can't recall any bible verses offhand, I'm absolutely sure that it is antithetical to christian morals.

CNu said...

lol, why we've entered into the period of peak soil and aquifer depletion all across the enlightened land as greedy-as-phuk and dumber-than-a-box-of-rocks FTO surplus, mirror-neuron deficient individuals have competed themselves to death. Now run along in case grown folk show up and catch you in yet further cognitively naked antics on my front porch.

Dale Asberry said...

You're completely missing the point. The problem is solved by cultures of competence rejecting cultures of selfishness and greed. The reason you miss the point is because you have no experience with a culture of competence.

BigDonOne said...

There are very few folks expatrifying America, compared to the vast hordes trying to get in. Go spend a few days (if you survive that long) in a Culture of Incompetence, such as Somalia, then you can lecture BD on that issue....

Dale Asberry said...

You're absolutely correct. You're insistence on capitalism is an insistence on a Culture of Incompetence. You are one of it's poster children.

CNu said...

Somalia had a quite ancient, non-overshot culture which survived and flourished for millenia in an environmentally challenged context until it was contacted, infested, and bled-out by Europeans. Interestingly, Sheila Newman - whose books I posted a review of yesterday - is rather more of a co-religionist of yours - judging by the intellectual company she keeps that includes frosty woolridge. That said, she's still the first to admit that the specifically British formation called capitalism, organized under the "rule of law" is the primary source of current epic future time orientation systemic failure and massive overshoot.

She even goes so far as to posit and offer evidence that the peoples of Easter Island did not in fact overshoot their ecology, rather, they were wiped out in their initial contact with Europeans. You need to study and comprehend before you let that alligator mouth overload your hummingbird backside in public BD.

CNu said...

Textbook Ghost Not? http://www.buildfreedom.com/content/reciprocality/r2/

This paper presents a deep logical error in most people's thinking, that is introduced right at the beginning of thought, and then stays in the thinking until the conclusions are reached. The conclusions are then wrong, but when they are examined there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with them. Nor does there seem to be anything wrong with the reasoning - as people check back, each step seems to be correct. This is because the error was already in place before reasoning began. Even worse, the conclusions people reach in one area seem to match the conclusions they reach in other areas. This is because the error has a
particular character wherever it appears, so one conclusion that contains the error has a relationship with another that also contains the error, which makes them match up.

The problem distorts deductive reasoning. It does not distort inductive reasoning, but it makes inductive reasoning appear
inadmissible to many people who have done some deductive reasoning with the Ghost Not and turned their minds effectively inside out.

BigDonOne said...

BD would argue that the best incontrovertible measure of quality living is Life_Expectancy.
Capitalism wins hands down... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy

You would have been lucky to survive infancy in ancient Somalia...

CNu said...

Note to self: self-deceived individuals deceive others better...,

BigDonOne said...

...Re; Easter Island -- If that assertion is true, it's just one more example from the multitudes of genetic inferiors LOOZing...

CNu said...

lol, the planet's about to snatch you long-lived FTO phukkups - http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/08/05/scientists-may-have-cracked-the-giant-siberian-crater-mystery-and-the-news-isnt-good/ too bad everybody else has to suffer with you.

Naive Tom said...

lol, when your theory can explain every possible piece of data, true or not, then it's not a theory.

BigDonOne said...

Right. When every attempt to trip up a theory has failed, then it is indeed no longer a theory. It is a Law.

CNu said...

Nope. Just Ghost Not - a type of catastrophic deductive loop worm that breaks the human cognitive machinery. BD's racism worm puts him a full three levels beneath hosts for the buybull buddy worm..., It is, however, entertaining to watch once you understand the nature of the thing and that you're no longer dealing with actual human agency, but instead, with something very predictably automatized - a broken machine.

Naive Tom said...

I hear you saying theories that make wrong predictions -- i.e. explain every false data point we can throw at them -- are called Laws.


That's not what we mean by Laws in engineering and the physical sciences, but I'm no expert on Scientific Racist Realizm so go nuts.

BigDonOne said...

Believing some ridiculous head sculptures would scare off invaders is as almost as bad as the idea ancient Somalia would be a satisfying, rewarding and fulfilling place to live....


Weak FTO is bad enough but some folks apparently don't even have accurate BTO (Backward Time Orientation).....

Naive Tom said...

"broken machine"


It's probably a different perspective, but .....

http://automaticpreference.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/naming1.png?w=211&h=300

http://automaticpreference.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/the-charles-peirce-walker-percy-tetrad-model-of-language/

Tom said...

Machines can't do denotation, is why the word "machine" jiggled my memory here. But the picture covers a lot more ground than that.