Emmanuel Todd’s latest book – in English

Actually it’s by Youssef Courbage and Emmanuel Todd. And it’s not that new; it was first published (in French) in 2007. But it has just been made available in English. And it is exactly the Todd book that, for several years now, I have most been wanting to read. It is entitled A Convergence of Civilizations: The Transformation of Muslim Societies Around the World.

If it is as interesting as I hope it is, this book could finally enable Todd to make his long overdue breakthrough into the English speaking world.

And it is, as Instapundit is always saying, in the post.

In all my previous Todd googlings, I had never before come across this stuff about Todd, although I am almost certain that it has been there all along. Will read this tomorrow, or failing that, Real Soon. (And ooh look: at the top left, under where it says “NEW!!!”, there is me, and three of my Todd postings.)

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Emmanuel Todd quoted and Instalanched

A few months back I discovered that there were other Emmanuel Todd fans out there besides me, notably Lexington Green of Chicago Boyz, and James C. Bennett. Emails were exchanged, and I met up with Bennett in London. Very helpful.

Here is a big moment in what I hope may prove to be the long overdue rise and rise of Emmanuel Todd in the English speaking world. Todd is quoted here by Lexington Green, and then linked to from here. Yes indeed, Instapundit. Okay, this is because what Todd is quoted saying happens to chime in with what Instapundit wants to be saying, but … whatever. That’s how Instalaunches work.

The Todd quote:

A double movement will assure the advancement of human history. The developing world is heading toward democracy — pushed by the movement toward full literacy that tends to create culturally more homogeneous societies. As for the industrialized world, it is being encroached on to varying degrees by a tendency toward oligarchy — a phenomenon that has emerged with the development of educational stratification that has divided societies into layers of “higher,” “lower,” and various kinds of “middle” classes.

However, we must not exaggerate the antidemocratic effects of this unegalitarian educational stratification. Developed countries, even if they become more oligarchical, remain literate countries and will have to deal with the contradictions and conflicts that could arise between a democratically leaning literate mass and university-driven stratification that favors oligarchical elites.

Says LG:

Todd’s book, despite its flaws, is full of good insights. This passage was prescient. The Tea Party (“a democratically leaning literate mass”) and it’s opponents, the “Ruling Class” described by Angelo Codevilla, (“oligarchical elites”) are well-delineated by Todd, several years before other people were focused on this phenomenon.

This may cause a little flurry of Toddery in my part of the www. Not all of it will be favourable, to put it mildly, because the book quoted is fiercely anti-American, and totally wrong-headed about economics. Todd is one of those people who insists on dividing economic activity into “real” and “unreal” categories, solid and speculative, honest and delusional. Todd’s problem is that he imagines that the making of things that hurt your foot when you drop them is inherently less risky than, say, operating as a financial advisor or a hedge fund manager. But both are risky. It is possible to make too many things. Similar illusions were entertained in the past about how agriculture was real, while mere thing-making was unreal.

Todd believes that the US economy is being “hollowed out”, with delusional activity crowding out “real” activity.

The problem is that Todd is not completely wrong. Economic dodginess was indeed stalking the USA in 2002. But the explanation for the processes that actually did occur and are occurring, which are easily confused with what Todd said back in 2002 was happening, and which will hence make him all the more certain that his wrongness is right, is not that manufacturing is real and financial services unreal, but that for Austrian economics reasons (Todd appears to have no idea whatever about Austrian economics), all dodgy and speculative activities, most emphatically including dodgy manufacturing ventures, have been encouraged by bad financial policies. Todd also seems to imagine that only the USA has been guilty of such follies. If only.

Such are some of the flaws in this book that LG refers to.

But none of that impinges on Todd’s fundamental achievements as a social scientist, which I have long thought ought to resonate in my part of the www. This should help.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Apple keyboard remains excellent – iPhone software not so excellent

Remember a posting I did last autumn about how I bought a new, small, Apple Mac keyboard? Probably not. Why would you? Anyway, I did. It still looks like this:

The thing is, you often read enthusiastic endorsements of products by purchasers, immediately after they’ve bought the thing. But such purchasers have a vested interest in being enthusiastic, because if they aren’t enthusiastic, why did they buy it? Less often do you read follow up pieces months or years later, about whether the initial enthusiasm has persisted. Well, in this case, I just want to say that this has, so far, proved to be a very successful purchase indeed. The keyboard is still working fine. It remains the solid, unclunky thing that it first seemed. It continues to be the difference between a conveniently clear desk and a hopelessly cluttered one.

I am becoming more and more open to the idea that my next computer will be a Mac rather than yet another clunky old PC.

Here, on the other hand, are some less admiring reflections about Apple, this time concerning the way that Apple handles the software on their nevertheless legendarily successful iPhone. Actually, it’s because the iPhone is so fabulously successful that Apple can handle its software so badly. Which Paul Graham reckons may cost them in the longer run.

Their model of product development derives from hardware. They work on something till they think it’s finished, then they release it. You have to do that with hardware, but because software is so easy to change, its design can benefit from evolution. The standard way to develop applications now is to launch fast and iterate. Which means it’s a disaster to have long, random delays each time you release a new version.

Apparently Apple’s attitude is that developers should be more careful when they submit a new version to the App Store. They would say that. But powerful as they are, they’re not powerful enough to turn back the evolution of technology. Programmers don’t use launch-fast-and-iterate out of laziness. They use it because it yields the best results. By obstructing that process, Apple is making them do bad work, and programmers hate that as much as Apple would.

My utterly casual and probably quite worthless opinion of Apple is that as soon Steve Jobs stops being their boss, they’re doomed. While Jobs sticks around, everything they make will look and feel great, because this is what Jobs does insist on and can insist on. He has total power and impeccable taste, which is, if you think about it, an extraordinarily rare combination of circumstances. He knows exactly what we all want, years before we do, and he screams like a horrifically spoilt child until he gets it. A few years back, Jobs did abandon Apple, or maybe it was vice versa (what with all the horrific spoilt child screaming), and Apple did then nosedive towards inevitable doom. Only when Jobs returned did the Apple glory days resume. Without Jobs, Apple will become just another clunky computer company with a glorious past and a ton of money to waste that they made in the glory days. Which they will waste and that will be that. Apple keyboards will duly degenerate into being no better than any other kind of keyboard.

Which in my opinion is the single big reason not to buy, which means to commit to, Macs.

Those complaints about Apple’s turgid software approval process were written last November. I wonder if anything has changed since then. It seems rather improbable. After all, the iPhone hasn’t got any less successful.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Today I bought an Apple Mac keyboard …

For some months now I have been looking for a new, small computer keyboard, to replace the great wide clunky accountancy keyboard that you are usually obliged to use, complete with an extra pocket calculator stuck on the right that I don’t use occupying desk space that I can’t spare.

I’ve tried other small non-accountancy PC keyboards of the sort you can buy in Tottenham Court Road, usually made by a company called “Cherry”, but they are just as clunky as the big keyboards, and far too fiddly and generally horrible, not unlike the keyboard of the accursed Jesus (the Eee PC laptop that I am trying to forget and get rid of). Anyone want that? Might be good for a small and rather geeky kid with totally impoverished parents. Tenner anyone? Immediate next day delivery in the London area.

But now, I have this:

It’s an Apple Mac unclunky keyboard (this one I think), pictured there next to the dirty, clunky old keyboard I’ve been using until now. I saw it in a department store in Kingston this afternoon. I said: Will that work with a PC? He said: Should do. I said: Show me. He did. It worked. Bingo. Bought it. Took it home. Plugged it in. It worked. Bingo.

It’s beautifully solid, the opposite of clunky, and I am rapidly getting very used to it.

Is this how the Apple habit starts? You buy an Apple something. It works. It is nicer. Even the cardboard case that it came in is nicer. Everything about it is nicer than the PC equivalents. Even the price of this little keyboard was nicer, by a bit. And pretty soon you are converted.

My only problem so far is that I can’t delete the character to the immediate right of the cursor with just the one keystroke. That particular delete button seems to have been lost, along with that superfluous pocket calculator. To accomplish this, I now have to move the cursor to the other side of whatever I want to delete, and then delete it with the button, which mercifully remains, that deletes the character just before the cursor. I could get used to this, but would rather not have to. Anyone got any ideas about that?

Does that closer up picture of the new keyboard help at all? Hope so.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

It really is about bloody time Jonathan Davies learned how to pronounce Jauzion

Yes I’m watching the rugby again (France v Italy), and okay, you can forgive Jonathan Davies for not knowing everyone in the French team. Nobody does, because it’s now a different French team every time.

But Yannick Jauzion has played enough, and been mispronounced often enough by Davies, that by now you’d have thought he’d have gone away and learned how to say him right. You would have thought, indeed, that somebody at the BBC would have bloody well told him to do this.

Jauzion is not some incidental selection. He’s a great player. He scored a try against New Zealand when France knocked them out of the recent World Cup, and the commentators were talking him up before this France Italy game as a key player, for heavens’ sakes. Davies himself was saying what a key figure he might be.

Commentators are always going on about the errors of the players, but for a commentator not to be able properly to say the name of one of the universally acknowledged star players of France really is contemptible. Players have a fraction of a second to avoid error. Davies has had days to avoid this particular error. Years, in fact. And it’s not like it’s a hard name to say.

This France Italy game is a whole lot of fun to watch, though, unlike the stalemates of yesterday, and I promise you I’m not just saying that because England lost. It’s France, running it from everywhere, who are responsible for this.

“Jow-zion” from Edwards, again. Dear oh dear.

LATER: “Jow-zon.” He can’t even make up his mind how to mispronounce it.

LATER: Guess what. “Jow-zion” (we’re back to that again) has scored a try! The other commentator, some Scottish bloke chosen for his commentating ability as well as his mere rugby expertise, was saying it right, of course. And then Davies said it wrong, again, and the other guy corrected Davies, and then – miracle of miracles – Davies said it right! It won’t last though.

LATER: Told you. After the game, won by France 25-13. “Yah-zon”. Bloody hell.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Emmanuel Todd (5): A CrozierVision podcast

And speaking of Todd (see below), I really was speaking of Todd last Monday night, into Patrick Crozier‘s portable computer. Our conversation (click here to hear it) lasted just under half an hour. Like Patrick I felt, immediately after our conversation had ended, that it bordered on the shambolic, but it was his thing, so I said, if you think it’s okay, okay. Listening to it today, I find that I agree with Patrick. It is okay. Yes, I faff and fluff and fudge, but as I explain, what attracts me to Todd’s grand theorising is precisely its simplicity. In essence the story he tells is very straightforward. Anthropology is ideological destiny. Literacy sparks the ideological explosion and then, when the rubble has settled and the blood has dried, it is economic development. (Also fertility control.) However, the ramifications of this story are almost unimaginably complex. As, presumably, if I can find such, is any academic debate about the story’s truth or falsehood (of combination of the two). So, don’t blame me for not talking very fluently about the fine detail. If I could link to some exhaustive scholarly reaction to Todd, I would be mightily relieved. But, on the internet, I have found only tantalising rumours, and cold trails.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Emmanuel Todd (4): From ideology to economic progress

This is, as stated above, my fourth Emmanuel Todd blog posting here, the previous three being here, here and here, or get all my Emmanuel Todd postings by choosing the Emmanuel Todd category here, bottom left.

L’Enfance du Monde: Structure Familiale et Développement by Emmanuel Todd was first published in 1984, and first published in English in 1987, as The Causes of Progress: Culture, Authority and Change. Here is the Foreword (pp. xiii-xiv of my hardback edition of the English translation by Richard Boulind):

The present book is one step on the way towards a new interpretation of historical change. It emphasizes the influence of stable anthropological factors within the modernization process itself. Although self-contained, it is none the less the logical sequel to The Explanation of Ideology: Family Structures and Social Systems (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1985).

The anthropological analysis of social systems singles out family structure as the decisive explanatory variable – that is to say, the elementary relationships of parents with children, brothers with sisters, husbands with wives. But anthropology is here no more than a tool. It makes it possible to settle some basic problems, for which the social sciences of the present day are finding it hard to offer any solutions at all. The question posed in The Explanation of Ideology concerned the spread of modern ideologies across the globe. I set out to explain why communism has come to dominate certain regions, liberalism others, and social democracy yet others; likewise to explain the predominance, elsewhere, of the Catholic Right, or of ideologies that from the European point of view are unclassifiable, such as Muslim fundamentalism, Buddhist socialism or the Indian caste system. In The Explanation of Ideology the analysis of relationships between parents and their children – authoritarian or liberal – and of relationships between brothers – egalitarian or inegalitarian – led to a typology of family types which geographically coincided fairly closely with the mapped distribution of adherence to the great ideologies. The purpose of this second book is to analyse development, here not considered as a purely economic, short-term phenomenon, but as a very long-term cultural and anthropological movement stretching over centuries rather than decades. Its most important aspect is not so much industrial growth as the rise in literacy, the increase in the proportion of people able to read and write from 0 to 99 per cent.

Here, as in the realm of political science, no explanation has so far proved acceptable. One can readily describe – with a wealth of statistical detail – the development of certain countries, first cultural then economic: endogenous development so far as north-western Europe is concerned, exogenous development first in the case of southern Europe, then in part of the Third World. But no reasonable hypothesis has been proposed and tested that can explain such differences – apart from those magnificent tautologies that pronounce that growth results from rates of investment having risen above a certain percentage of the gross national product. Of course that is true. But why have they done so there and not somewhere else? Or at that particular date, rather than at some other?

The method adopted here is simple; as in any scientific undertaking, the objective is to explain the maximum number of facts by the minimum number of hypotheses. The complexity of observed phenomena should be reduced to the simplicity of a few underlying laws. In the case of relations between family structures and ideologies, an extreme degree of simplification proved to be attainable, since the political typology fitted strictly within an anthropological one, each existing ideology being produced by a different family type. In the case of development, each family system may be considered as having a specific potential – cultural rather than political, this time – ranking either as ‘very high’, ‘high’, ‘medium’ or ‘low’. But the geographical diffusion of culture puts shading into the model, and sets up areas of development that extend beyond the limits of certain anthropological areas dominated by specific family types.

Though complementary with one another, the typologies put forward in The Causes of Progress and in The Explanation of Ideology are none the less distinct: within the family system the elements responsible for ideological alignment, on the one hand, and cultural development, on the other, differ somewhat. One element the two typologies do have in common is the style of authority typical of the parent-child relationship, which simultaneously affects both realms: ideology and culture. Other elements are different, though linked by structural relationships. The concept of the equality or inequality of brothers is fundamental to the analysis of ideologies. But the husband-wife relationship, exhibiting as it does a greater or a lesser degree of feminism, is essential to the analysis of development. A synoptic table given in the conclusion (p. 180) indicates the exact matching of the categories employed in the two books.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Emmanuel Todd (3): Quotes from the Introduction to The Explanation of Ideology

I have already done two postings about the French historian and anthropologist Emmanuel Todd. In the first, I sketched out Todd’s Explanation of Ideology, as described in his book of that name (in its English translation). In the second posting, I simply listed the eight families into which Todd classifies the world’s people, together with the countries in which each family type prevails.

I now want to quote Todd himself. Below are a couple of chunks from the introduction, entitled “democracy and anthropology”, to The Explanation of Ideology, translated into English by David Garrioch.

First, the first few pages of that introduction (pp. 1-6 in my 1985 Blackwell hardback edition):

No theory has so far succeeded in explaining the distribution of political ideologies, systems and forces on our planet. No one knows why certain regions of the world are dominated by liberal doctrines, others by social democracy or Catholicism, by Islam or by the Indian caste system, and others again by concepts which defy classification or description, like Buddhist socialism.

No one knows why communism has triumphed after a revolutionary struggle in Russia, China and Yugoslavia, in Vietnam and Cuba. No one knows why in other places it has failed – sometimes honourably, for in certain countries it plays an important although not dominant role in political life. In France, Italy, Finland and Portugal, in Chile before the coup in 1974, in the Sudan before the elimination of the communists by the army in 1971, and in certain Indian states such as West Bengal or Kerala, communism has a stable electoral position and traditionally enjoys the interest and support of many intellectuals.

In some areas of the world communism has made a brief but conspicuous appearance. In Indonesia it once seemed set for a brilliant future but evaporated after a military take-over and a brutal massacre. In Cambodia, a near neighbour in global terms, its performance was still more striking, rapidly developing to such murderous intensity that it destroyed itself within a very few years. One suspects, however, that these last two examples, spectacular in their power and instability, are not representative of conventional types of communism.

Elsewhere we find that Marxist-Leninist organization, while not entirely absent, is very weak and of almost no political importance: for example, in Japan, Sweden, Germany, Spain and Greece. Throughout much of the world the conquering and would-be universal ideology of the twentieth century has no real influence and is represented only by tiny fringe groups. Communism, which in Russia and China has produced Titans, in the Arab world has given birth to no more than a few martyrs and in the English-speaking world to a number of eccentrics. In most of Latin America – if we exclude Cuba and Chile – in Africa, Thailand, Burma and the Philippines, Marxist-Leninist influence is insignificant.

The history of communism is similar to that of other universal creeds: Buddhism, Christianity, Islam. It has proved rapidly successful in certain societies with which it has a mysterious affinity, only to be stopped after this initial expansion by barriers which remain invisible.

The failure of political science

A simple enumeration, worthy of lonesco, of the regions and countries where communism is strong illustrates the failure of a political science at present largely dominated by utilitarian and materialist ideas. Liberals and Marxists alike now agree on the importance of economic factors in history: the public or private nature of the means of production and exchange, the level of industrial development, the efficiency of agriculture, the numerical importance of different socio-professional groups. But could one hope to find any economic characteristic which was shared by all the regions where Marxism-Leninism is strong: by Finland and Kerala, Vietnam and Cuba, Tuscany and the Chilean province or Arauco, Limousin and West Bengal, Serbia and southern Portugal, or even for that matter by Russia and China before their revolutions?

On the eve of 1917, Russia was overwhelmingly rural but had sufficient agricultural surplus and enough mineral resources to finance rapid industrial growth. China in the first half of the twentieth century was even more strongly rural, but would have had the greatest difficulty in producing any agricultural surplus at all. Even in good years she could hardly feed her population. So sparse was her industrial development that even the most hard-line Marxist would not dare to accord responsibility for the 1949 Revolution to the proletariat of the Celestial Empire. From a Marxist point of view, the China of 1949 differed from the Russia of 1917 in one vital respect: the peasants had a much clearer idea of private property than did their Russian counterparts, among whom a sort of agrarian communism, the periodical redistribution of land according to family size, was widely practised. But this difference does not really help explain these events because it invalidates the most convincing of the ‘economic’ interpretations of communism: that which portrays it as a more modern industrial version of a traditional agricultural system.

For we find Russia and China, entirely different countries, from an economic point of view, plunging with similar enthusiasm into the same political adventure only thirty years apart and with surprisingly similar results. They shared, to begin with, a single characteristic – their rural economy – which explains nothing: in 1848 when Marx called on the workers of the world to break their chains, 95 per cent of the inhabitants of the world were peasants. Ireland, Sweden, Greece, Japan, Thailand, Turkey, Mexico, all nations where communism was to remain weak, were no more developed industrially than Russia or China. The one major exception was Britain, whose working class was to remain impermeable to communist ideology for 200 years.

Theories of class struggle explain nothing. Some working classes are attracted by Marxism-Leninism and others are not. The same applies to the rural population which in some countries is open to communism, in others not. Even normally conservative bourgeois intellectuals in many countries betray the most elementary rules of class warfare and allow themselves to be seduced by Bolshevism.

Social democracy, Islam, Hinduism, and the rest

As the most crucial ideology of the twentieth century, communism has been widely studied. Traditional political science, although unable to explain its appearance in a particular country, has nevertheless managed to give a good description of it, one which also serves to define, negatively but with equal precision, its economic and political antithesis and its world-wide enemy, Anglo-Saxon liberalism. The characteristics of communism are therefore absence of elementary political, religious and economic freedoms; egalitarian subjection of the individual to the state; and a single permanent ruling party. The features of liberalism, on the other hand, are seen to be free exercise of political, economic and religious rights by the individual; abhorrence of the state, which is perceived as an administrative necessity but also as a threat; and rapid changes of the party in power as a result of the workings of an electoral system.

Anything beyond these two poles is heresy. Yet the nations which subscribe to one or other of these ideologies, to liberalism or to communism, account for only 40 per cent of the world’s population. The remaining 60 per cent have not received nearly the same attention from political scientists, and are considered conceptually irrelevant. Their ideologies and political systems are at best treated as imperfect forms, somewhere in between communism and liberalism according to the degree of economic, religious or political authoritarianism. At worst, they appear to social scientists as legal or religious monstrosities, aberrations of the human imagination that cannot be registered on the scale dictated by European political conventions whose linear structure is like a thermometer, capable of measuring only hot or cold, the degree of liberty or of totalitarianism.

Putting together all these misfits, all the ideologies which are neither ‘communist’ nor ‘liberal’, gives another of those comical lists which political science is capable of producing: social democracy, libertarian socialism, Christian democracy, Latin-American, Thai or Indonesian military regimes, the Buddhist socialism of Burma or of Sri Lanka, Japanese parliamentarianism, technically perfect but with the sole flaw of never changing its ruling party, Islamic fundamentalism and socialism, Ethiopian militarist Marxism, and the Indian regime which combines parliamentary and caste systems and whose 700 million subjects have in one swoop been disqualified by ‘modern’ political science.

Social science has found a justification for refusing to fit these exotic systems and ways of thinking into its conceptual framework: is it reasonable to hope to understand them when the principal mystery, that of the liberal/communist conflict, has yet to be resolved? But this argument is easily refuted: it is precisely because of the refusal to look on all political forms – whether European or not – as normal and theoretically significant that communism has never been fully understood, and nor, as a direct result, has its liberal ‘antithesis’.

Furthermore, if we move from a politico-economic definition of ideological systems to a religious one, the opposite of communism is no longer liberalism but the whole group of doctrines which proclaim the existence of a spiritual realm. For communism alone declares that God does not exist and is prepared to impose this belief on humanity. Here the liberal, pluralist systems, tolerant or agnostic on religious questions, are out of the picture. They cannot provide a conceptual framework for the increasingly violent conflict between communism and Islam in Afghanistan, or between communism and the Catholic church in Poland.

Is it, then, too much to allow that the range of political and religious ideologies spread around the world does not divide into two camps, but forms a system with many poles, and that all these poles – communist, liberal, Catholic, social democratic, Hindu, Islamic, Buddhist – are equally normal, legitimate and worthy of analysis?

A satisfactory explanation of communism must also provide the key to other world-wide ideologies. The situation is precisely that which is encountered in the natural sciences: one cannot partly understand the principle of the attractive force of matter, that of the circulation of the blood or of the classification of the elements in chemistry. To take the whole world as the field of study, therefore, is simply to apply to social science the minimum of intellectual rigour which the natural sciences take for granted. Any hypothesis must take all the forms observed into account.

And now here is the conclusion of this same introduction (pp. 16-18):

General methodology

The oppositions ideology/anthropology and social relations/human relations are particularly useful outside Europe when attempting to trace the origins of religious ideological systems. They are indispensable if one is accurately to describe ideologies which are based on ideas about family ties.

The Indian caste system is a family ideology which places each individual in an abstract and impersonal social network, the caste (or to be more precise the sub-caste), which is defined by ties of descent outside which he or she cannot marry. But the sub-caste is composed largely of people who do not know each other and who live in different places. Beneath this intellectual edifice can be seen a particular family structure, a model of interpersonal relations which produces the concept of and the need for social segregation. These two levels – social and human, ideological and familial – must be clearly distinguished if the caste system is to be placed with any precision among the various political and religious ideologies – communism, Islam, social democracy, the various forms of Christianity – which likewise define social relations between people who do not know each other directly.

A universal hypothesis is possible: the ideological system is everywhere the intellectual embodiment of family structure, a transposition into social relations of the fundamental values which govern elementary human relations: liberty or equality, and their opposites, are examples. One ideological category and only one, corresponds to each family type.

Ignoring all the accepted procedures of present-day social science and at the risk of being branded a positivist, I am going to test this theory and prove it in the same way as in any exact science: by exhaustively comparing the hypothesis and the evidence, that is by a complete examination of the familial and ideological systems experienced by the settled human groups which make up at least 95 per cent of the population of the planet. Testing the theory involves two steps.

First, a general typology of family structure must be devised. It must be both logically exhaustive, starting from first principles and setting out all the possible family structures; and empirically exhaustive, that is to say taking into account and describing all the family forms which are actually observable on the surface of the planet.

Second, it must be shown that to each family form described there corresponds one and only one ideological system and that this ideological system is not to be found in areas of the world which are dominated by other family forms (in mathematical terms one would speak of a bijective relationship between family types and political types).

A further requirement is that secondary variations in family structure within each anthropological type must correspond to secondary variations in the political or religious forms within the corresponding ideological type.

And then, to his own complete satisfaction at least, Todd proceeds to prove all that.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Dirty vapour trail over London

A few days ago, I was out and about snapping, as is my wont, and I saw something rather unfamiliar in the sky over London, a dirty-looking vapour trail.

Vapour trails usually look white, as the older vapour trail that makes an X with this new one is. Something about the way vapour trails are usually lit makes them look white, against a blue sky. Mechanical clouds, you might say. And what could possibly be wrong with that? Vapour trails are just nice, clean steam.

But that one looks a whole lot dirtier, doesn’t it? And there’s the remnants of another, across the X, horizontally.

This was snapped just before it got dark, and I presume that has something to do with it. For some reason, this particular vapour trail was not lit. High clouds blocking the sun from it, but not blocking the sun from lighting us down on the ground? Or the older vapour trail, the one that’s white? I don’t know.

What I do know is that if vapour trails always looked this dark and dirty, there would surely have been a lot more talk about restricting air travel even than there is. Air travel would long ago have become more expensive.

Now, you could say that clouds are often this dark too, presumably for similar reasons. But clouds look natural. This vapour trail looks like mechanised evil spewing into the sky. It looks, in other words, just what the environmentalists have finally persuaded a lot of people that it is, despite usual appearances to the contrary.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Emmanuel Todd (2): The eight family systems

This, the second of my Emmanuel Todd postings here, will confine itself to itemising the eight family system classifications that appear at the start of most of the chapters of The Explanation of Ideology. Each clutch of information lists the distinguishing features of each family system, and the places where each system prevails.

If this posting seems strange, see my previous posting, Emmanuel Todd (1): Anthropology explains ideology, for some clarification.

So here are those family systems. I will here add only that “exogamous” means marrying outside your family and “endogamous” means marrying within your family.

Characteristics of the exogamous community family:

1. equality between brothers defined by rules of inheritance;
2. cohabitation of married sons and their parents;
3. however, no marriage between the children of two brothers.

Principal regions concerned: Russia, Yugoslavia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Finland, Albania, central Italy, China, Vietnam, Cuba, north India.

. . .

Characteristics of the authoritarian family:

1. inequality of brothers laid down by inheritance rules, transfer of an unbroken patrimony to one of the sons;
2. cohabitation of the married heir with this parents;
3. little or no marriage between the children of two brothers.

Principal regions and peoples concerned: Germany, Austria, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Bohemia, Scotland, Ireland, peripheral regions of France, northern Spain, northern Portugal, Japan, Korea, Jews, Romany gypsies.

. . .

Characteristics of the egalitarian nuclear family:

1. equality of brothers laid down by inheritance
rules;
2. no cohabitation of married children with their parents;
3. no marriage between the children of brothers.

Principal regions: northern France, northern Italy, central and southern Spain, central Portugal, Greece, Romania, Poland, Latin America, Ethiopia.

. . .

Characteristics of the absolute nuclear family:

1. no precise inheritance rules, frequent use of wills;
2. no cohabitation of married children with their parents;
3. no marriage between the children of brothers.

Principal regions: Anglo-Saxon world, Holland, Denmark.

. . .

Characteristics of the endogamous community family:

1. equality between brothers established by inheritance rules;
2. cohabitation of married sons with their parents;
3. frequent marriage between the children of brothers.

Principal regions: Arab world, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tadzhikistan.

. . .

Characteristics of the asymmetrical community family:

1. equality between brothers laid down by inheritance rules;
2. cohabitation of married sons and their parents;
3. prohibition on marriages between the children of brothers, but a preference for marriages between the children of brothers and sisters.

Principal region: southern India.

. . .

Characteristics of the anomic family:

1. uncertainty about equality between brothers: inheritance rules egalitarian in theory but flexible in practice;
2. cohabitation of married children with their parents rejected in theory but accepted in practice;
3. consanguine marriage possible and sometimes frequent.

Principal regions: Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Madagascar, South-American Indian cultures.

. . .

Characteristics of African systems:

1. instability of the household;
2. polygyny.

Concerning the “African system” Todd starts his (very short) chapter thus:

Given the present state of anthropological knowledge no exhaustive, detailed analysis of the interaction between the family structures and political systems in Africa is possible.

But hasn’t Africa been overrun by anthropologists in recent decades? Yes. However:

Paradoxically, the Dark Continent, an area of fundamental importance in anthropological research, remains very poorly documented from the point of view of family structure.

That vagueness aside, I find the above list very impressive. Do I need to note the correspondence between, e.g., the list for the exogamous community family and communism, just as a for instance? In later postings, I will spell out in more detail why Todd’s body of work so excited me when I first encountered it in the 1980s. I will offer (more) guesses as to why it has been neglected.

Once I have accumulated a decent number of Emmanuel Todd postings here to link back to, I will start beating the Emmanuel Todd drum in more public places, until such time as an Emmanuel Todd blog-buzz gets seriously buzzing. (That’s three “Emmanuel Todds” in one short paragraph, and now four. Should I start calling him “ET”?)

A very quiet buzzing can already be detected. See item 2 here.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog