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Thread: what is Janteloven : is it true that rich Scandinavians are really frowned upon?

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    Question what is Janteloven : is it true that rich Scandinavians are really frowned upon?



    so what is janteloven ? Is it reality or a myth?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dodona View Post
    That's really interesting, thanks. I tried to describe this in other discussions related to collectivism, but I wasn't aware that there is a dedicated term for it.

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    welll, indeed it is collectvism.

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    Fascinating...I've had people tell me their parents told them similar things, but I never knew the source.

    So, is it a still prevalent mind set?

    And if it is, what then motivates a person to go to university for an advanced degree, or write a concerto, or even risk some capital to start a business. I've always thought ambitions like that are driven to some extent by a sense of exceptionalism, or the desire to be exceptional.


    Non si fa il proprio dovere perchè qualcuno ci dica grazie, lo si fa per principio, per se stessi, per la propria dignità. Oriana Fallaci

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    And if it is, what then motivates a person to go to university for an advanced degree, or write a concerto, or even risk some capital to start a business. I've always thought ambitions like that are driven to some extent by a sense of exceptionalism, or the desire to be exceptional.
    Being exceptionally better than others is not the only possible motivation. A relative underperformer is exceptional too, so this is already one motivation for avoiding underperformance (see Japan for instance where conformism/collectivism coexists with social darwinism/competition). Other motivations are fascination for a topic (in research), desire for economic security, desire for societal acceptance and mere idealism.
    Scandinavians are also known for their team work abilities, so there is also the possibility to make exceptional achievements as a team.

    But I think most of Jantelag is generally prevalent in sparsely populated areas because of low anonymity, and Scandinavia is sparsely populated. I think Jantelag is not exclusive to Scandinavia, but it is certainly very strong there. Those countries which are labelled as "individualist" like Netherlands, England and north Italy happen to be the most densely populated areas of Europe. The anonymity (enabling individualism) of big cities well known. Scandinavia is also labelled "individualist" by some, but I'm sure this is a mistake.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ElHorsto View Post
    Being exceptionally better than others is not the only possible motivation. A relative underperformer is exceptional too, so this is already one motivation for avoiding underperformance (see Japan for instance where conformism/collectivism coexists with social darwinism/competition). Other motivations are fascination for a topic (in research), desire for economic security, desire for societal acceptance and mere idealism.
    We have to keep in mind that darwinism/competition exists for both individuals and groups (as individual groups, groups as a collective and physical entity). Where selfishness, individualism and being special refers to fight for survival of an individual person (or family unit) against other individuals within the same group. Likewise collectivism and conformism apply to group survival, making a group stronger in competition against other groups. In both cases darwinism is live and kicking.

    In this sense collectivism is individualism of a group. It gives a group one united personality, character and a goal, and as such will outperform groups of "multiple personality" or of not common goals.

    On one side of this spectrum is Germany where more or less people are united in economic and political trends and more eager to chip in for communal purposes. On the other side we have Greece with strong political and economical personality disorder, and people less willing to pay taxes or support charities. Actually, other side of spectrum from Greece will be North Korea, where collectivism is forced by government, even telling citizens what to think, and individualism pretty much is totally eradicated.

    It looks like a proper balance between collectivism and individualism has to be struck for success of a country. Germany is a good example of it, with enough collectivism making this country strong among nations, and with enough individualism to give citizens all sorts of freedoms and opportunities, to pursue personal happiness.
    Be wary of people who tend to glorify the past, underestimate the present, and demonize the future.

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    Sure, I don't see where you disagree with what I said. Note that I used quotation marks for "individualism". It's because I personally do not think collectivism-individualism are very useful categories because an individual is the seed of a collective, and collectivism is way more frequent than true individualism. But since these terms are common and established (and misused, for instance with regards to Scandinavia), I referred to them. Conformism is also not the same as collectivism, I know, but they have strong overlap.
    It's kinda confusing, you know, because I want to use these terms sometimes by their common meaning while at the same time I do not believe in the accuracy of the common meaning.

    As you I also do not agree with popular social romanticism where a group is idealized as the cozy warm niche and I think Jantelag is a good example for the double-sidedness of groups. And yes, darwinism is alive and kicking, perhaps even more in collectivism than in "individualism". That's because competition, which is generally associated with "individualism", is in fact obviously collectivistic, because competition requires at least one peer to compare with. Judging ones self performance by another ones can not be individualistic by definition.
    Then there is competition between groups but also between members of one group. Is there cooperation without competition? I think no, because groups are often the direct result of a threat, be it either by a natural force or by other groups. This implies a goal and a threat of punishment of each individual who does not achieve that goal.
    Collectivism is much more frequent than "individualism" because many collectivist phenomena are misclassified as "individualist". In fact collectivism has many different phenotypes.

    Regarding Germany, I'm not so sure that it's success has much to do with the right balance of "individualism" or collectivism. It is more the particular phenotype of collectivism (actually similar to Jantelag, but less severe), which forces each individual to obey to group rules, thus leading to high success of the group (e.g. Germany; but these things can change). I think the "individualistic" interpretation would be called "sense of duty" and humility (well, in Germany not too much actually, but probably more in Japan). I don't know how it is about greeks.

    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    We have to keep in mind that darwinism/competition exists for both individuals and groups (as individual groups, groups as a collective and physical entity). Where selfishness, individualism and being special refers to fight for survival of an individual person (or family unit) against other individuals within the same group. Likewise collectivism and conformism apply to group survival, making a group stronger in competition against other groups. In both cases darwinism is live and kicking.

    In this sense collectivism is individualism of a group. It gives a group one united personality, character and a goal, and as such will outperform groups of "multiple personality" or of not common goals.

    On one side of this spectrum is Germany where more or less people are united in economic and political trends and more eager to chip in for communal purposes. On the other side we have Greece with strong political and economical personality disorder, and people less willing to pay taxes or support charities. Actually, other side of spectrum from Greece will be North Korea, where collectivism is forced by government, even telling citizens what to think, and individualism pretty much is totally eradicated.

    It looks like a proper balance between collectivism and individualism has to be struck for success of a country. Germany is a good example of it, with enough collectivism making this country strong among nations, and with enough individualism to give citizens all sorts of freedoms and opportunities, to pursue personal happiness.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ElHorsto View Post
    Sure, I don't see where you disagree with what I said.
    I didn't disagree, let's say I expended a thought on the subject. I should have been more clear though.

    Regarding Germany, I'm not so sure that it's success has much to do with the right balance of "individualism" or collectivism. It is more the particular phenotype of collectivism (actually similar to Jantelag, but less severe), which forces each individual to obey to group rules, thus leading to high success of the group .
    Depending on leadership this collectivism, and especially compliance, can be disastrous. A bit of individualistic rebeling might be healthy to have.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ElHorsto View Post
    Being exceptionally better than others is not the only possible motivation. A relative underperformer is exceptional too, so this is already one motivation for avoiding underperformance (see Japan for instance where conformism/collectivism coexists with social darwinism/competition). Other motivations are fascination for a topic (in research), desire for economic security, desire for societal acceptance and mere idealism.
    Scandinavians are also known for their team work abilities, so there is also the possibility to make exceptional achievements as a team.

    But I think most of Jantelag is generally prevalent in sparsely populated areas because of low anonymity, and Scandinavia is sparsely populated. I think Jantelag is not exclusive to Scandinavia, but it is certainly very strong there. Those countries which are labelled as "individualist" like Netherlands, England and north Italy happen to be the most densely populated areas of Europe. The anonymity (enabling individualism) of big cities well known. Scandinavia is also labelled "individualist" by some, but I'm sure this is a mistake.

    Very interesting. I've never been a big fan of these individualist/collectivist formulations, because I just know how too many cultures don't fit the models or the definitions. This does, however, explain the situation in Japan to some extent, so that's helpful.

    I'm still not all that sure how these models fit northern Italy, to be honest. If you're talking about provinces like Emilia and the Veneto, for example, which are doing better now than Milano and Torino, there are no really large cities by European standards. Instead, there are many small cities, and you're never all that anonymous in cities like Reggio Emilia or Vicenza, even if your family migrated rather recently from the south, not in the way that you can be anonymous in an American city of even similar size. Italian culture just doesn't permit it.

    The businesses are also often family owned and operated. It's a different kind of capitalism. (Even in the case of Torino, Fiat is still a family owned and run company, sort of, which may be part of its problem.)

    In terms of a "collective" spirit, the pre-eminent collective is the family, and not the nuclear family but the extended family. That spirit does exist outside the family, but "geographically" the scope is usually only the comune or village of one's people, unfortunately. In times of hardship and disaster, there is great generosity of spirit and mutual aid among the inhabitants, but they don't trust governments, and the further away, the worse it is, which I think has something to do with the fact that so much of Italy was fractured into separate city states that were in addition often ruled by France, or Austria, or Aragon, or whomever.

    This whole matter of "individualism" is also more complicated than appears in these theories. I don't know how "individualist" Italians are in terms of an individualist/conformist continuum as usually formulated. Rules govern everything in Italy, what you wear, when and what you eat, how you interact with family or in courtship or business, how you decorate your home, how you raise your children...it's just that the rules are different from the rules in northern Europe, not that there aren't rules. Although to be fair, the rules are "elastic", always able to be stretched for human need, should the situation arise. Well, so long as it doesn't involve family or food! There we are intransigent.

    I think it's the same way the modern western world views or viewed hunter-gatherer or at least more primitive cultures like those of Polynesia or that of the North American Indians. Those cultures aren't more "free"; they're very rule bound. It's just that we aren't or weren't privy to the rules.

    As for being told you're not exceptional, it's the polar opposite...I was repeatedly told I was the most beautiful, smartest, and most wonderful girl in the world, particularly by my father. And as for what my brother was told by my mother...well...words fail me. I'm of two minds about it, seriously. It can be a jolt if the rest of the world doesn't hold you quite so highly. On the other hand, if your parents don't see you that way, who will? It's not bad to have a healthy sense of self esteem.

    You know, a friend once told me that her mother taught her never to complain when she was ill or things were going badly, because no one cares how you feel. Is this related? I almost fell over at that one. I can't tell you how 'foreign' it seemed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Depending on leadership this collectivism, and especially compliance, can be disastrous.
    A bit of individualistic rebeling might be healthy to have.
    Exactly.
    The way I see it:
    Membership in a group is a social contract, a group is a set of social contracts.
    A social contract comprises of rights and duties.
    Therefore collectivism can be basically rights-oriented, duty-oriented or both, more or less.

    Jantelagen is an example for duty-oriented collectivism, where the group coherence as a whole benefits on expense of each group member in short-term. The group members are willing to sacrifice more rights for group, hoping for long-term benefit. Members accept even to poor social contracts with more duties than rights. Probably this is because Jantelagen suggests low self-worth ("2. You're not to think you are as good as we are." )?

    Greeks may be an example for right-oriented collectivism, where each group member is reluctant to invest too much into the group (state), hoping to benefit in short-term. Such groups are obviously less coherent. Members are reluctant to accept poor social contracts (they value these contracts badly, because they distrust the government). They want more rights and less duties. I guess there is a culture of high self-worth, which we use to label as honor or pride.

    Collectivism without duties and only rights is probably an impossibility, except maybe in theory (paradise).

    The funny thing is that "individualistic rebelling" as you called it is usually called "collectivism", because it is associated with left-wing parties and unions. I think this is wrong, if sense of duty is called "individualism", which is also usually the case. Actually both are two kinds of collectivism - rights and duties. "Individualistic rebeling" would be right-oriented collectivism. Again it shows the flaws of the collectivism-individualism concept.

    A true individualist should avoid both, rights and duties.

    But what if certain duties are unavoidable? Is it then collectivistic to demand compensating rights, or is it individualistic?

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    I also think that collectivism-individualism is highly debatable.
    Regarding Italy, I referred to the individualism-collectivism scores from Maciamo's map, which is based on a study from Hofstede. He also regarded Scandinavia to be above average individualistic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    Very interesting. I've never been a big fan of these individualist/collectivist formulations, because I just know how too many cultures don't fit the models or the definitions. This does, however, explain the situation in Japan to some extent, so that's helpful.

    I'm still not all that sure how these models fit northern Italy, to be honest. If you're talking about provinces like Emilia and the Veneto, for example, which are doing better now than Milano and Torino, there are no really large cities by European standards. Instead, there are many small cities, and you're never all that anonymous in cities like Reggio Emilia or Vicenza, even if your family migrated rather recently from the south, not in the way that you can be anonymous in an American city of even similar size. Italian culture just doesn't permit it.

    The businesses are also often family owned and operated. It's a different kind of capitalism. (Even in the case of Torino, Fiat is still a family owned and run company, sort of, which may be part of its problem.)

    In terms of a "collective" spirit, the pre-eminent collective is the family, and not the nuclear family but the extended family. That spirit does exist outside the family, but "geographically" the scope is usually only the comune or village of one's people, unfortunately. In times of hardship and disaster, there is great generosity of spirit and mutual aid among the inhabitants, but they don't trust governments, and the further away, the worse it is, which I think has something to do with the fact that so much of Italy was fractured into separate city states that were in addition often ruled by France, or Austria, or Aragon, or whomever.

    This whole matter of "individualism" is also more complicated than appears in these theories. I don't know how "individualist" Italians are in terms of an individualist/conformist continuum as usually formulated. Rules govern everything in Italy, what you wear, when and what you eat, how you interact with family or in courtship or business, how you decorate your home, how you raise your children...it's just that the rules are different from the rules in northern Europe, not that there aren't rules. Although to be fair, the rules are "elastic", always able to be stretched for human need, should the situation arise. Well, so long as it doesn't involve family or food! There we are intransigent.

    I think it's the same way the modern western world views or viewed hunter-gatherer or at least more primitive cultures like those of Polynesia or that of the North American Indians. Those cultures aren't more "free"; they're very rule bound. It's just that we aren't or weren't privy to the rules.

    As for being told you're not exceptional, it's the polar opposite...I was repeatedly told I was the most beautiful, smartest, and most wonderful girl in the world, particularly by my father. And as for what my brother was told by my mother...well...words fail me. I'm of two minds about it, seriously. It can be a jolt if the rest of the world doesn't hold you quite so highly. On the other hand, if your parents don't see you that way, who will? It's not bad to have a healthy sense of self esteem.

    You know, a friend once told me that her mother taught her never to complain when she was ill or things were going badly, because no one cares how you feel. Is this related? I almost fell over at that one. I can't tell you how 'foreign' it seemed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ElHorsto View Post
    Exactly.
    The way I see it:
    Membership in a group is a social contract, a group is a set of social contracts.
    A social contract comprises of rights and duties.
    Therefore collectivism can be basically rights-oriented, duty-oriented or both, more or less.
    I would say that Rights and Duties are the final manifestation of basic character of a group. When for the organization and better consolidation of a group the contracts and laws are established and protected. However everything starts with basic character of individual people, and I have a hunch it is very closely related to our evolutionary past, to the ways of our ancestors, as genetic and cultural inheritance. Where natural/instinctive way of behaviour comes from genetics, and being reinforced by customs and culture. Rights and Duties being the custom part.
    I believe that instinctive/genetic character of individual people is the strongest factor and given long enough time it will overwrite "foreign" or forced elements and revert to their natural way. But this might be left for another discussion.
    In short, in largely generalized terms, the Hunter-Gatherer's ways are more collective. They hunt together, they gather together, they dance around fire together, etc. Individual is only successful when the whole group is successful and survives.
    The farmer's way is more individualistic, due to fields being a private property and worked individually by one family. Also, families are run by one man in patriarchal farming societies, and his individualistic decision can make or break family, but not the whole village. Economic-survival side of village is very individualistic, everybody works for themselves and their close family. Village comes second. Another important fact is that groups of farmers are 10 fold more populous than HGs, therefore death of few unsuccessful folks doesn't affect survival of the whole group, as in HGs groups. Other words, the farmers could afford to be more selfish and individualistic, not affecting the survival of the whole group much.

    According to this train of thoughts, Norther Europe with higher West Hunter Gatherer and Ancient North Eurasian admixtures, should be more collective in character.
    Southern Europe being mainly Early European Farmers should be more individualistic.

    PS. What skews understanding of these terms is that collectivism is frowned upon as almost a derogatory thing and individualism is considered a praised virtue, in today's world of everybody being "special". As a personal trait it might be the case, but if it comes to well run countries, the balance of these two is the most important factor, and any exaggerated trait will give grave consequences.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    I would say that Rights and Duties are the final manifestation of basic character of a group. When for the organization and better consolidation of a group the contracts and laws are established and protected. However everything starts with basic character of individual people, and I have a hunch it is very closely related to our evolutionary past, to the ways of our ancestors, as genetic and cultural inheritance. Where natural/instinctive way of behaviour comes from genetics, and being reinforced by customs and culture. Rights and Duties being the custom part.
    I believe that instinctive/genetic character of individual people is the strongest factor and given long enough time it will overwrite "foreign" or forced elements and revert to their natural way. But this might be left for another discussion.
    In short, in largely generalized terms, the Hunter-Gatherer's ways are more collective. They hunt together, they gather together, they dance around fire together, etc. Individual is only successful when the whole group is successful and survives.
    The farmer's way is more individualistic, due to fields being a private property and worked individually by one family. Also, families are run by one man in patriarchal farming societies, and his individualistic decision can make or break family, but not the whole village. Economic-survival side of village is very individualistic, everybody works for themselves and their close family. Village comes second. Another important fact is that groups of farmers are 10 fold more populous than HGs, therefore death of few unsuccessful folks doesn't affect survival of the whole group, as in HGs groups. Other words, the farmers could afford to be more selfish and individualistic, not affecting the survival of the whole group much.

    According to this train of thoughts, Norther Europe with higher West Hunter Gatherer and Ancient North Eurasian admixtures, should be more collective in character.
    Southern Europe being mainly Early European Farmers should be more individualistic.
    I agree, but I think it is still the same rights-duties thing, just transferred to genetic/instinctive level over time.
    The more alternative options an individual has, the more he can efford to be rights-oriented. The longer these options persist, the more this attitude can manifest itself genetically by selection, because making concessions without reason is not advantageous.

    And yes, compared to a hunter-gatherer, a farmer has the option to survive by his own by doing some gardening. This means that he has more power when 'negotiating' with a group such that he is less obliged to make concessions (accepting duties) and has more power to demand rights. Maybe this also explains why farmer collectives are so family oriented: families are small enough to be governed (super-rights) by one individual (paternalism? authoritarianism?). Whereas hunter-gatherer groups are opposite in that the group governs each individual, because each individual is too weak and the group too strong (again like with Jantelagen).
    So a farmer would be more rights-oriented and possibly more hierarchic authoritarian (leader oriented), a hunter-gatherer more duty-oriented and possibly more horizontally authoritarian (team oriented). How much of this is expressed genetically today is speculative.

    Still the question for me is whether rights-oriented collectivism is more individualistic than duty-oriented collectivism - or again collectivism/individualism duality is insufficient. You tend to consider the farmer way to be more individualistic. Maybe, or it is simply not measurable by the collectivism-individualism scale.

    Meanwhile I also think that rights and duties are synonyms for ruling and following.

    PS. What skews understanding of these terms is that collectivism is frowned upon as almost a derogatory thing and individualism is considered a praised virtue, in today's world of everybody being "special". As a personal trait it might be the case, but if it comes to well run countries, the balance of these two is the most important factor, and any exaggerated trait will give grave consequences.
    Or the rights-duties balance is the important thing.

    And yes, "individualism" is considered more fashionable. Now imagine if we come to the conclusion that "individualism" (note the quotation marks) is obedience. How disastrous.

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    Actually, farming as an individual enterprise is a fairly recent innovation. It used to be much more of a collectist affair in many different parts of the world. My ancestors in both Scotland and England had their own little plots of land but also shared common land with the other people in their village. Collectivism was the natural state of farmers before technology changed things. The fact that the ham-fisted efforts of Stalinists to create large farm collectives was a failure doesn't negate the fact that, when left to their own devises, farmers generally acted in a collective manner back in the day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aberdeen View Post
    Actually, farming as an individual enterprise is a fairly recent innovation. It used to be much more of a collectist affair in many different parts of the world. My ancestors in both Scotland and England had their own little plots of land but also shared common land with the other people in their village. Collectivism was the natural state of farmers before technology changed things. The fact that the ham-fisted efforts of Stalinists to create large farm collectives was a failure doesn't negate the fact that, when left to their own devises, farmers generally acted in a collective manner back in the day.
    Yes farmers a partially collective too, we are just exaggerating these traits in populations to have more transparent conversation. I think these traits were "developed" much faster during failed crops, droughts, harsh winters, the "bottle necking" times. In such times farmers could find last potatoes to feed their kids. They didn't need to help neighbors to survive. More skilful (most hard working) farmers survived and their families and repopulated village again, carrying more selfish/rebel/individualistic gene mutation with them.
    Hunters on other hand, bond by small group structure, always needed to pull together to hunt and split last meet among the tribe to survive. They either survived together or died together.

    Surely farmers care about their village, parish and extended family. But when tough times appeared their priority was survival of immediate family, and farmer himself.

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    2 out of 2 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Aberdeen View Post
    Actually, farming as an individual enterprise is a fairly recent innovation. It used to be much more of a collectist affair in many different parts of the world. My ancestors in both Scotland and England had their own little plots of land but also shared common land with the other people in their village. Collectivism was the natural state of farmers before technology changed things. The fact that the ham-fisted efforts of Stalinists to create large farm collectives was a failure doesn't negate the fact that, when left to their own devises, farmers generally acted in a collective manner back in the day.


    I wrote this earlier today...

    I agree with this. For all of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and beyond, farmers didn't have their own land; they were tied to the land of the lords as serfs, even if they had a few small individual plots. Some peasants in Italy did have small bits of their own land, but even then, they all lived together in the walled town, going out mornings and returning in the evenings from their plots. It was for protection as well as for mutual aid. In the Pianura Padana in the north, they were agricultural workers who all lived together in huge farmhouses on land owned by wealthy people. The movie 1900, which I highly recommend, by the way, very accurately portrays that life. Tuscany was different; there, the land was usually farmed under a sharecropping sort of system called mezzadro, where the tenants kept half the harvest in return for seed and equipment. In that case, they did live on separate farms, but that area was the exception, not the rule.

    I just think these theories are often concocted by people working out of a particular cultural context but assuming that it is universal. It's not.

    The way that I see it, every human being belongs to a "collective" or series of collectives. It just depends how many there are, and, as was said, how much of a commitment is made to them, or, said another way, what is their relative strength?

    I'm not a sociologist or anthropologist; I've only read in those disciplines, so I'll only speak of the culture with which I'm most familiar. These definitions don't "fit" the Italian culture, north or south. As I said before, the most important collective there is the extended family. Within it, one can reap great benefits, but the duties might indeed seem onerous to outsiders, although they might be embraced as a privilege by the members. It's certainly not a place for great independence of action.

    The casa colonica was also a collective, as were the villages. The comune too. Once you got to larger government entities, the lack of trust meant and means, in some cases, a lack of a willingness to perform the required duties. Much of this is a consequence of history, but it hangs on, even if nowadays some of these divisions are looked upon somewhat humorously. Just as an example, to this day, people of Florence will say, "Meglio un morto in case che un pisano all'uscio"...Better a dead person in the house than someone from Pisa at the door. This goes back hundreds of years. The greater the distance and the difference in historical experience, however, the more important the fractures become. The divisions between north and south have been hashed out ad nauseum.

    In more recent times, political parties became a collective of sorts as well. In my own neck of the woods, there was a strong tradition of communist party membership. The party not only presumably spoke for it's members in the government, but more importantly, it doled out government largesse if it was in power. The party also ran a local community hall, with playing fields, a venue for gatherings etc. There were religious collectives as well. So, it's not that collectives don't exist. It's that they don't exist at the level of a nation, and certainly not as a "volk" the way Germans have seen themselves, or perhaps Slavs do...I also think hunter-gatherer tribes certainly did see themselves as a unit, but they also at the same time warred against other tribes. Look at the history of the interaction between the North American tribes. They were never able to unite as a "people"; the Germans did it. What made one group of hunter-gatherers different from the other?

    As for how genetics factors into all of this, I don't know. Is the family so important in Italy because family was all you could count on when everything went to hell fifteen hundred years ago? Or is family so important because the emotional attachment, or the ability to form and maintain this emotional attachment, is stronger in us than in others? I wouldn't want to insult or stereotype other groups by saying their family attachments aren't as strong as ours. Or, as another example, if, during the war, most Italians impeded the Germans in their attempts to round up Italian Jews, was it because they are more predisposed to ignore government rules when it suits them or they think they are inappropriate, or because they were less racist and more humane? I'm not comfortable saying this is all genetic, even if it makes my own people look better than others. For now, I think I'll stick to the effects of different historical forces.

    Ed. I would say that in the post industrial society I see around me, allegiance to, or a sense of belonging to, any collective is decreasing, with serious consequences for society. I think that's what 'alienation' is all about. The perils of too much allegiance to a country or "race" are too well known to bother with detailing them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    I wrote this earlier today...
    The discussion about farming refers rather to the neolithic than middle ages, at least from my side. The serfdom to land lords which you describe emerged in the middle ages and is already something different which didn't last as long as the original paleo-farming.
    Common theories from Gimbutas and alike believe that neolthic farmers were more collectivistic than the bronze-age invaders, but this does not mean that hunter-gatherers were not even more collectivistic.
    What you describe about italian villages seems quite collectivistic, quite normal for rural regions. But I suppose in larger italian cities it is different?!

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    Makes me think of the Amish people and how they manage their communities (Amish Ordnung / Gemeinschaft) until these days in present day time; I would say they (their communities) are a model of Janteloven also in Germany we have the Neidgesellschaft attitude where individuals who do great and show off are not everyones darling in broader society;

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    Quote Originally Posted by ElHorsto View Post
    The discussion about farming refers rather to the neolithic than middle ages, at least from my side. The serfdom to land lords which you describe emerged in the middle ages and is already something different which didn't last as long as the original paleo-farming.
    Common theories from Gimbutas and alike believe that neolthic farmers were more collectivistic than the bronze-age invaders, but this does not mean that hunter-gatherers were not even more collectivistic.
    What you describe about italian villages seems quite collectivistic, quite normal for rural regions. But I suppose in larger italian cities it is different?!
    When those bronze age invaders and the people they absorbed emerged into history in the Scottish highlands, they weren't serfs that were forced to farm as a group, as was the case in England and some parts of the Scottish lowlands, as well as other parts of Europe. The highland clans were kinsmen who chose to live partly collectively, with each family farming their own little croft and sharing pasture land with other members of their clan. It was a very extended view of family ties that was very old and tribal but survived for a very long time, and I think that may have been the case in other parts of Europe where people had choices, and I suspect it was also the case back in the Neolithic. Those who stuck together survived better.

    The extent of collectivism varied, of course. My ancestors came from an area where livestock were collectively moved to higher ground for better grazing in the summer, which encouraged a strong group spirit. However, some Scottish clans in the lowlands operated a less collective farming economy, partly because the soil was richer and they had less need to pool their resources, so even though clan ties were still strong in the lowlands, there was apparently more individuality on an economic level. Plus, the Gaelic influence wasn't as strong in the lowlands. And in some places feudal practices were introduced to the lowlands, so the degree of collectivization was dependent on the wishes of the landlord. So I think it was partly a practical thing and partly a cultural thing. I think it's difficult to generalize other than to say that a fairly collectivist approach, often based on family or clan ties, was common in many places until recently. And I think cities encourage more individuality, which may be why change in ideas and technology generally came from the cities. I think that in rural areas where everyone is related to everyone else, there's a fair bit of pressure to conform and a fair bit of resistance to change even when change may be beneficial.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Aberdeen View Post
    When those bronze age invaders and the people they absorbed emerged into history in the Scottish highlands, they weren't serfs that were forced to farm as a group, as was the case in England and some parts of the Scottish lowlands, as well as other parts of Europe. The highland clans were kinsmen who chose to live partly collectively, with each family farming their own little croft and sharing pasture land with other members of their clan. It was a very extended view of family ties that was very old and tribal but survived for a very long time, and I think that may have been the case in other parts of Europe where people had choices, and I suspect it was also the case back in the Neolithic. Those who stuck together survived better.

    The extent of collectivism varied, of course. My ancestors came from an area where livestock were collectively moved to higher ground for better grazing in the summer, which encouraged a strong group spirit. However, some Scottish clans in the lowlands operated a less collective farming economy, partly because the soil was richer and they had less need to pool their resources, so even though clan ties were still strong in the lowlands, there was apparently more individuality on an economic level. Plus, the Gaelic influence wasn't as strong in the lowlands. And in some places feudal practices were introduced to the lowlands, so the degree of collectivization was dependent on the wishes of the landlord. So I think it was partly a practical thing and partly a cultural thing. I think it's difficult to generalize other than to say that a fairly collectivist approach, often based on family or clan ties, was common in many places until recently. And I think cities encourage more individuality, which may be why change in ideas and technology generally came from the cities. I think that in rural areas where everyone is related to everyone else, there's a fair bit of pressure to conform and a fair bit of resistance to change even when change may be beneficial.

    Again, I would agree with that, and the later that industrialization occurred, the more one can see the traces and sometimes more than the traces of the "old" ways. That certainly would apply to Italy, which industrialized much later than a country like Great Britain for example.

    I do also think, however, that certain cultures are more resistant to change of this kind. For whatever reason, Italian culture has been very resistant to any kind of change to the family structure. And while many millions were forced by utmost necessity to immigrate far away to North and South America for example, the ones who remained have in some cases managed to use the very infrastructure of an industrialized world to try to hold on to some of those "old" ways.


    Just as an example, there is a great reluctance among Italians to relocate for work in the way that is undoubtedly necessary in a modern, capitalistic society. Obviously, many do even today, moving to London or Australia or wherever. They will go to great lengths not to move, however, even if they have to engage in horrendous commutes. It's always made perfect sense to me. It was only when I saw the situation mocked in a book by an English expat named Tim Parks that I realized it would seem odd to other people. He wanted to live in England...that was a non starter for his Italian wife. Leave her mother if not forced by absolute necessity? Never. So, they move to Italy. However, his teaching work is in Milano. while her family is in the Veneto. Move to Milano and see her family on the week-ends? Even I was willing to do that when I moved to New York. Absolutely not; it wasn't even a consideration. So, the man commuted two hours each way to work and back every day and then with more seniority, arranged his schedule so he worked 14 hours a day three days a week so they could live in her town near her family. One reason that the Italian railways keep fares so artificially low is precisely to facilitate these kinds of commutes. And Fiat built huge dormitories for its male workers precisely because the men never moved their families there. They leave to go "home" every Friday night.

    The same thing happens with university. Not one of my cousins or their children lived at university. Most don't even have student housing. They were bought cars or motorbikes and went back and forth to university in Parma, or Firenze, or Genova. In my area, the mezzadri and even the peasants who owned their own land abandoned farming en masse in the 1950's. During most of the year, the little towns are pitiful shadows of themselves. (There are more British ex-pats in some of them than Italians...well, that's an exaggeration.) Yet, the people who actually did have to emigrate to Milano or Torino or Genova or Switzerland or Germany or Belgium have faithfully refurbished many of these old places and in August they all come back. They pay the people who remained to look after some vines and olive trees, and if at all possible they return for the harvest. And those harvests are processed by the grape and olive "collectives" which dot the countryside.

    As to El Horsto's question about whether things aren't different in the cities, Italy doesn't really have large cities. Rome is the largest, with about 3 million, Milano is about 1.2 million, Torino about 900,000. I don't know precisely what it's like in those cities. I have family in Genova, however, with a population of about 600,000, and it's not quite like when they lived in our home town, but despite all their complaints it's nothing like living in an American city of the same size. As I said, I don't know about the big housing blocks in Torino or Milano, but from what I've heard, certain buildings became virtual recreations of villages in Calabria or Sicily, and they still empty out in the summer so everyone can go "home".


    Yes, it's more anonymous nowadays, and getting more so as time passes, but you really can't get away from other people in Italy, not that they want to...Trust me on this one...I've always had a desire for some solitude, to read or play the piano or just think. (My mother always said it was my father's mountain genes. The real Italian word sort of has the connotation of hillbilly genes. )That's certainly been fostered by all my time in the U.S. So, I will occasionally pull out a book while sitting at a cafe alone. It's impossible. Anyone I've ever met even for five minutes, and often perfect strangers, feel sorry for me that I'm all alone and pull up chairs or drag me to their table. It's no good saying that I really would like to be alone. They would consider it perverse. It's perfectly ok to read my book in the middle of a din of talking people, but not to be 'actually' alone. And as for eating alone, they'd be shedding tears for you. Just going to the movies is an ordeal; if you don't ask everyone you know they'll be mortally offended not to be included, and then nobody can agree on what to see or the day or the time, so you miss the show. Oh, and you can't meet at the sagra or festival that is held in one town or another every week-end during the summer, you have to all go together, preferably in one car even if you fill it to bursting, and if not in a damned caravan of cars. And for the big holidays, as people marry and have children, the group gets larger and larger, because you all have to spend it together, but where on earth can you find a venue that will fit everyone?

    So, maybe there is a genetic component, at least in terms of the family and close relationships. But then... the very fact that these things cause me a twinge of annoyance nowadays is proof this is not all genetic.

    I suppose the culture could be said to resemble
    the Corsican or Genovese polyphonic groups like the ones I posted in the Mediterranean music thread. You're allowed, even encouraged, to sing in your own individual way, and even to improvise, but you have to sing in harmony and very close together.:)
    Last edited by Angela; 14-04-14 at 20:00.

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    LOL, Angela. Have you ever thought of making a comedy movie about an extended family that occupies an entire apartment building in Genova? You could have scenes depicting endless arguments about what movie to go to, wedding celebrations that rent the town square in order to have a large enough space for the entire extended family, etc. And of course trips back to their ancestral village for the harvest. It could be a more sunny and modern version of 1900. I'd for sure go to see something like that.

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    Funny you should say that...I'm working on it, or a version of it...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    I wrote this earlier today...

    I agree with this. For all of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and beyond, farmers didn't have their own land; they were tied to the land of the lords as serfs, even if they had a few small individual plots. Some peasants in Italy did have small bits of their own land, but even then, they all lived together in the walled town, going out mornings and returning in the evenings from their plots. It was for protection as well as for mutual aid. In the Pianura Padana in the north, they were agricultural workers who all lived together in huge farmhouses on land owned by wealthy people. The movie 1900, which I highly recommend, by the way, very accurately portrays that life. Tuscany was different; there, the land was usually farmed under a sharecropping sort of system called mezzadro, where the tenants kept half the harvest in return for seed and equipment. In that case, they did live on separate farms, but that area was the exception, not the rule.
    As ElHorsto mentioned beforehand, the feudal structure of few hundred years during Middle Ages in Italy, didn't had much bearing on evolutionary process of farmers in Italy, with farming history reaching 8 thousand years or so. During most of the time small villages of separate farmer families were more of a norm. I'm sort of guessing here, but I can see that whenever there is a possibility people will work for themselves rather than for the collective, for one major reason. It is a difficult task to split group resources equally and according to labour input, and keep everybody happy and not rebeling. (A boss is needed for every group larger than few adults, otherwise group is unmanageable.) For that reason it is much easier and peaceful when people work on their own land.

    On a side note, in Poland or central Europe in general before WWII half of the agrarian land belonged to individual small farmers, and half to big landlords, nobilities. Surplus of village population worked for big landlords and was supplied in return with communal housing and food. Individual farmers had to pay customary 10% tax to the church and public administrators.

    The way that I see it, every human being belongs to a "collective" or series of collectives. It just depends how many there are, and, as was said, how much of a commitment is made to them, or, said another way, what is their relative strength?
    If it comes to group formation there are two important elements. One being genetic/natural social side, and there is a cultural side giving character to a group.
    Without a genetic propensity it would be impossible to unite people at all. It is highly visible on cat and dog analogy. A cat is naturally solitary animal and socializes with people or other cats only on occasions, preferring to spend most of the time alone. A dog however, wants to spend all the time around others, and only retreats on occasions. It is also visible that dogs are more social, compromising, complacent; and cats being individualistic, stubborn, strong willed(?).
    Anyway, I was getting to the point, that people like to belong to a group, even need to belong to feel good and healthy. This is not negotiable. However the cultural side of a group might take many forms. This aspect could be taught, grown in, or even consciously selected according to one's liking. We belong or like to associate ourselves with a village group, district and big nation groups, religious group, political or even racial groups. What group we belong to is a nurture part of humankind and is solely based on life experience. As being such we can influence and change group associations. According to this line of thinking, world peace is possible and will occur when most of people will start thinking as belonging to one global group, that all people belong to the same one group. If we all belong to one group there is no other group to fight against. USA is a great example how it can happen. From a divided country in the past, North-South, slaves, Indians, French, Spanish, Blacks, etc everybody is now a proud American pretty much.

    In short, belonging to the group is genetic. What group we belong to or group character is cultural.

    The casa colonica was also a collective, as were the villages. The comune too. Once you got to larger government entities, the lack of trust meant and means, in some cases, a lack of a willingness to perform the required duties. Much of this is a consequence of history, but it hangs on, even if nowadays some of these divisions are looked upon somewhat humorously. Just as an example, to this day, people of Florence will say, "Meglio un morto in case che un pisano all'uscio"...Better a dead person in the house than someone from Pisa at the door.
    I'm glad it is only used as a joke these days. :) ...unless there is a football match between these two.



    In more recent times, political parties became a collective of sorts as well. In my own neck of the woods, there was a strong tradition of communist party membership. The party not only presumably spoke for it's members in the government, but more importantly, it doled out government largesse if it was in power. The party also ran a local community hall, with playing fields, a venue for gatherings etc. There were religious collectives as well. So, it's not that collectives don't exist. It's that they don't exist at the level of a nation, and certainly not as a "volk" the way Germans have seen themselves, or perhaps Slavs do...I also think hunter-gatherer tribes certainly did see themselves as a unit, but they also at the same time warred against other tribes. Look at the history of the interaction between the North American tribes. They were never able to unite as a "people"; the Germans did it. What made one group of hunter-gatherers different from the other?
    It is hard to unite for hunter-gatherers under continental entity. Because of unmanageable size, cultural and language differences it was never done, to my knowledge. The uniting process mostly comes from conquering other tribes, or on rare occasions as confederation. In case of American Natives the size of unification was not bigger than a medium state area. It was still not enough to stop farmers from Europe with superior technology and breading fast.
    Unification of Germany was much easier to do under cultural, language and economic similarities, and still required armed force.



    As for how genetics factors into all of this, I don't know. Is the family so important in Italy because family was all you could count on when everything went to hell fifteen hundred years ago? Or is family so important because the emotional attachment, or the ability to form and maintain this emotional attachment, is stronger in us than in others? I wouldn't want to insult or stereotype other groups by saying their family attachments aren't as strong as ours. Or, as another example, if, during the war, most Italians impeded the Germans in their attempts to round up Italian Jews, was it because they are more predisposed to ignore government rules when it suits them or they think they are inappropriate, or because they were less racist and more humane? I'm not comfortable saying this is all genetic, even if it makes my own people look better than others. For now, I think I'll stick to the effects of different historical forces.
    I think you got it right. Surely it is not all genetic but genetic forces are dominant and show in statistics the most, like greater amount of political parties and (anecdotal) as many opinions as citizens, and strong uncompromising opinions. Also stronger family ties come at a price of strong willed father and mother (bordering with dictatorship), their kids not being able to freely express themselves.

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