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Thread: Social psychologist claims that European individualism originated in wheat farming

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    Arrow Social psychologist claims that European individualism originated in wheat farming

    The New Scientist reported last night a theory explaining why Europeans are generally individualists while East Asians are collectivists. According to Thomas Talhelm, a social psychologist the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, rice farming seems to have fostered collective thinking while wheat farming favoured individualism.

    I am surprised that anything like this gets published on a reasonably reputable news site like New Scientist.

    When I was living in Japan, I came across dozens of university-educated Japanese who held the firm belief that the Japanese were more collectivistic because they were traditionally farmers, while Europeans, they thought, were hunter-gatherers until recently ! I was incredulous that "educated" adults would know so little of world history as to make such ridiculous assumptions. Mr Talhelm's theory reminded me of my Japanese experience, although his position is less excusable as he is a university researcher studying this particular topic.

    Firstly, the premises are utterly wrong. Not all European cultures are classified as individualistic. There are bigger differences in individualism levels between north-west and south-east Europe than between, say Germany and Japan.

    Secondly, wheat (and barley) agriculture originated in the Middle East and has remained very much the predominant cereal crop there to this day. In contrast Europeans developed many other starchy crops, such as corn, potatoes, oats and even rice in Italy and Spain. In the Indian subcontinent, both wheat/barley and rice are produced. Yet Middle Eastern and South Asian societies are collectivists, just like East Asian ones. Nowadays the Japanese may have become more individualistic than most Indians and Middle Easterners.

    If we look at the map of individualism in Europe, the first thing we see is that individualism is pretty much a Celto-Germanic phenomenon, with a particularly strong correlation with Y-chromosomal haplogroup R1b, as well as with the distribution of red hair (=> see maps).




    In fact the individualism scores for the Balkans and Portugal are even lower than in the Middle East, South Asia and Japan, and comparable to China or Southeast Asia.

    If the history of wheat farming had any influenced on shaping individualistic personalities, we should expect to find the strongest individualism in the Fertile Crescent, Anatolia and the Balkans. Instead, individualism peaks in north-west Europe, one of the last regions to adopt agriculture in western Eurasia and North Africa.

    The case of Japan is also enlightening since agriculture did not reach the archipelago until 2500 years ago, and only spread as far north as the northern island of Hokkaido in the 17th century. In other words, the Japanese become farmers some 3500 years after people in the British Isles and Scandinavia, and 9000 years after the Fertile Crescent.

    So on the one hand we see that regions of western Eurasia where cereal farming arose early are not more collectivist than regions that adopted farming late. But on the other hand there is hardly any difference within East Asia between early and late adopters. That may be because there was a genetic influx from Korea and China to Japan, but population genetics has shown that about 40% of Japanese genes (average of autosomal, Y-DNA and mtDNA) can be traced back to the aboriginal hunter-gatherers of the Jomon period.

    The theory that I proposed many years ago on this site is that individualism arose with the Indo-Europeans, and particularly the western R1b branch associated with Italic, Celtic and Germanic people. Bronze Age Indo-Europeans were not cereal farmers, nor hunter-gatherers, but essentially (horse-riding) pastoralists, specialising in cattle breeding. Their society was also the first in Europe to be very strongly patriarchal, especially as opposed to the very matriarchal cultures of the Neolithic period. They invaded Europe, Central Asia and South Asia and ruled as a conquering class, establishing the first true hierarchical societies in (pre)history, over a millennium before the rise of dynasties in Babylon and Egypt.

    In this Bronze Age pastoralist society, land and personal possessions (bronze and gold artefacts) were highly valued, and social classes well defined by wealth and property. It is in this society, I believe, that lie the true roots of individualism.

    Temperament has been described as the hereditary/genetic part of one's personality. It is well known that different breeds of dogs have clear-cut temperaments, yet each individual dog can have their own personality. The same is true for humans. From my observations, individualism partly cultural and partly hereditary. Within a same country and culture, strongly individualistic temperaments seem to run in some families. Education can soften up strong individualistic tendencies, but probably not eradicate it. It works the other way too.

    Consequently, it wouldn't be surprising that genes for individualism were diffused by the Indo-Europeans and carriers of haplogroups R1. Naturally these genes are almost certainly not located on the Y chromosome itself, since women can be just as individualistic as men.
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    Correlation is not causation!
    Probably other parameters, e.g., the political system and/or religion, have made Europeans act that way.

    I do not think that genes play a role here whatsoever.
    Οι ηδονές είναι θνητές, οι αρετές αθάνατες.

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    You have an interesting theory, Maciamo, but I suspect the difference in levels of individualism in Europe has more to do with the Black Death and the spread of Protestantism than anything else. After all, medieval Europeans appear to have been very collectivist, with the situation changing to some extent throughout much of Europe as a result of depopulation caused by the Black Death, so that some common land fell into individual hands during the resulting social changes. And in northern Europe during the Renaissance, with monastery estates being broken up, most of the common land became individually owned. Further south, Catholic institutions remained strong even as the peasantry emerged from serfdom, and the collectivist spirit survived better. IMO, the reason Catholic Ireland has a high rate of collectivism is because the English occupiers destroyed Ireland's collectivist institutions. Of course, I suppose one could argue that R1b makes people more disposed to embrace individualistic social systems. And I suppose the Catholic/Protestant explanation doesn't explain some things, such as the difference between Corsica and Sardinia, and the R1b theory does seem to fit the difference between those two island, for example. I'm just dubious about a Y haplotype affectving individualism in men and women. And the R1b theory doesn't explain the collectivism of the medieval period.

    I think the issue of individualism versus collectivism has already been discussed extensively in a previous thread you started.

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    1 members found this post helpful.
    I said in other threads that Individualism was developed/emphasised in farmer societies, due to land ownership and one individual/one family working mostly for themselves. In this case Individualism should correlate with EEF admixture. Looks like someone read my idea about this, lol.

    Collectivism has to be the default trait of hunter-gatherers. Small groups needed the most cohesion available and this is what collectivism brings.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    I said in other threads that Individualism was developed/emphasised in farmer societies, due to land ownership and one individual/one family working mostly for themselves. In this case Individualism should correlate with EEF admixture. Looks like someone read my idea about this, lol.
    It would appear so. And it would appear that, like you, they haven't read a lot about farming methods in Europe during the medieval period.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    I said in other threads that Individualism was developed/emphasised in farmer societies, due to land ownership and one individual/one family working mostly for themselves. In this case Individualism should correlate with EEF admixture. Looks like someone read my idea about this, lol.

    Collectivism has to be the default trait of hunter-gatherers. Small groups needed the most cohesion available and this is what collectivism brings.
    I don't remember you writing about this. I agree that hunter-gatherers are collectivist by default. But why would farming cause individualism in parts of Europe and collectivism elsewhere ?

    Early farmers were very egalitarian societies like hunter-gatherers. From the rise of agriculture 11,500 years ago until the development of the first cities in Mesopotamia c. 5000 years ago, Neolithic/Chalcolithic farmers lived in small villages of extended families. Due to the unreliability of harvests, the lack of well established trading economy for food between regions, etc., they wouldn't have been able to survive without sharing and putting the interest of the group first.

    One of the major societal changes of the Bronze Age is that very large regions became interconnected in trade networks, mostly to bring copper, tin, silver and gold from various geographical regions. This also created trade routes for food, or at least currencies (metal) to exchange for food in case of crop failure. At the same time it allowed the accumulation of wealth from the ruling elite, led to the stratification of society and the positive selection of individualistic temperaments.

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    There are so many factors that have contributed into creating cultures around today, so i think it's hard for example to trace typical personalities of Irish to their bronze age Celtic ancestors.

    I have been classmates with some people who immigrated to America recently from China, Korea, and Japan and their personalities do seem strange. To me they seem to care less about what others think of them than Americans do, and are rarely passionate about anything. They have very little national pride, Chinese kids don't care when in history class China is portrayed as the bad communist, or when the teacher expresses his anger over north Korea and China during class. Oftenly i can't understand why they act the way they do, it seems like someone sucked the life out of them. Not all I have known are like that, and it is probably because of 21st century pop culture in east Asia and that they are speaking a 2nd langauge and are in a new country. East Asians raised in America, oftenly don't show any of those traits.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    I don't remember you writing about this.
    I was referring jokingly to the author of linked paper.

    I agree that hunter-gatherers are collectivist by default.
    But why would farming cause individualism in parts of Europe and collectivism elsewhere ?
    From the paper:
    Growing rice is hard work. Many people must work together to maintain communal irrigation canals, and transplanting and harvesting are also labour-intensive. By contrast, while rain-fed wheat produces less food per hectare, it needs less labour. A family can support itself growing wheat, while paddy rice literally takes a village
    That's why rice farmers didn't lose there HGs collectivist character.

    Early farmers were very egalitarian societies like hunter-gatherers. From the rise of agriculture 11,500 years ago until the development of the first cities in Mesopotamia c. 5000 years ago, Neolithic/Chalcolithic farmers lived in small villages of extended families.
    Very early yes, but due to the fact that wheat farming can be done by individual farmers, the land division/privatisation occurred rather early. It is far more difficult to organize a group and share crops equally or in just way, and it is easier when solo person takes care of business when possibility comes. It was a simpler way of life/work, and thanks to economic factor which rewarded harder working people, the privatisation of land had to happen early, I'm guessing in Early Neolithic. When it happened farmers lost their strong collective character.
    I said strong collective character, because farmers are still collectivists, just not as much as HGs, or groups that embraced farming later. Collectivism denotes complacency, and history of 20 century points to Germany and Japan as very complacent and united societies.

    Perhaps recent economic success of Northern Europe, rise of capitalism, science and education left understanding collectivism and individualism in murky waters. If we went in time 2,500 years ago we would have considered Phoenicians and Greeks as most individuals, creative and inventive in science, architecture and arts. 2,000 years ago we would have said the same about Romans, or Italy during Renaissance. Capitalism and wealth from colonies made Great Britten rich. From this wealth people in GB were in position to invest and create new products, educate society, and create more, etc. Actually to run a big business well the owner needs to be very social, a collectivist with great creative brain. True individualists are good to invent things, but suck in business.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    The New Scientist reported last night a theory explaining why Europeans are generally individualists while East Asians are collectivists. According to Thomas Talhelm, a social psychologist the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, rice farming seems to have fostered collective thinking while wheat farming favoured individualism.

    I am surprised that anything like this gets published on a reasonably reputable news site like New Scientist.

    When I was living in Japan, I came across dozens of university-educated Japanese who held the firm belief that the Japanese were more collectivistic because they were traditionally farmers, while Europeans, they thought, were hunter-gatherers until recently ! I was incredulous that "educated" adults would know so little of world history as to make such ridiculous assumptions. Mr Talhelm's theory reminded me of my Japanese experience, although his position is less excusable as he is a university researcher studying this particular topic.

    Firstly, the premises are utterly wrong. Not all European cultures are classified as individualistic. There are bigger differences in individualism levels between north-west and south-east Europe than between, say Germany and Japan.

    Secondly, wheat (and barley) agriculture originated in the Middle East and has remained very much the predominant cereal crop there to this day. In contrast Europeans developed many other starchy crops, such as corn, potatoes, oats and even rice in Italy and Spain. In the Indian subcontinent, both wheat/barley and rice are produced. Yet Middle Eastern and South Asian societies are collectivists, just like East Asian ones. Nowadays the Japanese may have become more individualistic than most Indians and Middle Easterners.

    If we look at the map of individualism in Europe, the first thing we see is that individualism is pretty much a Celto-Germanic phenomenon, with a particularly strong correlation with Y-chromosomal haplogroup R1b, as well as with the distribution of red hair (=> see maps).




    In fact the individualism scores for the Balkans and Portugal are even lower than in the Middle East, South Asia and Japan, and comparable to China or Southeast Asia.

    If the history of wheat farming had any influenced on shaping individualistic personalities, we should expect to find the strongest individualism in the Fertile Crescent, Anatolia and the Balkans. Instead, individualism peaks in north-west Europe, one of the last regions to adopt agriculture in western Eurasia and North Africa.

    The case of Japan is also enlightening since agriculture did not reach the archipelago until 2500 years ago, and only spread as far north as the northern island of Hokkaido in the 17th century. In other words, the Japanese become farmers some 3500 years after people in the British Isles and Scandinavia, and 9000 years after the Fertile Crescent.

    So on the one hand we see that regions of western Eurasia where cereal farming arose early are not more collectivist than regions that adopted farming late. But on the other hand there is hardly any difference within East Asia between early and late adopters. That may be because there was a genetic influx from Korea and China to Japan, but population genetics has shown that about 40% of Japanese genes (average of autosomal, Y-DNA and mtDNA) can be traced back to the aboriginal hunter-gatherers of the Jomon period.

    The theory that I proposed many years ago on this site is that individualism arose with the Indo-Europeans, and particularly the western R1b branch associated with Italic, Celtic and Germanic people. Bronze Age Indo-Europeans were not cereal farmers, nor hunter-gatherers, but essentially (horse-riding) pastoralists, specialising in cattle breeding. Their society was also the first in Europe to be very strongly patriarchal, especially as opposed to the very matriarchal cultures of the Neolithic period. They invaded Europe, Central Asia and South Asia and ruled as a conquering class, establishing the first true hierarchical societies in (pre)history, over a millennium before the rise of dynasties in Babylon and Egypt.

    In this Bronze Age pastoralist society, land and personal possessions (bronze and gold artefacts) were highly valued, and social classes well defined by wealth and property. It is in this society, I believe, that lie the true roots of individualism.

    Temperament has been described as the hereditary/genetic part of one's personality. It is well known that different breeds of dogs have clear-cut temperaments, yet each individual dog can have their own personality. The same is true for humans. From my observations, individualism partly cultural and partly hereditary. Within a same country and culture, strongly individualistic temperaments seem to run in some families. Education can soften up strong individualistic tendencies, but probably not eradicate it. It works the other way too.

    Consequently, it wouldn't be surprising that genes for individualism were diffused by the Indo-Europeans and carriers of haplogroups R1. Naturally these genes are almost certainly not located on the Y chromosome itself, since women can be just as individualistic as men.
    Maciamo, I'm very surprised YOU could give si much importance to A MAP OF INDIVIDUALISM (!):based upon what scientific study??? I find all that not serious at all: how define individualism: in self-evaluated feeling or in real social statistical deportment??? I know local populations where individuals love their liberty and having free space and free moments, and where you can being helped very easily when necessary - other populations show great gregarism but very low efficacity in helping - so, what are the criteria???

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    2 members found this post helpful.
    a map of individualism: what a farce! base upon what?
    populations have individuals loving having free spaces and free times and where you can be helped very easily and others where people are gregarious but where real help is difficult to obtain: what are the criteria?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Echetlaeus View Post
    Correlation is not causation!
    Probably other parameters, e.g., the political system and/or religion, have made Europeans act that way.

    I do not think that genes play a role here whatsoever.
    I tend to agree. I doubt ancestry makes a big effect on personality of populations.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fire Haired14 View Post
    I tend to agree. I doubt ancestry makes a big effect on personality of populations.
    How would you categorise American Indians and Australian Aborigines.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    How would you categorise American Indians and Australian Aborigines.
    What, are you trying to ask?

    I have never seen an Australian aboriginal in my life and only a few American Indians at the most. It is funny how many American Latinos think of them selves as a uniform race with specific personality traits, even though they vary so much in ancestry and physical features. If you picked two random Puerto Ricans, one could be something like 80% Spanish and another 80% Native American, yet they would think of each other as the same thing and are apart of the same culture. Latinos are great evidence that ancestry does not make a big effect on population's personality.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MOESAN View Post
    a map of individualism: what a farce! base upon what?
    populations have individuals loving having free spaces and free times and where you can be helped very easily and others where people are gregarious but where real help is difficult to obtain: what are the criteria?
    I totally agree. These kinds of analyses are why I often don't even bother to read social science papers. They're often just a muddle of badly defined, often culturally specific terms, applicable only to one particular time period, and then broadly applied across time and space to vastly different cultures.

    When I was in an American university, we were required to take a sociology course. It was, in my opinion, an abysmal waste of my time. We had to read a book called Street Corner Society, which was an "analysis" of Italian American culture, an analysis, of course, based on an Anglo-American cultural point of view. It was total and utter garbage.

    One part of the analysis looked at language patterns where the Italian usage was literally translated into English. Therefore, for example, it was noted that when these people were in a store and were trying to get the clerk's attention, they would start by saying, "Excuse me.." This was interpreted to have some deep psychological meaning, an adoption of some subservient position. I remember going absolutely ballistic. It's good manners as far as I'm concerned, when requesting something from someone busy with other tasks, and I find it's usually very appreciated.

    In addition, Italian is a very conservative language and holds on to rather "flowery" forms which have disappeared from English. I remember asking the professor if the fact that men in Victorian Britain, a patriarchal world if ever there was one, meant it literally when they signed their letters to women with, "Your obedient servant"!

    As for when he tried to discuss the book's analysis of the relationship of Italians of both sexes to their mothers, well...I wound up feeling sorry for him. He wound up the discussion of the book in one day.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Aberdeen View Post
    You have an interesting theory, Maciamo, but I suspect the difference in levels of individualism in Europe has more to do with the Black Death and the spread of Protestantism than anything else. After all, medieval Europeans appear to have been very collectivist, with the situation changing to some extent throughout much of Europe as a result of depopulation caused by the Black Death, so that some common land fell into individual hands during the resulting social changes. And in northern Europe during the Renaissance, with monastery estates being broken up, most of the common land became individually owned. Further south, Catholic institutions remained strong even as the peasantry emerged from serfdom, and the collectivist spirit survived better. IMO, the reason Catholic Ireland has a high rate of collectivism is because the English occupiers destroyed Ireland's collectivist institutions. Of course, I suppose one could argue that R1b makes people more disposed to embrace individualistic social systems. And I suppose the Catholic/Protestant explanation doesn't explain some things, such as the difference between Corsica and Sardinia, and the R1b theory does seem to fit the difference between those two island, for example. I'm just dubious about a Y haplotype affectving individualism in men and women. And the R1b theory doesn't explain the collectivism of the medieval period.

    I think the issue of individualism versus collectivism has already been discussed extensively in a previous thread you started.
    Sorry for the late reply. I was away for a few days.

    I doubt that Protestantism has anything to do with individualism for the following reasons:

    1) The ancient Celts and Germanics were already quite individualistic. They were so fiercely independent from one another that they never managed to establish a unified Celtic kingdom, or even large kingdoms the size of France or Spain. In fact, the internecine wars between Celtic tribes was what enabled the Romans to conquer all Celtic territories so easily.

    2) The Vikings possessed traits of character typical of individualists. A small group of adventurers left their homeland to conquer and found colonies in distant, unknown lands. Collectivists care too much about their homeland, family, etc. to leave forever. This is why Europeans who emigrated to found population colonies in the Americas and Oceania between the 16th and the 19th century were essentially people from individualistic countries, with the British Isles and Netherlands on top of the list.

    The ancient Celts were clearly individualistic in their expansion pattern. Some created the kingdom of Galatia in central Anatolia, cut off from the rest of Celtic Europe. Others went as far as Ukraine and Russia, as attested by the presence of pockets of R1b-U152 in Bashkortostan today. The Celts were individualistic adventurers like the Vikings.

    It's not by chance that the great colonising nations of Europe were essentially R1b countries. They inherited the individualistic genes of the Bronze Age Indo-Europeans, who were the first great individualistic travellers and adventurers.

    Why is it that the Chinese or the Japanese never created population colonies far from their homeland ? They are collectivist people and cannot imagine their existence outside the group/society in which they were born. In both countries the most serious offences were either punished by death or by exile, because exile from society was considered as terrible a fate as death itself.

    3) If Protestantism was the root of individualism, why is it that traditionally Catholic regions like Ireland, the south of the Netherlands, Belgium, South Germany, France, northern Italy or Hungary are so individualistic ? In fact they are at least as individualistic as Protesant Scandinavia and more individualistic than Finland.

    Even in Britain, the two thirds of Christians are/were Catholic or Anglican (which is the same ideologically as Catholic, but with the British monarchy as its rulers instead of the Pope). In contrast, Scandinavian Christians are nearly 100% Protestant, but aren't as individualistic as British people.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MOESAN View Post
    a map of individualism: what a farce! base upon what?
    populations have individuals loving having free spaces and free times and where you can be helped very easily and others where people are gregarious but where real help is difficult to obtain: what are the criteria?
    The criteria are those defined by Geert Hofstede, who was a psychologist at IBM and spent most of his career analysing the cross-cultural difference of behaviour at work between countries. Here is his website and a list of the books he published. The data for the map can be found here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Sorry for the late reply. I was away for a few days.

    I doubt that Protestantism has anything to do with individualism for the following reasons:

    1) The ancient Celts and Germanics were already quite individualistic. They were so fiercely independent from one another that they never managed to establish a unified Celtic kingdom, or even large kingdoms the size of France or Spain. In fact, the internecine wars between Celtic tribes was what enabled the Romans to conquer all Celtic territories so easily.

    2) The Vikings possessed traits of character typical of individualists. A small group of adventurers left their homeland to conquer and found colonies in distant, unknown lands. Collectivists care too much about their homeland, family, etc. to leave forever. This is why Europeans who emigrated to found population colonies in the Americas and Oceania between the 16th and the 19th century were essentially people from individualistic countries, with the British Isles and Netherlands on top of the list.

    The ancient Celts were clearly individualistic in their expansion pattern. Some created the kingdom of Galatia in central Anatolia, cut off from the rest of Celtic Europe. Others went as far as Ukraine and Russia, as attested by the presence of pockets of R1b-U152 in Bashkortostan today. The Celts were individualistic adventurers like the Vikings.

    It's not by chance that the great colonising nations of Europe were essentially R1b countries. They inherited the individualistic genes of the Bronze Age Indo-Europeans, who were the first great individualistic travellers and adventurers.

    Why is it that the Chinese or the Japanese never created population colonies far from their homeland ? They are collectivist people and cannot imagine their existence outside the group/society in which they were born. In both countries the most serious offences were either punished by death or by exile, because exile from society was considered as terrible a fate as death itself.

    3) If Protestantism was the root of individualism, why is it that traditionally Catholic regions like Ireland, the south of the Netherlands, Belgium, South Germany, France, northern Italy or Hungary are so individualistic ? In fact they are at least as individualistic as Protesant Scandinavia and more individualistic than Finland.

    Even in Britain, the two thirds of Christians are/were Catholic or Anglican (which is the same ideologically as Catholic, but with the British monarchy as its rulers instead of the Pope). In contrast, Scandinavian Christians are nearly 100% Protestant, but aren't as individualistic as British people.
    I don't see what the strongly individualistic Pagan culture of pre-christian Europe has to do with Catholic versus Protestant, unless you want to argue that the parts of Europe that were Pagan longest were the first to embrace Protestantism. However, I don't think that argument works either, since the Scandinavians embraced Lutheranism, which is the version of Protestantism that's most like the Catholic faith. As for British Anglicans, one of King Henry's main motives for abandoning Catholicism was so that he could dissolve the monastery system - he got rid of a lot of the collectivist institutions of the Catholic Church. As I said, it's not really about a particular religious creed as it is about what institutions exist, and whether they foster collectivism or individualism. As for the typical modern British person, his or her faith generally has more to do with Guinness than baptismal fonts.

    I already addressed the issue in Ireland - the English destroyed Ireland's collectivist institutions. The same thing happened in other parts of Europe. However, in France, which remained Catholic, collectivism remained an important social value even during those periods when the anti-clericalists were triumphant.

    If you want to argue that R1b has something to do with it, fine. There is a certain alignment between individualism and that haplotype. However, I don't think you've yet proven that R1b has anything to do with the Indo-European invasions. I see R1b as having more to do with the arrival of the Bell Beaker culture from North Africa. After all, the earliest R1b sample we have so far was found in a Bell Beaker context. Until we have Y haplotype information from Iberian and other Atlantic Bell Beaker sites, I'll continue to see R1b in Europe as having a late Neolithic/Copper Age date of origin. Maybe there's something about making pottery that fosters individualism. Although that idea doesn't really work either, since some of the best modern pottery comes from China and Japan. I'm inclined to think that individualism versus collectivism is more of an accident of history, a result of what cultural values get emphasized for political reasons in different settings. And Protestantism was often involved in the dissolution of collectivist institutions.
    Last edited by Aberdeen; 15-05-14 at 19:05.

  18. #18
    Satyavrata Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aberdeen View Post
    I don't see what the strongly individualistic Pagan culture of pre-christian Europe has to do with Catholic versus Protestant, unless you want to argue that the parts of Europe that were Pagan longest were the first to embrace Protestantism.
    My argument is that individualism is partly genetic, not fully cultural. I was trying to demonstrate that ancient Celtic R1b populations were already individualistic and that this trait was inherited by their descendants. Therefore individualism did not need Protestantism to develop.

    You could argue that individualism was the driving force behind the Protestant Reformation, i.e. that individualistic cultures were drawn to the Protestant values outlined by Luther, Calvin et al. But I am not sure that is quite right either, as the individualistic Irish, Belgians or North Italians remained staunchly Catholic. I believe it is rather the Germanic character (sense of rigour, logic, no-nonsense, low corruptibility, thrift, etc.) that caused the shift to Protestantism. Whereas individualism is more strongly associated with R1b populations (esp. Italic and Celtic, but also Germanic), the Germanic character is found more of less proportionally to the percentage of Germanic genes (hg I1, I2a2a + Germanic R1a and R1b).

    However, I don't think that argument works either, since the Scandinavians embraced Lutheranism, which is the version of Protestantism that's most like the Catholic faith. As for British Anglicans, one of King Henry's main motives for abandoning Catholicism was so that he could dissolve the monastery system - he got rid of a lot of the collectivist institutions of the Catholic Church. As I said, it's not really about a particular religious creed as it is about what institutions exist, and whether they foster collectivism or individualism. As for the typical modern British person, his or her faith generally has more to do with Guinness than baptismal fonts.
    I don't see how Lutheranism is the closest to Catholicism. Actually Anglicanism is ideologically just like Catholicism, with the same hierarchy of archbishop, bishops, priests, the same distinction between cathedral and church, the same level of ornamentation inside churches, etc. The only major difference, as you mentioned, is the absence of monasteries, but this does not affect the ideology/dogma of believers in any way. The Anglicans kept all seven Catholic sacraments, while Lutherans reduced that number to three, and Calvinists/Reformed to two.

    The Anglican clergy can't marry and must be male, like Catholics. That isn't the case of true Protestants. Anglicans and Catholics rely on the authority of clergy to interpret the Bible, while true Protestants are encouraged to read and interpret the Bible by themselves, using their own judgement.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Sorry for the late reply. I was away for a few days.

    I doubt that Protestantism has anything to do with individualism for the following reasons:

    1) The ancient Celts and Germanics were already quite individualistic. They were so fiercely independent from one another that they never managed to establish a unified Celtic kingdom, or even large kingdoms the size of France or Spain. In fact, the internecine wars between Celtic tribes was what enabled the Romans to conquer all Celtic territories so easily.

    2) The Vikings possessed traits of character typical of individualists. A small group of adventurers left their homeland to conquer and found colonies in distant, unknown lands. Collectivists care too much about their homeland, family, etc. to leave forever. This is why Europeans who emigrated to found population colonies in the Americas and Oceania between the 16th and the 19th century were essentially people from individualistic countries, with the British Isles and Netherlands on top of the list.

    The ancient Celts were clearly individualistic in their expansion pattern. Some created the kingdom of Galatia in central Anatolia, cut off from the rest of Celtic Europe. Others went as far as Ukraine and Russia, as attested by the presence of pockets of R1b-U152 in Bashkortostan today. The Celts were individualistic adventurers like the Vikings.

    It's not by chance that the great colonising nations of Europe were essentially R1b countries. They inherited the individualistic genes of the Bronze Age Indo-Europeans, who were the first great individualistic travellers and adventurers.

    Why is it that the Chinese or the Japanese never created population colonies far from their homeland ? They are collectivist people and cannot imagine their existence outside the group/society in which they were born. In both countries the most serious offences were either punished by death or by exile, because exile from society was considered as terrible a fate as death itself.

    3) If Protestantism was the root of individualism, why is it that traditionally Catholic regions like Ireland, the south of the Netherlands, Belgium, South Germany, France, northern Italy or Hungary are so individualistic ? In fact they are at least as individualistic as Protesant Scandinavia and more individualistic than Finland.

    Even in Britain, the two thirds of Christians are/were Catholic or Anglican (which is the same ideologically as Catholic, but with the British monarchy as its rulers instead of the Pope). In contrast, Scandinavian Christians are nearly 100% Protestant, but aren't as individualistic as British people.
    Could the more collectivist aspect of Protestantism relative to Anglicanism/British Isles Catholicism be due to higher I1/I2b Y-chromosomes amongst (North Germanic/Scandinavian) Protestants? Also it is worth mentionning that North Italian, Iberian, French and even Southern German Catholics are still way more collectivist than British Isles Catholics/Anglicans! Could this be due to higher E1b1b+G2a+I+J2/J1 amongst the Continental European Catholics? What do you think?

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