February 18, 2013

Nicholas Wade reviews Napoleon Chagnon's autobiography

Nicolas Poussin, "Rape of the Sabine Women," 1637, Louvre:
A depiction of the legendary 750 BC abduction of neighboring
women by an early Roman raiding party
In the New York Times, science correspondent Nicholas Wade reviews anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon's autobiography Noble Savages:
Trained as an engineer before taking up anthropology, Dr. Chagnon was interested in the mechanics of how the Yanomamö worked. He perceived that kinship was the glue that held societies together, so he started to construct an elaborate genealogy of the Yanomamö (often spelled Yanomani.) 
The genealogy took many years, in part because of the Yanomamö taboo on mentioning the names of the dead. When completed, it held the key to unlocking many important features of Yanomamö society. One of Dr. Chagnon’s discoveries was that warriors who had killed a man in battle sired three times more children than men who had not killed. 
His report, published in Science in 1988, set off a storm among anthropologists who believed that peace, not war, was the natural state of human existence. Dr. Chagnon’s descriptions of Yanomamö warfare had been bad enough; now he seemed to be saying that aggression was rewarded and could be inherited. 
A repeated theme in his book is the clash between his empirical findings and the ideology of his fellow anthropologists. The general bias in anthropological theory draws heavily from Marxism, Dr. Chagnon writes. His colleagues insisted that the Yanomamö were fighting over material possessions, whereas Dr. Chagnon believed the fights were about something much more basic — access to nubile young women.

The distinction between competing over material possessions and competing over women seems pretty blurry. In general, the more productive cultures are ones that channel male agression over reproduction into economic rather than physical competition.

As an example of this, I was in Glendale on Saturday night and walked past hundreds of young Spanish-speaking people lined up to get into Giggles night club. They looked like they were intending to engage in a lot of conspicuous consumption that, judging by the tightness and tackiness of their clubbing costumes, they couldn't really afford.
In his view, evolution and sociobiology, not Marxist theory, held the best promise of understanding human societies. In this light, he writes, it made perfect sense that the struggle among the Yanomamö, and probably among all human societies at such a stage in their history, was for reproductive advantage. 
Men form coalitions to gain access to women. Because some men will be able to have many wives, others must share a wife or go without, creating a great scarcity of women. This is why Yanomamö villages constantly raid one another.
The raiding over women creates a more complex problem, that of maintaining the social cohesion required to support warfare. A major cause of a village’s splitting up is fights over women. But a smaller village is less able to defend itself against larger neighbors. The most efficient strategy to keep a village both large and cohesive through kinship bonds is for two male lineage groups to exchange cousins in marriage. Dr. Chagnon found that this is indeed the general system practiced by the Yanomamö.

And, I suspected, walking down the street, that some of the more disorderly patrons of Giggles tended, as the night wore on, to turn from competing for women via buying $285 bottle service to more direct means. When I got home, looking up Giggles on Google, I found this news story:
Chunk of man's eyebrow bitten off outside Giggles night club in Glendale 
October 01, 2012 
A 38-year-old North Hollywood man lost a chunk of his eyebrow early Sunday during a fight outside of Giggles Nightclub in Glendale, police said. 
Officers found the man, whose name wasn’t released, about 2 a.m. in the alley behind the night club in the 200 block of Brand Boulevard after receiving a call about a brawl involving 20 men, according to Glendale police reports. Police didn’t find the man’s attacker. 
The man told police another man bit his eyebrow, causing an inch-wide gash. 
Blood was dripping from the man’s face as he stood alongside another eight men who weren’t involved in the fight, police said. 
He told officers he and his friends were leaving the nightclub and were walking in the alley where there was a group of men fighting. 
The man was watching the fight when another male suddenly approached him from the left and bit his eyebrow, police said. 
He described the man as Latino, 5 foot 5 inches tall, about 200 pounds with an athletic build and short hair. The man was wearing blue jeans only.

Sadly, no Poussin is likely to immortalize this post-Giggles encounter in art worthy of the Louvre. I think Poussin could have done a lot with "5 foot 5 inches tall, about 200 pounds with an athletic build ... wearing blue jeans only."

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

Chagnon's description of the Yanomani has a lot of similarities with underclass gangbanger culture.

ironrailsironweights said...

Men form coalitions to gain access to women. Because some men will be able to have many wives, others must share a wife or go without, creating a great scarcity of women.

Giggles Nightclub undoubtedly is a fiesta de chorizo, albeit one with $285 bottles of Goose, and given the ability of Alpha males to attract veritable harems of already scarce women, it comes as no surprise that the Betas are reduced to fighting over the meager leavings. It's really no different than what one sees among the Yanomani.

Peter

rightsaidfred said...

Chagnon and others like him can observe the Yanomani and Giggle's patrons because they've risen above it all via monogamous marriage and the intelligent societies thus engendered.

Interesting that Giggle's patrons and the Yanomani might have the last laugh when Chagnon's culture goes extinct because his women flocked to sterility inducing colleges to become anthropologists and NYT reporters so they could study the Yanomani and report on the Giggle's patrons...

Anonymous said...

"Interesting that Giggle's patrons and the Yanomani might have the last laugh when Chagnon's culture goes extinct because his women flocked to sterility inducing colleges to become anthropologists and NYT reporters so they could study the Yanomani and report on the Giggle's patrons..."

You omit the possibility that increasing numbers of intelligent young women are reading Chateau Heartiste, like my Ivy League teen daughter. And recall that nature bats last -- antibiotic resistant gonorrhea will sterilize increasing numbers of these promiscuous clubbers.

agnostic said...

In the horticulturalist societies where raiding for women is common, it serves both reproductive and material purposes. Women do most of the productive work, tending the garden, while men may occasionally hunt but mostly loaf around and beat up other men.

So, not only does raiding for wives give you more babies, it gives you more toiling bodies that boost your economic well-being. It's win-win.

Five Daarstens said...

Steve:

I was wondering when you would post a picture of the painting, it fits in with many themes of the blog.

The painting is also in the MET in New York; well worth a visit.

http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/110001777

One of the last episodes of "In Our Time" by the BBC covered this as well

Anonymous said...

You omit the possibility that increasing numbers of intelligent young women are reading Chateau Heartiste, like my Ivy League teen daughter.

Dr Van Nostrand said...

5'5" at 200 pounds with an athletic build?!!

How the heck does that work?

What is that a BMI of 25?!

I can believe it if it were a black or redneck as the 200 pounds could be mostly muscle and bone.

But Latinos tend to be rather flabby!

Dr Van Nostrand said...

Im guessing not a whole lot of guys were fighting over the Amerindian looking women but those (very)few who resemble Salma Hayek circa 1992 or even rarer Christina Aguilera

DaveinHackensack said...

Great post. From high brow to eyebrow.

"But Latinos tend to be rather flabby!"

Not the ones Mel Gibson cast in Apocalypto.

Drunk Idiot said...

Dr Van Nostrand:

"Im guessing not a whole lot of guys were fighting over the Amerindian looking women but those (very)few who resemble Salma Hayek circa 1992 or even rarer Christina Aguilera"

Salma Hayek is ethnically Lebanese and comes from the Mexican ruling class elite.

You won't find very many of her kind hanging out in bars/clubs that skew heavily Mestizo.

Anonymous said...

Yup.

The mega-tools (the Peter Norths of the tribal world, metaphorically speaking but really I should say the Klitchkos, but I like a bit of smut when I can get away with it!), monopolize all what can I only call the 'reproductive opportunities' themselves, whilst the chumps are only left with Pa(l)m and her five sisters for company.
- And we think of the 1% snaffling all the wealth as unfair.

Darwinism - 'tis a hard row to hoe.

Drunk Idiot said...

Speaking of non-Amerindian/Mestizo ruling class Latino elites, I ran into an interesting looking family of non-Mestizo Latinos who were speaking Spanish to each other while shopping in an upscale grocery store in Hinsdale, Illinois, on Saturday.

The father and college-aged son appeared to be ethnically Arab/Middle Eastern. The mother was as white/European as the typical iSteve reader. The college aged daughter, who could have passed as the mythical non-skanky Kardashian sister (if there were such a thing), was more or less Mediterranean to Middle Eastern/Persian in appearance. And she carried herself as though she were as precious as any Jewish American princess.

The family dressed in classy, stylish clothing and had a decidedly upscale appearance. They moved through the store with vigor and purpose, as though they were important people whose time was valuable (no "mañana" attitude).

Their Spanish had no traces of either the Mexican sing-song peasant accent, nor the Boriqua Puerto Rican accent that are commonly heard around Chicagoland.

Everything about them was upscale and elite.

I thought about asking them where they were from, and whether they knew Charles Garcia or Jorge Ramos, but they were off to look at overpriced organic vegetable juice before I got the chance.







BB said...

Interestingly, Chagnon went on to marry an underaged Yanomani which she brought back to the USA. When they divorced, she went back to the tribe. They had several children, all of whom remained in the civilized world.One of the kids is graduating in anthropology!

Steve Sailer said...

That's Chagnon's ex-colleague Kenneth Goode.

BB said...

I stand corrected.Yes it was Kenneth Good not Chagnon who got maried to Yurima and had two kids.
I´d read about the kid a while ago and should have googled before posting.
So Chagnon never got himself a native wife while on the field?
Hell, when I was graduating in anthropology Lévy-Strauss was all the rage! Chagnon wasn´t even on the radar though I´m sure one of my HBD closeted teachers had read him basically because he´d read everything. So sad.

John said...

Meh. So basically, men fight over things they want. In some societies it could be women, in other societies it could be material possessions or things like water. I suppose it just depends on what a particular society lacks at that particular time, which often depends on random things like how it's organized.

I don't think this reveals any kind of deep seated male instinct to compete over women per se - it just shows an instinct to compete over things men want, with the category filled in by whatever happens to be scarce at that moment.

I am quite sure that those kids trying to get into giggles would be just as violent if they were on a bread line competing over bread, or over video games - oh wait, we already have proof of that.

So all we can really conclude is that men compete over things they want that are scarce, and it can be violent. Pretty revolutionary, huh?

As for a violent disposition being inherited, things are way more complex than the fairy tale evo-psyche guys often like to think of them.

For instance, it is possible (in my opinion almost certain) that no "disposition to violence" exists, but that a person might inherit an emotional capacity for violence in the sense that blood does not make him squeamish and and he is not unduly fearful. Such an emotional disposition, which has nothing to do with violence per se, can then make a person use his complex brain - also a product of evolution - to decide rationally that violence is the best strategy of the moment. Lacking emotional or other nervous system hindrances to employing violence as a strategy, he turns to it.

He does not have a violent disposition nor does he have violent "impulses" or "instincts". In situations where violence does not make sense, he is a perfectly peacable and pacific man. Of course, a team of HBD'ers who saw him at a violent moment would rush and label him as hopelessly in thrall to his violent impulses, eager as they are to banish any kind of rational calculations from human conduct and ascribe all to blind impulses, as if the complex human brain serves no purpose at all.

The often cited examples of blacks and other groups being incredibly violent utterly fail to take into account the fact that it MAKES SENSE for blacks to be violent - a low IQ group often will have nothing but violence to turn to as a strategy, especially if they live among a higher IQ group who monopolizes all the good jobs. The problem is that for the lower in IQ, violence is MUCH MORE OF THE TIME a good strategy, almost anywhere and anytime, simply because they lack other resources.

Modern evo-psyche is an essentially Kantian endeavor - it is really just the invention of "faculties". Is someone violent? Why, he inherited the faculty of violence! Of course this explains nothing. Since Kant's time, explaining things by reference to faculties, (in today's HBD terms " inherited instincts") has come to be recognized among philosophers as the simplistic thinking it is - it is just a fancy philosophic way of saying "it's like that because it's like that".

But it's often the case that the intellectual excesses of one field spill over into other fields, and modern evo-psyche is now stuck with a simplistic conceptual framework originally developed by 18th century German philosophers and that can yield no better answers than "it's like that because it's like that".

To paraphrase Nietzsche, everyone today goes hunting in the fields for new "inherited instincts" - the biological term for Kant' faculties - and feels he is doing good intellectual work by "finding" them.

John said...

It occurs to few people that humans might have inherited a system of complex interlocking emotional modules, designed to function together with the rational brain's capacity for strategic thought, which determines behavior in humans, and that would make human behavior far more flexible and context-sensitive, far more dependent on input from the rational mind, and hence far less tied to a specific mode of behavior, thus far less "optimized" for some sort of ancestral environment, and that "emotional capacities + rational thought" can often do the same intellectual work as the concept "instinct", rendering it a dispensible concept.

On such a model, explaining human behavior TODAY as a function of what would have "made sense" aeons ago might not be legitimate at all. In this sense, we really can "transcend our genes", but only because transcending our genes would be a built in function of the fact that our genes were designed to be interact with input from the rational mind and the particular environment we find ourselves in.

Creatures of evolution we undoubtedly are - but irredeemably tied to behaviors that made sense long ago we very well might not be. We might be built to be context-sensitive. And indeed, the more studies in mating psychology and female preference show that previous simplistic fairy tale assumptions about the attractiveness of masculinity, etc, are wrong, the more likely we are to see some complexity and nuance introduced the currently simpistic evo-pscyhe field.

Steve Sailer said...

"So basically, men fight over things they want."

As Mrs. Freud said, "What do men want?"

John said...

What do men want? Oh, lots of things. Water, land, food, cars, video games, guns, computers, books, and maybe, when they have time left over, women :)

In the pre-Freudian era, before men had it explained to them that in reality, though they might not know it, men wanted women above all things, and that even though they might not be thinking about women too much, really, they were obsessed with them, before all this was explained to men, women were just one thing men wanted, and often not the most important. But of course Freud changed all that and it is now a well known fact - a well known fact! - that everything men do is to get women (that intensely satisfying day I had yesterday that involved a hike with awesome views, reading an absorbing book, and having a fantastic dinner with wonderful wine, a day with no women? Why, really, it was all about getting women. But I would not have known that on my own! Thank God there is Freud and modern HBDers to explain that to me. Dodged a bullet there)

I wonder how many young men are prevented living balanced happy lives with women being only one part of it by believing they must obsess over sex because that is "the nature of man"?

Anonymous said...

"monopolize all what can I only call the 'reproductive opportunities' themselves, whilst the chumps are only left with Pa(l)m and her five sisters for company"

No they don't. They monopolize non-reproductive sexual opportunities.

Game's deliberate dishonesty on this critical point shows that "Game" is just the latest in a long line of cultural poison.

.
"it is possible (in my opinion almost certain) that no "disposition to violence" exists, but that a person might inherit an emotional capacity for violence in the sense that blood does not make him squeamish and and he is not unduly fearful. Such an emotional disposition, which has nothing to do with violence per se" etc etc

That's exactly how it works imo - separate traits which can exist independently with two main clusters which could be summarized as
- a high capacity for violence
- a high propensity for violence
and where the end result depends on the combination, frequency and distribution of those traits.

That individuals can exist who have a high capacity for violence but a low propenisty doesn't change the basic idea. Having more components to violence makes the resulting system more flexible.

Dr Van Nostrand said...

But Latinos tend to be rather flabby!"

DaveinHacensack:Not the ones Mel Gibson cast in Apocalypto."

Well there was a caveat which was implied if you take the preceeding lines I wrote.

The dudes in Apocalypto were hardly 200 pounds!

Being 130 pounds at 5'5" and athletic is a different from for the same height and level and athleticism at 200 pounds!

Wasnt Mexico at one time , a few years ago I think the fattest country in the world beating out even its northern neighbor!

I think one of the first observers of the Amerindians being unable to process meat and diary was Christopher Columbus

Dr Van Nostrand said...

Drunk Idiot:
Salma Hayek is ethnically Lebanese and comes from the Mexican ruling class elite.

You won't find very many of her kind hanging out in bars/clubs that skew heavily Mestizo"

But of course!

I often wonder if those white males who are for amnesty feel that way because they imagine themsevles in Adam Sandlers shoes in Spanglish where he is the happy recipient of the affections of the strikingly attractive Mexican help played by Paz Vega!

I personally prefer her in Sex and Lucia...

Dr Van Nostrand said...

The college aged daughter, who could have passed as the mythical non-skanky Kardashian sister (if there were such a thing), was more or less Mediterranean to Middle Eastern/Persian in appearance. And she carried herself as though she were as precious as any Jewish American princess."

Actually princess and diva type behavior seem to be more prevalent among queen bee women of color or darker whites than Anglos.

Few white performers throw the tantrums that Beyonce,Mariah Carey or the late Whitney Houston used to.

One can see similar behavior among the celebrities or the prettier regular members of the Hispanic,Italian,Jewish,Iranian,Arab and Indian communities.

Its as if they are expected to behave like complete bitches.

White women seem to have a lower tolerance for such antics.
Is it the WASP influenced self effacing and modesty or just the egalitarian distrust of class that has struck root among whites in general but not so much in others.


Dr Van Nostrand said...

As Mrs. Freud said, "What do men want?"

I dont about Mrs Freud but if only Mrs Petraeus had asked herself before.....

Dr Van Nostrand said...


He does not have a violent disposition nor does he have violent "impulses" or "instincts". In situations where violence does not make sense, he is a perfectly peacable and pacific man. Of course, a team of HBD'ers who saw him at a violent moment would rush and label him as hopelessly in thrall to his violent impulses, eager as they are to banish any kind of rational calculations from human conduct and ascribe all to blind impulses, as if the complex human brain serves no purpose at all. "

Well put.
Which is why I never went for the martial/non martial races bunkum which the British propagated and Indians (among others) swallowed wholeheartedly(it persisted well until that 70s, the Pakistani army lost to India as the former believed that Indians being less martial a war against them would be a cake walk)

Peoples change their stereotypes all the time when it comes to traits like courage,aggression and being warlike. Last century's coward is todays lion and vice versa.

Andrew Gilbert said...

Hi Steve, what's fascinating about Wade's piece is that it reads like a disdainful dismissal of the review of "Nobel Savages" that ran in the Sunday Times book review section by one Elizabeth Povinelli, who huffs and puffs against Chagnon and sounds miffed that she has to even countenance his ideas...

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/17/books/review/noble-savages-by-napoleon-a-chagnon.html

David said...

John, read Josh. And Brit philosopher John N. Gray. Far from being the up-to-date shiny doctrine of the best know-it-alls, the "blank slate" or "free will" theory is an artifact of religious (specifically Christian) thinking: the Enlightenment itself is simply a secularized version of the Christian redemption story. You are the Kantian, believing in at least one of his trinity of "God, immortality, and free will" over the results of empiricism. Those who trust their "lying" eyes and brains are scientists; the rest - are dogmatists.

Anonymous said...

"Which is why I never went for the martial/non martial races bunkum which the British propagated and Indians (among others) swallowed wholeheartedly)"

The environment will select (or not) for martial traits the same as any others. Personally i think it makes perfect sense that
- mountain people
- pastoralists
- borderers
would be more martial on average - basically any environment where raiding could produce a distinct advantage.

.
"(it persisted well until that 70s, the Pakistani army lost to India as the former believed that Indians being less martial a war against them would be a cake walk"

Technology should dramatically reduce the significance. Pashtun may be more martial than (modern) Americans but being more martial doesn't help against drones.

Anonymous said...

"So basically, men fight over things they want. In some societies it could be women..."


Zan, Zar, Zameen is I believe the Pathan saying. Land, Gold and Women.

John said...

@David

David, read me, before you tell me to read Josh. You probably just skimmed what I wrote.

I don't for a moment believe we are "blank slates" nor do I think we are anything other than creatures of evolution.

I merely think that most human behavior can be explained as a complex - non-linear - interaction between something that can be described as a personality trait and our mind's capacity for strategic thought. I think explanations that search for "instincts" and discount the role of the rational are silly.

If this is so, then evolution designed us to be far more flexible and context-sensitive than is often admitted, and it makes far less sense to expect modern humans to behave in ways that would have been optimized for our ancestral environment that is generally admitted.

In other words, I'm trying to introduce a basic level of intellectual sophistication into a field - evo-psyche - that has been dominated by a very simplistic, fairy tale type of thinking for the past few decades.

Let me ask you an example - has evo-psyche or HBD or whatever you want to call it produced ONE "insight" that is not basically crude pop culture tropes recycled? What do women like? Why, the most masculine man! What is the role of testosterone, the male hormone? Why, the man who has more of it is more "manly"!

This kind of recycling of pop culture tropes in the guise of novel insight for intellectuals is basically what Kant did - he took the cultural "givens" of his time, and simply re-described them as "faculties". Was there every any doubt that in the end Kant would "find" a faculty for "knowing" God and and "knowing" moral facts?

Anonymous said...

The distinction between competing over material possessions and competing over women seems pretty blurry.

He who controls the material resources controls the access to women. Men, defend your territory--control your nation's borders.

Anonymous said...

Reply to John said..

What you say makes a great deal of sense. For many groups, particularly blacks, violence DOES make sense. Lacking other means to participate and succeed in a diverse biological society, it is an effective strategy for them.

Mr. Sailer: I am going blind trying to see what those 'two words' are i am supposed to type in. I don't mind proving i am not a robot, but do i also have to prove i have bionic eyes?

PatrickH said...

Lawdy, what a brilliant writer is N. Wade. Steve, you could get pointers imitating him. Derbyshire too.

Dr Van Nostrand said...

The environment will select (or not) for martial traits the same as any others. Personally i think it makes perfect sense that
- mountain people
- pastoralists
- borderers
would be more martial on average - basically any environment where raiding could produce a distinct advantage."

One would assume so but its not always the case. Pushtuns for instance ,contrary to popular lore, werent particulary feared before around the 11th century ,about 3 centuries after the last Hindu king cremated himself on his pyre for his failure to defend his kingdom against Muslims.
It was around that time they got Turkicized in culture and habits(though not so much physical appearance, they remain light skinned Caucasian to this day), the common Turco Mongol title Khan being most obvious indicator of this.
Similarly Scandinavians once gave the world the Vikings, today they have to take permission from their women if they want to stand up when they go number 1!


.
"(it persisted well until that 70s, the Pakistani army lost to India as the former believed that Indians being less martial a war against them would be a cake walk"

Technology should dramatically reduce the significance. Pashtun may be more martial than (modern) Americans but being more martial doesn't help against drones."


Sure this was true since the Roman era where through a process of trial and error with the Germans and Celts figured out the superiority of Roman tactics,formations,discipline,training,mobility and logistics could easily overwhelm the taller and braver northerners.

But we arent really talking about technology in this particular case. I mean there was an Indian battalion of 120 defeated an invading Pushtun force of 2000.And Pakistanis had U.S weaponry while Indian had the Soviet models!

Hunsdon said...

DVN said: Which is why I never went for the martial/non martial races bunkum which the British propagated (snip)

Hunsdon said: Sikhs?

Anonymous said...

"One would assume so but its not always the case. Pushtuns for instance ,contrary to popular lore, werent particulary feared before around the 11th century...Similarly Scandinavians once gave the world the Vikings"

Sure, it's not fixed forever. If the environment changes then the level of selection for "martial" traits would change also plus technology can change what a "martial" trait is.


.
"But we arent really talking about technology in this particular case"

I think we are. Most of the traits traditionally associated with being martial revolve around traits useful in close quarter fighting. Guns, since they got a range above 100 yards or so, to a large extent have done away with traditional martial qualities and replaced them with things like organizational ability, co-operativeness and IQ i.e. the standard "civilized" traits.

So in terms of "martial" races today you'd pick the Germans, Japanese and indeed Indians before Pashtun (except maybe in a guerilla context).

Anonymous said...

"Pushtuns for instance ,contrary to popular lore, werent particulary feared before around the 11th century ,about 3 centuries after the last Hindu king cremated himself on his pyre for his failure to defend his kingdom against Muslims."

This is pretty interesting though. If this is correct then according to my view something must have changed to make it so and given the timing probably something to do with the invaders - interesting.

Dr Van Nostrand said...

DVN said: Which is why I never went for the martial/non martial races bunkum which the British propagated (snip)

Hunsdon said: Sikhs?

DVN: My point wasnt that the British were always wrong about selecting martial types .I Just didnt buy the racial determinism that they believed ie Sikhs/Punjabis were always martial and say Bengalis/South Indians always werent.


With regard to the Sikhs, technically they arent a race but a religious group but seeing how an overwhelmingly majority of Sikhs are Punjabi or of related north Indian ethncities, they can be considered such.

Punjabis military history was strikingly unimpressive before the arrival of the Sikhs.They had been ruled by pretty much every invader from Persians,Greeks,Huns and Mughals until North Central and South Indian dynasties liberated them.This is one of the reasons Punjabi and Sindhi are written in the Arabic script due to the strong Muslim influence.

Sikhs were johnny come lately or rather Mandeep Singh come lately to defeating Mughals game.
It started out as a somewhat pacific sect of HInduism with elements of Islam therein (this is where the turbans,worship of the book and voluminous clothing come-its more reminiscent of Persianized Shias who were their governors) but due to repeated persecution they took up arms most significant under Guru Gobind Singh who was almost single handedly responsible for the martialization of Sikhs.

However when it came to finishing the Mughals, they provided well the finishing touches. The South Indian related Hindu Marathas had already broken the back of the Mughals with their spectacular and daring guerilla attacks.

The British however did hold up Sikhs to their martial standard by coopting them so much so that they stayed loyal to the British in the 1857 'mutiny' and discouraged non Punjabis from joining Sikhs as they werent considered 'Aryan' enough! (Punjabis then as now were fairer skinned than the average Indian)

Interestingly it was during WWII on the advice of an American recruiter were the British pressured to drop the martial races criteria and recruit more actively from the ignored South Indians (something that outraged Winston Churchill).

One such south Indian Tamil with a typical multivariable Venkatachalam Kumaramangalam was captured by the Nazis twice and twice he made good his escape in a Steve McQueen type getaway.

Dr Van Nostrand said...


So in terms of "martial" races today you'd pick the Germans, Japanese and indeed Indians before Pashtun (except maybe in a guerilla context).'

Of course there are some caveats to the martial races argument.A people can be a braver and more aggressive lot but still be defeated in wars by the more 'polite nations' as Winston Churchill put it due to technology and all that stuff Romans were known for.

So , one can thing you can do is to coopt those races into your own fold.As Romans did with Germans ,as the U.S is doing with the Mexicans(they are disproportionately represented as Medal of Honor recipients) and India did with the Pushtuns, who serve heroically and patriotically in her police and military forces.


Dr Van Nostrand said...


"Pushtuns for instance ,contrary to popular lore, werent particulary feared before around the 11th century ,about 3 centuries after the last Hindu king cremated himself on his pyre for his failure to defend his kingdom against Muslims."

This is pretty interesting though. If this is correct then according to my view something must have changed to make it so and given the timing probably something to do with the invaders - interesting.'


Most likely they were a changed people who adopted a new identity of Turkic Muslim in culture and outlook though in language and features(both Indo European) they stuck to the old ways.


Afghanistan was not really considered a hotbed of Pushtun power but a base of Turkic dynasties from Ghori,Ghazni,Lodhi,Khilji and Mughal to swoop down on ,plunder and ultimately rule India.
This had been tried before Islam by the Huns,Sycthians and Kushans but they were ultimately unsuccessful.The losers were assimilated into Hindu society as Rajputs and Gurkhas.

Pushtuns really didnt have any independent kingdoms in Afghanistan until the decline of the Mughals.During that chaotic time ,they even wandered in India and set up their fiefdom and ultimately delivered a death blow to the Hindu Marathas dreams of a united India but also invading Afghanistan(something the Sikh general Ranjit Singh was able to accomplish rather handily)

Survival International said...

Napoleon Chagnon's new book has triggered a wave of protests among experts and Yanomami Indians.

Marshall Sahlins, 'the world's most respect anthropologist alive today' has resigned from the US National Academy of Sciences in protest at Chagnon's election to the Academy.

Davi Kopenawa, a spokesman for the Yanomami and President of a Yanomami association has also spoken out.

A long list of anthropologists specialising in the Brazilian and Venezuelan Yanomami have issued a joint statement condemning Chagnon's work.

For more information, visit Survival International's website: http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/8997

Anonymous said...

See that, Steve? Even "Survival International" reads you.

devolution said...

$285 bottle of Grey Goose? For that swill? I doubt even the most hard-up Yanomami tribesman would docilely go along with that.