Ethnogenesis and the Biosphere
THE PROPERTIES OF AN ETHNOS
Ethnos and Ethnonym
Names deceive. When one is studying the general patterns of ethnology one must remember above all that a real ethnos and an ethnonym, i.e. ethnic name, are not the same thing. We often encounter several different ethnoi bearing one and the same name; conversely, one ethnos may be called differently. The word 'Romans' (romani), for instance, originally meant a citizen of the polis Rome, but not at all the Italics and not even the Latins who inhabited other towns of Latium. In the epoch of the Roman Empire in the first and second centuries A.D. the number of Romans increased through the inclusion among them of all Italians-Etruscans, Samnites, Ligurians, Gauls, and many inhabitants of the provinces, by no means of Latin origin. After the edict of Caracalla in A.D. 212 all free inhabitants of municipalities on the territory of the Roman Empire were called 'Romans', i.e. Greeks, Cappadocians, Jews, Berbers, Gauls, Illyrians, Germans, etc. The concept 'Roman' lost its ethnic meaning, as it were, but that was not so; it simply changed it. The general element became unity not even of culture, but of historical fate, instead of unity of origin and language. The ethnos existed in that form for three centuries, a considerable period, and did not break up. On the contrary, it was transformed in the fourth and fifth centuries A.D., through the adoption of Christianity as the state religion, which began to be the determinant principle after the fourth ecumenical council. Those who recognized these councils sanctioned by the state authority were Romans, and those who did not became enemies. A new ethnos was formed on that basis, that I conventionally call 'Byzantine', but they themselves called themselves 'Romaic', i.e. 'Romans', though they spoke Greek. A large number of Slavs, Armenians, and Syrians were gradually merged among the Romaic, but they retained the name 'Romans' until 1453, until the fall of Constantinople. The Romaic considered precisely themselves 'Romans', but not the population of Italy, where Langobards had become feudal lords, Syrian Semites (who had settled in Italy, then becoming deserted, in the first to third centuries A.D.) the townsmen, and the former colons from prisoners of war of all peoples at any time conquered by the Romans of the Empire became peasants. Florentines, Genoese, Venetians, and other inhabitants of Italy considered themselves 'Romans', and not the Greeks, and on those grounds claimed the priority of Rome where only ruins remained of the antique city.
A third branch of the ethnonym 'Romans' arose on the Danube, which had been a place of exile after the Roman conquest of Dacia. There Phrygians, Cappadocians, Thracians, Galatians, Syrians, Greeks, Illyrians, in short, all the eastern subjects of the Roman Empire, served sentences for rebellion against Roman rule. To understand one another they conversed in the generally known Latin tongue. When the Roman legions left Dacia, the descendants of the exiled settlers remained and formed an ethnos that took the name 'Romanian', i.e. 'Roman', in the nineteenth century.
If one can treat the continuity between 'Romans' of the age of the Republic and the 'Roman citizens' of the late Empire, even as a gradual extension of the concept functionally associated with the spread of culture, there is no such link even between the Byzantines and the Romans, from which it follows that the word changed meaning and content and cannot serve as an identifying attribute of the ethnos. It is obviously also necessary to take into consideration the context in which the word and so the epoch has a semantic content because the meaning of words changes in the course of time. That is even more indicative when we analyze the ethnonyms 'Turk', 'Tatar', and 'Mongol', an example that cannot be left aside.
Examples of camouflage. In the sixth century A.D. a small people living on the eastern slopes of the Altai and Khangai mountains were called Turks. Through several successful wars they managed to subordinate the whole steppe from Hingan to the Sea of Azov. The subjects of the Great Kaghanate, who preserved their own ethnonyms for internal use, also began to be called Turks, since they were subject to the Turkish Khan. When the Arabs conquered Sogdiana and clashed with the nomads, they began to call all of them Turks, including the Ugro-Magyars. In the eighteenth century European scholars called all nomads 'les Tartars', and in the nineteenth century, when linguistic classification became fashionable, the name 'Turk' was arrogated to a definite group of languages. Many peoples thus fell into the category 'Turk' who had not formed part of it in antiquity, for example the Yakuts, Chuvash and the hybrid people, the Ottoman Turks (about whose origin I have spoken above).
The modification of the ethnonym 'Tatar' is an example of direct camouflage. Up to the twelfth century this was the ethnic name of a group of 30 big clans inhabiting the banks of the Korulen. In the twelfth century this nationality increased in numbers, and Chinese geographers began to call all the Central Asian nomads (Turkish. speaking, Tungus-speaking, and Mongol-speaking), including the Mongols, Tatars. And even when, in 1206, Genghis-khan officially called all his subjects Mongols, neighbors continued for some time from habit to call them Tatars. In this form the word 'Tatar' reached Eastern Europe as a synonym of the word 'Mongol', and became acclimatized in the Volga Valley where the local population began, as a mark of loyalty to the Khan of the Golden Horde to call themselves Tatars. But the original bearers of this name (Kereites, Naimans, Oirats, and Tatars) began to call themselves Mongols. [+1] The names thus changed places. Since that time a scientific terminology arose in which the Tatar anthropological type began to be called 'Mongoloid', and the language of the Volga Kipchak-Turks Tatar. In other words we even employ an obviously camouflaged terminology in science.
But then it is not simply a matter of confusion, but of an ethnonymic phantasmagoria. Not all the nomad subjects of the Golden Horde were loyal to its government. The rebels who lived in the steppes west of the Urals began to call themselves Nogai, and those who lived on the eastern borders of the Jochi ulus, in Tarbagatai and on the banks of the Irtysh, and who were practically independent, because of their remoteness from the capital, became the ancestors of the Kazakhs. These ethnoi arose in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries as a consequence of rapid mixing of various ethnic components. The ancestors of the Nogai were the Polovtsy, steppe Alans, Central Asian Turks, who survived a defeat by Batu and were taken into the Mongol army, and inhabitants of the southern frontier of Rus, who adopted Islam, which became a symbol at that time of ethnic consolidation. The Tatars included Kama Bulgars, Khazars, and Burtasy, and also some of the Polovtsy and Ugric Mishari. The population of the White Horde was the mixture; three Kazakh jus were formed from it in the fifteenth century. But that is not yet all.
At the end of the fifteenth century Russian bands from the Upper Volga began to attack the Middle Volga Tatar towns, forced some of the population to quit their homeland and go off into Central Asia under the chieftainship of Sheibani-khan (1500-1510). There they were met as fierce enemies because the local Turks who at that time bore the name of 'Chagatai' (after Genghis-khan's second son Chagatei, the chief of the Central Asian ulus), where ruled by descendants of Timur, the enemy of the steppe and Volga Tatars, who ravaged the Volga Valley in 1398-1399.
The members of the horde who quit their homeland took on a new name 'Uzbeks' to honor the Khan Uzbeg (1312-1341), who had established Islam in the Golden Horde as the state religion. In the sixteenth century the 'Uzbeks' defeated Babur, the last of the Timurides, who led the remnants of his supporters into India and conquered a new kingdom for himself there. So the Turks who remained in Samarkand and Ferghana bear the name of their conquerors, the Uzbeks. The same Turks, who went to India, began to be called 'Moghuls' in memory of their having been, three hundred years earlier, subject to the Mongol Empire. But the genuine Mongols who settled in eastern Iran in the thirteenth century, and even retained their language, are called Khazareitsy from the Persian word khazar -a thousand (meaning a military unit, or division).
But where are the Mongols, by whose name the yoke that lay on Rus for 240 years is known? They were not an ethnos, because by Genghis-khan's will Jochi, Batu, Orda, and Sheibani each received 4 000 warriors, of whom only part came from the Far East. The latter were called 'Kins' and not 'Tatars', from the Chinese name of the Jurchen. This rare name occurred for the last time in the Zadonshchina, in which Mamai was called Kinnish. Consequently, the yoke was not Mongol at all, but was enforced by the ancestors of the nomad Uzbeks, who should not be confused with the settled Uzbeks, although they merged in the nineteenth century, and now constitute a single ethnos, who equally revere the Timurides and the Sheibanides, who were deadly enemies in the sixteenth century, because that enmity had already lost sense and meaning in the seventeenth century.
The helplessness of philology and history. The examples cited are sufficient to establish that the ethnic name or even the own name and the phenomenon of an ethnos as a stable collective of the species Homo sapiens, by no means cover each other. Therefore the philological method, which investigates words, is inapplicable in ethnology, and we have to turn to history, in order to check how far this discipline can help with the posing of my problem. But here, too, we come up against unexpected difficulties. The unit of investigation employed by historical science is the social institution which may be a state, a tribal union, a religious sect, a trading company, a political party, etc., in short, any institution in any age, and among any peoples. The institution of the state and the ethnos sometimes coincide, and then in some cases we observe nations of a modern type. But that is a case characteristic of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; in antiquity such coincidences were rare. It happens that a religious sect unites like-minded persons who, like the Sikhs, for example, in India, merge into an ethnos; then the origin of people incorporated by the community is not taken into account. But such communities are often unstable and break up into ethnoi as happened to the Muslim community founded by Muhammed in the seventh century A.D. While a process of the merging of Arab tribes, Syrians, and in part Persians, into a single ethnos took part under the first four Caliphs in the countries of Islam, that process had already ceased under the Ommiades (A.D. 651-750), and under the Abbasides, the descendants of the conquerors and the conquered merged into new ethnoi with a single interethnic culture conventionally called 'Muhammedan', with Arabic, and awareness of its unity by comparison with Christians and pagans, but with different historical fates and different stereotypes of behavior, which were expressed in the creation of diverse sects and ideological conceptions.
The emirates and sultanates that arose through the isolation of ethnoi would seem to have corresponded to the ethnic boundaries, but that was not so. Successful commanders subordinated territories to themselves for a short time with a population speaking different languages, but these later became the victims of neighbors, i.e. the political formations had a different fate than the ethnic entity. Community of historical fate of course encouraged the formation and maintenance of an ethnos, but historical fate [+2] can also be the same for two or three nationalities and different for two parts of a single one. The Anglo-Saxons and Celtic Welsh, for example, have been united state-wise since the thirteenth century, but they have not merged into one ethnos, which incidentally does not prevent them from living in peace; the eastern Armenians, already subject to Iran in the third century A.D., and the western, connected from that time with Byzantium; had different fates, but their ethnic unity was not disrupted. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the French Huguenots and Catholics were very different in their historical fates, and even in the character of their culture, both before the Edict of Nantes, and after its repeal. But the ethnic integrity of France remained unaltered in spite of bloody wars and dragonnades. The forming of an ethnos, i.e. ethnogenesis, consequently lies deeper than the apparent historical processes recorded by the sources. History can help ethnology but not replace it.
Mosaic Structure as a Property of an Ethnos
It is possible to manage without a gentile system. Many ethnoi are divided into tribes and clans. Can this division be considered an obligatory, essential quality of an ethnos? Or even the first stage in its formation? Or finally the form of a collective preceding the development of the ethnos itself? The reliable material at our disposal makes it possible to answer 'No!'.
First of all, far from all contemporary peoples have or had any kind of gentile or tribal division. There were not and are not such among the Spaniards, French, Italians, Romanians, English, Ottoman Turks, Great Russians, Ukrainians, Sikhs, Greeks (not Hellenes), and many other nations. But a clan or gentile system exists among Celts, Kazakhs, Mongols, Tungus, Arabs, Kurds, and a number of other peoples.
It is difficult to consider a gentile system an earlier stage, because the Byzantines or the Sassanid Persians were people formed a thousand years earlier than the Mongols and 1 200 years earlier than the Kazakhs, and they got along magnificently without clans and phratries. One can, of course, suppose that a system of clans was general in antiquity, but if so, such an assumption has no relation to the historical period when peoples (ethnoi) arose before the historian's eyes. It is more correct to recognize that the schema – clan, tribe, people, nation – applies to social development, i.e. lies on a different plane.
That the predominant forms of community life were different forms of family over the time of the existence of Homo sapiens, viz., group marriage, the punaluan family, pairing marriage, the monogamous family, [+3] is quite well substantiated and demonstrated, but it has no direct relation to my problem, since an ethnic entity does not coincide either with the family cell or with the level of production and culture. I must therefore look for other criteria and other identification signs in my study.
At the same time one must note that among peoples with a gentile-tribal system, the division into clans (among Celts), phratries (seok among Altaitsy), and tribal associations (jus among Kazakhs), etc., is constructive. These intraethnic units are needed in order to maintain the ethnic entity itself. The relations both of the separate individuals to the ethnos as a whole, and of gentile or family collectives among themselves are regulated through the division into groups. Exogamy preventing blood-related marriages is only maintained by this means. The members of a clan or family express the will of their fellow-tribesmen at folk gatherings and create stable alliances so as to wage external wars, both defensive and offensive. In Scotland, for example, the clan system withstood the raids of Vikings in the tenth century, the attacks of feudal lords in the twelfth to fifteenth centuries, and war with the English bourgeoisie in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and only capitalist relations were able to disrupt it. Where the clan system was less expressed, among the Elbe Slavs, for example, German and Danish knights made short work of it in two centuries (eleventh and twelfth), in spite of the undisputed bellicosity and enviable courage of the Bodrichi, Lutichi (Veleti), and the inhabitants of the island of RØgen. The division of an ethnos into tribes had the function of a skeleton on which muscles could grow, and so gather strength for struggle, against the environment.
Let me try to propose another system of reference suitable not for some but for the whole aggregate of observed collisions.
What the gentile system was replaced by. How was the absence of gentile-tribal groups made good among quite developed peoples who were at the stage of class society? The class stricture and class struggle in slaveowning, feudal, and capitalist formations are an established fact and do not need examinations. The division into classes cannot, consequently, be functionally analogous to division into tribes. And in fact we observe, parallel to the division of society into classes, a division of ethnoi into groups that by no means coincide with classes. They can be conventionally called 'corporations', but that word corresponds to the concept only as a first approximation, and will subsequently be replaced.
In feudal Europe, for example, the dominant class within an ethnos (the French, say) consisted of various corporations: (1) the barons or feudal lords in the direct sense, i.e. the holders of fiefs linked with crown by a vassal oath; (2) knights, united in orders; (3) notables, who constitutes the apparatus of royal power (noblesse des robes); (4) the higher clergy; (5) scholars (for example, the professors of the Sorbonne); (6) the urban patriciate, which was itself divided territorially, and so on. According to the accepted degree of approximation one can distinguish a greater or less number of groups, but one must necessarily, in that connection, still allow for membership of parties, for example, the Armagnac and Burgundian at the beginning of the fifteenth century. As for the popular masses, such a division is applicable to an even greater degree, since each feudal province then had a clearly expressed individual character. In the twelfth century, for example, people of Rouen displayed hostility to Philippe II Auguste, who had liberated them from the English, and the Provencals, learning of Louis IX's plan in Egypt, sang a Te Deum, hoping to be delivered from the Sires. [+4] We no longer see such corporations in bourgeois society, but the principle remains unchanged. For each individual within ethnoi there are, besides classes, people of 'his' circle and 'others'. But, as regards foreign expansion, all these groups acted as a single whole, as Frenchmen.
It is indisputable that 'corporations', as I have conditionally called them, are much less stable and viable than gentile-tribal groupings, but the latter, too, are not eternal. The difference between them and other groups is not, of course, one of principle. The similarity is that they have an identical functional purpose, maintaining unity of the ethnos through internal division.
The most important, and curious point is that 'corporations' differ from one another in their origin only by nuances of psychology, but the differences deepen and crystallize with time, passing into customs and rituals, i.e. into phenomena studied by ethnographers. The Old Slavonic kissing custom, for example, was transformed in Russia and Poland into kissing of the hands of married ladies and was retained among the landed nobility, but disappeared from the life of other strata of the population.
Maxim Gorky, who observed the life of the lower middle class and middle class intellectuals in the Volga towns, noted such deep differences that he suggested treating these recently formed groups of the population as 'different tribes'. To some extent that was true, and Gorky was right in recording the differences in everyday fife, morals, and notions, and his observances were fruitful. In our day these differences have been nearly wiped out. They were characteristic of a short period - around 80 years - but I have already said that the duration of a phenomenon does not affect the fundamental aspect of the matter.
The formation of ethnic subgroups. The concept of 'corporation' in the sense proposed is clear, but it is not sufficient for my analysis since it suggests that a given unit is not only formed from ethnographic features but is also demarcated from other 'corporations' by social barriers. Subethnic subdivisions often do not coincide with social ones, which indicates that the example adduced is a partial case of the general rule I am seeking.
Let us turn to the ethnogenesis of the French. In the sixteenth century the Reformation affected this people, and reshuffled all the former 'corporations' among them till they were unrecognizable. The feudal aristocracy, the petty nobility, the bourgeoisie, and the peasantry proved to be split into 'Papists' and 'Huguenots'. The social bases of both groups did not differ, but ethno-territorial subdivisions were distinctly visible. Calvinism was successful among the Celts of the lower Loire, where merchant La Rochelle became a stronghold of the reformers. The Gascon seigneurs and Kings of Navarre adopted Calvinism. The descendants of the Burgundians, the peasants of the Cevennes, and the heirs of the Albigenses, the bourgeois of Languedoc, joined the movement. But Paris, Lorraine, and Central France remained faithful to the Roman Church. All the former 'corporations' disappeared, since belonging to a 'community' or 'church' became an indicator, for two centuries, of membership of one ethnic sub-unit or another.
One cannot say that theology played a decisive role. Most Frenchmen were 'politicians', i.e. refused to be interested in the disputes of the Sorbonne and Geneva. The illiterate Gascon barons, the semi-savage Cevennes highlanders, the bold corsairs of La Rochelle, or the artisans of the suburbs of Paris and Angers by no means understood the fine points of the interpretation of Predestination or Pre-existence. If some gave their lives for the Mass or for the Bible, that meant that the one or the other was a symbol of their self-assertion and opposition to one another, and so an indicator of deep contradictions. These were not class contradictions, since nobles, peasants, and bourgeois fought on both sides. But Catholics and Huguenots really were divided by stereotypes of behavior, and that, as we agreed at the beginning, is the main principle of ethnic peculiarity, for which there are adequate grounds.
But what if the Huguenots had kept a patch of land for themselves and created an independent state like, say, the Swiss or the North Americans? They would probably have been regarded as a special ethnos arising through the zigzags of historical fate, because they would have had a special way of life, culture, mentality, and perhaps language, since they would hardly have conversed in Parisian, but would rather have chosen one of their local dialects. It would have been a process similar, to the separation of the Americans from the English.
The Scots are undoubtedly an ethnos, but they are composed of Highlanders (Celts) and Lowlanders (inhabitants of the valley of the Tweed). Their origin is different. The old population, the Caledonians (Picts) who painted themselves repulsed the onslaught of the Romans in the first and second centuries A.D. In the third century Scots migrating from Ireland were added to them. Both tribes made destructive raids on Romanized Britannia, and then on the northern fringes of England, and fought against the Norwegian Vikings who had established themselves in the east of the island. In A.D. 954 the Scots were fortunate: they conquered Lothian, the plain on the banks of the Tweed settled by descendants of Saxons and Norse Vikings. The Scottish kings acquired many rich subjects and, enjoying their aid and support, limited the independence of the chiefs of the Celtic clans. But they had to adopt many of the customs of their subjects, in particular feudal institutions and manners and customs. The rich, energetic inhabitants of Lothian compelled their Celtic sovereigns to turn Scotland into a small kingdom, because they had taken on defense of the borders with England. In the fourteenth century French adventurers, comrades-in-arms of John Baliol and Robert Bruce, poured into Scotland for the war with England. The French increased the number of border barons. The Reformation mainly embraced the Celts, but in the valleys Catholics held their ground with the Calvinists. In short, races and cultures, a clan system and feudalism were merged during the genesis of this people, but the complexity of its composition did not disrupt its monolithic ethnic character, which was manifested in clashes with the English, and later with Irish.
Russian Old Believers are another characteristic example of a different order. They were a small section of the Great Russians who did not adopt certain reforms of Church ritual proclaimed by the Patriarch Nikon in the seventeenth century. At that time the church service had the function not only of religion, but also of a synthetic art, i.e. filled an aesthetic vacuum. Therefore the requirements in performance of the rites and rituals were very high. But, as in our day, far from all immediately recognized and adopted the new style and trend in music or, for example, in painting, so the replacement of dark images in the seventeenth century by new rose and blue icons shocked a certain part of the worshippers. They simply could not concentrate in a situation that irritated them.
In reality, there was almost the same split of the ethnos as happened in Western Europe during the Reformation. Not all the Orthodox Christians plumped for the old ritual, but those who did clung firmly to it, fearing neither execution nor torture. When there was a chance they passed to the counter-attack, and dealt with the iconolaters as sharply as they with them. That happened during the Strelets uprising at the time of the regency of Czarevna Sophia. The heat of passions was identical on both sides. In the seventeenth century the dispute was only about Church ritual, but in other respects (in everyday life, the system of education, habits and customs) the Old Believers were indistinguishable from the general mass of Russians. In the second generation, under Peter the Great, they constituted a definite, isolated group of the population. At the end of the eighteenth century customs, rituals, and dress developed, and partly were retained, among them, that differed markedly from those generally accepted. Catherine II banned persecution of Old Believers, but that did not lead to their merging back into the main mass of the ethnos. Millionaire merchants, Cossacks, and the semi-destitute Transvolgan peasants formed part of the newly formed intraethnic entity. This entity, initially united by a community of fate, i.e. by attachment to principles so dear that they went to their death for them, became a group united by a community of way of life, headed by spiritual leaders (teachers) of various branches and trends. In the twentieth century it gradually began to break up, since the reason for its origin had long ceased to exist, and it only remained through inertia.
The examples I have cited are clear, but rare. The functions of intraethnic groups were more often assumed by naturally formed territorial associations of fellow-countrymen. The existence of such divisions, like the existence of phratries in the gentile system, does not undermine ethnic unity.
We can now draw conclusions. The social forms in which intraethnic entities are embodied are vague and do not always coincide with the subdivisions of an ethnos. Intraethnic splintering is a condition that maintains the unity of the ethnos and gives it stability. It is characteristic of any time and stage of development.
Variation of ethic contacts. So far I have examined separate groups within big ethnoi but the problem is by no means exhausted by that. Pure forms of ethnoi are not observed in the real historical process, but rather various variants of ethnic contacts arising in territories inhabited by different ethnoi, united politically in a polyethnic state. Four variants can be when we study their relations: (a) coexistence, in which the ethnoi do not merge and do not imitate each other, borrowing only technical innovations; (b) assimilation, i.e. the swallowing-up of one ethnos by another with complete forgetting of origin and old traditions; (c) cross-breeding, in which traditions of the preceding ethnoi and a memory of the ancestors are retained and combined (these variants are usually unstable, and exist through replenishment by new metises); (d) merging, in which the traditions of the original components are forgotten and a third, new ethnos arises alongside the two precursors, or in place of them. That is essentially the main variant of ethnogenesis. For some reason it is observed less frequently than all the others.
Let me illustrate this four-part schema by clear examples. Variant a is the most common.
All things and phenomena are recognized by their interactions. Soda and citric acid poured together give a reaction of neutralization with a vigorous fizzing only when water is poured on them. In history reactions go on all the time, as in an aqueous solution, and there is no hope of that being finished.
Even the simple coexistence of different ethnoi with rapprochement and growing intimacy is not neutral. Sometimes it is simply necessary. In the upper reaches of the Congo, for instance, Bantu and pygmies live in a symbiosis. The Negroes cannot move in the forest, except by paths, without the help of the pygmies, while the paths are rapidly overgrown unless cleared. The Bantu can get lost in the forest, like a European, and die within twenty meters of his own home. But the pygmies need knives, vessels, and other articles of daily use. For these two ethnoi dissimilarity is the guarantee of well-being, and their friendship is founded on that.
A variant of lengthy coexistence with constant enmity was wen described by Leo Tolstoy, who observed the skirmishes of Greben Cossacks and Chechens. But he faithfully noted the mutual respect of the two neighboring ethnoi and the wariness of the Cossacks toward the soldiers who were the pioneers on the Terek of assimilation of the Cossacks by the Great Russians, which was completed by the beginning of the twentieth century.
Variant b, assimilation, usually occurs through methods not so much bloody as shameful. The object of assimilation is presented with an alternative: abandon either conscience or life. It can avoid death by repudiating everything dear and accustomed for the sake of being converted into a second-class person among the victors. The latter also gain little since they acquire hypocritical and, as a rule, inferior fellow-countrymen, because only the outward manifestation of the behavior of the conquered ethnos can be controlled, and not its mood. The Irish persuaded the English of that in the nineteenth century, Simon Bolivar's partisans the Spaniards, and the Dungans the Chinese. There are too many examples but the matter is clear.
Variant c – cross-breeding – is observed very often, but the progeny of exogamous marriages either die out in the third or fourth generation, or break up into paternal and maternal lines. For example, in the sixteenth century the Turks considered it sufficient to pronounce the formula of professing Islam and submitting to the Sultan to become a true Turk. In other words they regarded ethnic affiliation a 'state' that could be changed at will. Turks therefore willingly took any adventurers into service if they were specialists in some craft or in the art of war. The consequences of that made themselves felt within a hundred years.
The decline of the Sublime Porte in the seventeenth century attracted the attention in its time of contemporaneous Turkish writers. In their view ajen-oglani, i.e. the children of renegades, were the reason for the decline. The influx of the foreign-born spoiled the stereotype of behavior, which told in the venality of viziers, the purchasability of judges, the fall in the fighting capacity of troops, and the collapse of the economy. By the beginning of the nineteenth century Turkey had become the 'sick man'.
The role of exogamy. The introduction of foreigners into Turkey sharpened the crisis of class contradictions already growing without that, for which the conversion of ethnic unity into a chimera played the role of catalyst, because everyone understood that sincere, loyal officials were more valuable than hypocritical, unprincipled ones. Conversely, the development of class contradictions played the role of a vector for the ethnogenesis of the Ottoman ethnos. The combination of ethnic and social processes in one region was a factor of the anthropogenic destruction of the terrain of what had once been the richest countries in the world, called in antiquity the 'Fertile Crescent'. Selim I's conquest in the sixteenth century put Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and Mesopotamia, where intensive agriculture had already transformed the original landscape in the third millennium B.C., into the hands of the Ottoman sultans.
The Sumerians had 'divided the water from the land' in the lower reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates, and contemporaries called the land they created 'Eden'. The Akkadians built Babylon, the 'Gate of God', the first city in the world with a million inhabitants, for which there was enough food without imports from far countries. Antioch, and later Damascus, were large, gay, cultured cities flourishing at the expense of local resources. Asia Minor fed huge Constantinople.
But the cultivated landscape had to be constantly maintained. The Arab Caliphs had understood that, buying slaves in Zanzibar to keep up irrigation in Mesopotamia, and also the Byzantine autocrats who had reinforced the small peasant farms by special edicts, as the most intensive in those natural conditions, and even the Mongol Ilkhan Ghasan, who organized the building of a canal in the waterless part of northern Mesopotamia. The disintegration of the cultivated terrain of Western Asia set in later, in the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries, during the profound peace and decline of the Ottoman Empire, because the Syrian, Iranian, and Cilician peasants, worn out by exactions, abandoned their plots and sought a better lot in the pirate coastal cities, where one could either get rich easily or lay down one's life. And those who stayed at home through laziness or cowardice, neglected the irrigation and turned the country, once rich and abundant, into a wasteland.
The beginning of that terrible, disastrous process was already visible to contemporaries. The French adventurer and doctor in Aureng-Zebe's guard, Francois Bernier, who had observed similar things in India under the rule of the 'Great Moghul', predicted, in a letter to Colbert, the inevitable weakening of the three great Muslim empires - India, Turkey, and Persia - considering, as regards the last-named, that the decline would be slow since the Persian aristocracy was of local origin. [+5] And I must agree with him that, with a stable social system, and one and the same formation, but with a changing ratio of the ethnic components in the political system (state), the state of the countryside like a sensitive barometer, indicates the beginning or the existence of rises and falls, and of periods of stabilization.
That being so, we have no grounds for denying the cause of the decline mentioned above, namely the appearance in the system of new ethnic groups not linked with the terrain of the region, and limitations on exogamous marriages, because these bans, by maintaining the mixed ethnic nature of the region, lead to the preservation of terrains containing small ethnic groups. But since that is so, then free intercourse and free love ruin nature and culture!
That is an unexpected and alarming conclusion – but it is a paraphrase of Newton's second law, viz., that what is gained in social freedom is lost through contact with nature, or rather with the geographical environment and one's own physiology, because nature lies also within our bodies.
Since similar phenomena occurred in both Rome and ancient Iran, and in many other countries, one can easily note a general pattern. When there is endogamy as an ethnic barrier, things proceed more slowly and less painfully; but it is not all the same for an ethnos whether it takes 300 or 1 000 years. Bromley's observation about the stabilizing role of endogamy as a barrier against incorporation is therefore indisputable. [+6]
An experiment in interpretation. Let us try to interpret the phenomenon described. If ethnoi are processes, then, when two dissimilar processes clash, interference will arise disturbing the rhythm of both components. The resulting association will be chimeric, which means unstable to outside effects and short-lived. Death of the chimeric system will entail annihilation of its components and extinction of the people involved in the system. Such is the general mechanism of the disruption of the pattern, but it has its exceptions, namely that with slackening of the original rhythms a new one sometimes arises, i.e. a new ethnogenctic inertial process. I shall not say yet what this is associated with, because this is too serious a matter to resolve as a side-issue. But endogamy is clearly necessary in order to maintain ethnic traditions, because the endogamous family passes on a developed stereotype of behavior to a child, while an exogamous one passes on two stereotypes that mutually cancel each other out. Exogamy, which is not related at all to 'social states' and lies on a different plane, thus proves to be a factor of ethnogenesis, i.e. a real, destructive factor during contact on a superethnic level. And even in rare cases when a new ethnos develops in a zone of contact, it absorbs, i.e. annihilates, both of the former ones. In conclusion, let me point out that in the example cited, and also in the overwhelming majority of cases, the racial principle plays no role. It is not a matter of somatic differences, but rather of behavioral ones, because the steppe dwellers, Tibetan hillmen, and Chinese belonged to a single, first-order Mongoloid race, and it is obvious that, with closer approximation to second-order race, North Chinese are racially closer to Xiang-bi and Tibetans than to Southern Chinese. But the outward similarity of cranial indices, eye color, hair color, epicanthus, etc., has no significance for ethnogenetic processes.
It is also obvious from the example adduced that the link between ethnos and topography, sometimes doubted, really exists. The Hunni, having seized the valley of the Huangho, pastured their cattle there; the Chinese acquired the arable, and built canals; but their hybrids, not having the skills of either cattle-herding or cultivation, predatorily fleeced neighbors and subjects, which led to the formation of long-fallow lands and restoration of the natural biocoenosis, although impoverished by the cutting down of forests and the killing of ungulates during the emperors hunts. Everything tallies.
So, not only do theoretical considerations but also the necessity of interpreting the factual data force us to reject the conception of an ethnos as a state. But if an ethnos is the result of a long-lasting process of ethnogenesis, it is part of the biosphere of Earth, and since changes of terrain through the use of technique are linked with an ethnos, ethnology should be ranked among the geographical sciences although it draws its initial material from history in the narrow sense of the term, i.e. study of events in their connection and sequence.
The Ethnic Stereotype of Behavior
Dissimilarity as a principle. Every ethnos has its own inner structure and its unique stereotype of behavior. Sometimes the structure and stereotype change from generation to generation. That indicates that the ethnos is developing, and that ethnogenesis is not, as a rule, dying away. The structure is sometimes stable, because each new generation reproduces the life cycle of the preceding one. Such ethnoi can be called persistent, i.e. enduring, but I shall be going into that aspect of the matter below, and for the present will make the concept 'structure' more precise irrespective of its degree of stability and the character of its variability.
The structure of an ethnos is a strictly defined standard of relations: (a) between the collective and individual; (b) between individuals; (c) between intraethnic groups; (d) and between the ethnos and its intraethnic groups. These norms are unique in each case, do not exist visibly, change now rapidly and now slowly in all fields of living and everyday life, being perceived in a given ethnos, and in each separate epoch, as the sole possible mode of society and community life, and therefore by no means arduous for its members. On the contrary, each member of one ethnos, on coming into contact with another, is surprised and bewildered, and tries to tell his fellow-tribesmen about the funny ways of the other people. Properly speaking, such stories constitute the science of ethnography, as ancient as interethnic connections themselves.
Let me cite some examples. The Athenian, who had been to Olvia, related with indignation that the Scythians had no houses, and got dead drunk during their festivals. The Scythians, observing the bacchanalias of the Greeks, felt such loathing that once, having seen their own king, who was staying in Olvia, in a wreath and with a thyrsus in his hands, in a procession of jubilant Hellenes killed him. The Jews hated the Romans because they ate pork, while the Romans considered the custom of circumcision unnatural. The knights who conquered Palestine, were outraged by the Arab custom of polygamy, while the Arabs considered the uncovered faces of French ladies shameless, and so on. There is a great number of examples.
Ethnographic science has overcome such ingenuousness, and taken into observation systems principles as the operative standards of the relations of individuals of these different categories to the collective as a whole and to each other. Let me take as an example the simple case of marital-sexual relations. Roughly speaking, we know monogamous, polygamous, and polyandrous families, group marriages, unstable pairing marriages, compulsory inheritance of wives (levirate), and even sometimes full freedom of sexual relations. Among some peoples, we know, artlessness is compulsory in marriage for girls, and among others preliminary training in love techniques. Divorce is sometimes easy sometimes difficult, sometimes impossible at all. Among some peoples the cohabitation of wives with other men is punished as marital infidelity, among others it is encouraged.
We can analyze variations of the perception of sense of duty in just the same way. In feudal England or France, a vassal was obliged to serve only if he received a benefice ('salary'). Lacking such he had the right to transfer to another suzerain (for example, to the Spanish king). Only transfer to an infidel, for example to Muslims, was considered treason, but that happened so often that a special term 'renegade' arose (without a pejorative nuance). In Rome or Greece, on the contrary, the performance of social obligations was not accompanied with payment but was the duty of a citizen of the polis. These citizens, incidentally, frequently got so much profit from public work that they rewarded themselves beyond measure.
The strength of the ethnic stereotype of behavior is immense because the members of an ethnos perceive their own stereotype as the only one worthy of a man who has the right to respect, while all others are 'barbaric' or 'savage'. That is why European colonizers called Indians, Africans, Mongols, and even Russians savages, although the same could as rightly be said of the English. But Chinese haughtiness was even more categorical. Here, for example, is what a geographical handbook of the Ch'in epoch said about France: 'It lies in the, south-western sea... In 1518 the king sent an envoy with credentials and requested that he be recognized as king.' [+7]
The variability of behavior stereotypes. An ethnos's stereotype of behavior is as dynamic as the ethnos itself. Rituals, customs, and standards of relationship sometimes change slowly and gradually, and sometimes very quickly. Take England, for example. Can one really recognize the descendants of the berserker Saxon who murdered Celtic babies in the gay outlaw Robin Hood or the archer of the 'White Bands', and his heir in the pirate-sailor of Sir Francis Drake, or in Cromwell's Ironsides? And their heir, the City clerk in London? But England had always been a country with stable traditions! What should be said about other ethnoi, whose image has not only been influenced by internal development but also by incidental external effects (cultural borrowings, conquests involving forced changes of customs) and, finally, by economic pressures changing the ethnos's kind of occupations and violently regulating its needs. [+8]
When speaking of an ethnos's stereotype of behavior, we always have to indicate the epoch we are concerned with. And it should not be thought that so-called 'savage' or 'primitive' tribes are more conservative than 'civilized' nations. That idea arose exclusively as a consequence of lack of study of Indians, Africans, and Siberian peoples. It was sufficient to organize the sale of whisky in Canada, or to import tinned goods into Tahiti in exchange for copra, immediately to alter the behavior pattern of the Dakotas and Polynesians, seldom for the better. But, in all cases, the changes took their own path on the basis of already established habits and notions. That is the uniqueness of any ethnogenetic process, and the reason why these processes never copy one another. But there is also a pattern to it if one only knows how to find it.
Any number of examples could be proposed, including ones about complex standards of behavior affecting legal, economic, social everyday, religious, and other relations, however complex. In the jargon of the humanitarian sciences the phenomenon described is known as a tradition or modification of social relations, but on the plane of the natural sciences it is as legitimately treated as a stereotype of behavior that varies in local zones and intraspecific populations. The second aspect, though unaccustomed, is, as we shall see below, fruitful.
So, an ethnos is a collective of individuals that distinguishes itself from all other collectives. It is more or less stable, although it arises and disappears in historical time. There is no one real attribute for defining an ethnos applicable to all the cases known to us. Language, origin, customs, material culture, and ideology are sometimes determinant elements, but sometimes not. Let us take just one, viz., each individual's recognition that 'we are such-and-such, and all others are different'. Since this phenomenon is general, it consequently reflects some physical or biological reality that is also my sought-for quantity. This 'quantity' can only be interpreted by analyzing the origin and disappearance of ethnoi, and establishing the fundamental differences of ethnoi from each other, and subsequently describing the behavior pattern of either of them so as to distinguish their differences by means of comparison. But one must remember that an ethnos's behavior changes with age, i.e. from the time of its entry onto the historical arena. It is therefore necessary to introduce into the analysis a means of recording the ethnodynamics so as to get a second approximation of the concept 'ethnos'. Such will be the psychological element, on the one hand inherent in all people without exception, and on the other hand quite variable, so as to serve as an indicator of the ethnic dynamics. It is the relation of an ethnos as an entity to the category of time.
Ethnos and the four sensations of time. What is 'time'? No one knows. But people have learned to measure it. Even the most primitive peoples, who have no need of a linear reckoning of time from some arbitrary date – 'the foundation of Rome', 'The Creation', the 'Birth of Christ', the 'Hegira' (Muhammed's flight from Mecca to Medina), etc. - distinguish day and night, the seasons, a 'living chronology' according to the dates of their own life, and finally cyclicity, i.e. the week, month, twelve years, each of which bears the name of an animal (the Turko-Mongolian calendar). The linear reckoning of time, as comparative ethnography has shown, develops when an ethnos begins to feel its history not as something exclusive, but in connection with the history of neighboring countries. And as knowledge accumulates a quantification of time arises in people's consciousness, i.e. its division into epochs or ages, very unequal in length but equivalent as regards content of events. The category of 'time' clashes here with the category of 'force', i.e. the cause stimulating acceleration, in the special case, of the historical process.
Such a diversity of systems indicates that it responds to serious changes in the consciousness of an ethnos itself, which indicates in turn a change of its ages. For my purpose the system of reckoning is not important, but rather the difference in concepts of past, present, and future.
When an ethnic community enters on the first creative period of its becoming, the leading part of its population pushing the whole system along the path of ethnic development, amasses material and ideological values. This accumulation becomes an 'imperative' in the field of ethics and is transformed as regards time into a feeling the sense of which is that each active builder of the ethnic entity feels himself a continuer of the ancestral line, to which he adds something (another victory, another building, another copied manuscript, another forged sword). This 'other' suggests that the past has not gone, but is in him, in the person, and it therefore behooves him to add whatever is new, because the past is thus accumulated and advanced. Each minute lived is perceived as addition to the existing past (PassÊ existente).
A result of this perception of time is the feats of heroes, who have voluntarily laid down their lives for the fatherland – the Spartan basileus Leonidas at Thermopile, the consul Marcus Attilius Regulus in Carthage, Roland at the pass of Roncevalles - this being equally applicable to the historical Count of the Breton Marches and the literary hero of the Song of Roland. Such, too, were the warrior monks Peresvet and Oslvabva, who served with St. Sergius of Radonezh and died in the battle of Kulikovo, and the Kerait warrior Khadakh-Baatur, who diverted Genghis-khan's troops onto himself so as to let 'his natural khan' escape. In Europe people of that type built the Gothic cathedrals, without perpetuating their names, in India carved the marvelous statues in the cave temples, in Egypt built the pyramids, in Polynesia discovered America and brought back to their fellow-countrymen the kumara (batata or sweet potato). An absence of personal self-interest is characteristic of them. They seem to have loved their cause or work more than themselves. But it was not altruism. The object of their love was in themselves, but not just in themselves. They felt themselves not simply the heirs of great traditions but also participants in them and gave their dear lives for them in an hour (as in war) or in everyday work (as builder-architects). They acted in accordance with their neuro-psycho-physical stamp, and the determinant vector and character of their activity. People of that stamp are encountered in all epochs, but there are rather more of them in the initial stages of ethnogenesis than in other ages. As soon as the proportion of them diminishes a time sets in that we are accustomed to call 'flourishing', which should more correctly be called 'squandering'.
Thought of the past is replaced by actualism. People of that stamp forget the past and do not want to know the future. They want to live now and for themselves. They are courageous, energetic, talented, but what they do they do for their own sake. They, too, perform feats but for the sake of their own greed; they strive for the highest positions in order to enjoy their power, because only the present is real for them, which they inevitably understand as their personal present. Such were Gaius Marius and Lucius Corne. Bus Sulla in Rome, Alcibiades in Athens, the Prince of CondÊ, Louis XIV, and Napoleon in France, Ivan the Terrible in Russia, the Sui emperor Yang-di in China (A.D. 605-618). But it is impossible even to list the writers, artists, professors, etc., who sometimes performed grandiose feats only in order to glorify their names! But such, too, are the gay rakes, bon vivants, and wastrels. They also live for today and for themselves. When the percentage of people of this stamp in an ethnos increases, the heritage accumulated by their sacrificing ancestors is rapidly squandered, which creates a false impression of abundance, and which is why it is considered 'flourishing'.
The reader may get an opinion that I condemn people of that mould. No! Their perception of time is as legitimate a phenomenon as that described above, and does not depend on their wishes but on the peculiarities of higher nervous activity. They could not be otherwise, even if they wanted to. The famous maxims 'Every dog has his day' and 'After me the deluge' were not cynicism but sincerity, and the presence of people of this stamp in an ethnos leads not to its disappearance but only to a cessation of growth, which is sometimes even expedient because these people, while doing no harm to themselves, do not make it their aim to inflict sacrifices on their neighbors, and the striving for an unlimited expansion of the ethnic territory is replaced by fixing natural frontiers.
A third possible and really existing variant of the attitude to time and the world is an ignoring not only of the past but also of the present, for the sake of the future. The past is rejected as disappeared, the present as unacceptable, and only the dream is recognized as real. The clearest examples of this perception of the world are the idealism of Plato in Hellas, Jewish chiliasm in the Roman Empire, and the sectarian movements of a Manichean (Albigensian) and Marcionite (Bogomil) hue. The Arab Caliphate, too, did not escape the futurist effect (as it is most correctly called) when, from the ninth century A.D., the Bedouins of Bahrain adopted the Karmathian ideological system and spread through Syria, Egypt, and Iran. The Karmathians established a dynasty, the Fatimids, in Egypt, and seized mountain fortresses in Iran (Alamut, Girdekukh, and Lumbasar) from which they dictated their will to Muslim sultans and emirs. The Persians called them Ismailites and the Crusaders Assassins.
The ideology of the Karmathians was frankly idealistic, but not religious. According to their teaching the world consisted of two halves, mirror reflections of each other. In this world it was bad for them, the Karmathians; they were oppressed, humiliated, and robbed. In the anti-world everything was the opposite; they, the Karmathians, would oppress, humiliate, and rob Muslims and Christians. One could only pass to the anti-world with the aid of the 'living god' and of teacher-elders appointed by him, to whom it was necessary, of course, to submit and pay money. There was nothing religious in this system. The striving to represent the teaching of the Karmathians as an ideology of struggle of the oppressed against feudal lords reflects only one aspect of the matter, and not the most important one. The Fatimids in Cairo and Hassan Sabbah in Alamut were exactly the same kind of oppressors of the peasants as their opponents, although they sometimes made use of social contradictions in the interests of their policy. And indeed, could a band or sect express the interest of the broad masses?
In ancient China, however, the futuristic perception of time that was manifested 'in the third century A.D. led the people to the people to the uprising of the 'Yellow Turbans'. In addition to the real class contradictions during the later Han dynasty (A.D. 25-220), Taoist scholars had been expelled from all posts in the state service by Confucianists, and forced to earn their living by treating illnesses and forecasting the weather. This wretched existence did not suit them; they created a theory that 'the blue sky of violence' would be succeeded by 'the yellow sky of justice'. In fact the sky turned red from the reflection of spilled blood. In the period of troubles that succeeded the uprising, the population of China fell from 50 million to 7.5 million. It would be frivolous to blame Taoist propaganda alone for all the calamities, since the overwhelming majority of those involved in the events were foreign to any philosophical conceptions. From my angle it is only important to note the existence of a futuristic perception of the world and its activation with the decline of the backward-looking view, dislodged, as it were, from the life of the people. It is not by chance that the third century A.D. is considered the age dividing ancient China from mediaeval. A new accumulation of values, both ideological and material, began in the sixth century A.D. under the Sui dynasty, and took shape in a backward-looking trend in the seventh century during the Tang dynasty. N.I. Konrad called this phenomenon the Chinese Renaissance, when under the slogan of 'return to the ancient' a new, original culture was created that was opposed to moral decay and to the brutality of the soldier and nomad kingdoms of the epoch called the 'Five Barbarians.' [+9]
One might conclude that a futuristic perception of time is encountered so rarely that it is an anomaly. That is wrong; it is as regular as the two others, but operates in an ethnic association so destructively and disastrously that either the ethnos as a whole or the 'dreamers' die, or they declare their dream fulfilled and become actualists, i.e. begin to live like everyone else. The futuristic perception of the world is dangerous for those around only in pure forms and high concentrations. Mixed with others it is capable of arousing sympathy. Johann of Leyden in MØnster, for example, knew how to fan a high pitch of passions, and the bloodshed inevitably associated with that phenomenon. But contemporary Baptists are narrow-minded, and as such are closer (in the system of classification I have adopted) to bigoted Catholics, Protestants, and atheists than to their own ideological and spiritual forebears. In other words profession of an idea does not determine attitude to time and is not linked with it. The pattern of 'futurism' is that the presence of people of this stamp starts a process of ethnic disintegration; and since these processes are observed in all the periods we have studied, the disappearance of ethnoi is obviously not an accident or a matter of chance, any more than the appearance of new ones is. Both are parts of one and the same dialectical process, ethnogenesis; and if, as people, we may sympathize with some one mental attitude or mentality, as scientists we must simply define the relation and vectors of the constituent magnitudes in the general trend of the movement being studied.
Past-worship, actualism, and futurism reflect three stages of the ethnic dynamics but there must be, in addition, and actually is, a frame of reference of the category of time corresponding to the static state of the ethnos. It consists in the very ignoring of time that I have already described. Time does not interest people of this stamp because they derive no benefit from contemplating it for the activity that nourishes them. There are such people (that I called narrow-minded or Philistines above) in all stages, but they are hardly noticed when other categories exist. When all their rivals disappear with the triumph of 'futurism' or 'obscurantism', indestructible mediocrities emerge from the cracks and fissures, historical time comes to a halt, and the land lies fallow.
So I have closed all the lines of my analysis, and obtained confirmation of a hypothesis of a four-member construction of ethnic becoming. That is not a chance coincidence and not an arbitrary construct, but a reflection of the essence of the process of ethnic disintegration. But if my analysis has exhausted the theme, then not only ethnology but also ethnoi themselves would long ago not have been, because they would all have disintegrated with the passing of historical time. Obviously there are creative processes of intraethnic evolution, in addition to destructive ones, thanks to which new ethnic associations arise. The ethnic history of mankind therefore does not cease, and will not, as long as there are people on Earth. Because an ethnos is not an arithmetical sum of human units but a system, a concept that must be unraveled in detail.
Ethnos as a System
'System' in a popular explanation. A well-known example of a social system is the family living in one home. The elements of the system are the members of the family and the objects of their way of life. These include the husband, wife, mother-in-law, son, daughter, house, well, and cat. They constitute a household so long as the spouses are not divorced or separated, the children have not broken away, the mother-in-law has not quarreled with the son-in-law, the well has not become covered with scum, and the cat has not had kittens in the loft. If they stay in the house after that then, whether a water main is laid or the well is cleaned, it will not be a family, but a settled plot, i.e. all the elements of animate and inanimate nature will remain in place, but the system of the family will disappear. If, on the contrary, the mother-in-law dies, the house is rebuilt, the cat runs away, the favorite son leaves to study, and so on, the family will be preserved in spite of the changes in the number of elements. That means that the objects are not the really substantial, operative element of the system, but rather the connections are, although they have neither mass, charge, nor temperature.
This inner link between separate people with mutual dissimilarity is a real manifestation of a systems link and cannot be defined by any other indicators.
The relations in a system can be both positive and negative, some of the links of the subsystem being able to change sign during an individual's life. Let us continue my example. The relation of a newborn boy with elders has a certain tendency and 'weight'. [+10] They take care of him, bring him up, and teach him. On becoming an adult and the father of a family, he does not, however, break his relations with his elders. But the sign of the connection changes to its opposite; he cares for his parents and teaches his children. Finally, having become an old man, he again requires care and attention. This pattern indicates that no system is static but is in mobile equilibrium (homeostasis), or in motion from a push of some kind whose impulse lies outside the system. It is not excluded, of course, that this impulse is limited for a system of higher rank, but the mechanism of influence is not altered.
The family is a graphic example of a system. But more complicated systems like, for example, an ethnos, social organism, species, geobiocenosis, are governed by the same regularity, even when allowance is made for their being constructed on a hierarchical principle, in which the subsystems form a systems entity (supersystem), and the supersystems a hypersystem, and so on. The existence of universal, general connections that create dynamic stereotypes is thus more or less stable, but never eternal.
The degree of stability of an ethnos, as a system, is thus determined not by its mass, i.e. the size of the population, and the accuracy of its copying of ancestors, but by a mean statistical set of connections of various weights and signs. A sharp departure beyond definite limits entails either death or rapid development. The elasticity of an ethnos is created by that, which makes it possible to absorb and dampen external influences and even sometimes regenerate itself, because a multi-link system makes up for the damage from the reorganization of connections.
Let me pass from this popular explanation to scientific definitions, i.e. cybernetics and systemology on the scale that we shall need them.
'System' in ethnology. The American scientist Norbert Wiener defined cybernetics as the science of control and communication. The merit of cybernetics is the method of investigating complex systems, since it gives no advantages in the study of simple systems. The object of study of cybernetics is the modes of behavior of an object. It does not ask 'what is it?' but rather 'what does it do?'. Cybernetics is concerned with all forms of behavior, in so far as they are regular, or determined, or reproducible. Materiality is of no significance for it, nor observance or non-observance of the ordinary laws of physics.
The theses cited indicate that for an ethnologist, who interprets the essence of the phenomenon of ethnos and recognizes laws in order to tie his own observations up with them, absolute confidence in the methods of cybernetics is counter-indicated. Application of cybernetic methods can serve as a corrective for the extrapolation of empirical generalizations, but no more. Therefore it is not the ideas of Wiener but those of Bertalanffy, who combined physical chemistry and thermodynamics with cybernetics, that will usefully underlie the methods of systems study of an ethnos.
According to Bertalanffy's approach, [+11] a system is a complex of mutually interacting elements, i.e. the primary elements of information are the connections between facts and not the separate facts themselves. According to A.A. Malinovsky,
Starting from that principle we have the right to treat an ethnos as a system of social and natural units and the elements inherent in them. An ethnos is not just a crowd of people similar in certain features to one another, but a system of individuals different in tastes and capabilities, and of the products of their activity, traditions, the geographical environment, ethnic surroundings, and tendencies to increase or diminish. The trend of development is particularly important because
The application of this approach to processes of ethnogenesis is also linked with the solution of the problem of historicism, since all the observed facts are built up into a dynamic system of historical development. It only remains for me to analyze that part of World History that is directly connected with my theme.
We can thus define the real existence of an ethnic entity as the dynamic existence of a system that includes not only people but also elements of landscape, cultural tradition, and relations with neighbors. [+14] These are not only the biological system, and not only the social one, because analogues of the biological and the social levels are not justified. The original charge of energy in such a system is gradually expended, and entropy continually increases. A living substance or system must therefore constantly remove the accumulating entropy, exchanging energy and entropy with the environment. This exchange is controlled by regulating systems that employ the stocks of information transmitted by inheritance. In our case the role of regulating systems is played by tradition, which interacts equally with the social and natural form of the motion of matter. Transmission of experience to progeny is observed in most warm-blooded animals. But the existence of tools, speech, and writing separates man from other mammals, and an ethnos is a form of collective being inherent only in man.
Levels and types of ethnic systems. The approach I have adopted allows me to substitute ethnic systematics for ethnic classification. A classification can be made according to some arbitrary attribute (language, race, religion, kind of job, citizenship). In any case it will be an arbitrary division not inherent in the nature of things. But systematics reflects precisely the latter, studying humanity and technique and domestic animals as a definite object. The biggest unit, after mankind as a whole (as an amorphous anthroposphere, one of the envelopes of Earth), is the superethnos, i.e. a group of ethnoi that has arisen at the same time in a region and which manifests itself in history as a mosaic unity of ethnoi, i.e. of directly observable taxa. They, in turn, are divided into subethnoi, i.e. into units that exist only because they are part of the unity of the ethnos; without the ethnos they fall to pieces and die.
Membership of a category of taxonomy is determined not by the absolute identity of the individuals, but by how far they are similar in a certain aspect at a given level. At the level of the superethnos (let us take the Middle Ages as an example), Muslims (Arabs, Persians, Turkomans, Berbers) were closer to one another than to members of the West-Christian superethnos (the 'Franks' as all the Catholics of Western Europe were called). On the other hand, the French, Castilians, and Scots who were part of the general superethnos were closer to one another than to members of other superethnoi (Muslim, Orthodox, etc.). At ethnos level the French were closer to one another than to the English. That did not prevent the Burgundians from supporting Henry V and taking Joan of Arc prisoner, although they understood that they were going against their own. In any case one must not reduce the whole variety of visible history to awareness of ethnic unity, which is only sometimes the main factor determining a person's behavior. But there is always such awareness, along with other factors, which provides for classing it as the nature of man, as an invariant, rather than among variants of the historical process. In other words, however mosaic an ethnos is, and however varied its structure, it is a unity at a given level.
It is very interesting that historians are already groping for the possibility of such an approach. They involuntarily group ethnoi into constructs that they call either 'cultures' or 'civilizations' or 'worlds'. For the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, for example, we find real sense in concepts that were then perceived as actually existing entities. Western Europe, for example, which was under the ideological suzerainty of the Pope and the formal, but never in fact realized suzerainty of the German Emperor, called itself the 'Christian world'. The West Europeans thereby counterposed themselves not only to the Muslims they were fighting in Spain and Palestine, but also to the Orthodox Greeks and Russians, and also, surprisingly, to the Irish and Welsh Celts. Quite obviously, it was not a religious community that was understood by that, but a systems unity that was given its name by an arbitrarily accepted indicator.
The 'World of Islam' equally counterposed itself to the Greeks and Franks, and the pagan Turks, but from the angle of religion it was not a unity. The doctrines of the Shiites (theists), Karmathians (atheists), and of the Sufis (pantheists) had very little resemblance to each other, or to the orthodox doctrine of Islam (Sunnism). The Christian Europeans, too, were by no means friendly with one another, but when clashing with Muslims or pagans, they immediately found a common language and ways of compromise. That meant, for example, that Venetians could fight Genoese, but only until Arabs or Berber Muslims appeared; then the former enemies threw themselves against the common enemy.
We know from history that fierce wars were often waged between close relatives. But they differed radically from the wars at the level of major systems. In the latter case the enemy was regarded as someone foreign, interfering and liable to destruction while personal motives (anger, hatred, envy, etc.) were not a reason for the brutality exhibited. The further systems are from one another, the more cold-blooded the mutual extermination is, being converted into a kind of dangerous hunt. Can one really hate a tiger or a crocodile?
On the contrary, the struggle within a system has the aim not of exterminating the enemy but of victory over him, since the system cannot exist without its component parts. The leader of the Florentine Ghibellines, Farinata degli Uberti, for instance, helped the enemies of his city win, but did not permit the destruction of Florence. He declared that he was fighting the city in order to five in it. He lived there until his death, after the Arbia ran red with the blood of his enemies the Florentine Guelphs.
But that was still nothing. The Venetians dealt far more severely with Alberigo, the brother of the famous Ghibelline Eccelino da Romano. When he yielded up his castle near Treviso in 1260, six of his sons were killed before his eyes, and then he himself was beheaded, and his wife and two daughters burned alive on the square of Treviso. Why were such senseless cruelties inflicted?
To understand that situation one has to grasp that 'Guelphs and Ghibellines were algebraic signs that could conceal meaning.' [+15] It is considered that the Ghibellines were feudalists and the Guelphs burgesses (burgbers), but a number of towns were half-and-half for the Ghibellines, and some Guelphs became Ghibellines, and vice versa, and it happened that the two parties acted together against the Arabs or Greeks. Such big urban republics as Genoa and Venice passed repeatedly from one camp to the other, guided only by political considerations. So why did blood flow?
The means of maintaining unity of a system depends on the epoch, or rather on the phase of ethnogenesis. In young systems the elements make very intense contact, passionate so to say, which causes clashes. The bloody discords often have neither ideological nor class sense, occurring within the limits of one social stratum, like Wars of the Roses in England, or the war of the Armagnacs and Burgundians in France. But these intestine wars maintain the unity of the ethnic system and state better than when the population is apathetic, when it would seem easier to live, but the ethnoi break up and disappear as entities.
Ethnic systems are often not equivalent to state formations. One ethnos may live in different states or several in one. So in what sense can we treat them as systems?
It is acceptable to divide systems into two ideal types: rigid and corpuscular, or discrete. In rigid systems all the parts (elements) are so fitted to one another that their simultaneous existence is necessary for normal functioning. In discrete systems the elements interact freely and easily replace analogous ones, without the system ceasing to work; and it is even possible to drop some elements with the next renewal. If that does not happen there is a simplification of the system that may go so far as to destroy it.
Another division of systems is possible - into open ones constantly receiving energy and exchanging positive and negative entropy with the environment, and closed ones that use up original charge until their potential is balanced with that of the environment. Four variants are possible when these two characteristics are compared: (1) rigid open; (2) rigid closed; (3) discrete open; (4) discrete closed. The division is arbitrary, because any operating system combines features of different types, but since it is close to one pole or the other, the division is justified in practice, because it helps classify systems by the degree of subordination of the elements.
When we study history, both constitutional, social, and cultural, and ethnic, we come up against all the gradations of systems of the types described, with the exception of the extremes, i.e. only rigid or only discrete, because neither the one nor the other is viable. Rigid systems cannot be self-restorative when they break down, while discrete ones lack the capacity to withstand blows from outside. We therefore encounter systems in practice with various degrees of rigidity, which is the higher the more human labour is involved in it, and the lower the more creation of the system is initiated by natural processes that constantly transform the elements composing it. The limit is the opposition of the technosphere and the biosphere.
But where is the boundary of the biosphere and the technosphere, if the human organism itself is part of nature? Obviously the boundary of the socio-technosphere and the biosphere runs within human bodies as well as outside them. But the difference does not disappear because of that. On the contrary, we are seeking a real element of the interaction of the social and biological here. It is that independent, and quite well-known phenomenon of nature, viz., the ethnos.
Ideally, an ethnos is a discrete system but so as not to be annihilated by neighbors, it immediately develops social forms that are auxiliary rigid systems: the authority of the elders in the clan, for example, the chief in the hunt or war, obligations in regard to the family, and finally, the formation of a state. The rigid systems are thus socio-political formations like the state, tribal unions, clans, bodyguards, etc. The coincidence of systems of both types, i.e. of ethnos and state or tribal union, is not obligatory, although it seems natural. Recall the great empires of antiquity that united diverse ethnoi or the mediaeval feudal splintering of ethnoi. A propensity to combine is as natural as one to coincide. The systems of both types are dynamic, i.e. they rise and fall in historical time. Homeostatic ethnic systems in which changes are, connected only with external effects seem to be the exception. But one must not forget that homeostasis arises only after intense development, when the forces creating and driving the system run out. Statics should therefore be perceived as slow inertial motion with a limit - zero - that is not reached in practice.
The structure of an ethnos. Its structure – an inseparable feature of an ethnos – is always more or less complex, but it is this complexity that gives it the stability by which it has a chance to survive centuries of confusion, troubles, and peaceful wasting away. The principle of ethnic structure is, one may say, a hierarchical subordination of subethnic groups (the latter understood as taxonomic units within the ethnos, as a visible whole, and not disrupting its unity). At first glance this thesis contradicts my proposition about the existence of an ethnos as an elementary entity, but remember that even a molecule of matter consists of atoms, and an atom of elementary particles, which does not ablate statements about the entity at one level or another (molecular or atomic, or even subatomic). The whole thing is characteristic of structural connections. Let me explain this from an example.
A Karelian from the Tver Province called himself a Karelian in his village but on going to study in Moscow a Russian, because it made sense in the village to counterpose Karelians to Russians, but in the city it did not, since the differences in way of life and culture were so insignificant as not to be visible. But if he were a Tatar, rather than a Karelian, he would go on calling himself a Tatar because the past religious difference deepened his ethnographic dissimilarity from Russians. But a Tatar living in Western Europe or China would be considered a Russian, and would himself agree with that; in New Guinea, however, he would be seen as a European, only not of the tribe of the English or Dutch. This example is very important for ethnic diagnosis, and so for demographic statistics and ethnographic maps. For when such maps are being compiled it is absolutely necessary to agree on the order and degree of approximation, otherwise it will be impossible to distinguish the subethnoi that exist as elements of the structure of an ethnos, from current ethnoi.
Now let me touch on the subordination of ethnoi. The French, for example, a clear example of a monolithic ethnos, include, as I have already said, Breton Celts, Gascons of Basque origin, Alsatians, descendants of Alemanni, and Provencals, an independent people of the Romance group. In the ninth century A.D., when ethnic names were first recorded in documents, the French, all the peoples named above, and others, too – Burgundians, Normans, Aquitaines, Savoyards – still did not constitute a single ethnos, and only after a thousand-year process of ethnogenesis was the ethnos formed that we call the French. The merging, however, did not cause a leveling of local customs, rituals, etc. They were maintained as provincial peculiarities that did not disrupt the ethnic wholeness of the French.
We see the results of ethnic integration particularly clearly in France, because the course of events during the Reformation led to the French Huguenots being forced to quit their homeland in the seventeenth century in saving their lives, they lost their former ethnic affiliation and became German nobles, Dutch burghers, and a large number the Boers who colonized South Africa. The French ethnos shed them, like a superfluous element of the structure, diverse even without it. France, as a socio-political entity, however, was not weakened, but on the contrary consolidated. The fields and orchards abandoned by the zealous Huguenots passed to indifferent people, who restored an economy in the eighteenth century that no longer suffered from internal wars. The ethnic monolithism arising enabled Napoleon to mobilize the population and create a very numerous and obedient army, after whose defeat France did not break up, in spite of all the survivals of provincial separatism.
Self-regulation of an ethnos. It may seem strange that I ascribe a capacity for self-regulation to an ethnos. But an ethnos is dynamic in historical development and consequently, like any long-lasting process, finds solutions within its power to maintain its existence. Others are cut off by selection and die out. All living systems resist extinction, i.e. are anti-entropic, and adapt to external conditions in so far as that is possible. But as soon as some complexity of structure raises the resistance of an ethnos to external blows, it is not surprising that where it was not sufficiently mosaic at birth, as for example in Great Russia in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, it begins itself to throw up subethnic formations, that sometimes take shape as estates. [+16] On the southern borders Cossacks emerged, in the north Pomors. [+17] Subsequently they were augmented by 'prospectors' (at first glance, simply a kind of job) [+18]; peasants followed after them, mixing with the aborigines of Siberia and forming a subethnos of Siberians. In the course of history these subethnic groups dissolved into the main mass of the ethnos, but at the same time new ones were thrown up.
It is very easy to distinguish subethnoi because the ethnography of the end of the nineteenth century worked precisely at that level. Russian ethnographers studied everyday customs, i.e. a fixed stereotype of the behavior of a group of population that differed sharply from those of the capitals (Moscow and St. Petersburg). They studied the life of the Olonets peasants (in Karelia), for example, but not of the professors of the colleges in St. Petersburg,
In short, subethnoi are obvious because, on the one hand, they are within an ethnos and, on the other, their bearers differ from all others in manners, mode of expressing feelings, and so on. They arise through different causes, coincide sometimes with estates, but never with classes, and disperse relatively painlessly, giving way to others, outwardly dissimilar, but with the same functions and fates. The purpose of these subethnic formations is to support ethnic unity by way of internal, non-antagonist resistance. This complexity is obviously an organic detail of the mechanism of the ethnic system and as such arises in the very process of the formation of an ethnos or of ethnogenesis. When an ethnic system is simplified, in the phase of decay, the number of subethnoi is reduced to one. That marks the persistent (residual) state of the ethnos. But what is the mechanism of the rise of subethnoi? To answer that we have to go to a lower order in which there are taxonomic units that I divide into two sections: consortia and convicinities. Small tribes, clans, and the already mentioned corporations, local groups, and other associations of people are put into these sections.
Consortia and convicinities. Let us agree on terms. I call groups of people united by a common historical fate consortia. They include 'circles', cooperatives and workers' guilds, sects, bands, and similar unstable associations. They usually break up, but sometimes last for several generations. Then they become convicinities, i.e. groups of people with both a way of life of the same character and family connections. They are not very resistant. They are eaten away by exogamy and reshuffled by succession, i.e. by sharp changes of historical surroundings. Undamaged convicinities grow into subethnoi. Such were the Russian prospectors mentioned above, consortia of desperate, foolhardy explorers who gave rise to a generation of staunch Siberians; and Old Believers. The first English colonies in America were founded by consortia and were converted into convicinities. New England was founded by Puritans, Massachusetts by Baptists, Pennsylvania by Quakers, Maryland by Catholics, Virginia by Royalists, Georgia by supporters of the House of Hanover. Consortia sailed from England that were not reconciled either to Cromwell or to the Stuarts, and on the new soil, where the old disputes were not pressing, they became convicinities that opposed themselves to new neighbors – Indians and French.
The Russian prospectors and Old Believers remained part of their ethnos, but the descendants of the Spanish conquistadors and English Puritans formed special ethnoi in America; so this level can be considered the limit of ethnic divergence. And, one must note, the oldest tribes were obviously formed in former times by this means. An original consortium of energetic people is converted into an ethnos in conditions of isolation, which in early epochs we call a tribe.
Ethnology finishes with consortia at the ordinal level, but the principle of hierarchical subordination can operate even further if necessary. At a lower order we get the single individual, connected with his surroundings. That can be useful for the biography of great men. Going down further we encounter not the full biography of a person but an episode of his life, for example, a crime committed that should be disclosed; and even lower, chance emotion, which does not entail major consequences. But we have to remember that this endless dividing, which is in the nature of things, does not remove the need to find a unity at a given level, important for tackling the task posed.
[+1] See: G.E. Grumm-Grzhimailo. When the Mongols Split into Eastern and Western Branches, and Why. Izv. Geograficheskogo obshchestvtva, Vol. 16, Issue 2, 1933.
[+2] I call historical fate a chain of events causally connected by their internal logic.
[+3] Frederick Engels. The origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. Lawrence & Wishart, London, 1941, pp 38-65.
[+4] Augustin Thierry. Letter No. 2. Lettres sur l'histoire de France. Jouvet et Cie, Paris, 1881, p 32.
[+5] Francois Bernier. Travels in the Mogul Empire (1656-1666). S. Chand & Co., Delhi, 1968, pp 200-238.
[+6] Yu.V. Bromley. Ethnos and Endogamy. Sovetskaya etnografiya 1969, 6: 84-91.
[+7] N.Ya. Bichurin. Sobranie svedenii po istoricheskoi geografti Vostochnoi i Sredinnoi Azii (Digest of Information on the Historical Geography of Eastern and Central Asia). Compiled by LN. Gumilev and M.F. Khvan. Cheboksary, 1960, p 638.
[+8] The import of opium into China in the nineteenth century, for example, the demand having been initially created by drawing weak people into drug addiction. The sale of spirits to Canadian Indians for furs was similar.
[+9] N.I. Konrad. Zapad i Vostok (West and East), Nauka, Moscow, 1966, pp 119-149, 152-231.
[+10] A coefficient in the fact of a connection (in the cybernetic sense), for example, the measure of a father's care for his son.
[+11] See: Ludwig von Bertalanffy. General System Theory. A Critical Review. General Systems, 1962, 7: 1-20.
[+12] A.A. Malinovsky. General Problems of the Structure of a System, and Their Significance for Biology. Problemy metodologii sistemnogo issledovaniya (Methodological Problems of Systems Study), Nauka, Moscow, 1970, pp 145-150.
[+13] N. Rashevsky. Finite Sets. Essays in the General Theory of Biological and Social organisms. Issledovaniya po obshchei teorii sistem (Studies in the General Theory of Systems), Nauka, Moscow, p 445.
[+14] A.A. Malinovsky. Art. cit., p 182.
[+15] Istoriya Italii (A History of Italy), Vol. I. Nauka, Moscow, 1970, p 233.
[+16] In saying 'begins itself' of a natural process I do not imply anthropomorphism, but simply employ an ordinary turn of phrase: for example, 'the stream cut a bed for itself and formed a meander'.
[+17] Pomor (Maritimer) is the name for Russians, who came originally from Novgorod, living along the coast of the White Sea and Barents Sea.
[+18] These 'prospectors' or 'explorers' were gold-miners, fur-traders, etc., who organized and took part in the Russian penetration into Siberia and the Far East in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.