Re: Survival of the Fittest

karl h schwerin (schwerin@UNM.EDU)
Sun, 17 Sep 1995 14:58:01 -0600

On Wed, 13 Sep 1995, Adrian Tanner wrote:

> On Sept 13 Ian Davidson wrote:
> [Comment from Nick Corduan deleted]
> >
> >[Comment from Iain Davidson deleted]

> [first paragraph deleted]
> Imagine the hypothetical situation of a more powerful society with a more
> 'communal' land tenure system overrunning and conquering one with a more
> 'private' or 'individualized' land tenure system. Could they not break up
> the prior system of private holdings and convert them of communal land? Are
> there historical examples of this? And if the more individualized tenure
> systems seem to ultimately win out and replace the more communal ones (and,
> as you point out, on a social evolutionary scale they have yet to prove
> their really long-run staying power), is the underlying evolutional
> principal not simply one of their relative productive capacity, which, among
> other things, gives them greater access to force?

The classical historical example of this is the forced collectivization
of peasant holdings in the Soviet Union under Stalin during the alte
1920s. Millions of peasants were starved to death in order to force the
complete transformation of the system of land tenure and agricultural
production. The question then becomes, does *might* make *fit*? Then
again, one might ask whether socialist collectives were in fact "fit"
since they ultimately collapsed from inherent unworkability. Even before
the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989, it was well known that many
collective farmers were quietly selling surpluses "on the side" through
the black market, where they could expect a much greater return for their
productive effort.

> I have to say that this is a conclusion which, on ideological grounds, I am
> loath to accept as a universal 'law' (in reference to another thread), and I
> would want to search for counter-examples, i.e. where the more communal land
> tenure sytems were economically the stronger than the more individualized ones.
> Adrian Tanner
> Adrian Tanner, Dept of Anthropology, Memorial University, St John's,
> Newfoundland, Canada. A1C 5S7. email Tel 709 737
> 8868 fax 737 8686

Karl Schwerin SnailMail: Dept. of Anthropology
Univ. of New Mexico Albuquerque, NM 87131

Much charitable endeavor is motivated by an unconscious
desire to peer into lives that one is glad to be unable
to share. . . . . Edward Sapir