Re: Culture & symbols

Robert Snower (rs222@WORLDNET.ATT.NET)
Wed, 31 Jul 1996 21:25:24 +0000

At 04:22 PM 7/31/96 +0000, thomas w kavanagh wrote:
>It is a long way from the universality of kinship systems to "ethnic

To me they are synonyms.

>On Wed, 31 Jul 1996, Robert Snower wrote:
>> Now it is the premise of sociobiology that ALL sociality is based on
>> biological kinship.
>Which is why sociobiology collapses above the nuclear family:
>sociopolitical organizations above the nuclear family are based on
>factors others than biological kinship.

Sorry, you are not right about this.
>> This bond is expressed in the tribal kinship system which transcends
>> the biological.
>There is no such thingie as "the tribal kinship system."
I don't know what you mean. "a kinship system?" Is that better?

>> I am sorry you cannot confirm any of this. But I think perhaps you can. In
>> your excellent post of a few days ago you quoted Franklin as follows:
>> Their great Men, both Sachems and Captains, are generally poorer than
>> the common people, for they affect to give away and distribute all the
>> presents or plunder they get in their Treaties or War, so as to leave
>> nothing for themselves, If they should once be suspected of selfishness,
>> they would grow mean in the opinion of their countrymen, and would
>> consequently loose their authority.
>> That is prototypical economic collectivism. And I am sure it was
>> xenophobic, too: they didn't give it away to the gang on the other side of
>> the plain.
>First: As I noted, Franklin didn't write this, Cadwallader Colden did.
>Second, as I noted, it is unattested elsewhere (I left unstated the
>implication that it was an invalid characterization of the Iroquois,
>which thereby raises questions about whether the 'most knowledgeable
>person on the colonies' knew what he was talking about).

Is it invalid? In priniciple, or just in detail?

>Even so, redistributional systems are political, and they are economic,
>but there is no "collectivism" involved. They are the actualizations of
>the individual social relations between the center (big men/"chief") and
>the periphery, and there is no necessity that the periphery has any other
>social existence. Indeed, it is the often involvement in a
>redistributional network which gives identity, not vice versa. Moreover,
>people change identities, become involved in other networks, etc., and
>pragmatic politics sometimes does involve "the gang on the other side of
>the plains."

In my book, "redistributional systems" equals "collectivist systems." I
agree with the rest, I think. But are you giving kinship its due? You make
it all sound so loose. Is it? Or, much much more important, was it?

Best wishes. R. Snower