Kevin MacDonald: Is The Family Cut-Off From Kinship The Basis of Western Individualism as well as Liberalism? Chapter 4 of Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition4

Have you spent countless hours searching for the origins of individualism in the philosophical treatises of the Western Canon? Reading Kevin MacDonald’s Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition may make you think this was wasted time: the origins of individualism lie in the pedestrian world of family life. Individualism is not an idea, a concept, or a philosophical insight, but, as explained in Part 3 of my extended review of MacDonald’s book, its essence lies in “the cutting off” of the Western family “from the wider kinship group”. And this cutting off was started by illiterate northern European hunter gatherers during the last glacial age in the Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic periods. In chapter four, the subject of this article, MacDonald continues his analysis of the “familial basis of European individualism” in response to those who argue that this family was a by-product of individual family ownership in the Middle Ages.

In what follows I will bring out the salient features of MacDonald’s argument, how incredibly different was the Western family, while raising questions about the degree to which we can reduce the essence of Western individualism to family patterns. I will use MacDonald’s argument that Sweden stands as the most extreme case of the Western individualist family to suggest that there are other key principles of individualism which are actually absent in current Sweden. A key principle of the liberal ideal is the realization of the variety of individual personalities, along with institutions that encourage such variety, unpopular opinions and the freedom to advocate them openly without reprisals. By this criteria, it is hard to identify Sweden as a liberal nation notwithstanding its individualist family patterns.

Individualistic Families in the Middle Ages

There has long been “a consensus among historians of the family that the family structure of northwest Europe is unique.” The consensus is no longer, as MacDonald notes, that this family was a by-product of modern capitalism; it is that Europe’s peculiar family patterns were already observable in medieval times. We have seen in Part 3 of my analysis of MacDonald’s book that he goes “back to prehistory” to  explain the primordial “evolutionary/biological” basis of this family. In chapter four, which we are currently examining, he attempts to refute the consensus argument that the Western individualist family sprang out of the manorial system of northwest Europe where land ownership was centered on singular family holdings rather than on kinship groups.

Without getting into MacDonald’s careful argument against the manorial thesis, his counter-argument is that “there were already strong tendencies toward individualism” among north-western hunter-gatherer-derived Europeans and Indo-European-derived cultures. Since there is no direct evidence of genetic selection in prehistoric times of these family patterns, MacDonald accentuates instead how the genetic findings he adumbrated in chapters one to three (regarding strong individualist tendencies among northwest hunter-gatherer Europeans and Indo-Europeans) parallel the well attested existence in Europe of “extreme individualist” families in the northwest, “moderate individualist” families in north-central Europe, and “moderate collectivist” families in the south where more collectivist Anatolian farmers settled.
In other words, the areas in Europe with “extreme individualist” families tend to be the ones that came under the heavy influence of the “egalitarian individualism” of northwest hunter-gatherers (Scandinavia). The ones with “moderate individualism” tend to be the ones heavily influenced by the aristocratic individualism of Indo-Europeans, along with some Nordic egalitarianism influences, namely, France, Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Switzerland. The ones with “moderate collectivism,” where kinship ties remained relatively strong in family patterns, tend to be the ones heavily influenced by collectivist Anatolian farmers, namely Italy, Greece, and Spain, though MacDonald observes a moderate collectivism in eastern Europe and Russia as well.
The protypical “extreme individualist” family is characterized by seven key characteristics:
  • monogamous marriages
  • marriages at a relatively older age than the married teenage girls we see in non-western world
  • similar age of husbands and wives
  • a relatively high proportion of unmarried individuals (women in particular)
  • household settlement independently of parents and extended families
  • rather than marrying a close kin or cousin, exogamy prevailed
  • marriage based on individual choice and romance rather than arranged
While I was aware of the consensus literature contrasting Western and Eastern family patterns, MacDonald’s thesis goes well beyond in its evolutionary/biological perspective and its persistent focus on how this family was cut off from extended family kinship networks, and how this separation is the foundational basis of Western individualism. Individualism is not a theory but a deeply seated behavioral inclination among Whites. This counters the naive conservative supposition that individualism can be exported to the rest of the world and assimilated by cousin-marrying Muslims in Europe.

Because MacDonald presses this incredible contrast between Western and non-Western family patterns, he sometimes uses expressions which may give the misleading impression that, for him, the Western family was “cut-off” altogether from kinship networks. But his point is that there were substantial differences in degree of kinship connections, and that these differences existed within Europe as well. It is not a matter of absence or presence of kinship networks. This becomes clearer in the next chapter, as we will see, when he acknowledges in full the additional, and indispensable, “cultural” role of the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages in breaking down to a higher degree extended kinship networks and thus reinforcing the individualist tendencies already present.

It may come as a surprise, and it is a big contrast between the West and the Rest, that the choosing of marriage partners in the West, more so than elsewhere, was based on “warmth and affection, and physical appearance”. “Close relationships based on affection and love…became universally seen [by the 18th century] as the appropriate basis for monogamous marriage in all social classes” including the aristocracy. I am sure there is a strong correlation between these family patterns and the fact that Europeans were responsible for the best romance novels ever written. Only in the West do we find such novels as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View, Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Marguerite Duval’s The Lover, D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther.

Is Contemporary Sweden “Individualist” and “Liberal”?

Who is more individualistic and liberal, the feminist or the nationalist?
In a closing section, “State-Supported Extreme Individualism in Scandinavia”, MacDonald addresses the paradoxical convergence in Sweden of a socialist state “supporting egalitarianism…as necessary precisely for achieving individualist autonomy”. It would misleading, he observes, to describe Sweden as a communitarian culture since the function of its socialist state is “precisely” intended to afford greater equality of opportunity to the greatest number of individuals by giving them access to health, education, high wages, and good jobs. Nordic societies generally score very high in “emancipatory self-expression” because the socialist state has afforded the greatest number of individuals the economic wherewithal for self-creation, the ability to develop educationally and physically. Likewise the state has solidified the ability of Swedes to have the most individualistic family patterns by freeing parents from child rearing tasks — not by  discouraging high investment on children, but by helping families with child care and thereby giving couples more time to express themselves creatively as individuals rather than being burdened too many hours with mothering roles.
This freeing of Swedes from all the remaining collective components of the family has indeed entailed a questioning of the notion that there are “fathers” and “mothers”. Families are “voluntary associations” or contracts between private individuals that may come in multiple forms. There are no deep biological differences between boys and girls. Swedes are “free” to decide which gender (among a growing number of possibilities) they prefer to be identified with, rather than being boxed, as feminists like to say, into a “male-female binary.” MacDonald does not get too much into the downside of individualism at this point in his book other than to mention Sweden’s high levels of divorce, lack of filial attachments, sexual promiscuity and drugs — alongside a political culture that discourages any strong attachment to Sweden’s ethnic identity.
As insightful as MacDonald’s emphasis on family patterns is to our understanding of the nature and dynamics of Western individualism, I wonder whether he is pushing too far the argument that Sweden today is “on the extreme end of individualism” based primarily on the criteria that this nation has exhibited, and continues to exhibit, “the most individualist family patterns in all of Europe”. I wonder whether Sweden can be classified as an individualist society given the extremely conformist culture it has engendered. We call Nordics “radical liberals” but they are not liberals anymore, since very little independent thinking and dissent is permitted against politically correct values enforced by the state without dialogue.

It is not as if MacDonald does not recognize the presence of moral communities which regulate the beliefs of its members and limit dissent in the West. As we will see later, this is a key component of MacDonald’s thesis: the very same cultures that minimized in-group kinship ties engendered powerful moral communities to sustain their individual egalitarian behaviors in opprobrium to individuals who did not play by these rules. But if we agree that there is more to liberalism than individualistic families, and that allowing for the realization of the variety of individual personalities and freedom of expression are essential traits, it may be a stretch to call Western societies today, the same ones that prohibit any criticism of diversity, liberal. Expression of one’s inner potentialities and highest talents, in competition with others and against pre-reflective norms, is central to the liberal ideal of freedom.

Although some socialistic measures such as equality of opportunity are consistent with liberal thinking, the egalitarian ideal is not. The fundamental drawback of socialism is that it opposes human variety and divisions, the reality of human conflict and disagreement. Socialism seeks harmonious, well-satisfied citizens well-attended by a nanny state within an ordered whole in a state of happy coexistence. But a cardinal principle of Western liberal thought has been that variety, the right to think for yourself, and to strive in a state of competition with others, is good, for it awakens human talents, allows for individual creativity, and discourages indolence and passivity. Sweden however is striving for egalitarian conformity and uniformity of thought.

While equality before the law, equality of individual rights, including the socialization of education and health care, is consistent with liberal thinking, there is an internal logic within the egalitarian ideal that runs against individualism. The end of egalitarianism is to make all individuals as alike as possible in their attainments, their thoughts, and their standing in society. As John Stuart Mill said, the chief goal of a free society should be the expansion of the expression of individuality, which requires competition of ideas, liberty of opinion, a free press, right of free assembly — the very same traits that are being denied in Sweden and the West at large. Just because we are witnessing in the West indulgent self-expression, disdain for marriage, narcissistic behaviors, breakdown of family patterns for the sake of personal greed and narcissism, it does not mean that Sweden has not become an authoritarian state that is anti-liberal and anti-individualistic.

The West may well be in the worst of all possible worlds, a very weak ethnic identity, breakdown of family relations, confused gender identities, regulated by a nanny state with everyone behaving increasingly alike in their conformity to diversity and lack of individual daring and originality against PC controls.

17 replies
  1. Anders Svensson
    Anders Svensson says:

    Looking from Sweden from the outside this may the impression.

    Firstly, the french are way more active in the sack i.e. has more sex. But Swedes make fast decisions when meeting a partner. This may be due to a harsh cold climate and high taxes which forces us to work very hard and keep little money from it. Hence we don’t have as much time as people in other countries to date and stuff…

    Also the gender fluidity is very new, like ten year old and pushed by media jews gypsy media owners and homosexual private school upperclass racemixed capitalists and PC politicians. Most people don’t belive in this crap and also couldn’t care less. It is however pushed hard in education.

    Teachers are forced to encourage expressions of gender fluidity, boys dressing as girls and the like and homosexuality to kids at kindergarden and later. So it’s a forced state project that is not discussed in the media debate or public discourse it is hidden from the averege joe but yet forced on kids.

    But most Swedish kings have been racemixed. All politicians, most of them in leading positions are like gypsy arab jews (quite often part negro too). Which kinda becomes more obvious in a more homogenious country. They have darker skin color and typical gypsy looking and so on.

    But I also think most kings since the 1500 have been racemixed. most capitalists in Sweden are part gypsy, heavily so and often also part jewish (the lower IQ of east indians – gypsies combined with higher elite Nordic IQ and high jewish IQ, combined with stealing manners from their gypsy roots equals economic success, sofar, kinda).

    The taxsystem is almost communism, we pay like 65 % tax.

    This is never discussed in the debate.

    We have sales tax of 25 % also on exports.

    New smaller companies are taxed at a much higher rate than larger established ones. Like dividend tax of over 50 % and also profit tax 22 %. Hence it helps the racemixed allready rich that just pay the 22 % profit tax, and 0% dividend tax.

    Also most leading swedish politicians don’t even have kids.

    We have a lot of divorces because we have so high taxes and and less and less part time jobs (competition from massimmigration of non whites, also pushing down salaries) so that both males and females in a family HAVE to work to make a decent living. This has been a long time goal for the social democrats due to some of their “filosophers” (alva myrdal) having terrible uppbringings within families so they want all kids to be in kindergarden, where they can also be programmed by the state so that they become homosexual and whatever else the state wants.

    These days I meet women who say they don’t want to work fulltime and don’t want their kids in kindergarden because also a lot of leftwing (left party former commies, who are most homo pushing) work there and push the anti hetero things.

    Also 50 % of the media is owned by very gypsy semitic /arab jews who push these agendas and then the state also owns media that push such agendas and they hide from the people what they do.

    They hide the crimes commited by immigrants.Which they also do in the USA and the UK and so on.

    The gypsy genetics are everywhere in the swedish elite and the gypsy genetics do anything from keeping racepure people from getting any power or success in Sweden. They are as bad as the jews.

    The high taxes are sneakily hidden from Swedes. Since a lot of it is called employer giving fees. Which is just tax on the salary that the emloyer pays and then the emplyee pays the rest. So it’s 65 % in effect, but since first the emplyer pay like 30% then the emplyee pays another 30 %, so most people don’t even know about this it is certainly not taught in schools.

    Sweden is incredibly anti white. Almost everyone you see in the media is racemixed.

    But the social democrats were initially not that bad and Sweden had a large working class part of the population. Initially it was just like 17% tax and no sales tax. And alot of their early reforms were great. They were also like most swedes ethno centric. They formed the race institute in uppsala, that was supported by all political parties and also talked about the peoples home, in effect the swedish peoples home.

    Also, still our racemixing levels are lower than in the USA. It’s about 4 %. It’s 17 % now in the USA. Used to be 4 % in the USA in the 80’s.
    Just the ususal anti white.

    In the documents of elders of zion it is stated that socialism will lead to just a few larger companies being successfull, and smaller ones new ones being supressed. Yes this is the case.

    In some Nordic countries jealousy has a long tradition it sometimes refered to as the jante law:

    Which does come from the wiking times actually. In the Edda it sais: “You should be smart but not too smart”. And also the wikings thought it was good to have a big d*ck bit not too big.

    But of course you can’t be too smart. I think these attitudes were planted by racemixed anti whites (the Edda is based on sung sagas told for generations, so may have been altered), just as things in the bible. A way too kepp probably magnificent genects at place keep us down.

    Sweden is all about the racemixed supressing whites and taking us out. Killing us often by propaganda and policies such as massimmigration.

    • my two cents
      my two cents says:

      @Anders: Are you familiar with ‘The New Totalitarians’ by Roland Huntford?

      You should read it. To me it was an eyeopener. Now I understood the liberal attitude to porn and easy sex and feminism by the Swedes. I understood the sneaky agenda hidden in the films by Ingmar Bergman.

      Scary stuff. Sweden has been a communist laboratory at least since before WWII.

    • Trenchant
      Trenchant says:

      Thanks for that insight. Ericsson, Saab, Volvo and most of largest Swedish enterprises are also very old, dating back to WWII or earlier.

    • ChilledBee
      ChilledBee says:

      Perhaps this was the reason that Barbara Lerner Spectre- an American born Zionist, who spent many years in Israel, chose Sweden for her pro Multicultural institute “Paideia”, an institution actually funded by the Swedish taxpayers. It is incredulous to hear this woman proclaiming to the world that Europe will not survive without ongoing immigration. Swedish people were just ripe for the picking as they have been so brainwashed. Strange how she did not target Japan.

      I,m sure most have seen her video on this subject but I will post address anyway:

  2. Inspired
    Inspired says:

    Here’s some inspiration to y’all:

    First a movie depicting gypsies:

    And secondly a negro and Klan fokusing one:

    As far as I know Griffith invented the action movie!

    And speaking of the Klan, here is the Kloran:

    And have a nice day everyone.

  3. Trenchant
    Trenchant says:

    “Socialism seeks harmonious, well-satisfied citizens well-attended by a nanny state within an ordered whole in a state of happy coexistence.”

    Altogether too Panglossian. The pursuit of State power for its own sake necessitates weakening all rival institutions – family, church and community – and what better way to do so than by bribes.

    Sweden started last century as an already wealthy country thanks to its parsimonious, industrious and intelligent citizens and its avoidance of wars.

    • Pierre de Craon
      Pierre de Craon says:

      “Altogether too Panglossian”: le mot juste indeed! M. Arouet himself might be jealous.

      Nor, to flip the famed savant’s coin, are Swedes a people among whom Candides and Cunégondes have overabounded, however counterproductive to their own welfare their corporate conduct has sometimes seemed and been, especially in the recent past.

  4. Wiking dude
    Wiking dude says:

    So the point here is that Swedes are WEIRD but yet have a group identity that makes them vote left because they want others in the group (nordic heritage whites) to also do well? Isn’t that a contradiction?

    Also portraying Swedes as liberal when Sweden has hardly any coherent debate and laws that restrict freedom of speech, that are faschist with a multi cultural direction isn’t that weird and contradictory. So has the UK and Germany (with germany’s history it could make more sense although I’m against all censorship and state controlled such things).

    It does seem that Swedes have also still got the idea many of em that Sweden is a more or less racially coherent country, when this is not the case. Many people with Swedish names are part sapmi (mongol), finnish (mongol, again) especially in northern Sweden. Also a large part of the population is part gypsy. So probably atleast 15 % of the whiter looking population is racially mixed if not 30 %.

    Swedes do not know this in general and has no idea about how the gypsies and so called tattare (tattare another gypsy like group from india and pakistan, according to genetests comes from different casts, whereas the gypsies are from the lowest cast), which is the name for a r group that are mixed white and east indian/pakistanian (gypsy like). Cause this group has always had tons of kids. They can’t be identified by name cause they took Swedish names like 500 years ago and they keep their religion (hinduism mixed with satanism) hidden. But they recognize each other help each other and stick together against whites. Are known to use knives to kill whites. Cause they are like east indians who tend to be weaker than whites so they use knives. One of Stockholms largest football teams AIK, the other teams fans usually scream: “TATTARE” at them and their fans, cause so many of them are tattare / gypsies. It’s self segregation.

    Also the argument seems to be that Swedes are WEIRD and individualistic, but then they tend to be very sensitive to PC attitudes, especially many middle class folks, like what is it OK to think in this matter? Which is effective when whiteish kinda looking racemixed for the most part gypsies/tattare, or arab gypsy jews or gypsy arabs or gypsy arab jews or sapmi finnish gypsies or whatever tell Swedes / whites what is the OK think too think or say in a matter.

    But isn’t that the case in most western countries that a PC climate of pure evil and lies has attacked our countries pushing racemixing and anti white hatred.

    Look at the anti white hordes now attacking all white heritage in the USA, the extreme left and the niggers. And not even the latinos have joined at any larger degree. It’s what the gypsy jews have planned. To use the poc’s as an army against whites. And they want a civil war now and to win. Kill whitey off.

    You can just see the gypsy jews and racemixed arab jews schmoose about how great it is they pushed up racemixing with propaganda and the negro music and mass immigration and not segregated schools and so on. Anti white propaganda hidden sneakily in pop culture children’s shows education and commercials and so on.

    No negro in Europe no arab in Europe. None, not a single one. Just my opinion.

    As for jews they keep pushing their uck.

    Same time in Israel they expell send back the negroes to africa, where the race belong. And they also have racially segregated schools. We should have the choice for racially segregatd schools everwhere. Kids and parents should be able to have free choice if they want their kids in mixed schools or segregated ones. If the kid wants segregation YES that should happen, same if the parent’s want it.

    No white money to the negro anywhere no aid no help no helping them against diseases, no doctors without borders. My opinion.

    • Slovenec
      Slovenec says:

      “No white money to the negro anywhere no aid no help no helping them against diseases, no doctors without borders.”

      Talk to Albert Schweitzer, the greatest saint of Africa, the most borderless doctor in known universe and the saviour of the negro, who, after years of experience with Africans, had the guts to state the following:

      “I have given my life to try to bring unto them the advantages which our civilization must offer, but I have become well aware that we must retain this status; white, the superior, and they the inferior; for whenever a white man seeks to live among them as their equal, they will either destroy him or devour him, and they will destroy all his work; and so for any existing relationship or for any benefit to this people let white men from anywhere in the world who would come to help Africa remember that you must continually retain this status; you the master, and they the inferior, like children that you would help or teach. Never fraternize with them as equals, never accept them as your social equals ; or they will devour you; they will destroy you.”

      With such arrogant pricks, you don’t even need the Jew to nigger you over.

      • Canadian guy
        Canadian guy says:

        Slavoj zizek — if you want to take the moral high ground you should refrain from calling blacks “niggers”. We know you are jewish and hate the goyim but please refrain from using abusive language

    • Ole Olafson
      Ole Olafson says:

      The Lapplanders or Sami are not of Mongoloid or East Asian origin, recent genetic testing has them having been living in Europe from before the Ice Age. They are simply a branch of the European race that has been isolated for millennia. They are closely related to the Finns. Here is an interesting article that goes into it more.

  5. Wiking dude
    Wiking dude says:

    Another aspect is that the Edda encourages people to keep quiet when meeting new people and to observe.

    This as a way to stay out of trouble not to give information to enemies and the like and so on.

    For example jewish tradiotion is more about discussing things within the group wildly and often loud.

    Many countries, there people confront each other and so on.

    Also Sweden hasn’t had a war for 200 years. Alot of people call Swedes damaged by peace.

    So all this is also used by the enemy against us. Swedes stay quiet while the enemy dictates the debate.

    We have to start talking. But it’s dangerous. Swedes have “weird”, different ideas about things that actually are often correct.

  6. Tom
    Tom says:

    I’d hesitate to call state-sanctioned independent living individualism when the means to guarantee that individualism is not strictly in the hands of discrete individuals but rather in the hands of a wider community that determines democratically (collectively) exactly how to frame and finance said “individualism”. Because the state guarantees the survival of individuals, it doesn’t mean that they are independent of a collectivist way of life. Rather, it means that they are bound together with a force greater than any immediate familial arrangements. The force of Law is greater than any force based on tradition or taboo. In fact, the democratic collectivist use of force to determine social outcomes in civil society creates a whole set of taboos and restrictions on individual behavior. Scandinavian socialism has nothing to do with true civil society individualism wherein individuals partner with one another in a sphere of freedom and Liberty – that is, without the coercive presence of the state (a democratic collective), influencing outcomes by rewarding the actions of some individuals while criminalizing the actions of others. Scandinavian socialism is a mix of H-G genetic proclivities and Marxism. We know from experience that whenever we mix biology with totalitarian sociology, that the latter will always win.

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