I am a sovereign individual. I am not a slave to anyone. I believe in freedom, consent, property rights, respect and responsibility. I reject coercion and fraud. I am a committed free market advocate. I think socialism is a plague upon humanity. I believe that selfishness is a virtue and selflessness is not.
Yet I find that there are serious inconsistencies in my position. Individuals are often called upon to selflessly care for their offspring and their spouses. They must often care for their elderly parents at their own cost in time and money. We embrace some obligations, while resisting others.
How do I reconcile the many needs and demands of others against my own self interest? Is there a middle ground between selfish capitalism and utopian socialism?
Across all cultures and continents the family unit is the most widespread and successful human social system. The vast majority of individualists and socialists grew up in families. A family is more than a collection of individuals, yet it is a very exclusive community. Not everyone can be a member of my family. Families practise a unique ideology, without constitutions or parliaments or politicians, but it is well understood and accepted by its members.
The clandestiny model
Societies are expected to provide protection, law and order, economic security, and a sense of belonging to their members. This responsibility has been largely usurped by the state, on behalf of many millions of individuals in that society. Different states utilise different social orders to fulfil this responsibility.
What is the optimum social order? Humanity has tried many variations - tribalism, monarchism, despotism, anarchism, dictatorship, democracy, capitalism, communism, socialism. They all have their dedicated devotees, but they all have profound problems exposed over the years.
The family is the most widely practised social order, experienced by virtually everyone since the dawn of mankind, and in every society. The family group consists of parents, children, and grandparents, living in close proximity. The term “dynasty” is too grand, so I have chosen the word “clandestiny” to describe the concept of multiple extended family groups, which I propose here.
While the individual remains sovereign, and the community important, clandestiny gives the biological family a new relevance and importance. It incorporates elements of many other social orders -
Most families are ruled by a monarch, commonly the father.
They are managed by a benevolent despot, commonly the mother.
Most decisions are not subject to vote.
Families enjoy an instinctual and innate sense of affection and concern for other family members.
Families consist of individuals, never predefined groups. Race, or nationality, or class are not issues.
In a family children and the elderly enjoy the benefits of socialism, to each according to their needs.
There are elements of anarchy, no formal constitution, or courts, nor even rule of law.
There is no formal currency, formal employment, formal contracts.
The economy of a family is usually dependent on external factors - employment, reward, sometimes charity. Everyone who can is expected to contribute.
In a successful family, children are educated, elders are respected, parents are obeyed.
Can we apply this clandestiny family model to wider society? Can we resolve the many conflicts between other social orders using the wisdom inherent in this ancient arrangement?
Democracy is one of the most popular social orders, supposedly practised throughout the West. Problems with democracy
Scale: it treats huge populations as though they were a single homogenous entity
Representation: one person is expected to represent the interests of tens of thousands, including many who did not choose that person as their representative
Accountability: once elected, representatives are no longer accountable to their constituents until the next election
Trust: the system is riddled with corruption and nepotism.
Socialism has developed a huge following in the last 150 years since its founding.
Problems with socialism
Human nature: Humans always seek their own advantage. Socialism fundamentally misunderstands human nature, believing that this “imperfection" can be corrected over time.
Impractical: Centralisation of command and control is technically infeasible.
Unsuccessful: Pure Socialism has not been successfully implemented anywhere.
Coercive: Marx and Lenin expected to implement their policy using force.
According to Robin Dunbar (an anthropologist at the University College of London), the optimum human group size is between 150 and 300 individuals. He suggests that humans can comfortably maintain no more than 150 stable relationships. Humans ought to associate in small groups of between 150 to 300 trusted souls, as they have done for much of our history before cities. Such groups usually consist of your immediate and extended family, related by blood and marriage. This corresponds to the number of descendants arising in 5 or 6 generations from a single ancestral pair . But how can such a system suffice in modern times, with massive populations, alienated families, and wide geographic distribution?
You are a member of many communities in a lifetime, such as clubs, associations, businesses, political parties and countries. But are you ever a member of your own family clan?
The clandestiny proposal
Individuals voluntarily organise into explicit family groups of 150 to 300 members, and no larger than 500 members. Each family group is known as a clan.
Membership in a clan is defined by sharing a common ancestral pair from 5 or 6 generations back. This defines a unique and exclusive set of individuals. The clan may be named after the common ancestral pair, and members may incorporate the ancestral pair names into their own names. Under special circumstances the clan can consider adopting members (eg orphans).
An individual may simultaneously be a member of several overlapping clans based on different ancestral pairs. They freely choose which clans they join, if any.
The individuals over 70 years of age (or the 5 oldest) in a clan are defined as the elders. The elders form an advisory council for the clan.
Membership in a clan confers certain benefits:
Identity: as with Scottish clans, you will belong to a uniquely named clan with specific flags, symbols, history, customs, myths, etc.
Affiliation: the name and contact details of clan members is distributed to all clan members. Regular annual gatherings are planned. Local gatherings may occur.
Trust: The members of your clan are your relatives, many of whom you may already know. You may be more inclined to trust relatives rather than strangers (not always true, but common).
Security: clan members will freely defend the safety and integrity of other clan members, in preference to non-clan members.
Support: If you have an emergency or fall on hard times, your fellow clan members are generally more likely to assist you than complete strangers. When orphaned, debilitated by age or infirmity, or imprisoned, family comes first.
Solidarity (Bigger gang theory): Lone individuals, or small groups, are often subject to victimisation and prejudice by other bigger groups and gangs. Being a member of a clan can help even out the odds.
Special treatment: Members of a clan may give special benefits to other clan members such as discounts (e.g. I have an uncle in the furniture business), preferential hiring, unsecured loans, honesty, advice.
Very wealthy families employ dozens of lawyers and accountants to establish a family dynasty, usually based on a legal trust. Most mere mortals cannot afford to do this with their much smaller fortunes. However, members of a well defined clan can pool their resources to establish a clan trust to preserve their clandestiny.
Identify the ancestral pair of choice about 5 or 6 generations back, depending on the quality of your ancestry records.
Constitute a clan (give it a name, identify and invite the members, set up a trust, appoint a council of elders).
Develop a set of policies and procedures for the clan. For example,
Establish a clan constitution
Establish a trust
The clan may levy a voluntary membership fee to finance the trust
Establish rules for investments by the trust, or withdrawals from the trust.
Consider a group insurance policy to payout in cases of death, disease or injury for individual members.
Consider setting up a clan bank, to offer home mortgages, tuition loans, venture capital. Clan members may provide assistance with taxes, wills, succession planning, inheritances.
Consider alliances with other clans and organisations.
The West is suffering an epidemic of loneliness and alienation in its populace, leading to huge suicide numbers. Gathering into clans may help address this issue.
The government is expected to care for the poor, elderly and infirm. Human connection and caring has been abandoned to become the responsibility of the uncaring state. This approach will increase individual responsibility and caring.
There is a long history of powerful family groupings amongst Jews, Italians, Scots, African tribes. Clandestiny is a refinement of a very old concept.
Clans can lobby government and other special interests on behalf of their members with far more influence than individual lobbying.
Clandestiny resolves the tension between the libertarian selfishness of the individual and the socialist insistence on equal outcomes for all. One assists your own family in preference to strangers.
You may be your brother’s keeper, but you are not everyone’s keeper.