The purpose of these essays is to draw attention to the current inadequate level of meaningful, practical, and usable information from what is referred to as 'the social sciences '. "Psychobabble" and other such terms reflect popular recognition of this inadequacy.
We seek to add to a process that will eventually lead to a theoretical framework, useful to lay and professional readers, that favors integration of multi-sourced, fully human, data and theory.
Almost all, of the factors mentioned here from the various disciplines, have been explored individually before in different contexts and times. They have not, to our knowledge, been integrated in theory or through a vocabulary that reflects more human ways of functioning; multidimensional and compatible with non-linear, spiraling, systemically interactive principles
Is there in fact, a way to connect psychology/anthropology to current macroeconomic concerns?
Can economists working on the Greek-Eurozone economy benefit from 20th century history or even ancient roman history? Can family therapy systems theory be of help to better understand Eurozone governance?
We expect to bring the following new point of view to the table for your consideration:
1) We know of no attempts to integrate financial, macroeconomic vectors into the clinical psychology and psychopathology body of theory.
2) We know of no attempts to theoretically integrate psychological, cultural and ethnic studies into societal functioning and governance/macroeconomic policy.
For instance, “family systems theory” (and general systems theory on an institution and business level) contains certain working principles and assumptions; these are powerful but unpopular in behavioral science today.
1. Theoretical explanations of the typical flow and distribution of power, in systems of all kinds (e.g. Power always flows downstream and therefore, the headwaters of that power stream is where we should first look to discover clues to persistent dysfunction within the elements of any system).
2. Explanations utilizing the “multi-generation transmission process” (a most powerful and still mysterious process in families and even societies. See the works of Murray Bowen, MD for more clinical details.)
There is one central theme in our approach.
We think it will be considered the most controversial.
Surely it goes against a three-hundred-year assumption, started in “the west” by the “enlightenment” and the philosophers of that time. Namely that man’s logical brain is in charge (or can be trained to be in charge) of his behavior both personally in family life, and in societal issues, such as government and economics.
We are not alone in challenging this assumption but we will try to make a difference by introducing certain facts, theories and the beginnings of an integrated social science approach.
From all the above we have come to one unifying theme:
The single most important but unpopular dimension in explaining the motivational system in most human beings, is a bio/psychological, physiologically induced “tribalism”.
Biologically, we believe that a tribal gene exists in all pack/herd animals such as wolves, dogs, lions and all primates (unlike solitary hunters such as bears, tigers, most cats).
We believe that human beings’ behavior is a function of many dimensions. We propose that an unexplored area, is our primate related “tribal” nature.
We, unknowingly, are motivated on a pack/tribe basis and rather than from learning, our genes make it so.
We believe to be true, that there is an inherited behavioral pattern that includes:
1) The tendency to affiliate and to feel anxious when the affiliated state is put in jeopardy. MANY OBVIOUS, AND NOT SO OBVIOUS, FACTORS CAN CONTRIBUTE TO SUCH FEELINGS (EMOTIONS). Feeling truly isolated or alone in thought, behavior or feelings of identity is most unpleasant for all primates. (Could that be part of why “solitary confinement” is a serious punishment?)
2) The biology based tendency to establish interpersonal and organizational hierarchies within any established human family, clan, or any other primate group.
3) 2) The biology based tendency to establish DEFINITIONS AND SPECIFICATIONS OF (INFERIOR, ALIEN) NON-MEMBERS OF any established human family, clan, or any other primate group
3) The tendency to reckon, usually unknowingly, on our “group” standing and to take group/pack approval (or internalized identity based group) very much into account. This is most evident during the pre-21 years.
4) The tendency to be unaware of this tribal dimension and motivational system in our lives and in societal functioning; TO TAKE IT FOR GRANTED.
In order to repair and justify further explorations into a science that seeks to describe the nature of being human...
We propose that the nature of being human must be seen in an integrated and interactive theoretical framework that contains integrated elements from all the non-sciences that are currently called "social".
BECAUSE IT SEEKS TO EXPLORE AND FACILITATE GREATER SOCIETAL GROUP UNDERSTANDING, of necessity, this new framework would require a "non-PC" vocabulary that is explicitly non-linear, and that lends itself to describing multi-leveled, spiraling and interacting, and constantly evolving, processes.
As stated, a focus on what we call "tribalism" is central to our point of view. Our view of tribalism and it's universal presence is multi-faceted.
It includes the following circular, interactive inputs:
>>>> 1. biological-chromosomal
>>>> 2. Which leads to social
>>>> 3. Which leads to individual
>>>> 4. Economic, WHICH INFLUENCES
>>>> 5. Governance/Political, WHICH IS A UNIVERSAL PHENOMENON
>>>> 6. #s 3,4 and 5 can be seen in history
What are the tools and mechanisms that will facilitate a more integrative theoretical framework? Each principal described below can be a tool when applied outside its specialty.
For instance, I do not know of any family therapy articles that take into account the macroeconomic environment that any particular family inhabits. Is that important?
You bet it is.
As stated in PART1 we start with the universality of tribalism and its evolutionary origins.
1. Karl Marx said that “Religion is the opiate of the people.” We think community and its predictable stable, person to person connections is the opiate of the people. Structure and the accommodation of rational thought with emotional needs makes the do’s and don’t’s provided by organized religion another feeling of belonging and an anxiety reducing state. Religion is only one conveyance of that human, necessary, source of identity, reassurance and anxiety-reduction.
2. We hypothesize that “the wish to be part of something bigger than ourselves” has a component of tribalism within it. It is usually unwise for any authority (personal or societal) to mess with that.
3. “The multigeneration transmission process” which is a tool for therapists who work in a family systems context. They use this concept to understand and help families grow. It can be applied to long lasting groups much larger than families such as clans, tribes, and societies.
4. Currency and money theory is crucial for world trade and financial stability but is outside most citizens' concerns or even their awareness.
Apparently, it is also outside the consciousness of most behavioral scientists other than economists and some, not all, economic historians.
For instance “The rise of Protestantism in the 16th century weakened Rome's influence, and its dictates against usury became irrelevant in some areas. That would free up the development of banking in Northern Europe” (wikipedia). Is it a coincidence that the industrial revolution and its connection to capitalism started in the Protestant countries, thus illustrating integration of macroeconomics with social and historical factors?
Is it a coincidence that the Northern European countries today, use a macroeconomic approach that favors currency stability and long lasting reliability? The Southern European (and many South American) countries have a history of currency manipulation and default.
Did the Protestant ethic and the character values and traits it professed make the difference for those Northern Europeans?
5. # 3 and # 4 lead us to the next concept: The histories of the different geographical areas on the globe and their multi-generational impact on commerce, trade, warfare, alien occupation, all of which leads to different “national character” formation, have not been explored in most University or intellectual sites.
We believe there are certain concepts originating in the various disciplines that can be used as integrating vectors. For instance the multi-generation transmission process when properly understood, might be relevant to changing north-south eurozone economic patterns.
Similarly, can an understanding of pre and post-industrial patterns help the Eurozone cope with its immigration and financial crises?
So how can we address the inadequacy and the need to formulate a new approach that is solid clinically, integrated tribal-societally, and useful for governance and economic systems?
The nature and specific contents of our tribal tendencies affect us from without and within.
This post will address “without”.
As stated in Parts 1 & 2, (facebook post 8/1/17, website intro) we start with our early biology where the clan represented safety, nurturance, and stability. Those individuals and packs that were chromosomally inclined to clan-like functioning, e.g. group adhesion, group reckoning, early clan indoctrination, constant competition for the male alpha dog position, etc. were selected by evolution to survive. (In this regard, chromosomal similarity to primate packs such as the great apes, and wolves, lions, dogs and other pack/herd animals.)
Having started with biology, we proceed to the nature of our early pack-clan ancestors. They are usually described as “hunter-gatherers”. I (and several other writers) disagree. Their bodies and their brains were those of predators, closer to wolves than domestic dogs. Expanding their hunting grounds, territory, in competition with other clans, defining and attacking non-members, and constantly reacting to the power dimension (hierarchical ladders) both within the group and externally, between the clans.
Have we accepted that at least as an inherited inclination, human beings are actively predatory? Think of non-predatory animals like deer, bison, etc. Are we like them on an “attitude” basis? How close are “ambition”, “greed”, “aggression” to “predatory”?
Religion calls it sin and evil inclinations but the religious leaders are often as predatory as the congregants. This is one of the interfaces where a more wide-ranging social science lens would be useful. If religions' purpose is to tame or at least modify our evolutionary heritage of aggression through "civilization", can we not do it better through deeper understanding character building, spiritual education and civic responsibility training early on when the pack influence is most powerful? Those responsible for secular governance as well as religious institutions can learn from informed educators and therapists how to better do this. We will come back to this later.
Let’s leave our species’ biological inherited component for now and go to the other disciplines that we think need to be integrated in a non-linear fashion.
The clans became tribes and the tribes became societies. The built-in biology became channeled but never erased. In calm times we all deplore war as a useless, ugly, painful endeavor. And yet...and yet the repetitive pattern of bellicose behavior, underlying. ??? , overt aggression and subsequent imperialism and subjugation for "lebensraum" is part of world history for thousands of years. There
As a psychologist for over 40 years I had to integrate the things I was taught with the things I knew (gut-knowledge). My college generation was taught a Freudian view that emphasized the individual life experiences of young children as predicting and determining future problems i.e. neuroses. One doesn’t hear that term, ‘neurosis’ all that much anymore. Freud started, more or less, the profession of “psychiatrist” as a clinical healing art. Murray Bowen, MD, was initially trained for clinical practice using the theory, method and procedures that can be called Freudian. Of course, there were many useful theoretical “explorers” between these two giants and indeed after them.
As Bowen’s experiences developed, he took this therapy view in a very different direction. While using a consultation room, interview, healing-anxiety approach, his theoretical and clinical focus was “the family”; both the immediate, nuclear family, and more importantly, the “extended family”; often going back and working with two and even three generations. For a more detailed description please see, http://thebowencenter.org/theory/ .
In forging new, bold, practice and procedure formats, Bowen gradually formulated a theoretical framework consistent with his professional thoughts and actions. The results he was getting were dramatic and needed a theoretical framework. I will not go into the details of Bowen’s theory now except to say: I have found over and over again, that clinicians’ reading of books and articles concerning Bowen’s theory is not effective in learning or understanding how to use it clinically. The vocabulary has not kept up with his insights. It needs hands on training lasting several years of practice. I mention this because those of you seeking to understand more about it should be aware of the difficulty of that goal.
So, if we are all inclined to tribalism, why haven't we all become one or two happy tribes to fill the earth?
PLANS A, B, AND C
In the 1950’s and 60’s, there was a subset of therapists in America and England ( I was one of them) that saw individual neuroses and self-destructive behavior, as a consequence of individuals’ biologically based, automatic, capacity for adaptation. Faced with a difficult anxiety arousing situation in childhood, they adapted inner voices and traits that lowered the temperature of that anxiety and got them through the day and the years. (PLAN A). Once they were adults, leading their own lives, however, and no longer subject to those difficult situations, they unconsciously stuck to PLAN A, even though they were now in SITUATION B. For instance, in generalized terms, some children found the often-intrusive family intimacy and love to be stifling and smothering. They handled their repeated discomforts by withdrawing from others and from their own feelings, or they used some other dysfunctional characterological procedures. As adults, they and their intimates (SITUATION B) were confused and confounded by their dysfunctional avoidance of sustained, intimate commitment (dysfunctional continuation of PLAN A). They sought individual therapy help, (PLAN B) because their behavior brought down fire and brimstone from their loved ones. Years of individual and group therapy was directed toward understanding SITUATION A (no longer really in play) and PLAN A (no longer necessary). It included defining more of the adult parameters of SITUATION B, and eventually, in formulating PLAN C. Successful individual therapy therefore, used the patients' adaptation or re-adaptation ability to form a better life.
More details and examples to follow.
On the other extreme, there are societies who don’t see themselves as tribe participants, but are equally addicted. This group is addicted to the opposite of valuing adult family connections.
In this non-tribal tribe, almost from birth, the children are raised to become independent of family, to confidently think for themselves, and to maintain secure boundaries around their identity and personality; their individuality. Social life is less family focused and they are open to letting new acquaintances into their lives..
In the first tribe, the term “individuality”, is not usually distinguished from the labels "isolation" or “selfishness.” In the second tribe the term “family devotion” is often confused with the labels “overly dependent,”, “uncool”, and “loser”.
(In future posts I hope to describe specific possible explanations for the origin and the differences in the extremes of these two tribal patterns).
These two group descriptions are of the extremes. Of course, there are also sub-tribes who raise citizens with elements of both patterns. Many societies are in the middle; closer to one or the other end of the continuum.
If the factors and nuances of the tribal imperative are not meaningfully taught and explained, a society in tribal transition, such as Western Europe, Great Britain, and USA, which, function somewhere between the two extremes can be very confusing, especially for children and their parents.
Leaders, political and religious, in these multi-tribal societies are also often confused because tribes, over generations, have developed and “locked-in” different values that cover much of societal/political/religious life, and are often in conflict.
Our tribal/predatory, inherited, inclinations (see parts 1-4 in earlier posts) have a biological side that has not been identified and articulated yet. I believe the self-destructive compulsion to win and dominate; to be the alpha dog at work, at home and in leadership positions; to define, deride and exclude outsiders; and to idealize and follow "charismatic", dumb, tribal and clan leaders, is evident in a history that has repeated itself for times too numerous to ignore.
“Crowd behavior” has been identified, but again I know of no attempts to explain and integrate this obvious phenomenon into a larger human picture.
This basic dimension, inherent in all human functioning, has many implications for the current, 30 year, globalization wave.
(To the extent my point makes sense to you, do you really think “globalization” has a long future if we do not think it through, on a deeper, non-economic basis?)
We have been here before. Ancient Rome tried it (to dominate ,exploit, demean, and conquer the known world.) Ancient Greece tried it. Ancient Babylon tried it. Ancient Persia tried it. 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th century Spain, France, England and Germany too; in fact all of Western Europe tried it. Russia too.
Presidents Washington and Jefferson advised against it.
It’s geopolitical version is called “imperialism”.
For my purposes, I define “imperialism” as the exploitation of citizens in a smaller or less powerful tribe, by the organized domination efforts (eg invasions, boycotts, tariffs, currency manipulation, etc.) of a more powerful tribe (usually through technological head-starts). Simultaneously, casting its own citizens as “superior” and their “nobler", “entitled”, way of life, as the only legitimate way to be.
It’s not good guys and bad guys. At the time of dominance, everyone buys into their own superiority (ethnocentrism) and eventually they pay the price over time. The next culture in “the republic becomes empire saga", blames the stupidity of the prior alpha dogs.
The reason we don’t learn this lesson is because it’s a biologically induced pattern that takes place in families, clans, tribes, societies; any human group.
No one seems to acknowledge that the bag of our inherited human endowment, that once was crucial to our survival in small packs and clans, has a hole in it. Wolves can live in the forest just the way they are. How long would a wolf pack society survive in a city with only other wolf packs and no deer?
So what’s the way out of this circular dilemma that covers so much of our species’ recent (10,000 years?) history?
I suggest the first step is understanding what’s up with us. Right now,
I don’t want to be repetitive, (using systemic, non-linear logic, requires room for repetition) but until we come to an integrated, encompassing, goal for “social science” (please see earlier posts 1-4 or go to parentingandsocieties.com) our efforts to understand and improve our lives and our world, will continue to befuddle us at best.
Social science which is the discipline that is supposed to help us understand who we are, and therefore what we can potentially be, has been digitized by make believe "science" and until we shoot for a meaningful, common sense, integrated, but complicated multi-factorial approach, we will be travelling the old dead-end road.
My future posts will try to break down into digestible segments, elements of an organic, interactive, unified whole, systemic view, of our human repetitive patterns. But I must present you with the proviso that in order to put these elements in a non-linear, multi-factorial framework, is very difficult to write about and to read. I think that might be so because, living in a post-enlightenment, western world, we have been taught to think in linear mode.
Linear mode lends itself to physical scientific and industrial procedures.
The east has more respect for the circular features of human functioning. But the east is also vulnerable to charges of cloudy thinking and superstition. In the west, to think non-linearly is new; especially on paper and not in personal conversation. It might be asking too much of me and of you. It doesn’t seem to have succeeded till now, but I will try.
In short, over the years I have concluded that our investigating our tribal nature, good and bad, will touch everything in our intimate and family life.
The tribal inclination surely affects how our children grow up. It also entails implications for global economics and industry, politics, values, education, religion, definitions of mental health, and almost all social life. Almost all of them follow non-linear, systems interactive principles.
More to follow. Slowly.
Published by George Jonisch · August 24 at 11:00am ·
So far, so good.
- we underlined our species’ simultaneous denial of the ubiquity of these species' clan/tribal patterns.
- made a beginning towards defining separate elements of a social science whose integration would benefit our understanding of parenting and family life.
Carrying on, (with circular systemic principles and methods in mind):
Effective digestion of this united point of view will, hopefully, produce less alienated citizens and more focused parenting and educational methods and movements.
Unfortunately, as an integrated field of study these meaningful facts and this view, has not been presented nor even significantly investigated, by those whose job it is to know this stuff.
We will offer a different view of the phenomena usually referred to as “anxiety “and show its relationship to family and societal life.
We will offer a different view of the phenomena usually referred to as “currency manipulation” and try to show its relationship to governance, imperialism and societal character development, and family life.
We will offer a different view of the phenomena usually referred to as “psychotherapy of psychopathology” and try to show its relationship to education and family life.
We will offer a different view of the phenomena usually referred to as “macroeconomic history” and try to show its relationship to current governance, class, and political controversies.
Why do we offer so much good stuff? Why do we think we can influence so much change?
Basically, because it’s not brain surgery and because the relevant components are not new. They have been misunderstood because our system of “scientific knowledge” has been misdirected for human affairs.
The physical sciences need a, particular segmented approach.
And then there is actual tribalism that gets in the way of studying the wide-ranging phenomena of “tribalism”.
My near 50 years of various family experiences both personal and professional, have opened my eyes to certain stuff that is out there but often missed.
Ever-present is the assumption that it only works if it rings a bell for you, the reader. I hope to help open the eyes of others to what I have been able to see and actually use for other’s sakes, as well as for my own.
In general, we will attempt to combine our repetitive history with current events so as to show, that we have been here before, and will probably be here again, unless we find a better more informed view of who we really are, not only as class and national tribes, but as a species.
george jonisch, phd
Published by George Jonisch · September 7 at 9:08am ·
“Assyrians return to Turkey from Europe to save their culture
“Assyrians are one of the oldest communities in the Middle East, where they have lived for millennia. In the last hundred years, successive wars have forced many to leave the region. But now, some are starting to return to their historic villages.
Aziz Demir, the mukhtar of Eldegmis (Kafro) village, was instrumental to the Assyrian return there in 2006. He shows TRT World the restored church of the village.
All of the village population left Kafro, known in Turkish as Elbegendi, for mostly European countries in 1994. The PKK was waging a full-blown armed campaign against the Turkish state in the country’s mostly Kurdish-populated eastern and southeastern provinces at the time. Mardin, which lies on the Turkish-Syrian border, was heavily affected.
Finding their land surrounded by mines and in the middle of constant clashes between the Turkish security forces and the PKK, Assyrian peasants like Demir and others headed for Switzerland, Germany, and other Western European countries in the 1990s. The PKK is recognised as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the EU and NATO.
“Our future lies in this region [Asia Minor]. Assyrians who emigrated to Latin America or to Western countries in the late 1800s and in the early 1900s lost their cultural identities,” Demir said. He established an association in Switzerland in the early 2000s to organise his fellow Assyrians to settle back in their old village in Turkey.
The process began when Bulent Ecevit, the leftist Turkish prime minister in the early 2000s, called on the Assyrians to come back to Turkey. This led Demir and his friends to begin preparing to return to the village in 2002, collecting enough funds to build houses that respect traditional Assyrian architectural styles.
In September 2006, after construction of the houses was finished, Demir and around 30 other Assyrian peasants originally from Kafro came back to the village, marking their return with a ceremony.
If the Turkish state assures them of peace and stability for their community, Demir argues, many more Assyrians will return. Approximately 10,000 to 15,000 Assyrians currently live in Turkey, and the total population around the world is approximately five million.
“We have not regretted coming back here,” said Aziz Ozdemir, a 61-year-old, whose house is located behind Demir’s house. Ozdemir and his wife returned to their village in 2012, after making a decision to build a house there in 2008.
In the 1990s, after they left Turkey, Ozdemir and his family lived in Augsburg, Germany. He worked in a German factory there for years, but felt unhappy in his adopted country.
“The idea of returning to our village made me feel excited and happy. When I used to work here for twelve hours per day, I didn’t get tired. But back in Germany, even if I worked only six hours a day, I felt like I was in hell.”
Aziz Ozdemir and his wife Atiye in their recently built house, and the garden they cultivate there. (Murat Sofuoglu/TRT World)
Ozdemir cultivates his garden in the village, eating his homegrown grapes — the same types from which famous Assyrian wines have long been made. Kafro and other Assyrian villages were once famous for their vineyards. But fighting and emigration in recent decades have reduced most of the vineyards into brush.
Despite his own homecoming, he still thinks that it would be difficult for most people who moved abroad to come back to Turkey. When TRT World visited him in his home on August 22, he was celebrating the sixth anniversary of his family’s return to the village. He vividly recalls that day with a smile on his face, with the expression of somebody who has achieved something that long seemed almost impossible.
Ozdemir’s sister, Sonya, thinks it’s easier for men to come back than women because she believes mothers are typically more connected to their children than fathers tend to be. And Atiye, Ozdemir’s wife, agrees with Sonya that Assyrian youth are usually less interested in returning to Turkey than their parents might be. Having grown up abroad, younger Assyrians are more accustomed to European life and customs.
Demir, the village mukhtar (head), is wary of what this assimilation means for the future of Assyrian culture.
But Turkey had also imposed assimilation policies, to varying degrees, on Assyrians, Kurds and other minorities in the past. In the past 15 years under the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party, Turkey has worked on reforming the state structure by improving the conditions of non-Muslim communities, as well as initiating a peace process to address issues relating to the expression of Kurdish culture and grievances.
“Rejection, denial and assimilation policies [of the Turkish state] have come to an end with the AK Party government,” Erdogan said in mid-2011, when he was prime minister of the country.
The new policies appear to be encouraging some Assyrians to return to Turkey. However, others are still sceptical about coming back to southeast Turkey. In July 2015, the PKK decided to relaunch its armed campaign in the region following the collapse of Turkey’s peace process. The ongoing fighting has cost more than 40,000 lives in the last three decades.
Across the border in Syria, close to Turkey’s old Assyrian settlements, a hilly region which they call Tur Abdin, a brutal civil war with religious, sectarian, and ethnic lines is still raging, killing hundreds of thousands of people and displacing millions.
In northern Syria, a PKK affiliate, the YPG, has managed to establish a region called Rojava, meaning 'Western Kurdistan', with strong American support. The US says it supports the YPG because the group is the only reliable armed group fighting against Daesh. Turkey, however, believes that this support is ultimately aimed at the establishment of a Kurdish state in northern Syria.
“The political situation is uncertain in the Middle East. There has been constant warfare in the region. If a radical change and social cohesion do not take place, no problems will be resolved in a concrete manner,” Demir says.
Assyrians are one of the oldest Middle Eastern peoples, tracing their roots from the ancient Assyrians who dominated Mesopotamia, the “Cradle of Civilisation” of the Middle East which was located between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in ancient times. They are the oldest surviving Christian community in the world. Their language, Aramaic, is also one of the oldest languages, and the scriptures have long been written in the letters of its ancient alphabet.
“We need a democratic resolution [in Iraq, Syria and other Middle East countries]. If democracy and prosperity had existed side by side, we wouldn’t fight at all.”
A sixteen-hundred-year-old village
In another Assyrian village, Beth Kustan, an hour drive away from Kafro, a priest still writes the Christian prayer books in the ancient Assyrian alphabet. Gabriel Aktas, a white-bearded 74-year-old Orthodox monk, is a strong advocate of his people’s heritage, despite going through a difficult life. His father Shado was the mukhtar of the ancient village in the 1960s, until he was killed by armed men under suspicious circumstances following a Turkish military coup which hanged the country’s elected prime minister and two of its ministers at the time.
The town’s name was changed from Alagoz in Turkish back to the original Assyrian, Beth Kustan, earlier this year, a first for Turkey.
Every morning, Aktas gives lessons to Assyrian children, aged from six to ten, in the Assyrian alphabet, Christianity and other topics in his newly restored church, the Mor Eliyo Church, which was first built in 343 AD.
“We teach kids the Assyrian language to sustain our people’s culture,” Aktas told TRT World.
Gabriel Aktas, the Beth Kustan priest, takes a break during his work handwriting Assyrian prayers. He is one of the very few Assyrians able to write in the old Assyrian alphabet. (Murat Sofuoglu/TRT World)
In the church courtyard, under the hot Mesopotamian sun — which was central to several of the ancient faiths that predated the monotheist religions; the Zoroastrian religion is another example — the Assyrian priest continues to teach the children his faith.
“We collected enough funds to rebuild the church and everything else here,” said Melki Agirmann, a 54-year-old Assyrian peasant originally from Beth Custan, who migrated to Germany in the 1990s and currently lives in Heilbronn, Stuttgart.
The Assyrian children of Beth Kustan village in the courtyard of the ancient Mor Eliyo Church where they have been taking summer classes in the old Assyrian language and Christianity. (Murat Sofuoglu/TRT World)
When he’s in Germany, he dreams of being back in the village, he said.
“Well that’s good enough. You’re able to live in the two countries at the same time!” Ferhan shouted back at him.
“I used to go out to the rocky hills here to sing when I was a child. I went to that hill again this summer. I wanted to sing a song again,” said Melki, with a childish look on his aged face that conceals the haunting past experiences he has suffered. “My wife said it would be a shameful thing for an old guy like me to do.”
He still wonders why he misses the village so much, a small settlement with arid hills and tall Turkish oaks. It was almost impossible to walk the narrow streets of the village for more than half an hour during the daytime under the glaring August sun.
Yet Melki hikes about seven kilometres every morning around his village’s surrounding hills and remembers his childhood spots under temperatures hitting around 45 degrees Celsius.
“Back in Germany, me and my friends walk around [as if we are] drunk ... In Germany, everybody [else] is like robots.”
“You cannot forget the village you were born in. You cannot forget your hometown,” Melki murmured, and his wife nods her agreement.
Source: TRT World
Assyrians return to Turkey from Europe to save their culture Assyrians return to Turkey from Europe to save their culture
170907, 930am,=latest 08-Sep-17, 930am
By the way, here is a link to a news article that I came across, that I think illustrates some of the tribalism issues that arise when east meets west: (I can’t vouch for the author or the source organization, but it surely illustrates the point.)
As opposed to a straight linear progression, which is the way most people proceed, picture a circle.
No beginning, no end; a circular or a self-perpetuating spiraling process can have any number of beginnings and endings, depending om where in the spiral one wishes to focus.
A good place to start understanding anything concerning humans, is the history of the subject.
So let's start with the history of the world's largest tribal phenomenon;
East West In History
"Herodotus (484 BC–425 BC), the ‘father of history’ (Cambridge Dictionary, 1999), was possibly the first recorded historian who deliberately portrayed the ‘east’ (Persians) and the ‘west’ (Greeks) as mutual antagonists, thereby proposing the nucleus of all ancient history. Others, Thucydides (460 BC–400 BC), and Xenephone (430 BC–354 BC), similarly, found it natural to employ strong polarities and concentrate on the ‘otherness’ of the East, while accepting the necessity of resistance to external force by defining a Western ‘self’. Thus came into being the first system of the so-called East-West dichotomy.”
Even though his first contrast between east and west involves Greece and Persia, Pattenberg goes on to focus on China as "the east". He seems to ignore the fact that the Roman Empire broke into two separate empires: (around 300 AD): The Eastern Roman Empire and Western Roman Empire. The eastern empire was headquartered in Turkey, not in China.
Because the east includes China, but it also includes much more (the rest)
We have quoted Ferguson about THE WEST AND THE REST. (Amazon.com)
When we compare the west to the rest, philosophers, economists and sociologists somehow mean northwestern Europe, meaning the countries with Germanic and English language histories; Scandinavia, Ireland, Britain, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand.
The west doesn’t include Iran nor does it include Poland, Hungary, Russia?
Italy, Spain, Portugal are considered not as western as Denmark or Norway. In fact, Greece, Spain and Portugal have their own designation. They are called "peripheral economies".
Peripheral to what exactly? To Europe?
Are they more peripheral then Norway?
Finland which is clearly peripheral and further east, is considered a "western" society.
Some economists call this west “the anglosphere” focusing on Great Britain and its North American and other past colonies.
Can we explain what our macroeconomic labels mean? “Peripheral” is a euphemism to avoid other labels. But which labels? How can we describe differences, if the terms the macroeconomic experts use, don't make sense? Time for a new vocabulary?
And anyway, why do we care?
As parents we might care because 70% of the world's population, (the east) raise their kids in ways very different than the remaining 30% of the world (the west).
They raise them to fit into very different cultures, educational systems, economies, ways of governance, filial and spouse devotion and other foundational components of any society.
Of course, there will always be those in between the extremes of those vectors.
Here are suggestions that have been proposed by other mainly economic historians, to explain the different ways of living called eastern or western:
Here is my take:
In my practice, helping parents cope with children's growth and challenges, I found the vectors highly regarded by the mental health establishment, were less relevant to positive outcome than certain others.
Here's what I found important, where I did overlap with the traditional point of view:
Particular current family, and family of origin vectors, such as sexual abuse, alcoholism and drug abuse, trauma, loss and chronic illness,
Rural vs industrial environment of families of origin. The west is much more industrialized for much longer than the east but both now have some rural and some industrial sectors.
Cosmopolitan vs small town environment of families of origin. Same as above.
Very educated post high school environment of families of origin vs less than full high school. This is important developmentally for children – future citizens.
Educational attitude is one of the major tribal differences in terms of east-west.
West vs non-west social environment, of families of origin. Manners, expectations, etc.
How we come to a diagnosis, its definition, makes a big difference in how we approach treatment. Very often I found tribal issues confusing what might seemed to be "pathology".
My family work did not yield different results based on these factors by themselves. That is, by itself no factor such as "rural economy of family of origin " will predict problems or strengths, or any single treatment approach, but different patterns of family adaptation to different environmental and life situations, were relevant to outcomes.
Equally important, different solutions were also more or less effective based on these factors.
For instance, lets choose a family of origin that was rooted in a "rural way of life". If they now found themselves in an urban and cosmopolitan culture, and were sending their first born to a school servicing that culture, there were inevitable conflicts, confusions, and heightened anxiety all around; for everyone.
However this first born child carried the burden of symptomization.
Here’s where tribal and societal factors come into the picture. There was usually no awareness that an urban and especially a cosmopolitan school environment does not always mesh with rural values (spoken or not) with which the child has been raised.
There is no focus or vocabulary that can alert and refocus the family from symptoms of the child, to the cosmopolitan assault on rural family of origin values, structure and patterns.
Ferguson gives reasons along the east-west continuum, that are interesting geo-politically, but he leaves out the the interface of family systems, ie. the internal and interpersonal sides of this geographic delineation and conflicting cultural-geopolitical factors.
His formal education, like the rest of us, has perhaps, not prepared him to integrate the family systems, multi-generational family/clan principles and patterns, with the concepts of the political economy that he is so good at.
In any case I have concluded that there are many differences, some very modern in origin and appearance, and some thousands of years old.
Perhaps the most important insight that led to the most effective interventions is the vector of “personal boundaries” and how we define, among others, personal space and personal loyalties.
How we define ourselves in the context of others in the couple, the family, the tribe, the society, the economy. All these differ in east vs west.
george jonisch, phd
Published by George Jonisch · 21 hrs ·
“What exactly do you think tribalism is caused by; what exactly do you think kept it going for so long; what exactly can we do about it?”
These are the most repeated questions I’ve been getting from readers calling in.
I can't answer them individually so I'll make a start here.
First thing to remember is "pack/clan instincts".
Without our biologically endowed, pack instinctual tendencies, I think tribalism would not be nearly as prevalent. (By the way, the various forms of tribalism are much more "unconscious in the person" than anything Freud explored).
Think about dogs and wolves; all canines work in packs. They group-hunt quite intelligently; in coordinated form, with clear strategies and assigned roles.
You need to see it to believe it. The way to see it up close, is to own several of man's best friends, raised and owned together. Hunting ability need not be taught by owners; witness the superior hunting coordination of wolf packs.
A single domestic dog pet, tells you nothing about how complicated, even domestic, canine packs are.
The behavioral patterns of any pack species come with the house.
They all function in the complicated, multi-step way they do, with no verbalization but incredible coordination and structure.
Does social science know how this works? Does biology? Not to my knowledge. No clue.
Mysterious? I think we are similar.
Now think about tigers, leopards and mountain lions (not African lions).
They also hunt with intelligence and strategy, but they are all solitary (or parent-child) hunters. They have no packs, ever.
No uncles, aunts, cousins or paramours.
They are true loners, independent, like America’s John Wayne mythology. They sometimes compete for hunting territory with other individuals of their species.
Canine packs compete, not with individual canines, but with other canine packs.
Both are 4 footed predators, but they are very different with regard to their need for others, and their involvement with, and dependency on, the pack and clan.
Do you think it's environmental? “Canines must have poor self-esteem from bad parenting, because they need each other so much”; "could it be due to poor mother-child-bonding and incompatibilities between mother and child?" "Maybe it is lack of paternal encouragement or paternal verbal abuse that they can't stand up for themselves and make an independent life of their own, the way my neighbor’s felines do"? "Perhaps they should get their own relationships outside the pack"?
Or do you think it might be a gene/chromosome, biology, inheritance related, inclination?
I think predatory, species-specific behavior, always starts with biology; that is why I think our human and primate clan inclinations reflect a pack biology that is similar, but more complicated than our fellow predators makeup; less obvious in both our inherited, predatory, and our pack dependency, inclinations.
We can modify it, but only with extraordinary effort. (extraordinary when compared to the billions of people on our planet who subsist on less than $200,000 per year.)
Easier to do it in the west; harder in the rest. Why?
I speculate that later in our species’ journey (situation A), tribe development used this biological pack/clan need for pack connection; also, for anxiety reduction through "group belonging" and not (feeling) being "alone". (plan A)
Individuals needed and benefited (practically, emotionally, and biologically) from the pack; the pack benefitted from the clan; and the clans discovered they could benefit from the tribe. (Plan B)
To have these genes was once life-saving in the prehistoric jungle (Situation A). The pack and its biological “unity” connection, was chosen by evolution to help later societal survival too. This “unity” connection would go on, much later, to be labelled “identity” (Situation B).
This “unity” connection in its later manifestation, the tribe, was equally anxiety reducing, in a more social context (Plan B). The insecurity of "being alone" and its associated disadvantages, is quickly recognized by both parts of our brain.
The emotional part felt better when there was a human connection. (Imagine seeing headlights coming toward your disabled car on a lonely road. You don’t know who is in that car, but there is a diminution of fear and anxiety to not feel alone and therefore, vulnerable.)
The logical part of our brain quickly recognized that there was safety in numbers (and in “connectedness”). There was also trade, help for planting, harvesting, defense and “predation effectiveness” in those same numbers.
The tribe got started as it included and by definition, excluded. The tribe became a multi-purpose solution to add security, both emotional and physical.
It also served a more sophisticated, addictive purpose; prosperity. Otherwise known historically and economically as “imperialism”.
Our current perceived need to have an identity that gives us values in common, is prominent in the west.
Perhaps because all prior identities have been blended and homogenized in the cosmopolitan cauldron of “globalization”.
The rest do not experience that need. They have their centuries old identity to keep them warm at night and unconflicted by day.
Our perceived identity situates us in a group (Sunni, Shia, Brit, Zulu, Dutch, democrat, republican) and “identifies” our ways of living. Our pack> tribe> identity need, started biologically; benefitted, and simultaneously, imprisoned us socially.
More on this and authority (governance, dominance/submission) in all tribes, in future posts.
Now let's get back to where we left off in PART 8...
“Perhaps the most important insight that led to the most effective interventions, is the vector of personal boundaries and how we define personal space and personal loyalties.”
I opened Wikipedia and searched for “personal boundaries”.
Here is how the wiki author defined it:
“Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards them and how they will respond when someone passes those limits. They are built out of a mix of conclusions, beliefs, opinions, attitudes, past experiences and social learning. This concept or life skill has been widely referenced in self-help books and used in the counseling profession since the mid-1980s.”
“According to some counselors, personal boundaries help to define an individual by outlining likes and dislikes, and setting the distances one allows others to approach. They include physical, mental, psychological and spiritual boundaries, involving beliefs, emotions, intuitions and self-esteem. Jacques Lacan considered such boundaries to be layered in a hierarchy, reflecting "all the successive envelopes of the biological and social status of the person".”
1 personal boundary definitions were a matter of “mental health”. The moderately firm, flexible, personal boundary “type” was the most desirable. Ask some “rest-erners” about that.
2 that our dependency on others in our group is a skill that can be learned, rather than something in our development as individuals to fit into any family/pack/tribe.
3 that the individual (or his chosen therapist/life counsellor) rather than society, sets our definition of “appropriate boundaries”.
This article mentioned a variety of different definitions and views about this social science term. There is very little overlap, in how it is used by the wiki author, vs, my use of the term; although the first sentence in the first paragraph I quote, is probably better than what I could have come up with on my own.
I don’t believe we form our own personal boundaries as a matter of course.
Yes, extraordinary circumstances and special, focused, personal efforts, can modify boundaries to either loosen or tighten them.
But in my practice, I found that the society of origin, influences personal boundaries within the family. Wiki makes it seem like these boundaries are ours to do with, as we will.
My take is that the family structure on a multi-generational timetable, forms our boundaries as an adult. Yes, a long-term extreme or chaotic family of origin situation, will tend towards either, random, overly tight, or overly loose, boundaries in our western culture.
In more or less stable, middle class households around the world, however, the boundaries we wind up with, can be predicted, more or less, before we are born.
How does that work?
We mentioned differences between the west and the rest (see PART 1 thru PART 5 and PART 7 and PART 8 below).
Personal boundaries in the northwestern parts of Europe and the Anglosphere vs the rest, are very, very, different.
Personal boundaries in the rural, small town, agrarian, areas of any country will be very different than the very large cosmopolitan and suburban areas of that same country. It’s not mathematically predictable but nothing related to deeply human interactions is ever mathematically predictable.
Eastern (for instance, the Muslim countries of Asia and Africa, Orthodox Jews, the majority of families in rural China and other Asian Buddhist countries. In other words, the majority of families on earth) teenagers don’t choose their spouse.
The family usually does. They have a say, maybe a veto, but choosing a spouse is a family, not an individual, enterprise.
It is impossible to have this cultural pattern, simultaneous to (in the same culture) a western definition of personal boundaries.
Western boundary definition, indeed western child development efforts, are all about individuality and “independent of family” choice.
This is not the only area where shared boundaries differentiate east and west.
In the west individuality, privacy, separateness and separation, bureaucratic separation of issues, are all important attitudes and beliefs and are manifest in all society's major institutions.
In the rest, everything is everybody’s business.
What a westerner would consider very private, in the rest, is openly discussed and even evaluated. It’s called “awkward” or “rude” in the west.
In the rest, “it’s just life, why hide it? If you are in my family/clan/tribe/, your business is my business. We have merged boundaries”.
PART 10, ASOF 9/13/17
george jonisch, phd