Is marrying your cousin bad for democracy?

The title of the paper is “The Churches’ Bans on Consanguineous Marriages, Kin-Networks and Democracy” and the author is Jonathan F. Schulz, here is the abstract:

This paper tests the hypothesis that extended kin-groups, as characterized by a high level of cousin marriages, impact the proper functioning of formal institutions. Consistent with this hypothesis I find that countries with high cousin marriage rates exhibit a weak rule of law and are more likely autocratic. Further evidence comes from a quasi-natural experiment. In the early medieval ages the Church started to prohibit kin-marriages. Using the variation in the duration and extent of the Eastern and Western Churches’ bans on consanguineous marriages as instrumental variables, reveals highly significant point estimates of the percentage of cousin marriage on an index of democracy. An additional novel instrument, cousin-terms, strengthens this point: the estimates are very similar and do not rest on the European experience alone. Exploiting within country variation support these results. These findings point to the importance of marriage patterns for the proper functioning of formal institutions and democracy.

I recall reading related ideas in the MR comments section from Steve Sailer and others.  For the pointer I thank Alexander B.

Comments

Joe Henrich makes precisely this claim in your Conversation. Look for the keyword "Kent" in the transcript. I had the impression that this was a common view among cultural anthropologists but it's cool to have some quasi-experimental evidence that it's a more general phenomenon.

How is democracy doing in Virginia, the state with the highest concentration of Founders? - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cousin_marriage_law_in_the_United_States_by_state

Of course, maybe the percentage does not clear whatever bar is in place for a 'high level.'

Virginia contains, for all practical purposes, Washington DC, so I'd say democracy isn't doing too well there. A very incestuous place.

No, Virginia most definitely does not include DC, for reasons relating to the federal government itself -

1. 'The cession of territory from Virginia resulted in the town of Alexandria being absorbed into the District. Alexandria had previously been the county seat of Fairfax County, so the state of Virginia had to move the county seat and courthouse further inland away from the District. Additionally, Alexandria residents lost their Virginia state citizenship, and, after 1802, could no longer vote in Congressional or presidential elections.[3]

This did not sit well with those D.C. residents who fought for and supported the Revolution and the drawn out debate over the formation of the new federal government and the Constitution. The bitter irony was that these people would be living in sight of the very capitol that they could not vote to populate with their representatives.'

2. 'This disenfranchisement was made worse when it became known that the mayor and key members of D.C. municipal government would in fact be appointed by the president and Congress. Additionally, an amendment to the Residence Act in 1791 prohibited the construction of public buildings anywhere other than on the Maryland side of the Potomac River.[4] This had the effect of essentially keeping the Alexandria area of D.C. as rural farmland while the Maryland side would reap much of the commercial benefits of hosting the nation’s capital.'

3. 'Alexandria could not compete with nearby Georgetown or other ports for widespread commercial traffic, but it did have a thriving commercial hub for the slave trade. This terrible fact was a blight on the nation’s capital in the eyes of abolitionists in the 1820s and 1830s. They recognized that removing slavery from the Southern states was a formidable task, but it was at least a hope that the slave trade could be abolished in the District.

A series of bills were proposed in Congress beginning in 1804 to return the Alexandria portion of D.C. to Virginia. There were several groups that supported the effort at various times, and while they did not have the same interests at heart, they did have the same final goal in mind.' https://blogs.weta.org/boundarystones/2016/07/08/alexandria-retrocession-1846

Admittedly, considering just how central the military-industrial complex has become as an integral component of the federal government, the fact that the Pentagon is in Virginia is certainly relevant to such a discussion.

Do you take classes on How to Miss The Point and Not Having A Sense of Humour, or does it just come naturally?

I clearly took classes, growing up in Fairfax County, after being born in Alexandria.

Maybe you also missed the point? For people who were born and grew up there, DC is a different place than Arlington or Prince William. In all kinds of ways, most of them based on history.

That would explain your mastery on How To Miss The Point and Not Having A Sense of Humour. My condolences for your tragic backstory.

Thankfully though, tragic as my back story may be, I'm not from DC.

Haha, well played! I take it all back.

I hope he cited hbd chick. She has spent a lot of time on this line of thought.

You could check out his cites. It may be unnecessary for him to cite her if such ideas are around.

Her argument as I recall, the specific new thing she added, back when I read such things, was the idea that people had evolved towards different personalities in Western Europe, due to the prohibition of the church, in the 24 generations or whatnot that such a ban had been in force.

(I think that idea's probably rubbish, btw if the tone didn't clearly imply).

Not so much that it's rubbish that *some* changes in personality could have happened - some degree of why people from the West "treat their family like strangers and strangers like family" a bit more, with the Nordic WEIRDOs at an apex.

Rather what seems unlikely is that a path of marriage ban->large shift in individual level personality->large shift in culture has too much to do with the origin of institutions that birthed modern science, the leap to modern economic growth, or to modern states.

It also seems unlikely that any of these small personality changes left over from evolutionary history will prevent economic convergence and convergence on trust and institutional quality to a level more or less in line with what migration adjusted technology in 1500AD would predict (https://growthecon.com/blog/Persistence-Technology/), which implies far lower Asian-European GDP gaps, and basically equal levels of the simple life expectancy and satisfaction measures even for poor nations in Africa.

Large parts of India still have a significant percentage of consanguineous marriages . It would be hard not to call India a democracy.

The point isnt that clannish societies cant become democracies, just that when they do become democracies they wont function well.

How well does India's democracy really function? Hasn't it been ruled by a succession of Ghandis for decades?

Tyler and many people in the comments are reading the conclusion of this paper differently than people like Steve Sailer and HBD Chick would (I think, I guess I cant represent them).

Cousin marriage is _not_ causal on democracies underperforming, at least not in the short term. Its just that people who cousin marry and people who are clannish largely overlap. Cousin marriage is a mating strategy that has some clear theoretical advantages and has been very common in much of the world for most of history. The trait of cousin-marrying is associated with clannish personality traits, for reasons I cant elaborate on right now. Democracies with clannish people in them dont work well. Its the personality that is causal, and cousin marriage is separate but not wholly unrelated phenomenon that is merely correlated.

If, for example, some magic made everyone in the west marry their cousin, or made them do this for a century or two, democracy would still function just as well as it had before because the underlying personality of those people would remain unchanged.

Like HBD people usually contend, the actual mechanism is genetic. Clannishness and cousin marriage are biological traits that evolved in particular social environments in particular parts of the world. Its not just the culture of clannish people who marry their cousins, or the political incentives cousin marriages create. The culture sets up evolutionary benefits, that after maybe 1000 years, creates people with new behaviors.

I have to wonder about old Tyler when, a day after "shithole countries," he drops a "Steve Sailer," and the "HBD people" crow.

Of course they do.

Trigger warning!

Further examples are a boolean search away.

https://twitter.com/ForsetisRevenge/status/951681944915464192

Shithole countries is an interesting phenomenon in two ways. First, in the manufactured and fake outrage at the use of vulgar language - no such outrage existed in the media when Joe Biden said that ACA was a BFD. Second, in the necessary internal contradiction in believing that we need to allow migration on a lottery system and refugee system because some countries are [insert synonym of shithole here] and that no countries are actually [insert synonym of shithole].

The outrage is not so much at the use of the word shithole, as at the fact that it is directed at entire countries and the people in them, instead of being use to describe a piece of legislation.

Notice that Tyler only speaks to the virtues of African immigrants, not regarding Africans as a whole. I read this as an implicit concession that those countries are shitholes, and that most Africans dont possess those virtues. Its also a subtle argument in favor of immigration restrictions, since without them, the quality of American immigrants would decline.

So far as I can tell, Tyler and Trump are in agreement. The reason they sound so different simply Straussian.

"Straussian" is sort of becoming a term used by conspiracy theorists who refuse to understand the plain meaning of what is directly spoken to them.

Tyler Cowen can't possible be pro-immigration. Un-possible. He must be speaking in some sort of secret code.

In short, correlation =/ causation.

Why beat around the bush? It's associated with lower Iq and high incidents of birth defects. I believe Pakistanis are responsible for nearly a third of British birth defects despite being a small population.

This is legit.

IQ nor birth defects didnt even come to mind when I wrote what I wrote. I wasnt beating around to bush, or putting up any pretext.

Tbh fam, it makes me sad that HBD stuff cant be read as talking about anything other a small HBD stereotype.

The Dali Lama tells me that secular ethics, those not simply given as "commandments," arise from a recognition that actions have consequences, including sometimes harm.

If that "small HBD stereotype" results in harm, maybe think upstream, about actions that led to it.

Hbd is one mental tool for understanding the world. It’s not a magic model that explains everything—you can have all kinds of gaps between identifiable groups that aren’t genetic or even biological but that still matter.

I suspect cousin marriage has short term effects (slightly less healthy kids, more clannishness because of the complicated family ties), and also effects on how your culture and genes evolve—in a high-clannishness world, some genetic predispositions work better than others and some cultural norms/patterns work better than others.

Cousin marriage is _not_ causal on democracies underperforming, at least not in the short term. Its just that people who cousin marry and people who are clannish largely overlap.

Why not? I can think of several reasons why it might be.
How did Europeans go from cousin-marrying to non-cousin-marrying if cousin-marrying is associated with intrinsic personality traits? Did the church engage in a breeding program to get rid of the cousin-marriers?

The trait of cousin-marrying is associated with clannish personality traits, for reasons I cant elaborate on right now.

That's convenient.

I think you are being sarcastic about the breeding program thing, but I think thats basically what happened even if the church at that time didnt think of themselves as breeding people. The cousin marriage ban imposed by the church was pretty severe, at its peak it extended out to banning 6th cousins. The fact that you couldnt mate with anyone even remotely related to you meant the reproductive strategy of mating with your relatives was worthless. That does in fact filter people who are interested in that from the gene pool.

But whats more important and explanatory is the broader context of that. The reason why the church was powerful enough to impose such severe ban on cousin marriage is a political consequence. European kings wanted to control their region, and clans and family ties threatened that control. Adopting christianity- a religion that prohibits ancestor worship and cousin marriage- was a way of breaking up clans. Once there werent large family units to form clans around and clans were politically unprofitable, clannish traits lost all their advantage evolutionarily, so they went away after about 1000 years.

While I dont approve of cousin marriages it is a bit of a stretch to link it to lack of democracy.

Some points -

1. The countries of the middle east and Pakistan have the highest rates of cousin marriage in the world. And democracy is decidedly wobbly in these parts. Seeming to support this hypothesis.

2. However lets take India. This is a country of two parts.

North India - No cousin marriage. Democracy doesnt work as well.

South India - high incidence of cousin marriage. But Democracy yields better outcomes here.

This contradicts Sailer's thesis.

3. United States is that odd country that bans cousin marriages but approves of gay marriage. This makes NO sense to me.

There is no moral or ethical framework that can justify restricting people's liberties to marry their cousins while allowing them to marry their own gender. It is a very strange conception of right and wrong which never ceases to amuse me.

But of course the sanctimonious West doesnt wish to introspecg at this odd pair of stances.

'United States is that odd country that bans cousin marriages'

Marriage is handled at the state level in the U.S. You are welcome to see how many states allow cousin marriages. The state where I was born allows cousin marriages - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cousin_marriage_law_in_the_United_States_by_state (the article a bit confusing - some of the 'yeses' are actually 'noes' and vice versa- for example, Alabama is 'yes' for 'Sterility requirement to marry cousin' while Virginia is 'no.')

Well, I know it is state policy.

But a good chunk of the country doesn't allow it. And there are many many states that allow gay marriage but ban cousin marriage. That is odd to me.

Cousin marriage has a precedent that goes back several thousand years in all civilizations. And is far more widely tried and tested than gay marriage. Yet, somehow it is bad, while gay marriage is welcome.

"And there are many many states that allow gay marriage but ban cousin marriage. That is odd to me.",

Why? The two things have nothing to do with each other, no matter what you think of cousin marriage. This seems like a massive non sequitur or other cognitive error to me.

It isn't an error. Sure, they don't have much to do with each ther.

But I am just trying to understand a society that regards cousin marriage as "bad" but gay marriage as "OK". Why would you hold that stance? Articulate your case.

shrik, you've done it! You have found a logical inconsistency in our laws! Congratulations, for being first--you get a golden ticket to Wonka's Chocolate Factory, where Oompa Loompas cry their orange snowflake tears into the tiers of chocolate gay wedding cakes!

Cousin marriage is bad because of risks to the children produced. Gay marriage has literally no problem there. Not that hard, shrikanthk.

Gay marriage doesn't produce children at all. Which I'd say is a problem.

The impact of cousin marriage on kids' health has hardly been conclusively been established.

Marrying your first or second cousin and making children with them is definitely a health risk, and it doesn't matter if you understand this or not. But that's the plain, simple answer to your question. You wanted to know why one and not the other, that's why. Gay people aren't making babies whether they marry or not, so letting them get married doesn't change overall fertility.

Marrying your 2d cousin isn't a health risk.

We don't restrict two people with Huntington's disease (or any disease/disorder for that matter) from marrying and having children.

I don't see vast sections of middle east, Pakistan, Iran and Southern India facing huge health risks due to their marital choices.

I think the health risk is overstated. And as Art Deco said, we don't keep people with ailments from marrying.

And Gay people can have babies. Everyone for instance marries in India. Am sure some of them are attracted to the same sex. That doesn't keep them from marrying and having babies.

"Cousin marriage is bad because of risks to the children produced."

This presumes that genetics are deterministic which is wrong think.

msgkings, gays spread an enormous amount of disease.

"It is a very strange conception of right and wrong which never ceases to amuse me."
You can't marry your male cousin, either. Or your sister or your brother or your father or your mother. As you can see, establishing if familiar bonds prevents marriage or not is a separate question from gender. No, you can marry your mother, no matter how traditonal values embodying you think it would be.

"Of course, the sanctimonious West doesnt wish to introspecg at this odd pair of stances."
Yeah, gays are human beings, how odd!

I really love how abject failure really goes to some people's heads. As for Indian "democracy", suffices to say that, according to the Reporters without Borders, India is more repressive than Cambodia and a little better than Venezuela and Palestine. So, yes, not exactlya democracy by any meaningful definition.

But yes, the Reporters wihout Borders are the "sanctimonious West". You know, the one that actually developed Democracy, industry, education and all the rest. And feeds Indian refugees from the holy Hindu paradise (for some reason, Indians love India as long as they are not forced to go back there).

You are mistaking incest with cousin marriage. It's just ridiculous.

There is no equivalence between marrying your first cousin and marrying your mother. You are a product of cousin marriage at some point yourself if you go back far enough in your ancestry.

India isn't a perfect democracy. But as I said, democracy works BETTER in precisely those parts of India where there is cousin marriage and works WORSE in those parts of India where cousin marriage is taboo (North India).

I don't like cousin marriage. I declined to marry my fourth cousin because I felt even 4th degree isn't very healthy. But I see no grounds for banning it.

"There is no equivalence between marrying your first cousin and marrying your mother."

I like my mother more than I like my cousins.

"India isn’t a perfect democracy."
Or is it as perfect as Cambodia and Palestine?

"But I see no grounds for banning it."
It is dysgenic.

"It is dysgenic"

By the same token, you should ban marriages involving people with any kind of health problem. After all we dont want unhealthy characteristics to pass on to the future.

It is interesting that the opponents of cousin marriage are also invariably the ones who are also opposed to Eugenics. Haha

"By the same token, you should ban marriages involving people with any kind of health problem."
Yet many cultures that banned the former hadn't banned the latter. So as moral values and traditions go, you can rest assured everything is kosher here. Banning cousins marrying is not some kind of revolutionary experiment as much as it may shock it.

And I doubt "any " and all health problems are linked to genetic heritage. Some of them clearly have nothing to do with heritage. Not to mention that lots of genetic problems are caused by recessive alleles, which are a problem for marriages in a family. And again why drawing the linemof acceptance at cousins. Why not marry your mother, how can a democracy restrict your holy right of marrying your mother. If you are an adult, so the experience won't ruin your chidhood and send you to Doctor Freud. And Cleopatra went all right by all accounts so incest must not be so horrible. You are just playing selective indignation.

Strictly speaking, incest and cousin marriage aren't dysgenic because the increase in birth defects is due to exposing pre-existing recessives, it doesn't increase them. Theoretically, it should reduce that mutation load by exposing the rare variants to phenotypic selection. I think Wright also points out the advantage of creating highly inbred lineages in preserving non-additive configurations of genes - regular breeding works mostly on additive variants because that's the only thing that survives constant recombination with strangers, and any effect dependent on 2 or 3 variants being present simultaneously quickly disappears phenotypically. Perhaps 'Dune' was onto something.

I always assumed it was the reverse for two? Is there a specific statistic you're referring to?

Cousin marriage is anathema to North Indian Hindus. But quite common among North Indian Muslims.

In the South, cousin marriage is rife among most castes besides Brahmins. Usually father's side cousin marriage is prohibited by custom even in the South. But cousin marriage on the mother's side + the custom of marrying one's maternal uncle is extremely common. Particularly in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Less so in Karnataka and Kerala.

shrikankth, can you elaborate at all on the marrying-one's-maternal-uncle custom? It seems odd, if there are plenty of cousins of various degrees about, that people wouldn't just marry within their own generation. And there's no ickiness factor at all? The girl chosen to marry her uncle, doesn't feel ill-used by her family?

Is there an attitude that courting - even within the bounds of extended family, and possibly suitable arranged matches - is beneath some men, so they must be handed a young female family member?

Sorry, shrikanthk

And a further question, is it easy for immigrants from the areas you mentioned, to discard their marriage customs when they're in the West, or do they quietly carry on with them?

I am talking of rural and small town South India here. In large cities in the South, it is already pretty rare even among the castes that are notorious for it.

Among those who migrate to the West (which is an even more select group) it is very rare. Don't worry.

Among North Indians of all social strata and among Brahmins (both north and south) it is almost non existent.

Also usually even in cases of maternal uncle marriage, it usually happens with the girl and her uncle are similarly aged. Else it is not usually an option. Even in rural Southern India.

This seems like exactly the right kind of data to test this set of ideas!

I don't have a statistic handy by the way, though you can try getting it. But what I just said is universally accepted in India. It is common wisdom.

I feel the social ills arising from gay marriage far exceed the ills associated with cousin marriage.

Yet the former is legal but the latter is banned in large parts of US.

Makes no sense to me.

This is a good example of an area where liberalism is strangely schizophrenic.

'feel the social ills arising from gay marriage'

Shouldn't we wait at least another decade before making such sweeping generalizations? Or at least the same time horizon as mentioned for societies that allow cousin marriage?

There is no need for empirical validation here. It's too obvious.

Cousin marriages are procreative. Gay marriages are not.

Cousin marriages last. Gay marriages less likely to. Atleast as evidenced by the high rates of promiscuity and break-ups among gay couples.

Cousin marriages usually strengthen your link to your roots. Gay marriages invariably deracinate / unmoor you as a person.

Yet somehow cousin marriages are worthy of a ban in many parts of the Western world, while gay marriages are not.

It is very strange.

And I say all this as a strong opponent of cousin marriage.

How would banning gay marriage, at the margin, increase fertility or lead to more stable relationships among gay people? You are missing several logical steps in this "obvious" argument.

I am NOT making a case against gay marriage here, necessarily.

I am not even saying banning it is some magic bullet of sorts.

I am just contrasting the stances on cousin marriage and gay marriage in liberal circles.

+1

I feel the social ills arising from gay marriage far exceed the ills associated with cousin marriage.

What do you "feel" like the social ills are? Gay marriage has been legal in some US states for a long time now - 13 years in Massachusetts - with absolutely 0 evidence of "social ills" (especially compared to states that did not so legalize it until recently.) I am suspicious that your "feelings" here are not well based on evidence, but please do tell us what the problems are.

Gay marriage is a fundamental alteration to the definition of marriage. Cousin marriage is not. It has always been part of human culture.

So gay marriage is definitely something more radical. And the arguments against it are many. It is an attempt to make gay behavior normative. And is predicated on the assumption that gay-ness is derived from nature and not nurture. If there is a nurture component to gay behavior, then legitimizing it using gay marriage has consequences for society. Fertility rates particularly.

Anyway regardless of the Cost benefit analysis, I still don't understand the conception of liberalism that is OK with restricting people's liberties to marry their kin but has problems with restricting people's liberties to marry their own gender.

For someone who doesn’t support cousin marriage, you sure are coming across as a bit homophobic, and I hardly if ever use that word.

homophobic is a label. It is a label one uses to vilify people one doesn't agree with.

I have no problems with gays. I have a problem with changing the definition of marriage.

But that's again a personal stance. It doesn't mean I strongly oppose gay marriage. If enough people in society feel it is worth experimenting with, then I am good with it.

As I said elsewhere the purpose of these comments of mine are not to attack gay marriage but contrast the stances in liberal circles on cousin marriage vs gay marriage.

I don't see how restricting people's liberties to marry their cousins amounts to liberalism.

Gays are too small in number for their presence to impact on fertility rates. Perhaps when you have lived in the US for longer you will see they are people just like anyone else and allowing them to marry is a sign of a liberal, fair society. Allowing them to formalise their relationship strengthens the institution. Giving unmarried couples the same status as married ones does more to harm the institution of marriage as well as tolerance of adultery.

Cousin marriage is dysgenic and encourages loyalty to the family, clan and tribe as opposed to society at large.

Maybe it is dysgenic. I support your view there. But that's no reason to ban it.

Sure, gays are people. I have nothing against gays. But it is by no means clear to me that gay behavior is 100% nature and 0% nurture. Even if the nurture component is say 10%, I still won't feel comfortable encouraging gay behavior.

The ill effects won't be evident now. But will be evident in a century or so.

"If there is a nurture component to gay behavior, then legitimizing it using gay marriage has consequences for society. Fertility rates particularly."

I myself have felt incredibly gay since the Supreme Court has had its say on gay marriage. Until then, I lusted after women of all shapes, sizes and legally-capable-of -giving-their-consent ages and fatjered thousands of children, but now I have become unredeemable gay. I blame Justice Anthony Kennedy for leading the Court on accepting gay marriages and being so good-looking. Do you know if he is single?

"Cousin marriage is not. It has always been part of human culture."
Maybe it is part of your culture. My family has never done that. We also don't marry siblings (of any gender), no mater of Cleopatra may have said. Or Peter IV from Portugal, who married her daughter to his brother (her uncle). Maybe Portuguese people should claim marrying relatives is their cultural right...

"My family has never done that"

It's just mathematically untrue to assert that. It is quite certain there is cousin marriage at some point in your family history.

Steve Sailer (if he's reading) - Would you agree? There simply aren't enough slots if we go back some 1000 years assuming no inbreeding.

The objection to gay marriage is that marriage pre-dates the State, and by presuming to re-define the institution, the State cheapens its place in the culture, and forces its post hoc definition on people with ontological objections to it. Thus the State becomes totalitarian, the ultimate moral arbiter of human affairs.

I think gay marriage is more a symptom of a society has already lost the ability to answer the question, "why not?" I don't see what the objections are to cousin marriage and polygamy at this point.

I guess Noah's family must have had some wild parties, being the only humans left and all, but for all recorded history of my family, which is all that matters, I am not discussing if Mr. Homo Erectus can marry Lucy, the Australopithecus, we never engaged in inbreeding. It is wrong, it cheapens a bloodline, it produces monsters.

"I think gay marriage is more a symptom of a society has already lost the ability to answer the question, 'why not?' I don’t see what the objections are to cousin marriage and polygamy at this point."

Maybe it is a symptom of you not being able to articulate a reason for "why not".

"The objection to gay marriage is that marriage pre-dates the State, and by presuming to re-define the institution, the State cheapens its place in the culture, and forces its post hoc definition on people with ontological objections to it. Thus the State becomes totalitarian, the ultimate moral arbiter of human affairs."
You want to tell us how https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-miscegenation_laws made the state the ultimate moral arbiter of human affairs and cheapened marriage for all time? Please? Something about onhological objections maybe? Who exactly is the final arbiter? Your church? Mine? Democrats? The Boy Scouts? The Pope? Since the State can execute you for murder, robbery, treason, it is the moral arbiter that can make things happen this side of eternity. It doesn't make it right (whether it bans miscegenation, drugs, school praying or gay marriage), just stronger.

When the West started raising the age of marriage was it the state being the ultimate moral arbiter of whatever? Funnily enough, Scalia replied to the idea hat the State should not legislate (Conservative, Christian) morality, pointing out that the state ALWAYS legislates someone's morality. Even letting a matter alone is a state decision defined by a constitution or the Supreme Court (hopefully, under he rule of law). If the state changes its mind, the cops kick your door.

@Partridge - that's what separate countries are for. Ontological belief systems exist; many are incompatible with each other. Democracy doesn't really settle such questions.

If the State confines itself to the few truly public goods, thereby allowing cultural safe harbors from which people can interact or not as they choose, then multi-credal countries can probably function okay. But this is untenable for a lot of reasons.

But the point is, the state has played with the idea of marriage for thousands of years. Marriage is not for me what it was for a Jew who knew if he died childless, his brother would put his ahouder to he wheel and make sure he would have inheritors to his name. It is not he same for Catholic who thinkshe can not divorce his wife and a Jew or Muslim who sees nothing to it. It is not the same now and when they were marrying what today would be schoolgirls. It is not the same for a devout Calvinist and an Ancient Greek chasing boys to "teach" them.

The Catholic Church did what it could in Latin America to prevent divorce from being legally accepted. Who is the final arbiter of marriage in Rio de Janeiro? The Pope or the President of Brazil? N England? Henry VIII or the Pope? As soon as you are trying to prevent people from being legally recognized as married, you called the state to be the arbiter even if only to second your opinion. As the law goes (and no one is saying you can not preach fire and brimstone about gays), it is a "The Pope! How many divisions has he got?" situation wheter or not the law agrees with the Pope (or Dawkins or Charlie Sheen or whatever). It is a little too late to tell the state to take his hands out your marriage. Or the gays'.

States legally recognize certain marriages and don't recognize others based on the underlying belief system, which is why the Western states which formerly made up Christendom don't extend legal recognition to polygamous marriages. But if the State, in the name of secularism and multiculturalism, is going to extend legal recognition to gay marriage then I'm not sure how long it can maintain an objection to polygamy.

"States legally recognize certain marriages and don’t recognize others based on the underlying belief system, which is why the Western states which formerly made up Christendom don’t extend legal recognition to polygamous"

Jews (Joseph and Salomon for instance) were (could be) polygamous until they couldn't be anymore. The underlying belief system in the West banned divorce (unless he Pope was your friend) until it didn't. Now, Republicans practice serial poligamy as much as Democrats, maybe more. Schoolgirls are now (legally) out of reach. And apparently you can not offer your daughter to the King of France to get on his
good side anymore.
Apparently the new underlying system is that people can divorce, whatever Christ had to say about that in the Bible (and Republicans are OK with Trump), gays can marry whathever the Pope may think about it and Blacks can marry Whites and vice versa whatever was the underlying belief system in Alabama in 1953. But separate states and all that. I am sure things are different in Saudi Arabia (they already have poligamy for example).

I doubt gay marriage is worse or risky for marriage as an institution than all the experimentation that is ongoing in heterosexual relationships right now or the struggle to adapt marriage to the realities of woman have jobs and not being shipped to the King of France for marriage or sent to a convent for he rest of heir lives for cheating. Seriously, religious dogma aside (which has an issue which much more of human sexuality than just gays), I can not see what is the drama about gays marrying.

I agree with Anti-Gnostic that I don't understand how they can wall off polygamy from these debates. But I hear my husband, whose position vis-a-vis gay marriage is probably identical to shrikanth's while also being something he doesn't think about or care about much, saying (in my head, next to the elephant) that because polygamy in the US is associated with Mormons, who are "too much married" and family-oriented, it will probably never be legalized here. Because the goal is certainly not to strengthen marriage ... (which is not at all to say that many gays who marry are not themselves in complete earnest, probably more so than most straight people at this point, and deserve every happiness).

" Because the goal is certainly not to strengthen marriage … (which is not at all to say that many gays who marry are not themselves in complete earnest".

I doubt allowing Blacks and Whites marry or stop sending daugthers to the King of France was about strengthening marriage eiher. It was about repcting the rights of individuals.

Probably there are lots of agendas at work here. Jews do not ask Fundamentalist Protestant why so much love for Israel. I do not blame gays if they do not ask why they are finally being treared as real people. Who cares? Heterosexual people who want to marry can and, if divorce rates and general unpleasantness tell us something, is that too much people who know nothing what they are doing marry already. If polygamy was allowed, I think people would soon say it is appeasing Muslims or Hippies or Liberals and a plan to destroy the nuclear family (ask Conservatives). I doubt most Conservatives would remember Mormons and their wonderful families.

Hey bro do you even Caroline Products footnote 4?

So gay marriage is definitely something more radical. And the arguments against it are many. It is an attempt to make gay behavior normative. And is predicated on the assumption that gay-ness is derived from nature and not nurture. If there is a nurture component to gay behavior, then legitimizing it using gay marriage has consequences for society. Fertility rates particularly.

Your presumption here is that healthy, heterosexual marriage/procreation is a realistic and available alternative to homosexuals i.e. inside very gay/lesbian is a heteronormative spouse and parent just waiting to come out.

To put it politely, that is a rather dubious presumption.

Your presumption here is that healthy, heterosexual marriage/procreation is a realistic and available alternative to homosexuals i.e

My presumption is that the multifarious dissatisfactions of the the denizens of the gay subculture (and the taste for drag among them) is a matter of no interest for public policy and is not an excuse for inventing entitlements for them out of whole cloth. (My other presumption is that 'gotta have me some sodomy' isn't a very impressive disposition toward mundane life).

Because they clear can't gotta them some sodomy without marriage rights. Homosexuality was invented in 2015, I see. Thanks, Obama.

A lot of skipping of details here, but:
Think of family tribes, religious authorities, and governments moving and shaping each other, with temporary alliances and power passing back and forth between the three. Right now we are in a phase where government power is very high. The government, structured so as to continually increase its power, pushes for certain rights, i.e., easy divorce, abortion, sexual rights, etc.. which weaken family control over family members as well as religious control.

Permitting cousin marriage strengthens family tribal power - most cousin marriages are arranged.
Permitting gay marriage weakens religious power and family tribal power- why religions *created* traditional marriage is a long story, but they are bound to it.

That is why one is permitted and the other forbidden by our current - much too powerful to survive - government.

"The government, structured so as to continually increase its power, pushes for certain rights, i.e., easy divorce, abortion, sexual rights, etc.. which weaken family control over family members as well as religious control."

Probably not only the government. It is possible family members also do not like to be "controlled".

People are controlled in all sorts of ways. The government doesn't cede control over, say, paying taxes, or following lots of arcane laws and regulations. But the government will free you from your religion and family.

If the person accepts such a freedom, what is the problem? Is religion entitled control whether one likes it or not?

(Replying to Partridge above)
If you're ok with the consequences, then no problem. The Greeks who chose to limit their family sizes in Ancient Greece almost certainly loved their freedom to do so. Whether or not they were upset when other, more fecund, tribes moved in - well, nobody ever asked them and perhaps they didn't care about that either.

In a phony democracy, the government has the interest and ability to determine who fornicates with whom, sanctioning or prohibiting legal relationships that exist in cultures. Cultural outliers have found that acceptance comes more quickly through the legal system than ordinary cultural change.

If every household was autarchic then cousin marriage, bestialty, incest, etc. wouldn't be an issue. Otherwise, the rest of us have an interest in the place not turning into Pakistan.

Does it mean Pakistan allows gay marriages or does it mean Massachussets would become Pakistan if cousins there could marry? And Pakistanis would take issue with "the rest of us have an interest in the place not turning into Pakistan." They can be almost as annoying as Indians.

If I had to narrow it down, I'd say cousin marriage, polygamy/polyandry, and Islam would be the top three things on my list for countries to avoid.

I disagree completely with enacting "gay marriage" but homosexuals are such a small percentage of the population and most of them don't get the licenses in any event.

Exactly what is the risk for America or, as I said, Massachussets? Cousin marriage, Islam or poligamy? I really do not see any of them taking over America.

A "consanguineous marriage" is one between two individuals who are related as second cousins or closer. Some states allow first cousins to marry, and many do. In the ancient world, the "family unit", called the household, consisted of the paterfamilias and his sons and daughters, his slaves, and his freed slaves, but it did not include his wife, who remained part of the household of her paterfamilias. Why was that? To prevent two powerful families from concentrating their power by inter-marriage. If marriage is between two unrelated individuals, two powerful families can concentrate their power (e.g., Trump and Kushner). More broadly, marriages between cousins is unlikely to concentrate power but dilute it.

"And that is why a Man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife" - Genesis 2:24
The Catholic Church used this particular quote to help break up the Germanic tribes in the middle ages.

I recommend (again) Family and Civilization, by Carle Zimmerman for more of this.

This is a subject that is very well addressed on "The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution" by Francis Fukuyama

This is Stanley Kurtz thesis about what makes public life problematic in the Muslim world. NB, IIRC, Kurtz' thesis concerned parallel cousin marriage, where the children of brothers mate. I don't think it applied to cross-cousin marriage, where the parents of the bride and groom might be brother and sister or sister and sister.

Most societies tend to have taboos and elaborate customs against parallel cousin marriages. Is there actual genetic differences between the two? Or is it more for social/political considerations that two men were historically potential heirs and it causes less issues with inheritance?

Yes, because of the build-up of recessive genes. E.g., the Habsburgs.

Emmanuel Todd: Explanation of Ideology: Family Structure & Social System, 1985, translated by David Garrioch

Much more in depth than mere cousin marriage, but it a strong variable as to whether or not you are living in a relatively sane place. I became quite convinced, after reading Todd, that the appropriate strategy in the Middle East is to leave them alone (and leave them there). They would soon be to busy arguing between themselves to bother us, especially if we stop sending money.

I would imagine that "nationalism" is the mediating factor between "low cousin marriage rate" and "democratic functionality". Having a wider and more dispersed sense of kinship likely leads to greater feelings of kinship with one's "nation" and more attitutudes of fairness and equality towards members of one's kinship-nation.

St.Augustine supported this theory, if I remember correctly. That was one reason the Churches banned cousin marriage.

But the Church winked at cousin marriages for the upper classes who got dispensations for it with a just little bit of palm greasing. There were even instances of uncle-niece marriage as late as the 19th century among royalty. Cousin marriages happened among Protestants too: Victoria and Albert being an example.

It is nice to have a study but frankly the best evidence against cousins marrying is to consider World War 1 as giant family feud of all Queen Victoria children and grand-children.

Up until recently, didn't most people live in fairly small communities of agriculturists? Whether they favored cousin marriage or not, there had to be a great deal of consanguity in a farming village in the Levant, the Polish plain, Mesoamerica, and China. Did Inuit hunters in Greenland oppose cousin marriage?

As I understand it, past the 3rd or 4th degree of consanguinity the genetic risk becomes no greater than in general.

True story: I have a friend from a small village in the Levant. Their priest told them he wouldn't marry two people from the same village.

Why do people write "impact" when they mean "impair"? Sheer bloody ignorance?

Mainly we do it to piss you off.

The use of 'impact' as a verb began in corporate settings ca. 1980. I'm not sure I've ever heard out of someone who didn't have b-school training. There isn't the sense that their used to be (see The Chronicles of Doodah, published in 1985) that business executives are responsible for ruining the language.

I assume it saves them the embarrassment of confusing affect and effect. And perhaps it sounded zingy, since once upon a time it probably wasn't used much outside physics and engineering.

Because impair implies that there is only a binary nature to the possible effect.
Impact allows for the change to be multi-modal and does not impose judgement.

On the contrary, it's almost always used to describe a one-dimensional effect, but leaving the reader to guess the direction. It's almost always used to impose judgement, and it's misused to refer to effects that are slow rather than near-instantaneous. It's an abomination and an affectation.

No, it isn't. I can think of many cases where I would be careful to say "impact" rather than "impair" precisely because I *don't* want to imply that the effect is either positive or negative, but merely an effect of some sort.

History makes clear that having small feet is bad for democracy.

Small hands too, as the current US president shows.

Since mammals refuse to breed with their mothers and fathers etc., is this dispute over the definition of an evolutionary principle?

That's not true for cows and many herd animals. The dominant male mates with every female, regardless of generation and consanguinity.

The thing that immediately comes to my mind is that cousin marriage would tend to promote nepotism because kin-groups would be much more closely interrelated. And that would be bad for democracy because the gains from being in power would be more concentrated within a small group of powerful families or just one family.

I imagine that the church might have noticed this as well and banned the practice because it challenged the institutional power of the clergy, which was not dominated by those particular families (with some exceptions), and well as interfering with the community of faith by making social hierarchies more pronounced.

Cousin marriage has all these bad outcomes, so I am quite surprised there are no charities or NGOs dedicated to try and reduce it.

While it's ok to mock redneck deplorables who marry cousins we're supposed to not judge other cultural practices as inferior so this might be a hard sell.

But IMO the only workable plan for democracies and economic success in the Middle East starts with reducing cousin marriage then coming back in a few hundred years.

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