The Moral Basis of a Backward Society (book)

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The Moral Basis of a Backward Society (book)

fschmidt
Administrator
The Moral Basis of a Backward Society was written by Edward C. Banfield in 1958.  It is his analysis of the dysfunctional culture found in Southern Italy at that time.  His conclusion is that members of this culture act as if they were following this rule:

"Maximize the material, short-term benefit of the nuclear family; assume that all others will do likewise"

He calls this "amoral familism".  What is interesting to me is that this culture is monogamous but still dysfunctional.  It is dysfunctional because the people cannot cooperate.  What this shows is that what makes a culture dysfunctional isn't feminism, but rather the failure of men to cooperate.

How does this relate to Unwin's "Sex and Culture"?  Unwin studied isolated cultures.  Banfield makes the point that amoral familism cannot exist without the support of a government to impose order.  Without such an external government, amoral familism would simply collapse into violence.  In other words, monogamy can only exist when rules are enforced, either by the community or by an external force.  What this means is that monogamy is not, by itself, the primary cause of civilization, but is rather a result of civilization.  In a complex system like culture, things can be both cause and effect.  It is clear that monogamy reinforces civilization just as civilization can reinforce monogamy.  But monogamy is not enough by itself to cause civilization.  Ultimately, civilization and the cooperation of men are the same thing.  So the focus of building a good culture needs to be on how to promote cooperation among men.

One interesting point made in this book is that these people were fond of fascism.  In their view, the only source of order could be a strong government.  The idea that order could come from the people was alien to them.  So fascism does make logical sense from their perspective.

All of this shows how completely wrong the men's rights movement is.  Most MGTOW could be described as "amoral masculists".  They blame feminism for their problems when in fact it is the fault of men that men no longer cooperate to maintain culture.  This book proves this point.
Following the Old Testament, not evil modern culture
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Re: The Moral Basis of a Backward Society (book)

Drealm
Another interesting book to add to my list.

fschmidt wrote
It is his analysis of the dysfunctional culture found in Southern Italy at that time.
 

I'm curious, does he at any time contrast dysfunctional southern Italian culture with a "functional culture", perhaps "northern Europe"? My mother's side of my family is half Mexican half and half Spanish, so I'm very familiar with the Mediterranean temperament. I've always felt the Spaniards (another country with a history of fascism) of my mother's family were very dysfunctional.

fschmidt wrote
"Maximize the material, short-term benefit of the nuclear family; assume that all others will do likewise"
 

I thought Mediterranean culture was less nuclear and more extended?

fschmidt wrote
But monogamy is not enough by itself to cause civilization.  Ultimately, civilization and the cooperation of men are the same thing.  So the focus of building a good culture needs to be on how to promote cooperation among men.
 

I've thought about this a lot recently. Promoting monogamous relationships seems like the most important issue right now to CoAlpha brotherhood. I think this is because sex and relationship starved men drop the ball on everything else until these needs are met. But in reality relationships are just one aspect of culture. There are other forms of cooperation that I'd like to see also. For example respecting other men's property. Not cheating people in business. Not being violent. I think these forms of cooperation are just as important if not more important than monogamy.

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Re: The Moral Basis of a Backward Society (book)

fschmidt
Administrator
He focuses on one specific town in Southern Italy, not the Mediterranean generally.  He says that other towns in the region are similar.  He mentions other towns in Italy that are based on the extended family and says these are less dysfunctional because at least the extended family can cooperate.  He doesn't count this as amoral familism.  He also contrasts all this with Northern Italy which is more community based.
Following the Old Testament, not evil modern culture