This article was first published by Daily Friend on 21 October 2023
I am a sovereign individual. I am not a slave to anyone. I believe in freedom, consent, property rights, respect and responsibility. I believe that selfishness is a virtue and selflessness is not.
Yet I find inconsistencies in my position. Individuals are often called upon to selflessly care for their offspring and their spouses. They must often care for their elderly parents at their own cost, in time and money. We embrace some obligations, while resisting others.
How do I reconcile the many needs and demands of others against my own self-interest? Is there a middle ground between selfish capitalism and utopian socialism?
Across all cultures and continents, the family unit is the most widespread and successful human social system. The vast majority of individualists and socialists grew up in families. A family is more than a collection of individuals, yet it is a very exclusive community. Not everyone can be a member of my family.
The clandestiny model
Societies are expected to provide law and order, economic security, and a sense of belonging to their members. This responsibility has been largely usurped by the state, on behalf of many millions of individuals in that society. Different states utilise different social orders to fulfil this responsibility.
What is the optimum social order? Humanity has tried many variations – tribalism, monarchism, despotism, anarchism, dictatorship, democracy, capitalism, communism, socialism.
The family is the most widely practised social order, experienced by virtually everyone since the dawn of mankind, and in every society. The family group consists of parents, children, and grandparents, living in close proximity. The term “dynasty” is too grand, so I have chosen the word “clandestiny” to describe the concept of multiple extended family groups, which I propose here.
While the individual remains sovereign, and the community important, clandestiny gives the biological family a new relevance and importance. It incorporates elements of many other social orders –
- Most families are ruled by a monarch, commonly the father.
- They are managed by a benevolent despot, commonly the mother.
- Most decisions are not subject to vote.
- Families enjoy an instinctual and innate affection and concern for other family members.
- Families consist of individuals, never predefined groups. Race, or nationality, or class are not issues.
- In a family, children and the elderly enjoy the benefits of socialism; to each according to their needs.
- There are elements of anarchy; no formal constitution, or courts, nor even rule of law.
- There is no formal currency, formal employment, or formal contracts.
- The economy of a family is usually dependent on external factors – employment, reward, sometimes charity. Everyone who can is expected to contribute.
- In a successful family, children are educated, elders are respected, parents are obeyed.
Can we apply this clandestiny family model to wider society? Can we resolve the many conflicts between other social orders using the wisdom inherent in this ancient arrangement?
According to Robin Dunbar, an anthropologist at the University College of London, the optimum human group size is between 150 and 300 individuals. He suggests that humans can comfortably maintain no more than 150 stable relationships. This corresponds to the number of descendants arising in 5 or 6 generations from a single ancestral pair.
You are a member of many communities in a lifetime, such as clubs, associations, businesses, political parties and countries. But are you ever a member of your own family clan?
The clandestiny proposal
- Individuals voluntarily organise into explicit family groups of 150 to 300 members, and no larger than 500 members. Each family group is known as a clan.
- Membership in a clan is defined by sharing a common ancestral pair from 5 or 6 generations back. This defines a unique and exclusive set of individuals. The clan may be named after the common ancestral pair. Under special circumstances the clan can consider adopting members (e.g. orphans).
- An individual may simultaneously be a member of several overlapping clans based on different ancestral pairs. They freely choose which clans they join, if any.
- Membership in a clan confers certain benefits:
- Identity: as with Scottish clans, you will belong to a uniquely named clan with specific flags, symbols, history, customs, myths, etc.
- Affiliation: the name and contact details of clan members is distributed to all other clan members. Regular annual gatherings are planned. Local gatherings may occur.
- Trust: The members of your clan are your relatives, many of whom you may already know.
- Security: clan members may freely defend the safety and integrity of other clan members, in preference to non-clan members.
- Support: If you have an emergency or fall on hard times, your fellow clan members are generally more likely to assist you than complete strangers.
- Solidarity (Bigger gang theory): Lone individuals, or small groups, are often subject to victimisation and prejudice by other bigger groups and gangs. Being a member of a clan can help even out the odds.
- Special treatment: Members of a clan may give special benefits to other clan members such as discounts (e.g. I have an uncle in the furniture business), preferential hiring, unsecured loans, and honest advice.
- The West is suffering an epidemic of loneliness and alienation in its populace, leading to huge suicide numbers. Being a member of a clan may help address this issue.
- The government is expected to care for the poor, elderly and infirm. Human connection and caring has become the responsibility of the uncaring state. Clandestiny provides an alternative.
- There is a long history of powerful family groupings amongst Jews, Italians, Scots, African tribes. Clandestiny is a refinement of a very old concept.
- Clans can lobby government and other special interests on behalf of their members with far more influence than individual lobbying.
- Clandestiny resolves the tension between the libertarian selfishness of the individual and the socialist insistence on equal outcomes for all. One willingly assists your own family in preference to strangers.
You may be your brother’s keeper, but you are not everyone’s keeper.