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Lev Gumilev 


Lev Gumilev

"Ethnogenesis and the Biosphere"







containing a list of the features of an ethnic phenomenon as such, compiled so as to make it possible to give a general explanation of ethnogenesis, the process in which ethnoi arise and disappear


Ethnos and Ethnonym


Names deceive. When one is studying the general patterns of ethnology one must remember above all that a real ethnos and an ethnonym, i.e. ethnic name, are not the same thing. We often encounter several different ethnoi bearing one and the same name; conversely, one ethnos may be called differently. The word 'Romans' (romani), for instance, originally meant a citizen of the polis Rome, but not at all the Italics and not even the Latins who inhabited other towns of Latium. In the epoch of the Roman Empire in the first and second centuries A.D. the number of Romans increased through the inclusion among them of all Italians-Etruscans, Samnites, Ligurians, Gauls, and many inhabitants of the provinces, by no means of Latin origin. After the edict of Caracalla in A.D. 212 all free inhabitants of municipalities on the territory of the Roman Empire were called 'Romans', i.e. Greeks, Cappadocians, Jews, Berbers, Gauls, Illyrians, Germans, etc. The concept 'Roman' lost its ethnic meaning, as it were, but that was not so; it simply changed it. The general element became unity not even of culture, but of historical fate, instead of unity of origin and language. The ethnos existed in that form for three centuries, a considerable period, and did not break up. On the contrary, it was transformed in the fourth and fifth centuries A.D., through the adoption of Christianity as the state religion, which began to be the determinant principle after the fourth ecumenical council. Those who recognized these councils sanctioned by the state authority were Romans, and those who did not became enemies. A new ethnos was formed on that basis, that I conventionally call 'Byzantine', but they themselves called themselves 'Romaic', i.e. 'Romans', though they spoke Greek. A large number of Slavs, Armenians, and Syrians were gradually merged among the Romaic, but they retained the name 'Romans' until 1453, until the fall of Constantinople. The Romaic considered precisely themselves 'Romans', but not the population of Italy, where Langobards had become feudal lords, Syrian Semites (who had settled in Italy, then becoming deserted, in the first to third centuries A.D.) the townsmen, and the former colons from prisoners of war of all peoples at any time conquered by the Romans of the Empire became peasants. Florentines, Genoese, Venetians, and other inhabitants of Italy considered themselves 'Romans', and not the Greeks, and on those grounds claimed the priority of Rome where only ruins remained of the antique city.

A third branch of the ethnonym 'Romans' arose on the Danube, which had been a place of exile after the Roman conquest of Dacia. There Phrygians, Cappadocians, Thracians, Galatians, Syrians, Greeks, Illyrians, in short, all the eastern subjects of the Roman Empire, served sentences for rebellion against Roman rule. To understand one another they conversed in the generally known Latin tongue. When the Roman legions left Dacia, the descendants of the exiled settlers remained and formed an ethnos that took the name 'Romanian', i.e. 'Roman', in the nineteenth century.

If one can treat the continuity between 'Romans' of the age of the Republic and the 'Roman citizens' of the late Empire, even as a gradual extension of the concept functionally associated with the spread of culture, there is no such link even between the Byzantines and the Romans, from which it follows that the word changed meaning and content and cannot serve as an identifying attribute of the ethnos. It is obviously also necessary to take into consideration the context in which the word and so the epoch has a semantic content because the meaning of words changes in the course of time. That is even more indicative when we analyze the ethnonyms 'Turk', 'Tatar', and 'Mongol', an example that cannot be left aside.


Examples of camouflage. In the sixth century A.D. a small people living on the eastern slopes of the Altai and Khangai mountains were called Turks. Through several successful wars they managed to subordinate the whole steppe from Hingan to the Sea of Azov. The subjects of the Great Kaghanate, who preserved their own ethnonyms for internal use, also began to be called Turks, since they were subject to the Turkish Khan. When the Arabs conquered Sogdiana and clashed with the nomads, they began to call all of them Turks, including the Ugro-Magyars. In the eighteenth century European scholars called all nomads 'les Tartars', and in the nineteenth century, when linguistic classification became fashionable, the name 'Turk' was arrogated to a definite group of languages. Many peoples thus fell into the category 'Turk' who had not formed part of it in antiquity, for example the Yakuts, Chuvash and the hybrid people, the Ottoman Turks (about whose origin I have spoken above).

The modification of the ethnonym 'Tatar' is an example of direct camouflage. Up to the twelfth century this was the ethnic name of a group of 30 big clans inhabiting the banks of the Korulen. In the twelfth century this nationality increased in numbers, and Chinese geographers began to call all the Central Asian nomads (Turkish. speaking, Tungus-speaking, and Mongol-speaking), including the Mongols, Tatars. And even when, in 1206, Genghis-khan officially called all his subjects Mongols, neighbors continued for some time from habit to call them Tatars. In this form the word 'Tatar' reached Eastern Europe as a synonym of the word 'Mongol', and became acclimatized in the Volga Valley where the local population began, as a mark of loyalty to the Khan of the Golden Horde to call themselves Tatars. But the original bearers of this name (Kereites, Naimans, Oirats, and Tatars) began to call themselves Mongols.1 The names thus changed places. Since that time a scientific terminology arose in which the Tatar anthropological type began to be called 'Mongoloid', and the language of the Volga Kipchak-Turks Tatar. In other words we even employ an obviously camouflaged terminology in science.

But then it is not simply a matter of confusion, but of an ethnonymic phantasmagoria. Not all the nomad subjects of the Golden Horde were loyal to its government. The rebels who lived in the steppes west of the Urals began to call themselves Nogai, and those who lived on the eastern borders of the Jochi ulus, in Tarbagatai and on the banks of the Irtysh, and who were practically independent, because of their remoteness from the capital, became the ancestors of the Kazakhs. These ethnoi arose in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries as a consequence of rapid mixing of various ethnic components. The ancestors of the Nogai were the Polovtsy, steppe Alans, Central Asian Turks, who survived a defeat by Batu and were taken into the Mongol army, and inhabitants of the southern frontier of Rus, who adopted Islam, which became a symbol at that time of ethnic consolidation. The Tatars included Kama Bulgars, Khazars, and Burtasy, and also some of the Polovtsy and Ugric Mishari. The population of the White Horde was the mixture; three Kazakh jus were formed from it in the fifteenth century. But that is not yet all.

At the end of the fifteenth century Russian bands from the Upper Volga began to attack the Middle Volga Tatar towns, forced some of the population to quit their homeland and go off into Central Asia under the chieftainship of Sheibani-khan (1500-1510). There they were met as fierce enemies because the local Turks who at that time bore the name of 'Chagatai' (after Genghis-khan's second son Chagatei, the chief of the Central Asian ulus), where ruled by descendants of Timur, the enemy of the steppe and Volga Tatars, who ravaged the Volga Valley in 1398-1399.

The members of the horde who quit their homeland took on a new name 'Uzbeks' to honor the Khan Uzbeg (1312-1341), who had established Islam in the Golden Horde as the state religion. In the sixteenth century the 'Uzbeks' defeated Babur, the last of the Timurides, who led the remnants of his supporters into India and conquered a new kingdom for himself there. So the Turks who remained in Samarkand and Ferghana bear the name of their conquerors, the Uzbeks. The same Turks, who went to India, began to be called 'Moghuls' in memory of their having been, three hundred years earlier, subject to the Mongol Empire. But the genuine Mongols who settled in eastern Iran in the thirteenth century, and even retained their language, are called Khazareitsy from the Persian word khazar -a thousand (meaning a military unit, or division).

But where are the Mongols, by whose name the yoke that lay on Rus for 240 years is known? They were not an ethnos, because by Genghis-khan's will Jochi, Batu, Orda, and Sheibani each received 4 000 warriors, of whom only part came from the Far East. The latter were called 'Kins' and not 'Tatars', from the Chinese name of the Jurchen. This rare name occurred for the last time in the Zadonshchina, in which Mamai was called Kinnish. Consequently, the yoke was not Mongol at all, but was enforced by the ancestors of the nomad Uzbeks, who should not be confused with the settled Uzbeks, although they merged in the nineteenth century, and now constitute a single ethnos, who equally revere the Timurides and the Sheibanides, who were deadly enemies in the sixteenth century, because that enmity had already lost sense and meaning in the seventeenth century.


The helplessness of philology and history. The examples cited are sufficient to establish that the ethnic name or even the own name and the phenomenon of an ethnos as a stable collective of the species Homo sapiens, by no means cover each other. Therefore the philological method, which investigates words, is inapplicable in ethnology, and we have to turn to history, in order to check how far this discipline can help with the posing of my problem. But here, too, we come up against unexpected difficulties. The unit of investigation employed by historical science is the social institution which may be a state, a tribal union, a religious sect, a trading company, a political party, etc., in short, any institution in any age, and among any peoples. The institution of the state and the ethnos sometimes coincide, and then in some cases we observe nations of a modern type. But that is a case characteristic of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; in antiquity such coincidences were rare. It happens that a religious sect unites like-minded persons who, like the Sikhs, for example, in India, merge into an ethnos; then the origin of people incorporated by the community is not taken into account. But such communities are often unstable and break up into ethnoi as happened to the Muslim community founded by Muhammed in the seventh century A.D. While a process of the merging of Arab tribes, Syrians, and in part Persians, into a single ethnos took part under the first four Caliphs in the countries of Islam, that process had already ceased under the Ommiades (A.D. 651-750), and under the Abbasides, the descendants of the conquerors and the conquered merged into new ethnoi with a single interethnic culture conventionally called 'Muhammedan', with Arabic, and awareness of its unity by comparison with Christians and pagans, but with different historical fates and different stereotypes of behavior, which were expressed in the creation of diverse sects and ideological conceptions.

The emirates and sultanates that arose through the isolation of ethnoi would seem to have corresponded to the ethnic boundaries, but that was not so. Successful commanders subordinated territories to themselves for a short time with a population speaking different languages, but these later became the victims of neighbors, i.e. the political formations had a different fate than the ethnic entity. Community of historical fate of course encouraged the formation and maintenance of an ethnos, but historical fate2 can also be the same for two or three nationalities and different for two parts of a single one. The Anglo-Saxons and Celtic Welsh, for example, have been united state-wise since the thirteenth century, but they have not merged into one ethnos, which incidentally does not prevent them from living in peace; the eastern Armenians, already subject to Iran in the third century A.D., and the western, connected from that time with Byzantium; had different fates, but their ethnic unity was not disrupted. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the French Huguenots and Catholics were very different in their historical fates, and even in the character of their culture, both before the Edict of Nantes, and after its repeal. But the ethnic integrity of France remained unaltered in spite of bloody wars and dragonnades. The forming of an ethnos, i.e. ethnogenesis, consequently lies deeper than the apparent historical processes recorded by the sources. History can help ethnology but not replace it.


Mosaic Structure as a Property of an Ethnos


It is possible to manage without a gentile system. Many ethnoi are divided into tribes and clans. Can this division be considered an obligatory, essential quality of an ethnos? Or even the first stage in its formation? Or finally the form of a collective preceding the development of the ethnos itself? The reliable material at our disposal makes it possible to answer 'No!'.

First of all, far from all contemporary peoples have or had any kind of gentile or tribal division. There were not and are not such among the Spaniards, French, Italians, Romanians, English, Ottoman Turks, Great Russians, Ukrainians, Sikhs, Greeks (not Hellenes), and many other nations. But a clan or gentile system exists among Celts, Kazakhs, Mongols, Tungus, Arabs, Kurds, and a number of other peoples.

It is difficult to consider a gentile system an earlier stage, because the Byzantines or the Sassanid Persians were people formed a thousand years earlier than the Mongols and 1 200 years earlier than the Kazakhs, and they got along magnificently without clans and phratries. One can, of course, suppose that a system of clans was general in antiquity, but if so, such an assumption has no relation to the historical period when peoples (ethnoi) arose before the historian's eyes. It is more correct to recognize that the schema – clan, tribe, people, nation – applies to social development, i.e. lies on a different plane.

That the predominant forms of community life were different forms of family over the time of the existence of Homo sapiens, viz., group marriage, the punaluan family, pairing marriage, the monogamous family,3 is quite well substantiated and demonstrated, but it has no direct relation to my problem, since an ethnic entity does not coincide either with the family cell or with the level of production and culture. I must therefore look for other criteria and other identification signs in my study.

At the same time one must note that among peoples with a gentile-tribal system, the division into clans (among Celts), phratries (seok among Altaitsy), and tribal associations (jus among Kazakhs), etc., is constructive. These intraethnic units are needed in order to maintain the ethnic entity itself. The relations both of the separate individuals to the ethnos as a whole, and of gentile or family collectives among themselves are regulated through the division into groups. Exogamy preventing blood-related marriages is only maintained by this means. The members of a clan or family express the will of their fellow-tribesmen at folk gatherings and create stable alliances so as to wage external wars, both defensive and offensive. In Scotland, for example, the clan system withstood the raids of Vikings in the tenth century, the attacks of feudal lords in the twelfth to fifteenth centuries, and war with the English bourgeoisie in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and only capitalist relations were able to disrupt it. Where the clan system was less expressed, among the Elbe Slavs, for example, German and Danish knights made short work of it in two centuries (eleventh and twelfth), in spite of the undisputed bellicosity and enviable courage of the Bodrichi, Lutichi (Veleti), and the inhabitants of the island of Rьgen. The division of an ethnos into tribes had the function of a skeleton on which muscles could grow, and so gather strength for struggle, against the environment.

Let me try to propose another system of reference suitable not for some but for the whole aggregate of observed collisions.


What the gentile system was replaced by. How was the absence of gentile-tribal groups made good among quite developed peoples who were at the stage of class society? The class stricture and class struggle in slaveowning, feudal, and capitalist formations are an established fact and do not need examinations. The division into classes cannot, consequently, be functionally analogous to division into tribes. And in fact we observe, parallel to the division of society into classes, a division of ethnoi into groups that by no means coincide with classes. They can be conventionally called 'corporations', but that word corresponds to the concept only as a first approximation, and will subsequently be replaced.

In feudal Europe, for example, the dominant class within an ethnos (the French, say) consisted of various corporations: (1) the barons or feudal lords in the direct sense, i.e. the holders of fiefs linked with crown by a vassal oath; (2) knights, united in orders; (3) notables, who constitutes the apparatus of royal power (noblesse des robes); (4) the higher clergy; (5) scholars (for example, the professors of the Sorbonne); (6) the urban patriciate, which was itself divided territorially, and so on. According to the accepted degree of approximation one can distinguish a greater or less number of groups, but one must necessarily, in that connection, still allow for membership of parties, for example, the Armagnac and Burgundian at the beginning of the fifteenth century. As for the popular masses, such a division is applicable to an even greater degree, since each feudal province then had a clearly expressed individual character. In the twelfth century, for example, people of Rouen displayed hostility to Philippe II Auguste, who had liberated them from the English, and the Provencals, learning of Louis IX's plan in Egypt, sang a Te Deum, hoping to be delivered from the Sires.4 We no longer see such corporations in bourgeois society, but the principle remains unchanged. For each individual within ethnoi there are, besides classes, people of 'his' circle and 'others'. But, as regards foreign expansion, all these groups acted as a single whole, as Frenchmen.

It is indisputable that 'corporations', as I have conditionally called them, are much less stable and viable than gentile-tribal groupings, but the latter, too, are not eternal. The difference between them and other groups is not, of course, one of principle. The similarity is that they have an identical functional purpose, maintaining unity of the ethnos through internal division.

The most important, and curious point is that 'corporations' differ from one another in their origin only by nuances of psychology, but the differences deepen and crystallize with time, passing into customs and rituals, i.e. into phenomena studied by ethnographers. The Old Slavonic kissing custom, for example, was transformed in Russia and Poland into kissing of the hands of married ladies and was retained among the landed nobility, but disappeared from the life of other strata of the population.

Maxim Gorky, who observed the life of the lower middle class and middle class intellectuals in the Volga towns, noted such deep differences that he suggested treating these recently formed groups of the population as 'different tribes'. To some extent that was true, and Gorky was right in recording the differences in everyday fife, morals, and notions, and his observances were fruitful. In our day these differences have been nearly wiped out. They were characteristic of a short period - around 80 years - but I have already said that the duration of a phenomenon does not affect the fundamental aspect of the matter.


The formation of ethnic subgroups. The concept of 'corporation' in the sense proposed is clear, but it is not sufficient for my analysis since it suggests that a given unit is not only formed from ethnographic features but is also demarcated from other 'corporations' by social barriers. Subethnic subdivisions often do not coincide with social ones, which indicates that the example adduced is a partial case of the general rule I am seeking.

Let us turn to the ethnogenesis of the French. In the sixteenth century the Reformation affected this people, and reshuffled all the former 'corporations' among them till they were unrecognizable. The feudal aristocracy, the petty nobility, the bourgeoisie, and the peasantry proved to be split into 'Papists' and 'Huguenots'. The social bases of both groups did not differ, but ethno-territorial subdivisions were distinctly visible. Calvinism was successful among the Celts of the lower Loire, where merchant La Rochelle became a stronghold of the reformers. The Gascon seigneurs and Kings of Navarre adopted Calvinism. The descendants of the Burgundians, the peasants of the Cevennes, and the heirs of the Albigenses, the bourgeois of Languedoc, joined the movement. But Paris, Lorraine, and Central France remained faithful to the Roman Church. All the former 'corporations' disappeared, since belonging to a 'community' or 'church' became an indicator, for two centuries, of membership of one ethnic sub-unit or another.

One cannot say that theology played a decisive role. Most Frenchmen were 'politicians', i.e. refused to be interested in the disputes of the Sorbonne and Geneva. The illiterate Gascon barons, the semi-savage Cevennes highlanders, the bold corsairs of La Rochelle, or the artisans of the suburbs of Paris and Angers by no means understood the fine points of the interpretation of Predestination or Pre-existence. If some gave their lives for the Mass or for the Bible, that meant that the one or the other was a symbol of their self-assertion and opposition to one another, and so an indicator of deep contradictions. These were not class contradictions, since nobles, peasants, and bourgeois fought on both sides. But Catholics and Huguenots really were divided by stereotypes of behavior, and that, as we agreed at the beginning, is the main principle of ethnic peculiarity, for which there are adequate grounds.

But what if the Huguenots had kept a patch of land for themselves and created an independent state like, say, the Swiss or the North Americans? They would probably have been regarded as a special ethnos arising through the zigzags of historical fate, because they would have had a special way of life, culture, mentality, and perhaps language, since they would hardly have conversed in Parisian, but would rather have chosen one of their local dialects. It would have been a process similar, to the separation of the Americans from the English.

The Scots are undoubtedly an ethnos, but they are composed of Highlanders (Celts) and Lowlanders (inhabitants of the valley of the Tweed). Their origin is different. The old population, the Caledonians (Picts) who painted themselves repulsed the onslaught of the Romans in the first and second centuries A.D. In the third century Scots migrating from Ireland were added to them. Both tribes made destructive raids on Romanized Britannia, and then on the northern fringes of England, and fought against the Norwegian Vikings who had established themselves in the east of the island. In A.D. 954 the Scots were fortunate: they conquered Lothian, the plain on the banks of the Tweed settled by descendants of Saxons and Norse Vikings. The Scottish kings acquired many rich subjects and, enjoying their aid and support, limited the independence of the chiefs of the Celtic clans. But they had to adopt many of the customs of their subjects, in particular feudal institutions and manners and customs. The rich, energetic inhabitants of Lothian compelled their Celtic sovereigns to turn Scotland into a small kingdom, because they had taken on defense of the borders with England. In the fourteenth century French adventurers, comrades-in-arms of John Baliol and Robert Bruce, poured into Scotland for the war with England. The French increased the number of border barons. The Reformation mainly embraced the Celts, but in the valleys Catholics held their ground with the Calvinists. In short, races and cultures, a clan system and feudalism were merged during the genesis of this people, but the complexity of its composition did not disrupt its monolithic ethnic character, which was manifested in clashes with the English, and later with Irish.

Russian Old Believers are another characteristic example of a different order. They were a small section of the Great Russians who did not adopt certain reforms of Church ritual proclaimed by the Patriarch Nikon in the seventeenth century. At that time the church service had the function not only of religion, but also of a synthetic art, i.e. filled an aesthetic vacuum. Therefore the requirements in performance of the rites and rituals were very high. But, as in our day, far from all immediately recognized and adopted the new style and trend in music or, for example, in painting, so the replacement of dark images in the seventeenth century by new rose and blue icons shocked a certain part of the worshippers. They simply could not concentrate in a situation that irritated them.

In reality, there was almost the same split of the ethnos as happened in Western Europe during the Reformation. Not all the Orthodox Christians plumped for the old ritual, but those who did clung firmly to it, fearing neither execution nor torture. When there was a chance they passed to the counter-attack, and dealt with the iconolaters as sharply as they with them. That happened during the Strelets uprising at the time of the regency of Czarevna Sophia. The heat of passions was identical on both sides. In the seventeenth century the dispute was only about Church ritual, but in other respects (in everyday life, the system of education, habits and customs) the Old Believers were indistinguishable from the general mass of Russians. In the second generation, under Peter the Great, they constituted a definite, isolated group of the population. At the end of the eighteenth century customs, rituals, and dress developed, and partly were retained, among them, that differed markedly from those generally accepted. Catherine II banned persecution of Old Believers, but that did not lead to their merging back into the main mass of the ethnos. Millionaire merchants, Cossacks, and the semi-destitute Transvolgan peasants formed part of the newly formed intraethnic entity. This entity, initially united by a community of fate, i.e. by attachment to principles so dear that they went to their death for them, became a group united by a community of way of life, headed by spiritual leaders (teachers) of various branches and trends. In the twentieth century it gradually began to break up, since the reason for its origin had long ceased to exist, and it only remained through inertia.

The examples I have cited are clear, but rare. The functions of intraethnic groups were more often assumed by naturally formed territorial associations of fellow-countrymen. The existence of such divisions, like the existence of phratries in the gentile system, does not undermine ethnic unity.

We can now draw conclusions. The social forms in which intraethnic entities are embodied are vague and do not always coincide with the subdivisions of an ethnos. Intraethnic splintering is a condition that maintains the unity of the ethnos and gives it stability. It is characteristic of any time and stage of development.


Variation of ethic contacts. So far I have examined separate groups within big ethnoi but the problem is by no means exhausted by that. Pure forms of ethnoi are not observed in the real historical process, but rather various variants of ethnic contacts arising in territories inhabited by different ethnoi, united politically in a polyethnic state. Four variants can be when we study their relations: (a) coexistence, in which the ethnoi do not merge and do not imitate each other, borrowing only technical innovations; (b) assimilation, i.e. the swallowing-up of one ethnos by another with complete forgetting of origin and old traditions; (c) cross-breeding, in which traditions of the preceding ethnoi and a memory of the ancestors are retained and combined (these variants are usually unstable, and exist through replenishment by new metises); (d) merging, in which the traditions of the original components are forgotten and a third, new ethnos arises alongside the two precursors, or in place of them. That is essentially the main variant of ethnogenesis. For some reason it is observed less frequently than all the others.

Let me illustrate this four-part schema by clear examples. Variant a is the most common.

All things and phenomena are recognized by their interactions. Soda and citric acid poured together give a reaction of neutralization with a vigorous fizzing only when water is poured on them. In history reactions go on all the time, as in an aqueous solution, and there is no hope of that being finished.

Even the simple coexistence of different ethnoi with rapprochement and growing intimacy is not neutral. Sometimes it is simply necessary. In the upper reaches of the Congo, for instance, Bantu and pygmies live in a symbiosis. The Negroes cannot move in the forest, except by paths, without the help of the pygmies, while the paths are rapidly overgrown unless cleared. The Bantu can get lost in the forest, like a European, and die within twenty meters of his own home. But the pygmies need knives, vessels, and other articles of daily use. For these two ethnoi dissimilarity is the guarantee of well-being, and their friendship is founded on that.

A variant of lengthy coexistence with constant enmity was wen described by Leo Tolstoy, who observed the skirmishes of Greben Cossacks and Chechens. But he faithfully noted the mutual respect of the two neighboring ethnoi and the wariness of the Cossacks toward the soldiers who were the pioneers on the Terek of assimilation of the Cossacks by the Great Russians, which was completed by the beginning of the twentieth century.

Variant b, assimilation, usually occurs through methods not so much bloody as shameful. The object of assimilation is presented with an alternative: abandon either conscience or life. It can avoid death by repudiating everything dear and accustomed for the sake of being converted into a second-class person among the victors. The latter also gain little since they acquire hypocritical and, as a rule, inferior fellow-countrymen, because only the outward manifestation of the behavior of the conquered ethnos can be controlled, and not its mood. The Irish persuaded the English of that in the nineteenth century, Simon Bolivar's partisans the Spaniards, and the Dungans the Chinese. There are too many examples but the matter is clear.

Variant c – cross-breeding – is observed very often, but the progeny of exogamous marriages either die out in the third or fourth generation, or break up into paternal and maternal lines. For example, in the sixteenth century the Turks considered it sufficient to pronounce the formula of professing Islam and submitting to the Sultan to become a true Turk. In other words they regarded ethnic affiliation a 'state' that could be changed at will. Turks therefore willingly took any adventurers into service if they were specialists in some craft or in the art of war. The consequences of that made themselves felt within a hundred years.

The decline of the Sublime Porte in the seventeenth century attracted the attention in its time of contemporaneous Turkish writers. In their view ajen-oglani, i.e. the children of renegades, were the reason for the decline. The influx of the foreign-born spoiled the stereotype of behavior, which told in the venality of viziers, the purchasability of judges, the fall in the fighting capacity of troops, and the collapse of the economy. By the beginning of the nineteenth century Turkey had become the 'sick man'.


The role of exogamy. The introduction of foreigners into Turkey sharpened the crisis of class contradictions already growing without that, for which the conversion of ethnic unity into a chimera played the role of catalyst, because everyone understood that sincere, loyal officials were more valuable than hypocritical, unprincipled ones. Conversely, the development of class contradictions played the role of a vector for the ethnogenesis of the Ottoman ethnos. The combination of ethnic and social processes in one region was a factor of the anthropogenic destruction of the terrain of what had once been the richest countries in the world, called in antiquity the 'Fertile Crescent'. Selim I's conquest in the sixteenth century put Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and Mesopotamia, where intensive agriculture had already transformed the original landscape in the third millennium B.C., into the hands of the Ottoman sultans.

The Sumerians had 'divided the water from the land' in the lower reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates, and contemporaries called the land they created 'Eden'. The Akkadians built Babylon, the 'Gate of God', the first city in the world with a million inhabitants, for which there was enough food without imports from far countries. Antioch, and later Damascus, were large, gay, cultured cities flourishing at the expense of local resources. Asia Minor fed huge Constantinople.

But the cultivated landscape had to be constantly maintained. The Arab Caliphs had understood that, buying slaves in Zanzibar to keep up irrigation in Mesopotamia, and also the Byzantine autocrats who had reinforced the small peasant farms by special edicts, as the most intensive in those natural conditions, and even the Mongol Ilkhan Ghasan, who organized the building of a canal in the waterless part of northern Mesopotamia. The disintegration of the cultivated terrain of Western Asia set in later, in the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries, during the profound peace and decline of the Ottoman Empire, because the Syrian, Iranian, and Cilician peasants, worn out by exactions, abandoned their plots and sought a better lot in the pirate coastal cities, where one could either get rich easily or lay down one's life. And those who stayed at home through laziness or cowardice, neglected the irrigation and turned the country, once rich and abundant, into a wasteland.

The beginning of that terrible, disastrous process was already visible to contemporaries. The French adventurer and doctor in Aureng-Zebe's guard, Francois Bernier, who had observed similar things in India under the rule of the 'Great Moghul', predicted, in a letter to Colbert, the inevitable weakening of the three great Muslim empires - India, Turkey, and Persia - considering, as regards the last-named, that the decline would be slow since the Persian aristocracy was of local origin.5 And I must agree with him that, with a stable social system, and one and the same formation, but with a changing ratio of the ethnic components in the political system (state), the state of the countryside like a sensitive barometer, indicates the beginning or the existence of rises and falls, and of periods of stabilization.

That being so, we have no grounds for denying the cause of the decline mentioned above, namely the appearance in the system of new ethnic groups not linked with the terrain of the region, and limitations on exogamous marriages, because these bans, by maintaining the mixed ethnic nature of the region, lead to the preservation of terrains containing small ethnic groups. But since that is so, then free intercourse and free love ruin nature and culture!

That is an unexpected and alarming conclusion – but it is a paraphrase of Newton's second law, viz., that what is gained in social freedom is lost through contact with nature, or rather with the geographical environment and one's own physiology, because nature lies also within our bodies.

Since similar phenomena occurred in both Rome and ancient Iran, and in many other countries, one can easily note a general pattern. When there is endogamy as an ethnic barrier, things proceed more slowly and less painfully; but it is not all the same for an ethnos whether it takes 300 or 1 000 years. Bromley's observation about the stabilizing role of endogamy as a barrier against incorporation is therefore indisputable.6


An experiment in interpretation. Let us try to interpret the phenomenon described. If ethnoi are processes, then, when two dissimilar processes clash, interference will arise disturbing the rhythm of both components. The resulting association will be chimeric, which means unstable to outside effects and short-lived. Death of the chimeric system will entail annihilation of its components and extinction of the people involved in the system. Such is the general mechanism of the disruption of the pattern, but it has its exceptions, namely that with slackening of the original rhythms a new one sometimes arises, i.e. a new ethnogenctic inertial process. I shall not say yet what this is associated with, because this is too serious a matter to resolve as a side-issue. But endogamy is clearly necessary in order to maintain ethnic traditions, because the endogamous family passes on a developed stereotype of behavior to a child, while an exogamous one passes on two stereotypes that mutually cancel each other out. Exogamy, which is not related at all to 'social states' and lies on a different plane, thus proves to be a factor of ethnogenesis, i.e. a real, destructive factor during contact on a superethnic level. And even in rare cases when a new ethnos develops in a zone of contact, it absorbs, i.e. annihilates, both of the former ones. In conclusion, let me point out that in the example cited, and also in the overwhelming majority of cases, the racial principle plays no role. It is not a matter of somatic differences, but rather of behavioral ones, because the steppe dwellers, Tibetan hillmen, and Chinese belonged to a single, first-order Mongoloid race, and it is obvious that, with closer approximation to second-order race, North Chinese are racially closer to Xiang-bi and Tibetans than to Southern Chinese. But the outward similarity of cranial indices, eye color, hair color, epicanthus, etc., has no significance for ethnogenetic processes.

It is also obvious from the example adduced that the link between ethnos and topography, sometimes doubted, really exists. The Hunni, having seized the valley of the Huangho, pastured their cattle there; the Chinese acquired the arable, and built canals; but their hybrids, not having the skills of either cattle-herding or cultivation, predatorily fleeced neighbors and subjects, which led to the formation of long-fallow lands and restoration of the natural biocoenosis, although impoverished by the cutting down of forests and the killing of ungulates during the emperors hunts. Everything tallies.

So, not only do theoretical considerations but also the necessity of interpreting the factual data force us to reject the conception of an ethnos as a state. But if an ethnos is the result of a long-lasting process of ethnogenesis, it is part of the biosphere of Earth, and since changes of terrain through the use of technique are linked with an ethnos, ethnology should be ranked among the geographical sciences although it draws its initial material from history in the narrow sense of the term, i.e. study of events in their connection and sequence.


The Ethnic Stereotype of Behavior


Dissimilarity as a principle. Every ethnos has its own inner structure and its unique stereotype of behavior. Sometimes the structure and stereotype change from generation to generation. That indicates that the ethnos is developing, and that ethnogenesis is not, as a rule, dying away. The structure is sometimes stable, because each new generation reproduces the life cycle of the preceding one. Such ethnoi can be called persistent, i.e. enduring, but I shall be going into that aspect of the matter below, and for the present will make the concept 'structure' more precise irrespective of its degree of stability and the character of its variability.

The structure of an ethnos is a strictly defined standard of relations: (a) between the collective and individual; (b) between individuals; (c) between intraethnic groups; (d) and between the ethnos and its intraethnic groups. These norms are unique in each case, do not exist visibly, change now rapidly and now slowly in all fields of living and everyday life, being perceived in a given ethnos, and in each separate epoch, as the sole possible mode of society and community life, and therefore by no means arduous for its members. On the contrary, each member of one ethnos, on coming into contact with another, is surprised and bewildered, and tries to tell his fellow-tribesmen about the funny ways of the other people. Properly speaking, such stories constitute the science of ethnography, as ancient as interethnic connections themselves.

Let me cite some examples. The Athenian, who had been to Olvia, related with indignation that the Scythians had no houses, and got dead drunk during their festivals. The Scythians, observing the bacchanalias of the Greeks, felt such loathing that once, having seen their own king, who was staying in Olvia, in a wreath and with a thyrsus in his hands, in a procession of jubilant Hellenes killed him. The Jews hated the Romans because they ate pork, while the Romans considered the custom of circumcision unnatural. The knights who conquered Palestine, were outraged by the Arab custom of polygamy, while the Arabs considered the uncovered faces of French ladies shameless, and so on. There is a great number of examples.

Ethnographic science has overcome such ingenuousness, and taken into observation systems principles as the operative standards of the relations of individuals of these different categories to the collective as a whole and to each other. Let me take as an example the simple case of marital-sexual relations. Roughly speaking, we know monogamous, polygamous, and polyandrous families, group marriages, unstable pairing marriages, compulsory inheritance of wives (levirate), and even sometimes full freedom of sexual relations. Among some peoples, we know, artlessness is compulsory in marriage for girls, and among others preliminary training in love techniques. Divorce is sometimes easy sometimes difficult, sometimes impossible at all. Among some peoples the cohabitation of wives with other men is punished as marital infidelity, among others it is encouraged.

We can analyze variations of the perception of sense of duty in just the same way. In feudal England or France, a vassal was obliged to serve only if he received a benefice ('salary'). Lacking such he had the right to transfer to another suzerain (for example, to the Spanish king). Only transfer to an infidel, for example to Muslims, was considered treason, but that happened so often that a special term 'renegade' arose (without a pejorative nuance). In Rome or Greece, on the contrary, the performance of social obligations was not accompanied with payment but was the duty of a citizen of the polis. These citizens, incidentally, frequently got so much profit from public work that they rewarded themselves beyond measure.

The strength of the ethnic stereotype of behavior is immense because the members of an ethnos perceive their own stereotype as the only one worthy of a man who has the right to respect, while all others are 'barbaric' or 'savage'. That is why European colonizers called Indians, Africans, Mongols, and even Russians savages, although the same could as rightly be said of the English. But Chinese haughtiness was even more categorical. Here, for example, is what a geographical handbook of the Ch'in epoch said about France: 'It lies in the, south-western sea... In 1518 the king sent an envoy with credentials and requested that he be recognized as king.'7


The variability of behavior stereotypes. An ethnos's stereotype of behavior is as dynamic as the ethnos itself. Rituals, customs, and standards of relationship sometimes change slowly and gradually, and sometimes very quickly. Take England, for example. Can one really recognize the descendants of the berserker Saxon who murdered Celtic babies in the gay outlaw Robin Hood or the archer of the 'White Bands', and his heir in the pirate-sailor of Sir Francis Drake, or in Cromwell's Ironsides? And their heir, the City clerk in London? But England had always been a country with stable traditions! What should be said about other ethnoi, whose image has not only been influenced by internal development but also by incidental external effects (cultural borrowings, conquests involving forced changes of customs) and, finally, by economic pressures changing the ethnos's kind of occupations and violently regulating its needs.8

When speaking of an ethnos's stereotype of behavior, we always have to indicate the epoch we are concerned with. And it should not be thought that so-called 'savage' or 'primitive' tribes are more conservative than 'civilized' nations. That idea arose exclusively as a consequence of lack of study of Indians, Africans, and Siberian peoples. It was sufficient to organize the sale of whisky in Canada, or to import tinned goods into Tahiti in exchange for copra, immediately to alter the behavior pattern of the Dakotas and Polynesians, seldom for the better. But, in all cases, the changes took their own path on the basis of already established habits and notions. That is the uniqueness of any ethnogenetic process, and the reason why these processes never copy one another. But there is also a pattern to it if one only knows how to find it.

Any number of examples could be proposed, including ones about complex standards of behavior affecting legal, economic, social everyday, religious, and other relations, however complex. In the jargon of the humanitarian sciences the phenomenon described is known as a tradition or modification of social relations, but on the plane of the natural sciences it is as legitimately treated as a stereotype of behavior that varies in local zones and intraspecific populations. The second aspect, though unaccustomed, is, as we shall see below, fruitful.

So, an ethnos is a collective of individuals that distinguishes itself from all other collectives. It is more or less stable, although it arises and disappears in historical time. There is no one real attribute for defining an ethnos applicable to all the cases known to us. Language, origin, customs, material culture, and ideology are sometimes determinant elements, but sometimes not. Let us take just one, viz., each individual's recognition that 'we are such-and-such, and all others are different'. Since this phenomenon is general, it consequently reflects some physical or biological reality that is also my sought-for quantity. This 'quantity' can only be interpreted by analyzing the origin and disappearance of ethnoi, and establishing the fundamental differences of ethnoi from each other, and subsequently describing the behavior pattern of either of them so as to distinguish their differences by means of comparison. But one must remember that an ethnos's behavior changes with age, i.e. from the time of its entry onto the historical arena. It is therefore necessary to introduce into the analysis a means of recording the ethnodynamics so as to get a second approximation of the concept 'ethnos'. Such will be the psychological element, on the one hand inherent in all people without exception, and on the other hand quite variable, so as to serve as an indicator of the ethnic dynamics. It is the relation of an ethnos as an entity to the category of time.


Ethnos and the four sensations of time. What is 'time'? No one knows. But people have learned to measure it. Even the most primitive peoples, who have no need of a linear reckoning of time from some arbitrary date – 'the foundation of Rome', 'The Creation', the 'Birth of Christ', the 'Hegira' (Muhammed's flight from Mecca to Medina), etc. - distinguish day and night, the seasons, a 'living chronology' according to the dates of their own life, and finally cyclicity, i.e. the week, month, twelve years, each of which bears the name of an animal (the Turko-Mongolian calendar). The linear reckoning of time, as comparative ethnography has shown, develops when an ethnos begins to feel its history not as something exclusive, but in connection with the history of neighboring countries. And as knowledge accumulates a quantification of time arises in people's consciousness, i.e. its division into epochs or ages, very unequal in length but equivalent as regards content of events. The category of 'time' clashes here with the category of 'force', i.e. the cause stimulating acceleration, in the special case, of the historical process.

Such a diversity of systems indicates that it responds to serious changes in the consciousness of an ethnos itself, which indicates in turn a change of its ages. For my purpose the system of reckoning is not important, but rather the difference in concepts of past, present, and future.

When an ethnic community enters on the first creative period of its becoming, the leading part of its population pushing the whole system along the path of ethnic development, amasses material and ideological values. This accumulation becomes an 'imperative' in the field of ethics and is transformed as regards time into a feeling the sense of which is that each active builder of the ethnic entity feels himself a continuer of the ancestral line, to which he adds something (another victory, another building, another copied manuscript, another forged sword). This 'other' suggests that the past has not gone, but is in him, in the person, and it therefore behooves him to add whatever is new, because the past is thus accumulated and advanced. Each minute lived is perceived as addition to the existing past (Passй existente).

A result of this perception of time is the feats of heroes, who have voluntarily laid down their lives for the fatherland – the Spartan basileus Leonidas at Thermopile, the consul Marcus Attilius Regulus in Carthage, Roland at the pass of Roncevalles - this being equally applicable to the historical Count of the Breton Marches and the literary hero of the Song of Roland. Such, too, were the warrior monks Peresvet and Oslvabva, who served with St. Sergius of Radonezh and died in the battle of Kulikovo, and the Kerait warrior Khadakh-Baatur, who diverted Genghis-khan's troops onto himself so as to let 'his natural khan' escape. In Europe people of that type built the Gothic cathedrals, without perpetuating their names, in India carved the marvelous statues in the cave temples, in Egypt built the pyramids, in Polynesia discovered America and brought back to their fellow-countrymen the kumara (batata or sweet potato). An absence of personal self-interest is characteristic of them. They seem to have loved their cause or work more than themselves. But it was not altruism. The object of their love was in themselves, but not just in themselves. They felt themselves not simply the heirs of great traditions but also participants in them and gave their dear lives for them in an hour (as in war) or in everyday work (as builder-architects). They acted in accordance with their neuro-psycho-physical stamp, and the determinant vector and character of their activity. People of that stamp are encountered in all epochs, but there are rather more of them in the initial stages of ethnogenesis than in other ages. As soon as the proportion of them diminishes a time sets in that we are accustomed to call 'flourishing', which should more correctly be called 'squandering'.

Thought of the past is replaced by actualism. People of that stamp forget the past and do not want to know the future. They want to live now and for themselves. They are courageous, energetic, talented, but what they do they do for their own sake. They, too, perform feats but for the sake of their own greed; they strive for the highest positions in order to enjoy their power, because only the present is real for them, which they inevitably understand as their personal present. Such were Gaius Marius and Lucius Corne. Bus Sulla in Rome, Alcibiades in Athens, the Prince of Condй, Louis XIV, and Napoleon in France, Ivan the Terrible in Russia, the Sui emperor Yang-di in China (A.D. 605-618). But it is impossible even to list the writers, artists, professors, etc., who sometimes performed grandiose feats only in order to glorify their names! But such, too, are the gay rakes, bon vivants, and wastrels. They also live for today and for themselves. When the percentage of people of this stamp in an ethnos increases, the heritage accumulated by their sacrificing ancestors is rapidly squandered, which creates a false impression of abundance, and which is why it is considered 'flourishing'.

The reader may get an opinion that I condemn people of that mould. No! Their perception of time is as legitimate a phenomenon as that described above, and does not depend on their wishes but on the peculiarities of higher nervous activity. They could not be otherwise, even if they wanted to. The famous maxims 'Every dog has his day' and 'After me the deluge' were not cynicism but sincerity, and the presence of people of this stamp in an ethnos leads not to its disappearance but only to a cessation of growth, which is sometimes even expedient because these people, while doing no harm to themselves, do not make it their aim to inflict sacrifices on their neighbors, and the striving for an unlimited expansion of the ethnic territory is replaced by fixing natural frontiers.

A third possible and really existing variant of the attitude to time and the world is an ignoring not only of the past but also of the present, for the sake of the future. The past is rejected as disappeared, the present as unacceptable, and only the dream is recognized as real. The clearest examples of this perception of the world are the idealism of Plato in Hellas, Jewish chiliasm in the Roman Empire, and the sectarian movements of a Manichean (Albigensian) and Marcionite (Bogomil) hue. The Arab Caliphate, too, did not escape the futurist effect (as it is most correctly called) when, from the ninth century A.D., the Bedouins of Bahrain adopted the Karmathian ideological system and spread through Syria, Egypt, and Iran. The Karmathians established a dynasty, the Fatimids, in Egypt, and seized mountain fortresses in Iran (Alamut, Girdekukh, and Lumbasar) from which they dictated their will to Muslim sultans and emirs. The Persians called them Ismailites and the Crusaders Assassins.

The ideology of the Karmathians was frankly idealistic, but not religious. According to their teaching the world consisted of two halves, mirror reflections of each other. In this world it was bad for them, the Karmathians; they were oppressed, humiliated, and robbed. In the anti-world everything was the opposite; they, the Karmathians, would oppress, humiliate, and rob Muslims and Christians. One could only pass to the anti-world with the aid of the 'living god' and of teacher-elders appointed by him, to whom it was necessary, of course, to submit and pay money. There was nothing religious in this system. The striving to represent the teaching of the Karmathians as an ideology of struggle of the oppressed against feudal lords reflects only one aspect of the matter, and not the most important one. The Fatimids in Cairo and Hassan Sabbah in Alamut were exactly the same kind of oppressors of the peasants as their opponents, although they sometimes made use of social contradictions in the interests of their policy. And indeed, could a band or sect express the interest of the broad masses?

In ancient China, however, the futuristic perception of time that was manifested 'in the third century A.D. led the people to the people to the uprising of the 'Yellow Turbans'. In addition to the real class contradictions during the later Han dynasty (A.D. 25-220), Taoist scholars had been expelled from all posts in the state service by Confucianists, and forced to earn their living by treating illnesses and forecasting the weather. This wretched existence did not suit them; they created a theory that 'the blue sky of violence' would be succeeded by 'the yellow sky of justice'. In fact the sky turned red from the reflection of spilled blood. In the period of troubles that succeeded the uprising, the population of China fell from 50 million to 7.5 million. It would be frivolous to blame Taoist propaganda alone for all the calamities, since the overwhelming majority of those involved in the events were foreign to any philosophical conceptions. From my angle it is only important to note the existence of a futuristic perception of the world and its activation with the decline of the backward-looking view, dislodged, as it were, from the life of the people. It is not by chance that the third century A.D. is considered the age dividing ancient China from mediaeval. A new accumulation of values, both ideological and material, began in the sixth century A.D. under the Sui dynasty, and took shape in a backward-looking trend in the seventh century during the Tang dynasty. N.I. Konrad called this phenomenon the Chinese Renaissance, when under the slogan of 'return to the ancient' a new, original culture was created that was opposed to moral decay and to the brutality of the soldier and nomad kingdoms of the epoch called the 'Five Barbarians.' 9

One might conclude that a futuristic perception of time is encountered so rarely that it is an anomaly. That is wrong; it is as regular as the two others, but operates in an ethnic association so destructively and disastrously that either the ethnos as a whole or the 'dreamers' die, or they declare their dream fulfilled and become actualists, i.e. begin to live like everyone else. The futuristic perception of the world is dangerous for those around only in pure forms and high concentrations. Mixed with others it is capable of arousing sympathy. Johann of Leyden in Mьnster, for example, knew how to fan a high pitch of passions, and the bloodshed inevitably associated with that phenomenon. But contemporary Baptists are narrow-minded, and as such are closer (in the system of classification I have adopted) to bigoted Catholics, Protestants, and atheists than to their own ideological and spiritual forebears. In other words profession of an idea does not determine attitude to time and is not linked with it. The pattern of 'futurism' is that the presence of people of this stamp starts a process of ethnic disintegration; and since these processes are observed in all the periods we have studied, the disappearance of ethnoi is obviously not an accident or a matter of chance, any more than the appearance of new ones is. Both are parts of one and the same dialectical process, ethnogenesis; and if, as people, we may sympathize with some one mental attitude or mentality, as scientists we must simply define the relation and vectors of the constituent magnitudes in the general trend of the movement being studied.

Past-worship, actualism, and futurism reflect three stages of the ethnic dynamics but there must be, in addition, and actually is, a frame of reference of the category of time corresponding to the static state of the ethnos. It consists in the very ignoring of time that I have already described. Time does not interest people of this stamp because they derive no benefit from contemplating it for the activity that nourishes them. There are such people (that I called narrow-minded or Philistines above) in all stages, but they are hardly noticed when other categories exist. When all their rivals disappear with the triumph of 'futurism' or 'obscurantism', indestructible mediocrities emerge from the cracks and fissures, historical time comes to a halt, and the land lies fallow.

So I have closed all the lines of my analysis, and obtained confirmation of a hypothesis of a four-member construction of ethnic becoming. That is not a chance coincidence and not an arbitrary construct, but a reflection of the essence of the process of ethnic disintegration. But if my analysis has exhausted the theme, then not only ethnology but also ethnoi themselves would long ago not have been, because they would all have disintegrated with the passing of historical time. Obviously there are creative processes of intraethnic evolution, in addition to destructive ones, thanks to which new ethnic associations arise. The ethnic history of mankind therefore does not cease, and will not, as long as there are people on Earth. Because an ethnos is not an arithmetical sum of human units but a system, a concept that must be unraveled in detail.


Ethnos as a System


'System' in a popular explanation. A well-known example of a social system is the family living in one home. The elements of the system are the members of the family and the objects of their way of life. These include the husband, wife, mother-in-law, son, daughter, house, well, and cat. They constitute a household so long as the spouses are not divorced or separated, the children have not broken away, the mother-in-law has not quarreled with the son-in-law, the well has not become covered with scum, and the cat has not had kittens in the loft. If they stay in the house after that then, whether a water main is laid or the well is cleaned, it will not be a family, but a settled plot, i.e. all the elements of animate and inanimate nature will remain in place, but the system of the family will disappear. If, on the contrary, the mother-in-law dies, the house is rebuilt, the cat runs away, the favorite son leaves to study, and so on, the family will be preserved in spite of the changes in the number of elements. That means that the objects are not the really substantial, operative element of the system, but rather the connections are, although they have neither mass, charge, nor temperature.

This inner link between separate people with mutual dissimilarity is a real manifestation of a systems link and cannot be defined by any other indicators.

The relations in a system can be both positive and negative, some of the links of the subsystem being able to change sign during an individual's life. Let us continue my example. The relation of a newborn boy with elders has a certain tendency and 'weight'.10 They take care of him, bring him up, and teach him. On becoming an adult and the father of a family, he does not, however, break his relations with his elders. But the sign of the connection changes to its opposite; he cares for his parents and teaches his children. Finally, having become an old man, he again requires care and attention. This pattern indicates that no system is static but is in mobile equilibrium (homeostasis), or in motion from a push of some kind whose impulse lies outside the system. It is not excluded, of course, that this impulse is limited for a system of higher rank, but the mechanism of influence is not altered.

The family is a graphic example of a system. But more complicated systems like, for example, an ethnos, social organism, species, geobiocenosis, are governed by the same regularity, even when allowance is made for their being constructed on a hierarchical principle, in which the subsystems form a systems entity (supersystem), and the supersystems a hypersystem, and so on. The existence of universal, general connections that create dynamic stereotypes is thus more or less stable, but never eternal.

The degree of stability of an ethnos, as a system, is thus determined not by its mass, i.e. the size of the population, and the accuracy of its copying of ancestors, but by a mean statistical set of connections of various weights and signs. A sharp departure beyond definite limits entails either death or rapid development. The elasticity of an ethnos is created by that, which makes it possible to absorb and dampen external influences and even sometimes regenerate itself, because a multi-link system makes up for the damage from the reorganization of connections.

Let me pass from this popular explanation to scientific definitions, i.e. cybernetics and systemology on the scale that we shall need them.


'System' in ethnology. The American scientist Norbert Wiener defined cybernetics as the science of control and communication. The merit of cybernetics is the method of investigating complex systems, since it gives no advantages in the study of simple systems. The object of study of cybernetics is the modes of behavior of an object. It does not ask 'what is it?' but rather 'what does it do?'. Cybernetics is concerned with all forms of behavior, in so far as they are regular, or determined, or reproducible. Materiality is of no significance for it, nor observance or non-observance of the ordinary laws of physics.

The theses cited indicate that for an ethnologist, who interprets the essence of the phenomenon of ethnos and recognizes laws in order to tie his own observations up with them, absolute confidence in the methods of cybernetics is counter-indicated. Application of cybernetic methods can serve as a corrective for the extrapolation of empirical generalizations, but no more. Therefore it is not the ideas of Wiener but those of Bertalanffy, who combined physical chemistry and thermodynamics with cybernetics, that will usefully underlie the methods of systems study of an ethnos.

According to Bertalanffy's approach,11 a system is a complex of mutually interacting elements, i.e. the primary elements of information are the connections between facts and not the separate facts themselves. According to A.A. Malinovsky,

a system is built up from units whose grouping has independent significance, and from links, blocks, and subsystems, each of which is a unit of a lower order that provides the hierarchical principle that makes it possible to carry on investigation at a given level.12

Starting from that principle we have the right to treat an ethnos as a system of social and natural units and the elements inherent in them. An ethnos is not just a crowd of people similar in certain features to one another, but a system of individuals different in tastes and capabilities, and of the products of their activity, traditions, the geographical environment, ethnic surroundings, and tendencies to increase or diminish. The trend of development is particularly important because

the general, for all cases of sets, is the property of elements to possess all forms of activity that lead to the formation of static or dynamic structures.13

The application of this approach to processes of ethnogenesis is also linked with the solution of the problem of historicism, since all the observed facts are built up into a dynamic system of historical development. It only remains for me to analyze that part of World History that is directly connected with my theme.

We can thus define the real existence of an ethnic entity as the dynamic existence of a system that includes not only people but also elements of landscape, cultural tradition, and relations with neighbors.14 These are not only the biological system, and not only the social one, because analogues of the biological and the social levels are not justified. The original charge of energy in such a system is gradually expended, and entropy continually increases. A living substance or system must therefore constantly remove the accumulating entropy, exchanging energy and entropy with the environment. This exchange is controlled by regulating systems that employ the stocks of information transmitted by inheritance. In our case the role of regulating systems is played by tradition, which interacts equally with the social and natural form of the motion of matter. Transmission of experience to progeny is observed in most warm-blooded animals. But the existence of tools, speech, and writing separates man from other mammals, and an ethnos is a form of collective being inherent only in man.


Levels and types of ethnic systems. The approach I have adopted allows me to substitute ethnic systematics for ethnic classification. A classification can be made according to some arbitrary attribute (language, race, religion, kind of job, citizenship). In any case it will be an arbitrary division not inherent in the nature of things. But systematics reflects precisely the latter, studying humanity and technique and domestic animals as a definite object. The biggest unit, after mankind as a whole (as an amorphous anthroposphere, one of the envelopes of Earth), is the superethnos, i.e. a group of ethnoi that has arisen at the same time in a region and which manifests itself in history as a mosaic unity of ethnoi, i.e. of directly observable taxa. They, in turn, are divided into subethnoi, i.e. into units that exist only because they are part of the unity of the ethnos; without the ethnos they fall to pieces and die.

Membership of a category of taxonomy is determined not by the absolute identity of the individuals, but by how far they are similar in a certain aspect at a given level. At the level of the superethnos (let us take the Middle Ages as an example), Muslims (Arabs, Persians, Turkomans, Berbers) were closer to one another than to members of the West-Christian superethnos (the 'Franks' as all the Catholics of Western Europe were called). On the other hand, the French, Castilians, and Scots who were part of the general superethnos were closer to one another than to members of other superethnoi (Muslim, Orthodox, etc.). At ethnos level the French were closer to one another than to the English. That did not prevent the Burgundians from supporting Henry V and taking Joan of Arc prisoner, although they understood that they were going against their own. In any case one must not reduce the whole variety of visible history to awareness of ethnic unity, which is only sometimes the main factor determining a person's behavior. But there is always such awareness, along with other factors, which provides for classing it as the nature of man, as an invariant, rather than among variants of the historical process. In other words, however mosaic an ethnos is, and however varied its structure, it is a unity at a given level.

It is very interesting that historians are already groping for the possibility of such an approach. They involuntarily group ethnoi into constructs that they call either 'cultures' or 'civilizations' or 'worlds'. For the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, for example, we find real sense in concepts that were then perceived as actually existing entities. Western Europe, for example, which was under the ideological suzerainty of the Pope and the formal, but never in fact realized suzerainty of the German Emperor, called itself the 'Christian world'. The West Europeans thereby counterposed themselves not only to the Muslims they were fighting in Spain and Palestine, but also to the Orthodox Greeks and Russians, and also, surprisingly, to the Irish and Welsh Celts. Quite obviously, it was not a religious community that was understood by that, but a systems unity that was given its name by an arbitrarily accepted indicator.

The 'World of Islam' equally counterposed itself to the Greeks and Franks, and the pagan Turks, but from the angle of religion it was not a unity. The doctrines of the Shiites (theists), Karmathians (atheists), and of the Sufis (pantheists) had very little resemblance to each other, or to the orthodox doctrine of Islam (Sunnism). The Christian Europeans, too, were by no means friendly with one another, but when clashing with Muslims or pagans, they immediately found a common language and ways of compromise. That meant, for example, that Venetians could fight Genoese, but only until Arabs or Berber Muslims appeared; then the former enemies threw themselves against the common enemy.

We know from history that fierce wars were often waged between close relatives. But they differed radically from the wars at the level of major systems. In the latter case the enemy was regarded as someone foreign, interfering and liable to destruction while personal motives (anger, hatred, envy, etc.) were not a reason for the brutality exhibited. The further systems are from one another, the more cold-blooded the mutual extermination is, being converted into a kind of dangerous hunt. Can one really hate a tiger or a crocodile?

On the contrary, the struggle within a system has the aim not of exterminating the enemy but of victory over him, since the system cannot exist without its component parts. The leader of the Florentine Ghibellines, Farinata degli Uberti, for instance, helped the enemies of his city win, but did not permit the destruction of Florence. He declared that he was fighting the city in order to five in it. He lived there until his death, after the Arbia ran red with the blood of his enemies the Florentine Guelphs.

But that was still nothing. The Venetians dealt far more severely with Alberigo, the brother of the famous Ghibelline Eccelino da Romano. When he yielded up his castle near Treviso in 1260, six of his sons were killed before his eyes, and then he himself was beheaded, and his wife and two daughters burned alive on the square of Treviso. Why were such senseless cruelties inflicted?

To understand that situation one has to grasp that 'Guelphs and Ghibellines were algebraic signs that could conceal meaning.'15 It is considered that the Ghibellines were feudalists and the Guelphs burgesses (burgbers), but a number of towns were half-and-half for the Ghibellines, and some Guelphs became Ghibellines, and vice versa, and it happened that the two parties acted together against the Arabs or Greeks. Such big urban republics as Genoa and Venice passed repeatedly from one camp to the other, guided only by political considerations. So why did blood flow?

The means of maintaining unity of a system depends on the epoch, or rather on the phase of ethnogenesis. In young systems the elements make very intense contact, passionate so to say, which causes clashes. The bloody discords often have neither ideological nor class sense, occurring within the limits of one social stratum, like Wars of the Roses in England, or the war of the Armagnacs and Burgundians in France. But these intestine wars maintain the unity of the ethnic system and state better than when the population is apathetic, when it would seem easier to live, but the ethnoi break up and disappear as entities.

Ethnic systems are often not equivalent to state formations. One ethnos may live in different states or several in one. So in what sense can we treat them as systems?

It is acceptable to divide systems into two ideal types: rigid and corpuscular, or discrete. In rigid systems all the parts (elements) are so fitted to one another that their simultaneous existence is necessary for normal functioning. In discrete systems the elements interact freely and easily replace analogous ones, without the system ceasing to work; and it is even possible to drop some elements with the next renewal. If that does not happen there is a simplification of the system that may go so far as to destroy it.

Another division of systems is possible - into open ones constantly receiving energy and exchanging positive and negative entropy with the environment, and closed ones that use up original charge until their potential is balanced with that of the environment. Four variants are possible when these two characteristics are compared: (1) rigid open; (2) rigid closed; (3) discrete open; (4) discrete closed. The division is arbitrary, because any operating system combines features of different types, but since it is close to one pole or the other, the division is justified in practice, because it helps classify systems by the degree of subordination of the elements.

When we study history, both constitutional, social, and cultural, and ethnic, we come up against all the gradations of systems of the types described, with the exception of the extremes, i.e. only rigid or only discrete, because neither the one nor the other is viable. Rigid systems cannot be self-restorative when they break down, while discrete ones lack the capacity to withstand blows from outside. We therefore encounter systems in practice with various degrees of rigidity, which is the higher the more human labour is involved in it, and the lower the more creation of the system is initiated by natural processes that constantly transform the elements composing it. The limit is the opposition of the technosphere and the biosphere.

But where is the boundary of the biosphere and the technosphere, if the human organism itself is part of nature? Obviously the boundary of the socio-technosphere and the biosphere runs within human bodies as well as outside them. But the difference does not disappear because of that. On the contrary, we are seeking a real element of the interaction of the social and biological here. It is that independent, and quite well-known phenomenon of nature, viz., the ethnos.

Ideally, an ethnos is a discrete system but so as not to be annihilated by neighbors, it immediately develops social forms that are auxiliary rigid systems: the authority of the elders in the clan, for example, the chief in the hunt or war, obligations in regard to the family, and finally, the formation of a state. The rigid systems are thus socio-political formations like the state, tribal unions, clans, bodyguards, etc. The coincidence of systems of both types, i.e. of ethnos and state or tribal union, is not obligatory, although it seems natural. Recall the great empires of antiquity that united diverse ethnoi or the mediaeval feudal splintering of ethnoi. A propensity to combine is as natural as one to coincide. The systems of both types are dynamic, i.e. they rise and fall in historical time. Homeostatic ethnic systems in which changes are, connected only with external effects seem to be the exception. But one must not forget that homeostasis arises only after intense development, when the forces creating and driving the system run out. Statics should therefore be perceived as slow inertial motion with a limit - zero - that is not reached in practice.





The structure of an ethnos. Its structure – an inseparable feature of an ethnos – is always more or less complex, but it is this complexity that gives it the stability by which it has a chance to survive centuries of confusion, troubles, and peaceful wasting away. The principle of ethnic structure is, one may say, a hierarchical subordination of subethnic groups (the latter understood as taxonomic units within the ethnos, as a visible whole, and not disrupting its unity). At first glance this thesis contradicts my proposition about the existence of an ethnos as an elementary entity, but remember that even a molecule of matter consists of atoms, and an atom of elementary particles, which does not ablate statements about the entity at one level or another (molecular or atomic, or even subatomic). The whole thing is characteristic of structural connections. Let me explain this from an example.

A Karelian from the Tver Province called himself a Karelian in his village but on going to study in Moscow a Russian, because it made sense in the village to counterpose Karelians to Russians, but in the city it did not, since the differences in way of life and culture were so insignificant as not to be visible. But if he were a Tatar, rather than a Karelian, he would go on calling himself a Tatar because the past religious difference deepened his ethnographic dissimilarity from Russians. But a Tatar living in Western Europe or China would be considered a Russian, and would himself agree with that; in New Guinea, however, he would be seen as a European, only not of the tribe of the English or Dutch. This example is very important for ethnic diagnosis, and so for demographic statistics and ethnographic maps. For when such maps are being compiled it is absolutely necessary to agree on the order and degree of approximation, otherwise it will be impossible to distinguish the subethnoi that exist as elements of the structure of an ethnos, from current ethnoi.

Now let me touch on the subordination of ethnoi. The French, for example, a clear example of a monolithic ethnos, include, as I have already said, Breton Celts, Gascons of Basque origin, Alsatians, descendants of Alemanni, and Provencals, an independent people of the Romance group. In the ninth century A.D., when ethnic names were first recorded in documents, the French, all the peoples named above, and others, too – Burgundians, Normans, Aquitaines, Savoyards – still did not constitute a single ethnos, and only after a thousand-year process of ethnogenesis was the ethnos formed that we call the French. The merging, however, did not cause a leveling of local customs, rituals, etc. They were maintained as provincial peculiarities that did not disrupt the ethnic wholeness of the French.

We see the results of ethnic integration particularly clearly in France, because the course of events during the Reformation led to the French Huguenots being forced to quit their homeland in the seventeenth century in saving their lives, they lost their former ethnic affiliation and became German nobles, Dutch burghers, and a large number the Boers who colonized South Africa. The French ethnos shed them, like a superfluous element of the structure, diverse even without it. France, as a socio-political entity, however, was not weakened, but on the contrary consolidated. The fields and orchards abandoned by the zealous Huguenots passed to indifferent people, who restored an economy in the eighteenth century that no longer suffered from internal wars. The ethnic monolithism arising enabled Napoleon to mobilize the population and create a very numerous and obedient army, after whose defeat France did not break up, in spite of all the survivals of provincial separatism.


Self-regulation of an ethnos. It may seem strange that I ascribe a capacity for self-regulation to an ethnos. But an ethnos is dynamic in historical development and consequently, like any long-lasting process, finds solutions within its power to maintain its existence. Others are cut off by selection and die out. All living systems resist extinction, i.e. are anti-entropic, and adapt to external conditions in so far as that is possible. But as soon as some complexity of structure raises the resistance of an ethnos to external blows, it is not surprising that where it was not sufficiently mosaic at birth, as for example in Great Russia in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, it begins itself to throw up subethnic formations, that sometimes take shape as estates.16 On the southern borders Cossacks emerged, in the north Pomors.17 Subsequently they were augmented by 'prospectors' (at first glance, simply a kind of job)18; peasants followed after them, mixing with the aborigines of Siberia and forming a subethnos of Siberians. In the course of history these subethnic groups dissolved into the main mass of the ethnos, but at the same time new ones were thrown up.

It is very easy to distinguish subethnoi because the ethnography of the end of the nineteenth century worked precisely at that level. Russian ethnographers studied everyday customs, i.e. a fixed stereotype of the behavior of a group of population that differed sharply from those of the capitals (Moscow and St. Petersburg). They studied the life of the Olonets peasants (in Karelia), for example, but not of the professors of the colleges in St. Petersburg,

In short, subethnoi are obvious because, on the one hand, they are within an ethnos and, on the other, their bearers differ from all others in manners, mode of expressing feelings, and so on. They arise through different causes, coincide sometimes with estates, but never with classes, and disperse relatively painlessly, giving way to others, outwardly dissimilar, but with the same functions and fates. The purpose of these subethnic formations is to support ethnic unity by way of internal, non-antagonist resistance. This complexity is obviously an organic detail of the mechanism of the ethnic system and as such arises in the very process of the formation of an ethnos or of ethnogenesis. When an ethnic system is simplified, in the phase of decay, the number of subethnoi is reduced to one. That marks the persistent (residual) state of the ethnos. But what is the mechanism of the rise of subethnoi? To answer that we have to go to a lower order in which there are taxonomic units that I divide into two sections: consortia and convicinities. Small tribes, clans, and the already mentioned corporations, local groups, and other associations of people are put into these sections.


Consortia and convicinities. Let us agree on terms. I call groups of people united by a common historical fate consortia. They include 'circles', cooperatives and workers' guilds, sects, bands, and similar unstable associations. They usually break up, but sometimes last for several generations. Then they become convicinities, i.e. groups of people with both a way of life of the same character and family connections. They are not very resistant. They are eaten away by exogamy and reshuffled by succession, i.e. by sharp changes of historical surroundings. Undamaged convicinities grow into subethnoi. Such were the Russian prospectors mentioned above, consortia of desperate, foolhardy explorers who gave rise to a generation of staunch Siberians; and Old Believers. The first English colonies in America were founded by consortia and were converted into convicinities. New England was founded by Puritans, Massachusetts by Baptists, Pennsylvania by Quakers, Maryland by Catholics, Virginia by Royalists, Georgia by supporters of the House of Hanover. Consortia sailed from England that were not reconciled either to Cromwell or to the Stuarts, and on the new soil, where the old disputes were not pressing, they became convicinities that opposed themselves to new neighbors – Indians and French.

The Russian prospectors and Old Believers remained part of their ethnos, but the descendants of the Spanish conquistadors and English Puritans formed special ethnoi in America; so this level can be considered the limit of ethnic divergence. And, one must note, the oldest tribes were obviously formed in former times by this means. An original consortium of energetic people is converted into an ethnos in conditions of isolation, which in early epochs we call a tribe.

Ethnology finishes with consortia at the ordinal level, but the principle of hierarchical subordination can operate even further if necessary. At a lower order we get the single individual, connected with his surroundings. That can be useful for the biography of great men. Going down further we encounter not the full biography of a person but an episode of his life, for example, a crime committed that should be disclosed; and even lower, chance emotion, which does not entail major consequences. But we have to remember that this endless dividing, which is in the nature of things, does not remove the need to find a unity at a given level, important for tackling the task posed.




The reality of a superethnos: the Franks. I call a superethnos a group of ethnoi arising at the same time in a definite region connected together by economic, ideological, and political contacts that by no means exclude military conflicts among them. But, in contrast to clashes at superethnic level, when wars are waged to extermination or enslavement (for example, the contact of Europeans with the aborigines of America in the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries), the wars within a superethnos lead only to achievement of temporary domination (for example, the Guelphs and Ghibellines in mediaeval Europe, or the internecine wars of the Old Russian dukes), with a striving for compromise. Like an ethnos, a superethnos opposes itself to all other superethnoi, in the person of its members, but unlike an ethnos a superethnos is incapable of divergence. I ask you to accept this thesis temporarily without proof, and promise to present such at the end of the book.

At first glance this seems strange because it is incomprehensible where superethnoi come from. Their rise is evidently different in character from that of ethnoi, and furthermore of subethnic entities. If so, however, then we must presume that the riddle of the origin of ethnoi has not been solved precisely because its solution lies at a higher order, and consequently that the phenomenon of ethnos, some one or another, seen and noticed by us, is only a variant of the superethnos to which it belongs as an element of the mosaic systems entity, like a column or caryatid forms part of the whole of a palace although the caryatid can be looked at from beside it, while the palace is only visible as a whole from a great distance. The palace, however, will continue to function without a caryatid, but a broken statue will be converted at best into a museum exhibit and at worst into builders' debris. Let me explain this with examples from history.

A superethnic entity is no less real than a subethnic one. The French ethnos was already part, in the early Middle Ages, of an entity called Christianity, which included the Catholic countries of Europe, a part of whose population were Arians (the Burgundians) or pagans (the Frisians). But such details bothered no one at the time. The territory united by the Carolingians was peopled by two large ethnic groups: the German-speaking Teutons and Latin-speaking Walloons. Under the grandsons of Charlemagne these ethnoi forced their rulers to break the iron band of the Empire and achieved their aim at the battle of Fontenoy (A.D. 841): Charles the Bald and Louis the German swore in A.D. 842 in Strasbourg to stand by the division of the empire by nations.

But that was a first approximation at division. Brittany, Aquitaine, and Provence separated off from the kingdom of the West Franks, and tiny France was located between the Meuse and the Loire. This 'territorial revolution'19 was completed by the legitimate Teutonic dynasty of the Carolingians being overthrown in Paris itself, where Eudes, son of Rodbert of Anjou, ascended the throne in 895 A.D. The Carolingians fought for a hundred years against the disintegration of their country, but the ethnoi that arose from the broad spectrum of mixing refused to submit to them. Consequently there was the 'feudal revolution', which finished in the tenth century. Western Europe broke up politically, but continued to figure as a superethnic unity opposed to the Muslims (Arabs) and Orthodox (Greeks), and Irish and pagans (Slavs and Norsemen). Subsequently it expanded, having absorbed, through conversion to Catholicism, the Anglo-Saxons, and then the Western Slavs, Scandinavians, and Hungarians. Ethnic mosaicism did not prevent the development of a superethnos.


The origin of a superethnos: Byzantium. A second example. In the Mediterranean there existed in antiquity a single Hellenistic culture that drew Latium and the Phoenician cities into itself during development. Ethnically it resembled the West European, because the main Hellenic nucleus did not comprehend all the variants of the diverse Hellenistic culture. Rome, Carthage, and Pella had their own local peculiarities and were independent ethnoi, but in the superethnic sense were part of the broad circle of Hellenistic culture. That is not new, incidentally, but it is important to me as a starting point. The Roman state encouraged ethnic leveling, but Greek's equality of rights with Latin led to almost the whole population of the Mediterranean merging into one ethnos.

But in the first century A.D. new people appeared in the Roman Empire, unlike any of their neighbors, who formed a new entity in the next two centuries. They already counterposed themselves at the beginning of their advent to 'pagans', i.e. to all other people, and, in fact, were singled out from their number, of course, by the character of their behavior and not by anatomical or physiological traits. They treated each other differently, thought differently, and set themselves aims in life that seemed senseless to their contemporaries, in striving for bliss beyond the grave. Asceticism was foreign to the Hellenistic world; the new people created the Thebaid. The Hellenes and Romans had already, for several centuries, considered their gods literary figures, maintaining the cult as a public tradition but guided in ordinary life by many omens. The new preachers and neophytes considered with complete conviction that the other world was reality, and prepared themselves for fife on the other side. While professing loyalty to the Roman government, they refused to recognize its divine nature, and would not bow to the statues of the emperors, although that often cost them their lives. These nuances of behavior did not break the structures of society, but the new people dropped out of the ethnic unity and evoked the burning hatred of the urban poor, who demanded their annihilation, proceeding from the principle of denial of the right to be different.

It is wrong to think that the cause of the arising hostility was the difference in convictions, because there were no stable and distinct convictions among the uneducated pagans at that time, while they were diverse among the people of the new mentality. But why did the Hellenes and Romans not quarrel with Mithra, Isis, Cybele, and Helios, making an exception only for Christ? What put Christ outside must obviously have been not an ideological or political attribute, but an ethnological one, i.e. a behavioral one that was really new and unaccustomed for Hellenistic culture.

As we know, the new entity was victorious in spite of vast losses. The Gnostics disappeared, and Manichaeans were scattered; the Marcionites (subsequently Bogomils) were confined to a narrow community, and only the Christian Church proved viable and gave rise to an entity that had no name of its own. I shall conventionally call it Byzantine, or Orthodox Christian. An ethnos was formed from the Early Christian community in the fifth century A,D. throughout the Roman Empire, that called itself by the old word 'Romaic' (Gr. Rhome). From the fifth to the tenth centuries A.D. Bulgarians, Serbs, Magyars, Czechs, Russians, and Alans were converted to Orthodoxy, and then a superethnic cultural entity of the Orthodox world was created, which was broken up in the thirteenth century by blows from outside – by 'Franks'20, 'Turks', and Mongols. In the fourteenth century the Orthodox tradition, like the Orthodox culture, revived in connection with the rise of the Great Russian people. But one cannot consider Muscovy the cultural periphery of Byzantium, because strong local traditions made an independent entity out of Rus. What is important is that the currents that deviated from the Oecumenical Church in the fifth century A.D. (Nestorians and Monophysites) continued, in spite of their having been anathematized by Oecumenical Councils, to feel their community with the Orthodox churches, while the simple schism of 1054, when the disputing parties did not proclaim their opponents heretics, formed a break in the single superethnic entity that still exists. Catholicism became the new structural system of the 'Christian world'. The area of 'Catholic' Europe differed from the 'Byzantine' in the character of the behavior of the people inhabiting them. In Western Europe the mediaeval nationes arose, from which grew modern nations, chivalry, city communes, and everything that distinguishes the European superethnos from the other superethnoi of the world.

But even after the schism of 1054 the dogma of Christianity remained as before, which means that it was not a matter of that and the history of religion, like a sensitive indicator, only reflects the deep processes of both social and ethnic history.


The breakdown of a superethnos: the Arabs of the seventh to tenth centuries A.D. The Arabs are an ancient people, so that at the beginning of our era their old feeling of ethnic unity had been lost. The most educated Arabs lived either in Byzantine Syria, or in Iranian Iraq, taking part in the political and cultural life of those empires.

On the origin of the Arabs there are only the legends in the Book of Genesis, but it has been historically recorded that for nearly a thousand years isolated tribes of Bedouins and gardeners, simultaneously engaged in trade, lived in Arabia. Their life and tribal-clan system were predominantly determined by a natural economy and consequently by the terrain of the country they inhabited. No tendencies toward unification arose. The fighting capacity of the Arabs was at a very low level, so that up to the seventh century A.D. Arabia was a field of rivalry of neighboring countries, viz., the Roman Empire, Parthian Sassanid Iran, and Abyssinia (the Aksum Empire). In Arabia itself the most active and resistant population was the Jewish communities of Hejaz and Yemen.

In the sixth century A.D. there was a sudden upsurge of poetry throughout Arabia, which needs to be regarded as a modus of activization. Must one prove that it is impossible to compose good verses without the impulse of passion? In the seventh century Muhammed came forward with a preaching of a strict monotheism and, having formed a small group of fanatical, resolute, and terribly brave followers around him, as a first act wiped out the poets as his rivals. The members of the Muslim community broke up the old clan, family connections, forming a new, special collective that, like the Byzantine, had a confessional dominating idea and an ethnogenetic nature, because Muhammed declared that a Muslim could not be a slave, and accepted into his commune those slaves who pronounced the formula of Islam. An incubation period of accumulation of drive also preceded propaganda for the new faith.

The consortium created was converted during the lifetime of Muhammed and Abu-Bekr into a subethnos. The Muslim subethnos, having grown from a score or so of people to several tens of thousands, conquered all Arabia and imposed a dogma of monotheism on the Arabs. The indifferent Meccan merchants and Bedouins of the deserts preferred hypocritical conversion to Islam to death or slavery. So a new ethnos was created with a changed stereotype of behavior but with the old name for itself – Arabs.

The second Caliph Omar, employing the forces conquered and outwardly converted to Islam, conquered Syria, Egypt, and Persia, but already, under the third Caliph Osman, the pseudo-converts penetrated the highest posts in the new state and utilized the religious impulse of the original collective for purposes of personal enrichment. Zealots of the faith murdered Osman, but that provoked an. explosion of indignation among those who were not fanatics, and an internecine struggle began between the friend of the Prophet Ali, and the son of his enemy Moawiyah, in which the 'pseudo-Muslims' were victorious. But they did not alter the policy and official ideology and continued to conquer under the slogans of Islam. The power of the descendants of Moawiyah, the Ommiads, absorbed not only Arabic, but also Syrian, Iranian, Sogdian, Spanish, African, Caucasian, and many other elements stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indus.

The Arabs imposed their language and spiritual culture (Islam) on the ethnically varied population of the Caliphate. The majority of the conquered people became Arabic-speaking, and where they retained their own language, as in Persia, more than half of the words in the literary language are Arabic.

But already in the tenth century the Caliphate had broken up into separate regions that coincided with tribal areas. The Idrisides (A.D. 789-926), the Rustamids (A.D. 777-909), and the Zirids (9721152) were supported by Berbers, the Buyid dynasty (932-1062) by Gilam and Dailamite mountaineers; the Samanids (A.D. 819-999) by Tajiks, and so on. Even the Arabs themselves were divided. The Spanish Arabs raised the green banner of the Ommiads, the Iraqis the black banner of the Abassids, the Egyptians the white banner of the Fatimids, and the Bahrein tribes of Bedouins created first the community and then the state of the Karmathians, and they all in fact separated into different ethnoi hostile to one another.

In short, the same thing that happened with the empire of Charlemagne occurred with the Caliphate in the ninth and tenth centuries A.D. The living forces of the ethnoi broke the iron band of Empire, both Christian and Muslim, like grass breaks up asphalt. But the political partitioning did not in either case break the superethnic unity, which was reflected in a certain similarity of some elements of the Arabic and Latin culture and literary language. The Muslim superethnos proved much more viable than the Arabic ethnos that gave rise to it. The idea of the Caliphate had already been taken over in the eleventh and twelfth centuries by the Seljuk Turks, and in the thirteenth century by Polovtsy and Sudanese Negroes bought in the slave markets and enrolled in the army. The inertia of the system created by Muhammed's comrades-in-arms proved tremendous.

Let me now ask whether the religious conception can be considered dominant in the process described. As an external phenomenon it undoubtedly can. But inwardly, in content, it is a more complicated matter. Karmathianism differs in its philosophical conceptions much more from Islam than Christianity does, or even Judaism;21 nevertheless it not only comes within the superethnic construction of Muslim culture but also within the Arabic ethnos proper. Turkish mercenaries and Moroccan cut-throats were least of all interested in religion, nevertheless only they supported Sunnite orthodoxy with their sabers in the eleventh century. Remember, Muhammed was preceded by a pleiad of Arab poets (pagans, Christians, Jews) so that the flowering of poetry was the initial link in the process described, no less than the development of intermediate trade, the hunting of Negroes for sale into slavery, and the banditry of tribal leaders.

But for all that the Islam conceived by Muhammed was dominant in forming the Arabic ethnos (and in the superethnic sense of all Muslim culture); and for it the preceding period of the flowering of Arab poetry proved suitable soil. Islam as a symbol became the object of fanatical self-assertion and a means of introducing uniformity. The appearance of various heresies and modifications of religious-ideological content usual during the rapid onslaught of a new religious system (as a kind of inevitable antitheses) only stimulated the rapidity and fury of the course of the main process. Furthermore, a varied intellectual life developed both within the Arab ethnos proper and in the superethnic culture, which led to a flowering of science, art, and unique forms of everyday life. The process is an example of the forming of a superethnos outwardly characterized by a religious-ideological dominant. Such entities have long been known to the social sciences, and are sometimes called 'cultural types' and sometimes 'civilizations'.

In the tenth century A.D. the energy of the Arabo-Muslim ethnos gave out despite the fact that the economy flourished, social relations were normalized, and philosophy, literature, geography, and medicine yielded a maximum number of masterpieces precisely then. The Arabs were converted from warriors into poets, scholars, and diplomats. They created a brilliant style in architecture, built cities with bazaars and schools, laid irrigation works and grew beautiful gardens that provided food for a growing population. But the Arabs forgot how to defend themselves against enemies. In place of the era of conquests a time of losses set in.

The French Normans took Sicily from the Muslims. Asturian mountaineers captured Central Spain and converted it into the 'land of castles'- Castile. The Byzantines took back Syria, except Damascus. The Georgians liberated Tiflis from an Arab garrison. To save themselves the Arabs had to turn to Turkomans and Berbers. But that helped. In the eleventh century the Almoravids drove the Spaniards north and the Seljuks subdued Armenia and Asia Minor. But these newcomers did not defend the ethnos of the Arabs,22 for whom they did not care two pence, but the superethnos, the 'world of Islam', because the latter had become the cultural dominant for them. The Central Asian Turks, Sudanese Negroes, and savage Kurds, on becoming part of the structure of the disintegrating Caliphate, assimilated the morals, customs, views, etc., accepted in it, and became perpetuators of the cause of the community created by Muhammed. It was these people who stopped the onslaught of the Crusaders.

But for all that the culture remained, products of human hands that had no self-development and were free only to collapse and be ruined. The destruction took place slowly, and the fascination of this culture embraced ever newer regions in Africa, India, and the Malay archipelago, and also China. There it still exists, having outlived the rise of the ethnos that created it by a thousand years.

Having taken in such a large quantity of elements foreign to it in the tenth to twelfth centuries, elements introduced by the ethnoi incorporated, this culture changed its look and generated new forms, fanciful to the point of monstrosity. The Muslims ethnically foreign to the Arabs became Shi'ites, Ismailites, Sufis, or professors of doctrines outwardly orthodox but essentially original and far from the original attitude to the world of Muhammed's companions and of the first Caliphs. And since ethnic disagreements and differences were clothed in confessional forms at that time, we can – if we take the reverse course (from culture to ethnogenesis) – discover and characterize the ethnic contacts of the 'World of Islam'. I shall devote a special excursus to this intricate but fascinating problem, in which I shall master with readers several more techniques of the ethnological method.


The Algorithm of Ethnogenesis


Ethnic relicts. Ethnic history can number more than 20 superethnoi that have disappeared in historical time and been replaced by ones now existing. The job is still to describe the mechanism of the disappearance of superethnoi, but I shall speak specially of their origin and spread. Let me note, as an important detail, that islets often remain in the place of a once vast superethnos broken by history that have survived the epoch of its flourishing and decline. The Basques, Albanians, and several Caucasian ethnoi and the interesting and very stable ethnos of the Iroquois of North America, can serve as examples of such small ethnoi. Unlike the majority of the extinct or assimilated tribes of North and Central America, the Iroquois have maintained their numbers (20 000), their language, and their contrast to all non-Iroquois. They have, it is true, changed their life structure and have been converted from warriors into 'museum pieces'.

There are quite a few relict ethnoi, some of them dying out, and some being assimilated by other ethnoi, but some, like the Iroquois, maintaining their self-awareness, more or less stable numbers, and the territory they occupy. These ethnoi I call persistent, i.e. that have outlived themselves and are in a phase of homeostasis (equilibrium with their environment). Ethnography knows very many isolated ethnoi that, thanks to their geographical position, have not been drawn into dealings with other ethnoi or have become involved in it only in the past 100 years. Such were the many tribes of Canada before the coming of the fur-trading companies, the Indians of the interior of Brazil before the rubber boom, the Australians until the coming of Europeans, and certain mountain people of the Caucasus (even after the capture of the Gunib plateau of Daghestan by Russian troops). There are many other peoples and tribes with a greater or less degree of isolation not only in India and Africa but even in Europe. But what is very important is that isolates arise under the eyes of the historian. Such are the Icelanders, descendants of the Vikings who settled the island in the ninth century A.D. and who lost the warlike spirit of their forefathers over 300 years. The offspring of Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish vikings and slave girls captured in Ireland, already constituted a small but independent ethnos in the eleventh century that preserved certain traditions of olden times and married within their island.

Absence of frequent intercourse with foreigners inevitably leads to stabilization of the relations within an ethnos. A structure arises that I call 'stagnant', and a 'simplification of the system' takes place in the ethnos. Let me clarify this from an example.

In Ancient Egypt the united Hamite tribes merged into a powerful ethnos and created a ramified social system. In it were the pharaoh and counselors, princes or dukes of nomes and armies, priests and scribes, merchants, farmers, and poor laborers. The system became complicated as clashes occurred with foreigners. The conquests in Nubia and Syria were made by professional soldiers; treaties with Babylon were concluded by experienced diplomats; canals and palaces were built by specialist engineers trained from childhood. The ramified system survived the Hyksos invasion and was revived as if watered by a regenerating power. But from the eleventh century B.C. a process of simplification started, and the resistivity of the system fell. From 950 B.C. power over Egypt fell into the hands of Libyans. In. 715 B.C. dominion passed to Ethiopians, who lost a war with Assyria, and then Asians occupied Egypt, which lost the capacity to defend itself. The Sais dynasty liberated the country but was supported by the spears of Libyans and Hellenes. In 550 B.C. this dynasty fell after which Egypt was successively dominated by Persians, Macedonians, Romans, Arabs, Berbers, and Turks. Of all the social groups only the farmer fellahin and a small handful of Hellenized Coptic townsmen survived by the first century A.D. The fellahin became isolates, and although an active, historical life seethed around them, it had nothing to do with them. They lived in a society not ethnically foreign to them but remained themselves for 2 000 years. We can call that ethnic statics or rest. It means that development so slowed down that it could be ignored in the description.


Statics and dynamics. Let me explain the terms. I conditionally call those peoples whose life cycle is repeated without change in each generation 'static' or 'persistent'. That does not mean, of course, that such peoples do not experience external influences. They often even perish from a change of the environment, as, for example, the Tasmanians, who were wiped out, or the Araucans who were stamped out in Patagonia. Sometimes stable ethnic groups, tribes, or peoples avoid borrowing from their civilized neighbors, but more often they easily adopt what suits them without thereby changing their accustomed rhythm of life. The Algonquian tribes, for example, had already taken the musket into their armament in the seventeenth century, and learned to shoot no worse than the French or English colonists; the Patagonians were converted in one generation in the nineteenth century from hunters on foot to mounted ones; the Tungus mastered matches and iron stoves suitable for their skin tents. But the ethnic image of these peoples remained as it used to be, until the twentieth century. Neither the Algonquians nor the Araucans became French or Spanish.

The problem of 'fathers and sons' always arises among 'dynamic' peoples. The young generation is not like the older one. Ideals, tastes, and customs change, and a category of 'fashion' develop. Along with the appearance of the new there goes a forgetting of the old; these changes are called the development of culture.

Dynamic peoples are also not eternal. They either disappear without trace or, with the passage of a certain cycle of development, are converted into static peoples who in turn, after various transformations, become dynamic, but already different peoples. The disappearance is sometimes linked with the complete death of the people who constitute the ethnos, the survivors being assimilated by neighboring ethnic communities; the people remain but the ethnos as a systems entity disappears. If part of an ethnos is preserved as a relict it will be an isolate.

These examples are clear, but there are such smooth gradations of traditionality that if we distributed all the ethnoi known to us by degree of diminishing conservatism, it would turn out that the zero limit, i.e. the absence of tradition, is not reached by any ethnos, because by then it would have simply ceased to exist, having melted away or been dissolved among neighbors. That phenomenon, though observed from time to time, is never the fruit of the purposive efforts of the ethnic collective itself. Nevertheless ethnoi die. That means there are destructive factors through which this happens. And since no ethnoi are completely isolated from external influences, we must suppose that all ethnoi are mortal. It is most interesting that ethnoi sometimes prefer death to an existence unacceptable to them. Why?

Perhaps it is this right to death that distinguishes an ethnos that is in a state of homeostatic equilibrium with its environment from a population of any species of animal. The death of an ethnos is a breakdown of systems unity, and not total extinction of all the individuals composing it. Although history has preserved shameful pages of the extermination of separate Indian tribes by Americans, and of Hunni by the Chinese, the members of a dying ethnos much more often become part of new, neighboring ethnoi. Ethnic extermination is therefore more a social phenomenon than a biological one.

According to dialectical philosophy death is a necessary moment and the law-governed result of an organism's life activity,

the negation of life as being essentially contained in life itself, so that life is always thought of in relation to its necessary result, death, which is always contained in it in germ.23

This universal law of dialectics operates as well in the processes of ethnogenesis.

Just as a person can be killed at any age, so an ethnogenetic process can be cut short in any phase. It is easier, however, to cut ethnogenesis short either at the commencement when the ethnos has not gathered force, or when it is ending, when this force has already been expended. The level of technique and culture, moreover, is not of great significance, any more than the size of the population. In the fifteenth century the Iroquois created an original, developing form of community life – a league of five tribes, a sort of republic. The Nahua were the start of the Aztecs, and the state of Montezuma II can hardly be considered undeveloped from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century (more exactly from 1325 when Tenochtitlan was founded, to 1521 when it was captured by Cortes). These are examples of beginning ethnogenetic processes cut short by blows from outside.

An even more graphic example is the ancient Jews. In the fifteenth century B.C. nomadic tribes the Habiru invaded Palestine and seized a territory on the Jordan. In level of technique and methods of farming, and fighting methods they were indistinguishable from the other Semitic tribes of Syria and Arabia, and behind the peoples of Egypt and Babylonia. But this was a people that was intensively developing on the ethnic plane, and it survived all neighbors, until perishing as an ethnic community under the short swords of Roman infantry. A few saved themselves, finding refuge in Parthia and on the Rhenish frontier of the Roman Empire. But this death coincided (and obviously not by chance) with the ethnic divergence of the Jewish people themselves, when the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes ceased to feel their community and began to see each other either as apostates and traitors (the attitude of the Pharisees and Essenes to the Sadducees) or as savages (the attitude of the Sadducees to the Essenes, or the common people), or as a priestly caste cut off from the people (the attitude of the Sadducees and Essenes to the Pharisees). But in standard of culture the Jews in the first century A.D. were not inferior to either the Romans or the Greeks.

One might think, from these examples, that it was barbarism that had forces within it that vanished with the development of culture. But that point of view finds no support in history. European peoples conquered Africa and South-East Asia in the nineteenth century and created a system of colonial empires that embraced almost the whole land surface of the world at the beginning of the twentieth century. In some cases that can be explained by superiority of military technique, but not always. In India, for example, the Sepoys were armed with British weapons, yet nevertheless were beaten by the British, who were fewer in numbers. The Turkish army was not inferior in quality of weapons in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to the Russian and Austrian armies, but Prince Eugene of Savoy and Suvorov proved the victors, in spite of the smallness of their armies and the remoteness of their supply bases. The French conquered Algeria and Annam not so much by better guns as by the celebrated courage and daring of the Zouaves exhibited in the little (anti-guerrilla) war. The Italians, on the contrary, while disposing the most modern weapons, lost the war in 1896 with the Negus Menelik, whose troops were armed with spears and flintlocks, but who were not inferior in the antiquity of their culture to the natives of Italy. That's how it was!

All these conquests were inseparable from the ethnogenetic process in Western Europe, the consequences of which made it possible to create nations and colonial empires already back in feudal times. But the extension of the area of the European ethnoi finished in the twentieth century, and it has become clear that it was an important, bloody, heroic, and contradictory episode (but only an episode and not the pinnacle of evolution) in the history not only of the whole world but of Western Europe itself. The collapse of the colonial empires, that we have been witnesses of, shows that the process of ethnogenesis had passed the phase of flowering, and that history took a former direction, viz., Europe again returned to its geographical frontiers. It is consequently not a matter of level of technique or culture, and it is impossible to build a model of ethnic development on these principles.

No people, no races remain unchanged. Continually they are mixing with others and slowly changing; they may appear to die almost and then rise again as a new , people or just a variation of the old.24

But it remains unclear why isolated ethnoi lose the capacity to resist a hostile environment. In Arnold Toynbee's conception of 'response' to 'challenge', they should give a powerful response to the challenges of an enemy, but they either surrender or take flight and scatter. The transition to homeostasis, which enables an ethnos to exist in isolation, is seemingly linked with loss of some attribute that stimulates its resistance in earlier phases. They remain firm in one thing only, not to admit others into their environment.


Incorporation. The peculiarity of the ethnic phenomenon noted and described explains the difficulties constantly arising during the incorporation of outsiders. It is not sufficient, in order to become part of a foreign ethnos, to desire to do so and simply even for the accepting collective to agree. It is possible to fit beautifully into a foreign medium and still for it not to become one's own.

But entry into a small ethnos living by a natural economy is the most difficult, although there have been exceptions to that. The ethnographer Lewis Henry Morgan, for example, was recognized by Iroquois as one of them, and the French interpreter and fur-trader Etienne Bruld by the Hurons. One could continue with examples, but justice demands that we note that Morgan still remained an American scholar, and Bruld, whose activity stretched from 1609 to 1633, was killed by the chiefs of the tribe after he had set the young men against old customs. V.G. Bogoraz described a 'Russian Chukchi' – an orphan boy brought up by Chukchi – who did not know Russian. The Chukchi persistently considered him Russian, and he held that opinion as well, himself.

Incorporation, employed for practical purposes since time immemorial has thus always run up against the resistance of a factor lying outside the limits of consciousness and self-awareness, in the field of sensations which, of course, reflect phenomena of nature that are not always correctly interpreted by the apparatus of consciousness. However complicated the problem, I can now conclude that the ethnic phenomenon is material that it exists outside and apart from our consciousness, although it is localized in the activity of our soma and higher nervous activity. It is manifested in nuances of people's character and activity, and is related to ethno-psychology. The latter must not be confused with social psychology, which aspires 'to account for the things that men do in terms of the properties of five functional units – act, meaning, role, person, and group';25 'a social group', moreover, 'may be regarded as consisting of men acting together as a unit',26 as participants 'in collective activity,'27 the members of a football team, for example, or a 'Lynch court'. Just so, but not an ethnos! And as Shibutani noted:

(The) many European intellectuals who fled to America ... in many cases ... knew more about American history, law, and regional customs than the natives. Yet they frequently found themselves perplexed by the strange reactions they encountered. Using the distinction that William James made famous, the scholars had a 'knowledge of' American life, but they did not have an 'acquaintance with' it. In spite of all they knew, they were unable to understand many simple things that any child reared in the United States could intuitively feel as the proper thing to do.28

It is characteristic, moreover, that some people could settle down in America, while others longed to get away, despite their being well remunerated there.

There are seemingly different degrees of ethnic compatibility. With some incorporation is easy, with others difficult, and with still others impossible. What is the reason for so strange a phenomenon?

There have always been ethnoi since neoanthropes appeared on Earth. And their mode of existence, as the history of mankind shows, is one and the same – origination, expansion, loss of a degree of activity, and either disintegration or transition to equilibrium with the environment. This is a typical inertial process of a system that exchanges information and entropy with the medium, always in a special unique way or, one may say, in an original rhythm. It is that which limits incorporation. In order to become truly 'its own', one must be included in the process, i.e. inherit the tradition and ideals of the ethnos, and that is only possible in infancy and when the person being incorporated, moreover, does not know his own true parents. In all other cases incorporation is converted into ethnic contact.


The difference between equilibrium and development. Now let me ask what is the difference between isolated ethnoi and those that are developing rapidly. In the systems of relict ethnoi there is no struggle between members of the ethnos, and when there is rivalry it does not involve death of the loser. Only innovations are hounded that, as a rule, no one wants. But if so, then natural selection, one of the factors of evolution, is snuffed out. There remains an ethnorelief equilibrium on the background of which only social progress or regress is possible. But in the complex, difficult conditions of readaptation and change of stereotype of behavior natural selection arises again, and the population being formed by it either dies or becomes a new ethnos.

The primary classification of ethnoi on the plane of their becoming is thus their division into two types differing sharply from one another in a number of attributes, as shown in Table 1.


Table I


Signs of the Difference between the Persistent and Historical States of an Ethnos



Persistent State

Historical State

Relation between generations The new generation aspires to repeat the preceding one The new generation aspires not to be like the preceding one (the fathers and sons problem)
Attitude to time Cyclic counting of time Linear counting of time
Attitude to nature Economy adapted to the relief Adaptation of the landscape to the needs of the economy
Attitude to neighbors Defense of frontiers, hospitality A striving to extend territory, wars of conquest
Attitude to offspring A striving to limit growth, infanticide A striving to unlimited multiplication
Attitude to religion Genotheism, non-admission of foreigners to their culture Proselytizing and religious intolerance
Attitude to social institutions Authority of elders Institution of power (authority)
Attitude to public affairs Conservation of already formed groups of the population Formation of classes or new tribes
Attitude to other cultures Ignoring of other ideas and borrowing of technique Active assimilation of foreign ideas, adoption or repulsion
Length of the life cycle Limited only by the external influence of elemental or anthropogenic origin Not more than 1500±200 years (according to observations)
Ethnogenesis As a result of a long evolutionary process of a historical ethnos As a consequence of mutation and the appearance of a population with an ethnogenic attribute
Relationship Tenure in the historical state is regarded as a senseless, unnatural waste of forces Existence in a persistent state is evaluated as 'uncivilized', 'stagnant', 'inferiority'


The division proposed is based on a principle different from those so far employed (anthropological, linguistic, social, and historico-cultural). The twelve attributes of difference noted in Table 1 are invariant for all ages and territories. Just as in a class society there may be persistent ethnoi so in the gentile system a regrouping of individuals also takes place through which new tribal alliances or military-democratic associations arise. Examples of the first variant can be the inveterate slaveowning relations in Arabia, among Bedouin tribes, in West Africa (in Benin, Dahomey, etc.), among the Tlinkits of north-western America, and among the mountain peoples of the Caucasus before the nineteenth century, who owned male and female Georgian slaves. Hardened feudal relations were observed in the nineteenth century in Tibet, western and north-eastern; in mountain Daghestan, among Yakuts and among Malays. The Iroquois League, on the contrary, which arose in the fifteenth century, is a clear example of the creation of a new ethnos in conditions of pre-class society. The same process took place in the clan state of the Hunni in the third century B.C., and in the military-democratic Turkish Kaghanate ('The Eternal Ehl') in the sixth to eighth centuries A.D. The Celts of the first millennium B.C. undoubtedly constituted an ethnic whole, with a clan system of social relationships. The number of examples can be multiplied, but those given are sufficient. Any division of material in a classification is arbitrary, but that is why it is constructive, because it is defined by the task set by the systematizer. My aim is to establish the place of ethnic forming in diverse observed phenomena. And of course, it turns out that the rise of an ethnos is a rare case on the background of general ethno-relief equilibrium, which cannot be treated as 'backwardness' or 'stagnation' occurring because of the inferiority of the people. All modern 'stagnant' ethnoi developed at some time, and those that are developing now, if they do not disappear, will become 'stable' sometime later.


Ethnogenesis and natural selection. It follows, as a consequence, from the descriptions of the phenomenon of ethnos given above, that social and ethnic processes are different in nature. Coincidence between social and ethnic rhythms is accidental, although it is they that strike one during superficial observation, since interference during phase coincidence increases the effect. The problem facing us has to be formulated as follows: where do the forces that create ethnoi come from? There must have been such forces, because if there were not, then the entropy determined by natural selection, ages ago in the Paleolithic, would have smoothed out all ethnic differences and converted the diversity of the human race into a featureless anthroposphere.

It is usual to say that natural selection must always lead to the survival of individuals better adapted to the struggle for existence. But J.B.S. Haldane noted that this is correct for a rare, dispersed species forced to defend itself from other species and inorganic nature. But as soon as a population becomes dense the separate representatives of the species begin to compete with one another. If even separate individuals prove victorious the struggle itself is biologically harmful for the species. The development of huge horns and spines on males may help them to win personal victories, but it is often the beginning of extinction of the species.29

That point also concerns man, who is a dominant species, the pinnacle and crowning link of the biocoenosis. The struggle of individuals within a species noted by Haldane has nothing in common with the intraspecific struggle for food and transference of its patterns to human society. Something quite different is established here, viz., sharpening of the struggle for predominance in the flock or herd, it being, moreover, not surprisingly, the victors who do not leave offspring. We consequently meet not Darwin's law of survival of the fittest but a kind of excess that is not reflected in the evolution of the collective as a whole. The selection occurring through the clash of adult males or expulsion from the herd of growing young males does not lead to the formation of new populations, but on the contrary is a powerful factor preserving the attributes of the majority of the individuals, including the stereotype of behavior.

This is quite understandable, because each species populating a certain region, is part of its biocoenosis and is adapted to it in the best way. That position is only disturbed when there is a change either of the physical, geographical conditions, for example during a lasting drought or powerful flood when the soil is covered with alluvial deposits, or during migration into the region of other animals that alter the balance of the biocoenosis. All these considerations also apply to man, who is a major predator, and the crowning link of the biocoenosis. But the influence of any exogenic factors does not explain why even in the absence of catastrophes, some ethnoi replace others, leaving as a legacy to posterity only ruins of architecture, fragments of sculpture, fragments of literature, and household vessels, and muddled memories of ancestral glory. Selection obviously has a different significance for man, and that is what Haldane paid great attention to.

Hence biological selection has largely been directed upon those characters which determine that one individual member of a nation shall be represented in the next generation by more children than another.

These characters include resistance to disease and a certain measure of physical vigor. But they do not include a number of the qualities which man himself finds most admirable, or which make for the multiplication of the species as a whole.30

According to Haldane the genes of the martyrs of ideas and science, of bold warriors, poets and artists are met less and less often in succeeding generations. For my analysis what may happen as a result of this for the further fate of an ethnos is important, not of course on the social plane but in the aspect interesting me, i.e. the population, genetic one. Haldane formulated this position as follows:

... natural selection can only act on the variations available, and these are not ... in every direction. ...most mutations lead to a loss of complexity ... or reduction in the size of some organ. ...most evolutionary change has been degenerative. 31

A similar conclusion can be reached, employing the method of cybernetics:

Decay of variety. Having... a set of states and one single-valued transformation, we can now ... predict that as time progresses the variety in the set cannot increase and will usually diminish.32

At first glance the thesis demonstrated by Haldane contradicts the school idea of evolution as progressive development. But as soon as we adopt the dialectical method the contradiction disappears like smoke. Species either degenerate or become stabilized and transformed into persistent ones. But new species arise, more perfected than the preceding ones. Yet they yield their place in the sun to whoever follows after them. The reptiles succeeded giant amphibians, and mammals the dinosaurs, and modern man Neanderthal man. And each rise is preceded by a deep fall.

Translating that into the language of ethnology, let us apply it to our material, taking the simplest model, viz., a localized (territorially), closed (genetically), self-forming (socially) ethnic collective.


Altruism or rather anti-egoism. A newborn ethnos is automatically switched into the world historical process as soon as it announces its existence. That means that it begins to interact with neighbors that are always hostile to it. It cannot be otherwise, for the advent of the new, active, and unaccustomed breaks up the already established and accustomed way of life. The riches of the region in which an ethnos is born are always limited. And that applies primarily to stocks of food. It is quite understandable that those who have lived quietly under the established order will not want to cramp their style or yield place to other people, foreign to them, and incomprehensible and unacceptable to them. Resistance to the new will arise as a natural self-defense reaction and will always take acute forms, usually of a war of extermination. For an ethnos to win, or at least to defend itself, an altruistic ethic must arise within it, by which the interests of the collective will become higher than personal ones.33 Such an ethic is also observable among gregarious animals, but only in man does it get the significance of the sole species-preserving factor. It always borders on an egoistic ethic in which the personal and the family are put higher than the social, but since the interests of the individual and collective often coincide, acute conflicts seldom arise. From the standpoint of preserving the human analogue of the species taxon, i.e. the ethnos, a combination of both ethical conceptions creates the optimum situation. Functions are divided. The 'altruists' defend the ethnos as a whole, the 'egoists' reproduce it in progeny. But natural selection leads to a reduction of the number of 'altruists', which makes the ethnic collective defenseless and, with the passage of time, the ethnos, deprived of its defenders, is swallowed up by neighbors. And the progeny of the 'egoists' continue to live, but already in the ranks of other ethnoi, remembering the 'altruists' not as their hero-defenders, but as obstinate, willful, difficult people with a bad character.

There can be only one way of testing that formula on historical material and I shall have to speak about it in more detail. Ethics regards a relation of what is to what ought to be, and the ought, like the real or existent, changes in each age. These changes are always distinctly registered by the authors of sources who in other respects shamelessly distort the facts. They are sincere in that, because they are describing the ideal rather than reality, an ideal that seems to them beyond doubt in each case. We can therefore employ historiography and even the literature of the past in order to fix a change in the behavioral imperative, taking them not as a source of information but as a fact subject to critical investigation, and to establish thereby how the process really went. As an example let me take some completed stretch of the history of a nationality (not of a state, and not of political institutions, and not of socio-economic relations, but precisely of an ethnos), that is quite familiar to the reader, and briefly examine its phases. A convenient example is a city-state-Ancient Rome. If we disregard the mythical, and therefore unreliable period of the kings, we can easily trace the evolution of the relations of the 'altruists' and the 'egoists' from the first secession (the withdrawal of the plebs to Mons Sacer, after which followed their compromise with the patricians) which determined the character of the social system, to the edict of Caracalla (recognition of provincials, subjects of Rome, as Romans), i.e. from 494 B.C. to A.D. 212. That had already been done in antiquity, incidentally, by Roman historians, who called the process 'the decline of morals'.

In the first period, to the end of the Punic Wars, there was no lack of heroes ready to die for the patria, as the authors of the sources report. Quintus Mucius Scaevola, Alarcus Atilius Regulus, Lucius Quinctius Cincinatus, Emilio Paolo, and a host like them, probably, were largely made a patriotic legend, but it is important that it was precisely such personalities that served as the ideal of behavior. During the civil wars the position was drastically altered. The heroes became the leaders of parties: Marius or Sulla, Pompey, Crassus or Caesar, Sertorius, Brutus or Octavian. They no longer gave their lives for the patria but risked life in the interests of their party and with certain profit for themselves. During the Principate, too, there were no few intrepid and energetic figures, but they all acted openly in their personal interests, and that was perceived by public opinion as proper and even as the sole possible behavior. Emperors and generals were now praised for conscientious performance of their duties, i.e. for absence of dishonesty and senseless cruelty, but that meant, of course, that they were perceived as 'rational egoists', because it was profitable to them themselves. The parties of the optimates (patricians) and of the plebs receded into the past and groups of certain legions came to the fore, for example, Syrian, Gallic, Pannonian, etc., who fought among themselves exclusively for power and money. Under the Severan dynasty the ideal of force and profit triumphed; it was not accidental that the Roman ethnos, called the Populus Romanus, melted away at that time among the peoples it had conquered.

We see a similar picture in Europe in the Middle Ages, when the most urgent task was the war against the Muhammedans. The heroes of the first epic poems-Roland and El Cid Campeador were paladins of Christianity. In fact Roland was the historical count of the Breton Marches and was killed by Basques and not by Moors; El Cid was simply an unprincipled adventurer. Nevertheless the ideals were altruistic and heroic. In the second period the hero did not forget himself. Such were Cortes and Pizarro, Vasco da Gama and Albuquerque, Francis Drake and Juan of Asturias. No one held it against them that they, though men of courage, were frankly selfish. On the contrary, that even evoked admiration and approval. Time passed, and the mercenary soldier, for whom only his own skin was important, became a hero, although one must give him his due for wit, self-control, and self-possession. As we see, the ideal varying in a certain direction, is an indicator of shifts in the social subconscious, because the attitude of an author to a hero is emotional and, consequently, deliberate lying is ruled out. But the social subconscious reflects a deeper essence, viz., a change of the stereotype of behavior that is the real basis of the ethnic nature of human collective being.

But it is impossible in that connection not to take the sphere of the conscious into account, because only consciousness makes it possible to find the optimum decision in a situation that cannot help being acute. Until a new ethnic system is formed and while inertia is accumulating, the process may be disrupted by outside interference; consequently, there is no room for determinacy (fatalism).


The extermination of relict ethnoi. With such a posing of the matter one can answer why ethnoi die out and, moreover, so frequently that not one of those recorded at the beginning of written history, in the third millennium B.C., remains, and of those that lived and acted at the beginning of our era, there remain rare units. It is all the more necessary, since indirect descendants of the ancient Romans, Hellenes, and Assyrians, changed out of all recognition, still live but are no longer Romans, Hellenes, or Assyrians, because they have borrowed only the gene fund from their ancestors. Let me take an example from paleontology which is also concerned with the problem of the extinction of biological taxons (it is not essential in principle what the magnitude of the studied object is). The process of dying out, it seems, should have a pattern.

At first glance it may seem that the least developed species, and consequently the least adapted to the natural situation of past eras, are the survivors, while the old kings of life – the dinosaurs, mastodons, saber-tooth tigers, cave bears, and cave lions – disappeared completely, although they had no worthy rivals. The extinction of species went hand in hand with a gradual reduction of their area and with the rivalry of neighboring species that dislodged the doomed one from the biochore. But it remains unclear what this 'doom' consisted in. Without straining to solve the paleobiological problem, I can say that in ethnology it lies in the structure of an ethnos. Other conditions being equal (numbers, technique, etc.), complication of the structure increases resistance to a hostile environment, while simplification reduces it. That is why physically and intellectually sound peoples, for example Indians or Polynesians, proved helpless compared with colonizers who were by no means the best representatives of their peoples. The greatest danger, both for an ethnos and for nature, is thus neighbors that have not lost, during development, the capacity to adapt and therefore extend their area. Without the appearance of such an enemy a relict ethnos can exist for an unlimited time. But the death of developing ethnoi is not excluded (right down to complete annihilation), if they come up against the irresistible resistance of more rapacious neighbors. Let us limit ourselves to one striking example, the Turks (Turkuts) of the sixth to eighth centuries A.D.

From A.D. 550 to 581 a small Altaic ethnos, the Turkuts, established their domination over the whole Great Steppe from China to the Don, and from Siberia to Iran. The system – called the 'Eternal Ehl' – was flexible and ramified. The steppe and mountain tribes had their place in it and also the inhabitants of the Sogdian oases and of the then broad lower reaches of the Volga, merchants and shepherds, Buddhists and Fire-worshipers, together with the Turkic warriors themselves who honored 'the Blue Sky and the Black Earth'. But China, united by the Sui Dynasty (A.D. 589-618), and the victorious T'ang Dynasty (A.D. 619-907), was stronger and more aggressive. The Chinese could not break the Turks' resistance by military force, but they managed by diplomacy to divide the united Kaghanate into Western and Eastern, and then to isolate the steppe-dwellers from the oases of the Tarim basin, which they occupied, and from Sogdiana, fallen victim to the Arabs; then the Chinese rose Uighurs, Karluks, and Basmali against the Turks, and managed to defeat the Turkish horde in A.D. 747, the victors taking no prisoners. But the Chinese themselves accepted the Turkish fugitives and enrolled them in their border troops. The 'fortunates' were killed in A.D. 756-763, having taken part in An Lushan's uprising against the despotism of the Chinese bureaucracy. The steppe Uighurs and Tibetan hillmen opposed the mutineers, as well as the Chinese, so that there was nowhere to flee to. The isolated, and in that way simplified system perished. Everywhere that similar collisions have been observed, the mechanism of the process has remained unchanged.


Ethnic Contacts


The hierarchy of ethnic taxonomy. All the examples I have cited show that superethnoi are not the arbitrary generalizations of historians but entities no less real than ethnoi although having certain original features that I shall draw attention to below. For the present let me say that a superethnos, like an ethnos, is a systems entity of a higher order than an ethnos. The existence of an even higher form, the hyperethnic, is possible, i.e. of a formation of several superethnoi that oppose themselves to another group. But this is usually ephemeral and there is no need for my purposes to study this level.

Ethnic systematics differs, of course, from social classification. They only rarely coincide. The need for the one or the other depends on the aspect of the investigation, i.e. on the angle from which the chain of historical events is examined. And this angle is determined by the task set by the investigator, who selects a degree of approximation serving his purposes. The fact that this task has been repeatedly posed and has not received a satisfactory answer (Vico, Spengler, Toynbee) should not deter the investigator from continuing attempts at empirical generalization, however difficult they may be. Unlike some authors, who have inquired into how this process goes, I have the possibility of answering what precisely is subject to change, although I get a fundamentally one-sided model that characterizes only certain aspects of the phenomena. But the creation of conceptions underlies any historical interpretation, which distinguishes history ('the search for truth') from the chronicle or a simple enumeration of events. I start from the varied material accumulated by historical science, so that the object of study becomes the system of phases of ethnogenesis at one level or another and in one definite epoch or another, and not Spengler's 'йlan' or Arnold Toynbee's 'intelhgible field of study'. For the following epochs proceeding in historical time, the arrangement of the components will already be different.

Now we can construct an ethnic hierarchy in general form, and at the same time make the meaning of the terms more precise.

Anthroposphere the biomass of all human organisms.34

Ethnosphere – the mosaic anthroposphere35 + the sociosphere, i.e. a combination of ethno-relief systems entities, which are always dynamic.

Superethnos a group of ethnoi arising simultaneously in a region and exhibiting itself in history as a mosaic entity.

Ethnos – a stable collective of people that counterposes itself to all other collectives and has a peculiar, original structure that changes regularly in historical time. More precise definition: a dynamic system arising naturally in Earth's biosphere and changing through the phases of ethnogenesis.

Subethnos – an element of the structure of an ethnos interacting with other elements. With simplification of the ethnosystem in the phase of decline the number of subethnoi is reduced to one, which becomes relict.


Taxonomic units of one order:

Consortium a group of people united by one historical fate or destiny; it either breaks up or passes into a convicinity.

Convicinity a group of people united by a way of life of one character and by family connections; it sometimes passes into a subethnos. It is not recorded by history but by ethnography.


Having agreed to understand by ethnogenesis not simply its initial, starting moment (the appearance of an ethnos on the arena of history), but the whole course of the forming of an ethnos to the end (about which I shall speak below), one can give the following definition: any directly observed ethnos is some one phase of ethnogenesis. And ethnogenesis is a deep-seated process in the biosphere observable only through its interaction with the social form of the motion of matter, i.e. the external manifestations of ethnogenesis accessible to study have a social character.

And that poses the main question, viz., why do the processes of ethnogenesis arise that generate the ethnoi studied by ethnographers. According to a widely held point of view new ethnoi arise through close living together, as a consequence of mutual assimilation of primary ethnic substrata.36 But, like all banal conceptions, it crumbles under an elementary check. The French and the Germans have lived in neighborhood on the banks of the Rhine for more than a thousand years, profess one religion, employ identical everyday objects, study each other's language, but have not merged, just the same as the Austrians and the Hungarians and Czechs, and as the Spanish and the Catalonians and Basques. One could continue with examples.

A merging of ethnoi in one region takes place sometimes, very rarely but the merged ethnoi then disappear, and in their place a new one appears dissimilar to either of them. At first the members of the new ethnos cannot vet get used to their distinctiveness, but in the second or third generation they note their difference from their ancestors. This phenomenon cannot be considered the result of mutual assimilation since it does not always occur and happens very quickly, almost explosively. Some kind of supplementary factor that we have to discover is required for their origin.

Apart from the mode of origin of ethnoi described, there is another, not like the first. Often, as a result of historical upheavals, a group of people hives off and changes its place of residence. In the course of time these people work out a new stereotype of behavior and lose their link with the metropolis. These groups sometimes fall to pieces but frequently, by intermarrying with aborigines or other settlers, they form an independent ethnos.

Examples of the second variant are the Americans of Anglo-Saxon origin who broke their ties with the English at the end of the eighteenth century, the descendants of the Spanish conquistadors or Creoles, the Boers, grandsons and great-grandsons of Dutch, French, and North-German peasants, the Buryats – Mongols who at the general assembly in 1688 preferred alliance with Russians to submission to Manchus – and similar groups, cut off from the main ethnos by the vicissitudes of fate. It is easy, and very necessary, to note that the genesis of both varieties is different, and the character of the variability has nothing in common in the two variants. In the second case the newly appearing ethnos remains within the orbit of its culture, only acquiring a local peculiarity. In the first case there is a quite new phenomenon that retains the institutions of the peoples giving rise to it, as survivals or borrowings. Obviously, the first variant is genuine ethnogenesis, i.e. the birth of new peoples, while the second is only the reproduction of existing peoples. I shall therefore, in what is to come, speak only of the first variant, and in so far as history is the science of events, and the events happen through collisions during the contacts, it is the contacts that must be given predominant attention. I have already touched on this theme, but not sufficiently.


Contacts at different levels. Returning to the problem of ethnic contacts, it is necessary first of all, to pose the question of the level at which the contacts are made (see Table 2). A combination of two or more consortia and convicinities is not stable. It leads either to break-up or to the formation of a lasting form of subethnos. The problem of intermarriage is treated here as 'unequal marriage' with someone 'not of our circle', the rung of the social ladder often having no significance. Thus, Cossacks still regarded marriage with peasants, and even with gentry, in the nineteenth century as 'unequal', although the gentry were often richer and more noble than the Cossacks. I have heard a maxim, coming originally, it would seem, from the Time of Troubles37: 'It says in the Scriptures: Yids do not consort with Samaritans, and Cossacks with gentry'. Of course there is none of that in any 'Scriptures', but how alike that is to the attitude of Kurds to Persians and Armenians. The poor Kurdish shepherd will not decide to present a Persian wife to his relatives unless she is known to have a splendid genealogy. The Albanians maintained themselves that way in the Ottoman Empire, the Basques in Spain, the Scottish Highlanders in Great Britain, the Pathans in the Hindu-Kush. They formed stable ethnic entities with other subethnoi on a basis of symbiosis, reinforced by endogamy. In the central part of Eurasia forms of the symbiosis of ethnoi have been very clearly manifested since remote antiquity. The ethnoi occupied different topographical regions that corresponded to their cultural and economic habits, and did not disturb but helped one another. So the Yakuts settled in the broad flood plain of the Lena, while the Evenks lived in the watershed massifs of the taiga. The Great Russians settled along the valleys of rivers, leaving the steppeland spaces to the Kazakhs and Kalmycks, and the heart of the forest to the Ugric peoples. The more complex and ramified such an ethnic entity was, the stronger and more resistant it was.


Table 2


The Ethnic Hierarchy


Taxonomic Unit Hybrid Direction of Development Limit of Formativeness
Consortium Unstable combination Toward a social institution Convicinity
Convicinity Altered combination Toward a territorial community Subethnos
Subethnos Symbiosis* Toward ethnic self-assertion Ethnos
Ethnos Xenia** Creation of a social organism Conservation of structure
Superethnos Chimera*** Annihilation**** Relict*****
Mankind Hypothetical cross-breeding with Paleoanthrops in the Mesolithic on Mt. Carmel Ethnogenesis ?
Hominids ? Evolution, as phyloogenesis Disappearance of species


* Symbiosis - coexistence in which the symbionts benefit one another.

** Xenia (Gr. xenos a guest) – in geology xenolith, a piece of rock which has been incorporated in a rock and either congealed in it, or converted into a contact hybrid formation.

*** Chimera - a mythical animal with a lion's head, the body of a goat, and the tail of a dragon, an inorganic combination of different ethnoi.

**** Annihilation ( phys.) conversion into nothing; the phenomenon of the conversion of elementary particles of different sign into another form of matter, e.g. into light, with loss of mass.

***** Relict (Lat. relictus) - a survivor or surviving trace.


The combination of two or more ethnoi in a single social organism is another matter. The character of a social organism of this or another kind puts its stamp on the interaction of the mixed ethnoi which, forced in some cases to five in one region, reconcile themselves to the fact of coexistence but cannot help being oppressed by one another. One can call them xenias. Belgium is one such, where Walloons and Flemings were pushed close together like the tenants in shared accommodation. Such is Canada, where English-speakers, French, Franco-Indian metises, and now, too, Slavs, coexist but do not merge and do not share functions, which is inherent in symbiosis. A similar situation in Scandinavia was ended with the separation of Norway from Sweden, which was to the benefit of both.

The contact of two or more superethnoi, however, is even more painful. Then not only does ethnic annihilation occur, but also a demographic decline, or to put it bluntly dying out because of intolerable conditions or physical extermination of the weak party. Such situations arose in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in the USA (the shooting of Indians with payment for scalps), in Brazil during the rubber boom, in Australia during its annexation by the British, and in the valley of the Yellow River where the civilization of ancient China came up against the culture of the ancient tribes of Tanguts. No Tanguts remained.

But at the same time whole periods are observed in history of the coexistence of superethnoi, not always peaceful but also not mutually exterminating. And sometimes subethnoi in one ethnic entity waged murderous wars on one another, finding (and sometimes not) an excuse for hatred. Let us take the clearest examples and examine how that came about. Can the history of states provide an exhaustive explanation of the course of events?


The relation of ethnic entities of different orders. The division of ethnoi proposed is very useful not only for contemporary but also for historical ethnography. I shall try to demonstrate that from the example of an age well studied and long past, namely, the twelfth century in Eurasia, and as a partial example, Old Rus about which there have been so many disputes and which is counted by the banal and therefore commonly held division, as both 'West' and 'East'. That quite irrational division was born in the superethnic entity of the Romano-German world, ideologically united by the Roman Church and by its counterposing of itself to all the rest. In short, it is a Philistine Eurocentrism that had sense in the Middle Ages but which exists even now in Western Europe and its transatlantic continuation America. If we take the western 'Christian World' as a superethnic standard, its equivalents will be the 'Levant' or the 'World of Islam', an entity by no means religious but rather ethno-cultural, stretching from Spain to Kashgar; India, with the exception of that part where Muslims predominate; China, which considered itself the 'Middle Empire' with a barbarian periphery; Byzantium, the eastern Christian entity whose political boundaries were always narrower than superethnic; the Celtic world, defending its original traditions against English feudal lords until the fourteenth century; the Baltic Slavonic-Lithuanian pagan entity, which was becoming a relict in the twelfth century; the East European superethnic entity – the Russian land. I shall concentrate on the last-named, but will treat its ethnic fate on the background of the interweaving of the conflicts of all the other superethnoi named above, because isolation was only possible in Eurasia for the superethnos of the circumpolar peoples of Siberia, and it, too, was often disturbed now by the Evenks, now by the Yakuts.

When the Slavs made their appearance in Eastern Europe, we know, they were divided into tribes that were still preserved at the beginning of the twelfth century only in the memory of the authors of the 'Initial Annals'. That was natural. Ethnic integration was proceeding intensively around the big towns, in which the former tribal differences were losing their significance in the new conditions. A.N. Nasonov has described Rus of the eleventh and twelfth centuries as a system of 'semi-states', standing on a lower scale than the 'Russian land'38: (1) the Novgorod Republic and its environs; (2) the Duchy of Polotsk; (3) the Duchy of Smolensk; (4) the Rostov-Suzdal land; (5) the Duchy of Ryazan; (6) the Turov-Pinsk land; (7) the Russian land, including the three duchies or principalities of Kiev, Chernigov, and Pereyaslavi; (8) Volhynia; (9) Red Rus or the Duchy of Galicia. One must add to that list the Polovitsian steppe between the Don and the Carpathians, captured by Vladimir Monomakh, but Great Bulgar (Bolgar), the Transdon nomadic Polovtsy, the Alan lands in the North Caucasus, and Volgan Khazaria and the town of Saxin lay beyond the Russian frontier of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

The Bulgars and Khazars belonged at that time to the Levantine or Muslim superethnos. They did not differ from their neighbors in their mode of adaptation to their country. But Bulgar's systematic trade and cultural relations with Iran were more effective than the influence of the geographical environment, and it was they which made Great Bulgar an outpost of the 'Muslim' superethnos and an opponent of the Dukes of Vladimir.

Following the principle I have adopted and observed, we could put the Alans and the Crimean Goths in the Byzantine superethnos, and the Lithuanians, Letts, and Yatvyags in the Baltic. The Poles and Magyars had already become part of the West-European superethnos in the tenth century, and the victory of the German Crusaders over the Slavs of the Elbe converted Catholic Western Europe into a monolithic domain culturally, although a mosaic ethnically, which was on the rise in the twelfth century and persistently, though not always successfully, was expanding its area, which led to a crisis in the thirteenth century, namely defeat of the Crusades.

Descending to a lower order, i.e. to one of the Russian subethnoi, say to Kiev, we find three active consortia there: the western, supporters of Duke Svyatopolk II, including the Kiev-Pechery Monastery; the Grecophile, supporters of Vladimir Monomakh and the Metropolis, with its see in St. Sophia; and the national, suffering heavily for sympathy with Vseslav after his banishment from Kiev.

It will readily be noted that a consortium does not coincide with class, estate, religious, and tribal divisions, being an independent system of reference. But this system is very useful because it is through it that we can catch the motives of the actions of supporters of the political trends listed above. That cannot be done by analyzing the class contradictions, because all the participants in the events belonged to the same class, but they drew strength from their sympathizers within the people. The struggle, nevertheless, was active and violent. Why? And for what?


Ethnoi always arise from contacts. How do superethnoi differ? And what prevents them from merging with one another or inheriting the wealth of their predecessors? For the ethnoi within a superethnos often merge without impediment. This heightened stability of superethnoi may be due to the existence of ethnic dominants, i.e. of verbal expressions of certain ideals that have a uniform meaning in each superethnos and a similar semantic dynamic for all the ethnoi included in the system. The ideal may be changed hypocritically, but then the merging of superethnoi would be illusory. Each member of the different superethnoi would be left in the depths of his soul with what seems natural to him and solely correct. For the given ideal seems, to its follower, not so much an indicator as a symbol of his life assertion. So I call the dominant the phenomenon or set of phenomena (religious, ideological military, everyday, etc.) that determines the transition to purposeful uniformity of the ethnocultural diversity that is the starting point for the process of ethnogenesis.

Remember, the phenomenon of an ethnos is concentrated in the behavior of the individuals that make it up, and not in the soma or in the genotype. In other words, it is not in the bodies of people but in their acts and relationships. Consequently no one is outside an ethnos, except the newborn infant. Everybody must be able to behave in some way, and it is the character of his behavior that determines his ethnic affiliation. That being so, the rise of a new ethnos is the creation of a new stereotype of behavior different from the preceding one. It is quite evident that the new stereotype is created by people, but perplexities immediately arise here. (1) Do these innovators operate consciously or unconsciously? (2) Is the new always better than the old? (3) How do the innovators manage to break the inertia of tradition, even not in fellow-tribesmen but in themselves, since they are flesh and blood of the former ethnos? These doubts are not resolvable theoretically, but material from paleoethnographic observations comes to the rescue, enabling us to formulate an empirical generalization: every ethnos develops from a combination of two or more ethnic substrata, i.e. ethnoi that existed before it.

Modern Spaniards, for example, developed into the ethnos that carries this name, relatively late, in the Middle Ages, from a combination of ancient Iberians, Celts, Roman colonists, German tribes (Suevi and Visigoths), in which were mixed Basques (direct descendants of the Iberians), Alans (descendants of the Sarmatians, very close relatives of Ossetians), Semitic Arabs, Moors and Hamitic Tuaregs, Normans, and Catalonians (who partially retained their distinguishing ethnic features).

The English are a compound ethnos of Angles, Saxons, Celtic females, whose husbands were killed in battles, Danes, Norwegians, and Western Frenchmen from Anjou and Poitou.

The Great Russians include Eastern Slavs from Kievan Rus, Western Slavs (Vyatichi), Finns (Merya, Muroma, Vesi, Chuds), Ugrians (who mixed first with the Finnish tribes listed), Balts (Golyads), Turks (baptized Polovtsy and Tatars), and a small number of Mongols.

The ancient Chinese were a mixture of many tribes of the valley of the Huangho who belonged to various anthropological types of Mongoloids and even Europeoids (the Di people). There is a similar picture in Japan, where tall Mongoloids similar to Polynesians, short Mongoloids from Korea, Australoid Aini, and immigrants from China merged in remote antiquity into a monolithic ethnos.

Even the non-numerous, isolated ethnoi whose history is lost in the haze of the centuries preserve past differences of ethnic substrata in relict anthropological and linguistic features. Such are the Eskimos and the inhabitants of Easter Island, the Mordovians and Mari people, the Evenks, and the Pathans of the slopes of the Hindu-Kush. In antiquity these were ethnic collectives of a complex composition, and the uniformity now observed is the fruit of protracted ethnogenetic processes that smoothed away the roughnesses of different traditions.

But surely that contradicts the descriptions just made of the destructive mixing of ethnoi remote from one another? Yet both the first observation and the second are indisputable! Could a conclusion that contains an inner contradiction be true? Only in one case – if we have not made allowance for some very important detail, some 'X' factor, without discovery of which it is impossible to solve the problem. Let us therefore move ahead by trial and error so as to find a non-contradictory version that explains all the known facts.


Factor X. Let me test yet another proposition. Perhaps an instantaneous leap, and not a protracted process, is the cause of the formation of a new ethnos? We can only test that on examples from modern history, events that have been quite adequately described. Take the history of Latin America. The Spanish conquistadors were cruel in battle, but saw the Indians as worthy opponents and not as a 'lower race'. The surviving Indian chiefs were baptized and taken into their milieu, while the simple Indians were made peons on haciendas. So, over 200 years, the population of Mexico and Peru was built up; in the mountains, however, and in the tropical forests, pure Indian tribes survived. The slave-traders brought Negroes to America. The absence of racism led to the appearance of mulattos and samboes (a Negro-Indian cross). When, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, a struggle arose for independence from metropolitan Spain, occupied by the French, the majority of the leaders of the insurrectionary movement were not Spaniards but metises or mulattos.39 General Bolivar himself said of this as follows in 1819:

We should present our people not as European nor as North Americans but rather as a compound of Africa and America than as an emanation of Europe; certainly as regards their institutions and by their character. It is impossible to rightly say to what human family we belong. Most of the natives were destroyed, the European mixed with the American and the African, and the latter mixed with the Indian and the European. We were all born from the womb of the same mother, our fathers were different in origin and blood, were foreigners and differed visibly in epidermis.40

And this people, taking shape before the eyes of historians, has proved very stable and dissimilar to other neighboring peoples. The inhabitants of Venezuela and Colombia were copies of Spaniards in all their outward attributes-language, culture, religion, etc. Economically they only lost, replacing Spanish protectionism by dependence on British and North American trading companies. The war for independence was fought with such bitterness that it cost a million lives in a thinly populated country, as many as all the Napoleonic wars in densely populated Europe. But in the eyes of the insurgents all the victims were justified by their not being Spaniards and that they consequently should live separately. It is interesting that at the same time the Indians supported the Spanish government. So a crossbred origin did not prevent the creation of monolithic ethnoi.

But was it so? For we know that among animals crossbred forms are often unstable and usually lack the specialized capacities of both parents, making this good in the first generation by heightened vigor, which often falls off in subsequent generations. The offspring of mixed marriages either revert to one of the original types (paternal or maternal), or die out, because adaptation to some one environment takes several generations to develop. It is a tradition, but a mixture of two traditions in one organism creates an unstable genotype.

So it happens in the majority of cases among animals, and possibly sometimes among people, but if that had always been so, not a single new ethnos would have arisen, and mankind, which has practiced mixed marriages from time immemorial would already have degenerated in the early Neolithic. In actual fact not very many ethnic groups have disappeared from the ethnographic map, and the human race as a species is developing so intensively that the increase of population is now called a demographic explosion. Clearly, there is a factor that offsets the destructive influence of natural selection and the stabilizing role of signal inheritance or tradition. This X-factor should manifest itself in changes of behavior and be perceived by people themselves as a peculiarity of the psychic structure. It is this attribute, consequently, that arouses and stimulates the process of ethnogenesis. By finding the X-factor, and disclosing the content of the unknown attribute, we shall clarify the mechanism of the process of each separate ethnogenesis and of the whole aggregate of them.

In order to achieve my purpose, I need an abundance of verified and strictly dated material from the universal history of mankind. If we process it by the techniques employed in the natural sciences we shall be able to get data for tackling my problem; at present, however, I shall limit myself to answers to puzzles that can be formulated as follows: (1) a new stereotype of behavior cannot be invented, because if some crank set himself such an aim, he himself would all the same be behaving according to the old, accustomed stereotype, at best adapted to the conditions of the existence of the ethnic collective. To get outside the ethnos is the same as to pull yourself from a bog by the hair of your head; as we know, only Baron Munchausen was able to do that.

(2) Since a new stereotype of behavior arises through peoples' instinctive activity, it is senseless to ask whether it is better or worse. There is no scale of comparison. It is simply different.

(3) But if it is impossible to break the everyday tradition of an ethnic image, and there is no need for anyone to want to do so consciously, it will obviously happen by virtue of a special coincidence of circumstances. Which ones? That is what we have to find an answer to!




1 See: G.E. Grumm-Grzhimailo. When the Mongols Split into Eastern and Western Branches, and Why. Izv. Geograficheskogo obshchestvtva, Vol. 16, Issue 2, 1933.

2 I call historical fate a chain of events causally connected by their internal logic.

3 Frederick Engels. The origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. Lawrence & Wishart, London, 1941, pp 38-65.

4 Augustin Thierry. Letter No. 2. Lettres sur l'histoire de France. Jouvet et Cie, Paris, 1881, p 32.

5 Francois Bernier. Travels in the Mogul Empire (1656-1666). S. Chand & Co., Delhi, 1968, pp 200-238.

6 Yu.V. Bromley. Ethnos and Endogamy. Sovetskaya etnografiya 1969, 6: 84-91.

7 N.Ya. Bichurin. Sobranie svedenii po istoricheskoi geografti Vostochnoi i Sredinnoi Azii (Digest of Information on the Historical Geography of Eastern and Central Asia). Compiled by LN. Gumilev and M.F. Khvan. Cheboksary, 1960, p 638.

8 The import of opium into China in the nineteenth century, for example, the demand having been initially created by drawing weak people into drug addiction. The sale of spirits to Canadian Indians for furs was similar.

9 N.I. Konrad. Zapad i Vostok (West and East), Nauka, Moscow, 1966, pp 119-149, 152-231.

10 A coefficient in the fact of a connection (in the cybernetic sense), for example, the measure of a father's care for his son.

11 See: Ludwig von Bertalanffy. General System Theory. A Critical Review. General Systems, 1962, 7: 1-20.

12 A.A. Malinovsky. General Problems of the Structure of a System, and Their Significance for Biology. Problemy metodologii sistemnogo issledovaniya (Methodological Problems of Systems Study), Nauka, Moscow, 1970, pp 145-150.

13 N. Rashevsky. Finite Sets. Essays in the General Theory of Biological and Social organisms. Issledovaniya po obshchei teorii sistem (Studies in the General Theory of Systems), Nauka, Moscow, p 445.

14 A.A. Malinovsky. Art. cit., p 182.

15 Istoriya Italii (A History of Italy), Vol. I. Nauka, Moscow, 1970, p 233.

16 In saying 'begins itself' of a natural process I do not imply anthropomorphism, but simply employ an ordinary turn of phrase: for example, 'the stream cut a bed for itself and formed a meander'.

17 Pomor (Maritimer) is the name for Russians, who came originally from Novgorod, living along the coast of the White Sea and Barents Sea.

18 These 'prospectors' or 'explorers' were gold-miners, fur-traders, etc., who organized and took part in the Russian penetration into Siberia and the Far East in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

19 A.Thierry. Letter No. 12. Lettres sur l'histoire de France, pp 169-172.

20 All West Europeans were called 'Franks' in the thirteenth century in the Near East.

21 A.E. Bertels. Nasir-i-Khosrov i ismailism (Nasir-i-Khosrov and Ismailism), Moscow, 1959, pp 202-247.

22 The population of the Near East who speak Arabic are now called Arabs. That is incorrect. The majority of the population of Syria, Iran, and North Africa are a mixture of ancient ethnoi in the zone of contact. The descendants of the true Arabs are the Bedouins of Saudi Arabia.

23 Frederick Engels. Dialectics of Nature. Translated by Clements Dutt, with a preface and notes by J.B.S. Haldane, F.R.S. Lawrence & Wishart, London, 1940, p 164.

24 Jawaharlal Nehru. The Discovery of India. Asia Publishing House, Bombay, Calcutta, New Delhi, 1964, p 56.

25 Tamotsu Shibutani. Society and Personality. Prentice-Hall, Inc., New York, 1961, p 25.

26 Ibid., p 33.

27 Ibid., p 34.

28 Ibid., p 44.

29 J.B.S. Haldane. The Causes of evolution. Longmans, Green & Co., London, New York, Toronto, 1932, pp 139-140.

30 Ibid., pp 128-129

31 Ibid., p 139.

32 W.Ross Ashby. An Introduction to Cybernetics. Chapman & Hall Ltd., London, 1956, p 136.

33 In introducing the concepts 'altruism' and 'egoism' I do not attach any qualitative value to them. 'Good' and 'bad' have no connection with them, as will be seen subsequently. The use of ordinary words as scientific terms is only justified by the need to help the reader understand the construction of the concepts as such. 'Altruism' is more exactly 'anti-egoism'.

34 An established term but one that has no Perspective without understanding of the problem.

35 'Mosaicism' suggests the existence of a structural articulation in the anthroposphere along the ethnic principle.

36 R.F. Its. Vvedenie v etnografiyu (introduction to Ethnography), Nauka, Leningrad, 1974, pp 43-46.

37 The Time of Troubles (Smutnoe vremya) – a term signifying the events of the end of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries in Russia.

38 A.N. Nasonov. 'Russkaya Zemlya' i obrazovanie territorii drevnerusskogo gosudarstva (The 'Russian Land' and the Formation of the Territory of the Old Russian State), Izdatelstvo Akademii Nauk SSSR, Moscow, 1951.

39 I. Lavretski. Simon Bolivar. Editorial Progress, Moscow, 1982, p 80.

40 Ibid., p 89.







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