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Lev Gumilev 

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Lev Gumilev

"Ethnogenesis and the Biosphere"








in which is shown what part of man belongs to nature and what not, and what part of the world outside the human body is outside nature, and also why everything said here find above still does not answer the problem of ethnogenesis


Ethnos and Population


An ethnos is not a population. Now and then ordinary phenomena give grounds for scientific conclusions whose perspectives go beyond schoolboy notions. In the science of ethnoi much has to be rethought and much of the habitual rejected.

It may seem to the unsophisticated reader that an ethnos resembles an organism with purely biological functions,, but that similarity is external, and the differences are fundamental. An ethnos builds colonies and sometimes exists in diaspora, but a hand or ear separated from the body dies. An organism must produce like progeny, but an ethnos (each one) is unique and inimitable, and tradition does not cross the frontiers of superethnic entities. The functions of an organism are outside social laws; an ethnos is constantly interacting with social phenomena. An organism must sooner or later die, while there are persistent ethnoi, and so on.

One cannot in any case equate an ethnos and a population, which may be regarded (among animals) as the analogue of an ethnos. The difference is much greater than the similarity. A population is an aggregate of individuals settled over several generations in a definite territory-, within this aggregate free cross-breeding occurs, yet it is at the same time separated from neighboring populations by a certain degree of isolation. An ethnos, however, as we have seen, is not an aggregate of similar individuals but a system comprising not only individuals who vary both genetically and functionally, but also the products of their activity over many generations (technique, anthropogenic terrain, and cultural tradition). A sense of historical time is characteristic of dynamic ethnoi, a sense recorded by calendars with various systems of reference. But the absence of historical time as an ethno-psychological category of ethnoi during the phase of homeostasis does not give us any right to treat them only as populations. Even a static ethnos may quite freely change its area, within certain limits, of course, migrating with changes in the geographical environment in search of accustomed conditions. Cross-breeding within an ethnos is regulated either by class or estate relations, or by traditional bans on incest, or by norms of law and religion. When these bans are relaxed, which sometimes happens, it is always a symptom of the approaching disintegration of the ethnos.

Finally, the, character of ethnic isolation from neighbors is not associated with territory. When territorial mixing of two populations occurs, they immediately merge into one, but two or more ethnoi can coexist in one territory for ages, forming either a superethnos or a zone of ethnic contact at any level. Struggle between ethnoi, on the contrary, is a frequent phenomenon, even though inexplicable from the standpoint of the struggle for survival, because it is often not provoked by overpopulation of the area. But struggle between populations as discrete (corpuscular) systems is impossible because the aim of the individual in a population is to survive itself and have progeny.

The flock and herd forms of the existence of populations of higher mammals at first glance resemble elementary ethnoi. But the resemblance is illusory. Flocks are family nuclei, monogamous, polygamous, or seasonal. They break up as soon as the male, the leader, grows weak and loses influence over his own offspring. An ethnos grows from a consortium, i.e. a group of people united by a common fate. If they are men only, they get wives from outside and family relations arise in the second generation. Family ties promote consolidation of a rising ethnos, but are not obligatory, because cases have been observed of broad exogamy, which is particularly clear in the establishing harems.

An ethnos is thus not so much a population as a special phenomenon proper only to mankind that is manifested through social forms, in every case original, because the economy of a country is always linked with the supporting terrain, the level of development of technique, and the character of production relations. That does not mean, of course, that the ethnologist should ignore population genetics, but rather that he should understand that it reflects only one, and not the main aspect of the process I am studying. Therefore let me try and draw facts from it useful for further analysis.

It is very important to note that every population includes many different genotypes. The concentrations of genotypes differ in various populations, but each group of populations contains almost all the genotype combinations met in a given species. Small populations, however, lose certain genotypes, as a consequence of which their degree of variability is altered, and their capacity to adapt correspondingly reduced. That is known as degeneration. Most populations are in a state of dynamic equilibrium according to the principles of population genetics, differing among themselves in scale, structure, and genetic composition. Equilibrium is upset by the influence of factors of evolution, the mutation process, quantitative fluctuations or 'waves of life', as a consequence of a disturbance of isolation and natural selection. As a result of these effects there is either expansion or a reduction of the size of both the genotypes and of the whole populations, and in some cases mutations or fluctuations will lead to interspecific conversion or species formation. Since an ethnos is within a species, a trifling mutation pressure, compared with the species, will be sufficient for its formation, with the existence of a relatively smallish isolation and slight change of fluctuations. Ethnoi therefore arise more often than species, but there are also much fewer periods in which these processes are recorded by history.


Monomorphism. When we observe ethnic history, we readily note that periods of stability associated with an ethnos' attainment of maximum adaptation to one terrain or another are discoverable in the seemingly continuous process of transformation. These observations coincide with the conclusions drawn by the ichthyologist Yu.P. Altukhov and anthropologist Yu.G. Rychkov from population genetics, who supplemented the thesis by pointing to the 'unadaptability at interspecific level of heritable variations having adaptive significance within a species', from which it follows that 'real movement is converted into resistance to change',1 which maintains the isolates for an unlimited length of time. But if opposite processes were not observed, even though not constantly operating, it would be impossible for there to be species formation in the animal kingdom or for new ethnoi to arise that oust the isolates. They proposed the following answer to that.

A change in unique species properties should mean, in rare cases, the birth of a new Species. But that is only imaginable as a unique, solitary event accompanied with the reproductive isolation of different individuals, and not as a constant stochastic process occurring at population level.2

If we apply that thesis to ethnology it will be a conception of excess, i.e. of an impulse whose results could only be manifested in specially favorable conditions of lability of the environment. In other situations the inertia of the impulse would be cancelled and the 'different individuals', would perish at the hands of fellow-tribesmen. And it is a matter of indifference here whether the ethnos containing people dissimilar to itself is in a state of persistent rest-homeostasis-or whether it is being carried along by the stream of ethnic becoming through all its varied phases. In either case it will kill those whom it will justly (from its point of view) call monsters or degenerates. Yet new ethnoi appear, which means that conditions exist such as enable 'different individuals' not only to survive but even to win. These are obviously conditions of the environment, both territorial and ethnic, by which is understood, so to say, the character of the relationships between the neighbors of the studied individual. But if it is very difficult for us to trace the biographies of ancient people who did not manage to manifest themselves because of the envy, obtuseness, and maliciousness of fellow-tribesmen or fellow-citizens, then, when we pass to study of systems of several orders higher, i.e. ethnoi, we get the data we need to help us substantiate the conception of excess as the initial moment of ethnogenesis. And the bigger the studied system is the fewer will be the assumptions needed and the magnitude of the mistakes. From all of what has been said above it will be obvious that ethnoi are biophysical realities always surrounded by a social envelope of some sort. The dispute about which is primary in the origin of a new ethnos - the biological or the social - is consequently like that about which is primary in an egg - the albumen (white) or the shell. Clearly, the one is impossible without the other, so that dispute on this theme is pointless.

In actual fact a constant conjugation of all forms of the motion of matter is observed not only within large, collectives (ethnoi that directly influence the terrestrial terrain and consequently do not exist as abstractions but are quite real) but also within one human individual. Even when we consider that all the details of a person's behavior are dictated by his social surroundings, the individual's genetic code is a biological phenomenon and lowered secretion of adrenaline a chemical one. But both strongly influence the character of a parson's activity, along with social factors.

Any superficial observer who ignores history will remain faithful to the principle of simplification when speaking of the interaction of man and his natural environment. It will seem obvious that where there are favorable conditions promoting rapid growth of labour productivity and population, the progress of human society will be rapid, and where they are not it will be slow. But what conditions are considered favorable? The climate in Andalusia is milder than in England and Castile, but Grenada was conquered by the Castilians in 1492, and England was the ruler of the seas for almost 500 years. The geographical conditions of Norway did not alter for 2 000 years, but the Vikings only ploughed the waves of the ocean from the ninth to the twelfth centuries, while there was stagnation there before the ninth century A.D., and Danish occupation from the time of the Kalmar Union. Why?

It remains to suggest that flashes of ethnogenesis are not connected with the culture and life of peoples that are developing or stagnating, with racial composition, with the level of their economy and technique, and with fluctuations of climate changing an ethnos' ecology, but are associated with special conditions of space and time. The landscape does not of itself generate new ethnoi because it has to be stated that they sometimes do not arise in some one place, even very favourable, for whole millennia. The regions of ethnogenesis are changing all the time. The process interesting me begins now here, now there, which means it is not brought about by the terrestrial forces that we have already taken into account but is prompted by something else that we must look for.


Background and factor. Analysis of the interaction of an ethnos as an independent phenomenon, with the terrain, indicated that they are interconnected, but neither the ethnos is a constantly operating landscape-forming factor nor can the terrain be a cause of ethnogenesis without an external influence. The relation of the ethnic and social patterns actually excludes even a feedback, because Earth's ethnosphere is only the background for social development and not a factor of it.

Take the simplest variant, the single human individual. Anatomy, physiology, and psychology are closely interwoven in a person and depend on one another, thereby it is not necessary in my analysis in the differentiation of these aspects of human existence. Man, clearly, is a social being because his personality is molded in ceaseless intercourse with other people and with objects created by the hands of his forefathers (technique). So. But the spermatozoon? It is a purely biological 'person' that develops according to the laws of the evolution of vertebrates. But the human personality's link with its own embryo is beyond doubt, and the human body itself, including its higher nervous activity, is consequently a laboratory in which the social and natural forms of the motion of matter are combined.

But even when passing through the incubation period and wholly entering the social environment, a human individual is governed by certain natural laws and patterns. The periods of sexual maturation and aging depend on inherited attributes developed during intraspecific evolution rather than on degree of social development. Sexual maturity sets in earlier, for example, among the peoples of the tropical belt than among northerners; the speed of the Negroids' reaction is faster than the Europeoids' and Mongoloids'; resistance to certain diseases, measles for example, is lower among Polynesians than among Europeans, and so on. These features have no relation to social development, but affect the behaviour of the people of various countries. The origin of these differences is undoubtedly linked with the adaptation of the ancestors of one population or another to different geographical conditions and with the formation of ethnoi both past and now living. It is the accumulation of characteristics arising as a result of lengthy processes of adaptation that creates ethnic diversity when mankind passes through identical stages of development, i.e. socioeconomic formations. But the complexity of the problem of ethnogenesis is not exhausted by social formations. For then ethnography would be simply a part of sociology, and societies belonging to one formation (the slaveowning, say) would behave in the same way. But Chinese antiquity not only differs from the Hellenic but also from the Japanese, Indian, or Egyptian. Social similarity does not eliminate ethnic originality.


Complementariness. But can we accept the idea that an ethnos is a biological magnitude? No. That too is not a solution, since ethnic processes take place in the conditions of monomorphic species.

Yet, for all that, some of man's biological peculiarities seemingly play a certain role. Assume that ethnogenesis, as a global phenomenon, is only a special case of general ecology; this 'particularity' is extremely important, however, because, when posing the problem of the original genesis of an ethnic entity from individuals (people) of mixed origin, different level of culture, and different peculiarities, we have the right to ask what draws them together. The principle of conscious calculation and striving for benefit is not present, obviously, because the first generation comes up against enormous difficulties, i.e. the need to break established relationships so as to establish new ones that meet their needs in place of them. That is always a risky business, and the initiators seldom manage to reap the fruits of victory. The principle of social nearness, too, does not fit, since a new ethnos eliminates the institutions of the old. Consequently, a person needs to be declassed as regards the old in order to become part of a new ethnos when it is being formed.

But what if another principle is applied, that of complementariness linked with the subconscious mutual sympathy of individuals? That principle underlies marriage for love, but complementariness cannot be limited to the sphere of sex, which is only a variant of its manifestation. The main role in the forming of an initial collective, the embryo of an ethnos, is played by unconscious attraction of people of a definite kind for one another. There is always such an attraction, but when it is intensified the precondition necessary for the rise of an ethnic tradition is created. After that social institutions arise.

The birth of any social institution is thus preceded by an embryo, the union of a certain number of people sympathetic to one another. Having begun to act they become part of the historical process, cemented together by the aim they have chosen and historical fate. But whatever shape their fate takes it is a sine qua non. Such a group can be a robber band of Vikings, the religious sect of Mormons, the Order of Templars, a Buddhist community of monks, the school of Impressionists, and so on, but the common multiple is subconscious mutual attraction, be it even in order to argue with one another. I therefore called these embryonic associations consortia above. Not every one of them survives. Most disintegrate during the lifetime of their founders, but those that succeed in surviving become part of the history of society and immediately become overgrown with social forms, often creating a tradition. The few whose fate is not brought to an end by blows from outside, survive until the natural loss of heightened activity, but retain the inertia of mutual attraction, which is manifested by common habits, feelings about the world, tastes, etc. I call that phase of complementary association convicinity. It comes into the competence of ethnography rather than sociology, since this group is united by everyday life. In favourable conditions convicinities are stable, but their resistance to the environment tends to zero, and as a consequence of minimum resistance they become dissolved among surrounding consortia.

The principle of complementarity also operates at the level of the ethnos, being very active there. Then it is called patriotism and falls within the competence of history, because it is impossible to like a people without respecting its ancestors. Intraethnic complementariness is useful as a rule for an ethnos, being a powerful defensive force. But it sometimes takes a monstrous, negative form of hatred of everything foreign. Then it is called chauvinism.

But complementariness can only be speculative at the level of a superethnos. It is usually expressed in arrogance and haughtiness, when all alien people unlike oneself are called 'savages'.

The principle of complementarity does not relate to social phenomenon. It is observed in wild animals and is familiar to everyone in domestic animals in both positive forms (the affection of a dog or a horse for its master) and in negative ones. As we have seen, this principle plays a leading role only in the absence of social forms of the life of a collective, but it remains subordinate even when there are stable social establishments. That prompts me to return to the biology of man, which has fortunately been adequately developed.


Biological lines of investigation. The biological disciplines include not only anatomy and genetics but also sciences that study manifestations of the organism connected with the environment (reflexology, ecology, biocoenology, and ethology or the science of behaviour). I suggest that not everything connected with the activity of an organism is social in its nature. Animals and birds as well as man bring up and train their offspring. All herd animals have a system of signals, a regulation of sexual relations within the herd, and sex-age specialization for defense against enemies. The males defend the females and young. Can we call relationship of that kind social in the sense of the social motion of matter? In the usage accepted in Soviet science, no - because social development is based on the economic basis of making and development of the productive forces through the use of tools. Social relations are always connected with formations of one kind or another. That is the terminology accepted in Soviet science, and to change it means to confuse ourselves and the reader. But collective forms of the existence of a species were peculiar to our remote ancestors. Before man became a social animal he was a gregarious one, which by no means belittles human dignity.

The effect of the collective on the individual's physiology has now been quite well studied. Hypertension can arise even in a mouse, if it is teased, but one can hardly call a composition of a mouse, laboratory assistant, and experimenter social in the sense we accept.

How can biology help in my work? Let us begin ab ovo. Collective forms of social life are common among many species of land animals, e.g. in an anthill, a herd of ungulates, a flock of birds, and so on, but each species has its own character of the forming of collectives. For the species Homo sapiens this is the ethnos, but that by no means implies that it is the analogue of an anthill or a herd. Just as man differs from other vertebrates (and he differs radically) so ethnoi are not similar to the collectives of other animals.

There are very many differences between animal collectives and ethnoi, but I shall limit myself for purposes of analysis to the elementary scheme I need in order to work out the role of cultural tradition. Imagine a tribe that had common ancestors. that is living on the old normal territory and distinctly differentiated by way of life, customs, religion, and kind of occupations from its neighbors. In that situation marriages will mostly be concluded between members of this ethnos, since it will be pointless to bring someone into the collective who does not have the skills and living habits necessary t I o support a family in comfortable circumstances. Other skills, connected with other conditions, will be obviously unacceptable. The cultural image of an isolated ethnos without powerful interference of outside forces (conquest) is relatively stable because each new generation will tend to reproduce the life cycle of the foregoing, which is precisely the cultural tradition of the ethnos.

It would seem that tradition cannot be classed in any case as biology, but the mechanism of the interaction between generations discovered by Prof. M.Ye. Lobashev3 precisely through study of animals, among which he discovered processes of 'signal heredity, is simply another name for tradition. Individual adaptation comes about in the animal kingdom through the mechanism of conditioned reflexes, which provides the animal with an active choice of optimum conditions for life and self-defense. These reflexes are passed on by parents to children, or by the senior members of the herd to the junior, thanks to which the stereotype of behaviour is the highest form of adaptation. In man this phenomenon is called continuity of civilization, which is ensured by the 'signal of signals', speech. This continuity includes living habits and skins, ways of thinking, appreciation of objets d'art, treatment of elders and relations between sexes that ensure optimum adaptation to the environment and are transmitted through signal heredity. In combination with endogamy, i.e. isolation from neighbors, which stabilizes the gene fund, tradition serves as a factor creating stability of the ethnic collective.

Finally, anthropogenetics and anthropology, which treat populations of the species Homo sapiens in biological time, i.e. in succession of generations, are of no little importance. The life of an ethnos is the superposition of biological time on historical, or the succession of generations, on the chain of events by causal succession. The superposition is done without breach of the causal pattern thanks to the combination of genetic memory with historical succession as a consequence of which the ethnos exists as an entity.

But even more important is the rise of the characteristic in a population that I call X-factor; it is precisely because of it that processes of ethnogenesis are initiated that subsequently die out. When we have distinguished this characteristic we win have solved the problem posed but it is difficult to rind it because it had to be sought for consistently.


Phylogenesis or Ethnogenesis?


Progress and the evolution of man. According to the accepted theory of evolution, the genus Homo appeared at the beginning of the Quaternary period in several varied forms of hominids, which possibly followed on one another although they may have sometimes been coexistent. Like our presumed ancestor Australopithecus, the hominids were large predators, not foreign to cannibalism, and consequently occupied an upper ecological niche in the biocoenosis. By the end of the last ice age all branches of this genus had died out, with the exception of just one species Homo sapiens, i.e. modern man. But the latter spread all over the dry land of the planet, and later in historical time mastered the surface of the hydrosphere and made such changes on Earth that the whole relief envelope of Earth is now justly called the anthropogenic. There is no region, with the exception of the polar ice-caps, where archaeological memorials of the stone and iron ages have not been found. We find Paleolithic camp sites in present-day deserts and jungles, and Neolithic ones in the modern tundra and taiga. That points to past settlement of regions later abandoned by man and again being mastered now by the use of machine technique. Over 17 to 20 millennia, of course, the climatic conditions in various regions changed, but it remains a fact that Homo sapiens, unlike other species of vertebrates, has not been limited to a certain area and has been able to adapt itself to diverse natural conditions, which by rights puts it in a special place in the ecology of vertebrates.

In the nineteenth century, and early twentieth, the advance of engineering made it possible to rapaciously annihilate reserves of natural wealth, and that seemed the road of progress. Now there is already a lack of fresh water for the needs of industry, flora have been suppressed, dust storms are taking their revenge in the USA for the annihilation of the biocoenoses of the prairies, the Aral Sea is shrinking, the air of big cities is depleted of oxygen, 110 species of vertebrates have disappeared from the face of the earth in the past 300 years, and another 600 species are in danger. That process was still called progress not so long ago and victory over nature. Now it had become clear that we are observing a phenomenon of a quite different (not social) order - the heightened adaptability and aggressiveness of Homo sapiens, one of the components of the biosphere of planet Earth.

And here arises the first question. How have these phenomena come about in the evolution of vertebrates to which Homo sapiens himself belongs? And a second one, no less important. Did man continue to remain part of the biocoenosis as the upper, final link having created tools and learned to use fire, or did he pass to some other sphere of interaction with nature drawing into it domesticated animals and cultivated plants? This is the more essential because, according to the law of the irreversibility of evolution, animals and plants altered unrecognizably by man's action cannot be returned to independent life since, with a few exceptions, they are unable to compete with wild forms. Thus a special substratum has been created in the biosphere. Will the principle of natural selection operate in it?

Many supporters of the theory of evolution, Darwin included, considered, and consider, that modern man continues to be subjected to that same natural selection that used to operate on his ancestors. Others doubt that, citing the following grounds:

The gradual weakening of the struggle for existence inevitably led to man's exit from the biocoenosis. This slowly proceeding process led to natural selection first becoming weakened for man and then being quite suppressed... But the absence of natural selection was equivalent to cessation of the action of one of the factors of evolution ... and biological evolution of man should have stopped. That happened around 50 000 years ago with the forming of Cromagnon man.4

Ya.Ya. Roginsky and M.G. Levin wrote in 1955 that the process of biological evolution had created in the person of modern man the possessor of species properties such as were leading to the fading of evolution.5 There could consequently, they claimed, be no doubt that man's evolutionary development had stopped long ago. But, since modifications within the species continue, the matter (and with it the posing of the problem) has not been settled. But a new aspect and a new method are needed in order to continue the investigation, because only by describing the peculiarities of the phenomenon can one go along with this or any other point of view.


Regional mutations. Four years after the appearance of Bystrov's book, G.F. Debets published a paper with astonishing conclusions. The bones of the skull, massive in antiquity, had become finer (gracilization); and that had not happened gradually but by spurts, and not globally but in latitudinal zones.6 Thus, gracilization of the skull took place in the subtropical zone in the sixth millennium B.C., and in the temperate forest zone in the first millennium B.C. Debets compared the dates of the transition from hunting economy to agriculture with those dates, pointing out that 'one may suppose that the transition to farming led to a change in the structure of the skull'. But it is equally possible that changed man acquired a new occupation. Then Debets' following consideration is quite justified: 'neither comparative anatomy nor ethnography give us the right to consider that gracile forms are better within the species Homo sapiens'. Correct! But it is well known that modification of one characteristic affects not only man's anatomy but also his behaviour. Debets concluded 'that it is a matter of changes that have biological substance'.7 Consequently biological processes continue to take place in conditions of existence in human communities that stimulate even changes of skeleton. But then there would also have to be variations of a minor scale reflected in the physiology and behavior. It is much more difficult to discover them, but the assumption of their existence, now there is a precedent, enables me to begin the search for a factor of human activity that operates along with the well-known social one. Can it be that this intraspecific evolution, which takes a peculiar form under the impact of the social principle, is the spread of the species beyond its original area? Or perhaps there is something new that has not yet been studied? Let us see.

Paleontology provides the main material for the theory of evolution, but one must remember that its chronicle is not full, and the origin and extinction of species is still a matter of polemic. The inexactness of the chronology presents special difficulty, the assumptions in dating the appearance or disappearance of species sometimes exceeding millions of years. We encounter similar difficulties when studying certain somatic subdivisions of Homo sapiens, precisely the formation of races of the first order (Europeoid, Mongoloid, Australoid, and Negroid). A purely biological approach to the problem, even with a time limitation, consequently does not yield us any advantages. In addition we must note that race affiliation is not connected in any way with the heightened capacities of adaptation that enabled man to alter the face of the planet. Finally, the major races are such indefinite communities that there are different classifications of them in anthropology according to certain external characteristics (pigmentation, skull structure, etc.). The main point is that the overwhelming majority of individuals have as ancestors members of different races, if not of the first order then of the second, and consequently the communities of people actually existing and directly observable are always heterogeneous. But it is precisely they, known to us as nationalities or ethnoi, that are collective forms of the existence of Homo sapiens that interact with the landscape of the regions they populated, i.e. the elementary ecological intraspecific taxons.


Conversion of the biocoenosis and succession. An established, or rather stable ethnos is not a danger either for its neighbors or for landscapes. It is connected, together with its technique and spiritual culture, with that geobiocoenosis in which it constituted the top, final fink, since it comes into the cycle of conversion of the geobiocoenosis.

Let me explain. The English biologist Julian Huxley formulated the following thesis, that the conversion cycle is the mechanism on which rests the circulation of energy among plants and animals of a single habitat; in other words, it is the metabolism of the ecological community belonging to this habitat, and that the conservation of a habitat requires this circulation of energy to be maintained and intensified.8 That point is quite essential for me. Natural growth in a stable ethnos was usually limited in the past by high infantile mortality, and the maximum age reached by a married couple was usually only attained when the ethnos was kept in equilibrium with the environment and there was a certain insurance against exogenous effects (wars, epidemics, natural calamities). The overcoming of these constantly arising difficulties took the normal efforts of an isolated community. It always lacked aggressiveness and was incapable of changing nature. Such ethnoi obviously cannot be the cause of cataclysms that profoundly alter the nature of the regions occupied by them.

But other, diametrically opposite collisions often occur. Fairfield Osborn wrote in 1949 that the story of our (American) nation in the last century as regards the use of forests, grasslands, wildlife and water sources is the most violent and the most destructive of any written in the long history of civilization. Actually it is the story of human energy unthinking and uncontrolled.9 But it was also such from the standpoint of interethnic conflicts. The extermination of Indians, the slave trade, the reprisals against the metises in Canada in 1885, the annexation of Texas, the absorption of California and Alaska by gold-prospectors - all those events happened in an unorganized way and without control. The governments of the USA and Canada simply later sanctioned fails accomplis and profited by them.

But the Arab penetration of East Africa and the trekking of the Dutch settlers into the Cape lands and then to the Orange River happened on the very same principle. Russian explorers conquered Siberia by the same method, and the Chinese the lands to the south of the Yangtse. The Hellenic colonization of the Mediterranean and the raids of the Vikings did not differ from the events described. The campaigns of the Celts and the seizure of Northern India by the Arians were seemingly the same in character. Consequently we come across a frequently repeated phenomenon of the transition of an ethnos, or part of it, into a dynamic state in which its aggressiveness and adaptive capacities grow immensely, enabling it to adapt itself to new, hitherto unaccustomed conditions of existence.

All the actions described, and ones similar to them, called for colossal work (in the physical sense) from those involved, equally physical, intellectual, and emotional. Any work, to be productive, necessitates an expenditure of corresponding energy which has to be drawn from somewhere or other. So what is this energy? Clearly it is not electrical or mechanical, or thermal, or gravitational. And where do the people who are dashing ahead at mortal risk get it from? Do they need such a dangerous amusement? But if they make use of this energy, dying nevertheless more often than winning, it is legitimate to ask whether or not the described phenomenon is related to the X-factor I am bent on finding. Perhaps. But first let me pose the problem more precisely.


Anthroposuccession. One must not extend the peculiarity of certain events of history I have noted to all its phenomena. That would be as much a mistake as to reduce all manifestations of human activity to social principles.

The great precept one must give historians is to distinguish instead of confusing, for unless it is varied it is not true at all. Unfortunately, mediocre minds have a taste for uniformity; uniformity is so convenient! If it distorts everything, at least it solves everything.10

So Augustin Thierry wrote with anger; and how right he was! It is stupid, for instance, to reduce the Seven Years' War, say, or Napoleon's conquest of Prussia to acts of God. Events of that order become beautifully clear from the calculations of politicians dictated to them by the sphere of social consciousness, and not by instincts. That is a criterion of classification as clear as the psychological classification of an individual's acts into conscious and subconscious. The indicator here is the existence of free choice in decision-making and consequently moral and legal responsibility for one's deeds. These two lines of behaviour in people's practical activity are never confused. Thus love is considered natural in youth, but hooliganism and prostitution are punished by law as deliberate willfulness; loss of hair and teeth in old age are not blamed on a person, but they do not justify, say, involvement in service intrigues, although the latter may be due to some extent to the existence of sclerosis. A similar approach to the demarcating of historical phenomena of various kind may be employed in scholarly analysis, as I once showed on the particular example of a description of the diversity of the movements of the nomadic peoples of Eurasia depending on the humidity of the steppe zone. Now I shall simply note that such a relation happens for the whole species Homo sapiens.

The migration of peoples to accustomed conditions is a striving to maintain themselves as an ethnic system, and to keep from destroying the nourishing landscape. Anthroposuccession, i.e. invasion of regions that cannot always be settled, or are not always worth settling, but which can be conquered, is negative migration. And what is most terrible, the victors suffer no less than the losers, because they are obliged, in order to realize their success, to adapt themselves to new conditions, and that means a radical break-up of their own nature. Clearly, only the young, most labile and plastic, i.e. unstable, are capable of such a shake-up. But when the process is starting (succession or aggression, as the reader wishes) these elements play only a subordinate role. For the leading individuals the unleashing of a train of bloody events is inexpedient and undesirable. But because anthroposuccessions happen all the same, it would seem their causes lie outside that which is controllable by human consciousness. Then the dynamics and statics of ethnogenesis are equally legitimate, and there are no categories of guilt and responsibility in them. This thesis, it goes without saying, does not entail all-forgiveness. Individual people, of course, are guilty of the crimes they commit, irrespective of the phase of ethnogenesis. But ethnic patterns are of a higher order, and both the statistical law of large numbers and Newton's third law (for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction) apply to them - the victors perish together with the vanquished or a little later, not in the sense of physical death, however, but in that of ethnic reorganization. Unlike snakes, ethnoi change their souls rather than their skins.


When Immortality Is More Terrible Than Death


Phylogenesis becomes ethnogenesis. The dispute about whether man is a beast or a god that troubled the minds of romantics and nihilists has now, happily, lost significance. It has become obvious that man is not only an animal but is part of the animal kingdom, in spite of his other qualities, which not in the least belittle his dignity. That is why he lives in collectives - in ethnoi or specific communities. It is important for my theme to establish the place of the ethnos as a specific phenomenon within the species Homo sapiens, to clarify how the relative stability of an ethnos is maintained, and to understand the reasons for its origin (the question of questions) and disappearance (which is simpler). It is therefore necessary to establish that it is ethnic collectives that adapt to local conditions of some sort while the stages of development, or formations, are global and their links with the geographical environment are mediated by a mosaic anthroposphere, i.e. the ethnosphere, accessible to the naturalist's observations. When we encounter a large number of events we can group them on the principle of similarity and causal succession, i.e. apply the method of the natural sciences to the historical material. And then we obtain a firm conclusion: ethnoi arise and disappear independently of the existence of any notions of contemporaries, which means that they are not the product of the social self-awareness of individual people, although they are exclusively linked with forms of people's collective activity. Social development lays its stamp on all other forms of the motion of matter in so far as they are connected with people. But no one had ever tried to interpret gravitation or electric conductivity, epidemics, death, and heredity in a social sense, because that is the field of natural science. We have the right to treat the 'impulses' described above, and certain similar phenomena, as anthropogenic succession. But I shall analyze the perplexity and doubt arising with that a bit later when we are clarifying their cause, i.e. the very enigmatic X-factor. But now let me get on with description of the phenomenon.

Over the past 5 000 years anthropogenic changes of the landscape have occurred more than once, but with varying intensity and always within definite regions. When compared with the history of mankind a clear link is established between anthropogenic changes of nature, both creative and rapacious, and epochs of the molding of new ethnoi or of ethnic migrations.

Both the rise of an ethnos and reorganization of the landscape in accordance with its new aspirations, and the migration of a large number of people with weapons and tools are work in the physical sense, which means they call for the expenditure of energy. Furthermore, the maintenance of an ethnos as a system cannot proceed smoothly without an expenditure of energy to overcome the constant resistance of the surroundings. And even the decline of an ethnos, i.e. slowing down of its development, is linked with an application of force against the cause that prompts acceleration.

When I formulated this thesis,11 it was supported by Yu.K. Efremov,12 and later by Yu.V. Bromley, who ascribed the authorship of it to Efremov, of which the latter, according to his sincere personal declaration, was innocent. But it is even more astonishing that Prof. Bromley, while recognizing the 'role of the bioenergetic source' in ethnic processes, suggests that this energy 'depends on the concrete historical conditions of their (i.e. ethnic communities') existence.13 The law of the conservation of energy, it would seem, is not in need of defense, and it is inappropriate to start a dispute on that score. Here it is important that other scholars recognize the presence of a certain kind of energy for the performance of work to be necessary for ethnogenesis as a process.

The characteristics of this specific form of energy are described in Vernadsky's outstanding work:

Everything living represents a continuously changing aggregate of organisms, linked together and undergoing an evolutionary process in the course of geological time. This is a dynamic equilibrium tending in the course of time to pass into a static equilibrium... The longer existence lasts, if there are no equivalent phenomena operating in the opposite direction, the closer to zero will be the free energy, [i.e.] the energy of living matter that manifests itself in the direction opposite to entropy. Because the development of free energy capable of doing work comes from the action of living matter.14

The structure of an ethnos and its stereotype of behaviour are consequently dynamic quantities that are determined by the existence of an intraethnic evolution that is equally dissimilar to the social and biological.

Translating this conclusion into the language of ethnology one can say that the fate of all ethnoi is a gradual transition to ethno-relief equilibrium. By that I mean a situation in which the ethnic collective, for example a tribe, becomes part of the biocoenosis of a region, and growth of population, limited by the possibilities of the biochore, ceases. In that aspect ethnoi have their place in geobiochemistry. The stable state of an ethnos is that when all the energy obtained from the natural environment is swallowed up by internal processes, and its output is zero; a dynamic stale is a suddenly arising capacity for a greater intake of energy, and its output outside the ethnic system in the form of work; the historical state is gradual loss of the ethnogenic attribute (the capacity to absorb a large quantity of energy and to give it up purposively outside in the form of work), which comes about through simplification of its structure.

But each relict (persistent) ethnos only exists because it was once formed, which means it has survived the dynamic and historical phases of development. It is, consequently, on the one hand, a crystallized form of the proceeding evolutionary process and, on the other hand, the substratum for the rise of new ethnoi. During its formation any ethnos passes through a destructive phase of reorganization and restructuring not only of the nature of the region it has occupied but also of its own physiology and ethology (pattern of behaviour), which is expressed in adaptation of its organism to the new conditions. Such break-ups are not always possible. As we have seen, they occur in certain relatively rare epochs of the spontaneous migrations of peoples. But then a stable system is established for a long time that is recorded on ethnographic maps.

So, biological evolution within the species Homo sapiens continues, but has acquired features not characteristic of other species of animals. Phylogenesis has been converted into ethnogenesis.


Evolution and ethnogenesis. One must not equate phylogenesis and ethnogenesis, of course, because new ethnoi remain within the species. The analogy I have drawn is limited in principle, and because of that explains the difference between macroevolutionary processes and micro ones. But while recognizing the existence of modern man's biological evolution, the ethnologist cannot agree with the forecasts of some of our Western contemporaries about the directional development of the brain, which would alter the whole image of man.

J.B.S. Haldane drew a picture of a new species of hominid Homo sapientissimus, obviously pandering to the tastes of his audience who wanted to see progress, and only progress, in the future. But if that had been so, then people who lived 2 000 to 5 000 years before us would have had marked somatic differences from us. One may recall the gracilization discovered by Debets; but even that defender of the variability of races declared:

Separate 'primitive ' and 'progressive' characteristics are found in all races, but none of them is distinguished by a 'primitive' or 'progressive' set of characteristics not previously counted as such. If we take the skull of an anthropoid ape, or even of Neanderthal man as the criterion of primitiveness, then the proto-European type of the Eneolithic epoch of the Russian plain will not be more primitive in the sum of its characteristics than the type of ancient Slavs or modern Ukrainians.15

The development of mankind has taken the line, reality, of extending the area and increasing the number of intraspecific variations, i.e. ethnoi. Some of the latter have perished, leaving material or literary memorials to posterity; some have remained in the form of relicts; and some have disappeared without trace. But there has been no case when the subconscious actions of populations with a single stereotype of behaviour led to purposive changes of their own nature whatever the conditions created for this collective.

It transpires that people sometimes prefer valiant death to voluntary self-restraint to save their life, which in that case loses any attraction for them. This feature of the intraspecific psychological stereotype limits the possibilities of ethnogenesis as a local process, and throws doubt on the analogy of ethnogenesis with evolution.

However strange that conclusion may seem, it is consistent and believable, because when an ethnos acquires social forms, it creates political institutions that are not natural phenomena. The Romans created the Senate, the consulate, the tribunate, and a system of law, the Franks feudalism, the sixth-century Turks the 'Ehl' as a combination of tribal unions and military formations (hordes), the Incas a complex structure of subordination of Indian tribes to their own hierarchy, and so on. But all these institutions were the work of human hands and, in that sense, similar to colonnaded temples, palaces, axes, and clothing, which (as already said), not having possibilities of self-development, can only be ruined by the action of time.

Forms created by human genius and labour resist the gradual disappearance of things, but any quite strong outside influence can smash the form and doom its content to decay. And after such a tragedy has occurred, if it is not followed by immediate regeneration, the ethnos is converted into an amorphous population, a component of the geobiocoenosis. And only a new burst of ethnogenesis will bring it out of the blind alley, force it to mix with neighbors, and proclaim a new ethnic dominant. But then that will already be a new ethnos.


Creation or life? At first glance this harsh conclusion strikes one as pessimistic, but only at first glance. Do people need an eternity of vegetation bereft of God, of inspiration, bereft of life and love and tears16?

Is not a capacity for creation the best quality of people? But it involves unrecuperated expenditure of the vital energy of the human organism. And if it is a matter of a system of a higher order, an ethnos, then the pattern in it is the same. Victory over a strong enemy in a war of liberation or conquest carries off many heroes and their genes. But is it worth preferring such a sacrifice to shameful slavery? Transformation of the landscape, the opening up of new lands (and in our time of planets), exhausting work in a laboratory or a library, not out of duty but for the love of it, tear people from their families or in general prevent them from building one. But we esteem the names of Columbus and Magellan, Przhevalsky and Livingstone, of the mathematicians Evariste Galois and Henri Poincare, of the historian Thierry and the scientist Mendeleev, who burnt themselves out in work. And artists? Rembrandt and Van Gogh, Andrei Rublev and Mikhail Vrubel. And the poets, and the composers; and the heroes who fought for their fatherland need not even be listed, since everybody knows such examples. Many of them left no trace in the gene fund but their sacrifice erected an edifice of culture that now inspires posterity.

But some people like these had families and their children did not display the talents of their parents. But does that contradict my conclusion? Let us see.

Capability, in itself, is hardly everything. A fuse is needed for great achievements that pushes people to self-sacrificing service to an ideal, real or imaginary. This fuse can be treated precisely as a characteristic (probably recessive, because it is not always inherited). If a person of the described bent had a hundred children, one could probably calculate the percentage and so the probability of this characteristic being passed on. But alas, methods of investigation suitable for peas and flies are not applicable to man. But history has material at its disposal that generalizes the characteristics of the activity of various ethnoi in various, rigorously dated epochs. Ethnic history and analysis of various ethnogeneses allow us to establish the following mutual dependency: the intensity of ethnogenesis is inversely proportional to the ethnic system's length of existence, which nevertheless cannot exist indefinitely.

(1) The monotony of a depressing existence lowers people's vital tonus so much that an inclination toward narcotics and sexual aberrations arises, in order to fill the psychic vacuum being formed. And that always weakens an ethnos as a system. (2) Having eliminated extremal genotypes, an ethnos is simplified through the reduction of diversity, and that in turn lowers the resistance of the ethnic collective as a whole. In quiet conditions that is imperceptible, but when there are clashes with the biological medium, mainly with neighbors, the absence of active, specialized, and sacrificial elements is very painfully felt. It is hardly right to consider it a conscious process as S.M. Shirokogorov did, in suggesting that an ethnos tended to 'intellectual leveling and reduction to a common level of individuals who put themselves first, being guided by an awareness (or instinct) of self-preservation'.17

No ethnos takes conscious decisions about eliminating thinking and valiant people, but they perish by the logic of events uncontrolled by the will of their participants. Such was in imperial Rome when, during soldiers' mutinies, the most disciplined centurions became their victims, after which the legionaries were easily broken by the barbarians; and in Byzantium where the population refused to man the walls in 1204 and 1453 and defend their homes, leaving the courageous defenders to die without help; in China, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, where the population and the government surrendered to the Jurchen and the Mongols, and so on. But it was so only in epochs of decline when the logic of historical events coincided along the vector with biological degeneration and social crises. And because each ethnogenesis finishes with the death of the system, the teleological principle seems absurd. Can people strive for their own terrible end? It can only courageously recognize its inevitability.

So, neither Darwinist nor anti-Darwinist, nor the new synthetic conceptions of evolution are suitable as an explanation of ethnogenesis.


The views of S.L Korzinsky. Yet there is a conception suitable for my subject with, of course, corrections and a purging of the preconceptions of individual theses.

In 1899 Korzhinsky, a well-known Russian scientist, published a book in St. Petersburg Heterogenesis and Evolution. In his view, the struggle for existence and natural selection were factors limiting the formation of new forms and putting a stop to the accumulation of variations, since they promoted the survival of average types, i.e. maintained the status quo. The appearance of new forms came about through rare 'leap variations' in some geographical region or other. The process of evolution led to the formation of a sex barrier (uncrossability) between the new race and its progenitors and the rise of new heterogeneous variations.

The appearance of a new geographical race was pictured as follows:

Among the progeny coming from normal members of some species or race and developing in one and the same conditions, separate individuals unexpectedly appear deviating more or less from the others and from their parents. These deviations are sometimes quite significant and are expressed in a whole number of characteristics, but are frequently restricted to a few or even some one difference. But it is noteworthy that these characteristics have great constancy and are invariably passed on from generation to generation. Thus, a new race arises, as fast and constant as those that have existed since time immemorial.18

Zavadsky is seemingly right when he notes that Korzhinsky's hypothesis relates to race or species formation, but by-passes the problem of expediency, and does not ask what is the link between species formation and adaptation genesis. The hypothesis consequently has no connection with evolution understood as the formation of good, expedient characteristics.19

Without taking it on myself to judge how far Korzhinsky's conclusions are correct in regard to the formation of species, they are applicable as a whole when one is speaking of ethnogenesis, a process of several orders lower. The processes of the formation of ethnoi are not evolutionary ones, and it is in this that ethnogenesis differs from anthropogenesis.


Excess and inertia in ethnogenesis. The conception of heterogenesis removes almost all the perplexities about the character of ethnogenetic processes. Natural selection stabilizes an ethnic system, which leads to its inevitable simplification. That in turn calls for recognition of the conception of excess, i.e. of the stimuli (singular mutations) that arise from time to time and upset the natural course of the changes of energy connected with the origin of an ethnos, in order to explain the phenomena observed.

But if the processes described were not offset by others just as powerful, but of opposite sign, new ethnoi would not arise. Then mankind would already have been converted, back in the Palaeohthic, into an amorphous mass of anthropoids similar to each other and inhabiting one climatic belt. These biped predators would have multiplied extremely slowly because, like all other animals, they would have been limited by the amount of food. And they would not have needed intellect because, having attained optimum adaptation to the natural conditions, they would not have experienced a need for changes. In short they would all have lived like present persistent isolates.

But in fact there were outbursts of ethnogenesis from time to time entailing an extension of the area and a reshuffling of many of the elements of the hypersystem called 'mankind'. And, as I showed above, these outbursts are inexplicable by social development because they are not oriented to progress at all and so seldom coincide with changes of formations that the coincidences should be considered chance ones. That means it is necessary to return to the conception of the biological evolution of Homo sapiens. It is accepted to consider that, after the forming of a genuinely human society in the Upper Paleolithic, 'selection as a species-forming force proved surmounted' and 'by comparison with the high development of speech and thinking Homo sapiens' other features were not of decisive importance, although they were not, of course, indifferent'.20 The last reservation is sufficient.

For an excess to arise that does not alter man's physiology and anatomy, but only deforms the stereotype of behaviour, it need not be strong. On the contrary, only a weak excess leaves the background unaffected (whether geographical, physiological, or social) on which the outlines of the new psychological attitude stand out clearly. And the stimulus of this excess or push can only be the X-factor mentioned more than once above.


The Sum of the Contradictions


Until an answer is found. In trying to find t non-contradictory explanation of the essence of ethnic phenomena, I have turned to various sciences and everywhere obtained an answer of sorts, but always not exhaustive. Not that I did not need these answers; quite the contrary, they were necessary but illuminated certain conditions of ethnogenesis and not its true cause, which according to the conditions of my problem, should bc invariant, i.e. always be present and unequivocally affect the phenomena. Let me explain.

Racial or interracial shift of ethnoi through exogamy or assimilation sometimes generates a new ethnos, sometimes a throwback to the initial forms, and sometimes leads to degeneration of the population to its complete dying out. Obviously there is an unaccountable characteristic in these processes that radically alters the results.

The isolation realized through endogamy often preserves ethnoi, but sometimes so weakens them that they lose the capacity to resist both the natural and the ethnic environment. Then the ethnos disappears, being displaced or destroyed by neighbors.

Adaptation to conditions of terrain of various character sometimes leads to ethnic degeneration, but sometimes does not. Even in different climatic zones an ethnos may remain monolithic, at a given level of mosaic development, of course.

Similarity of a territory's conditions, into which two or three ethnoi are brought by migration, on the contrary, sometimes entails mutual assimilation, but sometimes the ethnoi coexist without merging. The cause, here, is clearly not the nature of the region but something in the ethnoi themselves, that still has to be discovered and described.

A combination of two or more reliefs or terrains is an obligatory condition for the beginning of a local ethnogenetic process. But it is not enough. Ethnoi do not always arise in such conditions, which means we must look for an additional factor.

The spread of one type of culture, for example, a religious system, sometimes leads to the merging of ethnoi, but sometimes does have the least influence on the independence of the ethnic development of new beliefs. Similarity of material culture may equally either bring peoples together or push them into competition and rivalry, or have nothing to do with their relationships. The same needs to be said of the division of cultural types. When a new sect or doctrine appears, its devotees sometimes hive off into a special ethnos, but sometimes remain in the old one, maintaining their convictions. Intolerance is not characteristic of all ages and peoples.

Similarity of social conditions may attend the assimilation of ethnoi but not necessarily so. It also often happens that some of the people in an ethnos live according to the accustomed conditions of gentile society, some under feudalism, while a certain active group practices capitalist relations. That phenomenon is known and is called a multi-sectoral economy.

Does the global historical process lead, perhaps, to the formation of huge ethnic entities? Sometimes it does, but sometimes the ethnos becomes divided into two or three parts from which new ethnoi arise capable either of migrating or coexisting in one territory. Again, it is possible, but not necessary.

But since all the aspects enumerated above still have significance for the way the ethnogenesis of one ethnos or another proceeds, it would seemingly be correct to consider them parameters rather than factors, because only by excluding local variations can we discover the true X-factor, the same for all ethnogeneses, so that having found it we can solve all the enumerated puzzles.


Ethnogenesis and energy. The common features of an ethnos as such, i.e. any ethnos, are the following: (1) its opposing of itself to all others, and consequently self-assertion; (2) a mosaic development or structure, or rather an infinite divisibility cemented by systems connections; (3) a uniform process of development from the starting moment, through an acme phase, to dispersal or conversion into a relict. Since I have established that an ethnos is not 'an amorphous state', and not 'a social category', and not 'a complex of community of language, economy, territory and psychological character', but a phase in the process of ethnogenesis, the key to solving the problem lies precisely in the third obligatory feature.

Let me draw the conclusion that suggests itself. Both for the starting moment and for achieving the acme, and equally for regeneration, a capacity is required for super stresses and tensions in the rising population, which are displayed either in the transformation of nature or in migrations, etc., that is to say in the sought after X-factor. Almost all the ethnoi known to me are grouped together in unique constructions, superethnic entities. The spread of ethnoi is linked with the place where they arise, with migrations, with victories and defeats in the struggle with natural calamities and neighbors, but ordinary tensions are not sufficient for them not to perish. Any aggregate state of the medium is inert, and a supplementary expenditure of energy is called for to disturb it, similar to the latent heat of melting or evaporation. But after a super effort has been made, an inertial process begins that is dampened only through the resistance of the medium.

Two ethnic 'states' are known to me, the homeostatic, in which the life cycle is repeated in the generations, and the dynamic, in which the ethnos passes through the phases of development named above, with homeostasis as the limit. Movement is observed in both cases, but in the first it can be metaphorically called rotary, and in the second oscillating, its tensity being measured by its amplitude. Social progress is onward movement, but we have already shown its difference from ethnogenesis.

In answer to 'What moves?', I say - the ethnic system, which is a component of Earth's biosphere. To 'Where does it move?', I answer - nowhere, because the concepts 'ahead' or 'back' are inapplicable to oscillatory motion. The question 'Can we find a mathematical expression for ethnogenesis that would facilitate analysis?' cannot be answered in one word. Let me try and clarify this in detail.

When we pose any task in connection with ethnological problems, we experience the same difficulties as when one tries to solve some not clearly formulated technical problem by means of modern computers. Numerical methods are inapplicable in both. But in both a solution can be obtained by employing known methods of modeling. A model of the process is created that reflects the aggregate of our views on it, and it is corrected by reliable facts. Then the model is employed both to identify the remaining set of facts and events, and to forecast the characteristics of the future state of the process or one not known to us in the past. Each solution that we recognize as correct refines and develops the model on the basis of a heuristic evaluation and as a result of confirming by new, purposively found factors (a plausible solution being known).

And, finally, we know that all ethnoi now existing were created relatively recently; rare relicts survive from old ones, but not one remains from the primeval ones. That indicates that ethnogenesis is a constantly on-going process, like other phenomena of nature, although correlated with sociogenesis, which gives rise to systems of a rigid type.

In order to create or construct a system of one type or another it is necessary to do work, i.e. to expend corresponding energy. This energy is not electromagnetic, of course, or thermal, or gravitational, or just mechanical. But I have already shown that anthropogenic successions, dampened through the environment's resistance, are relatively rare but powerful impulses, explosions of energy, capable of performing work.21


The discreteness of ethnic history. The discreteness of certain processes of history had already been noticed by the historians of antiquity. Ssu-ma Ch'ien formulated this law quite laconically: 'The road of the three kingdoms is ended and has begun agitin'.22 This idea is present in many historians from ibn Khaldun and Vico to Spengler and Arnold Toynbee. It is untrue when applied to the social history of mankind, and inexact when the history of separate countries is being worked out, but is acceptable for studying the processes of ethnogenesis, with substantial corrections of course.

(1) The 'end' does not always mark the appearance of a 'beginning'. Ethnoi and superethnic cultures not only arise when the preceding cycle of development ends, but sometimes after a considerable interval of time after its end. The striving to see a strict rhythm is not supported by the facts. Thus the Byzantine ethnos arose in the epoch of the flourishing of the Helleno-Roman, and they co-existed for several centuries. The Muslim superethnos forced the Byzantine and Germano-Roman to make way for it while at the same time swallowing up the Central Persian (Sassanian Iran and Sogdiana). And between the Hunni and the Turks, and the Turks and the Mongols, lay centuries of troubled times when the steppe was peopled by relict ethnoi. It is seemingly a more complicated matter, or rather the cause of ethnogenesis does not lie in the rhythm of ethnoi's history.

(2) The ordinary division of the process into three stages (rise, flowering, and decline) does not answer the simple question 'the rise and fall of what?'. The level of life fluctuates independently of these stages; flourishing and culture do not coincide with a favourable economic or political situation, and the power of the state is not always an indicator of an easy life. Under Napoleon, for example, the French were distressed - there was no sugar, coffee, or woolen fabrics. In short, qualitative evaluations are inevitably subjective and cannot be taken into account in the description of natural phenomena, to which ethnogenesis belongs.

Finally, where is the boundary between the social and the biological in both the individual person and the social collective? On the one hand, it lies within the human body, and on the other, far beyond it. Anatomy, physiology, reflexology, the genetic code are all not social but biological, biochemical, and even biophysical. The character of the development of state relations, on the contrary, and of political demands and requirements, and of ethnical and aesthetic ideals are not reducible to biological and geographical factors, but are the fruit of social development. Combining study of these two lines of development makes it possible to re-create the history of separate ethnoi; and when the history of the terrain and history of culture are added to that, we will have ethnic history.


Where, then, is the X-factor? Now, when I have described the phenomenon of ethnogenesis in various aspects, I can pose the question of what is the cause of the rise of these inertial processes. Since no action can occur without the application of forces, we must evidently look for a form of energy that acts directly on man's mind, and an effect of this energy that can be found in the human psyche. It must be an impulse strong enough to overcome the instinct of personal and even species self-preservation inherent in any organism, i.e. sacrifice that extends even to one's posterity, which is not observed in any animal species. But then there are no ethnoi among animals. Their communities lack the social form of the motion of matter and self-developing institutions. Consequently, the X-factor interesting me lies in the sphere of human psychology.

When searching for the factor that generates and destroys ethnoi one must remember that it operates on the background (1) of a changing geographical environment, (2) of evolutionary processes of social development, (3) of historical peripeteiae, and (4) of growth or decline of culture. And the study of the background subjects enumerated also includes, of course, ethnogenesis. Consequently, it is not the sum total of the sciences but their system, determined by the problem set, that is the key to answering any problem posed, i.e. to a scientific synthesis. That is why I have prefaced the exposition of my main subject by a long description of the phenomenon of ethnos and its interaction with nature, society, and the traditions of culture inherited from the distant past.

It will be quite obvious that all attempts to discover this X-factor by analyzing the behaviour of separate people are doomed to failure. First of all, we can never distinguish the partial and accidental in single cases from the general-species and law-governed. But as soon as the statistical law of large numbers comes into force, small deviations from the regular mutually cancel each other out and systems of connections are discovered with acceptable plus or minus deviations that in no way distort the picture. But the separate examples possess the clarity of representation necessary for understanding the principle, and I shall therefore not scorn them. But it must be remembered that however necessary they are as illustrations they are never a substitute for the meaning.


Clio vs Kronos. Now let us talk about history, because there is something to say. Not only in the skeptical nineteenth century did the profane call history an idle pastime, entertaining reading, the whim of rich idlers, a means of propaganda or even a 'policy turned to the past'. But there are other views about history.

Not so long ago the astronomer Kozyrev made an attempt to understand history as a function of time that allegedly exuded in its course the energy needed for great and small achievements. But that conception, too, is bankrupt, because the historical processes that actually occur in time are entropic and inertial and consequently arise not thanks to Kronos, who devoured his own children, but in spite of him.

But if that is so, then the science of history is a struggle with time, which the Hellenes personified in the terrible god Kronos who castrated his own father Uranus and was overthrown by the lord of lightning Zeus. But lightning is energy, in my language anti-entropic impulses that with their rise disrupt the processes of death, the entropy of the Universe. Force, the cause provoking acceleration, saves Cosmos from conversion into Chaos, and the name of this force is Life.

But in the eternal war of the protogenic elements, the servants of Kronos, the hundred-handed giants or asura (Sanskrit), lose nothing because they have nothing to lose. Kronos changed their appearance every second, and so deprived them of personal qualities and properties. But the paladins of Cosmos, the ordered Universe, by their nature acquired forms, and consequently also a personality, in each case unique and inimitable. And in the struggle with Chaos they meet their death - the separation of space from time.23

For those that die, be they microbes or baobabs, men or embryos, time disappears, but all organisms of the biosphere are connected with one another, and that means they know one another. And the death of one is a loss for many, because it is a victory of Kronos, the known enemy of life. To be reconciled to the loss is a surrender of position, and against Death stands Memory, the barrier to entropy of no longer being but consciousness. And it is memory that divides time into past, present, and future, of which only the past is real.

The present, in fact, is only a moment, instantaneously becoming the past. There is no future, because acts that determine any consequences are not completed, and it is not known whether they will be completed. The future can only be calculated statistically, with an assumption that deprives the calculations of practical value. But the past exists; and everything that exists is the past, because any achievement then and there becomes past. That is why the science of history studies the sole reality, which exists outside us and despite us.

And not only the profane say that knowledge of the past is useless for our practical life. In antiquity they went to fortune-tellers and astrologers to divine the future. And the latter divined, sometimes amazingly correctly. But how did the soothsayers achieve success? By studying the past, by checking possible variants, and refining forecasts, because the number of variants in a given situation was always limited. Thus a good chess player calculates a game many moves ahead because he spares no pains to study hundreds of games played long before he was born. The history of chess play helps him build the most probable and therefore in practice the truest forecasts, and then to win in tournaments and matches. The knowledge of the past is incarnated in the present, i.e. in success.

Every experiment of a physicist or chemist, observation of a geologist or botanist, communication of a theorist, or the calculations of an economist, when written down, are converted into historical sources, i.e. a fixing of the past that enables us, with skilful use, to find the optimum variants of behavior for achieving ends that lie in the illusive future.

Finally, is understanding of oneself and of one's place in the world really only a means of making money? No, it is the goal for many people worthy of respect! Surely, gratitude to the ancestors who built the town in which we live, who discovered new lands to which we now travel without fuss, who painted pictures we feast our eyes on, and who wrote books from which we learn, is the duty of everyone who has not lost human feelings. Is admiration of the heroes of the past who gave their lives for the sake of their posterity really a prejudice? No! Thanks to history!

But history is a search for truth, because the information of ancient sources is bespattered with lies, like fetid mud. The past ceases to be real when it is replaced by fabrications and figments of the imagination, or distorted by incomplete transmission, or burdened with the unnecessary tinsel and trimmings of senseless details. The father of lies whispers into the ears of credulous ignoramuses that there is no truth in history but only personal perceptions, that its phenomena are not a chain of causally connected events but a senseless kaleidoscope it is impossible to remember, that texts should be understood literally as if the chronicler had written them not for contemporaries but for posterity, and finally that all migrations of ethnoi, and their rises and falls, their fame and death, are like the play of moonlight on the ripples of a lake. But if that is so, then there is no need to study history, and the past, lost from memory, becomes nothing, and Chaos takes the place of Cosmos.

At the end of the eighth century A.D., in Tibet, Buddhist preachers, adherents of the Mahayana, taught that the world was an illusion, salvation submergence in Nirvana, and the way to Nirvana the avoidance of either bad or good deeds, because 'black clouds and white clouds equally hide the sun from us'. To that the Tibetan shen, a Bonze or Buddhist priest, appealing to the people, said: 'Do not listen to the twaddle of the Mahayanists: the heart will tell you where black is and where white'. Obviousness and intuition lie on the boundary of science and art. That is why history has its own muse, Clio.

No, it is not a matter of the right to groundless, almost always absurd statements, supposedly suggested by intuition or to obvious ones, like the rotation of the Sun around the Earth. Deceit is also possible when it rests on self-deceit. Clio helps her devotees in another, much more important matter, viz., to find the proofs of correct theses, to bring out mistakes in the collection of initial data, and to spot breaches of logical constructions. All that is ostensibly simple, but in fact each, even tiny approximation to the truth is a feat.

But Clio not only knows how to preserve the remnants of the past, covered by the dust of Time and blanketed by the ashes of the Lie. She can deprive these predators of their prey and does so under our very eyes and by our hands. The ruins of Troy were found, the Tower of Babel excavated, the treasures of Tutankhamen saved, the hieroglyphs of the Mayas read, the forgery of tile chronicles made by Ivan the Terrible discovered, and the black legend of the Mongols lifted. The list of the resurrections, even though not of personalities, but of their great deeds, could be endlessly continued, because great and small discoveries are being made, now here, now there.

Isn't that a victory over Kronos? Isn't it the resurrection of ancestor ethnoi?

Now I can pose the main question: 'Why do ethnoi arise and why is their end inevitable?'




1Yu.P. Altukhov, Yu.G. Rychkov. The Genetic Monomorphism of Species and Its Possible Biological Significance. Zhurnal obshchei biologii, 1972,3: 282.

2 Ibid., p 296.

3 M.Ye. Lobashev. Signalnaya navlcdstvennost (Signal Heredity). Issledovania po genetike (Studies in Genetics), Vol. 1. Nauka, Leningrad, 1961.

4 A.P. Bystrov. Proshloe, nastoyashchee, budushchee cheloveka (The Past, Present, and Future of Man), Nauka, Leningrad, 11)57, p 299.

5 Ya.Ya. Roginsky, M.G. Levin. 0snovy antropologii (Fundamentals of Anthropology), Moscow University Press, Moscow, 1955.

6 G.F.Debets. On Certain Directions of changes in the Constitution of the Modern Type of Man. Sovetskaya etnograiya, 1961, 2: 9-23.


8 See: Jean Dorst. Before Nature Dies. Translated by Constance D. Sherman Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1970, p 291.

9 Ibid, pp 41-42.

10 Augustin Thierry. Letter No. 2. Lettres sir l'histoire de France. Jouvet et Cie, Paris, 1881, p 29.

11 L.N. Gumilev. Ethnogenesis and the Ethnosphere. Priroda, 1970, 2: 49-60.

12 Yu.K. Efremov. An Important Element in the Chain of Man's links with Nature. Priroda, 1971, 2:     79.

13 Yu.V. Bromley. Etnos I etnographia (Ethnos and Ethnography), Nauka, Moscow, 1973, p 163.

14 V.I. Vernadsky. Khimicheskoe strocnie biosfery Zemli i ee okruzhenia (The Chemical Structure of Earth's Biosphere and Its Environment), Nauka, Moscow, 1965, pp 284-285.

15 G.F. Debets. Art.cit., pp 19-20.

16 A.S. Pushkin. Selected Works, Vol. 1. Progress Publishers, Moscow, 197s p 33.

17 See: S.M. Shirokogorov. Ethnos. Izvestiya Dalnevostochnogo Universiteta, Shanghai, Vol. XVIII, Issue 1, 1923, p 130.

18 See: KM. Zavadsky. Razvitie evolyutsionnoi teorii posle Darvina (The Post Darwin Development of the Theory of Evolution), Nauka, Leningrad, 1973, p 12.

19 Ibid., p 225.

20 Ya.Ya. Roginsky, M.G. Levin. Op. cit., p 314.

21 L.N. Gumilev. Ethnos as a Phenomenon. Doklady oldelenii i komissii VGU Leningrad, 1967, 3: 106.

22 Cited from: N.I. Konrad. Zapad i Vostok (West and East), Nauka, Moscow 1966, p.76.

23 V.I. Vernadsky. Op. cit., pp 283-288.







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