THE RULE OF THE CLAN by Mark S. Weiner


What an Ancient Form of Social Organization Reveals About the Future of Individual Freedom
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A compelling argument about the indispensable function of the modern liberal state as a bulwark for individual freedom against traditional kinship-based clan forms of social organization.

Weiner (Constitutional Law and Legal History/Rutgers School of Law; Americans Without Law: The Racial Boundaries of Citizenship, 2008, etc.) asserts that, in the wake of the recent financial crisis, current calls to “engage in the wholesale dismantling of public institutions” have the potential to be “a catastrophe for individual freedom.” He forcefully presents the case that individual rights will be weakened, not strengthened, by the diminution of state power. Personal liberty will be challenged due to the need of people to place greater reliance on the family structure to ensure survival. This decentralization will enhance the power of the kin-based group, with its collectivist organization of honor and blood feud and social justice among kin. The author presents legal, historical and current political contexts for his case, drawing from the work of the British legal historian Henry Sumner Maine, who distinguished between societies of “status” and societies based on “contract” for a foundation. Weiner also presents anthropological studies of the Nuer in Sudan and tribal organization throughout the Arab world and the Indian subcontinent. The author turns to Icelandic and Anglo-Saxon history to show how clans and the liberal state have coexisted in the past and continue to do so. He makes a convincing case that it is the strength of the clan structure, rather than the Islamic religious worldview, that breeds terrorism in countries such as Pakistan or Syria. Romeo and Juliet and Walter Scott's Waverley also provide grist for the author's mill. Weiner believes that modern liberal states can support the constitutional development of clan-based societies by supporting the professional classes.

A highly revealing study with global implications.

Pub Date: March 12th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-374-25281-6
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2012


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