Sunday, October 12, 2008

House and Gens

House and Gens .
Andre Willers
13 Oct 2008

Gens are a requirement for innovation .

Gens : A group of families in a village .

This is most easily understood by following their evolution .
We will follow the Roman gens , as they had a huge influence on western society .
Similar structures are found all over the world .

Evolution of a gens (Roman model ):
A village with a headman Julius grows to about 150 people , then hives off .
Eg , a person is identified by a name like Gaius Julius Caesar .
This means Gaius , Gens Julius (ie from village of Julius) , Family Caesar .

The number of families in the gens of Julius gets frozen after the hive-off .
Except for the genius of the Roman model (one of their recipes for success ) : they could adopt .
The adoption mechanism gave the gens extraordinary vitality .
New additions to the gens Julius who are not adoptees , are clients or slaves .
Marriage meant automatic adoption . The adoption process gave full rights , as if born a family member .

Talented individuals were brought into the gens without marriage . This was unique .

As the Romans became wildly successful , social climbers formed their own gens .
The Empire made this illegal (a long-term bad thing) .
Instead , Houses formed . Usually freedmen . Freed slaves took the surname of their former master , but were not allowed three names .

Thus it has been a mark of social pretentiousness for two thousand years to have three names .

But the freedmen and their descendants usually had great loyalty to their former masters , and considered themselves of his house . A de-facto gens .

Fast-forward to the future :

A House (gens) .
During the lower-population periods , business enterprises actually consisted of various families staying in one house (a virtual village) , all connected by their business .
As the business expanded , the various families associated with it still considered themselves of that House .

Just like with gens , lots of parvenu’s try to jump on the bandwagon .

Virtual Gens
Nowadays , there are virtual villages in companies (your department).
Notice how the identification of an individual (at a party) goes :
“ I am Joe , at Barclays , Audit ” . This gives his name and gens(house) . The surname is only given on further interaction . This is exactly how a Roman would have identified himself to a casual acquaintance .

If you called Gaius Julius Caesar by the name “Julius Caesar” , he would have your ears for disrespect . Like saying “ Hey , Barclays Smith”.)

American Gens . (Secret Societies .)
The Americans of the 18’th century had a great admiration for the Roman Republic .
They modeled their constitution after the better aspects (with improvements)
They also thought they could improve the Gens system .

They formed virtual villages
Not only the Moose , Elks etc , but also the college fraternities and sororities .
These were deliberately given non-human names , to prevent cults of personality (This seems to have worked well . Ah , human vanity .)

These are all hugely influential , but well below most radars .
All are open to adoption (compare to the British model , where Oxbridge Houses are open mostly to the elite .)

Even the Americans quailed at the thought of naming somebody “Joe Elk Smith”
or “ Mary Phi-Kappa-Delta Jones” .
So they have rings and secret handshakes . But mostly , authentication is done by word-of-mouth .

But three names are still de-rigeur .

Innovation .
This is also the well-spring of American innovation .
Humans are social constructs (literally : see http://andreswhy.blogspot,com : “Artificial Intelligence” et al) . Without continual information feedbacks , the individual desists or goes nutty .

This is where all these gens come into play .
Somewhere , there is a support social group for nearly any innovator . Most fail , but the few that do succeed repay that wasted effort handsomely .

Funnily enough , the closest equivalent I can think of are the verreine in Germany . These are associations . Equivalent organizations were formed in Eastern Europe (especially Chech) and Russia . We know of the rocket innovations , but there were many others . These are grass-roots organizations , but not kept semi-secret like the American gens were .

There are few in Roman Catholic countries , since the church actively discouraged gens (they were the ones who destroyed them in the first place after the fall of the Western Roman Empire . )Innovators were usually incorporated . The few die-hards were destroyed .
There can only be one Secret Society .

Chinese gens .
The same thing happened there .
The Empire actively discouraged innovation . The main mechanism was by incorporating promising youngsters into the Civil Service . A deliberately convoluted examination system drove the most innovative to despair and minor posts . But the main point was that they were taken away from their villages , where no gens could form .

This is why Chinese innovation is now exploding . Whole villages are becoming gens.
The process is unstoppable . The gens are now virtual as well .

Any innovator can find a like-minded group anywhere in the world .

Singularity , anyone ?


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