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The Rule of the Clan: What an Ancient Form of Social Organization Reveals About the Future of Individual Freedom

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  88 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
A revealing look at the role kin-based societies have played throughout history and around the world

A lively, wide-ranging meditation on human development that offers surprising lessons for the future of modern individualism, The Rule of the Clan examines the constitutional principles and cultural institutions of kin-based societies, from medieval Iceland to modern Pakista
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published March 12th 2013 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Slobodan Blazeski
Jun 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is a real masterpiece. My interest of development economics and reading numerous books of why some countries are rich and the other are poor, always lead to dabbling in amateur sociology. By reading the rule of the clan you don't need to dabble anymore. The author Mark Weiner clearly describes that rule of the clan is the natural state of organization that reemerges whenever the power of the state is weakened. When you don't trust the institutions to treat you right you start organize ...more
Ed Hertzog
Sep 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: libertarians, anarchists
This should be required reading for modern American liberals and libertarians, particularly the type who tend towards the anarchist side of the political spectrum. We don't need to imagine the type of world that would exist in the absence of a state, along with its monopoly on the initiation of force. We have thousands of years of history to suggest what decentralized executive authority very well may look like. The challenge for anarchists is to explain how a stateless society would not devolve ...more
Terry Tracz
Apr 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Having just been to Kenya and Tanzania, two countries currently evolving from Status to Contract, I found this book to be an especially interesting read. The author presumes more academic background, so I struggled to understand some passages, but we ignore the points he makes at our own peril. Before we can assist other cultures toward democracy, we must first understand their current means of existence.
Nathan Toronto
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the clearest arguments yet for the liberal worldview. Any friend of peace, prosperity, and stability should read Weiner's essay, who casts a light on how liberalism needs the cultural heritage of the clan in order to survive.
Jan 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book was a great read - provocative and insightful. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in law's relation to the individual.
Aug 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sociology
Extended Family Matters (a lot!)

Weiner's main thesis extends that of 19th century jurist Sir Henry Maine who's observations became the heart of British colonial policy but also Marx and Engels. Maine contended that societies in their early stages based power and governance on the status of individuals within a tradition of extended family groups. Status determined position, deference, role and expected behaviour which maintain the harmony of the community Even the outsider has their place. In co
Kitty Red-Eye
A very interesting book! Of course I've been thinking about the difference between individualist societies and collectivist societies before, but I've never really had the framework to fully appreciate the two and the enormous difference between them. Not that I can fathom it to the full, I believe. A collectivist society isn't something I can simply "imagine, then understand it". But this book is a good start. I especially enjoyed roughly the first half of the book, the introduction chapters an ...more
Dylan Groves
Apr 15, 2013 rated it liked it
An engaging first cut at understanding the politics and culture of clannism from a liberal-statist perspective. Provocative, not conclusive. Glad I read together with James Scott and Steven Pinker.

Three takeaways:
1 - The natural political order in the absence of a capable state is clannism: decentralized family ties, honor-based, and highly communitarian, with enforcement defined by tit-for-tat retributive violence. Libertarians should love the state because it protects individual liberty than t
Mar 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a really interesting high-level essay about what Weiner sees as the only alternative to a strong central state: the rule of the clan. He argues that clan rule is the default, indeed perhaps preferred (by people in general, not him), method of human social organization. For Weiner, people (such as myself) who think the state is a major threat to liberty may be right, but clan rule is far more illiberal and suffocating than the state is (except in the obvious cases).

I found this book very
Somewhere between 3 stars and 4 stars. This book provides a look into the clan, an organization of society throughout history and into the present day. It overlaps well with another book I'm reading "Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West" by Benazir Bhutto in that both address and provide a plausible answer as to why the West has had such problems with intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan.

There is some obvious bias in this book, feeling too often like the author is ramming "liberal soci
Lee Robbins
Apr 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
"Status to Contract"

"To be sure, the state can be an instrument of tyranny. Nobody who has lived in the twentieth century can fail to be profoundly aware of the dangers posed by state power. Overreaching states have utterly crushed individual freedom in the Soviet Union (sic), Germany, China, and a host of other nations. But this fact should not lead to radical cynicism about state power per se. nor should it cause us to be cavalier about the consequences that would ensue if the state were to be
Wickliffe Walker
Oct 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Rule of the Clan is a delight: important, thoughtful social and legal analysis leavened by fascinating examples, from an Irish Pub in Georgia to medieval Iceland, from the south of Sudan to the si-fi future of Avatar. Mark Weiner’s clean prose and impressive scholarship add up to a rare combination.
Fredrick Danysh
Mar 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: political
A look at how clans function in society. The author claims that a strong Liberal government grants individual rights and are the only thing with the ability to enforce rules on society. He challenges the claim that individual rights flourish in a weak government. This is a propaganda piece for Liberalism.
The Advocate
"Weiner’s study on the role of the clan in strengthening societies gives a good understanding of the conflicts and benefits of both individualism and rigid social structure."
Read more here.
Jan 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
2015 Grawemeyer winner for Ideas Improving World Order.
Jun 08, 2013 rated it liked it
interesting study but drags in some places.
May 15, 2013 marked it as to-read
Shelves: social-cultural, law
Alex MacMillan
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Adam Gurri
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May 23, 2015
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Ever since I can remember, I have been interested in how people across the world have used law to organize their communities in profoundly different ways. My love of law and its development grew while I was in school, at Stanford and Yale, and in time I wrote three books on the subject.

In 2001, I got married, bought a house, and began teaching at Rutgers School of Law in Newark, New Jersey. I ador

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“The clan is a natural form of social and legal organization—it is far more explicable in human terms than the modern liberal state—and people quickly, reflexively turn to it in the want of an alternative. Left to our own devices, we humans naturally build legal structures based on real or fictive kin ties or social networks that behave much like ancient clans. Our instinctual drives are not only psychological and sexual, but also legal. The impulse is part of who we are as human beings.5” 1 likes
“Yet, whatever form it takes, the belief that individual freedom exists only when the state is frail misunderstands the source of liberty. The state can be more or less effective in the pursuit of its goals—it can be stupid or smart—and it can be used for illiberal, totalitarian ends. But ultimately a healthy state dedicated to the public interest makes individual freedom possible. This is the paradox of individualism. The individual freedom that citizens of liberal societies rightly cherish, even our very concept of the individual, is impossible without a robust state. Modern individualism depends on the existence of vigorous and effective government dedicated to the public interest, to policies that a majority of citizens would support without regard to their particular position in society at any given moment. It depends as well on the willingness of individual citizens to imagine themselves as members of a common public whose interests the state regularly vindicates.” 0 likes
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