We started in Germany

One of the better books I’ve read recently was “The Origins of English Individualism” by Alan Macfarlane.  The first Americans landed in Virginia, and were English.  Their culture evolved into ours.  It was a culture of liberty.  It wasn’t the culture of the religious zealots in Massachusetts.  They were fanatical about their faith, and that fanaticism took them far afield.  If your religion varied from theirs, they expelled you.  They were intolerant then, and their political heirs are intolerant today, just in service of a different faith.  If they thought you were a witch they killed you.

Macfarlane was a British patriot, and didn’t like to admit it, but he basically said that the ultimate source of his culture was Germany, home of the Anglo-Saxons.  He quotes Montesquieu, “In perusing the admirable treatise of Tacitus “On the Manners of the Germans” we find that it is from that nation the English have borrowed their idea of political government.  This beautiful system was invented first in the woods.”

The reason it came from Germany is because this is where women first emancipated themselves.  Equal rights for women is the foundation of freedom.  These German women of 2,000 years ago, famously described by Tacitus, insisted on freedom of choice in the selection of their husbands.  And when they married they were under no one’s control, from their husband’s family or their own.  When they acquired property they and their husbands owned it outright.  They could leave their estate to their children, but were not obliged to do so.  Unworthy children could be disinherited.  A man was expected to leave his father’s home and make one of his own for his own family.

This is called the Absolute Nuclear Family.  It died out in Germany, but migrated North to southern Scandinavia, western Netherlands, Brittany, and, with the Anglo-Saxons, to England.  It’s the basis of our culture today in America.

Tacitus describes the German women as tall and well built, with pale skin, red hair, and bright blue eyes.  They would follow their men in battle, to inspire them.  They were women to fight for.  The Romans found that out in 9 A.D. when they tried to conquer Germany.  Three legions were completely annihilated.

Spiritually, at least, they were our mothers. I’m proud of that.

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