CULTURE noun ˈkəl-chər KUHL-chur
Middle English (denoting a cultivated piece of land): the noun from French culture or directly from Latin cultura ‘growing, cultivation’; the verb from obsolete French culturer or medieval Latin culturare, both based on Latin colere ‘tend, cultivate’ (see cultivate). In late Middle English the sense was ‘cultivation of the soil’ and from this (early 16th century), arose ‘cultivation (of the mind, faculties, or manners’); culture (sense 1 of the noun) dates from the early 19th century.
(1) 1610s, “worship,” also “a particular form of worship,” from French culte (17c.), from Latin cultus “care, labor; cultivation, culture; worship, reverence,” originally “tended, cultivated,” pp. of colere “to till” (see colony). Rare after 17c.; revived mid-19c. with reference to ancient or primitive rituals. Meaning “devotion to a person or thing” is from 1829.
(2) Cult. An organized group of people, religious or not, with whom you disagree. [Rawson]
1) : SYSTEM OF ASSUMPTIONS, GOALS, PROPERTY RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS, RITUALS AND SIGNALS WHICH CAN AND ARE TRANSMITTED BETWEEN GENERATIONS.
(a) Webster: “the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior learned and transmitted knowledge to succeeding generations.”
(b) Propertarianism: “a set of suppositions about the nature of man, and his preferred and necessary relation to others, and to nature. The myths that convey those relations, and attach positive and negative values to them. The property rights that codify and enforce those relations in daily life. The Gender Biases, Mating Rituals, Childrearing Rituals, Feast Rituals, Celebratory Rituals, Group Identity Signals such as dress, and learned food choice and preparation preferences. All of which can and must be learned and transmitted to succeeding generations, and which can and do survive transmission to succeeding generations.
2) : CULTURED Knowledge of or Mastery of, the cannon of the most well-crafted examples of History, Letters, and Arts, produced by members of that culture, which celebrate that culture, and demonstrating, and therefore, signaling, the Morals, ethics and manners, of those most well crafted examples.
3) SUBCULTURE (By Analogy), shortened to CULTURE by abbreviation, loading and analogy:
A set of STATUS SIGNALS – the competing suppositions, myths, values, property rights, rituals and signals, of a racial (Genetic inter-temporal relations), religious (normative inter-temporal relations), or social group (generational, class, geographic, or occupational relations);
4) BY ANALOGY: POPULAR CULTURE (by analogy): A cyclical preference for a) inexpensive status signals used to illustrate coming of age, b) inexpensive status signals used to demonstrate group membership in order to create opportunities for entertainment, association, occupation or mating created by the set of goods and services marketed to people who are coming of age, participating in mating and child-rearing as well as early career development.
CULTURES CONSIST OF A PORTFOLIO OF PROPERTY RIGHTS
CULTURAL PORTFOLIOS ARE INTERGENERATIONAL DEVICES FOR CONVEYING RULES OF ACTION, AND SIGNALS ABOUT FITNESS OF INDIVIDUALS WITHIN GROUPS MAKING USE OF THOSE RULES, THAT FACILITATE COOPERATION, WHERE COOPERATION TAKES PLACE ACCORDING TO A SET OF ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT MAN AND NATURE.
Cultures consist of a set of myths and norms that determine the goals and limits of human action within each cultural group.. These myths and norms compose a ‘program’ consisting of a world-view about man’s relation to the universe, a series of myths, rituals and habits that reinforce that world view, and a set of property rights and obligations that by habituation rather than intent, survived generations of use in daily life and evolved to perpetuate that world view. While it is true that much cultural content is fungible, it is also true that much of it is not. That which is not, is what is unstated by the myths and traditions but which is a common assumption or implication throughout.
In earlier centuries, there were fewer means of incentive with which to direct people to either cooperate, or to do as some individual or group willed. This is because there are very few means of ‘coercing’ people to cooperate toward a given end:
a) physical persuasion: threat of force, promise of not using force (armies, police, governments, gangs)
b) moral persuasion: promise of inclusion or threat of ostracization from opportunity. (cults, religions and communities)
c) remunerative persuasion : trading something in exchange for the cooperation of others. (the market, the wealthy.)
Early civilizations were split between the application of force, and the application of mysticism. Eventually, in large part, peoples everywhere in the world created organized means of violence for enforcing some system of property rights, even if they were the most corrupt possible. And religion usually formed a means of opposition to that violence, by determining the limits by which the population would consent to be governed – ie: institutional religion described the boundary of legitimacy, and formed a resistance movement. Wherever successful, the state then adopted that religious limitation and as often as possible took control of the religious institutions as well.
Cultures then, are defined by their different “portfolios” of property rights. The composition of, and distribution of those property rights, varies from culture to culture. In each culture, those rights are expressed as norms. Property rights themselves are a norm. Those property rights perpetuated by norms may be more or less beneficial than other portfolios of property rights.
But any idiot who thinks that (a) formal institutions don’t matter – such as libertarians or (b) that formal institutions are sufficient – such as progressives, will have history prove him wrong to the chagrin of the people who understand (c) that norms are a form of property – conservatives. Norms are a commons that we all pay for. The tax we pay for them with is forgone opportunity to consume them, and absorbing the risk that no others will absorb them too.
Aristocratic Egalitarian Culture (The West) prohibits not just fraud, theft and violence, but the more deceptive versions of fraud: profit from asymmetry of knowledge, and profit from involuntary transfer via externalities.
Market competition itself, is an involuntary transfer via externality from people outside of the exchange (competitors). This is why humans naturally object to it, and must be trained to respect and practice competition. But this externality provides instruction and incentive to all in the market, such that we all seek greater variety and lower cost of production. It produces beneficial ends. But it is non-trivial to create the norm of respecting and practicing competition. That’s why so few cultures did it.
Rothbard was wrong. The market isn’t sufficient to maintain the norms against fraud theft and violence, and certainly not against externalities. The marginal impact of reputation in the market is lower than the marginal impact of fraud. That’s why only the west developed the high trust society – by out-breeding such that the entire nation to be an extended family – at least within it’s social classes. Without excessive out-breeding that destroyed the perception of extended family through common physical properties, and common normative behavior. In order to retain the sense of extended family, both physical properties and normative properties must be similiar enough that signaling is consisten within the group, and only class (selection quality) within the extended family differentiates between group members.
Trust. The extension of familial trust to all possible exchange partners, by prohibitions on externality and asymmetry, when backed by warranty, is the composition that creates the high – trust society. Only AFTER these informal institutions are enforced by formal institutions, even if only the formal institution of the common law, will trust develop. And with trust, the velocity of trade that makes extraordinary marginal wealth possible for a group, because that group is more competitive than other groups.