Book review: The Rule of the Clan: What an Ancient Form of Social Organization Reveals About the Future of Individual Freedom by Mark S. Weiner.
This book does a good job of explaining how barbaric practices such as feuds and honor killings are integral parts of clan-based systems of dispute resolution, and can’t safely be suppressed without first developing something like the modern rule of law to remove the motives that perpetuate them.
He has a coherent theory of why societies with no effective courts and police need to have kin-based groups be accountable for the actions of their members, which precludes some of the individual rights that we take for granted.
He does a poor job of explaining how this is relevant to modern government. He writes as if anyone who wants governments to exert less power wants to weaken the rule of law and the ability of governments to stop violent disputes. (His comments about modern government are separate enough to not detract much from the rest of the book).
He implies that modern rule of law and rule by clans are the only stable possibilities. He convinced me that it would be hard to create good alternatives to those two options, but not that alternatives are impossible.
To better understand how modern individualism replaced clan-based society, read Fukuyama’s The Origins of Political Order together with this book.