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Index: Alan Macfarlane’s Chapters


Alan Macfarlane: ‘I exist in an extreme version, in the form of English individualism of family system. This is reinforced by my anti-magical protestant religious upbringing. I can record mysterious sighting of ancestors or spirits, for some of my students and Sarah have seen supernatural entities, and one has even photographed them as on the front cover of the first part of my Autobiography.’


Alan Macfarlane: ‘I now had two models, the Anglosphere (for the English system was the one Tocqueville described for America and was spread to the rest of the white Empire), and the Indo-European, where Tocqueville rightly sensed that element of caste.’

Binary and quantum thinking.

Alan Macfarlane: ‘As I finally grasped the fact that my binary thought system was only one way of approaching the world, I discovered two further things. One was that, even within the West, I was brought up in an extreme, Protestant, form of binary thinking.’


Alan Macfarlane: ‘Involvement in China has caused a different jolt to my political assumptions and stretched my mind in new ways. Ernest Gellner used to observe that the legitimacy of western democracy mainly derives from the fact that the system ‘delivers the goods’.’


Alan Macfarlane: ‘The English population patterns of late marriage, the extraordinary early growth of a money economy and ‘capitalism’, the pre-conditions for the industrial revolution, and the growth of Protestantism are all parts of a pattern. Modern civilization derived from the industrial revolution could not, and would not, have happened without this family system.’