(stacco, this citation here is closely related to my reverse dominance
citation, best to keep them together someplace, for a 'joint article'
introduced by a short paragraph by me)

David Graeber:

"from the very beginning, human beings were self-consciously experimenting
with different social possibilities. Anthropologists describe societies of
this sort as possessing a ‘double morphology’. Marcel Mauss, writing in the
early twentieth century, observed that the circumpolar Inuit, ‘and likewise
many other societies . . . have two social structures, one in summer and
one in winter, and that in parallel they have two systems of law and
religion’. In the summer months, Inuit dispersed into small patriarchal
bands in pursuit of freshwater fish, caribou, and reindeer, each under the
authority of a single male elder. Property was possessively marked and
patriarchs exercised coercive, sometimes even tyrannical power over their
kin. But in the long winter months, when seals and walrus flocked to the
Arctic shore, another social structure entirely took over as Inuit gathered
together to build great meeting houses of wood, whale-rib, and stone.
Within them, the virtues of equality, altruism, and collective life
prevailed; wealth was shared; husbands and wives exchanged partners under
the aegis of Sedna, the Goddess of the Seals.

Another example were the indigenous hunter-gatherers of Canada’s Northwest
Coast, for whom winter – not summer – was the time when society
crystallised into its most unequal form, and spectacularly so. Plank-built
palaces sprang to life along the coastlines of British Columbia, with
hereditary nobles holding court over commoners and slaves, and hosting the
great banquets known as potlatch. Yet these aristocratic courts broke apart
for the summer work of the fishing season, reverting to smaller clan
formations, still ranked, but with an entirely different and less formal
structure. In this case, people actually adopted different names in summer
and winter, literally becoming someone else, depending on the time of year.

Perhaps most striking, in terms of political reversals, were the seasonal
practices of 19th-century tribal confederacies on the American Great Plains
– sometime, or one-time farmers who had adopted a nomadic hunting life. In
the late summer, small and highly mobile bands of Cheyenne and Lakota would
congregate in large settlements to make logistical preparations for the
buffalo hunt. At this most sensitive time of year they appointed a police
force that exercised full coercive powers, including the right to imprison,
whip, or fine any offender who endangered the proceedings. Yet as the
anthropologist Robert Lowie observed, this ‘unequivocal authoritarianism’
operated on a strictly seasonal and temporary basis, giving way to more
‘anarchic’ forms of organisation once the hunting season – and the
collective rituals that followed – were complete." (

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