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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/305

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THE ETHICS OF TRIBAL SOCIETY.

bees to lead an orderly and mutually helpful life in swarms. In all these communities the outsider is looked upon as an outlaw; whoever is not a kinsman is a foe, and may be assailed, despoiled, enslaved, or slain with impunity. Indeed, it is considered not only a right but also an imperative duty to injure the alien by putting him to death or reducing him to servitude. The instinct of self-preservation asserts itself in this form with gregarious mammals and insects; and all primitive associations of men are founded upon this principle and cohere by force of this attraction.

A superstitious regard for blood pervades all early ideas and institutions of mankind. The ancient Hebrews were forbidden to eat the blood of a slaughtered animal, because the blood is the life; and the orthodox Israelite still clings to this notion and will not partake of butcher's meat that is not gosh or ceremonially clean—i. e., from which the blood has not been carefully drained off, although he knows that this process of ritual purification deprives the flesh of much of its succulence and nutritive value as food.

It is a widely diffused belief among aboriginal and lower races that the blood is the seat of the soul; hence blood-relationship is synonymous with soul-relationship. The child was also recognized as a blood-relation of the mother, but not of the father. Out of this conception of consanguinity arose the custom of descent in the female line, whereby the children of a man's sister became his heirs to the exclusion of his own offspring. Curiously enough this notion is confirmed, to some extent, by modern science, which would ascribe to the female the function of conserving and transmitting the permanent qualities and typical characteristics of the race, whereas the influence of the male in propagation is variable, innovating, and revolutionary, and tends to produce deviations from the hereditary norm.

Cannibalism, too, as a tribal rite, originated in the belief that the soul resides in the blood, and that by drinking the blood of the bravest foemen their courage, cunning, and other distinctive and desirable traits may be acquired and thus serve to increase the fighting force and efficiency of the tribe.

Brotherhood was also created artificially or ceremonially by mingling a few drops of the blood of two persons in a cup of wine and drinking it. Each received into his veins a portion of the other's blood, and thus they became blood-related and were bound by the same mutual obligations as they would have been if the same mother had given them birth. The heroes of old German sagas are represented as drinking brotherhood in this manner; it is thus that Gunther and Siegfried swear inviolable friendship and fidelity in Wagner's Götterdämmerung; and German students, in the festive enthusiasm of a Commers, are fond of imi-