The facts will be inevitably loose in this kind of discussion, partly because of limited data and partly because we are looking at trends rather than absolutes. Just as the assertion that Swedes tend to taller than Chinamen is valid in a world where some Chinamen are quite tall and some Swedes rather short
To say that one culture differs from another culture in some way does not mean the complete separation of traits. If we say that Prussia was a more militarist society than England, that does not mean that England was pacifist, or that the Prussians were permanently at war. Nonetheless we can see how 19th century Prussian militarism shaped the whole society; its social interactions, industry, education, politics, etc. Here, I’m trying to look at something deeper and more fundamental; family structure, and I suggest a gradient from North to South on the map from us down to the Levant. The general model we find, indeed in the Bible, is pastoralist. Here up North, we find agrarians tilling the heavy soil. The latter leads to “the couple in a farmhouse with their children”. The former leads to the “herdsman tribe”. And when each society advances, it will develop different civilisation types, with quite different understandings of the nature of the individual and the collective.
This does not mean that there is uniformity within each region discussed; again, they are trends. Not every Jew was a shepherd. Some grew crops. Some were scribes, and artisans. But the basic family model is pastoralist (which is why the Old Testament is full of people boasting about their camels; indeed the story of Abraham’s split from Lott is an argument between their herdsman-tribes over grazing rights).
As we head into Europe and peoples who had developed out of the Ice Age, we find an environment ill suited to bedouin pastoralism (or indeed the horse pastoralism of the Steppe tribes to the East who were different again, but, lacking the grazing, did not penetrate all the way across Europe; the Golden Horde ran out of steam when they ran out of grass, fortunately for us, though they did deposit some nice oriental genes into the Slavic girls, which is why they are currently swamping the modelling market, and at which point I am completely off the point. Anyway, that’s another model but it doesn’t much concern us because it’s too far East and the only two models that concern Western Europe for most of our history are the putative native one, and the Levantine one via Christianity, up from the Mediterranean).
So, there are trends, and the facts are inevitably loose though. It is interesting to note perhaps however that in some parts of Northern Europe, we <i>do</i> see pastoral tribal structures. Head north from the gently waving, depressingly flat, grain fields of England and you find a primitive and ugly people called the Scotch. Derived from a pastoralist culture as they are, it took the civilised English many hundreds of years to pacify their relentless tribalism and native urge to murder members of other “clans”, whilst wearing skirts. I admit at this point, I am myself one quarter Scotch, and though I am able to control it, the result is that merely passing a MacDonalds fills me with the bloodlust to murder everyone in their sleep, and declare it a very great clan victory. Indeed, their current leader, a man called Alec Mac Salmon, is furiously attempting to reignite some kind of clan war with his blood enemies, the “Sassenachs”, for reasons that nobody can fathom, as he thunders his bloodcurdling battle cry, “Kill the English but keep the poond!”.
Anyway, that’s the basic idea; that liberalism arose from a relatively atomised European tribal model, in which case the much-despised-currently idea that “we got our liberties from the Saxons” may be, if overstated, basically the truth. It is not about hostility to Christianity; merely the observation that that religion is not a precursor or prerequisite for the values of Western Civilisation, which is a belief in my experience that many, at least on the “right”, seem to believe.