munity sentiment against social deviance. The message tonthe young couple is a warning not to get wrapped up in themselvesnat the expense of their neighbors; more often the charivarinwas employed to show disapproval of wife-beaters, adulterers,nor old men taking young wives.nThe New England Puritans were famous for their colorfulnmethods of exerting social control, but the ducking stool, thenstocks, and scarlet letters were all transported from old England.nBefore European man had created the modern statesnthat have absorbed so much of his social and political energies,nhe knew how to mind his own business, govern his neighborhood,nand solve all the petty problems that have always and willnalways plague our fallen human nature.nIn the early Italian communi, it is hardly possible to speak ofnthe state. On the political level, Pisa or Lucca might in theorynbe governed by the emperor’s representative—although thenBishop’s powers, especially in the rural parishes, was very greatnboth in law and in practice. The real life of the town, however,nwas conducted with scant reference to the Visconte or evennto the consuls who replaced him. The commune itself—andnits consols—was more a private association of the rich andnpowerful than anything we could call a state, and the consulsnwere free to conduct business on their own account, mergingntheir own resources with those of the city. In this the Italiansnwere normal rather than exceptional. The strict separationnbetween private and public interest is a modern and northernnEuropean phenomenon. Paul Veyne, in his contribution tonThe History of Private Life, compares the civil and military administratorsnof the Roman Empire to a mafia capo who simultaneouslynprotects and squeezes his clients: “A Romannnoble has more in common with this ‘godfather’ than with anmodern technocrat.”nIn modern America it is the mafia (at least in its idealizednform) that embodies ancestral European custom and the republicanninstitutions of the commune, not the hypocrisy ofnhonest government and political reform—the perennial slogansnof those who wish to consolidate their power by freezingnout the competition. But if the “godfathers” of the communenrepresented the highest form of socioeconomic organization innlate medieval Italian towns, they were far from holding anmonopoly. In addition to the Church, there were the variousnarti—trade guilds—that set standards, determined weightsnand measures, punished infractions of various kinds. Therenwere also alliances of merchants and noblemen, including then”tower associations”—mutual defense pacts of families livingnin proximity to each other and maintaining a common towernfor their protection. The neighborhoods themselves were oftenna fundamental unit of government, choosing their ownnmayors and judges, settling disputes.nDespite all these other forms of association, the family remainednthe foundation of the social order, and if one familynmember offended another, the difficulty was to be settled bynthe head or elders. If a man of one family murdered a membernof another, the response was not law but vendetta—the wordnDante regularly uses to mean justice.nIn many ways, Pisa in the 12th century resembles nothing sonmuch as Tennessee in the days of Andrew Jackson and thenBenton brothers, rough men who followed the course of the expandingnfrontier in search of abundant game, free land, and thenopportunity to “catch the shortest way” to success. Turnernwas inspired to write his essay by the 1890 census, which hadndeclared the closing of the frontier. If American democracynwas the peculiar product of the frontier experience, what sortnof political revolution did the future have in store? If Turnernhad only looked inside himself, he would have found the answer.nAs a Progressive gone to the Ivy League, Turner favorednthe style of government activism that would find its expressionnin Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, and the creative and expansionistnimpulses of Americans were transferred, inevitably,nfrom the conquest of the continent to the creation of a bureaucraticninfrastructure at home and an economic and politicalnempire abroad.nThere are opportunities for Western businesses,nit goes without saying, but in the New World ofnthe East, America will be only one of thenplayers, perhaps not the most important.nSome nations thrive on peace and settled order, but Europeannman has always been a wanderer, an adventurer, a conqueror.nBy the second millennium our ancestors were on thenmove, drifting into what we now call Europe. India and Persia,nGreece and Italy became home to distinctively Indo-Europeanncivilizations that merged and blended with the previousnpopulations. Other waves of settlers poured into NorthernnEurope, although the Celts had occupied Lombardy by thenfourth century B. C. Later waves of Germans and Slavs destroyednmost of the Roman Empire, only to be attacked byntheir Viking cousins, as soon as they settled down into thenways of peace. Among the most violent and aggressive ofnthese barbarians were the Franks, but the tale of their rapid degenerationnis all too familiar and depressing. I fear we too oftenninterpret Lord Acton’s admonitions on the corruption ofnpower in a metaphorical sense, but the corruption of Prankishnkings and the American Congress is no abstraction.nThe European story is only a major-key variation on a humanntheme. Man is by nature a competitive beast who seeksndominion, both as an individual and as a member of a tribe.nHe thrives on domestic strife and local competitions. AsnMachiavelli observed, Rome’s political liberties were the productnof their endless rounds of class conflict. “To me thosenwho condemn the quarrels between the nobles and the plebs,nseem to be cavilling at the very things that were the primaryncause of Rome’s retaining her freedom. … Nor do they realizenthat in every republic there are two different dispositions, thatnof the populace and that of the upper class and that all legislationnfavorable to liberty is brought about by the clash betweennthem.”nBut if domestic conflict leads to liberty at home, it is warsnwith the neighbors that sharpens the character of the commonwealth:n”Should heaven … be so kind to it [the commonwealth]nthat it has no need to go to war, it will then comenabout that idleness will either render it effeminate or give risento factions; and these two things, either in conjunction or separately,nwill bring about its downfall.”nMachiavelli’s discourses are only ostensibly about ancientnRome. The intention is to provide political lessons to 16thcenturynItaly in general and in particular to the corrupted Florentinenrepublic that had lost the virtu that is required of annnOCTOBER 1992/13n