The ruling class ruled because it was clever, because it was well off, and because it hung together.
That’s from John Pemble’s review of Adam Kuper’s Incest and Influence: The Private Life of Bourgeois England in the London Review of Books. It’s an excellent overview of what Pemble describes as “a bloodless and almost painless transition from male oligarchy to full democracy” in the late 19th century.
Douglass North described something similar in his description of Limited Access Orders and Open Access Orders: oligarchies that are the reserve of a coalition of elites and the open and competitive political and economic systems we associate with the rich world.
Kuper looks at degrees of consanguinity: how children were married off to cousins in a closed and inward looking ruling class, in order to maintain key business and political relationships.
What would be the one factor that a future historian of Tanzania might choose, and for which she would have records, to examine similar political and business relationships of today?