I confess I am overwhelmed, and upon reflection, how could it be otherwise? You have given me very good things to read, research, and think about, and I have thought of some on my own, thinking about Medieval peasants, China under Chiang Kai-Shek, Eastern Europeans behind the Iron Curtain, and many individuals I have known. I keep coming up with theories ("The dispossessed and powerless are more likely to be paranoid") and immediately thinking of counterexamples (Hitler, Stalin, Ceausescu).
I am baking many pies for Christmas and thought that would be opportunity to think about large topics, but the opposite is true. I have thought about pies and not much else. (In response to my mince pie problem, BTW, I discovered a pumpkin-mince that I think with cut the intensity of the spices nicely. Mince spice and pumpkin spice are quite similar, after all: cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, maybe ginger. We'll see how it works.) So perhaps I will lie awake tonight thinking about birthrates, the Black Death, paranoid children of the rich, and the Roma (gypsy) mix of paranoia and insouciance that we find baffling.
I think I will have to pry smaller topics loose, and right now I am not as clear as I'd like. Muddled.