Thursday, April 03, 2014

Polygamy interestingly makes a comeback at the dawn of civilization 10,000 years ago, when this rational hunter and gatherer puts down his spear in favor of picking up the farmer’s hoe and shepherd’s staff. At this point, things started getting more interesting: prosperous, polygamous and warlike. With accumulated wealth comes power, and with it, the ability to write societal rules to your benefit.

In short, inequality of wealth and power reintroduces sexual scarcity back into the human story. Those with the most land and largest herds — civilization’s new alpha males — naturally started taking an unequal share of the women for themselves. In order to release the social tensions created by polygamy, a new warrior class developed to plunder the women and wealth of other people. Extreme examples of the expansionistic logic of polygamy can be seen in Genghis Khan at the top, and in suicide bombers willing to off themselves to get their own harem of virgins to debauch at the bottom.

A central argument of “Marriage and Civilization” is that monogamy, just like polygamy, is an elite-driven enterprise. Monogamy requires self-restraint and forward thinking among the strongest. These powerful few recognize the bellicose logic of polygamy and choose sexual equity because of the internal peace and prosperity that follows. This turn connects the last ape to the founders of Western civilization.

Read it all.

No comments: