The Myth of the Middle Class Alpha Male, Part 3

Click here for Part 1, click here for Part 2.  Now let’s get started with this installment, part 3:

How and Why Modern Western Society Keeps Alphadom in Check and Penalizes Any Excess of It

I have to warn you, this will seem repetitive at times as I will cite overlapping points repeated by several sources, but I really, really want to make sure the logic behind my reasoning comes across clearly so bear with me.

Let’s start off with a passage from the book The Red Queen by Matt Ridley:

In the ancient empire of the Incas, sex was a heavily regulated industry:The sun-king Atahualpa kept fifteen hundred women in each of many “houses of virgins” throughout his kingdom. They were selected for their beauty and were rarely chosen after the age of eight—to ensure their virginity. But they did not all remain virgins for long: They were the emperor’s concubines: Beneath him, each rank of society afforded a harem of a particular legal size: Great lords had harems of more than seven hundred women. “Principal persons” were allowed fifty women; leaders of vassal nations, thirty; heads of provinces of 100,000 people, twenty; leaders of 1,000 people, fifteen; administrators of 500 people, twelve; governors of 100 people, eight; petty chiefs over 50 men, seven; chiefs of 10 men, five; chiefs of 5 men, three. That left precious few for the average male Indian whose enforced near-celibacy must have driven him to desperate acts, a fact attested to by the severity of the penalties that followed any cuckolding of his seniors. If a man violated one of Atahualpa’s women, he, his wife, his children, his relatives, his servants, his fellow villagers, and all his lamas would be put to death, the village would be destroyed, and the site strewn with stones.

As a result, Atahualpa and his nobles had, shall we say, a majority holding in the paternity of the next generation. They systematically dispossessed less privileged men of their genetic share of posterity. Many of the Inca people were the children of powerful men.

In the kingdom of Dahomey in West Africa, all women were at the pleasure of the king. Thousands of them were kept in the royal harem for his use, and the remainder he suffered to “marry” the more favored of his subjects: The result was that Dahomean kings were very fecund, while ordinary Dahomean men were often celibate and barren: In the city of Abomey, according to one nineteenth-century visitor, “it would be difficult to find Dahomeans who were not descended from royalty.”

The connection between sex and power is a long one.

There are several important lessons to derive from this passage. One lesson is that an unfettered, free-for-all competition for resources usually leads to incredible inequality where only a few of the men control most of the resources, including access to women, while most men are forced to suffer in misery and celibacy. The second is that being a major alpha male in today’s industrialized West is much, much less rewarding than it was at other moments in humankind’s history. We’ve gone from legalized harems and rule with an iron fist as a reward for major alphas to societies where we expect monogamy and a degree of humility exercised by comparable alpha males today. For example we recently saw the fallout a billionaire of today like Tiger Woods faces when he cheats for banging 14 low class hoes, which is nothing in comparison to the sexual escapades of the alphas of era past described above:

To get an idea of how powerful the vagina-hoarding effect of polygamy throughout history was, consider this: today’s human population is descended from twice as many women as men. Maybe 80 percent of women reproduced, whereas only 40 percent of men did.

How did we go from there to here? From polygamous societies where high status alphas with all the resources hoarded all the women and the average man didn’t get a chance to reproduce to a society where the most powerful alphas are expected to stay loyal to one wife and risk getting half their resources taken away from them if they don’t? How did we get from the richest alphas running harems to being publicly shamed on every television network and punished for straying even once?

The Red Queen tackles this question also, emphasis added by me:

[T]he long interlude of human polygamy, which began in Babylon nearly four thousand years ago, has largely come to an end in the West: Official concubines became unofficial mistresses, and mistresses became secrets kept from wives: In 1988, political power, far from being a ticket to polygamy, was jeopardized by any suggestion of infidelity: Whereas the Chinese emperor Fei-ti once kept ten thousand women in his harem, Gary Hart, running for the presidency of the most powerful nation on earth, could not even get away with two.

What happened? Christianity? Hardly: It coexisted with polygamy for centuries, and its strictures were as cynically self-interested as any layman’s: Women’s rights? They came too late. A Victorian woman had as much and as little say in her husband’s affairs as a medieval one: No historian can yet explain what changed, but guesses include the idea that kings came to need internal allies enough that they had to surrender despotic power. Democracy, of a sort, was born. Once monogamous men had a chance to vote against polygamists (and who does not want to tear down a competitor, however much he might also like to emulate him?), their fate was sealed.

Despotic power, which came with civilization, has faded again: It looks increasingly like an aberration in the history of humanity…[M]en have been unable to accumulate the sort of power that enabled the most successful of them to be promiscuous despots. The best they could hope for in the Pleistocene period was one or two faithful wives and a few affairs if their hunting or political skills were especially great:The best they can hope for now is a good-looking younger mistress and a devoted wife who is traded in every decade or so.

Democracy happened. Democracy empowered lower status men and gave them a voice. Individually lower status men may have much less power than individual high status alphas, but as a group since there are so many more lower-status men in a society than there are powerful alphas, a “one-man, one-vote” society allows lower status men to collectively exercise much more power against alpha males than any others. And what these lower-status men will use that power to do shape a society that will (1) give themselves more access to women while giving alphas less access to women and (2) place limits to the abuses an uber-alpha can get away with. So democracy leads to legal limits on polygamy which leads to increased monogamy which leads to less sexual spoils and unfettered power for alpha males and more sexual spoils and more political power for all other lower-status males in a society. This means limitations on the upper-levels of alphadom are an essential part of a strong democracy.

The character of Hopper in A Bug’s Life understood the dangers of  lower status people, who naturally outnumber higher status people, getting an equal voice quite well:

Robert Wright also comes to a similar conclusion about the relationship of democracy to both the lessening of alpha political and sexual power and the increase of the political and sexual power of lower-class men:

Polygamy. This is the natural state of our species. Then again, the natural state of our species is also a small hunter-gatherer society, with little wealth and thus, only mild inequalities of status and power among men. In this “ancestral environment,” large harems were rare; competition for women, though intense, was seldom epically intense. But then came agriculture and other sources of economic surplus. Suddenly some males could be way more powerful than others. The commensurately massive sexual rewards made men ill-inclined to play by Marquess of Queensberry rules. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the most prolific genetic replicator in the history of our species was the last Sharifian emperor of Morocco, who had 888 offspring. He was known as Moulay Ismail the Bloodthirsty. Get the picture?

And, in polygamous societies, low-status males weren’t exactly pacifists either. With scads of women monopolized by the well-to-do, less fortunate men could get mighty lonely and become very unhappy campers. This volatile discontent may be the reason that, as anthropologist Laura Betzig has shown, polygamy and authoritarianism have gone hand in hand. Back when the Zulu king was entitled to more than 100 women, coughing or spitting at his dinner table was punishable by death.

In this sense, monogamy meshes better than polygamy with the egalitarian values of a democracy. One-man-one-vote, one-man-one-wife.

So hoarding of women by powerful men in the form of polygamy and despotism go hand in hand, and more equitable distribution of women in the form of monogamy and democracy go hand in hand. A lot of men mistakenly believe polygamous society represents a paradise for men in general, but it doesn’t. It represents a paradise for one or a few men over all other men, who exist in a hell. Most men in highly polygamous societies are condemned to celibacy and their lives are less free and consist of extreme oppression by uber-alphas to boot.

Consider the following excerpts from this article by Alan S. Miller and Satoshi Kanazawa:

The history of western civilization aside, humans are naturally polygamous. Polyandry (a marriage of one woman to many men) is very rare, but polygyny (the marriage of one man to many women) is widely practiced in human societies, even though Judeo-Christian traditions hold that monogamy is the only natural form of marriage…

In societies where rich men are much richer than poor men, women (and their children) are better off sharing the few wealthy men; one-half, one-quarter, or even one-tenth of a wealthy man is still better than an entire poor man. As George Bernard Shaw puts it, “The maternal instinct leads a woman to prefer a tenth share in a first-rate man to the exclusive possession of a third-rate one.” Despite the fact that humans are naturally polygynous, most industrial societies are monogamous because men tend to be more or less equal in their resources compared with their ancestors in medieval times. (Inequality tends to increase as society advances in complexity from hunter-gatherer to advanced agrarian societies. Industrialization tends to decrease the level of inequality.)

Most women benefit from polygyny, while most men benefit from monogamy

When there is resource inequality among men—the case in every human society—most women benefit from polygyny: women can share a wealthy man. Under monogamy, they are stuck with marrying a poorer man.

The only exceptions are extremely desirable women. Under monogamy, they can monopolize the wealthiest men; under polygyny, they must share the men with other, less desirable women. However, the situation is exactly opposite for men. Monogamy guarantees that every man can find a wife. True, less desirable men can marry only less desirable women, but that’s much better than not marrying anyone at all.

Men in monogamous societies imagine they would be better off under polygyny. What they don’t realize is that, for most men who are not extremely desirable, polygyny means no wife at all, or, if they are lucky, a wife who is much less desirable than one they could get under monogamy…

For an example of the mindset such an environment creates in lower-status men, let’s look at Muslim suicide bombers:

According to the Oxford University sociologist Diego Gambetta, editor of Making Sense of Suicide Missions, a comprehensive history of this troubling yet topical phenomenon, while suicide missions are not always religiously motivated, when religion is involved, it is always Muslim. Why is this? Why is Islam the only religion that motivates its followers to commit suicide missions?

The surprising answer from the evolutionary psychological perspective is that Muslim suicide bombing may have nothing to do with Islam or the Koran (except for two lines in it). It may have nothing to do with the religion, politics, the culture, the race, the ethnicity, the language, or the region. As with everything else from this perspective, it may have a lot to do with sex, or, in this case, the absence of sex.

What distinguishes Islam from other major religions is that it tolerates polygyny. By allowing some men to monopolize all women and altogether excluding many men from reproductive opportunities, polygyny creates shortages of available women. If 50 percent of men have two wives each, then the other 50 percent don’t get any wives at all.

So polygyny increases competitive pressure on men, especially young men of low status. It therefore increases the likelihood that young men resort to violent means to gain access to mates. By doing so, they have little to lose and much to gain compared with men who already have wives. Across all societies, polygyny makes men violent, increasing crimes such as murder and rape, even after controlling for such obvious factors as economic development, economic inequality, population density, the level of democracy, and political factors in the region.

However, polygyny itself is not a sufficient cause of suicide bombing. Societies in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean are much more polygynous than the Muslim nations in the Middle East and North Africa. And they do have very high levels of violence. Sub-Saharan Africa suffers from a long history of continuous civil wars—but not suicide bombings.

The other key ingredient is the promise of 72 virgins waiting in heaven for any martyr in Islam. The prospect of exclusive access to virgins may not be so appealing to anyone who has even one mate on earth, which strict monogamy virtually guarantees. However, the prospect is quite appealing to anyone who faces the bleak reality on earth of being a complete reproductive loser.

It is the combination of polygyny and the promise of a large harem of virgins in heaven that motivates many young Muslim men to commit suicide bombings. Consistent with this explanation, all studies of suicide bombers indicate that they are significantly younger than not only the Muslim population in general but other (nonsuicidal) members of their own extreme political organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah. And nearly all suicide bombers are single.

Modern democratic society is a tradeoff. A lower status man ostensibly obtains the same vote and therefore voice as a higher status man. Since lower status men outnumber higher status uberalphas, they can now create a system of laws, checks and balances called the State that contains innate limitations to just how powerful an alpha can become. Powerful men keep adapting to the new status quos and try to become more powerful regardless, and the State, which mostly represents the collective voice of the lower-status peoplee, in turn keeps adapting to find new ways to put limitations on their alphadom. It’s an arms race between uberalphas who want to become as powerful as they can thanks to human nature, and the State, which is the tool lower status men collectively use throughout history to keep uberalphas in check by limiting their access to political power and the best vagina.

Yet because most men still harbor dreams of becoming more powerful and alpha themselves, these societies are still constructed with enough flexibility to allow for social mobility as well.  Evolution has designed men to naturally seek out power, status, and as a consequence, access to better and more women, so no matter how much lower-status men desire to squash uber-alphas, they will never tolerate a society that totally crushes the ability of everyone to become more powerful.  These tensions are what leads to our society that rewards people for being a mix of both alpha and beta as opposed to other societies that reward people strictly for being super-alpha, a society that crushes you for being too beta and for being too alpha, especially when you’re sandwiched between both extremes in the middle class.

This is a big reason why I said in the last installment that middle-class men are the worst equipped to achieve pure unadulterated alpha status in our society. Upper class men have the resources to possibly buy the State or work it from the inside. Lower class men often have little to lose and are used to hardship so they are often more willing to just straight up refuse to abide by the rules of the State. Then you have men who embody both attitudes, a ton of resources to buy off the State or work it from the inside combined with a willingness to thumb their nose at the rules of the State and refuse to abide by them when necessary. The patron saint of this last category is Joseph Kennedy. Is it any wonder his family is considered the ultimate American dynasty?

But even among these groups, sooner or later they more often then not lose against the State, whether it’s the IRS or divorce court for the rich or jail for the poor. So what chance does the middle-class man have to aim for pure alpha status in a society that by design is meant to curb any attempts to be alpha for the benefit of all men?

Next installment: The two major concepts modern industrialized democracies use to limit uberalpha potential: (1) alpha-proxies and (2) renegade alpha suppression.

38 Responses to “The Myth of the Middle Class Alpha Male, Part 3”

  1. cant wait for the next one

  2. Dude…. you need to stop this. Too much wisdom here.
    I was playing out a theory, not sure. Is it possible that alphadom of the sun god system of harems collapsed on it self? with a huge harem like so, you have so many children who cannot marry themselves into harems ie sons marrying their sisters (depends on how much they liked each other anyway)? Just a thought.

    Next installment please.

  3. “A lot of men mistakenly believe polygamous society represents a paradise for men in general, but it doesn’t. It represents a paradise for one or a few men over all other men, who exist in a hell. Most men in highly polygamous societies are condemned to celibacy and their lives are less free and consist of extreme oppression by uber-alphas to boot.”

    This was recently demonstrated in the latest issue of national geographic regarding the polygamous sect of Mormonism in southern Utah/Northern Arizona.

    Keep up the solid posts.

  4. You said,
    There are several important lessons to derive from this passage. One lesson is that an unfettered, free-for-all competition for resources usually leads to incredible inequality where only a few of the men control most of the resources

    I’m assuming by “free-for-all” you mean the situation where coercion is commonly used. Correct? (And that includes coercion by a state/government.)

    (Because without coercion you don’t necessarily get this situation.)

    You said,
    Polygamy. This is the natural state of our species. Then again, the natural state of our species is also a small hunter-gatherer society

    I don’t think that polygamy or a hunter-gatherer society is still natural for all humans.

    Sure humans still have adaptations that fit past lifestyles. For example see this…
    http://martialculture.com/blog/2010/01/humans-minds-adapted-to-purposes-fitting-the-past/

    But what about, for example, lactase persistence?! For humans that have it, pastoralism seems just as “natural”.

    Humans have adaptations for many things. Some adaptations even conflict. And although human behavior is NOT infinitely mutable, there does seem to be some degree of plasticity. And as new (genetic) adaptations are accumulated, that plasticity can move in a new direction. (And likewise, as old adaptations are lost, that plasticity can also retreat.)

    You said,
    a comprehensive history of this troubling yet topical phenomenon, while suicide missions are not always religiously motivated, when religion is involved, it is always Muslim.

    What about the Japanese Kamikaze?

  5. I’m assuming by “free-for-all” you mean the situation where coercion is commonly used. Correct? (And that includes coercion by a state/government.)

    (Because without coercion you don’t necessarily get this situation.)

    Free for all just means anything goes. You kill someone, there’s no State to punish you. If that person’s family comes after you for retribution killing, there’s no one to punish them either. If someone steals your property, there’s no third party to rectify your situation. You have to do it yourself. There’s no third party dedicated to keeping the peace or enforcing norms and laws. It’s a lawless, anything goes environment. All coercion does not automatically equal a free for all. But all free-for-alls eventually lead to instances of coercion. Oppressive coercion on individuals and their freedoms by a strong central government body is not the same type of coercion you find in a free for all situation.

    I don’t think that polygamy or a hunter-gatherer society is still natural for all humans.

    Because humans are not still living in a natural environment. They live in industrialized civilizations with laws. If you want to know what the natural state of humans are, look at the behaviors laws forbid, not at the behaviors laws prescribe. For example, do you need a law to tell you to not put your dick in a giant fire? Hell no! Because doing that is unnatural. No law necessary to tell people not to engage in something averse to human nature. But we do need laws to forbid monogamy, rape, violence, murder, and conning. Because those things are a part of human nature, they are natural behaviors for humans when in a natural environment (one that is not highly developed, industrialized and civilized).

    Your argument is like saying eating humans is not natural for tigers because one can find tigers today in circuses and zoos that are trained not to eat humans on sight. Zoos and circuses aren’t natural environments, and the behavior of the tigers in them is not natural tiger behavior. It’s the result of conditioning. When they snap and go outside their conditioning, that is the natural behavior of the tiger coming to the surface. The same goes for humans in the circuses and zoos we call developed industrialized civilizations.

    What about the Japanese Kamikaze?

    The answer is right there in the excerpt you quoted. Read it again: “while suicide missions are not always religiously motivated, when religion is involved, it is always Muslim.” Japanese Kamikaze weren’t primarily religiously motivated. They may have used their religion to cope and make peace with the suicide order, but it wasn’t their actual motivation.

  6. You said,

    The answer is right there in the excerpt you quoted. Read it again: “while suicide missions are not always religiously motivated, when religion is involved, it is always Muslim.” Japanese Kamikaze weren’t primarily religiously motivated. They may have used their religion to cope and make peace with the suicide order, but it wasn’t their actual motivation.

    The Japanese Kamikaze were religiously driven. Their religion was an instance of an Imperial Cult, in the form of what people today call “State Shinto”. The (Japanese) emperor was considered a living god, by them. (An arahitogami.)

    You said,

    If you want to know what the natural state of humans are, look at the behaviors laws forbid, not at the behaviors laws prescribe. For example, do you need a law to tell you to not put your dick in a giant fire? Hell no! Because doing that is unnatural. No law necessary to tell people not to engage in something averse to human nature. But we do need laws to forbid monogamy, rape, violence, murder, and conning. Because those things are a part of human nature, they are natural behaviors for humans when in a natural environment (one that is not highly developed, industrialized and civilized).

    (I’m guessing you meant “polygamy” instead of “monogamy”, up there. But anyways….)

    I don’t think that’s true. Let me provide you with an example.

    There are laws against brothers and sisters having sex with each other (in the form of incest laws). However, even if the law didn’t exist, (in general) brothers and sisters still would not be having sex with each other. I.e., the law is not what’s keeping brothers and sisters from going at each other. (Sure a handful may. But a handful do even with the law. By and far, most won’t, with or without the law.)

    With humans, any human of the opposite sex that they are raised with (before a certain age) and stay in contact with, they will (in general) never find sexually attractive. And they don’t even have to be related for this this to happen.

    Even with stuff like rape and murder, religion seem to do a good job of preventing those things. (And religiosity is part of the human natural state.)

    (Of course, a secular state/government is “higher religion” without the deities, but however with the superstitions. So you could argue that there really isn’t a line between religion and a state/government. But that’s another conversation.)

    Also (even without religion or a state/government), people seem to have instincts for morality. Jonathan Haidt has done work on this with his Moral Foundation theory. But he’s not the only one.

    (As a side note, humans aren’t the only creature with a moral instinct, of course. Even dogs have morality.)

    Some humans do seem to have an innate disposition for monogamy. It doesn’t mean they don’t have any innate mental wiring for polygamy either. But to claim that polygamy is the (only) human natural state does not seem to be accurate.

    Also, humans have genetic adaptations to environments other than the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. (And like I already said, sure we still have genetic adaptations to the hunter-gatherer lifestyle too. But it’s not the only lifestyle we are adapted to.)

    To summarize, yes a state/government does affect human behavior. But that does not mean that without a state/government that people would revert to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. And does not mean that humans only have genetic adaptations to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

    I.e., it would be just as accurate to say that (for some humans) a pastoral lifestyle is just as natural as a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, since (for some humans) they have genetic adaptations for both. (Or in other words, for some humans (or maybe even all), there seems to be more than one lifestyle that could be called a “natural human state”.)

  7. The Japanese Kamikaze were religiously driven. Their religion was an instance of an Imperial Cult, in the form of what people today call “State Shinto”. The (Japanese) emperor was considered a living god, by them. (An arahitogami.)

    I understand about Shintoism and the place to which it elevated the Emperor in the social heirarchy, however I still disagree about kamikaze being religiously motivated, at least not religiously motivated in the sense that Muslim suicides.

    I’m not an exhaustive expert on the history of religiously motivated suicide missions. Maybe the authors of the piece agree with you and were just getting carried away when they used the word “always” and actually meant to use the word “mostly.” Even though I don’t agree about Kamikaze being motivated by Shintoism in the way muslim suicide bombers are motivared by their religion, let’s for the sake of argument agree that you’re correct and Kamikaze pilots are an example of Shinto-motivated suicide missions. It doesn’t disprove any of the overall themes of my post, it actually strengthens them.

    Almost all kamikaze pilots were single men, only a very few had wives. And polygamy was still legal under the Japanese constitution at least until 1945 I believe, and most accounts say Japan still practiced at least a soft form of polygamy until then. Kamikaze still lends credence to the idea that polygamy is an oppressive condition for most men that drives them to violent extremes.

    So even if you’re right about kamikaze counting as religiously motivated suicide missions, it still doesn’t matter to my overall message.

    There are laws against brothers and sisters having sex with each other (in the form of incest laws). However, even if the law didn’t exist, (in general) brothers and sisters still would not be having sex with each other. I.e., the law is not what’s keeping brothers and sisters from going at each other. (Sure a handful may. But a handful do even with the law. By and far, most won’t, with or without the law.)

    With humans, any human of the opposite sex that they are raised with (before a certain age) and stay in contact with, they will (in general) never find sexually attractive. And they don’t even have to be related for this this to happen.

    I am aware of this phenomenon. But it only works if the brother and sister were raised together in their formative years. There are cases of brothers and sisters and cousins who weren’t raised together knowingly or unknowingly having relationships and/or marrying. So there is still a need for the law to exist.

    But you do make a valid point so I’ll alter what I said somewhat: There are lots of laws on the books. Some just sit on the books carrying dust, some are constantly being violated and need to be enforced regularly and also make up a bulk of criminal and civil grievances. So I’ll alter it to say this, laws that are not drawn up as mere formalities or are violated infrequently but instead are regularly broken and require vigilant enforcement are indicative of human nature. Polygamy, especially soft polygamy of the extramarital opportunistic variety, is one such recurring legal violation that occurs over and over in civilization.

  8. Hey, there T- MAN.

    I like your series….my friends and I are debating who won in this video…we both like reading your posts…i think the guy in the middle won the debate…my friend thinks the guy asking the questions won. Six pack of coors light is riding on this. What is your take?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vztHmjV5134&feature=player_embedded

  9. “The patron saint of this last category is Joseph Kennedy. Is it any wonder his family is considered the ultimate American dynasty?”

    Nope.

    That guy did it all.

    – MPM
    .-= The G Manifesto´s last blog ..Mardi Gras: The G Manifesto Way =-.

  10. Kevin, my immediate impression? Both sides lost. It was an embarassment for everyone involved ultimately except for Hannah Giles. She came off best, at least in terms of class and maturity.

    Who lost the LEAST though? I definitely agree with you it was the guy in the middle. That’s because debates have little to do with pure logic, a lot of who won a debate has to do with style more than substance: unflappability, coolness under fire, eloquence, verbal judo, throwing your opponent off script and therefore off his game, being glib, having charm, maintaining your frame and composure better than your opponent, achieving your specific goals…the last is especially important. Middle guy’s goal was to be a disruptive force and make the conservatives look like small-minded angry fools. The conservatives’ goal was to sway him or have a “gotcha” moment using sheer logic. While the latter goal is more admirable to me personally, they failed to achieve it. Though the anti-ACORN guy’s stance and goals I disagree with strongly, there’s no denying he accomplished his goals better than the other guy did.

  11. Wreaver,

    You are right that there was a religious element to the Japanese Kamikaze. It would be interesting to explore whether there was a sexual dynamic to their sacrifice. I wonder what level of polygamy was present in 1940’s Japan. Either way, this doesn’t undermine the author’s point.

    Regarding incest laws, what makes you think that this is against human nature? You can look through European history over the last many centuries to find deep inbreeding in even the highest level of royalty. It’s in the Bible… I’m sure most human societies have been ok with it. From a practical sense, our society clearly recognises the birth defects that result from inbreeding, and the social costs associated with that, so we make it illegal. If there were never any birth defects or physical side effects from incest, would our society have such a problem with it? Probably not.

    The question of instinctive morality is beside the point. I’m guessing you mentioned it because you are implying that polygamy is immoral? (or amoral). Study history and you will see that polygamy has been considered moral through most societies. As per the author’s point, it’s only in our modern society that it’s seen as unacceptable, due to the increased power of the average guy. It’s embarrassing for our christian society that the bible really doesn’t say polygamy is bad, anywhere. Ask your local pastor and he’ll pick some verses which indicate monogamy. But the bible doesn’t actually forbit polygamy at all – it seems to be ok with it. For example, 1 Timothy 3:12 – “Let deacons be the husbands of one wife.” Paul is giving an express prohibition of polygamy in the church leadership, which implies that polygamy was quite normal in the day. My point is that you can’t just assume that monogamy is the moral choice, while polygamy is immoral.

    Wreaver, you say that some humans have an innate disposition for monogamy. (the pastoral/hunter-gatherer debate is a bit off topic). I disagree. As a thought experiment, if you took one man and five women and put them on a desert island, a polygamous state would ensue. I argue that a man would be going against his instincts to stay with one woman. A second thought experiment: place 100 men and 100 women on an island. Would a polygamous or monogamous society ensue? History tells us that a polygamous society would occur, and to claim that our genetic adaptation to a modern society would prevent this polygamy is a very tenuous line.

    The author’s point stands: that in an unstructured, undeveloped society, authority and control go to the stong and the bold (ie. alpha males), and the women also go to these leaders. And in our highly developed, wealthy society, where people aren’t starving and there is a sufficiently democratic and strong government, the control spread to the masses, and the women are also distributed.

    Great article Ricky.

  12. You are right that there was a religious element to the Japanese Kamikaze.

    This I can agree with, that there is a religious element to Japanese Kamikaze because much of our societal norms are inexplicably intertwined and informed by religious norms. Where I disagree is that it was actually motivated by religion. I do realize that this can be seen as a question of degree where reasonable minds can differ, so on this point I’ll agree to disagree with wreaver.

    It would be interesting to explore whether there was a sexual dynamic to their sacrifice. I wonder what level of polygamy was present in 1940’s Japan.

    I haven’t been able to find extremely specific stats on the matter, but I do know that polygamy was much more accepted in Japan’s history than in America’s, that almost all Kamikaze men were single and that at least up until 1945 polygamy was still on the books as legal. This is all admittedly from quick internet research in the past hour, so if anyone can inform me otherwise feel free.

  13. “No historian can yet explain what changed, but guesses include the idea that kings came to need internal allies enough that they had to surrender despotic power. Democracy, of a sort, was born.”

    I’m very curious about further detail on this specific aspect. More specifically, how this came about in Europe. If I remember correctly, Greek and Roman societies were both monogamous (probably due to the influence of Greece’s form of Democracy) as were the barbarian tribes in the Germanic lands according to Tacitus’ historical account “Germania” (I imagine this, in particular, has more to do with the fact that they were still hunter-gatherer tribes at that point rather than Democracy, according to the theory you outlined from “The Red Queen.”)

    So, taking a shot in the dark here, could European monogamy have come about in the following fashion?: Greek democracy influences Roman society; Germanic societies are influenced, in turn, by Roman society and thus make a smooth transition from a monogamy that resulted from a hunter-gatherer society, to one that is a product of a non-despotic civilization.

    I’m pretty sure I’m missing something here, as my history knowledge, in terms of the “Dark Ages”, is a bit rusty. There was probably some despotism taking place during the transition period from the fall of Rome to medieval society.

    Also, my knowledge of Europe before the establishment of Greek Democracy is also limited, thus I’m curious as to what European polygamous societies looked like around that time, and what was the precise catalyst to shift to Democracy on Greece’s part (I’ve got some research to do!)

  14. @Monkeytree you said,

    Regarding incest laws, what makes you think that this is against human nature? You can look through European history over the last many centuries to find deep inbreeding in even the highest level of royalty.

    Inbreeding is not the same as brothers and sisters having sex (with each other).

    Generational cousin-cousin marriage (and breeding) is usually how inbreeding comes about with humans.

    @Monkeytree you said,

    From a practical sense, our society clearly recognises the birth defects that result from inbreeding, and the social costs associated with that, so we make it illegal.

    (Although I wasn’t alive back then) I seriously doubt that that cognition went when in making these laws. More likely it is driven by a purity/sanctity response. (Perhaps transmitted through some tradition or religious belief.)

    Also, the laws aren’t against inbreeding, they are against “incest”. (However they legally define “incest”.) Cousin-cousin marriage isn’t necessarily a harmful thing though. (And a lot of the world still does it.) It matters how inbreed the population doing it is. Inbreeding can even be beneficial, in that it can be a process that removes harmful alleles from a populations (by making homozygous more common). But with inbreeding also comes the risk of pedigree collapse wreaking havoc.

    @Monkeytree you said,

    If there were never any birth defects or physical side effects from incest, would our society have such a problem with it?

    It could.

    Not all laws, taboos, and superstitions come about to protect people from some danger. (For some esoteric examples…. In Memphis, TN, it’s illegal to take an unfinished slice of pie home from a diner. In Salt Lake County, Utah, it’s illegal for a trombonist to advertise a public auction. None of those protects people from a danger. And what about “jus primae noctis”? How does legal rape protect anyone? Or even tax laws. They don’t exist to protect anyone from any danger.)

    Many laws, taboos, and superstitions are (at least in part) driven by our instincts or aliefs. Some contain a “wisdom” in that they evolved as a solution to some problem. But not all are like that.

    @Monkeytree you said,

    The question of instinctive morality is beside the point. I’m guessing you mentioned it because you are implying that polygamy is immoral? (or amoral).

    Nope. I mentioned moral instincts because I was trying to point out that it is not laws or a state/government that is stopping (most) humans from doing all the horrible things. There’s other things preventing it. And human moral instincts are one of those “other things”.

    I personally don’t consider polygamy immoral. (It’s not for me. But that’s not the same as considering it immoral.)

    @Monkeytree you said,

    Wreaver, you say that some humans have an innate disposition for monogamy. (the pastoral/hunter-gatherer debate is a bit off topic). I disagree. As a thought experiment, if you took one man and five women and put them on a desert island, a polygamous state would ensue. I argue that a man would be going against his instincts to stay with one woman. A second thought experiment: place 100 men and 100 women on an island. Would a polygamous or monogamous society ensue? History tells us that a polygamous society would occur, and to claim that our genetic adaptation to a modern society would prevent this polygamy is a very tenuous line.

    Let me say it another way, because I don’t think I’ve communicated what I’m trying to say very clearly.

    Some people have mental wiring for BOTH monogamy and polygamy. Yes, these two behaviors are in conflict. But some people have both. (Just like some people have adaptations for a hunter-gatherer lifestyle AND have adaptations for a pastoral lifestyle.)

    Does that make what I am trying to say clearer?

    This is why I object to calling polygamy “the (only) natural human state”, because from some people, both could be called “a natural human state”.

  15. Let me say it another way, because I don’t think I’ve communicated what I’m trying to say very clearly.

    Some people have mental wiring for BOTH monogamy and polygamy. Yes, these two behaviors are in conflict. But some people have both. (Just like some people have adaptations for a hunter-gatherer lifestyle AND have adaptations for a pastoral lifestyle.)

    Does that make what I am trying to say clearer?

    This is why I object to calling polygamy “the (only) natural human state”, because from some people, both could be called “a natural human state

    AHHHHH, I see what you are saying now. Okay, I can agree with this. I think polygamy is the natural state of humankind, but I do NOT think that it is the only natural state. I think people are hardwired for both monogamy and polygamy and as a result a societal tension is caused between these two natural impulses in men. In fact I have some posts coming up about this tension between both states using Tiger Woods as an example.

    I don’t think polygamy is the ONLY natural human state, I think both polygamy and monogamy are natural human states people are wired for and they come out to different degrees based on the conditions people are living in.

    I didn’t realize you thought I was saying that polygamy was our ONLY natural state.

  16. If I had to give one name to this blend of polygamy and monogamy that we are hardwired with, which I think leans more in the polygamy direction, I would call it “opportunistic polygamy.” Many people see the benefits of monogamy and will practice it to different degrees but both men and women exercise polygamy for different reasons and in different ways when opportunities arise and they think the rewards are worth the risks.

  17. Thanks for all the insightful posts about human nature Ricky. I enjoy reading this website a lot and it’s great to see so many updates. Your website is not devoid of humour either, reading all these thought out posts and then coming across a scientology.org ad at the end of this one gave me a great laugh.

    Yes, I do understand that you (probably) do not personally choose or inspect all the ads on your website but it was funny nonetheless to see the crackpots surface in a sea of reason 😉

  18. Very thought provoking piece, but I don’t think I buy the part about democracy. The history does not match up.

    From as far back as western history goes, through the 1960’s the standard about polygamy was very stable. Polygamous marriage was outlawed, and sex out of marriage was punished (either with stigma or force), especially for females. This true in the 1800’s of the Scarlet Letter and Pride and Prejudice, it was true of my parents generation, and it was true in almost all European countries. Yes it is true that the wealthy gentlemen sometimes had a mistress, sometimes quite openly. But this was a far cry from polygamy.

    Universal male suffrage established itself in different countries at different times 1776 for America, 1848 for France (not counting the revolutionary period), 1870 for Germany, 1887 for Britain. I don’t see any strong correlation between the expansion of suffrage and changing the rules about elite sexual behavior. The rise of universal manhood suffrage had a traumatic impact on society – read someone like Stefan Zweig about the introduction of universal suffrage in Austria. He talks quite a bit about the rise of socialist and jingoist tendencies, but never mentions any movement towards restricting polygamy.

    Two things did change from the 1960’s to the 80’s. Divorce became much easier – legally, socially, and economically. As a result, when a modern man takes a mistress the modern wife tends to leave the marriage. As a result men tend to either divorce or keep their infedilities more hidden. This change may be a result of democracy, but it was not the result of empowering the low status man, but rather the result of feminist politics.

    The second thing that changed was journalism. From the 30’s to 60’s journalists were subordinate to the political government. FDR could call and get journalists fired. He would threaten radio stations to have their licenses revoked if they did not obey him. During World War II the Office of War Information oversaw all the media. When the war ended, officials from the Office ended up running magazines like Time and the major broadcast networks. Ted Kennedy spoke of the time: “It used to be civilized. The media was on our side. We’d get our work done by one o’clock and by two we were at the White House chasing women.”

    As a result, journalists would not report on FDR’s or Kennedy’s mistresses. Post-watergate, and with the rise of talk radio, cable, the internet, etc, journalists have become far more adversarial. They are out for blood. I don’t think the ripping apart of Gary Hart, Bill Clinton, or Tiger Woods is about polygamy. Plenty of people get away with philandering without reproach from journalists. In the case of Hart and Woods I think the journalists smell blood – they both have weak, beta hearts. I met Gary Hart once, and it was perhaps the most underwhelmed I’ve been when meeting a politician. You expect a politician to own a room when he enters, Gary Hart entered meekly and apologetically. The Clinton is a bit different, but again, I think the republicans were out for blood, and I don’t think it was fundamentally about polygamy.
    .-= Devin Finbarr´s last blog ..The Perfect Healthcare Plan (And Why It Can Never Happen) =-.

  19. T, you are some singular kind of smart. To dig this stuff requires an appreciation of emergent phenomenon like statistical mechanics or neural networks, throw in social observation, game theory and “Game”. What a mix.
    I must respect a man of science and the street.

    No beefs at all. The premises are, to me, well worn and familiar. But a new and radical conclusion through application of logic. A real 10.

    That should be enough laud.

  20. This change may be a result of democracy, but it was not the result of empowering the low status man, but rather the result of feminist politics.

    This is something I am going to get into my next installment, but you’ve started to stumble upon my next point in part 4: Yes many of the things you mention are more directly a result of feminism. But what paved the way for feminism? The empowerment of the low status man. The same way a low status male is more eager to supplicate and give in to a woman than an uberpowerful alpha is, on a macro level a society with empowered low status men is increasingly eager to supplicate and give in to women as a group than a society run solely by uberpowerful alphas.

    The societies run by uberpowerful alphas with their harems is a lot less likely to entertain feminism than a society where lower status men have a strong political say in what happens.

  21. Joey Giraud, I’ve really been enjoying your feedback on the site lately. And not just because it’s positive either!

  22. I’ll be mulling these ideas over a bit more. Here are some angles that would be interesting:

    1. How does this fit in with the Stanford prison experiment? There’s a parallel, in that some of the prison guards quickly let the power get to their heads and were very aggressive. I wonder how a similar experiment would have gone that explored sexuality? This experiment was all about roles being artificially thrust upon people by the experimenters, and how those people’s behaviour adjusted to fit their role.

    2. How does this fit in with Maslow’s heirarchy of needs? For a monogomous society to exist, I’d argue that you need the physiological needs of the society to be met, and almost certainly you’d need the security needs to be met. Now that I think about it, you can sum this up in saying you need an effective government for rule of law to exist (and therefore monogamy). It may be that if you go into a large ghetto community of a city, where there is high crime and poverty, then polygamy would be more prevalent. You’d get gang leaders and other alpha males popping up, taking a larger share of women.

    This idea of opportunistic polygamy is good, and I think we’re mostly on the same page. It might be more useful to model this from the drivers of human behaviour – ie. meeting human needs (maslow’s heirarchy).

    A man wants to fulfil his sexual drive which would lead to as much polygamy as he can achieve, but a man also wants to exist in the social structure and lead or get along with others, which could mean monogamy, depending on the society. A man also wants to fulfil religious and ethical obligations he’s been taught, which our society says should lead to monogamy. A man may also have innate morality (derived primarily from empathy and social survival?) – not sure whether this would lead to polygamy or monogamy.

    Women have slightly different drives, more for security. This is all evolutionary psychology 101 so I’ll stop on this train of thought.

    Responses to wreaver:
    “Nope. I mentioned moral instincts because I was trying to point out that it is not laws or a state/government that is stopping (most) humans from doing all the horrible things. There’s other things preventing it. And human moral instincts are one of those “other things”.”

    I don’t entirely agree with this, and here’s why. It can be summed up in the idea that absolute power brings absolute corruption. Thought experiment: if a person, Joe Blogs, was suddenly bestowed with incredible power, immortality, basically a walking god who had no fear of any authority, how would that change his actions? He now has the power to just kill anyone he wants with no fear of reprisal, to seduce any woman he wants with no risk or danger. He would start acting like an alpha male, basically. So, go back to a normal person – what’s stopping him acting like this?
    Firstly, the law (government) will punish him for lots of things. If you take this away and say he lives in an anarchic society, there are still things holding him back.
    Second, he fears that other members of society will punish him – even without a government, there’s an unwritten law of what’s acceptible to social norms. This can vary wildly – see Lord of the Flies. Now say that he doesn’t fear any reprisals from the people around him.
    Thirdly, then, is his own internal morality. You could break this down into instinctive and learned morality if you want. This will be different for different people, and is really a test of character. You have wealthy philanthropists who have great power and use it for great kindness, and you’ve got sociopaths who have a messed up internal morality and do whatever. But to the walking god Joe Blogs, this is the only layer that is stopping him doing whatever he wants to.
    I’ll restate the point in anothe way: when you dig into it, the fear of reprisal from the government or people around us is a massive deterrent that largely dictates how we act. If you took these away by giving a person the powers of god, most people would have very weak internal morality (read: integrity of character). You can look at young rock stars who go off the rails as an example. Power brings corruption for this very reason – it removes the checks and balances of the fear of reprisal.
    You can tie this to maslow’s heirarchy of needs – a person needs security, food, shelter, etc. and this is best achieved by getting along with those around us and staying good in the eyes of the law. If suddenly you had zero need for any of these things in society, (say you were immortal) you wouldn’t care about it.
    Of course, another need that Maslow identifies is social need, the need for esteem and relationships. Very valid, and the same argument applies for this need as for food and shelter. Maybe internal morality derives more strongly from this need, because even if Joe Blogs the god didn’t care about shelter or food anymore, he’d still care about his relationships with people. Take away that need (eg. make him a reclusive sociopath) and you take away that restraint on his behaviour. I’m thinking onto the page here – is it valid to reduce morality to derivation of a set of deep needs to be met?

    Another response to Wreaver:
    “Not all laws, taboos, and superstitions come about to protect people from some danger.”

    All laws have a reason for being made. Sure, some could be the crazy whim of a leader, and some might only serve to line the pockets of the law makers. But I still think that the law against incest arose as a practical matter a very long time ago, because of the problems with in breeding. I wonder how other mammals behave – are they instinctively unattracted sexually to their siblings and close family? They probably are, because all the ones that weren’t would have died off from their deformities – simple natural selection would have ensured that those with the best breeding strategy survive the best. I wonder how instinctive this is in humans, or if it’s largely a learned attitude. Now that I think of it, it’s almost certainly an instinctive behaviour – same reason as the other mammals. So I’d say that’s the driver for the social rejection of incest (and instictive abhorrence), and that the whole reason for that instinct is the possibility of birth defects. Decorate this with a liberal coat of religious ideals.

    A very thought provoking presentation, Ricky Raw, that has really brought together a bunch of aspects for me about how evolutionary psychology fits into our social structure. Nice one.

  23. @T said,

    If I had to give one name to this blend of polygamy and monogamy that we are hardwired with, which I think leans more in the polygamy direction, I would call it “opportunistic polygamy.” Many people see the benefits of monogamy and will practice it to different degrees but both men and women exercise polygamy for different reasons and in different ways when opportunities arise and they think the rewards are worth the risks.

    I don’t think the adaptations for polygamy and monogamy is (genetically) homogeneous across every individual.

    For example, consider people of the Broader Autistic Phenotype (BAP). (Often called “Aspies”, even though that technically isn’t correct.) These type of people “perform” better (from a genetics point of view) in a monogamous environment than a polygamous environment. And, even though they have mental wiring for both monogamy and polygamy, they are more adapted to the former.

    @Devin Finbarr said,

    Very thought provoking piece, but I don’t think I buy the part about democracy. The history does not match up.

    Yeah, I wasn’t convinced about the role of democracy either. But that’s a much “larger” of a conversation than I have time to get into today.

    I’m waiting to see the next installment to see where T goes with it.

    @Monkeytree said,

    All laws have a reason for being made. Sure, some could be the crazy whim of a leader, and some might only serve to line the pockets of the law makers. But I still think that the law against incest arose as a practical matter a very long time ago, because of the problems with in breeding. I wonder how other mammals behave – are they instinctively unattracted sexually to their siblings and close family? They probably are, because all the ones that weren’t would have died off from their deformities – simple natural selection would have ensured that those with the best breeding strategy survive the best. I wonder how instinctive this is in humans, or if it’s largely a learned attitude. Now that I think of it, it’s almost certainly an instinctive behaviour – same reason as the other mammals. So I’d say that’s the driver for the social rejection of incest (and instictive abhorrence), and that the whole reason for that instinct is the possibility of birth defects.

    You’ve basically answered this yourself 🙂

    The instinct against inbreeding developed because there was (at least at one time) a genetic advantage for it. The instinct causes purity/sanctity reaction. The purity/sanctity reaction caused the law.

    Whether it is “useful” to someone or not is another issue.

    Something kind of similar, consider this…

    Julie and Mark are brother and sister –travelling together in a foreign country – decide to make love – she’s on the pill – he uses a condom – they both enjoy the sex – they decide not to do it again – they keep it secret- they feel closer to each other.

    Is what they did wrong? Don’t answer it to me though. But answer it to yourself. What kind of “feeling” did you have about it?

    @Monkeytree said,

    I don’t entirely agree with this, and here’s why.
    […]
    I’ll restate the point in anothe way: when you dig into it, the fear of reprisal from the government or people around us is a massive deterrent that largely dictates how we act.

    I do agree that the fear of reprisal is part of what can keep people from doing horrible things. But reprisal does not have to come from a state/government.

    (My main point here is a state/government is not necessary for morality and is not necessary for monogamy.)

    But what drives people to desire reprisal?… I claim that in some cases it is instincts that drives this desire.

  24. Maybe one could mention that while Judeo-Christian traditions advocate monogamy, the Torah/Old Testament has many of it’s prophets, heros and kings have several wifes (King Salomon is supposed to have had 700 hundred wives and 300 hundred concubines). And while he is criticized for those enormous numbers, the mere idea of having several wifes isn’t actually condemned in the Bible at all.

    Otherwise, great post. Keep up the good work.

  25. I don’t think genetics are the source of incest taboos. The increase in birth defect rates for one-generation of brother-sister offspring is actually not that much. There’s a strong argument in mainstream evolutionary science that genetic advantage is an individual affair, not a social one, and it takes a pattern of incest ( think the Hapsberg dynasty ) for genetic inbreeding problems to manifest.

    Contrary to the assertion that moral laws and taboos must be neccesary, we often forbid things we already have a disinclination to do. For extra factors I would guess the social structure of inheritance of property; incestuous reproduction would be property ‘selfish.’

    Just a guess.

  26. @Joey Giraud said,

    There’s a strong argument in mainstream evolutionary science that genetic advantage is an individual affair, not a social one

    Group selection does seem to happen though, even though an individual could be worse off for it.

    Consider this example…. You have a population competing for some resource. The “weak” then leave the area and settle somewhere else. That division in the population was not random, and thus you have group selection.

    The individuals who left are worse off for the group selection (because of “weak” breeding with “weak” and producing “weak” offspring), but it still happened.

    There was an interesting discussion on BloggingHeads.tv about it…
    http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/24339

    I do agree that the appearance of altruism in nature is usually underlain by selfish motives. And agree that group selection seems like it often tends to make individuals worse off. But group selection still seems to happen.
    .-= wreaver´s last blog ..General Intelligence Located In The Brain =-.

  27. Maybe 80 percent of women reproduced, whereas only 40 percent of men did.

    Does anybody have a reference to the original study (not just the Baumeister talk)? It keeps popping up, but i have yet to find where he’s got that number from.
    .-= 11minutes´s last blog ..Shaming Men =-.

  28. BTW, since we are on the topic of monogamy…. A species of monogamous amphibians has been found…

    Yes There Are Monogamous Amphibians
    http://martialculture.com/blog/2010/02/yes-there-are-monogamous-amphibians/

    This is important because most amphibians aren’t monogamous. (In particular, before people became aware of the mating habits of this species of frog — ranitomeya imitator, a type of poisonous Peruvian frog — no amphibians were believed to be monogamous.)

  29. A species of monogamous amphibians has been found…

    Are they genetically monogamous or socially monogamous?
    Most monogamous species have high rates of extra pair coupling.

  30. @11minutes said,

    Are they genetically monogamous or socially monogamous?
    Most monogamous species have high rates of extra pair coupling.

    Here’s one relevant excerpt from the article…

    To see if cooperative parenting translated to monogamy in R. imitator, the researchers compared DNA from the toes of the parent frogs and the tails of their tadpoles. They found that 11 out of the 12 seemingly monogamous couples they monitored over the mating season had been sexually faithful, making R. variabilis the first known monogamous amphibian. Whether there is an evolutionary progression from cooperative parenting to strict monogamy is still “a missing piece,” Summers says.

    So it looks like genetically (for the most part).

  31. “While common man is competitive, greedy and ambitious — unlike Huxley’s worker-bee — this is only a small anomaly. Common man, as so many brilliant and stupid authors have noted, is simply a domesticated primate. And the zoo runs quite well, most of the time, until any of the many zero hours is reached — at which time pandemonium breaks loose.
    While common man is domesticated, seething within him are all the necessary components of destruction which allow him to be controlled and, at the same time, allow him to be self-destructive. In this way, common man has the potential to act as if he were a sower of discord and disobedience, but this remains well under control — except during certain times of the year and in certain places.
    Other than pathological individuals, common man is nicely controlled by bouts of depression, temper tantrums, guilt, sorrow, terror and fear. The result of all these emotions: common man is nullified — which allows for his ability to perform the rather pathetic and puny tasks to which he and others have given significance.

    Common man, however, always believes that which never was a reality. This ability comes from a strong imagination and the inability to distinguish the existential condition of his life from his hopes, wishes and dreams. In this sense, common man [M.C.A.M – TC] lives in limbo. He can neither climb the mountain, nor descend to Hell.” — C.S. Hyatt

  32. How does eve. psych. explain the pregnant young women suicide bomber?

  33. This was a great article. I had to laugh at the part where you said that he was the type of man that didn’t spend 45 minutes pushing and yelling at a guy before throwing a punch. I do exactly what he does. No pushing and shoving, no long exchange of words, just a punch in the dome.
    .-= Assanova´s last blog ..She Might Like Me Syndrome =-.

  34. What a lame article! Advocating monogamy here really means one thing: pussy socialism. “I can’t get a hawt women because I don’t have the qualifications therefore every guy should be restricted to one woman so the pussy can be evenly spread around.” Yeah right! There’s plenty of fuglies who are not part of any Alpha’s harem who’ll quite happily settle down with a Beta loser however he wants the beautiful Alpha women during their prime years.

  35. (My main point here is a state/government is not necessary for morality and is not necessary for monogamy.)

    I would say it’s not exclusively responsible for morality and monogamy but it plays a major role. But there are also collective social norms and public shaming. For example imagine Tiger Woods if the general public and media took his side and celebrated his cheating. The collective public opinion and the social norms public opinion enforces I believe are up there with the power of the State in modern, industrialized democracies. In despotic and fascist societies, they are much weaker and play less of a role, partly because the press is not free and the man on the street is afraid to speak his mind.

    I think one of the problems you have with what I’m saying is that whenever I focus on one cause of a condition, you assume I think that must therefore be the ONLY cause and I’m excluding other contributing causes altogether. My blog articles run long enough as it is, I have to generalize at times. If I took the time to explictly fill in every blank my pieces would be even more unbearably long. I have faith in my audience to figure these things out and therefore don’t always exhaustively list such things.

  36. Good post and discussion. Just a side note: Most suicide bombers have been secular* and religion is usually used as recruiting tool for the organizations, the aim of suicide bombing campaigns mostly being to drive foreign occupiers out of a perceived homeland.

    Check out this excellent book for more info:

    http://www.amazon.com/Dying-Win-Strategic-Suicide-Terrorism/dp/0812973380/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1267502387&sr=8-1

    *The Tamil Tigers are #1 when it comes to suicide bombers, there have also been Sikh suicide bombers in the Punjab as well.

  37. Monkeytree –

    I have to disagree slightly with one of your premises, although I’ll admit my disagreement might strengthen rather than weaken your overall point. The idea that power corrupts is a common theme, but I suspect it’s a faulty one.

    Corruption implies that something has become debased, has been fundamentally changed for the worse. When a human being is given power, it rarely changes who and what they fundamentally are. Instead, what it does is remove the constraints society and government have placed on them. Without those restraints, the human in question becomes more like themselves, and less like what society wants them to be.

    Hence, power doesn’t corrupt. Power amplifies what is already there.

    I would posit that support for the ‘power corrupts’ concept comes primarily as a cop-out. If ‘power corrupts’, then a human being given power who does socially unacceptable things isn’t responsible, the power is. If power amplifies, a person given power who starts acting up really wanted to all along, and was only stopping because they couldn’t get away with it.

    Again, that supports your overall point, but as I said, it’s the phrasing of your premise I disagreed with, not your conclusion.

  38. Prostitution was much more acceptable in past societies so that would have offered an outlet for the unmarried men.

    Judaism was a religion that allowed polygamy. Modern Western Jews don’t particpate for cultural reasons, they like fitting in to the West. Christianity and the Greek and Roman religions were monogamous but not “Judeo Christianity.” Haredi Jews in Israel practice it and the Talmud deals with Harem managment.

    An awareness of this is possibly why the Koran allows only four wives total for men? Harems were an abberration fo Sultans and caliphs and not particularly popular with pious Imams.

    I read a book a while back about families in the tribal areas of NW Pakistan. A wealthy man took four wives (each successively younger than her predicessor.) The common people looked down on this and complained that even though the Koran allowes this, he was being greedy. He required armed body guards though he was often quite generous finanically towards his very poor neighbors.

    In Iran, the most democratic Islamic state(Turkey has a secular govt), polygamy is not widely socially accepted.