In their natural environment, humans do not get married. Men hunt, women gather, and occasionally they pair off for as long as it takes to produce and raise an infant to the point where it can fend for itself, and so it ends. Lifelong pair bonds do exist between wild – i.e., hunter-gatherer – homo sapiens but they are the exception. In the tribal environment, serial monogamy interspersed with infidelity and casual sex are the norm.
One day, along came civilization and with it, monogamy. Men and women paired off young, and remained so entwined for life. Through this and a variety of other norms and institutions that increased the productivity of individual men and the trust shared between them, the western world rose up to conquer the world, and build the greatest, wealthiest, most knowledgeable empire the world has ever known. Hurrah.
Recently, and quite acutely in the past century, this once-great civilization has been gasping its dying breaths. In the past decade, it has been seizing violently in its gurney, and no amount of defibrillation by Conservatives such as Larry Auster will force it to breathe on its own. We are going down, if I may mix a metaphor, with all hands on deck. The Ages of European and Anglo-American primacy are over.
A common mistake of many sexual politics writers is that they fail to see the links between the collapse of traditional families, and multiple other symptoms of rot and decay in our society. The hypergamous hell of the modern mating market, the sclerosis of productive industry, the corruption of our political and corporate elites, the financial bankruptcy of our governments and households, the dearth of meaningful art and culture, the breakdown of law and order on our streets, and the widespread depression and malaise taking hold in our hearts – these are all part of one phenomenon: The collapse of the American Empire, and with it, the last remaining rampart of western civilization.
Sometimes this depresses me. That doesn’t mean I won’t profit from it, both financially, and by taking advantage of the wealth of sexual opportunities available to me. But I enjoy it as a man enjoys the warmth from a fire fueled by the rubble of his old shelter – comfortable for now, but a bit worried about the future.
So what’s the self-interested modern man to do? I say: Don’t get married. If you want to be a father, do so in a way that limits your risk as much as possible. And make sure to preface your time as a family man with a healthy dose of the playboy lifestyle. For kicks, sure, but also to educate yourself on the nature of the game and the peculiar psychology of the female human species.
As young men in the 21st century, I think this is the best we can do, with what we have, where we are. C’est la vie.
But unlike the Baby Boomers, perhaps we should aspire to leave the world in better shape than we found it. The generations before ours rebelled against their parents by chipping away at the foundations of their civilization. We can rebel against ours by rebuilding them.
So in a rare deviation from the Freedom Twenty-Five wheelhouse of self-interested living, let’s ask a few questions about the future of monogamy and marriage in the post-western world.
Paleoconservatives will probably suggest that a return to monogamy would be best achieved by a resurgence in church attendance and religiosity among the young. I see no reason why this will ever be the case. I am not a religious man, and I hope my god-fearing readers will attempt to see this issue from my perspective: To a man who has not been raised to believe by his family, schools and culture, Christianity is as obvious of a myth as Islam, Norse Pantheism and the flying spaghetti monster. As much as I despise outspoken atheists, and as much common cause I will find with Traditional Christians, I highly doubt that I will ever believe. And if you can’t convince me – as church-friendly of an atheist as you’ll ever find, and a man who read Peter Hitchens’ excellent The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me To Faith, and is currently reading C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity in an effort to tempt himself into belief – you have zero chance of converting anyone else my age.
God is dead, I’m sorry to say. For real this time. The rationale for State-enforced monogamy of ‘because God said so’ is out.
It’s just as well though.
The problem of resolving chaos in the sexual marketplace is better addressed by appealing to the power of spontaneous order, rather than top-down authority. My proposal for a stable, just and desirable solution to the sexual marketplace is thus: Absolute freedom of contract between the sexes in matters of sex and marriage.
That is my entire plan, in just one sentence. Give people the freedom to contract freely, and let the problem solve itself. The same idea has also been proposed by Jehu, but I will take the liberty of expanding on some of its implications.
First of all, I’ll point out that this is in fact an incredibly permissive proposal. If ten sodomites wish to lay together, they may lay. If an all-girls dorm wants to film a pillow fight gone wonderfully awry, that is their prerogative. Freedom of contract in matters sexual does not preclude the existence of pick-up artists, sluts, queers, and men who wish to marry their anime-themed body pillows.
As such, I would expect a stable nation with sexual freedom of contract to contain some of the most rocking party spots known to mankind. Anything goes, baby, yeah!
But freedom of contract would also permit the existence of extremely traditional, monogamous communities. And in them, marriage contracts with no provision for divorce, a binding obligation on the woman to obey the man, strict penalties for infidelity, and so on, will be just the tip of the iceberg.
The nifty thing about contracts is that they can enforce not only future, but past behaviour as well. So for example, Johnny Jesus can require that Rosie Reformed sign a traditional marriage contract that not only stipulates her future commitment, but also that she has not spent the past five years getting filled out like an application form in one of the aforementioned rockin’ party communities. Of course, the contract will be voided, with pre-set penalties, if Rosie is later found to have misled Johnny about her past. I would expect that traditional marriage-minded folks would include in their marriage contracts a standard full disclosure of past relationships.
Does this idea make you uncomfortable? If you’re new to this blog, it probably does. But let me ask you: Why? If Rosie desperately values her privacy, and refuses to disclose her past, then all she has to do is find a man who will marry her under those terms. Surely there are men – Old Sully for example, who spent the past twenty years collecting STDs in Thai whorehouses – who will share her perspective on the sanctity of ‘letting the past be the past.’
The natural equilibrium of this kind of legal environment is that people will self-segregate according to the type of relationships they desire. Some men and women will want to sleep with one person their entire life, and expect the same of their partners. Others will spend all of their days in the wild revelry of the future’s equivalent of Sodom and Gomorrah. Most (I suspect) will find a middle ground in which pre-marital sex happens, but quite a bit less often than it does today, as it will come at the cost of raising the eyebrows of future potential marriage partners.
Perhaps the 18 year old version of myself would regret the loss of opportunities for casual sex that freedom of sexual contract would entail. Looking back on my conquests, many if not most would have declined my advances if they knew they would have to declare the gory details before taking their wedding vows. At twenty-six, I’m starting to think the greater ease of finding a marriageable woman would be worth the trade-off.
I’ve made one pretty big assumption in the above model for sexual freedom of contract: That people will be unable to simply lie about their past indiscretions, and future infidelities. Contemporary marriage contracts may not contain enumerated penalties for cheating, but informal penalties still exist. The result is that cheaters hide their actions, and usually succeed.
One solution to the problem of deception is to stipulate penalties for it. I.e., if Suzie is later found guilty of not counting that gang-bang because she was on vacation, or dividing her one-night stand count in half because she usually used condoms, it will void the contract and entail financial (or greater) consequences for her. A week in the stocks, perhaps, so Suzie may learn the value of her word. Such penalties will discourage all but the most carefully-considered omissions, I think.
But I think an even more precise technological means of enforcing honesty will present itself in the coming decades.
I take it as a given that, barring some horrible circumstance that sends us back into caves, huddling over fires, human beings in the mid-21st century will carry with them a variety of technological toys and gadgets, seamlessly integrated into their flesh. That will be $4.99, please swipe the chip in your palm, sir. Getting a cold? Don’t worry, nanotechnological artificial antibodies in your blood will clear it up. What’s his address again? Hold on, let me access my brain’s 100 Terabyte bulk storage module. Hey, it would all be just a bit stranger to us than the iPhone would be to a kid in the 1970’s.
One potential application for such technological enhancements would the monitoring of an individual’s sexual behaviour. This sounds incredibly creepy to us, right now in 2011. But look around you. People are already sharing as much personal information as they possibly can via social networking sites. Many traditional societies throughout the ages have gone to great lengths to verify and ensure the virginity of young females, the most barbaric example being the practice of female circumcision. It has even been hypothesized that the hymen evolved as a means of giving primal women a means of demonstrating their virginity to mates. The demand is there, the technology is close, and once it is, our social norms venerating privacy and secrecy will be the only obstacle to its implementation.
Of course, no one would be forced to provide a nanotechnology-verified full disclosure of their sexual history. They would just be given the option to voluntarily offer such information. Prospective mates however, would be given the voluntary option of walking out on potential husbands and wives who refused to provide it, and I suspect many would take it. In a signalling game such as this, the Nash equilibrium is for universal full disclosure.
And once the marriage was a done deal, I believe the vast majority of pairings would agree to technologically-enforced monogamy. You kiss, the nanites tell. In a society where such a practice was the norm, would you want to marry a man or woman who refused to enable automatic reporting of infidelity, because they felt it violated their privacy, violated the sanctity of trust that is the foundation of a healthy marriage, and so on? Not likely.
In fact, I think the practice of technologically-verified fidelity would create relationships that are incredibly close and stable by modern standards. The great majority of relationships that I’ve seen destroyed, in my life and in those of my friends, have died as a result of a lack of trust. Technologically-verified fidelity (and honesty about each other’s past) eliminates mistrust as a cause of friction in relationships. For people who just want to live simple, happy lives, it will be a great gift.
(I’m not sure if Pro-Male Anti-Feminist Tech has ever riffed on this idea before, as I only subscribed recently. I hope he shares any thoughts he may have.)
Now remember: All of these conclusions flow from one simple phrase: Absolute freedom of sexual contract. Let men and women make whatever choices they make, and agree to whatever terms they desire. That’s all I’m proposing. If you disagree, please explain which sorts of sexual contracts you would forbid, and why. If Polly Prude wants to assuage Billy Beta that she is in fact pure as snow, and he wants to do the same for her – on what grounds would you forbid them? Or, if you agree with the moral foundation of this plan, but disagree with regard to the likely outcome, please explain why. It’s all speculation at this point.
Now, does this plan have any realistic chance of being implemented in the near future? Absolutely not. Again, the breakdown of traditional sexual norms is just one symptom of the larger rot affecting our entire society. This is a problem that will not be solved anytime soon. But perhaps it will eventually, in which case, we might as well have a plan.