The Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Facts of Life (and Death)

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

– Rudyard Kipling, “The Gods of the Copybook Headings”, (1919)

On June 24th, 2011 the legislative assembly of the State of New York voted to allow so-called “same-sex marriages”. This decision that will come into effect later this month. Once again we are reminded that we live in a post-Sexual Revolution world.

Progressives are predictably and boringly proclaiming this to be the latest victory in the cause of liberty, tolerance, and human rights. In reality it is the latest triumph of ideological blindness over reality.

The ideas of classical liberalism are notoriously out of touch with the real world. Individuals are not prior to societies but are born into families which are the simplest, most basic, form of society, from which more complex societies are built. Societies are not fundamentally voluntary-contractual nor is it desirable that they be reorganized on a voluntary-contractual basis. The most important relationships in any society are relationships of blood, love, and friendship, none of which are contractual and the most important activities and events in the life of a society occur not in the marketplace or the halls of government, but in the home. The purpose of government is not solely or even primarily to protect the “natural rights” of the individual. Indeed, the entire concept of universal natural rights that are not prescriptive, i.e., rooted in the customs of a particular society, is philosophical nonsense unless one makes the claim that God is the source of those rights, yet the theory of natural rights is most loudly asserted by deists, agnostics, atheists, religious apostates, and others who support the complete secularization of society. Democratically elected governments are not more conducive to justice and personal liberty than dynastical monarchies –the exact opposite is far closer to the truth.

As wrong-headed as the founders of liberalism were, none of them believed that the practical unfolding of their ideas would mean that democratic-bureaucratic governments would have to fundamentally redefine a basic social institution like “marriage” so that homosexuals could be considered “equal” with heterosexuals. Most of them would probably be very shocked to hear that such a decision was being hailed as a triumph of their ideas. John Stuart Mill, if he had been able to peer into the future and see this day, would undoubtedly have jumped up and down in anger, pulled out his hair, and burned his manuscripts rather than publish them.

How then did we arrive at where we are today?

In the early 20th Century intellectuals from various fields attacked traditional Western sexual morality. The father of psychoanalysis, Dr. Sigmund Freud, argued that neuroses are caused by too severe repression of basic instinctual drives such as the sexual libido, on the part of the individual super-ego shaped by parental authority and the cultural super-ego’s ethical system. (1) Dr. Margaret Mead, one of the first cultural anthropologists, in her first book Coming of Age in Samoa, claimed to have found a culture in which virtually complete sexual tolerance and freedom led to an easy adolescent transition to well-adjusted adulthood and a peaceful, non-violent society.(2)

In the second half of the 20th Century, the Sexual Revolution took place. The intellectual leaders of the revolution, were men like Herbert Marcuse, the author of Eros and Civilization. (3) Marcuse, an intellectual of the neo-Marxist Frankfurt School, took Freud’s theories and added a Marxist dimension of class conflict to them (sexual repression was a tool of the oppressors to keep the working class in subjection).

The Sexual Revolution demanded “liberation” from the “oppressive” sexual morality of the past (Christian sexual ethics). Sex, the argument went, was there to be enjoyed, if you don’t like it don’t do it, but don’t try to tell others what to do because it is none of your business, it is a completely private, personal matter.

That refrain is still being sung today.

A Caricature of the Past

For most of the people who joined the sexual liberation movement it was not about psychology or class struggle, however, but about “having fun”. Sex was fun, and traditional rules unnecessarily got in the way of that fun.

Thus, to the young people looking for “free love” in the 1960’s – and the decades after – the Roman Catholic Church, the Puritans, the Victorians, and everyone else associated with traditional, middle-class, sexual morality were all party-poopers, whose sole purpose and enjoyment in life, was preventing other people from having fun.

The sexual revolutionaries seldom took the time to examine what traditional sexual morality actually said or what the reasoning behind it was. Even today, one still hears the traditional Christian view of sex summed up by its opponents as “sex is sinful”, or, if the sexual libertarian is somewhat more informed “sex is a necessary evil, justifiable only for procreation, the enjoyment of it is sinful”.

No orthodox Christian Church ever taught any such rot.

That is, however, how one would expect the Christian doctrine to look to someone who has embraced the dangerous view of sex which traditional morality warns against. That is the view that sex is primarily, or solely, a matter of personal enjoyment, and that its procreative aspects are at best secondary.

To deliberately separate procreation from sex and to make the latter the servant of one’s personal enjoyment, orthodox Christianity teaches, is to embrace death over life.

That orthodox Christianity is right about this is empirically verifiable.

Birds and Bees 101

What is sex?

The word “sex” is often used in reference to the physical expression of erotic love. In this usage “sex” is shorthand for “sexual intercourse”. It is more proper to speak of sex as a characteristic or trait of a species of living beings. Some species are sexual, others are not. A sexual species is divided into two sexes, male and female, which produce distinct gametes (sex cells) which unite to produce a new member of the species. In some species this takes place outside the body. In other species it occurs within the body of one of the sexes. In human beings it occurs inside the body of the female.

Sexual intercourse is the way this takes place. Like many other species, the human sexes are equipped with complementary genitals. Two things are complements of each other when they form a whole when brought together. Male and female genitals are functional complements. The human male has an external, tube shaped, sex organ, the penis, which is connected to the testicles which produce the male gamete. The corresponding organ in the human female is an internal cavity in which the penis is placed. The cavity is called the vagina – which is the Latin word for “sheath” if the way the two organs are complementary to each other is still unclear to anyone.

Human sexual intercourse occurs when a man places his penis inside a woman’s vagina. When the two sex organs rub against each other it produces sexual pleasure, which causes the male to ejaculate sperm into the vagina, which then swim into the uterus and up the Fallopian tubes in search of an egg. If the timing is right – for the ovaries release eggs according to a set cycle, not whenever coitus leads to an orgasm – the sperm will fertilize an egg, and the combined gametes will becomes a zygote, then an embryo, which will attach itself to the uterus and develop into a foetus.

I have given you this refresher in basic reproductive biology because there are two obvious conclusions which must be drawn from all of this which the dominant political ideology of the day forbids us to draw.

The first, is that the reason human beings are sexual, and thus capable of entering into and enjoying sexual intercourse, is not the personal sensual gratification of individuals, but the reproduction of the species.

The second, is that while the pleasure of sexual intercourse can be simulated by placing the penis in some other orifice not intended for that purpose or by sticking something other than a penis in a vagina, these activities are not sexual intercourse (for that expression requires the bringing together of male and female to possess any meaning) and are not equal to sexual intercourse, but are rather inferior imitations of it.

An Important Distinction


I said that the purpose of sex (the distinction between male and female) and sexual intercourse is reproduction and not the personal sensual gratification of individuals. This is not the same thing as saying that it is wrong to enjoy sex (the aforementioned way in which the traditional position is caricatured by sexual libertarians).
It does, however, say a tremendous amount about contemporary thinking on sex.

If our being sexual beings who possess the capacity for sexual intercourse is for the purpose of the reproduction of our species and not for our personal gratification then it is obviously wrong to say “sex is a private matter and none of your business”. The exact opposite, as a matter of fact, is the case.

If our sexuality exists to serve the reproductive needs of our species – and it does – then the say of the species, society, and family are all more important than that of the individual when it comes to sex. For their survival depends upon sex – the survival of the individual does not. The individual person sustains his existence through a separate process of cell division and replacement that occurs entirely within his own body. The family, however, survives through sexually reproducing a new generation, and the same is true of all higher forms of social organization, and ultimately of the human species itself.

This is why parents put pressure on their grown children to marry and produce grandchildren. The survival of the family is at stake. We would see this more clearly if we had not, unfortunately, reduced the concept of the family to its nuclear minimum.

The sexual revolution took place alongside the development of efficient contraceptives. It would be a pointless “chicken-and-egg” argument to debate which produced which as the two occurrences mutually influenced each other. In developing contraception mankind used technology to artificially make sexual intercourse into what the sexual libertarians wanted it to be – something which is all about personal gratification, or “having fun”. The development of contraception was at best a highly morally questionable use of technology. At worst is was a purely evil pact with death on the part of our societies.

When Eros = Thanatos

Everything seems to have happened at once. The development of effective contraception, the sexual liberation movement demanding that traditional, middle-class, Western, sexual morality be replaced with something closer to “free love”, the feminist attack on motherhood, and the general attack on fatherhood. All of these things were inseparable from one another.

They all took place immediately after the spike in Western fertility that occurred after World War II. The “Baby Boom” began in the late 1940’s, a year or two after Germany and Japan were defeated, and extended into the middle of the 1960’s. The exact years vary from country to country. The explanation for the rise in fertility is fairly straightforward. Great Britain, Canada, the United States, and the other Western countries needed to replenish their populations after the global conflict had severely depleted them.

The Baby Boom ended, however, in the midst of the sexual revolution. Fertility rates dropped in Western countries – generally to below population replacement level – and have for the most part remained low ever since.

The populations of Western societies are aging rapidly and the ruling classes of those societies, instead of promoting natalism to encourage reproduction, have opted to replace their people with immigrants instead.

Western societies, in other words, are dying.

Traditional Christian morality is vindicated. To deliberately eliminate procreation from sex and lower it to the level of personal gratification, is to turn your back on life and embrace a culture of death.

Matters have only gotten worse since the 1960s. The invention of effective contraception was followed by the demand for legal abortion, and where legislatures were slow to act, that demand was met by courts of law. Now we have the demand that societies grant acceptance, recognition, and status to same-sex couples equal to that given to couples consisting of a potential father and mother with those making the demand inanely insisting that it would be “unjust” to deny this to same-sex couples because it is their “right”.

Our societies are dying, and the same progressive nincompoops who have insisted against observable and obvious fact, that society should have no say in sex, the means by which a society sustains its existence, are demanding that our societies treat as “equal” to procreative, heterosexual, marriage, a sterile imitation of such, which drastically lowers the average life expectation of those who engage in it (a fact ignored by the progressive health freaks who have crusaded to drive tobacco smoking from every public building and in some cases the outdoors).

What about Overpopulation?

At this point someone is likely to bring up the question of overpopulation.

Is it not irresponsible to condemn contraception and non-procreative sex when there is a risk of exceeding the carrying capacity of our ecosystem thus condemning large numbers of people to the sickness, war, and starvation that overpopulation brings on?

It is tempting to easily dismiss this concern as nonsensical scaremongering. In his 1968 book The Population Bomb, (4) Paul R. Ehrlich predicted that all sorts of disasters would occur in the next two decades as a result of overpopulation, and the prediction turned out to be about as accurate as those made by Harold Camping. We should, however, resist this temptation. Deplorable as Ehrlich’s irresponsible, eco-fearmongering was, the fundamental concept of ecological limits is sound. Human beings are not infinite beings and we do not live in an infinite world. We are limited beings living in a limited world.

Traditional Christian sexual ethics, however, will not produce overpopulation. Far better than any artificial, state program of population control drawn up by soulless bureaucrats, traditional ethics guides people between the Scylla of overpopulation and the Charybdis of underpopulation. Christian moral restraint was, in fact, the solution proposed by the Rev. Thomas Robert Malthus, the Anglican priest whose 1798 Essay on the Principle of Population written in response to the progressive optimism of William Godwin predicted an overpopulation crisis. (5) As is the case with Ehrlich a century and a half later, Malthus’ forecast of famine, disease, and war brought on by overpopulation had failed to materialize. This is because his calculations were based upon extrapolations from the then current rate of population growth and rate of growth in agricultural production which failed to take into account advancements in agricultural production which Malthus had not foreseen. Malthus’ basic theory, however, that once a population grows beyond the capacity of its resources to feed it, its numbers will be reduced in extremely unpleasant ways, is sound. The naïve notion that advancements in science and technology will always be able to ward off the consequences of population growth in excess of available resources involves a foolish faith in mankind’s limited abilities – especially foolish in that at science and technology “progress” the economy is transformed along with them so that what were once luxuries, become “needs”, which increases our overall consumption of resources.

This is yet one more reason why the idea that sex is an entirely “personal” matter in which society should have no say is wrong.

20th and 21st Century prophets of an apocalyptic doom by overpopulation have generally not followed Malthus in recommending moral, sexual, responsibility. Instead they have embraced the culture of death – contraception, abortion, in some cases infanticide, and euthanasia. These things, however, are no solution. They create the opposite problem – shrinking and aging populations in dying societies.

The tendency, in the 20th and 21st centuries has been to think of population size and ecology in global terms and to regard immigration as a partial solution to both the problems of societies who are not adequately reproducing themselves, such as post-Baby Boom Western societies, and the problems of societies that are poor and crowded, such as Third World countries. This is not a solution to either problem, however. When a society adopts replacing its people as a long-term alternative to reproducing them it accelerates its march towards its own death. (6) Furthermore, when a society sees emigration as the solution to crowding, that reduces the incentive to reproduce responsibly.

Dr. Garrett Hardin, who was Professor of Human Ecology at the University of California in Santa Barbara recognized that immigration was no solution and that “thinking globally” was part of the problem. He recommended that societies look upon themselves as lifeboats, with limited resources, adrift on the sea, arguing that population problems could only be solved on a local scale rather than a global one. (7)

Dr. Virginia Deane Abernethy, Professor of Psychiatry and Anthropology at Vanderbilt University, in her book Population Politics demonstrated that foreign aid and immigration add to, rather than solve the problem of overpopulation in poor countries, by refuting the Demographic Transition Model which argues that as fertility rates decrease after a society transitions to a modern standard of living. She demonstrates, to the contrary, that the historical pattern throughout the world is for fertility rates to rise with the standard of living. The experience of Western countries in the 20th Century would seem to conflict with this, but Dr. Abernethy argues that the deciding factor is optimism/pessimism about what the future holds for prospective children. The long period of below population replacement level fertility in Western countries, she attributes to pessimism in the middle classes. If this seems questionable, remember that the rising levels of consumption in recent decades have not been brought upon by an equivalent rising level of income (real wages were in fact in decline for the middle classes for much of this same period) but by easy credit and debt. (8)

Dr. Abernathy also shows, interestingly, how traditional ways of life, Western and otherwise, include cultural brakes on population growth that help prevent overpopulation. Where the Demographic Transition Model predicts lower fertility as a result of the transition to modernism, Dr. Abernethy shows that modernism, by removing such brakes, tends rather to have the opposite effect, contributing to overpopulation. (9)

Which brings us back to Rev. Malthus. Why did he argue that traditional Christian moral restraint was the best way of maintaining a balanced population level?

The basic Christian sexual ethic is that sexual intercourse is reserved for married couples. In traditional Christian societies, marriage was not something two individuals just decided to do on a whim. It was customary for a man to seek permission from his prospective bride’s father to marry her. To obtain that permission the man generally had to prove that he was capable of supporting her and their future offspring.

When it is considered sinful and shameful to have sexual intercourse outside of marriage and when marriage requires paternal consent that is ordinarily conditioned upon evidence of ability to provide it is highly unlikely that a population will grow beyond the carrying capacity of its territory. It is true that there was never a time when these rules were kept perfectly, and that individuals will always trying to find ways to get around the rules and beat the system. That is not a good argument for getting rid of the system, however. Just because it may not work perfectly does not mean it doesn’t work at all.

Christianity’s rules about keeping sexual intercourse within marriage and its support for the patriarchal family and paternal authority, work to prevent overpopulation in societies that adopt these rules. Christianity’s rules against deliberately removing the potential for reproduction in sex via contraception, abortion, or homosexuality, work to prevent underpopulation in societies that adopt these rules.

The Attack on Fathers

Wyndham Lewis wrote that “The male, the Father, is in all these revolutions, the enemy.” (10) Neo-Marxist revolutionary thinker Herbert Marcuse would seem to agree: “The primal father, as the archetype of domination, initiates the chain reaction of enslavement, rebellion, and reinforced domination which marks the history of civilization”. (11) This is as true of the Sexual Revolution as any other, and perhaps more so than of others. An attack upon traditional Christian rules regarding sexual behavior will inevitably be connected with attacks upon motherhood and fatherhood.

We have seen above how closely paternal authority and the Christian sexual ethic are connected in producing reproductive responsibility. We have seen how the abandonment of traditional Christian ethics leads to either underpopulation or overpopulation. What does the abandonment of paternal authority produce?

In North America today, the segments of our societies which have high percentages of mother-led, father-absent households tend to be characterized by multi-generational extreme poverty, dependence upon government assistance, illiteracy, violence, and crime. These are the characteristics of what we might call an “underclass” as opposed to merely a lower class. This is not to say that every family headed by a single-mother is going to exhibit these symptoms. It greatly depends upon whether this kind of situation is the exception or the norm within the community to which the family belongs. It does show, that the presence and leadership of a father is important.

Among black Americans, for example, the level of absentee fatherhood is one of the key distinctions between those living in poverty, in crime-ridden sections of the inner-city on the one hand, and the black middle class, previous generations of poor blacks, and rural blacks on the other. That this is a major contributing factor to the social problems these people face is difficult to deny, and comedian Bill Cosby and politician Barack Obama have both spoken out about it.

What does that have to do with Sex?

If it seems that absentee-fathers is a topic rather far removed from the one we started with, remember what I said about sex at the beginning. Sex is more than just the activity we call sexual intercourse – it is a basic character trait of our (and other) species. The traditional view of sex that we have been defending is not just a set of rules about copulation. Our society has traditional expectations of the members of each sex. Motherhood is part of what is expected from women, and fatherhood is part of what is expected from men. The revolution demands, in the name of the “freedom” of the sexless, generic, individual, both release from traditional moral expectations with regards to sexual behavior and release from gender role expectations for males and females alike. The revolution insisted that these things were all matters to be experimented with and tampered with and that no negative consequences to such experimenting and tampering would ever occur.

The state of New York’s recent decision is simply the latest in a set of triumphs for that revolutionary way of thinking. Progressives mock at the idea that there could be any detrimental effects upon society from pretending that an erotic relationship between a man and a man (or between a woman and a woman) is a marriage worthy of being treated as equal to a true marriage by the state and society. There is a sense in which they are partially right – this sort of thing is more a symptom than a disease, an indicator of damage that has already been done. (12)

The progressives, however, in their moment of triumph remain blind to the basic facts of reality.

Every human being is born to a mother after having been sired by a father. Human beings are not born capable of fending for themselves but require years of raising which is best done by a mother and a father in cooperation. The primary purpose of sex, both the activity and the trait, is the reproduction of the species. Since the species, society, and family depend upon sex for their continued existence whereas “individuals” do not, the species, society, and family all have a stake in sex which sis greater than that of individual persons, particularly individual persons who wish to reduce it to being an instrument for their personal sensual gratification. The use of technology and medical science to make sex purely about “having fun” is an abuse of technology that leads to death for families and societies. The natural sexual use of a penis is to place it inside a vagina and the natural sexual use of a vagina is to be penetrated by a penis. These two organs are clearly designed to function together in this way – it is their nature, and it is in this sense that we say this is natural. While the sensual effect of this can be simulated in other ways by two members of the same sex, this is not natural. It is a fallacious and dishonest counter-argument to point to examples of same-sex coitus observable among non-moral animal species because this is a completely different meaning of the word “natural”, i.e., “in nature”. Human beings are the moral animal species, meaning that we are supposed to be guided in our behavior by something higher than instinct and what other animals may or may not do, and preferably higher than the pursuit of personal pleasure. It is foolish therefore to argue that those who prefer, for whatever reason, to copulate with members of their own sex, are engaging in an activity/relationship that is equal to the natural relationship of a man and woman.

The purpose of this essay has been to show just how ridiculous, absurd, and nonsensical is the progressive claim that sex is a “private matter” that does not concern anyone other than the copulating couple themselves. What is absurd about the idea of sex as a purely “private matter” is the idea that it has no effects on or consequences for anyone other than the couple themselves. This notion is absurd, because sex and reproduction, is a matter of life or death, for the family, the society and the species, although it is not a matter of life or death for the couple themselves. Describing sex as a “private matter” can also simply mean that it is to take place in private away from the eyes of other people. It would be foolish to argue with this. Saying that the species, society, and family have a greater interest in sex than the particular couple does not, therefore, translate into the idea that the species, society, or family should have an agent in the bedroom to ensure the groups’ interests are represented.

Resurrecting the Christian sexual ethic, outside of the subculture to which modernism and liberalism have reduced the Western Church (and it needs resurrection in large areas of that subculture as well) can not be accomplished by anything short of a miracle. A widespread revival of religion may be the only practical hope our society has of returning to sanity. This cannot be accomplished by political efforts and the actions of the state.

This does not mean there are no political steps which traditionalists can take to partially alleviate the problem. Take the matter of education for example. Our opponents accuse us of wanting to commandeer the schools to try and force our moral agenda on the students. To refer to Dr. Freud again, they are projecting, for this is exactly what the progressives have done. They hide this fact in plain sight, by using terms like “rational” and “scientific” to cloak their agenda. It is, however, no secret that progressives have turned the public education system against the authority of parents and the Church, the traditional moral authorities most likely to wish to and try to instill in their children the ethics we have been defending. This is the point of what is misleadingly called “sex education” in the schools. It is also the point of the current form of public education itself in which schools are less seen as local institutions answerable to the parents of the community than as education branches of centralized, bureaucratic, states. Insisting upon the devolution of educational authority back to local communities and to parents would be an appropriate and helpful political step we can take, as alternative forms of education are not affordable to everyone who does not want their children brainwashed by the progressives and their ally the democratic/bureaucratic mass state.

With regards to laws and morality, the efforts of most social conservatives have been seriously misguided in the last three or four decades, because they have allowed their efforts to be shaped by a belief in popular democracy and in the existence of a silent “moral majority”. Popular democracy, in the sense of referring all issues to plebiscites, and insisting upon “majority rule”, is no friend of the civilized order and liberty, conservatives claim to believe in.

As with the educational system, so with public legislation, traditionalists and other social conservatives should concentrate their efforts on breaking the monopoly on power held by the central state. Abstract ethics are fairly useless apart from a social order that embodies and transmits those ethics, and a social order that embodies and transmits the ethics we want, is one in which real authority is diffused throughout society, and embodied in such traditional authority figures as fathers in the family, clergy in the Church, teachers acting in loco parentis in locally controlled local schools, elders in the community, etc. The authority of such figures has declined as the central state has become increasingly democratic and bureaucratic and in the process of becoming such has sought to concentrate all power in itself.

The diffusion of authority throughout society, in such traditional authority figures, would both strengthen the traditional social order that the democratic/bureaucratic central state of mass society seems determined to kill, and promote and safeguard real personal liberty, as opposed to the kind of “personal liberty” the sexual revolutionaries have demanded, the true character of which, Aldous Huxley warned us about decades ago. (13)

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.
- Kipling

(1) Dr. Freud had a great deal to say about sexuality. In his Drei Abhandlungen zur Sexualtheorie which was first published in 1905 and heavily revised throughout Freud’s life, his most sensationalist and controversial theories on the subject can be found. The standard English version of this work is the translation by James Strachey entitled Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality. This book would be controversial, if it came out for the first time today, for completely different reasons than when it was first published (the author would be in danger of prosecution for hate crimes over the first essay). Tempting as it is to discuss at great length Dr. Freud’s theories as to how the development of our sexual identity since early infancy shapes our behavior as adults, I refer to this book only because of its statement of the libido theory. Of greater interest is Freud’s Das Unbehagen In Der Kultur (Civilization and Its Discontents) first published, in German and in English, in 1930. By the time this book came out, late in Dr. Freud’s career, Dr. Freud had moved from the conscious/subconscious model of the mind which features strongly in his early theories to the structural model of id-ego-superego. In this model the id consists of basic natural instincts that are guided by the pleasure principle. Ego, which gradually develops, is the part of the mind which analyzes its surroundings and makes decisions based upon rational self-interest, repressing the demands of the id in accordance with the reality principle. The superego, is the moral part of the mind, which suppresses both the instinctual demands of the id and at times the rational self-interest of the ego in accordance with a set of rules regarding right and wrong behavior instilled in the mind by parents, teachers, and society in general. In Civilization and its Discontents Dr. Freud draws an “analogy between the process of civilization and the path of individual development” and asserts “that the community, too, evolves a super-ego under whose influence cultural development proceeds” (p. 88). He identifies ethics as a set of demands, the cultural super-ego has set up, concerning “the relations of human beings to one another”. (p. 89). Dr. Freud criticizes the super-ego, both individual and cultural, for being too severe in its demands, producing a revolt in the form of neurosis. Interestingly, the command he choses to highlight as an example of this is “love thy neighbor as thyself”, which he argues is the cultural super-egos answer to the problem of aggression, but which “causes as much unhappiness as aggressiveness itself” (p. 9) because it is a standard impossible to fulfil. Dr. Freud deliberately refuses to answer the question he has raised of whether civilization, which he argues cannot exist apart from this process, is worth it. The editions of both of Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality and Civilization and its Discontents consulted are the James Strachey translations of both, the former in the 1965 Avon Library edition, the latter in the 1961 W. W. Norton & Co. edition.

(2) Margaret Mead, Coming of Age in Samoa, (Dell Publishing: New York, 1968). The first edition was published by William Morrow and Company in 1928. The focus of Dr. Mead’s study was the adolescent girl in a tribal society on the island of Ta’u in the Samoan archipelago. The chapter that is most relevant is chapter seven entitled “Formal Sex Relations”. It reads like an attempt to evade the obvious in order to bolster an ideological point. Only a paragraph before she asserts the Samoans “complete skepticism” towards Christianity’s “moral premium on chastity” she has already stated that virginity is a “legal requirement” for the taupo, the ceremonial princess of a village (pp. 81-82). Dr. Mead says this is an exception to the “free and easy experimentation” she claims is the norm in these villages. “These girls of noble birth are carefully guarded; not for them are the secret trysts at night or stolen meetings in the day time. Where parents of lower rank complacently ignore their daughters' experiments, the high chief guards his daughter’s virginity as he guards the honour of his name, his precedence in the kava ceremony or any other prerogative of his high degree.” (p. 83). If ideology is behind the way in which Dr. Mead presented her findings, however, there is a question of what that ideology is. A comparison of the last paragraph of her introduction and that of the foreword contributed by her mentor Franz Boas, would suggest two different possibilities. Dr. Mead wrote “And from this contrast we may be able to turn, made newly and vividly self-conscious and self-critical, to judge anew and perhaps fashion differently the education we give our children” (p. 25). By this she meant that we should lighten up on our strict rules against sexual experimentation. Dr. Boas, however, wrote “The results of her painstaking investigation confirm the suspicion long held by anthropologists, that much of what we ascribe to human nature is no more than a reaction to the restraints put upon us by our civilization” (p. 10). By “long held by anthropologists”, Dr. Boas meant long held by himself. Boas was himself the founder of the school of anthropology that thought that way. Trained as a physicist in Germany, he worked as a geologist before moving to the United States, where he became professor of anthropology at Columbia University. Physical anthropology was already well established as a discipline at the time, in the United States, but physical anthropologists tended to take the nature side, in the “nature vs. nurture” debate. At that time, the nature side was prevailing due to the influence of Charles Darwin and his cousin Sir Francis Galton. Dr. Boaz was a life-long opponent of this view. Dr. Mead’s book helped him to establish the environmental/cultural alternative within his new discipline of cultural anthropology at about the same time that the behaviorism of John Watson and B. F. Skinner, which promoted a similar view of human nature, was taking over the discipline of psychology. The environmentalist view would dominate the social sciences until seriously challenged by Noam Chomsky, Edward O. Wilson, and others in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s. In 1983 Margaret Mead in Samoa: the Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth by New Zealand anthrpologist Derek Freeman was published by Harvard University Press. This book demonstrated how the society Dr. Mead wrote about, simply didn’t resemble her depiction of it in many important aspects. Dr. Freeman would later record an interview with a woman who had been one of the Samoan girls who had given Dr. Mead much of her information.. She admitted to making much of the stuff up. This became the basis of Dr. Freeman’s follow up book entitled The Fateful Hoaxing of Margaret Mead: A Historical Analysis of Her Samoan Research published by Basic Books in 1999.

(3) Herbert Marcuse, Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud, (New York: Vintage Books, 1962), originally published by the Beacon Press in 1955. Of Freud, Marcuse writes “The concept of man that emerges from Freudian theory is the most irrefutable indictment of Western civilization—and at the same time the most unshakable defense of this civilization.” (p,. 11) Dr. Freud, as we have seen (note 1) deliberately left the question of whether civilization was worth the repression he claims is essential to it, open. Marcuse, on the other hand, was openly a revolutionary. He was a member of the so-called “Frankfurt School”, i.e. the Institute for Social Research, a neo-Marxist thinktank founded at the University of Frankfurt in 1923, which relocated to Columbia University in the United States for a few decades beginning in the 1930’s. Marcuse became an American citizen and did not return to Germany when the Institute moved back to Frankfurt in 1951. The Frankfurt School specialized in what they called “Critical Theory”, which was an attempt to further the cause of Marxist revolution by undermining the legitimacy of the culture which held bourgeois society together. To do so it incorporated ideas from a broad spectrum of intellectual disciplines, including Freudian psychoanalysis. In Eros and Civilization, Marcuse borrowed ideas from Freud, while challenging Freud’s basic viewpoint that civilization can only be achieved through the repression of the basic instincts of the id. He believed in a "non-repressive culture" which "aims at a new relation between instincts and reason" (p. 180) His answer to Freud's position that "the lasting interpersonal relations on which civilization depends presuppose that the sex instinct is inhibited in its aim" (p. 183) is that his "non-repressive instinctual order" will involve "not simply a release but a transformation of the libido: from sexuality constrained under genital supremacy to erotization of the entire personality" (p. 184). This is just the same old progressive belief that human nature is malleable putty for the social engineer to play with. The phrase "erotization of the entire personality" does seem to describe, however, a change which the Sexual Revolution has brought about. The beneficial results of this, which Marcuse so confidently predicted, have not appeared, although negative consequences are apparant all around us.

(4) Paul R. Ehrlich, The Population Bomb (New York: Ballantine Books, 1968).

(5) Rev. Thomas Robert Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population (London: J. Johnson, 1798). The first edition was published anonymously. It would be later expanded and revised a number of times. It can be read online at: http://www.econlib.org/library/Malthus/malPlong.html.

(6) Gerry T. Neal, “The Suicide Cult”, February 5, 2011, http://thronealtarliberty.blogspot.com/2011/02/suicide-cult.html

(7) Garrett Hardin, “Lifeboat Ethics: The Case Against Helping the Poor”, Psychology Today, September, 1974. http://www.garretthardinsociety.org/articles/art_lifeboat_ethics_case_against_helping_poor.html

(8) Virginia D. Abernethy, Population Politics, (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2000), first published by Plenum Press in 1993. See chapter 3 “Belief as Part of the Problem” for the refutation of the Demographic Transition Model. See chapter 15 “History Does Not Stop” for her analysis of post-WWII fertility trends. In this chapter she demonstrates both how the post-WWII Baby Boom contradicts the predictions of the Demographic Transition Model and how the decline in fertility after the Baby Boom can be explained by economic pessimism. For the latter, see especially the section titled “Fertility and Moderating Expectations” on pages 201-202. Dr. Abernethy writes “Family-size preferences fell when upward mobility stalled, schools got overcrowded so that new ones had to be built, and taxes rose to pay for new schools and other infrastructure. Women saw themselves as victimized and infantalized by constant childcare, but nursemaids were beyond most budgets. Most people in the 1960s saw their standard of living rising at a slower rate. They sensed that children cost a lot relative to their present and future value. Soon, middle-class couples concluded that two children were about right.” She then goes on in the next section to show how welfare-state social programs have created a “very marked biomodal distribution” in fertility rates – “low in the middle class and substantially higher among the poor.”

(9) Ibid. See chapter 4 “Cultural Brakes” and chapter 5 “Where to look for balance”.

(10) Wyndham Lewis, The Doom of Youth, (New York: Robert M. McBride & Company, 1932) p. 48.

(11) Marcuse, op. cit., p. 15. See also chapter five "The Origin of Repressive Civilization (Phylogenesis), particularly page 55 and following.

(12) Gerry T. Neal, “Love and Marriage”, August 19, 2010, http://thronealtarliberty.blogspot.com/2010/08/love-and-marriage.html

(13) I am referring to Huxley’s Brave New World. One of the major themes of this novel, stated directly in the author’s preface to the 1948 edition, is that “As political and economic freedom diminishes, sexual freedom tends correspondingly to increase.”

2 comments:

  1. Debra ChamberlinJuly 15, 2011 at 3:12 AM

    An exceptional essay, Mr. Neal, and one that I will bookmark for future reference. Too many solid points -- and original to me -- for me to try to list them. I do agree with you that nothing short of a miracle can lead us out of this black hole of cultural death. Were the time not shortened, would our Lord find any faith remaining on the earth?

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  2. Thank you for your kind comment. I apologize for my lateness in replying to it. This essay was inspired by a news item very similar to that which inspired "Love and Marriage" last fall. The two essays are in a sense, therefore, companion essays. "Love and Marriage" was a defense of traditional marriage that was strongly critical of the idea of romantic love as being a sufficient foundation for marriage. This one is about contemporary thinking about sex and sexual ethics in general.

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