The first humans and proto-humans were monogamous hunter-gatherers. The just-so story goes that since they were often hunting animals much larger and faster than they were, they needed the whole tribe to rally, especially the males, in order to bring the mammoth (literally) beasts down. They also needed to defend the tribe against predators. To keep all of the males maximally engaged in a tight and large tribe, the males and females paired off in monogamous relationships, and they lived happily ever after. In the 20th century, 10 different remote hunter-gathering tribes were discovered, and they were indeed mostly monogamous.
Then herding and agricultural were invented and it all went to hell for a number of reasons. The male teamwork required for hunting was no longer needed for survival. Women were able to do farm work and were more than self-sufficient so they didn't need men to hunt for them. In addition, people started having possessions and wealth disparities were introduced, so that a "rich" or alpha male could afford and/or entice multiple women. So monogamy went out the window and was replaced by polygamy in primitive herding and agricultural societies. Once again, a number of remote tribes of these varieties were discovered in the 20th century and were mostly polygamous.
Unfortunately, the polygamous cultures didn't live happily ever after. Humans, regardless of mating patterns, go to war over resources. One of the problems of polygamy is that one resource is always in short supply: women. If the men at the top have multiple women, the men at the bottom have zero women, and even the men at the top would prefer more women, always more, more, more. As a result, these tribes are often in a state of continuous warfare: they are at war every day and have been at war as long as anyone can remember. The most famous of these tribes is the Yanomamo discovered in the mid-1960s by Napolean Chagnon:
According to Chagnon, when he arrived he realised that the theories he had been taught during his training had shortcomings, because contrary to what they predicted, raiding and fighting, often over women, was endemic. ... As Chagnon described it, Yanomamö society produced fierceness, because that behavior furthered male reproductive success. According to Chagnon, the success of men in violent interaction and even killing, was directly related to how many wives and children they had. At the level of the villages, the war-like populations expanded at the expense of their neighbors. Chagnon's positing of a link between reproductive success and violence cast doubt on the sociocultural perspective that cultures are constructed from human experience. An enduring controversy over Chagnons' work has been described as a microcosm of the conflict between biological and sociocultural anthropology.There are a number of possible problems with large groups of men with no access to women. At best, they just sulk off on their own but have no interest in supporting or defending society. At worst, they turn on society and damage or destroy it. In the right hands, they can be used as a resource to attack other tribes, to loot and plunder, or possibly to jihad against infidels. All of these have happened many times throughout history with polygamous societies.
You may have noticed that advanced, stable, prosperous societies from the far east to the far west are usually mostly monogamous (at the very tippy top of the ruling class, there're often mistresses, concubines, slaves, etc. but it's monogamy for the vast majority of the people). Somehow, we got from pathological polygamous societies back to monogamy. Anthropologists have lots of just-so stories about how that happened, but given the success of monogamist societies relative to non-monogamous ones, it seems that getting from primitive agriculture to the industrial age was not hindered and possibly aided a lot by the stability provided by monogamy.
But now we're transitioning from the industrial age to the information age and I wonder if there are some parallels to the transition from hunter-gathering to primitive agriculture. The engagement of males was required for hunting for hunter-gatherers and industrial age males were likely required for a lot of the heavy lifting required for factories and the more advanced high-production agriculture required to support all those workers in the factories. On the other hand, full engagement of males was not required for primitive agriculture and now is not required for the vast majority of jobs in the information age. The transition from hunter-gathering to primitive agriculture was accompanied by a transition from monogamy to non-monogamy. Is there any reason we should be surprised by a similar transition from monogamy to non-monogamy going forward?
It's already happening at a rapid rate. For example, 72.3 percent of non-Hispanic blacks are now born out-of-wedlock, with the black mother often having multiple children, each with a different alpha (to her) father. It's pretty much a perfect example of a non-monogamous mating system. Other ethnicities are behind in the polygamous revolution under way, but they are catching up.
Fortunately, with the availability of ever more immersive entertainment, most of the displaced males (Men Going Their Own Way), will hopefully just sulk off and not cause any major damage.
|Too Busy to Loot, Rape & Pillage|
Competition and attack from other societies may also be a problem. A culture where a large number of males are disengaged is not going to be competitive with a culture that keeps the males involved. Will men rise to defend America if they've gone their own way? Will women be able to defend America if the men won't?
I suspect civilization will survive just fine in some form or other but time will tell.