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Friday, January 09, 2015

War of the Sexes: Part 7 - Civilization

One of the problems of anthropology and other sciences that look back in time is that there are a lot of "just-so" stories. Especially in anthropology, there are such huge holes in the data that lots of narratives can be created to fit the evidence. As a result, many of those narratives are little more than educated or sometimes wild-ass guesses. On the bright side, while not at all an expert in anthropology, I do consider myself an expert in wild-ass guessing, so I fit well in that field. I cheerfully admit that the rest of this post is nothing more than guessing by me and various experts in the field.

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
Unfortunately, they may not be much interested in supporting the culture that's pushing them away. For example, they may work a lot less, making just enough to support themselves, which could reduce the tax base. That may be a problem: one reason that the 72.3% of blacks born out-of-wedlock is not a catastrophe is that the mothers and children are able to get support from the safety net if needed. If there's not a large enough tax base, that safety net may be difficult to maintain.

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.

30 comments:

Peter said...

Then herding and agricultural were invented and it all went to hell for a number of reasons.

Heh. I've grown to simply love these evolutionary tales about how wonderful and harmoniously balanced everything was in hunter-gatherer times. It seems to represent some kind of secular Garden of Eden and the parallels with Genesis are obvious, with agriculture doing duty for The Fall. It also seems to be the period where we did almost all of our serious evolving because we can hardly open a newspaper today without some evolutionary scientist telling us that this or that aspect of modern human behaviour is because we are "hard-wired" to hunt and forage and have become completely messed up since we gave them up.

My all time favourite just-so story was provided about eight or nine years ago by a scientist positing that women evolved blond hair because they were competing for the attentions of a dwindling number of mammoth hunters. He managed to be racist, sexist and preposterous all at once. Debating this revelation with apparently intelligent Darwinists, I was told in no uncertain terms that, while it did indeed seem a little over the top, I was duty-bound to accept the theory as truth unless and until I come up with my own evidence-based theory of why women evolved blond hair. "I haven't a clue, but I'm sure not buying that" just wouldn't cut it. Behold scientism.

Clovis e Adri said...

In other words, polygamous societies correlates pretty well with... inequality.

(Think of the warrior chiefs in the tribe, or the Sheiks, to take the examples of the post).

Also, if we take the historical record, societies who took the path of compensating dwindling family bonds for entertainment did not fare well. In past that entertainment meant chemical drugs, but immersive virtual reality may well do the trick too.

Bret said...

Peter,

First, I did write at the top that "this post is nothing more than guessing by me and various experts in the field," so yes, I agree that it's an "evolutionary tale."

However, because a number of tribes without previous contact with civilization of any sort were discovered last century, and because they were followed and moderately well documented, comparing hunter-gatherers with primitive horticulturalists, the hunter-gatherers were more peaceful. It's not even close.

Nonetheless, I'm just presenting what I think. I sure don't have a problem with you "not buying that."

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "In other words, polygamous societies correlates pretty well with... inequality."

Yes, it does indeed correlate very well with inequality.

erp said...

Bret, something that occurs to me about the scarcity of women in primitive times is that women probably died in childbirth a lot more often than they did in later periods.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Peter;

It also seems to be the period where we did almost all of our serious evolving

Well, yeah - that time period was on the order of a 1000 Kyears, compared to less than 10 Kyears since horticulture / domestication. You'd reasonably expect us to have done 99% of our evolving in the period that is 99% of our history as a species.

Annoying Old Guy said...

I have to disagree with Bret that his data on out of wedlock births is a polygamous mating system. If the children of a female have different fathers, that's not polygamy because, as his historical examples show, polygamy means an alpha male monopolizes the reproduction of his females. In fact, you could make just as strong an argument that it's polyandry.

But given the lack of long term bonding, it looks more like a matriarchal investment only mating system. As best as I can tell, the biological term for this is "promiscuity", not polygamy or polygyny (both of which require bonding and male parenting investment).

Bret said...

aog wrote: "I ... disagree ... that ... data on out of wedlock births is a polygamous mating system."

You're right. I've updated the post. It doesn't necessarily seem like it's a typical promiscuous mating system either (since the lower end males are left out completely) so for now, I'm just calling it "non-monogamous."

In some sense, the women are "mating" with the government (which provides support for the children) but using the "best" willing male to become pregnant.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

I don't know if you realize, but you are consequently making the extraordinaty claim that the "lack of male parenting investment" would be a decision by the female.

Most of what I've seen points to the contrary, even more so when the female is in the social class where govt. help is needed.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "...you are consequently making the extraordinaty claim that the "lack of male parenting investment" would be a decision by the female."

I'm unable to decipher this. What is "lack of male parenting investment" and how would the female decide that?

Annoying Old Guy said...

Bret;

"lack of male parenting investment" I would take as meaning the lack of this.

I think in modern America this is, in fact, largely a decision made by females.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

The pattern I am used to - and I've seen it in such a robust and widespread manner down here - is that, among the low-income population, it is the male who completely ignores his children and go away.

To the extent I've seen your culture, I really have a hard time believing today it works the other way around in the USA. The females sustaining their children with welfare help are the ones who did not want the male around? That's the extraordinary claim I'd like proven.

erp said...

Clovis, you wouldn't have a hard time believing how it things works here if you knew anything about it.

Welfare here is predicated, among many other things, on no male in the house. That rule went into effect many decades ago and completed the destruction of family and community among the poverty stricken.

Women had children and were given, depending on circumstances, free housing, medical care, help with food, fuel, etc. as long there was no man on the premises. Welfare workers were all apparently not aware of the male contribution to children's birth.

It's not that women didn't want a male around, they obviously were around, just not officially according to the Welfare and even though women were the breadwinners through the generosity of tax payers, they don't by any means call the shots.

Bret said...

clovis wrote: "among the low-income population, it is the male who completely ignores his children and go away."

I'm not sure - that may be the case here as well, but my current belief is that if so, there are at least a couple of caveats. The first is that, as erp points out, assuming the female wants support from the male, the male still has to officially not be part of the equation or the safety net benefits are reduced. So perhaps sometimes he is around somewhere and perhaps sometimes he contributes.

The second caveat is that perhaps the female would like the male to help, but she knows ahead of time (or ought to know ahead of time) that he's probably not going to stick around for long. The female is often mating up (female hypergamy) with the "best" (of the low-income population) and knows that he'll have other mating opportunities and be out the door after a while to pursue them.

Consider the following passage from Marriage and Civilization:

'In 1986, Bill Moyers tackled the subject in a ... documentary entitled The Vanishing Family: Crisis in Black America ... the show ... produced several memorable moments: 1) a room full of new mothers telling Moyers they had no interest in marrying the fathers of their infants; 2) a twenty-two-year-old lothario, in the delivery room watching his girlfriend give birth, bragging to Moyers about how many children he had fathered; and 3) an older black man in a pool hall complaining, "Those women are married to welfare. They're more married to the welfare than they are to the guy who's sleeping next to them at night."'

I've seen other reports that some of these young "lotharios" have fathered 20+ children. They're the high-status males of that very low-status culture.

How common is all that? I have no idea, really. Obviously, Moyers wanted a good story and had already picked the narrative, so maybe he painted a picture that's not at all representative of what's going on.

On the other, 73.8% of black children born out of wedlock ... that sure leaves a lot of room for stuff like the above, even if it's not universal.

erp said...

Bret, I was personally involved (on a private charity advisory governing board) with placing young mothers in public housing ... 16 years old, pregnant and checking her options. The proud dad was 17 and according to the social workers had 7 children they knew about!

The two of them were in full entitlement mode -- making demands and had no sense of responsibility whatsoever. With the housing came a phalanx of tax payers funded professionals to teach the mom how to take care of a baby, set up a budget, etc.

Why would any girl not think they were a princess with all that attention? The next phase wasn't as pretty. Prince Charming and social worker staff long gone, baby making messes.... New PC shows up, another baby, more welfare money ...

It was sickening.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

If the women were interested in having the male stick around, it would be marriage first, child second, and the statistics would be about child abandonment. The data we have is very different from that.

Clovis e Adri said...

Guys,

The way I see it, instead of proving that claim, you just completely changed it.

Now that 666 alpha male can also be some poor drugged kid who fathered 10 kids at 17, the females have so many partners that no one around is actually without a mate (not much of going their own way on that, isn't it?), and the sole responsibility for the kid should be indeed of the women who opened up their legs without a marriage. The father? He is right to run away indeed, he'd would be a fool if he cared for those kids.


Now take welfare completely out, and we down here have the same multiple-fathers kids picture with the men running away. Interesting, doesn't quite follow your narrative... hence I must be wrong.

erp said...

Clovis, again I repeat, welfare caused this situation because women wouldn't get assistance if there was a man on the scene. I wonder that you want to compare the situation in Brazil to the situation in the US which, from what you’ve said, is very different.

Prior to the war, poor blacks had separate and not equal communities, but they in fact had intact families, communities, churches, etc. During the war many blacks went north to work in the defense factories and stayed there. When the soldiers came back, they took back many, if not most, of the jobs blacks (and women) were doing.

<< There were and continue to be many successful blacks who've managed to join mainstream society despite the roadblocks the left has thrown in their way. >>

This was the beginning of the New Deal aka real socialism in America. Unions were given their head and instead of helping the working man, they helped themselves while keeping the unions all white. Blacks were not allowed in unions even the municipal unions and certainly not in the building trades. This left a lot of blacks unemployed.

Because lefties are so compassionate, they figured out a way to keep the cities in their control in perpetuity by giving "the welfare" to poor people. This caused consternation among church goers, so it was determined that only poor women with children, but no husband could get on the rolls. Husband was loosely translated to any male in the household. At first this rule was strictly enforced, but people aren’t stupid, the rule was also more children, more payouts, so miraculously more kids came along without any apparent male presence.

This worked so well keeping blacks poor and on the reservation, that countless other “helping” features were added, the latest and most egregious being affirmative action which confirms that blacks are inferior and can't measure up to take their place in society.

Lots more to this story including the takeover of the public schools by the far left teachers’ unions which further conspire to keep black kids poor and ignorant while keeping up a constant bleat for more money.

Sixty years later, the sense of entitlement and belief in income redistribution is complete and over half of our population, not limited to blacks only, is not employed and our debt is in the trillions. All the colored beads and fire water aka EBT cards and Obamaphones is gone and there's nothing left to tempt this population into submission.

The coming years won’t be pretty.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "...instead of proving that claim, you just completely changed it."

Not sure which claim you're referring to here.

In case it isn't clear, the definition of "going their own way" is to not form a long-term (lifetime) relationship with anyone for the purpose of having and raising children. That's not to say that absolutely everyone who goes their own way is a virgin.

And for women, that's not to say that all of them are childless. In addition to stud services from the highest status lothario they can seduce, there are increasing numbers of single women who use sperm banks, and single women who use very clever methods to steal sperm. The cleverest one I've heard of so far is a woman who offered a guy a blow job with a condom, retrieved the condom after the fact, impregnated herself, and then brought a paternity suit against the guy and won! So a unmarried virgin had a child and got the guy to pay! Turns out her name was Mary (just kidding).

So why don't these poor black women go after a higher status lothario? For example, why can't they find a (potential) 6'66 college student to lay with them a few times? Well, that's because a poor black inner city youth with no job can't pay child support because he has no money and will never have any money and, as a result, can father as many children as he likes at no cost. The 6'66 college student will have assets one day and the state will go after him to support the child. So the poor black woman is stuck with the 066 poor black lothario. She might be quite happy with the 6'66 college student but the system makes that impossible.

Clovis wrote: "...the sole responsibility for the kid should be indeed of the women who opened up their legs without a marriage..."

If I said that, it was in error. And it's of course not their responsibility if they don't want it to be. The women are able to put the kids up for adoption or into the foster care system assuming they don't have an abortion. However, many don't have an abortion and choose not to put the child up for adoption. At that point, given that the father is long gone and couldn't provide any resources anyway since he's penniless, would you agree that it's the woman's responsibility?

Clovis wrote: "...he'd would be a fool if he cared for those kids..."

No, he'd be a good guy if he cared for those kids. But, given that he didn't marry the girl in the first place, we know he's probably not a good guy. He's moved on and the cycle starts anew.

Clovis wrote: "Now take welfare completely out..."

...and everything is pretty much the same except you get 4-year-olds begging on the streets and living in cardboard boxes and other unfortunate stuff. San Diego is on the border with Mexico so I've seen it firsthand.

The only question is do the incentives of an increased safety net cause the problem to be more common...

...72.3%... I have my answer.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

he sole responsibility for the kid should be indeed of the women who opened up their legs without a marriage

No. But let me ask - what proportion of the responsibility do you think should be with the woman in that situation?

I will also note that biologically it it that lack of male parental investment can be a successful strategy. Some of us, however, like to imagine humans are more than just animals and can create social structures (such as marriage) to overcome or channel these biological imperatives. If people (including women - I am such a misogynist that I think women are responsible for their own choices) chose to not use such constructs, then they get the consequences.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

---
...72.3%... I have my answer.
---
There again, if I present you to a society with no welfare, but that still has such high rates of fatherless children, how come the welfare exercizes the definite effect you claim?



Erp,

---
Prior to the war, poor blacks had separate and not equal communities, but they in fact had intact families, communities, churches, etc.
---
How come that in your opinion, Erp? Here most blacks started form a state of broken families from the very begin, after they were freed. How your blacks were different from ours at that?

Basically, their culture of family bonds, even more with the presence of a father, had been wiped away during the slavery period. It looks unlikely it would be true down here, but not up there. If true, it surely deserves some good explanation.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

---
If people (including women - I am such a misogynist that I think women are responsible for their own choices) chose to not use such constructs, then they get the consequences.
---
Yeah, I understood your judgmental position from the begin, no need for further clarification.

Or maybe there is: you assume those persons have the complete picture in their minds, so they surely understood marriage was a social construct to help and guide them in life, but refused to adhere to such an outdated thing.

But I guess that if you talk with a 17 years old pregnant minority girl, you could end up learning those views are not that clear in her mind. Nor they are things she saw up close in her personal relationships while growing. You may also learn that many of them would really like to have a responsible male around - they are not changing from one male to the other because they like that, but because they can't find one who stays.


This whole "Men going their own way" series by Bret can may well tackle many of the situations you guys see in your economic/social sphere, but I think you are generalizing it far beyond the reasonable.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "There again, if I present you to a society with no welfare..."

Which society is that? Certainly not Brazil - da Silva created a significant welfare program, no? And out-of-wedlock births increased at that point, no?

Though it seems that most of Latin America has out-of-wedlock birthrates similar to the 72.3% for America's poor, so no doubt one of your neighbors has minimal welfare. Do the babies all starve or do other charitable entities pick up the slack? I'll have to admit to being surprised that Latin America's illegitimacy rate was that high.

erp said...

Clovis, I know nothing about the how and why of Brazil, so I can't answer your question.

I can only speak to what I do know to be true. You can believe or not.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

---
Which society is that? Certainly not Brazil - da Silva created a significant welfare program, no? And out-of-wedlock births increased at that point, no?
---
I beg to differ, certainly indeed Brazil.

That "significant welfare program" (that pails in comparison with yours, for example) was created only 12 years ago.

Before that we had a century of zero welfare for those poor families. So we do have some easy ways to compare things here.

And out-of-wedlock birth rates have been decreasing steadfastely during the same period of welfare implementation, but be careful before you read any causation there.


---
Do the babies all starve or do other charitable entities pick up the slack?
---
In the 90's, I vividly remember pictures (and personal views too) of children starving, Africa style. Anf if not starving, you'd easily see them locked in lifes of misery.

You won't see people starving anymore, but you still can see quite miserable lifes (yes, way less than before, but still). Charitable entities hardly were par to the job.


---
I'll have to admit to being surprised that Latin America's illegitimacy rate was that high.
---
And would you be also surprised to learn that, by and large, that's the fault of males down here?

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

One more thing to base my opinion, from first hand experience back in the times when I did work in favelas in a voluntary program in my church (we'd teach both religious classes and basic school things).

Nothing moved me more back then than the shear need of paternal figures those kids had. There were less men than women doing the job, but we, the men, had way more attention and influence over the kids. I was in my early 20's and it impacted me a lot. I only felt myself so "needed" again now that I have my own kid.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "...out-of-wedlock birth rates have been decreasing steadfastely during the same period of welfare implementation..."

According to wikipedia, "In Brazil, non-marital births increased to 65.8% in 2009, up from 56.2% in 2000."

So they went up in at least the first part of da Silva's welfare implementation. Did they really go down that much in the 2nd half? What is illegitimacy in Brazil today?

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

if you talk with a 17 years old pregnant minority girl

How did she get pregnant? Who is responsible for that? You didn't answer that question, I note. Again, in such a situation, what proportion of responsibility does the woman have, vs. the man?

You're still confusing abstract analysis with facts on the ground, as if I expect such a girl to have done the same analysis as me. I read this the same as claiming that since you don't need to know Newtonian mechanics to throw a baseball accurately, Newtonian mechanics aren't a valid means of analysis.

In terms of such a girl, are you saying she doesn't know about marriage at all? Or the link between sex, pregnancy, and children?

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

---
According to wikipedia, "In Brazil, non-marital births increased to 65.8% in 2009, up from 56.2% in 2000."

So they went up in at least the first part of da Silva's welfare implementation. Did they really go down that much in the 2nd half? What is illegitimacy in Brazil today?
---

Your last question is the main point, so I should have been more careful in my prior statement.

What is true is to say that the rate of births of fatherless children has been decreasing roughly since 2000. (Those are children who have no father stated in their birth certificates).

That's the main number you want to look for if talking about the poor, for it comes almost exclusively from them.


Now, the number of non-marital births you quote above is largely devoid of meaning for us here: it agregates both births to consensual unions and single mothers.

Problem is: those "consensual unions" are just the same as marriage. By our law, any relationship of more than 5 years with cohabitation is automatically considered a civil union (for all praticar matters, a marriage). So many couples choose to just marry this way (today 1/3 of marriages are through this method).

So the numbers you quoted above are basically telling you one thing: more people are choosing to marry through that way lately. By coincidence, the law that implemented the 5-years rule entered into effect in 2002, roughly when the welfare programs begun, hence the contamination of the statistics you've found.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

---
Again, in such a situation, what proportion of responsibility does the woman have, vs. the man?
---
Most of the time, 50% - if something can only happen by the willful action of two persons, the responsibility must be the same for both parties. (There are caveats though, as Bret exemplified above)

---
In terms of such a girl, are you saying she doesn't know about marriage at all? Or the link between sex, pregnancy, and children?
---
No, I am saying she is young and makes mistakes. Or forget the young, people make mistakes at every age I guess.

You also treat the subject as one of choice, forgetting that many times this can be about discipline - even a simple one as not forgetting to take the pill.