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Sex and Culture (book)

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Sex and Culture (book)

Drealm
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This post was updated on .
Free copy available here: http://rapidshare.com/files/282672344/SexCulture.zip

I finally finished Sex and Culture by Unwin. Here's my review.

The book consists of five chapters:

1. The Frame of Reference
2. Selected Evidence
3. General Survey
4. The Connexion Between Sexual Opportunity and Cultural Behavior
5. Necessity In Human Affairs

The early chapters are very dry and monotonous. In chapter (1) Unwin defines his terminology. The most important terminology to remember are his societal classifications. These are Zoistic, Manistic, Deistic and Rationalistic. Zoistic is the lowest society, rationalistic is highest society. Only a rationalistic society is considered civilized. Therefore all Zoistic, Manisitc and Deistic societies were considered uncivilized.

In chapters (2) and (3) Unwin goes through an exhaustive classification of 80 or so different uncivilized societies  He ranks these according to Zoistic, Manistic or Deistic.

In chapter (4) Unwin summarizes his findings of the 80 different societies. When you reach "Summary of the Foregoing" in chapter (4), Unwin begins to connect his overall theories. Up to "Summary of the Foregoing" he's just stacking evidence. From "Summary of the Foregoing" forward Unwin's writing becomes very interesting. If someone doesn't have the time to read the whole book, this would be a good starting place.

The explanations of terminology in chapter (1) are important to understand. However they're long and drawn out and include a lot of outdated commentary. Chapters (2) and (3) heavily reinforces one's understanding of the terminology learned in chapter (1). But one doesn't need to read 80 or so different examples to grasp the concept. For the common reader a handful of examples will do and then the reader can skip ahead. This isn't a criticism against the book, just a guideline for approaching the book most efficiently.

Chapter (5) in my opinion contains the core information every CoAlpha should read. This section is treasure chest of pure patriarchal philosophy. I can see in this chapter where fschmidt get's a lot of his well reasoned ideas from. This section is a delight to read, well reasoned and backed up by historical examples. If a person reads nothing else, they should read this chapter. It's about a hundred pages.

For Sex and Culture in particular, I think it warrants enough value to be rewritten for a modern day audience. Surely Sex and Culture deserves to be read in it's original entirety, but Sex and Culture's original text includes lots of outdated commentary and language. Maybe Sex and Culture could be summarized into a contemporary essay.






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Re: Sex and Culture (book)

Drealm
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Fschmidt, here are my questions about Sex and Culture:

How would we classify current American or “western” under the Zoistic, Manistic, Deistic and Rationalistic classification system?

It would seem by default that all societies are now rationalistic because they’re all technologically sophisticated. Yet most societies don’t retain pre-nuptial chastity. Technology aside, I’d classify American and western society as Zoistic, since we don’t uphold pre-nuptial chastity for women. But culturally speaking we don’t share the characteristics of Zoistic societies that involve worshiping nature.

As far as sexual regulation goes I assume America falls fall under “modified polygamy” by these definitions from Unwin?

Modified monogamy — the practice or circumstance of having one spouse at one time, the - association being - terminable by either party in accordance with - the prevailing law or custom.

Modified polygamy — the practice or circumstance of having more than one-wife at one time, the wives being free to leave their husbands on - terms laid down by law and custom.

Absolute monogamy — the practice or circumstance of having one spouse at one time, but presupposing conditions whereby legally the wife is under the dominion of her husband and must confine her sexual
qualities to him, under pain of punishment, for the whole of his or her life.

Absolute polygamy — the practice or circumstance of having more than one wife at. one' time, these wives being compelled to confine their sexual qualities to their husband.for the. Whole of their lives.

Unwin states that it takes three generations or 100 years to progress from one cultural condition to another. Lower cultures are conquered by higher cultures. We’re obviously heading towards a Zoistic culture if we haven’t already reached rock bottom. When do you think we’ll bottom out and be conquered by another civilization?

I guess it depends on when someone believes the cultural change started to shift. Many people argue that our cultural shift occurred with the feminist wave in the 1960’s. This would place the completion of cultural change at 2060. However the year 2060 assumes two things. The first assumption is people have the same lifespan as calculated in 1934. Since people live longer, I think this would prolong the figure of 100 years. The second assumption is that women have children at the same age. Under a feminist culture women delay pregnancy so I’d guess this would push back the date also. But this is all supposing the 1960’s are the starting point for a cultural change. I don’t have the data to confirm this but I thought I read somewhere that even in the 1950’s most women weren’t virgins for marriage. So I’d assume the starting point for prenuptial decline was earlier, perhaps in the 1930’s.

The most obvious question from reading sex and culture is why aren’t highly female suppressive societies like Islamic nations exceeding us culturally and conquering us?

I’d assume it’s because they’re polygamous. While America may meet the definition of modified polygamy with couples constantly swapping partners and cheating, in practice we try being monogamous. It’s just a very temporary and low form of monogamy. We don’t actually have a formalized polygamy like in Islam.

Again referring  to Unwin’s terms of (modified monogamy, modified polygamy, absolute monogamy and absolute polygamy), it would appear that having a wife and also visiting prostitutes would place us under absolute polygamy. Or perhaps using prostitutes along with a wife isn’t considered full fledged polygamy by Unwin since it’s a paid interaction? Maybe having a wife and also using prostitutes hovers in a place between absolute polygamy and absolute monogamy?

Unwin says a couple things absolute polygamy and absolute monogamy that are relevant here:

Page: 412

“Sometimes a man has been heard to declare that he wishes both to enjoy the advantages of high culture and to abolish compulsory continence-. The inherent nature of the 'An organism, however, seems to be such that these desires are incompatible, even contradictory. The reformer may be likened to - the foolish boy who desires both to keep his cake and to consume it. Any human society is free to choose
either to display great energy or to enjoy sexual freedom ; the evidence is that it cannot do both- for more than one generation.”

This would lead me to think prostitutes can be enjoyed but only at the cost of being beneath an absolutely monogamous society and not displaying great expansive energy as is unique to absolute monogamy.

Page 428

If; after suffering such limitations of their post-nuptial opportunity, the males are permitted to have more than one sexual 'partner, the society ceases to display expansive energy, but so long as it continues to demand pre-nuptial chastity it remains deistic. It also enjoys the usufruct of its conquests for so long as it possesses a &eater energy than the societies which desire" to rob it of its possessions. If a man's wives are compelled to confine their sexual qualities to their husband for the whole of their lives, or for so long as he wishes, the energy of the society is greater than it would be if the wives could leave their husband of their own free will. In the former case the society is in the absolutely polygamous, condition. The energy of an absolutely polygamous society is greater than that of any other society except an absolutely monogamous one ; so if, after displaying expansive energy, the society becomes absolutely polygamous, it is likely to preserve its conquests as well as its culture. If, however, it relaxes its sexual regulations to a further extent, it collapses. By deduction I consider that this is what happened among the Persians, Macedonians, Huns, and Mongols (para..i67). At one time the Yoruba also seem to have displayed a slight
expansive energy, .and, when we first met them, they were still the most energetic people in West Africa.

Should women and children be property?

Unwin says:

Page: 381

“sexual opportunity has never been' reduced to a minimum except by depriving women and children of their legal status. It is historically true to say that in the past social energy has been purchased at the price, of individual freedom, for it has never been displayed unless the female of the species has sacrificed her rights as an individual and unless children have been. treated as mere appendages to the estate of the male parent;”

But then says:

Page: 431

"It is difficult to express any opinion with complete confidence, but as, at the end of my task,- I look back along_the stream of time, it seems to me that it was the unequal fate of the women, not the compulsory continence, that caused the downfall of absolute monogamy. No society has yet succeeded in regulating the relations between the sexes in such a Way as to enable sexual opportunity to remain at a minimum for an extended period. The inference I draw from the historical evidence is that, if ever such a result should be desired, the sexes mu st first be placed on a footing of complete legal equality."

Page: 432

"In the future, it seems, a human society may continue its fortuitous career, and reflect, both in' its cultural - behavior and in its structure, the amount of energy it chances to possess ; but, if any society should desire to control its cultural destiny, it may do so by decreasing or increasing the amount of its energy. Such decrease or increase will appear in the third generation after the sexual opportunity has been extended or reduced. A lesser energy is easily- secured, for the force of life seems to flow backwards, and the members of the society will not be slow to take advantage of any relaxation in the regulations. If, on the other hand, a vigorous society wishes to display its productive energy for a long time, and even for ever, it must re=create itself, I think, first, by placing the sexes on a level of complete legal equality, and then by altering its economic and social. organization in such a way as to render it both possible and tolerable for sexual opportunity to remain at a minimum for an extended period, and
even for ever. In such a case the face of the society would be set in the Direction of the Cultural Process-; its inherited tradition would be continually' enriched ; it would achieve a. higher culture than has yet been attained; by the action of human entropy its tradition would be augmented and - refined in a manner which surpasses our present understanding.."

What is the best format for marriages?

When women were considered property they were originally purchased outright. This then evolved into a dower. Following this a dower was replaced by mutual consent. I'm not sure where arranged marriages fit into this picture. Do you believe a payment is the best method for acquiring wives? If a combination of arrangement and payment was applied to marriage maybe this would yield the best results. My thinking is the payment should be a transaction between the two families. This would ensure a larger stake in choosing mates for a successful marriage. Then on top of that the grooms family should only commit to a down payment at the time of marriage. For every year of successful marriage, the brides family can be paid more of the balance.
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Re: Sex and Culture (book)

fschmidt
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This post was updated on .
Drealm wrote
How would we classify current American or “western” under the Zoistic, Manistic, Deistic and Rationalistic classification system?
Clearly rationalistic.  These describe beliefs, not sexual practices.  Unwin argues that there is a correlation between sexual practices and beliefs in a stable society.  Western society is not stable, and if its current sexual practices held, it would eventually devolve into a primitive Zoistic hunter-gatherer society.  But this is unlikely since sexual practices will likely change.

As far as sexual regulation goes I assume America falls fall under “modified polygamy” by these definitions from Unwin?

Modified monogamy — the practice or circumstance of having one spouse at one time, the - association being - terminable by either party in accordance with - the prevailing law or custom.

Modified polygamy — the practice or circumstance of having more than one-wife at one time, the wives being free to leave their husbands on - terms laid down by law and custom.

Absolute monogamy — the practice or circumstance of having one spouse at one time, but presupposing conditions whereby legally the wife is under the dominion of her husband and must confine her sexual
qualities to him, under pain of punishment, for the whole of his or her life.

Absolute polygamy — the practice or circumstance of having more than one wife at. one' time, these wives being compelled to confine their sexual qualities to their husband.for the. Whole of their lives.
Where did Unwin list these?  I would say America has modified monogamy from this list, but this is pretty meaningless in a society that is basically promiscuous and marriage means little.

Unwin states that it takes three generations or 100 years to progress from one cultural condition to another. Lower cultures are conquered by higher cultures. We’re obviously heading towards a Zoistic culture if we haven’t already reached rock bottom. When do you think we’ll bottom out and be conquered by another civilization?
I think it will take a very long time based on what happened with Rome.  There will be decay and the standard of living will gradually fall.  China will be the dominant power in a few decades.  America will continue to exist and will resemble the Byzantine empire.  It's hard to predict what comes after that.  I am not sure how all this fits with Unwin's 100 years idea.

The most obvious question from reading sex and culture is why aren’t highly female suppressive societies like Islamic nations exceeding us culturally and conquering us?

I’d assume it’s because they’re polygamous. While America may meet the definition of modified polygamy with couples constantly swapping partners and cheating, in practice we try being monogamous. It’s just a very temporary and low form of monogamy. We don’t actually have a formalized polygamy like in Islam.
There is no resemblance between Islamic polygamy and Western promiscuity.  They are very different systems.  In the long run, Western promiscuity is worse and would eventually fall to Islam.  But marital chastity is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for advanced culture.  Islamic culture isn't likely to become advanced.  The next great culture is likely to come from some obscure corner of the world that we never heard of.

Again referring  to Unwin’s terms of (modified monogamy, modified polygamy, absolute monogamy and absolute polygamy), it would appear that having a wife and also visiting prostitutes would place us under absolute polygamy. Or perhaps using prostitutes along with a wife isn’t considered full fledged polygamy by Unwin since it’s a paid interaction? Maybe having a wife and also using prostitutes hovers in a place between absolute polygamy and absolute monogamy?
Again, where does Unwin define these terms?  These terms refer to marital rules and don't seem to have anything to do with prostitution since prostitutes are not wives.  All great culture in history had widespread prostitution.


Unwin says a couple things absolute polygamy and absolute monogamy that are relevant here:

Page: 412

“Sometimes a man has been heard to declare that he wishes both to enjoy the advantages of high culture and to abolish compulsory continence-. The inherent nature of the 'An organism, however, seems to be such that these desires are incompatible, even contradictory. The reformer may be likened to - the foolish boy who desires both to keep his cake and to consume it. Any human society is free to choose
either to display great energy or to enjoy sexual freedom ; the evidence is that it cannot do both- for more than one generation.”

This would lead me to think prostitutes can be enjoyed but only at the cost of being beneath an absolutely monogamous society and not displaying great expansive energy as is unique to absolute monogamy.
Unwin's value in a gathering the facts, but his explanation is completely wrong in my view.  I mentioned this my Amazon review.  Prostitution is necessary for supporting monogamy.

Page 428

If; after suffering such limitations of their post-nuptial opportunity, the males are permitted to have more than one sexual 'partner, the society ceases to display expansive energy, but so long as it continues to demand pre-nuptial chastity it remains deistic. It also enjoys the usufruct of its conquests for so long as it possesses a &eater energy than the societies which desire" to rob it of its possessions. If a man's wives are compelled to confine their sexual qualities to their husband for the whole of their lives, or for so long as he wishes, the energy of the society is greater than it would be if the wives could leave their husband of their own free will. In the former case the society is in the absolutely polygamous, condition. The energy of an absolutely polygamous society is greater than that of any other society except an absolutely monogamous one ; so if, after displaying expansive energy, the society becomes absolutely polygamous, it is likely to preserve its conquests as well as its culture. If, however, it relaxes its sexual regulations to a further extent, it collapses. By deduction I consider that this is what happened among the Persians, Macedonians, Huns, and Mongols (para..i67). At one time the Yoruba also seem to have displayed a slight
expansive energy, .and, when we first met them, they were still the most energetic people in West Africa.
Note that Unwin only documents restrictions on female sexuality, and of course this does correlate to societal energy.  But there are no facts in the book regarding restrictions on men.

Should women and children be property?

Unwin says:

Page: 381

“sexual opportunity has never been' reduced to a minimum except by depriving women and children of their legal status. It is historically true to say that in the past social energy has been purchased at the price, of individual freedom, for it has never been displayed unless the female of the species has sacrificed her rights as an individual and unless children have been. treated as mere appendages to the estate of the male parent;”

But then says:

Page: 431

"It is difficult to express any opinion with complete confidence, but as, at the end of my task,- I look back along_the stream of time, it seems to me that it was the unequal fate of the women, not the compulsory continence, that caused the downfall of absolute monogamy. No society has yet succeeded in regulating the relations between the sexes in such a Way as to enable sexual opportunity to remain at a minimum for an extended period. The inference I draw from the historical evidence is that, if ever such a result should be desired, the sexes mu st first be placed on a footing of complete legal equality."
Unwin is showing his liberal bias in these quotes.  There are no facts here.  Regarding regulating female sexuality, the 2 cultures that have done this the longest are religious Jews and the Chinese, and so it is no accident that these are the 2 oldest cultures in existence today.

What is the best format for marriages?

When women were considered property they were originally purchased outright. This then evolved into a dower. Following this a dower was replaced by mutual consent. I'm not sure where arranged marriages fit into this picture. Do you believe a payment is the best method for acquiring wives? If a combination of arrangement and payment was applied to marriage maybe this would yield the best results. My thinking is the payment should be a transaction between the two families. This would ensure a larger stake in choosing mates for a successful marriage. Then on top of that the grooms family should only commit to a down payment at the time of marriage. For every year of successful marriage, the brides family can be paid more of the balance.
I don't know what the best format is.  My practical side tells me to not even think about this question because the main challenge is just to create a workable culture that is tolerable, not necessarily "best".
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Re: Sex and Culture (book)

Drealm
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fschmidt wrote
Where did Unwin list these?  I would say America has modified monogamy from this list, but this is pretty meaningless in a society that is basically promiscuous and marriage means little.
Page 342 in chapter 5 Necessity In Human Affairs.
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Re: Sex and Culture (book)

fschmidt
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Drealm wrote
Page 342 in chapter 5 Necessity In Human Affairs.
This part of the book is quite bad.  It is where he tries to explain his theory which I think is totally wrong.
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Re: Sex and Culture (book)

J. Donner
In reply to this post by Drealm
This book was too long and boring for me. I hope that one day Franklin or Drealm will come down to San Diego and explain to me the gist.
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Re: Sex and Culture (book)

Drealm
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I found it boring and long also. Did you see my original suggestion about skipping to chapter 5, "Necessity In Human Affairs"? I found this section easier and more enjoyable.
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