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post Nov 14 2004, 02:19 PM
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just an interesting article on jpost


raises an interesting although flimsy yet valid argument.


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Terrorism and polygamy
By WILLIAM TUCKER
The recent discovery of a miniature race of extinct "Hobbits" on a small island in Indonesia reminds us how closely attached we human beings remain to our biological evolution.

It is not that everything is "programmed into our genes." Even the most strident sociobiologists say that no more than 40 to 50 percent of our behavior is "hard-wired." Cultural custom and personal choice play an equally important role. But evolution and biology set certain ground rules.

One rule is that if a large species becomes isolated on an island with limited resources and without predators, it will gradually grow smaller. That is what happened to the Hobbits.

Another is that if a culture adopts polygamy as its mating system, it will experience heightened levels of male violence.

The rules of polygamy and monogamy are well known to scientists. It's really a matter of simple arithmetic. Into every society is born approximately the same number of males and females. If each takes one mate - if there is "a girl for every boy and a boy for every girl" - then all will all have an approximately equal chance of mating.

If a society tolerates polygamy, however, the equation changes. When one man can take several wives, other men will have none. If there are five eligible males for every four eligible females, for instance, one in five males must remain unmarried.

This creates social tensions. It also creates strategies to deal with these tensions. One is to allow child marriage. Because there is a "wife shortage," men are permitted to reach further down into the female population, marrying girls that have barely reached puberty. In some ancient societies, grown men married infants and waited for them to grow up.

Polygamous societies also tend to practice extreme puritanism and be restrictive toward women. Because they are scarce, women are hoarded by families. To marry, men must pay a "brideprice." (The "dowry," on the other hand - a cash bonus attached to an eligible daughter - is the signature of monogamy.) The brideprice tends to concentrate the unmarried among poorer men.

FACED WITH this exclusion from domestic society, men tend to join the "bachelor herd" - gangs of unattached males that adopt criminal, even warlike, behavior. Polygamy is widespread in tropical Africa and those countries are constantly plagued with "rebel armies" that live in the bush for years, plotting conquest and kidnapping wives from villages.

Polygamy is not the only route to these imbalances. China has arrived at the same place by pursuing its "one-child" policy.

In Bare Branches: The Security Implications of Asia's Surplus Male Population, Andrea M. den Boer and Valerie Hudson show that sex selection by parents has produced ratio of 120 boys for every 100 girls. "Leaders in Beijing... will be hard pressed to address the potentially grave social instability," they argue. The authors predict a rise is "sectarian and ethnic violence" and say such tensions usually lead to an authoritarian society.

The one culture in the world that has most prominently sanctioned polygamy is Islam. Anthropologists believe this was inherited from early desert herding societies. (The Hebrew Patriarchs, remember, also practiced polygamy.) Saudi Arabia has a male-female ratio of 125 to 100 - probably the highest in the world. The extensive exclusion of women from public life in Muslim societies is an obvious attempt to hoard women for arranged marriages. Nothing threatens a polygamous social order more than a few casual liaisons in the ranks.

While polygamy may have worked for desert tribes struggling against nature, it creates obvious dangers for a mass urban society. The surplus male population is a time bomb, constantly undermining social instability. Authoritarian regimes face the biggest threat. The only option is to turn the violence outward against other societies. Science would predict a polygamous society to be in constant conflict with its neighbors.

For all these reasons, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the practice of polygamy is at the root of Islam's embattled position with the world. Perhaps suicide bombers are young men who have internalized the grim truth of polygamy - that some men are literally expendable. If so, the religion itself directs these tensions outward against neighbors.

Monogamy is the social contract that underlies the essentially peaceful nature of most human societies. By promising each man an equal chance of mating - and domesticating men in general - social harmony is established.

Some Islamic scholars are now suggesting that polygamy may have outlived its usefulness in urban societies - and that it may not have been sanctioned by the religion to begin with. This avenue of reform seems well worth pursuing.

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MindsWideOpen
post Nov 14 2004, 03:10 PM
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Neglecting the fact that they restrict poligamy to "one man, several women" and that it's written entirely from a male perspective, all of the things they mentioned have been, and to varying extent are, facts of the monogamous societies too - dowry, extreme restrictiveness about women, child marriage, violent societies.

Trying to explain the "rebel armies" of tropical Africa with polygamy is at best laughable, although I find it more sad. The same goes for the similar explanation of suicide bombers, and why Islam is at odds with the world.

As for monogamous societies being more peaceful, yes I suppose that's why Russia is working so well, the World Wars never happened and medieval Europe was so harmonious.
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Telum
post Nov 15 2004, 04:28 AM
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QUOTE(MindsWideOpen @ Nov 14 2004, 11:10 AM)
Neglecting the fact that they restrict poligamy to "one man, several women" and that it's written entirely from a male perspective, all of the things they mentioned have been, and to varying extent are, facts of the monogamous societies too - dowry, extreme restrictiveness about women, child marriage, violent societies.

Trying to explain the "rebel armies" of tropical Africa with polygamy is at best laughable, although I find it more sad. The same goes for the similar explanation of suicide bombers, and why Islam is at odds with the world.

As for monogamous societies being more peaceful, yes I suppose that's why Russia is working so well, the World Wars never happened and medieval Europe was so harmonious.
*




Polygamy works with men having multiple wives, not the other way around. Men can inseminate multiple women at once. Women cannot carry multiple children.


However, cause and effect can be reversed in that article. It could be that more violent cultures adopt polygamy, because men are killed off in war, and that leads to a shortage of husbands.
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post Nov 15 2004, 05:00 AM
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QUOTE(Telum @ Nov 15 2004, 05:28 AM)
Polygamy works with men having multiple wives, not the other way around.  Men can inseminate multiple women at once.  Women cannot carry multiple children.

Polygamy often take the form of man - wives in patriarchal societies, but it's hardly restricted to it. For example, not long ago on a debate on TV there was a girl from Green Youth who had been in a polygamic, or polyamourous, relationship. As for women not being able to be impregnated by several men at the same time, there is a lot more to relationships then impregnating someone.

QUOTE
However, cause and effect can be reversed in that article.  It could be that more violent cultures adopt polygamy, because men are killed off in war, and that leads to a shortage of husbands.

I find that theory doubtful too. Just consider that europe has been monogamous for quite some time now, despite a very bloody history..
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Telum
post Nov 16 2004, 02:30 AM
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QUOTE(MindsWideOpen @ Nov 15 2004, 01:00 AM)
As for women not being able to be impregnated by several men at the same time, there is a lot more to relationships then impregnating someone.
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Not to the society. Society doesnt care if you are in love, forced into marriage, marry for money or whatever, as long as you produce children.
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acow
post Nov 16 2004, 05:04 AM
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QUOTE
Not to the society. Society doesnt care if you are in love, forced into marriage, marry for money or whatever, as long as you produce children.


Errr, the rituals of marriage, bride price, dowry, polygamy and monogomy and women's and men's place in society is SLIGHTLY more complicated than merely the issue of reproduction.

You can try to trace it all back to "natural biological instincts of reproduction" and "society just wants babies". But to do so you've not only failed to account for the extreme diversity of practices, but practically have to stick your head in the sand and ignore the real world where most practices place severe limits on optimal reproduction.
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MindsWideOpen
post Nov 16 2004, 05:15 AM
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Basically, what acow said.


Also, now that I've started to think about it more, it would be interesting to see how many that actually live in polygamy relative to monogamy in these polygamistic societies.
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post Dec 20 2004, 03:51 AM
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QUOTE(MindsWideOpen @ Nov 15 2004, 05:00 AM)
Polygamy often take the form of man - wives in patriarchal societies, but it's hardly restricted to it. For example, not long ago on a debate on TV there was a girl from Green Youth who had been in a polygamic, or polyamourous, relationship. As for women not being able to be impregnated by several men at the same time, there is a lot more to relationships then impregnating someone.
I find that theory doubtful too. Just consider that europe has been monogamous for quite some time now, despite a very bloody history..
*



Actually Polygamy is one man-many women. One woman-many men is called Polyandry.

Social studies have shown that the "winners" in polygamous (typical one-male-many-females) societies are A) The "attractive" males (in status, looks, wealth, what have you) as they can get many females and B) the females (as several females can "share" the same attractive male relatively easily) the losers tends to be the unattractive males (as in a monogamous society they would be able to pick up the "spares" after the attractive males had their picks).

Note however that this is totally meaningless as polygamy is almost never practiced within Islam. Only a few % of moslems can ever afford taking a second wife, and even most of those who can do not.
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post Dec 22 2004, 02:11 AM
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Polygyny does have a problem in that you have a lot of disgruntled males present and this is why most of the civilized world has been largely monogamous. Even in avowed polygynous communities the average number of mates rarely rises even towards two.

I am aware of exactly one polyandrous society, a handful of truly polygamous societies and only a few close to completely polygynous societies. Most soceities are largely monogamous with a handful of select individuals being polygynous.

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Llywelyn
post Dec 24 2004, 05:47 AM
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The vast majority of supposedly "monogamous" societies are actual serial monogamies--monogamies with a high divorce/changeover rate--which is simply a special case of a polygynous society.

This post has been edited by Llywelyn: Dec 24 2004, 05:48 AM
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necrolyte
post Dec 26 2004, 06:36 AM
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may I point out to you all that Osama bin Laden is married to well over one woman?
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Gengari
post Dec 26 2004, 12:41 PM
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Your point is?

So that means catholics are more likely to be hitler worshippers too? Because hitler was a catholic.
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Telum
post Dec 26 2004, 03:15 PM
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QUOTE(Llywelyn @ Dec 24 2004, 01:47 AM)
The vast majority of supposedly "monogamous" societies are actual serial monogamies--monogamies with a high divorce/changeover rate--which is simply a special case of a polygynous society.
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Its not though, because at any given time, there are more women available than in a polygynous society..
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Llywelyn
post Dec 27 2004, 01:03 AM
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QUOTE(necrolyte @ Dec 25 2004, 11:36 PM)
may I point out to you all that Osama bin Laden is married to well over one woman?
*



I believe that "Well over" equals "four."

QUOTE(Telum)
Its not though, because at any given time, there are more women available than in a polygynous society..


Not especially relevant, particularly if the earlier assertion that most people in a polygynous society are married to at most one person--it would mean that the numbers are going to be close to identical or that those differences, should they exist, are not going to substantially change the resulting society if everything else is equal.


This post has been edited by Llywelyn: Dec 27 2004, 02:56 AM
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post Dec 28 2004, 04:21 PM
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There is another problem with the whole criticism, namely, that the ratio of male to female members of the society will remain one to one. Bracketing the problem of those who, for whatever reason, only form same-sex erotic attachments, let's make the following assumption:

1) Each man will find a wife.
2) Each woman will find a husband

Now, if the ratio were truely 1:1, this would not be a problem. However, it's clear that there can be some varience. The following groups of statistics are all taken from the CIA world factbook.

QUOTE(United States)
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2004 est.)


What we see: more males are born than females at any given time; and males tend to die before females.

QUOTE(Saudia Arabia)
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.36 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.18 male(s)/female
total population: 1.22 male(s)/female (2004 est.)


Here's the country Osama is from. We find that there are, in all age groups, more men than women.

In sum, it appears that the same problem should arise in monogamy, that is, that the males are compteting in a shortage of females. If anything, from these statistics, we should be tolerating plural marriage on the part of women.

Telum -

It is possible for a woman to get impregnated by more than one man, just not at the same time. Also, as has been pointed out, there is more to relationships than merely reproduction; and it should be obvious that, socially, we actually do care about more than just reproduction.

DT,

QUOTE
Polygyny does have a problem in that you have a lot of disgruntled males present and this is why most of the civilized world has been largely monogamous.


That, or because of the fact that you have the civilised world largely influenced by Christian ethics. The same criticism (lots of disgruntled males) is also present in monogamous society.
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post Dec 28 2004, 04:23 PM
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A final note, on my US statistics: I remember seeing stats somewhere else, where the middle agegroup was not quite so broad as being 15-65; at further intervals, which were more reasonable, we see overall more females than males present.
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post Dec 29 2004, 03:54 PM
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OMFG - NOW i understand the problem of islam ENTIRELY!!!


funny how the mormons seem to have avoided becoming terrorists though - perhaps it was the lucky fluke that the non-religious US fed. govt decided to enforce the totally non-religious restriction on polygamy that they wished to practice down there in utah.

anyway, back to the serious debate: is this a different slant on ed's argument that marriage 'civilises' men? it is to be noted that homosexuality (as defined by the west - and disputed by islam) is far more prevalent in islamic societies - but then we can also infer that it probably was in pre-secular christian socieites as well.

a society can always find survival strategies for its mating strategies.


but what about genetically? would it improve the genetic benk if the attractive male mates were socially allowed to be impregnating multiple women?

i see arguments on both sides here - clealry, if success in our societies were entirely meritocratic, there would be a strong argument here, but what about socieites with large inherited wealth? Also, what about socieites that emphasis physical strength as attractive elements, would such a society intellectual genetic quatant fall over time, because the lesser genes (if intellectual ability has a genetic element) would then not even get second choice?

does monogamy push towards a greater genetic spread than polygamy - and is that a good thing if so/if not?

as a slight diversion, should a society even have the right to prevent people from forming such marriage patterns if they wish?


as a side note that supports the articles contentions somewhat, homosexuals were historically used widely in armies because they quite often tend toward suicidal gestures, ie they were berserkers, shock troops etc.


does anyone else get the idea that when russian reads what i just wrote he will faint that i actually supported one of his articles? :lol:
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Telum
post Dec 29 2004, 08:45 PM
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QUOTE(gnuneo @ Dec 29 2004, 11:54 AM)
as a side note that supports the articles contentions somewhat, homosexuals were historically used widely in armies because they quite often tend toward suicidal gestures, ie they were berserkers, shock troops etc.
*



I thought that the roman legions were encouraged to be homosexual to
A) create a tighter bond between the troops
B) Make the troops not want to embaress themselves in battle in front of their partners
C) Elimitates the problem of having the troops grow restless due to lack of women.
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post Dec 29 2004, 10:49 PM
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A and B are actually things that I think have been lifted from Plato's Symposium, one of the early speeches - I want to say Pausanius. The argument was for an army composed entirely of male lovers.

Incidentally, there was an ancient force which used this technique. Forget which city it was, but that force got its head handed to them.
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post Dec 30 2004, 05:25 PM
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QUOTE
but that force got its head handed to them.


is that an intended, or unintended pun? :D
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Malevolent
post Dec 30 2004, 07:51 PM
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My puns are always intentional, even when they aren't. :)
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gnuneo
post Jan 3 2005, 03:27 PM
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adam: actually, it doesnt surprise me that they lost their wars - a military force composed only of shock troops generally will, such troops would rely solely upon breaking the organisation of any opposing forces, and of they fail in the initial rush, will usually be slaughtered. However as an element of a military force, they can be devestating.

was that the case?
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post Jan 4 2005, 08:43 PM
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Who wouldn't want to crash a plane into a building with 5 wives screaming at you?
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post Jan 4 2005, 09:21 PM
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QUOTE(gnuneo @ Jan 3 2005, 10:27 AM)
adam: actually, it doesnt surprise me that they lost their wars - a military force composed only of shock troops generally will, such troops would rely solely upon breaking the organisation of any opposing forces, and of they fail in the initial rush, will usually be slaughtered. However as an element of a military force, they can be devestating.

was that the case?
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Don't recall, unfortunately. Jim didn't know much about it either, though used to know a classics student who did. Damn. Wish I knew the source (or remembered the city).
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post Jan 6 2005, 10:27 PM
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QUOTE(Adam @ Dec 29 2004, 10:49 PM)
A and B are actually things that I think have been lifted from Plato's Symposium, one of the early speeches - I want to say Pausanius. The argument was for an army composed entirely of male lovers.

Incidentally, there was an ancient force which used this technique. Forget which city it was, but that force got its head handed to them.
*



Sacred band of Thebes? They were an elite force, and not the entire army. And they hardly had their asses handed to them (dominated Greece for some time, survived for some more, were crushed by the Macedonians)
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post Jan 7 2005, 04:21 PM
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QUOTE
Sacred band of Thebes? They were an elite force, and not the entire army. And they hardly had their asses handed to them (dominated Greece for some time, survived for some more, were crushed by the Macedonians)


I think there was someone else. Unfortunately, I just remember that there was a reference to them in my seminar on the symposium. Jim thought there was one, and it was another student who knew about it. Sadly, I uh... don't remember who it was, and can't check anymore, since he graduated.
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