Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Sex and Culture

The following is an Amazon review of the book Sex and Culture, authored by J.D. Unwin and published in 1934. As well, after this review, another short review by a fellow MGTOW'r who makes some critical comments of his own (& who is also trying to get permission to put this book online - so keep your eyes out).

(Review by MPC)

That is the basic thesis of this unjustly forgotten book. According to Professor Unwin, who was influenced by Freud, it is the "limitation of sexual opportunity" which creates the "mental energy" necessary to build a civilization.

He backs this up with exhaustive examples of the historical cycle he proposes. The cycle goes as follows: in a primitive society, people take their pleasure at whim, without commitment or limits. Then the practice of monogamous marriage, including premarital chastity, is instituted. (How he believes this first arises would take far too long to summarize here; read the book!) The sexual repression required for this chastity and fidelity increases the "mental energy" and the inner strength of those who practice it, enabling them to embark on long-term projects such as monumental architecture, agriculture, and conquest. In this early stage, men have enormous power over their wives and children, even when the children have grown up.

The "sexual opportunity" of women is always, of necessity, more limited than that of men in a civilized society, and this has a powerful effect, according to Unwin; they convey this repression and its benefits to their children. Indeed, he blames the decline of feudalism on its habit of putting its "best" women into convents to live as nuns - it is true that for a woman with intellectual aspirations, a convent was her only real option - instead of having them bear children to whom they could convey their "mental energy".

Unwin also criticizes polygamous societies; the easy "sexual opportunity" it affords men limits the "mental energy". He says, "That is why, I submit, the Moors in Spain achieved such a high culture. Their fathers were born into a polygamous tradition; but their mothers were the daughters of Christians and Jews, and had spent their early years in an absolutely monogamous environment. The sons of these women laid the foundations of rationalistic culture; but soon the supply of Christian and Jewish women was insufficient, so the incipient rationalism failed to mature greatly."

It always begins with the ruling class, the aristocracy, being the most chaste and monogamous. As they grow decadent after a few generations, the "middle class" (not necessarily in our modern understanding of it) is just getting the hang of it, having aped it from their betters, and they acquire more power in the society.

In time, however, the strict monogamy loosens. Unwin speculates that the extreme power the builders of civilizations have over their wives and children is unbearable to most, and the decrease of this power is inevitable. Unwin's attention is more on the monogamy than on the legal position of women, but the two seem to march hand in hand. "A female emancipating movement is a cultural phenomenon of unfailing regularity; it appears to be the necessary outcome of absolute monogamy. The subsequent loss of social energy after the emancipation of women, which is sometimes emphasized, has been due not to the emancipation but to the extension of sexual opportunity which has always accompanied it. In human records there is no instance of female emancipation which has not been accompanied by an extension of sexual opportunity."

Indeed, as sexual opportunity becomes easier - which always takes place in concert with female emancipation - the society's mental energy weakens, it cannot continue to invent things or maintain what it has, and in a few generations it is easily conquered by a robust monogamous patriarchy, which is fairly bursting with the mental energy of repressed sexuality.

Professor Unwin, by the way, was not in any way a male chauvinist. He concluded his book with a hopeful wish that we may find some way to have sexual repression and the equality of the sexes at the same time, and clearly believed that women are not inherently unfit for power and independence.

That is one of the two criticisms I would make of this excellent work. But one can hardly blame Professor Unwin, who was writing in 1934, long before scientific study had verified that all of the traditional stereotypes about women were based in biological fact. Indeed, thanks to feminist domination of mass media, few people today are aware of this.

The other criticism is that Unwin focuses all of his attention on the "mental energy" caused by sexual repression. I suspect he is right about it, but there is another vital factor in the building of a civilization, and that is paternity. Men build things - houses, palaces, empires, codes of ethics - so that they can pass them on to their own children, and thus achieve one kind of immortality. Men who know they cannot train and endow their children are disinclined to produce. This, even more than the lack of opportunity for personal enrichment, is why communism and socialism are such abysmal failures, and why inheritance tax is such a dangerous threat to civilization itself. It would be good to read an intertwining of this theory and Unwin's. This book has long been out of print and copies are rare and expensive, but until this situation is remedied, it can be obtained through inter-library loan. I highly recommend it for its exhaustive documentation.


A further review by married:

Unwin's research is extremely valuable, but his explanation is nonsense. One has to understand that as a liberal anthropologist, he never expected the results that he found, and was undoubtedly not very happy with them, but he was honest enough to report that facts as he found them. His explanation is an attempt to reconcile the facts with his liberal beliefs, when they are, in fact, irreconcilable. The only limit of sexual opportunity in the historical societies that he describes is limits for women. Prostitution was very widespread in these societies, so men never lacked sex.

(married is currently attempting to get permission to publish the book online - so, if he is successful, I will post the link to it on the blog).