Variance

Since evolution relies on the overproduction of animals and the selection of only some of them to breed, the only thing that could stop us continuing to be subject to it would be social arrangements that absolutely guaranteed that no human being had either more or fewer offspring than any other. Inasmuch as certain human cultures have made it their ideal that everyone should have children, therefore, these cultures are setting themselves up against selective pressure. Contrariwise, it follows that any human culture that revolts against universal and arranged marriage in favour of individual and voluntary choice of mates is causing selective pressure to become more intense. Such revolt effectively takes sides in the age-old struggle between unconscious biology and conscious social control, without fully understanding the mechanisms and the stakes.

Both sexes face their own separate reproductive ceilings. For females it is their own physiology, plus competition with other females for access to economic resources; for males it is the competition with other males for access to females. The result of this asymmetry is that most females breed, but not as much as the males who breed most; while inferior males breed much less than the average female, if at all. This is true in both humans and most other mammals. We call the difference between individual reproductive scores ‘variance’.

In some species, and among poor humans, variance also involves the differential survival of offspring; among prosperous humans, however, the job is done almost entirely by sexual selection. Inferior animal males die, or are killed or driven off; the species is improved by the reproductive failure of the bearers of poor genes. Among us, however, civilisation allows such rejects to linger on, though unfulfilled.

In the modern West, male variance is higher than female and currently increasing – although still lower than it was in the early twentieth century. In other words, the number of men who never marry is considerably higher than the number of women who never marry, and rising. In some places, like the former DDR and many rural communities, this is because the women are better-educated than the men and have left for richer pastures. In part, however, the increasing male variance is because of serial polygamy. Rich men are dumping the helpmeets of their youth and marrying young women, sometimes repeatedly. These fertile females are then unavailable to their contemporaries. We might also look at the same phenomenon from the opposite perspective and say that women are passing around the same limited stock of viable – i.e., rich – husbands among themselves. All this increases variance.

Freud may have been right, but for the wrong reasons, when he thought that young men wanted to kill their fathers; not because they want to sleep with their own mothers, but rather because Senior has dumped their mothers and is now in bed with the young woman who might otherwise have married Junior.

As long as there is some measure of male support of the wife, monogamy demands a certain equality of income. This in turn implies restrictions on economic freedom. Combining perfect economic liberty with universal monogamy is therefore impossible. For some strange reason this has escaped the notice of the Family Values crowd.

Posted on May 23, 2009 at 09:46 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: AGAINST NATURE, "Love" Contra Social Stability

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