reblogging post from severnayazemlya because Tumblr is broken:
First of all, marriage can’t be about both love and partnership – not without a radical redefinition of ‘love’, which hasn’t happened.
Second, ARH said something interesting on Twitter a while back: one of the social-constructionists’ arguments is that men are thought of today as the sex-crazed sex – and there are evopsych arguments for this and so on – but in certain periods of the past, women were. If this is true, and if it’s true that stereotypes have some basis in reality, what are men today doing wrong?
Third, read Nietzsche, and notice that what he’s saying boils down to the common sentiment that the USA is better off with an enemy to motivate it not to fuck up too badly. If you’re Volkmar Weiss, you’ll take that one step further: rising material conditions remove genetic selection pressure, which allows deleterious mutations that would have been culled in a harsher environment, which dooms the rising civilization on a biological level. But if you’re just Nietzsche, and you say that hostile conditions demand the ability to survive, and their removal also removes that demand, leading inevitably to radical individualization, atomization, lack of discipline and coordination, and an eventual collapse into mediocrity, which is presumably incapable of sustaining the conditions that gave rise to it…
What Douthat is saying is that some systems are more human-shaped than others.
It should be obvious that humans are bigger than any system – but, even though there’s no system that’s even close to perfect, some systems have better fit over their population.
Let’s say you have one society that tries to make all its women sexually dominant and all its men sexually submissive, and another society that tries to do the opposite. Neither will work perfectly, but it should be obvious which one will work better: men tend to be dominant and women tend to be submissive.
Now, what do the dominant women and submissive men do in that second society? Maybe they go underground. Maybe they leave. Or maybe they fight the rest of the society. How would they go about that?
They might just say they ought to be left to do their thing in peace.
Or they might not.
They aren’t born with the knowledge that men tend to be dominant and women tend to be submissive. Maybe they’ll do studies and find that out, or maybe they won’t. But it wasn’t true for them, so they’ll be suspicious of it – their society tried to make them into something they weren’t. For all they know, they’re just lucky to have realized it, and to have had the ability to recognize that what they were told was false. For all they know, their minds are typical.
What Douthat is saying is that there was some system that existed sometime in the past that was more human-shaped than Marcotte’s vision for the future. Gavin McInnes has said the same.
The conservative argument is that the cultural inheritance that the past hands down to the present is more human-shaped than most reforms proposed in the present – because there were reformers in the past, and, absent major breaks in the continuity, past reforms have had time to be tested for their fit: those that worked were kept, and those that didn’t were discarded.
The progressive argument against that is this: there are harmful institutions that can reach fixation, like canary-carrying miners, subsistence farming, and kuru-causing cannibalism. If that’s at all valid, it’s not because of its examples: canaries and subsistence farming are problems of insufficient technological advancement, and kuru could very well be more historically recent than the First World War – the consensus seems to be that it only emerged in the 20th century.
(It doesn’t help the progressive case to admit disease as an argument against something. What was the prevalence of kuru among the Fore? Was it above or below 20%?)
Marcotte and Douthat disagree on which system is more human-shaped, and therefore on what the default opt-out life narrative should be.
I’d be interested to see more research on correlations between digit ratio and support for feminism.
Thanks for the effortpost. I think the love/partnership split could do with further discussion, and I think the question over which sex is more sex-crazed has flipped back and forth in different places at different times, and may not actually reflect major differences in behaviour.
Removing selection pressure also allows more benign mutations to flourish, and can allow a species to branch out and colonise new areas; when selection is too strong, you are confined to a particular niche. You would expect that humans are currently diversifying at a genetic level due to improved healthcare, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. (The alternative: sharks and crocodiles, very stable, but not very interesting).
There still seems to be that flip-flop between individual happiness and overall social flourishing. eg. stay in this assigned role for your own good, or for the good of humanity. Ideally both would coincide, of course! But if many people are insisting that these roles are not good for them personally, it is unlikely that they are all wrong. So it comes back to sacrificing some people for the good of society, and that’s a difficult trade off to make in explicit terms, even if you can prove it is actually necessary.
Maybe it would be helpful to focus on an issue that affects more people than gay marriage, such as encouraging women to have children in their mid-20s instead of late-30s, by changing the incentives that are currently in place?