Thursday, October 30, 2008

The beginning of indoctrination

I have been reading a great deal of Wilhelm Reich lately and he has got me thinking about monogamy as a form of indoctrination. In fact, not only is monogamy a form of psychological indoctrination it has important economic roots, and like most behavioral conditioning which has an economic purpose, that purpose is to oppress some for the benefit of others.

Reich and Malinowski develop the theory of marriage as an economic institution by observing the (name) people and their progression from a sexually open society to a monogamous society with all the requisite taboos against child sexuality, incest and the like.

Startlingly Reich notes that there were no laws in the Soviet Union against incest because historically incest had never been demonstrated to have any deleterious effects. My understanding of the incest taboo, as derived by the culture I was raised in, was always that it was a step taken to insure the Darwinian selection process by eliminating a practice harmful to healthy offspring.

Without investigating Reich and the Soviet contention that incest has no harmful consequences for offspring I will accept it at face value with the intention of researching it later. If this contention is accepted then an alternative reason for the incest taboo must be present.

Freud's Totem and Taboo has been the standard western model of the rationale behind the incest taboo, namely that it was the first, primitive and necessary step of human civilization toward development of a modern culture. Reich challenges this notion and asserts that in fact the incest taboo was intimately intertwined with a general taboo on free child sexuality which among many aboriginal cultures is quite common.

Reich enumerates the various cultures in which children are allowed to explore sex play with one another without regard to age or relation. The Origin of Compulsory Sex Morality He then develops his theory, based primarily on Malinowski's observations of the Trobrianders, that All sexual taboos, incest, age limits, and others are derivative of the marriage tribute system of gifts which ultimately resulted in a "chief" who possessed more property than other members of the tribe.

Once the formerly egalitarian culture produced a chief the chief propagated a legal system which insured that his property would be maintained and continually increased through an elaborate system of marital gifts.

I invite the reader to read Reich and Malinowski in the original is she wishes to see the details of this broad outline. My goal here is to summarize the findings of Reich in a manner which reflects on the institution of monogamy in modern European culture; monogamy being the modern equivalent of marriage and the default format of the relationship in all the European derived cultures I have lived in.

We are conditioned from earliest childhood not only against incest and childhood sexuality but toward monogamy as the "normal" template for human relationships. Even the most sexually liberal among us rarely take the news of a lover's infidelity lightly.

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