Thursday, December 22, 2005

Marx on Bigamy


Capt. Spaulding (Groucho Marx): I'm sick of these conventional marriages. One woman and one man was good enough for your grandmother, but who wants to marry your grandmother? Nobody, not even your grandfather.

[to Mrs. Rittenhouse and Mrs. Whitehead]

Capt. Spaulding (Groucho Marx): You know, you two girls have everything. You're tall and short and slim and stout and blonde and brunette. And that's just the kind of a girl I crave.

Capt. Spaulding (Groucho Marx): Why, you've got beauty, charm, money! You have got money, haven't you? Because if you haven't, we can quit right now.

Mrs. Rittenhouse (Margaret Dumont): I'm fascinated.

Capt. Spaulding (Groucho Marx): I'm fascinated, too. Right on the arm.

Capt. Spaulding (Groucho Marx): [to Mrs. Rittenhouse and Mrs. Whitehead] Let's get married.

Mrs. Whitehead: All of us?

Capt. Spaulding (Groucho Marx): All of us.

Mrs. Whitehead: Why, that's bigamy.

Capt. Spaulding (Groucho Marx): Yes, and it's big of me too.

Animal Crackers 1930

Well as I predicted the Blogging Tory's have blown up over the Supreme Court Ruling that Swinger Sex is Ok cause we're Canadian.

And as I predicted this decision has seperated the libertarians from the Family Values (patriarchical monothiests) coalition of the right.

And of course just as they did in opposing Same Sex Marriage the FV crew raise the spector of bigamy, polygamy, and incest. The latter is just plain stupid, but well what do you expect from folks who will grasp at anything outrageous to say to obscure the point. It's called fearmongering.

As to bigamy, see Marx above. Polygamy is refered to in the old testament, and as practiced by Mormons, and some Muslims, is an extension of patriarchical monogamy into plural monogamous realtionships.

What the right whingers really are refering to is neither, it is rather the concept of the open marriage or the idea of a communal love realtionship; polyamoury. Well swinger sex has had that connotation ever since the sixties when Robert Heinlein wrote Stranger in a Strange Land.

It’s hard to gauge just how profound an effect Stranger in a Strange Land has had on Western society (it’s still early yet). It came out in 1961, and was swiftly embraced by the emerging counterculture, so becoming a best seller. The word “grok” entered into the youth’s vernacular (however briefly), and doubtless many aspiring humans-who-would-be-Martians begun to greet one another with the knowing catch phrases, “Thou art God,” “Share water, “ “Never thirst,” and so forth. It’s easy to see why. Stranger in a Strange Land is the most fully convincing Utopian vision, in literature or in any medium, that I know of. It encapsulates the more progressive and creative aspects of cultural “revolution,” and celebrates what were soon to become (again, however briefly) the most treasured tenets of the Sixties rebellion: mind expansion, individual responsibility, and free love.


In 1962 Robert Rimmer published his polyamourous novel The Harrard Experiment.

Intertwined, too, were new ways of social and sexual relating, as written about in Robert Rimmer's "The Harrad Experiment." And here grew the seeds that gave birth to the modern womens movement, the gay movement and new male/female consciousness. Summer of Love

Twenty years later, in 1981, Gay Talese published his now famous journal of his journey through America's sexual underground; Thy Neighbor's Wife which covered the swingers movement, wife swapping, and the then embryonic polyamourous movement.

Talese's book begins with the creation of Playboy magazine and the begining of the sexual revolution ten years later in the sixties. He then documents the movements of heterosexual experimentation with new sexual and human relationships.

What is important to remember is that even with the advent of Playboy magazine, which had as one of its editors libertarian sci-fi author Robert Anton Wilson, that through out the sixties the battle for free speech was also the battle for sexual speech.

Someone once asked me about "1960s porn films." There wasn't actually such a thing, strictly speaking, in North America until the late-1960s. Sexual speech can generally be considered to have been criminalized until then. John Harris Stevenson,
NOTES on the HISTORY of PORNOGRAPHY
In America you can say anything you want - as long as it doesn't have any effect.
Paul Goodman

The sexual revolution was further promoted by the increased knowledge of sexuality promoted by the publication of the Kinsey report, the advent of birth control and a broader acceptance of contraception, the idea that sex was for pleasure not just procreation.
These ideas were not new, they had existed since the 19th century particularly in the socialist and anarchist movements. Anarchists then were attacked for believing and supporting Free Love which in the sixties would be known as open marriage.

With the summer of love 1967, and the hippie movement came the public exposure of the sexual revolution, which coincided with the rise of Alternative religions, paganism in particular, and with the idea of communes, communalism, the rise of the New Left and the embryonic revival of feminism

Oh that libertarian Heinlein little did he know what he unleashed on the world with that ground breaking novel.
Actually he did, he often portrayed open, free love relationships in many of his novels.
"I've had people offer to explain Stranger in a Strange Land to me. I was simply writing a novel, but apparently I clicked. (April 1980).
One of the adovcates of pagan polyamourism was the Church of All Worlds influenced as they were by Stranger in a Strange Land.

If any work of fiction will earn Robert Heinlein a permanent place on the collective bookshelf, it is going to be Stranger in a Strange Land, for the impact it has made on American society. If a person has not managed to read Stranger by now, then he has at least absorbed a bit of it osmotically, for it flows throughout our cultural consciousness. Perhaps least of all, it anticipated Nancy Reagan's reliance on astrology and spawned the water bed and the neologism "grok," (Heinlein's Martian verb for a thorough understanding), though "grok" would never have taken hold, had the young rebels of the 1960s not discovered Stranger as their counterculture bible. Some went even further and formed "nests" and churches based on what they found in Stranger; perhaps the most famous instance of that is the Church of All Worlds, a pagan group who lifted its name and logo intact from the book. Stranger has also begun to be included in many canonical college reading lists, and Billy Joel saw fit to mention the title in his 1989 Top-40 hit about history, "We Didn't Start the Fire."
The womens movement and the gay movements that resulted from the sexual revolution of the sixties have now broadened into movements around open flexible personal relationships and a growing bisexual movement that sees gender roles as socially constructed.

In many ways these the feminist sex positive movements developed out of the work of Betty Dodson, following in the footsteps of Wilhelm Reich and anarchist psychotherapists like Paul Goodman and the
Gestalt. movement.

A search for the ultimate motives of human conduct cannot
disregard pleasure which many eminent minds have considered to be the
fundamental motive, or at least an important one. Others, to be sure,
have held that pleasures is the outcome rather than the motive or goal of
human striving. But both sides are agreed that there is some relationship
between pleasure and striving.

There cannot be the slightest doubt that many human strivings bear
some kind of reference to pleasure, and likewise that many pleasures
bear some reference to striving. These references are both certain
enough to exist, and obscure enough as to their nature, to present a
genuine and inescapable problem.

Since the days of Aristippus, thinkers have wrangled over the issue of
hedonism. The longevity of the problem bears witness to its importance
as well as to its elusiveness. Like many another time-honored
philosophical problem, the question of pleasure and striving seems to
have been caught in a dilemma neither side of which is truly satis factory.
We shall have to recast the problem. We recognize its existence, but
refuse to strangle it with ill-suited concepts. We propose first to learn
the facts themselves by conducting a comprehensive phenomenological
analysis of the statics and dynamics of pleasure.

While those who believe that we strive for pleasure go under a definite
label, „hedonism,“ the other side which regards pleasure as a byproduct
of successful striving has no distinctive name. „Anti-hedonism“
would be too broad a designation. One may challenge hedonism without,
for that reason, pledging oneself to accept the reverse relationship
between pleasure and striving. Many explanations of pleasure
have been proposed that would be compatible with an anti-hedonistic
position, and yet do not trace pleasure to successful striving.
Metaphysical theories such as Spinoza’s derivation of pleasure from a
transition to greater perfection, physiological theories like those of
Lehmann or Freud - in terms of neural metabolism or „excitation,“
psychological theories tracing pleasure to some sort of harmony
(Herbart, Lipps), value-theories like Scheler’s in which pleasure is
regarded as a „sign“ of felt value, and, last but not least, those many
biological theories ascribing pleasantness to what is beneficial to the
organism - these and similar views do not hold the second alternative:
that pleasure is a by-product of successful striving. Yet they are
perfectly compatible with an anti-hedonistic position. Therefore, since
anti-hedonism is not a precise name for the second alternative, I propose
to call it hormism, following the lead of the latest of its greater
representatives, W. McDougall.1 Hormism, then, is the theory that
pleasure occurs when a conation, i.e., some striving for an object or
goal, is being successful, while displeasure occurs when a conation is
being frustrated.

2. Like the majority of the great rivers of thought, both hedonism and
hormism have springs in the gigantic mountain range of Aristotle’s
philosophy. One spring of hedonism is the book De Anima: „Desire is
the craving for the pleasant“; while those of hormism are in the
Nichomachean Ethics: “Pleasure is the consummation of activity.“

On Pleasure, Emotion, and Striving
by Karl Duncker 1941

Anarchist attitudes towards free love, and the positive liberating experience of the sexual revolution were docmented in the seventies by Dr. Alex Comfort in his book; The Joy of Sex.

And this is the crux of the libertarian conflict with those who would impose their morality of false virtue on the rest of us. Their virtous morality denies pleasure, pleasure is to be delayed, all is pain and sin, pleasure is for the hereafter, as Joe Hill wrote 'pie in the sky when you die'. It is the protestant work ethic the core of modern capitalism, that seperates work and play, pleasure and stimulation, into wage slavery for the paycheque.
For anarchists we believe that love should be the condition of companionship, and that love is free, not subject to state or church recognition. In fact it is the recognition of common law, or custom versus legal sanction. This is known as Free Love.

Free Love was the harbinger of feminism in the 19th and early 20th Century, its advocates were feminist socialists like Victoria Woodhull, Stella Browne, Emma Goldman, and Alexandra Kollanti.

It was the bane of church and middle class morality of its day. Today with the liberalization of social relations, the acceptance of no fault divorce and common law relations and even birth control, we forget that these were the social outrages of a mere 40 years ago, and the social improprieties and moral turpitude of the past century. The social outrage of editorialists, church leaders and politicians, was heaped on the advocates of Free Love. Today it is this same outrage that vents against Gay Marriage.

The Sanctity of Marriage Debate
And we can now add to that those in such a moral huff over the Supreme Court ruling that legalizes group sex, and recreational sex, which will end uncalled for police vice raids on gay Bathouses as well as on straight swingers clubs.

For those who talk about freedom and choice it is ironic that they demand the State impose their moral values on the rest of us. This debate seperates the libertarian wheat from the reactionary conservative chaff.

The monothiest monogamists who value the property relations of marriage are right to be afraid. Their social relation is reliant on private property, and the owning of people as property (women and children). It is a fragile myth that denies the indivdual members their freedom.This is not a free relationship between free individuals. It is a socially constructed role, where individuals are enslaved to their gender, not to their ability or talents. It is a relationship of oppression.

The reactionaries have tried to bury the sexual revolution by linking it to violence against women (pornography), child sexual abuse (accusing gay men of being pederasts, or 'recruiters'), aids, sexually transmitted diseases, divorce, blah, blah, blah. The sexual revolution continues, it went back underground but there are liberating relationships that challenge the old family values of the bourgoise and their religious apologists. The Supreme Court decision allowed for an individuals right to choose their sexual partners and to practice recreational sex. Something Canadians would not have been able to do without the Charter of Rights.

One day polyamoury will have its day in court. For like its predecesor, primitive communist familal relations, polyamoury reflects in the present what maybe a future form of communistic love and sharing.

"Love, work and knowledge are the well-springs of our life. They should also govern it."

- Wilhelm Reich



Also see:

Whose Family Values?



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hou said...

The Sanctity of Marriage DebateAnd we can now add to that those in such a moral huff over the Supreme Court ruling that legalizes group sex.
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