Saturday, 28 October 2017

On Monogamy - Part I

This is the first of two ruminations derived from a reading of a 2008 academic paper by Walter Scheidel of Stanford University, 'Monogamy and Polygyny in Greece, Rome and World History' [Princeton Stanford Working Papers in Classics, available online]. The views and conclusions are mine and not his.

Monogamy is 'normal', begging the question of what it is we mean by 'normal' - for us, for society, for a particular society and so forth. 'Normal' means fitting a 'norm', a standard which occasions no comment, that just is as it is. A norm contains no absolute moral worth in itself since slavery was once normal and female genital mutilation is normal today in some societies. The question underlying the question is how something becomes 'normal' in society and whether it accords with our own natures ... or what would be normal to us if we were in command of the social and the social was not in command of us.

Monogamy presents an interesting test case in deciding whether what is normal is imposed or natural. An academic paper by Walter Scheidel of Stanford University, published in June 2008, triggered thoughts since it opens with a question about the normality or peculiarity of Greco-Roman monogamy which, in turn, is interesting to me because it is Greco-Roman monogamy that has set the standard for the Christian world which, in turn, has created many of the unthinking norms of our own culture.

By monogamy here, we mean a social rule that permits only one wife (we have to assume here male dominance whose normality is another question for another time) with no cohabitation with concubines - in other words, the association of an exclusive sexual relationship within a household. It is perhaps not a problem of sexuality (since it does not preclude extra-marital sex outside the home) so much as a problem of property (who has access to it as sexual or just household management partner). The Greco-Roman approach to property provides us with another set of norms that have underpinned Western culture, including capitalism, ever since.

Scheidel notes that genetic monogamy (mutually exclusive mating between two partners) is fairly rare in the animal kingdom and that social monogamy (mutually exclusive pair bonding which is not necessarily connected to reproduction) is common amongst birds but atypical amongst mammals of which we humans, of course, are a species. Humans appear to be unusual - even amongst primates in being monogamous (in effect, a partly social construction) and (he avers) "only mildly polygynous in "genetic" and "social" terms'".

The mildly appears to be an extrapolation from claims about sexual dimorphism and male-female variability in reproductive success which we can take as read. But the reading of that evidence suggests that mildly polygynous does not mean not polygynous and that might be read as either that most people are occasionally interested in two or more partners at the same time or some (a relatively few) males are always interested in two or more partners. This gives us a picture of a free 'natural' society in which most people lived in monogamous states but enabled people in monogamous states either to be temporarily non-monogamous or people to be fully polygamous. The rise of polyamory in itself within conditions of relative social freedom implies the reality of these possibilities although polyamorists still find themselves faced with enormous stigma and social barriers to contend with.

Scheidel's analysis of social conditions perhaps confirms that the polyamorous trend in a post-Christian free society fits with a situation where, historically, most bonding and mating arrangements are monogamous but where societies generally accept polygyny in both its generic and social forms. We might say that most humans most of the time (outside the West) are not rigid in having one system for all but provide flexibility in accordance with the underlying structure of human biological preference. 93% of societies have some form of socially accepted polygyny (polyandry is entirely another matter). Convenience, preference and resource limitations might tend most to monogamy but there is no barrier across the bulk of humanity to multiple relationships in principle, especially amongst elite groups and as 'concurrent concubinage'.

Now, the key element is '-gyny'. The vast bulk of historic social forms are related to multiple partners for males and not for females and may be read in two ways - either that, in general, men and women do not want multiple relationships and are more tolerant of sharing space with other women (which is interesting but unclear and which we may explore in the next posting) or that men simply are so dominant in most social situations that they can impose these social standards and that women are their 'victims' which is probably the 'normal' narrative of most women in the contemporary West. We can read the process of shifting from polygyny in all its forms (including concurrent concubinage) either as the progressive liberation of women from male oppression or as the progressive imposition and cultural enslavement of men to a feminised society. I suggest that both processes have operated in tandem.

The problem with the simple ideological interpretation that monogamy is a liberation of at least half humanity from the other half (or, less charitably, that it is one half's victory in a cultural power struggle over the other half) is that the current stage of human history is unusually free of socially imposed restrictions on sexual conduct. It has become very clear that there are as many women, possibly more, who want sexual relationships classed as polyamorous (that is, the freedom to love more than one person) as there are men. The conclusion may be that women are as mildly polyandrous as men are mildly polygamous and that it is probably true that most women are occasionally interested in two or more partners at some stage while some (a relatively few) females are always interested in two or more partners. In other words that, in a totally free society, and although there may be differences in approach to specific situations, there may be more similarity between men and women in this regard than social norms have permitted.

What we are suggesting here is that we should not entirely confuse polygyny with patriarchy. Nevertheless, what Scheidel does point out is the correlation of matriarchy with monogamy and patriarchy with polygyny. At first sight, this suggests that the link with patriarchy is to be seen in terms of female liberation and female exploitation but this may not be quite what it seems because we have to think about who are the mothers and who are the fathers who rule and how they relate to others of their gender. I would contend that gender here is of less importance than the fact of ruling - it is power that matters.

For example, the logic of the relationship between monogamy and matriarchy might be seen immediately in terms of the need for the mother-to-be to remove all competition from the household - the competition is not men but other women so that monogamy is not a strategy to contain or control men (though that is the net result) but a strategy to exclude other women. A dominant woman can demand in the right social circumstances the exclusion of all other women and the exile of the male's sexuality to the margins in return for exclusivity and stability. That offer, made at point A when emotional bonding is high, might be regreted at point B when the male has literally gone through a ritual that socially closes alll doors to his own future needs and desires - in effect, he has been deluded perhaps by his own hormones or social pressure into a form of quasi-enslavement to which he either reconciles himself or around which he is forced to skulk like a dog. In short, matriarchical monogamy is a power play as anti-liberatory as patriarchical polygyny because it structures social norms around the thrusting of other women to one side (into social nothingness as hidden mistresses, lovers, sex workers and so forth) in order that one woman be dominant in the household. Thus women may be said to oppress women through monogamy as much as (it could be argued) women control and contain (and so oppress) men.

To be fair, we should say, of course, that there are parallel oppressions in patriarchical polygyny but resource poverty means that most normal relationships in such societies remain monogamous - the woman, in such societies, might reasonably say that the man can have his concubine or second wife when he can afford it and not before and such a new entrant into a household would be in a pecking order and be expected to wash the dishes. Elite patriarchal polygyny, on the other hand, brings women into a wealthy household and so provides security but their dependence on the male is clear - the women are not truly free but no more, one supposes, than men who are answerable to other men (the condition of most men in most societies) or if a modern high status female decided to have a harem of poorer males in tow.

The latter type has been historically rare to the point of my knowing of no case beyond some notorious super-elite women such as Catherine the Great and a few Empresses but the point here is that the oppression is at all times one of relative power and wealth before it is one of sexual predation. The predation follows on from the disparities of wealth and power just as the casting couch mediates between the desperate desire of a beautiful young woman to be an actress and the hunger for power and sex of an inadequate pot-bellied aging man with capital. I have no doubt that a society of Amazons with high sexual appetites and great wealth in a resource poor society with too many men around who need to eat would soon develop forms of sexual organisation and household that reflected their power albeit one that would have to deal with the problem of pregnancy. We may live in such a society within our lifetimes.

Monogamy thus has its politics - it is both a means by which women contain and control men and out-compete other women and it is a means by which partnerships of bonded humans are formed to create children or security often under conditions of resource scarcity. As an ideology, it emerges from the first whereas, as a practice, it emerges from the second. It is why so often women engaged in the practice and not requiring to contain and control or out-compete can often reject those ideologies of matriarchalism (such as that of catholicism) and feminism that grow out of anxiety and ressentiment.

Polygyny or polyandry or community variants, conversely, are both a means by which men show their dominant status and control of resources and a means by which in a resource-rich culturally free society individuals meet their psychological and emotional needs. Clearly, the situation is complex but the critical element is competition for, control of and access to resources. We can see that a resource rich society (assuming cultural freedom) is always going to tend to have more polyandrous and polygynous forms without such forms ever being dominant - after all, polygyny and polyandry (like polyamory) are extremely emotionally and resource-demanding alternatives to monogamy. If you do not have spare capital, high revenues and more leisure time than average, monogamy is the easy option and polygynous or polyamorous instincts can be satisfied when it all gets too much by 'cheating' (playing the field and then going home when the game is over).

Scheidel, as a classicist, is particularly interested in Greco-Roman monogamy (as we are for different quasi-political reasons). He presents it as at the geographical faultline between the moderately patricentric Indo-European zone and the more patriarchal world of the Eastern Mediterranean and West Asia. The point about the Greco-Roman model is that it did not permit the exceptions for rulers and elites permitted to the Eastern world. This is important because the constraint here on polygyny is not economic (see above) but a matter of norms - a norm has appeared that restricts others, interestingly the power elite more than anyone else but implicitly anyone else who might accumulate the resources to engage with it. And it is this that was inherited by the Christians as the model to be imposed on the West for the next two thousand years.

In this regard, Christianity cannot be blamed for the imposition, only for the brutal intensification of the system. Homeric heroes lived polygynous lives but monogamy was firmly established in Greek culture at the beginning of  the historic period and was presented as quintessentially Greek compared to barbarian culture. In this respect, Christianity followed Greek practice rather than the other way around: it may be useful to consider Christianity as a partially Hellenised heresy of Judaism. This Greek practice did not stop concubinage (and certainly did not stop slave exploitation or the hiring of sex workers) but it did draw the line at co-habitation. Rome too appeared to be monogamous from its early origins although it too may have seen concubines of which it culturally disapproved but in separate locations (like the French 'maitresse'). Slave relationships, which may not always have been obviously exploitative, existed and could result in issue which could be recognised by the fathers.

And we have not mentioned that the modern institution of serial monogamy is also very ancient. Roman divorce law enabling a succession of wives if that suited the man - so that the law provided a form of patriarchy in simply changing sexual relationships from being lateral in time (the harem) to being vertical with one woman after another. Christianity innovated, almost as a trades union for women and slaves, by making divorce harder and then impossible. Roman men, in effect, found the vertical approach rather easy to have stopped whereas unravelling a harem might have been a lot more difficult, certainly harder for Christians to legislate against. After all, protecting incumbent women conservatively in monogamy would then have been replaced with a strategy of 'firing' lots of women to benefit just one of them under polygamy. I do not believe it has been studied but perhaps Christanity found fertile ground in the West and had more difficulty travelling East because its power to create a mass female base was restricted by its inability to represent all women in principle under patriarchal harem systems whereas it could purport to represent all women under systems of serial monogamy and slave exploitation.

It is thus Christianity that strengthens monogamy to the degree that we now see it today but on this Greco-Roman base, with subsequent wars on barbarian polygamy, divorce and elite concubinage that became central to the Catholic Church's sexual politics (which has never been seen by feminists as particularly progressive in most respects). One might say that male power was systematically endorsed by the Church in return for its sexual containment. This is not the place for cod psycho-analytical theory but the levels of emotional and physical violence that became part of the description of masculinity in the West might or might not have something to do with this 'turn' - while it would be naive to believe that males did not have sexual outlets outside the household, the ideology of sexuality and the household itself became zones of male constraint and emotional silence.

Even today, the norm is that the household is so much 'owned' by the couple (which means, in fact, though not in ideology, by the woman) that it becomes unthinkable for a man to invite a female friend into the home without negotiation on the precise terms of entry.  How many women or men would freely enter a married British household without 'clearing' it first with the woman or man who co-habited ... at a certain point, both husband and wife lose all rights to the most innocent of friendships with the opposite sex under conditions where the household is territorialised as sacred space and yet there is no other space that is not public space or the friend's sacred space. And how many partners would be wary, without reason in most cases, of entering the private space of another person of the opposite gender in return. These codes are not rational but encoded from a particular truth ... the monogamous person has no private space unless they have an agreed space within a space which cannot be accessed except through the coupled space with its rules and taboos.

Jewry followed Christianity much as Christianity followed Hellenism. The West in the last 1,000 years (bar a few radical communitarian experiments and Mormonism) has been resolutely monogamous to this day. Even Mormonism recanted in 1890 and then again in 1904. Today's polyamorous tendency has not actually exhibited itself yet as a movement to change the law to permit consensual polygamy and the few Nordic attempts to recognise Muslim polygamy are really responses to the cultural war between Leftists trying to score points against nativists and populists amd have little to do with any seriously radical or well thought out response to what we are as persons. Monogamy is, in short, the 'norm' in the West (and now not only in the West) and remains the norm despite its lack of normality in history and other societies, the undoubted suffering caused to millions of people 'trapped' within its demands over centuries, the effective death of the Church as moral arbiter across much of the West and the fact that it has declined back into its serial Roman form but with women permitted the same rights as men and despite serial monogamy's often bad effects on children. Indeed, it is so normal that the homosexual community have yearned to enter into that state as civil partners or more.

We might say that monogamy, despite its unnatural (as exclusive) state and oppressions and its undoubted false consciousness, is one of the defining characteristics of the West which has been exported globally as part of the West's contribution to modernisation. Japan legislated against polygamy in 1880, Thailand in 1935, China in 1953 (under Communism which is a form of Western heresy and so ultimately a derivative of Hellenised Christianity), India (for Hindus) in 1955 and Nepal in 1963. That means billions of people shifted into monogamous mode in under 65 years. Whole populations have been 'modernised' into a particular gender relations practice by States with no religious intervention. Only Islam (with secularising exceptions) and Sub-Saharan Africa stand out and both are under immense pressure from modernisers and Christians alike. In the latter zone, something like 20-30% of men are in polygynous unions which might suggest the 'all things being equal' norm that might apply in relatively resource poor and non-free (meaning where women do not have the same choice) societies.

The obvious question is whether the West's new interest in polyamory under conditions where the State does not dictate personal morality and where there are relatively prosperous middle classes (albeit under economic pressure) will reverse this trend eventually. Indeed, it might be that resource pressures on equal young men and women (especially over the costs of a household) might actually encourage polygyny and polyandry. Given a figure for 'natural' polyamorists of around 15% of the population, one might anticipate the emergence of such households who will require legal recognition under conditions of serial polygamy/polyandry - that is, core stable units with partners entering and departing over time until a final stable unit, which may revert to monogamy, emerges over time. Legislating for such a development to cover property relations and child protection while not interfering in private choices may present a challenge for traditionalists and legislators as difficult as past struggles over abortion or gay rights and marriage.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Charon - Lesser God of the Dead

Diodorus Siculus claimed that near Memphis, within Lake Acherousia, there was a House of the Dead to which, under the Egyptian rites of the dead, there was a ferryman called Charon whose boat would take the body of the deceased to its new home. There was a death demon of the Etruscans called Charun. But neither story convinces many as the origin of the myth.

Burn the body, close the grave, pay the ferryman, place the coin in the mouth (since the soul departs through the mouth at its last breath), the ritual is all necessary, and so the deed is finally done. An apple or honey cake, a ribbon or a wreath are all signs of the passing. Later (when people might have believed that the dead were going to a better life), the departed would be given perfume, garlands of flowers and food to take on the journey to their new life in death. 

There is also a prayer to be made to the spirits of the River Styx since, without their help, Charon himself cannot easily cross the river and may be forced to wait outside the entrance to Hades’ realm. The mourners cry and as they cry the soul passes into the hands of the God of Death. Their wailing is a call to tame and calm Death and to ask for his care and protection of those they love or to whom they have a duty. 

Imagine him! – very aged and close to senile but strong and horrible in his filthy cloak and proletarian tunic, the hair around his bald pate still black and wild but with white hairs both there and on his bearded chin, eyes that glow and flicker with a radiant soft flaming and skin wrinkled and scorched black by Phlegethon.

Insatiably hungry to get the job done, instinctively harsh and merciless, a supernatural demonic creature, a lesser God, he visibly enjoys preparing the places for the dead in the boat, gently placing the corpses of the innocent to ensure an easy passage while forcing the less than innocent to come to sufficient zombie-like life to row the boat forward.

He is a terrible creature, who takes pleasure in the tears of the grieving. He steers the black boat of the dead, decked in trailing river weed, across the Styx, the howling, wide and bottomless Acheron Lake and across the Lethe towards a place which Apollo never visits. Charon thus removes us from the exhaustion that is life. He takes slaves and freemen, putting all at the oars or at least those he dislikes and he hears no claims for precedence.

For the journey, all we need is a jug, the clothes we are buried or burnt in, a bundle of necessaries and the ‘obol’ – the coin that is the price of a day’s wage, the last day on earth. Hades is a mercenary place. Hermes Psychopompos who guides the soul to the boat, wants his payment from the obol he gives Charon (which suggests that change has to be given somewhere in the transaction), so does Charon, of course, often considered greedy, and so does Aeacus the greedy gatekeeper into Hades.  The chthonic gods are human traffickers. It is a business.

We might add the greed of Pluto (though not the Greek Hades) though how one obol would cover all these costs is another mystery. It must be a bulk commodity business. War must be profitable. This mercenary side may just reflect a late Roman obsession with contracts and consideration (we pay, we get entrance). Some in the lower classes would put in more coins into the grave than a Greek would have needed.

Some have said that there is no fee, some just the obol and some, though they are wrong, two. For the Greek, the real price is the burial rite or the funerary pyre. Those who have no burial rites, no mourning, no pyre, are left to wander on the near shore of the Acheron pursued remorselessly by vicious beasts and demons, not on life’s shore but another shore altogether.

The obol is symbol of all our earthly wealth being transferred to the ferryman and lost to us forever. It is our passport and also the confiscation at the frontier. As refugees from life, we go into the shadow world with nothing. The payment is also the closing of the grave as much as the tombstone being in place. What you can take with you (according to the philosophers) is your wisdom, your integrity and your true nature.The payment may also reflect a far more ancient fear of the dead as avaricious, hungry ghosts. If you pay them now then perhaps they won't come back and ask for payment later.

There are two sides to this coin – the obverse is the remembrance of the dead by the living and the reverse is a new existence in the realm of the dead or non-existence. It is the representation of a new mode of existing at the cusp of two worlds – mental and supernatural. If a man refuses to die willingly, Death will give him a nudge. He will execute all who refuse to die and without mercy. He kidnaps the young. All are equal in his attention even though he will show unaccustomed grace, gentleness, kindness and tenderness to young mothers and their babes, to the innocent who may even be exempted of their fee. 

And, though fearful of Charon, men still praise him when a tyrant dies. A cult of Charon emerged from Palestine to Mauretania and up to Milan and coins were widely placed in the mouths of the dead in the Second Century AD. Just saying the name Charon could inspire fear by then. He becomes Charondas in much later Greek folklore. 

Once in the boat, there is no return. Only the dead can cross the Acheron. With so many sallow-faced souls on board, the boat threatens to sink but it never does. Some say that the boat expands to fit the dead and grows to huge size after major battles. Some say Charon even carries the souls of all the animals as well. And some say that there are places on earth which provide a shortcut to Hades – such as the land of the Hermionians. 

Very rarely a hero such as Hercules (the only hero strong enough to beat Charon in a fight), Orpheus or Aeneas or heroine such as Psyche may enter Hades as a living soul and return, but for the rest of us there is no golden branch or road money that will allow us to enter and return to the land of the living. 

We cannot pass in and out of death or ride on Charon’s boat and enter Hades before our time. Even Orpheus was denied a second visit until his time was due and Charon was himself punished once for letting Hercules through, albeit that he probably had little choice in the matter. 

And if we think this is a fairy tale and there is no Hades and no Charon, still it is true that Death subsists in any case, as an eternal exile from Existence, irrevocable. But we cannot accept the late glosses that merge into the Christian mythos in which Dionysos represents the triumph of life over death. Perhaps many Romans (though not the Greeks who had a grim view of the underworld) believed that Charon was taking their souls to a better world beyond the grave. But belief is not truth.

The Freedom Agenda - Polyamory as Exemplar

I have made no secret to my true friends of my polyamorous nature. I not only make no apology for it, it helps define who I am. It is by no means all that I am but I would not be true to myself if I did not accept that it was an important part of who I am. I am lucky to live in an immediate environment that finds this no problem but, observing the reactions to polyamory of those outside that immediate environment, it has given me an abiding intellectual interest in the relationship between individual freedom and society and the cultural pressures that effectively enslave people to the control, expectations and aspirations of others.

Freedom is never just about something as one-sided as sexual orientation - freedom is about belief systems, consent, relations to the state system, the family, the locality and the work place, one's positioning by others in a corrupted media, control of your body, adequate resources (which is why the true libertarian must ultimately be, at least in part, a form of socialist), politics, education, friendship and emotions. Freedom is about the totality of being in the world.

My own position is that each person has the right to express themselves in any way they wish so long as they do no harm to another person. I cannot count harm as challenging other people's emotions, sentiments and thoughts but I can count harm as hurting their material selves, their private property and their reputation or status.

The society that controls my language to save the feelings of another is an oppressive society but the real harm it does is in not creating the space to enable a culture of good manners to emerge that will minimise harms without suppressing risk and challenge. It would be bad manners for someone to disrespect me as polyamorous but it would also be bad manners for me to 'out' someone polyamorous without their very specific consent. The failure to create this space is why we live in a culture of weak emoting and terror-stricken snowflakes instead of increasingly strong, resilient and fundamentally compassionate people.

The fine balance between an individual (which, in the sexual sphere, includes all orientations including the often forgotten asexual and, of course, the monogamous) and society is sometimes difficult to hold. In my case, the discussion of these issues is conducted amongst friends in a set of Facebook Groups that have now been running for nearly six years in some cases and cover a wide range of freedom and society issues (ideology, culture, the internet, sexuality, philosophy, music and art). A six year old erotica one is now moribund because of mounting Facebook intrusion into a secret group of consensual adults of around 30 people (actually disproportionately women!). The group was a deliberate canary in the mine to track Facebook's emergence as social control mechanism and it has proved fruitful in defining this even if the canary is now effectively as dead as Monty Python's parrot. Facebook's social control role was tracked and exposed over time.

What is clear is that the total social system is now tending towards a top-down corporatist control of freedom not out of malice but out of fear of the system's own lack of control of the general situation in response to the failures of a globalisation that it had promoted and the sometimes spurious and sometimes real threats arising from terrorism and organised crime. The system created the conditions for terror, economic collapse and organised crime and now wants us and not itself to pay the price. Big business, fearful of regulation that will cut into its profits, is conniving in the process, most notably with its setting of online standards that intrude into private life.

My own view is that the genie of freedom is out of the bottle and that there is no way that the total corporatist system can crush dissent except by cultural means which is why it has turned its attention to its alliance with the media again. Controlling culture is the standard mode of the hegemonic system - with cash if necessary as we saw in the promotion of abstract expressionism by the CIA in the 1940s. Today, we are increasingly able to see through this manipulation and create islands of cultural resistance that can connect with others despite the attempts at informal algorithmic censorship and control. The new technologies increase control and increase abilities to resist in a call-and-response process that means that the controlling system can never quite win over all aspects of human existence. Sexuality is increasingly that canary in the mine - now repressed, now channeled into an absurd identity politics, now culturally appropriated and now a mode of resistance.

In fact, the means and modes of resistance through the internet and through a new awareness of personal freedom (and, above all, a new preparedness at the margin to stand for personal autonomy and take risks) have resulted in a powerful half underground and half overt energy directed at ensuring that every strike against freedom results in a tenfold determination to strike back, often in a fluid and 'queer' way so that eventually the state system is going to have adapt to us rather than we to it if we are both to work together to remove those who are actually dangerous to safety and society (as opposed to those periodically witch hunted in order to enforce policy). The really dangerous person is not at the top but at the white collar middle management (the 'kapo') level and the soi-disant 'creative' or 'intellectual' embedded in the cultural or policy system - these people are generally second rate minds living in a state of anxiety.  It is these people who seek to master the algorithms. These are the people who failed to protect the child abuse cases in Rotherham. This is why the Labour Party is now dangerous. It is becoming the party of that class.

Crude attempts at censorship and cultural control are yesterday's tools ... the system can track everything we do or say but what it cannot do is stop us doing anything legal (and sometimes illegal) or saying what we like or kicking back to organise to make what we want to be legal to be legal, sometimes simply by making the law unworkable if it is foolish. Censorship of hate speech has simply made heroes out of the hateful. Attacking pornography has simply normalised it. Disrespecting sex workers has provoked them into more effective organisation. The destruction of the authoritarian pseudo-liberal Left has now become as important as the containing of the authoritarian Right - more so, since the Right has adopted the freedom agenda for private life in stages since the 1990s.

The new Einsteinian politics of individual mobilisation and volatility which is replacing the systems-based Newtonian politics of the West is only in its early stages. The Catalonian experiment under way today is an amusing and even playful as well as deadly serious game of cat and mouse between a pompous State machine and local aspirations. Brexit is going to go in the same direction as the attempt to ensure a corporatist solution to a populist decision results in the slow emergence of a country revolt against the pretensions of the liberal middle classes. As Frank Furedi has pointed out, the Hungarian resistance to cultural bullying is another, wholly misreported in our increasingly unreliable official media - the BBC is little more than the Pravda of a failed system.

There will be flows back to the Newtonian and then new discoveries until a major paradigm shift takes place and we are in a new world of Globalisation 2.0, intelligent and stabilised populism and strong but responsive States that have been forced to abandon their presumption that they are more important than the people they serve. The Churchillian Imperial approach is dying on its fight but so, we will find, is the absurd 'all must have prizes' New Left Socialism of the narcissistic Baby Boomers. Identity politics is rapidly travelling up its own orifice.

In that context, since the personal is the political, I produced a discussion paper on just one small aspect of the Freedom Agenda for the Facebook Group on Sexuality (which anyone can join who is not a troll- we are not snowflakes, we execute trolls). I reproduce it below for the record. Variants could be produced for all parts of the Freedom Agenda - other forms of sexual conduct, mental health, internet freedom, personal liberation from party, corporate or tribal loyalties, child-rearing, property-holding, corporate demands on our time, virtue and moral obligation, freedom to believe nonsense if it does no harm, command of our own bodies, fair redistribution, the management of technologies and community and family obligations. Try inserting asexual into the text and with a few sensible adjustments you have a liberatory strategy for asexuals.

The challenge here is to balance an oppressive inherited communitarianism in society, which still has some value as solidarity in bad times and which need not be oppressive at all, with a new and responsible libertarian impulse that still permits the freedom to create sustainable communities. So, here are seven propositions about polyamory for discussion and you can insert any orientation and any private belief system you like and adapt it to your own needs:
  1. Many people who are polyamorous generally cannot be happy without recognition of their polyamorous nature although others can be happy enough but not entirely fulfilled. The polyamorous need to connect emotionally with others. They are not driven primarily by sexual need although the sexual element cannot be ignored. The essential drive remains emotional. Why this is so is irrelevant. It is not a disease or a weakness. It is simply so. 
  2. The bulk of society cannot comprehend the polyamorous sensibility, largely because it does not think about it. This is its problem which has become that of polyamorous people. Polyamorous people should not allow it to be their problem. 
  3. The social barriers for polyamorous people meeting other polyamorous people and developing sustainable relationships are formidable. 
  4. Many people who have a polyamorous orientation cannot communicate that orientation to their family and friends and so they are not able to develop an open and transparent relationship with others. They are locked into social conformity by their condition. This breeds not so much loneliness (because they have existing sustainable emotional relationships) but lack of personal fulfilment and dissatisfaction.
  5. The ‘self-closeting’ of the polyamorous (out of concern not to cause pain or upset to others for whatever reason) is a serious barrier to the sustainability of polyamorous relationships as well as to meeting other compatible polyamorous people. The pool of possible contacts is thus made smaller by social conformity.
  6. There is no intrinsic reason why anyone should limit their natures to the private and the secret to satisfy the social prejudices of others. It is a form of subservience to society which society has not earned the right to demand.
  7. Lifestyle polyamorous communities (centred on the narcissism and anxieties of defensive polyamorists) are simply reproducing the anxious defensiveness of the communities that they are trying to isolate themselves from. The polyamorous person must be able to assert their normality in all those respects that matter while remaining polyamorous.
If these propositions are true, what conclusions can we draw from them? It is from the answers to that question that liberation can start to take place.