Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Less They Know...

It appears to me that the less one knows the more authoritatively they speak. Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan, for example, has now said that preventing Gay marriage is a human universal. This is just not so. Among American Indians there was a custom known as the berdache that involved such marriages. I am pretty certain that such marriages also occurred in at least some other cultures. Similarly, opponents of Gay marriages often argue that a marriage between a single man and a single woman are the most natural form of marriage, also not true. First, the preferred marriage choice on a worldwide basis is polygamy although it is true that most marriages involve only one man and one wife which seems to be the most practical form as most men cannot afford more than one wife. But the number of wives one is allowed to have varies from one to more, including in rare cases even hundreds of wives and concubines.

There is also found in some cases polyandry, the marriage of one woman to two or more husbands. This was very common among the Toda of India, the two or more husbands usually being brothers. The first child or two of such a marriage was claimed by the eldest brother, subsequent children were believed to be the children of other brothers irrespective of who the actual biological father was.

As I have not followed my anthropological career for many years my memory may be a bit faulty on these matters, but I remember enough to know that marriages can involve many things that do not follow the one man one woman claim. Among the Nuer in Africa, for example, if a woman’s husband dies without leaving a child she can marry again, or even bring in some other man to give her a child that will legally belong to the deceased husband. Similarly, she can even marry the ghost of a brother and have a child in his name. As I dimly recall she can even marry another woman if the woman has sufficient cattle to be considered a man, and produce children in her name. Anyway, those who make claims about universal monogamy being the only preferred or “natural” marriage pattern simply don’t know what they are talking about, but of course, that doesn’t keep them from being authorities on the subject.

Speaking out of ignorance seems to be quite typical in the United States. Take the case for the claim of socialism against Obama. Those who argue that Obama is a socialist appear to have little or no knowledge of socialism. Obamacare, that might be considered by some to be a form of socialism, is quite definitely not socialism for the simple reason that it still involves private insurance companies. It is not a program run by the government as, in fact, it ought to be. It is quite clear the only efficient and affordable form of health care would be a single payer system as most other industrialized nations have, but Obama did not even try to push such a system. A single payer system will ultimately prevail because it is the only really affordable option, other than providing no care at all as Republicans seem to favor, the “I’ve got mine the hell with you system.” Similarly, when Obama rescued the auto companies he did not nationalize them, the government did not take them over and run them as any socialist would have done. The claim that Obama is a socialist is poppycock pure and simple, made by people who have no idea what they are talking about.

Along these lines we hear Romney and others babbling on about how the 47% or others think they are entitled to health care, food stamps, and government support of all kinds and so on. Others babble about “God-given” or “Natural rights.” As I have said previously, probably more than once, there are no God-given or Natural rights. If you receive health care or unemployment insurance or some such benefits you do so by virtue of living and participating in a decent, caring, responsible group of people who have decided to look after and help each other deal with the exigencies of human life. That is the basic purpose of government in spite of what that nitwit Saint Romney wanted us to believe. The differences in attitude towards government could not be more stark than they are at the moment in the coming election. Obama believes we are all in this together, Romney and his other vulture capitalists promote the most primitive form of social Darwinism in which each individual is on his or her own, a way of life that is obviously incompatible with any form of government other than naked capitalistic greed in which people basically cannibalize each other with only the wealthiest surviving until the inevitable collapse. In all known cultures that have survived over time the members are not only obliged to help each other in difficult times but do, in fact, generously do so. Only vulture capitalists who prey on those who stand in the way of their holy profits seem to depart from this universal pattern of human life. Take away their millions and billions and put them on their own and see how far they get in life. It would be a noble experiment.

The last capitalist we hang shall be the one who sold us the rope.

Karl Marx

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