in search of the primeval mother

Chapter II of 'The Ecstasies of Eros,
wherein we discover that also the primeval father's wives harbour polygamous desires,
ask ourselves the questions why female harems are nevertheless so scarce,
to finally discover that the world is full of them.

The primeval father's wives
The matriarchal primeval horde
The miserable female harem
The first mover
Go and multiply
Primeval father against primeval mother: factual monogamy (2)
Harem and kingdom
The abduction of men
Primeval horde or beehive


'As a rule, the wives of rich men with many women are not devoted to their husband.
Although all the superficial pleasures of life are within their reach,
they nevertheless seek comfort with other men
or satisfy each other.
Kama Sutra, Vatsyayana .

In the previous chapter, we had only eyes for the reactions of the excluded competitors. The position of the harem holder, however, is not only determined by the behaviour of the excluded competitors, but also by that of his partners: the females monopolised by the primeval father. How do they react on the primeval father's monopoly?

In Freud's story, they seem to willingly submit to the sovereign will of the primeval father. Freud's primeval father loves nobody but himself, and the others only in so far as they satisfy his needs. It is the primeval father who decides that he will mate with many females, and the females have to undergo his decision. They seem not to have a love of their own - and there is no point, hence, in asking whether it would have been monogamous or polygamous. Also the real harem holders do not consider the desire of their women: slaves are supposed to obey their master and 'free women' are outmarried by men.

Of course, other scenario's are conceivable. We could imagine that the male's polygamous desire finds its counterpart in the desire of his women to commonly share one man. Such monandry would entail that many women not only would love one and the same man, but also that they would not be jealous of each other, only of outsiders that would try to penetrate their community. In that supposition, the harem holder would have merely to exert power over his male competitors - at least in the additional supposition, that it is he who selects the females, and not the females him. In the latter case, any hierarchy built up by the males would be destroyed through the sovereign choice of the females. It is also conceivable that the females are not monandrous at all, but monogamous or polygamous. In that case the actually existing polygamy wouldmerely be a factual form of marriage, based on male supremacy not only over competing males, but also over subordinate females. Only further inquiry into the wishes of the females of the primeval father can give a definite answer to the question how the male harem has come about.

The stories about lovers who are smuggled into the harem through all kinds of intrigues and tricks (as travesties, as doctors for feigned diseases and what have you), the fact that the sons of the harem holders more than often had to care for concubines neglected by their father, the affairs with only infertile - but precisely therefore very demanded - eunuchs, and, last but not least, the lesbian activities in the harem, leave no doubt that the women were not satisfied with the love of the harem holder that keeps them. The females in the harem turn out to be polygamous, just like their male counterparts....

Thus, polygamy should not be equated with male polygamy as such: there is also somethng like female polygamy. To distinguish both kinds of polygamy, we will introduce the term 'polygyny' for male polygamy, and the term 'polyandry' for female polygamy.


As opposed to authors who hold that men are polygamous and that they are out at monopolising many wives, there are others who defend the opposite point of view: that women are polyandrous and that they are out at surrounding themselves with a host of males. To these rather exceptional specimen belongsMcLennan, even more than Tylor the 'father of anthropology', who introduced the theme of exogamy and endogamy. Totally contrary to Darwin and his followers, McLennan constructed a polyandrous primeval time. Polyandry reigned as a consequence of the habit of killing girls immediately after birth. Because of the resulting scarcity of women, adult males had to share a common wife. To McLennan, such girlicide only makes manifest what has already been present latently: attractive females are surrounded with a horde of males, and savages do not object to share their sexual pleasures, not otherwise than civilised people - think of their 'sin of the cities'. McLennan had only a few followers. Let us mention his pupil Robertson Smith, but above all Weininger. Whoever is acquainted with the literature, will remark that there are many more authors who mention polyandry, but they are talking about polyandry in combination with polygyny instead of monogyny. To avoid confusion, it is preferable to speak of 'reciprocal polygamy' (see chapter V on primeval communism) and to reserve the term polyandry for the genuine female harem, where one woman gathers many males around her, while the males monogynically restrict themselves willy nilly to one single common partner.

At first glance, the polyandrous primeval horde of McLennan seems to be merely the negative of the polygynous primeval horde of Darwin and Freud. McLennan's primeval men are endowed with the same characteristics as the females of the primeval father of Darwin and Freud: they are as monogynically tied to their polyandrous women as Freud's females monandrically with their polygynous men. They are not jealous, but share their wife as fraternally as Freud's females their husband sisterly.

McLennan introduced the theme of matriarchy in Anglo-Saxon anthropology, as a reaction against Maine's theory of a patriarchal primeval family. The term had been already been used four years earlier - in 1861 - by Bachofen in his influential book: 'Das Mutterrecht'. To McLennan, matriarchy and polyandry were closely connected. With Freud, there is the complentary coupling of patriarchy and polygyny. With Bachofen and his followers Morgan, Engels, Weininger, Briffault, Fromm en Sherfey, however, matriarchy is linked to reciprocal polygamy, the third model of the primeval society, equally described for the first time by Bachofen and to which we shall return in the chapter on 'Primeval Communism' .

Freud's patriarchal primeval father, however, is not just the negative of McLennan's matriarchal primeval woman. Whereas with Freud the emphasis is on the power over competitors, with McLennan it is on the power over partners. In both cases, the power is turned against men: the primeval father castrates his sons, the primeval woman fascinates her men. The shift in accent as a consequence of the reversal in the negative, makes it possible to keep the relation of the primeval woman to her female competitors dangling: there is a shortage of women because girls 'are murdered'... McLennan does not reveal us who the murderers are. Bearing Kronos in mind, we cannot but presume that the executors or the instigators must be the primeval women, who otherwise would have to share their males with their grown-up daughters.

McLennan constructed his theory to explain the origin of exogamy. To remedy the scarcity of ('endogamous') women in the horde, men set out to capture strange ('exogamous') women, just like the sons of Freud's primeval father, that tried to gather their own horde elsewhere. That implies that an incestuous horde goes hidden behind McLennan's polyandry, although the horde is this time centered around a primeval mother, who surrounds herself with her father, her brothers and her sons. It is immediately apparent, then, that the women who devour children to safeguard their monopoly, must be the very mothers of these girls. McLennan's primeval mother turns out to be a primeval mother that cannibalises her children to ensure the love of her sons. McLennan (1865) describes (completed) polygamy as a group consisting of a brotherhood of sons of the same mother. Only now do we have a genuine alternative of Freud's primeval father, or rather of the Greek Kronos that we discerned behind him.


The cannibalism of the primeval father, that with Freud went hidden behind patricide and the cannibalism of the sons, had its moment of truth in the 'fratricide' of the hostile armies (or its economic counterpart). Filling in the perpetrator of girlicide provided us at once with the cannibalistic version of the primeval mother's horde, whereas we had first to reconstruct Freud's version of the primeval father's horde to unveil its cannibalistic truth. On the other hand, there is no sororicide as the historical counterpart of the merely mythical girlicide. And what is more: the cannibalism of the primeval mother is not only myth, but also historical reality. Girlicide has been a popular practice in many places and in many times, even up to now - think of contemporary India. It was executed by the mothers themselves. In 1928, Roheim was sent out by Freudto recover traces from primeval times in the unconscious of the aborigines, who were considered to be living fossils from primeval times. He was struck by the extremely strongfear for witches among the children. It soon dawned on him that the mothers used to regularly halve the number of children by tasting from the fruits of their womb in the presence of other mothers and the remaining half of the children. From the reverse totem meal - Kronos cannibalising his sons - we here find the female counterpart. Just like war produces a surplus of women, girlicide produces a surplus of males...

It is not difficult to find the motive behind the formerly widespread girlicide. A pregnant women is no longer mobile and needs a man to protect her and to help her feed her children. To make matters worse, human mothers become pregnant before their children are grown up. That is why women need men, not so much as begetters, but as fathers in the economic sense of the word: as workers that have to help her with bringing up the children. And that is also why evolution has produced that very special specimen, only hinted at with primates: the fatherly man. We will come back to that topic in chapter X 'The primeval group'. To a human female, it matters to be able to set as many men as possible to work. Under conditions of scarcity, her survival and that of her children can only be warranted when she bears as little children as possible, and when she can summon as many fathers as possible. Under more prosperous conditions (especially after the agricultural revolution) the motive continues to exert its influence: in that case, the prosperity of the mother and that of the children increases. McLennan, however, points to other motives: not so much conditions of scarcity, but foremost the hostility of neighbouring groups. It mattered to raise as much male warriors as possible. Also Darwin thinks that this is the motive for girlicide with many illiterate people. Lubbock mentions, next to the demand for warriors, another motive; the more men, the better their scarce women can be defended. Lowie also reminds of the fact that fathers do not like to sire daughters when they have to provide them with a dowry (and that is still the case in modern India).

Be that as it may, the most efficient way to reduce the number of women is girlicide. Female preference for sons (or the motherly incestuous feeling for a son) could be the positive counterpart of the propensity to kill daughters. The number of available women has to be reduced in proportion to the number of male workers that a mother deems necessary. When a mother has to dispose of two men, then half of the daughters will have to be killed. Men who want to beget, will have to subordinate themselves in a female harem and to await their turn. In expectance of being able to plant their seed, they have to do their utmost in providing the mother and her offspring of the necessary care. In that sense, McLennan is right in saying that it is in the interest of women to nip in the bud the competition of their daughters.


How beneficial this arrangement might seem, it has seldom been put into practice. Whereas there is ample evidence of polygyny, the examples of polygyny are rather scarce. That is not only the case with mammals, but especially with our nearest relatives, the primates. Wilson knows only to mention some polyandrous frogs and birds, although he adds that the phenomenon might be more common than expected.

Also among humans, polyandry seems to be an exceptional phenomenon. No doubt, McLennan documents his hypothesis with references to many polyandrous people. But already Lubbock points to the fact that in many cases there is a combination with polygamy, so that we are dealing with reciprocal polygamy. The same goes for the so-called 'levirate' or for 'fraternal polyandry', forms of marriage that are mostly complemented with the male counterparts: 'sororate' or 'sororal polygyny'. Lowie thinks that this combination can be a reaction on the ban on girlicide, so that we are dealing with a degeneration of polyandry. But, even then, polyandry remains extremely rare. Judging from a ban on polyandry by the Sumerian kin Urukagina (about 2350 BC) it must have been practised inMesopotamia. In the Mahabharata, the five sons of King Pandu married Draupadi. Van Gulik refers toLieo Tse ye (449-465 BC) who gave his sister thirty husbands - whereas he himself kept more then ten thousands wives. More recently we find polyandry (whether or not combined with polygyny) in Tibet, Nepal, North India, the Malabar coast, in the Punjab (Sikhs), in the province of Yunnan in China and some African and American tribes. In the West, we can mention the triangle relation of Rée, Niezsche and Lou Andréas Salomé, and of Dmitry and Zinaida Merezhkovskyswith Dimitri Vladimirovich Filosofov. No doubt, Murdock is right when he asserts that polyandry may be considered as an anthropological curiosum.

And such actually existing polyandry goes hand in hand with a (modest) surplus of males, that is created through girlicide. It seems to be inspired by dire circumstances. The female harems are of a modest scope, mere trifles in comparison with the male harems, which are not seldom formations comprising more than hundreds, if not thousands of females.

Let us remark that polyandry may go combined with polygny. When the chief monopolises a number of females, several young men are left in the cold. Fraternal polyandry can be a welcome solution for them. Also in this case, polyandry is the result of a - this time local - scarcity of women, created by polygyny.


It appears that the symmetry between primeval father and primeval mother can only be constructed on the mythical level. In the historical dimension, it unfolds into a threefold opposition: the countless and huge harems of rich men against the scarce and modest harems of poor women.

The idea of matriarchy that was initially coupled to the idea of polyandry, could not stand the test of historical reality. Sometimes the existence of matriarchy has been assumed where there was only question of inheritance through the female line of goods, locality or name. Nevertheless, the myth of matriarchy continues to exert a strange fascination. And the reason is that there is a moment of truth in it, that is betrayed in its coupling to polyandry (and negatively in the reverse coupling of patriarchy and polygyny). That moment of truth lies in the knowledge that working men are mere instruments in the hand of mothers. The pride with which men kill their game cannot conceal that the catch is only relevant when it is brought home, where women and children are waiting for food. This explains the obstinacy with which the idea of matriarchy pops up again and again, only to be all the more triumphantly refuted through referral to the all too conspicuous omnipresence of patriarchy. But that cannot conceal that the pride of man lies only in walking the way - to the goal he remains utterly blind. When he is allowed to determine the goals himself, for instance when playing a game, the prize is not seldom a women. That is already the case since Helen. But that is only the reversal of the fact that woman is electing him, not to crown him with a laurel wreath around his head, but to lay a yoke onhis shoulders

Since times immemorial - since man has become a father - it is the mother that sets the man to work. When she becomes a mother, the cries of childbirth set the maleautomaton in motion. Birth pangs are primarily the consequence of the increase brain size of the human child. But in the second place they provoke an expression of suffering. that set the male automaton in motion with the same inescapability as that with which the human child mobilises his parents when crying. Not for nothing do these cries leave indelible traces in the soul of man - in so far as he is willing to witness the consequences of his deed.Not for nothing are they cultivated from generation to generation. The concomitant 'emotionality' of women old style - especially their ability to evoke compassion - is nothing less than their compulsive ability to submit men to goals they would so dearly rationally determine for themselves..

The paradigm of woman as the primeval employer - or, as we will phrase somewhat more mythically: as the prime mover - is Lady Macbeth. She uses men as mere means to achieve her wicked goals. Men prefer to misread and repress this spectre by bringing patriarchy into the foreground.

The magic of the image of woman as the prime mover contrasts sharply with the image of the scarce and sparsely populated harems of poor women as described above. There must be something wrong here. To understand why, we first must have a closer look on the historical and social facts.

GO AND MULTIPLY Jahweh to Abraham: 'And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth' .
(Genesis, 28,14)
'Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.!'
(Genesis, 15, 5).

Above, we created the primeval mother after the likeness of the primeval father. Had it been God who created the primeval mother from a rib of the primeval father, he would this time have seen that it was not good: the imitation is better than the original. First, McLennan's primeval mother is a mother. Freud's primeval father, on the other hand, may well be called 'father', but is not as fatherly as his name suggest. Rather is it a 'primeval man' that begets daughters in order to have sex with them, not to make them pregnant in view of an as large number of descendants as possible.

Les us surround McLennan's primeval mother with more appropriate fathers. They are out at producing as much children as possible.Or to phrase it with Briffault: 'From a biological point of view, polygyny offers the best prospects for the male sexual function, whose purpose is to fertilise as much females as possible'. Behind Freud's primeval father, reduced to a mere lover, looms up the image of the real primeval father, who is out at populating the world with his progeny. The presence of neighbouring hordes, where other primeval fathers were occupying themselves with other primeval mothers, must have been experienced as a permanent threat to primeval men. No wonder that they killed other men during wars and integrated the remaining women in their own horde. The habit of raping the women of the conquered people is a remnant of such practice. The promise to Abraham survives in the dream of the god of the Christians and of Allah: that all men might be his sons. It will meanwhile have become clear, that many fathers must have looked with envy upon the cocks, stallions and bulls that were granted abundant harems of chicken, mares and cows after the agrarian revolution.

In his endeavour to create a whole universe of children, man can only be hindered by the rather restricted reproductive capacity of woman: whereas one woman can at best give birth to some twenty children - if she does not die in the childbed as has been the rule up to recently - in theory, a man can impregnate thousands of women. To honour his reproductive capacity, he would have to dispose of hosts of women willing to bear his children.

There is no doubt that the historical harems have (also) been set up in view of producing as much offspring as possible. They are the continued, systematic rape of conquered or suppressed females through the conquerors and oppressors of their husbands. Just like Freud, who conceived of the primeval father as of a primeval lover, we, in our child unfriendly industrial era, all too readily conceive of the harems as of mere places of love making. In former times, relations between the sexes used to stay under the sign of reproduction. Infertility was a major ground for divorce or led to institutions like the levirate or the right to marry a second wife when the first turned out to be infertile. The sole fact that harem keepers were content with the mere fertile castration of their eunuchs should suffice to remind us of the fact how much the harems were understood as reproductive machines, a kind of sexually reversed beehive. In the harem of the Chinese Emperor, oestrus was taken in account when the love calendar was set up. In the Ottoman harems, women who bore a child were elevated to the rank of 'kadin'. Thus, the already mentioned King Ismail of Maroc begot more than thousand children. According to Torquemada, more than 150 women were pregnant from Montezuma, king of Mexico. The victorious warriors could reproduce to their heart's content through the women of the conquered and the subordinate, and there is no doubt that they were thereby driven by the same eugenetic motives as the farmers with their 'cultural selection''. That Mohammed maintained polygamy (as opposed to the Christians and other 'monogamous' cultures), had everything to do with the endeavour to make undone the decimation of the ranks after the battle of Uhud and to increase the ranks of the faithful to the detriment of the conquered. The already mentioned Mormon B. Young, who begot 56 children, bluntly proclaimed that polygyny was the best method to make the ranks of the Mormons grow. Mormon newspaper 'The Millennial Star' calculates how a polygamist, who starts with forty women when he is twenty years old, can become the father of 3.580.441 children at seventy eight! The harems are a kind of symbolic utopia of a world where only the harem holder is allowed to reproduce, while all the other males are swept from the earth's surface. They are the counterparts of the gladiator games where the Romans had the conquered slaughter each other. With a similar arrogance, the conquerors had their submitted women guarded through castrated eunuchs.


Only now is the symmetry between primeval father and primeval mother completed. And what we get to see is not precisely an enchanting spectacle. The primeval father, reduced to a genuine father, wants to be the exclusive proprietor of an equally large collection of fertile women. These women, in their turn, want to be the exclusive proprietors of an as large collection of males as possible, that are allowed to fertilise, but are meant to work in the first place. Man as begetter versus woman as an employer. We are facing the impossible situation where not one, but both sexes want one-sided polygamy. The male wants polygyny with monandrous women, the female wants polyandry with monogynous men.

It is clear that these wishes are irreconcilable. The man who thinks to subordinate women in his harem, will be faced with their polyandrous desires, as was apparent already from their concrete behaviour. And also the woman that wants to subordinate men in her harem will have to deal with their polygynous desires. The man who wants to keep a harem does not tolerate other men in his vicinity, but that is precisely the wish of the woman that wants to keep her harem. And vice versa.

The ratio of males to females cannot give a direction in solving the conflict. The surplus of woman that men create through killing other man is annihilated through the surplus of males that women create when killing their daughters. Or, to phrase it in mythical terms: when the primeval father cannibalises all his sons in the hope of impregnating his daughters, and the primeval mother cannibalises all her daughters in the hope of being impregnated by her sons, both will remain childless in the end.

There is no way round it: if it is true that women as well as men want one-sided polygamy, there are two possibilities. Either they will have to give up their desire to have many partners and be satisfied in their desire for exclusivity - and then live together in factual monogamy. Or they will have to give up their desire of exclusivity and be satisfied in their desire to have several partners - and then live in reciprocal polygamy (see 'primeval communism'). In matters of children, the latter formula is not a solution: when all the men are allowed to impregnate all the women, the end result is the same as when one man is allowed to impregnate only one woman.

Also another fact imposes factual monogamy. Let us assume that every man is out at impregnating the entire female population to cover the earth's surface with the dust of his progeny. The prospect of having to feed all those hungry mouths will certainly have cooled the impregnatory fervour of many a man - or have made him at least unwilling to hear the cries of childbirth. The harder a man has to work after the act of impregnation, the less he will be willing to beget. In the end, he will have to restrict himself to the mere twenty children that a single wife can bear for him. And when all the men have their hands full with providing the needs of a single women, there are no more candidates left for the polyandrous harems that the women would have liked.

In the first chapter we have seen how - in the absence of political and economic power relation - the polygynous claims of every primeval father could not but run up against the equally polygynous claims of his competitors. The same holds for the primeval mother. In this chapter we find that the realisation of the polygamous claims of the primeval father and the primeval mother do not only run up against the claims of their respective competitors. Also their partner is not prepared to be kept in a harem: he rather wants to keep a harem himself. Not only competitors and partners prevent the realisation of polyandry and polygyny: the economic potential of the male worker cannot possibly match his reproductive potential.

Let us summarise: with humans, the combined effect of the reaction of competitors and partners and the hard facts of economic reality are responsible for the reduction of polygamy to monogamy - always under the condition that there is no political or economic inequality.


But the power relations are not equal. A man can subordinate other men. That allows him to achieve a condensation of the desires of both sexes by a subtle trick: splitting the role of the male into its constituent parts. It suffices that one father succeeds in reducing other fathers to working hands and to let them work for the woman that he merely has to impregnate. The man that manages to work that wonder can build up a harem of mothers and provide all his mothers with the required workers. He is granted his collection of wombs on condition that he succeeds in setting an even larger number of hands at work. He has the monopoly of planting his seed, the others are merely allowed to water the plants. Only the primeval father that would succeed in subordinating all the other men, would eventually be able to cover the entire surface of the earth with the dust of his children, as numerous as the stars in the firmament.

And precisely that wonder has been worked by the historical harem holders. We have been somewhat short sighted when we looked at the historical harems. We forgot to mention where the means to maintain these harems came from: from their subjects or from the raids on the fruits of the labour of other peoples. The feudal kingdom with all its subjects is the immeasurable polyandrous harem in comparison with which the harem of the king shrinks into nothingness. It is a tiny male kingdom within the immense empire of the queen. The sceptre that the king wields makes him to a first mover only in the eyes of his subjects. In reality, he is merely an instrument in the hands of the queen, substitute employer, second mover. As a reward, he is allowed to build his little harem. This time, the harem of the queen is not poorly populated: it is measured in thousands, although the inhabitants still look miserable and are still slaving away in the mud. Such polyandrous harem is not clearly perceivable and not at all fascinating. But that should not make us avert our eyes. When we continue looking, it all too easily escapes our attention that the king only vicariously wields the sceptre. The empire appears in the guise of a kingdom. Visible is only a king who subordinates his subjects and his enemies and keeps a harem. The queen has become invisible, only seemingly is she the crown jewel in the harem of the king.

It is obvious, then, that this primeval couple is 'primeval' in the sense of 'super fertile', but not in the sense of 'being present from the beginning'. On the contrary; only some thousands years ago do they enter the stage, in the period of the first state formation. In the previous period, men used a more modest method of populating the earth. When the horde became too large to be fed with the yield of a single territory, it split up in two groups that spread over two new territories. Over that whole period, a new 'promised land' had to be conquered after each splitting. Such method survived the advent of the harems until 1492.

Only now does it become clear that polyandry is not an anthropological curiosity that only occurs in barren circumstances. It is, on the contrary, intimately linked with the bloom of polygyny that is nestled in its womb. The history of the male harem that we sketched above is at the same time and in the first place the history of the female harem. To obtain a clear view on the spreading of men over the surface of the earth, it suffices that we complete it with the history of plundering, the creaming off of plus-value, and that we place the queen in the middle of the scene.


The expansion of the gigantic matriarchal harems explains the quest for working power, the historical counterpart of the quest for the promised land. To build polygynous harems, a local surplus of women had to be created through abduction of women; to build polyandrous harems, a surplus of men has to be created through abduction of men that are no longer killed, as we previously assumed, but subordinated.

On a tribal level, such an enterprise is doomed to failure: the power relations do not allow to subordinate captured enemies and to keep them as workers. Only the presence of farmers, who cannot run away and are forced to produce a surplus to maintain the ruling warriors, gives good prospects for building polyandrous harems. Taxes are the best method to subordinate subjects as infertile fathers to the father of the harem, who steals the women of his harem from the local population or from the conquered tribes or kingdoms.

The same kingdoms create the conditions for new methods of harem formation. Whereas the feudal lords cream off the producers through taxes, merchants, who are protected by these same feudal lords' proceed to peaceful trade. They transport the products to places where exchange yields a huge profit. After killing men had been replaced with forced extortion of taxes, forced extortion of taxes is replaced with peaceful exchange. In a fourth phase the transportation of goods is replaced with production through workers who have no other choice than selling their labour. They thereby produce the surplus value for industrial capitalists. Hence, not only entire kingdoms and empires must be reckoned to the actually existing polyandrous harems, but also the chain of market places connected by trade routes, plantations and mines, and finally, manufactures and administrations. It is these polyandrous harems that are seamlessly condensed with the polygynous harems in feudal courts, merchant's houses and the contemporary villas.

The competition between the capitalists forces them to increase productivity through the production of ever new machines and technologies, which come to replace the real hands of real working fathers. The polyandrous harem increasingly sets to work machines, computers and robots. In the long run, the very inequality that led to subordination in the harems, will disappear, and therewith also the subordination of men by men in the polyandrous harem. When all the women have their labour performed by dehumanised machines, all the mothers can dispose of a harem, so that the conditions that led to the condensation of polygyny and polyandry will no longer be present, and factual monogamy appears again.

The plundering of enemies, exploitation of slaves, taxation of serfs and subjects, commerce and industry are the successive methods through which the women on top succeeded in building their giant polyandrous harems. These phases span the period between a beginning where polyandry could only be realised through girlicide, and an end where this has become obsolete altogether. The utopian form of polyandry is the production of a gigantic surplus of males in the shape of an industrial cocoon, a harem of robots.

McLennan's abduction of women and their consequent rape is the counterpart of the abduction of man and their consequent exploitation, not so much of the killing of man (fratricide) as described in the first chapter. Thus, a further symmetry is restored.


All the men that king, merchant or capitalist know to subordinate in order to have them work for their wives, are no longer able to work for their own wives and children. This is a kind of 'economic' castration': their reproductive potential is so reduced that they can forget about their polygynous desires. They may be glad when they succeed in maintaining a single woman and a couple of children in factual monogamy. The introduction of states, commerce and industry comes down to a more or les far reaching castration of the poor and powerless through their rich and mighty brothers. Also this castration appears in ever new forms in the course of history. Fertile castration is a plain fact with slaves. Serfs are allowed to reproduce, but they thereby merely reproduce their own servility as a means of existence for the feudal lords. In industrials societies, castration is even more obfuscated. The increasing productivity allows for an increase in wealth to the extent that the workers feel amply rewarded for their work and tend to forget that plus value has been creamed off. How much castration is a fact also for them is apparent from the still valid recommendation of Malthus: that the poor, unhealthy, badly fed and poorly educated have to refrain from reproduction and preferably have to die from internal killings, famine and epidemics!

Through the castration of their husbands, also many women are hindered in their reproduction and their endeavour to subordinate fathers. The may be glad when they can keep one single male that contributes to the feeding of her children. The counterpart of the economic castrations of man is the economic hysterectomy of woman. It is executed through men who force poor mothers to kill their daughters and to take over the additional task of the working husband. Both orders are imposed by the 'queen'. By sending out her husband with the sickle, she not only has her male subordinates castrated but also her numerous competitors hysterectomised. She washes her hands in innocence. Behind the woman with the double task, looms up the queen that subordinates other men through her husband. Her echo's can be heard in caricatures like Imelda Marcos or theCeauscescus: the historic counterparts of the legendary Macbeth. More real, but more spectacular examples will be dealt with in our chapter 'The rich man'.

In the myth we found a cannibalistic primeval mother, counterpart of an equally mythical cannibalistic primeval father. In the real world we find the general, that initially kills his 'brothers'but soon proceeds to economic castration under order of the queen. Fratricide is transformed in murder on the potential father in the subordinate. The counterpart of such castrator is the 'queen' that performs hysterectomy on her sisters. And such hysterectomy is in its turn murder on the potential mother in her sister.

The comparison of this completed polyandrous harem with the beehive imposes itself: one single over fertile queen bee is fertilised through a handful of drones. The offspring is not protected by worker males, but by worker daughters of the queen. The termite hill has more in common with human society: not only are there sterilised (hysterectomised) daughters, there are also sterilised (castrated) males. Despite the huge surplus of females, the queen bee can maintain her monopoly over fertilising males, because her daughters are sterile. Instead of girlicide, we here have 'hysterectomy' of the daughters. Only here, in the beehive or the termite hill, do we inadvertently stumble on the counterpart of the castrated sons from the mythical horde of Freud: the sterile daughters of the queen.

As a metaphor of human society, the beehive is much older that the paradigm of the horde of primates: it suffices to refer to Aristotle, Virgil , Marnix van Sint Aldegonde and the 'Fable of the bees' of Mandeville. One of the last representatives of this tradition is Bachofen. In the swarm of bees, he descries matriarchy in its purest form: 'Every swarm has its queen. she is the mother of the whole swarm. She is assisted by some male drones. These have nothing else to do than fertilise. They do not work and are therefore killed by the female workers, as soon as they have accomplished the function of their existence. Thus, all the members of the tribe are descendants of one single mother and a handful of fathers. Love nor dependency binds the bees to their fathers. The drones are removed from the hive by their own children or killed during the so called battle of the drones... The bees are as friendly towards the queen as they are hostile towards the father. They are dependent to the point of being mesmerised by the queen to which they owe their existence and who holds the community together. No stranger bee is tolerated, it must all be children and grandchildren of one and the same mother' .


We understand at once that matriarchy is not a myth, but sheer reality: it is the fundamental political structure that governs the economic relations after the development of commerce and states. It is founded in the evolution of the human male into a father.

Matriarchy should not be banned to primeval times. It is founded in patriarchy that uses to be relegated to historical times. In fact, matriarchy and patriarchy are intricately interwoven. The one is imbedded in the other. Both formations did not originate in primeval times. Theyappear in historical times, as soon as the development of agriculture and military techniques allowed the formation of states, and they then take ever new and ever more refined forms (the 'formations' of Marxists). Matriarchy is relegated to primeval times because men experience their subordination as painful and because they imagine to heal the wound through covering it with a historical patriarchy.

Above all, it will have become clear that matriarchy and patriarchy do not mean that the sexes dominate each other. Patriarchal is in the first place male subordination of other males as working fathers. Only in the lower echelons are men thereby forced to subordinate their women. Both forms of patriarchal subordination of many men through few men and of many women through many men serve in the last resort the matriarchal giant harems. In these harems, a handful of women subordinate men, who in their turn subordinate women. These subordinated men will therefore subordinate other women. The subordination of men under women in the higher echelons is the counterpart of the subordination of women under men in the lower echelons.

Up to now, only separate moments were isolated from this complex sexual-economic architecture. There was talk either of a war between the sexes, as with Briffault ('Men are the only species where one sex is the prey of the other') and French. Or of 'class struggle' (Marx). It thereby is overlooked that an economic war is waged within each sex and each class. Only after the separation of both oppositions and after elimination of the oppositions within them, did some authors try to investigate the relation between class-struggle and war between the sexes. The focus can be on the parallelism between the factors (Millet), or the war between the sexes is derived from the class struggle (Engels, Mitchell, Zaretsky ), or the class struggle can be derived from the war between the sexes (Firestone ). None of these models covers the reality described above.

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