primeval communism

Chapter V from 'The ecstasies of Eros,
wherein we get acquainted with reciprocal polygamy,
that has been projected in a lost Atlantis orin a future Utopia, but was doomed to failure in the present;
wherein we assess that the commune is doomed to failure because the quality of relations decreases with the increase of their quantity,
because of the fact that not everybody is equally desirable and that there exists something like possessive jealousy;
wherein we understand that the commune nevertheless continues to pop up,
because it embodies the revolt of the excluded, who communally organise themselves against the wealthy harem keeper,
to eventually redistribute his women and goods among themselves.

Reciprocal polygamy
Atlantis and Utopia.
Actually existing communes
Kinds of communes
More is less
Chase, castrate, kill...
The fraternal horde (1)
Commune and brothel


In the previous chapter whores reminded us of the fact that there is not only one-sided polygamy, but also reciprocal polygamy. Whores are polyandrous because they go to bed with many men, but the whore-hoppers are polygynous when they are married or return to the same whores. Up to now, we had to conceive of polyandry and polygyny as of opposites. Only thanks to the splitting of lover and worker could both be reconciled in a formation consisting of a harem condensed with a kingdom (see chapter II). In the brothel, a perfect marriage of polygyny and polyandry can be realised because whores nor whore-hoppers claim exclusivity: they accept each other's polygamy.

Out of sheer necessity. And that raises the question whether there is also reciprocal polygamy that is freely desired. From Plato onwards, a positive answer has been given by an avalanche of authors, compared with which the advocates of polygyny like Freud dwindle into nothingness, not to mention advocates of polyandry like McLennan.


Reciprocal polygamy is often proclaimed as a heavenly utopia with peoples that have a different practice on earth. With some Indian tribes the harem women are compensated in that they are allowed to have sex at their heart's content. Also in the Islamic heaven there is ample sexual commerce between many men and many girls.

Other utopias are more 'diesseitig' and serve as directives for a future practice. The oldest known is Plato's 'The State' that lies at the base of many later utopias in the West. We therefore proclaim it to the third paradigm for human relations, next to that of Freud for polygyny and that of McLennan for polyandry. Ideas about the community of goods, extended tothe community of women under inspiration of Plato, circulated among many early Christians, although cloaked in the veil of universal Christian love: love your neighbour as you love yourself. Later examples are 'The city of the sun' of Campanella where the community of women is propagated. The Anglican bishop Petty advocated the 'Californian marriage', whereby six men marry six women not only to further reproduction, but above all to heighten the level of sexual pleasure. There soon appeared socialist versions of these utopias, as with Fourier, who regards his'marriage composé' as the highest form of free love. A remarkable variant is Schopenhauer 'tetragamy': two young man share one young women, and when they grow older, they take a second young wife. In the time of the hippies, capitalism and monogamy were expected to disappear: the future belonged to communism and the commune (see Kommune 2 in Berlin).

The counterpart of these utopias are theories that project that community of women in primeval times. The Greeks believed that Kekrops, the first King of Athens, put and end the community of women. The theory is revived with Lucretius en Ovid. With pope Clemens, third successor of Peter, it is coupled with the Christian doctrine of the Fall. Clemens, explicitly referring to Plato, holds that everything in the world 'should have been shared by everybody', but that evil forces are responsible for the fact that some proclaimed themselves proprietors.

This old theory gets a new impulse with Fourier, who holds that in primeval times the 'beautiful and strong savage did not recognise any limitation in matters of love, and hence practiced free love. But it is above all Bachofen that gave the ancient model its modern shape. He calls the first phase of matriarchy 'Aphrodisian'. In this stage, there is an exclusive bond only between mother and child, whereas between the sexes there is an 'unregulated hetaerism'. The males join together in a spirit of general brotherhood and share their women, who, as we have seen 'are not adorned by Nature with all her charms to pine away in the arms of a single man'. Nietzsche rechristens Bachofen's 'Aphrodisian phase' into 'Dionysian' and opposes it to an 'Apollonian', so that the opposition between matriarch y and patriarchy is replaced with an opposition of two male gods. The affinity between Nietzsche 'Dionysian' and Bachofen's 'Aphrodisian' is apparent from the nearly concealed hints on a 'general promiscuity', of which it is not clear whether it has to be understood as a festive outburst (on which we shall return in the chapter on the orgy) or rather as an enduring state of 'primeval communism' .

Bachofens idea of 'heta irical' primeval times is taken over by McLennan en Lubbock. Especially the work of Morgan forced a breakthrough. Whereas Bachofen relied on historical sources, Morgan proceeded to the study of existing societies. He was an admirer of Bachofen and sent him his book. For Morgan, the oldest form of marriage was 'group marriage' ('the punalua family'). Such group marriage is characterised not only by the community of women, but by the community of goods as well. The trend is continued by Engels, who regards group marriage as the primeval communism. The success of this theory is unstoppable: Giraud Teulon, Letourneau, Lippert, Spencer formulate ever new versions. Westermarck emphatically denies that there ever has been such a thing as a primeval communism, but his attack is countered by new evidence from Australia, gathered by Spencer en Gillen and by Howitt. Primeval communism is defended by Kohler, Wilken, Kropotkin, Bloch, Frazer en Rivers. Let us recall especially 'The Mothers' of Briffault, who assumes a group marriage of all the brothers of the clan with all the woman of another clan. There is a revival of these theories during the era of the New Left, the commune and feminism. Thus, Borneman refers to a 'libertarian life stile' in the period before the advent of patriarchal cultures.

Foremost the development of primatology after the Second World War gave new impulses to the idea of reciprocal polygamy. With many apes and primates, a group of polygynous males struggles for a dominant position in a kind of collective harem. This can lead to the formation of a one-male group or of a multi-male group, but since the position of the leader in a one-male group is constantly contested, there is no talk any more of a sovereign potentate as with Atkinson. This implies that the polyandry of the females is recognised: the have sex with more than one male. The idea of a polygynous harem is replaced with the idea of reciprocal polygamy. That gives a new impetus to speculation about the sexual nature of primeval man. As a reaction against researchers like Tiger en Fox, Barasch, R. Smith, Shepher, who believe in polygyny, other authors stress the concomitant polyandry of the females. Sherfey holds that women in the pre-agricultural era were sexually to hot to restrict themselves to one single male. Hrdy holds that is was beneficial for a woman to 'nymphomanically' have sex with as much males as possible, and to keep the males in uncertainty about fatherhood, so that the potential fathers had no choice but to to protect and feed all her children.Smith describes how the increasing reliance on hunting of homo erectus went hand in hand with a replacement of the exclusive harem with reciprocal polygamy: left behind by their hunting husbands, the females could no longer be protected against solitary males. Margulis follows Smith in the idea that the vegetarian Australopithecus kept relatively faithful women in his harem, whereas homo erectus tended to be promiscuous. Margulis talks in quasi Nietzschian terms about a communal 'feast of love', where nobody belonged to nobody. Also here, the idea of primeval communism is coupled with the idea of the orgy.


Already the Greeks assessed the existence of reciprocal polygamy with other peoples (Herodotos, Strabo). Christian authors mention its existence with the heathen Slaves. Especially after the Age of the Discoverers the sexual relations of the 'savages' are interpreted in terms of primeval communism. A good example is Campanalla's 'City of the Sun', a story inspired by the first anthropological records from Sumatra and Ceylon. Authors like Morgan, Engels, Frazer and Briffault interpret marriage classes as group marriage. Unjustifiably so: marriage classes determine the candidates among whom one may choose his (monogamous, polygynous or polyandrous) partner. But it is not because Christians are expected to marry with other Christians that they would belong to one giant commune. Not only marriage classes, also kinship terminology, such as the extension of the term 'brother' or 'sister' to other members of the group, was a source of confusion (with Morgan for instance). In all these cases, we are dealing with a mistaken interpretation of the anthropological evidence.

There seems to be some truth in the story that it is the custom to share not only the table with visitors, but also the bed. Lowie reports how the Chuckchee in Siberia sleep with each other's wives during their long travels. Because Lowie does not define marriage in terms of sexual relations, he nevertheless comes to the conclusion that we are not dealing here with 'group marriage' but with a temporal extension of the sexual rights of the husband. According to Lowie, Howitt is wrong in applying the term 'group marriage' to the Dieri in Australia: the principal husband has to give his consent. Lowie is only prepared to grant the existence of 'sexual communism'. But also sexual communism is reciprocal polygamy. Group marriage and primeval communism certainly refer also to sexual relations, and not only to the economical contract, to which Lowie wants to reduce the institution of marriage. Thus, the triumphant denial of the existence of 'group marriage' is a good piece of anthropological sophistic reasoning. Also Malinowski brushes the problem aside by excluding sexual relations from his definition of marriage. Murdock mentions group marriage with the Kiangang in Brasilia, but holds, just like Lowie that there is no group marriage with the Chuckchee and the Dieri, because there is only sexual, and no economical cooperation. Forms of group marriage can be found with the youngsters that are excluded from marriage by the harem keeping elders. And Tannahil points to the fact that in Egypt the poor often live in a kind of commune.

Also levirate (a woman marries a man and his brothers) and sororate (a man marries a woman and her sisters) are often regarded forms of group marriage. Both customs are widespread, but occur mostly independently. Only the combination of both in a marriage of all the brothers with all the sisters would be reciprocal polygamy. Other variants can be found with the Banyoro in Uganda where every brother has sexual rights on the women of his brothers. In other cases we are dealing with one sided polygamy: sororal polygyny of sororal polyandry.

As opposed to the purely economical group marriage, sexual communism has been a widespread practice, especially where its was not forbidden to have sexual contact outside marriage. In little communities like hordes and tribes, the same men have of necessity to restrict themselves to a limited number of available women, so that their behaviour can be classified as reciprocal polygamy. But we should ponder whether we are dealing here with reciprocal polygamy as a desired form of marriage. The same holds for the free contacts between youngsters in many tribes: these relations end up in monogamous relations..

Voluntary reciprocal polygamy, on the other hand, is not at all 'primeval' communism, but rather a late phenomenon in history. The first traces appear only after the advent of commerce and the first states. Community of women has often been legitimated with Christian ideology. In many communities of early Christians, the community of goods was extended to the community of women. Although the community was initially understood in the economical sense, in many cases it also comprised sexual community. Also in many later Christian communes ('cooperatives') the sexual community was either negated - as with the Shakers - or openly advocated - as with the Spiritualists in the 13th century, the Ranters after the decapitation of Charles I in 1649, and in the commune that was founded in 1849 in by the 'Perfectionists' of John Humphrey Noyes, where the 'complex marriage' lasted for some thirty years, and finally the Bible Communists.

Soon also socialist communes appear, inspired by theories from antiquity (Plato) or from anthropology (Bachofen, Morgan). Where communism and anarchism went hand in hand with feminism, that could not but result in theories on reciprocal polygamy. No wonder that only in the socialist communes economic communism (as cooperation with collective ownership of the means of production and/or equal remuneration) was openly coupled with sexual communism. In 1826, Frances Wright founded 'Nashoba', an agrarian commune in the neighbourhood of Memphis. Around 1840 Fourierian communes were spreading in the United States. The members were supposed to unite in erotic 'quartets, sextets, or octets', if not in entire 'orchestras of passion'. Also after the Russian Revolution, there have been countless experiments with sexual communes, and he Zionist Meir Yaari advocates a combination of sexual and erotic communism during the foundation of the commune Bitania in 1920. It should be remarked that many stories about 'free love' belong to the realm of fantasy (Beth Alfa). Also anarchistically inspired artists tended to live in communes. There was a revival of Bachofens ideas around 1900 with the 'Münchener Kosmiker', a group op poets, philosophers and artist, among them Klages and Woflkehl . Also the painters of ''Die Brücke' lived in a sexual and economical commune. The socialist and feminist inspiration was revived in the sixties. In the United States we had the communes of Victor Branco, Alex Comfort, the agricultural community of Lama in New Mexico, the hippie commune of Oz and that of Twin Oaks, the anarchistic commune of Red Clover and the (Reichian) commune of Bryn Athin, the commune of the 'Living Theatre'. On the European continent we had the Reichian commune of Otto Mühl in Vienna. This commune functioned as a centre of pilgrimage for groups in other countries, like the commune 'Vol Sap' in Amsterdam (see: 'Otto Mühl: from the happening to the commune). There were also countless communes in other countries of Europe: France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Japan and India.

Advocates of reciprocal polygamy mostly think of reciprocal polygamy in terms of a kind of 'group marriage', where a number of men and women have free sexual access to each other. It is also conceivable that the women from a harem keep polyandrous harems themselves, the males of which keep polygynous harems in their turn, and so on. This variant of reciprocal polygamy - asymmetric reciprocal polygamy - should be discerned from the symmetric reciprocal polygamy of the commune. With the symmetric variant, the asymmetric variant has in common that one man has many wives and that one woman has many, but it differs from it in that they do not belong to one single closed group. When for instance a man is allowed to sleep with the sisters of his wife and a woman with the brothers of her husband, the brothers of the husband are not allowed to sleep with the sisters of his wife, and the sisters of his wife have no free access to his brothers. Such a pattern occurs with the 'polyandrous' people in the Himalaya and North India. On a more modest scale, we find the asymmetric variant also in 'free love' and in the so-called 'open marriage', where each partner is allowed to have relations with other partners. 'Open Marriage' has been preached by the O'Neills. A special variant is the 'swinger phenomenon', analysed in Bartell's book 'Group marriage'.

How often and how enthusiastically reciprocal polygamy may have been advocated, it cannot pride upon a record of enduring realisations. Only seemingly is the list of communes impressive: in fact, it dwindles into nothingness when compared with other forms of marriage. What is more: many experiments with symmetric polygamy in the commune or asymmetric polygamy in the 'open marriage' turned out to be short lived and unstable. The community of women turns out to be the utopian or Atlantic dream par excellence. It is merely a program, the implementation of which is doomed to failure. Before examining why, we have to remind of the fact that there are many forms of communes.


In the above, we already distinguished economical and sexual communes. We know that the relation between man and woman consists of seduction, making love, parenthood and cooperation. Because these moments can be isolated as a consequence of the perverse trend, we can distinguish four kinds of communes.

Most appealing to the imagination is the sexual commune. Less obvious for a Western mind is the idea of a fertile commune consisting of fathers and mothers. The communes of Plato and Campanella were set up with reproductive and educative aims. Especially since the advent of eugenetics in the wake of the Malthus and Darwin, purely reproductive relations are separated from (infertile) sexual relations. Russell pleads for the separation of love and parenthood and to reserve reproduction for the most appropriate parents. The Nazi Lebensborn project can be considered as a reproductive and educatory commune, whe re illegal child ren of parents who could submit an appropriate 'Ahnentafel' were entrusted to the care of the Nazistate. The reproductive communes are the scientific counterparts of the harems as reproductive machines: the harem keeper and the wives in the harem are not necessarily the bearers of the best genes. The primeval father has to give up his role to candidates who owe their position not to economic or political power, but rather to genetic supremacy. Hitler, who is said to have had only one testicle, had to make room for an array of elect blond Germans, and to content himself with delivering certificates to German mothers.

Next, there is the commune where men and women engage in a purely economical communism, like otherwise husband and wife in a 'marriage de raison'. We already pointed to the phenomenon that is such communes (think also of cloisters) the sexual aspect is often fiercely repressed. The reason is that sexuality is often associated with the monogamous couple that threatens to undermine the economic communism of the community. In other cases, economic polygamy is combined with sexual monogamy. Only in a minority of cases do economic and sexual polygamy go hand in hand.

We finally have to ask ourselves whether there is also reciprocal polygamy of seduction??. where all the women would exhibit themselves for all the men and that these men were prepared to look at all those women (and vice versa). We have seen that this kind of reciprocal polygamy does not exist, for the simple reason that men are not out at admiring all the women, but only the most beautiful ones (and vice versa): one-sided polygamy is the rule here. Simultaneity of one sided polyandry and polygyny can be seen on nude beaches, where many men admire the most beautiful women and many women the most beautiful men.


After this survey of the various kinds of communes, we can ponder why reciprocal polygamy is so scarce and doomed to failure. At first sight, this seems rather strange. Reciprocal polygamous desires do not exclude one another, so that there is no conflict between the polygynous desires of m an and polyandrous desires of woman as with one-sided polygamy. And reciprocal polygamy is in accordance with the ration of males to females. Nothing seems to prevent its smooth realisation.

Were it not for the iron law that the quality of relations decreases in proportion to the increase in numbers. Precisely the multiplication of relations that is desired by so many men and women, does not precisely lead to an intensification of love, but rather to its evaporation. That is above all evident on the sexual level. Reciprocal polygamy supposes an equal frequency of the urge to make love in both sexes. Let us suppose that two partners have coordinated their frequency of making love. When the couple is extended to a commune of four members, they have the choice: either they double the frequency and have to make love with half the usual enthusiasm, or everybody maintains the usual frequency and has to halve the frequency of his sexual contact with each partner. In both cases, the quality of the separate sexual relation decreases.

And that goes even more so for one-sided polygamy. When talking of the 3.333 wives of an Ashanti chief, Lubbock lets slip the remark that nobody can possibly love so many women and that it is unthinkable that so many women can show the least affection for one single men.


Let us suppose, for a moment, that the quality of the relations begins to decrease only from a certain number of partners onward and that initially the pleasure is only increasing. Then, a new problem looms up: the presence of pyramids of desirability.

In the foregoing, we have seen how men monopolised economic power in an effort to overcome their submission to female beauty. The asymmetric exchange of beauty for wealth (resources) led to a complex social architecture with polygynous harems at the top, monogamous couples in the middle and a multitude of unmarried singles on the basis. In order to realise reciprocal polygamy, we would have to restore the attractiveness of both sexes on all levels: beauty, sexuality, parenthood and economic potential. Not for nothing do proposals for reciprocal polygamy always coincide with the demand for economic equality. To the extent that equality could be realised, the one-sided economic interest of women would decrease and be redistributed over all the facets of man's diverse nature. Conversely, the interest of the male would become less one-sided than interest in her beauty alone.

Then, a new problem arises: economic equality - in the supposition that such a thing could ever be realised - does not annihilate the differences on other domains. Both sexes continue to classify each other on different levels of different pyramids. And, as soon as the partners proceed to choosing, that has to result in factual monogamy also here. Under the sign of reciprocal polygamy the most desirable man may grant his wife many lovers, but he himself will only be content with the most desirable woman, and the other way round, and so the whole way down to the base of the pyramid. Needless to mention that there are many domains where one can distinguish himself from other people and that he who excels on one domain does not necessarily excel on all the other domains. But that does not alter the fundamental dynamics.

Pleas for reciprocal polygamy obviously tend to overlook that people are not equally desirable. That is why reciprocal polygamy is doomed to remain utopian. That is evident from the exaggerated feelings of 'brotherhood' and 'peaceful togetherness. In all descriptions of communes the stress is on the way in which the men share their women brotherly and the women their men sisterly. We remind of the 'Aphrodisian' with Bachofen, the 'Dionysian orgy' with Nietzsche and the 'feast of love' of Margulis' homo erectus. The reinterpretation of pyramids of desirability to egalitarian and peaceful commune is a result of the repression of the way in which men and women use to eclipse the less desirable without any open aggression.

In the theories on reciprocal polygamy, we find the traces of the repressed everywhere. In Plato's state the partners are allocated by (manipulated) drawing lots, which implies that free choice is suspended. Campanella bluntly denies that there would be less desirable women in his City of the Sun. In his state the masters nevertheless play the role of Plato's drawing lots: Commerce with educated and beautiful women is reserved for well educated and beautiful men, commerce with fat women for skinny men, and commerce with skinny women for fat men, question of obtaining a good average. Luckily, there is also provided in the need of bookworms: they have right to young and strong woman as compensation. Also Fourier sweeps the problem under the carpet with the contention that in the future everybody will be rich, cultivated, honest, desirable, virtuous and beautiful. A bad conscience about such repression is reflected in the institution of the 'angelicate', whereby the most beautiful couples were supposed to practice 'amorous philanthropy' on behalf of the less desirable and the elders! Not only the decrease in quality of the relations with the increase in quantity, also the existence of pyramids of desirability is responsible for the tendential presence decrease of the community of women to ever smaller communities of the elect, and finally to monogamy. Many religious and socialist communes (think of the commune of Humpfrey Noyes in Oneida) eventually dissolved in a series of monogamous relations, and swinging often ended up in the remarriage of the best placed partners.

In eugenetic reproductive communes, the existence of pyramids of desirability is openly recognised in the nature of the enterprise itself. With Russell and in Hitler 's 'Lebensborn' only the elect breeding bulls and dito wombs are allowed to participate in the reproductive feast, whereas the less fortunate are excluded. they have to restrict themselves to purely sexual commerce with their monogamous partner or are excluded from reproduction altogether, in as far as they are spared the even worse fate of castration or gasification. Even in the concealed eugenetics of sperm banks the exclusion is reflected in the selection of sperm donors or the demands of the women that are to be fertilised with this elect sperm (for instance the demand for white sperm with black women).

The spotlights on the fraternal harmony in the temple of the commune only hide from view what is happening outside the walls. Primeval fathers and primeval mother close the ranks fraternally and sisterly to chase, castrate or kill the less desired - albeit this time communally: fraternally or sisterly rather than like primeval fathers and primeval mothers.


Equally exaggerated as the stress on fraternity in the commune is the emphasis with which every jealousy is denied. Community of women seems to be synonymous absence of very claim on property and possessive jealousy. That is a double illusion.

In the first place, it is overlooked that there is jealousy of intruders in a every form of sexual relation. Jealous is not the privilege - let alone the fundament - of monogamous relations. The harem wives react jealously to any extension of the harem with a female intruder. In the Chinese harems there were fixed procedures to cope with these outburst of jealousy. The eunuchs are the silent witnesses of the jealousy of the harem holder. And also with reciprocal polygamy in the commune, intruders are not welcome. We already described how the brothers and sisters communally exclude the less fortunate. In the same vein marriage classes, unjustifiably considered to be the remnants of group marriage, determine not only with which partners one is supposed to marry, but which partners are excluded from the beginning in the first place. They circumscribe the pool of potential sexual partners and prescribe on which intruders one will react jealously or aggressively. No member of a clan would be prepared to hand over a potential partner to a member of another clan, let alone an enemy. And the same goes for communities the members of which are supposed to marry among each other (endogamy): this leads to collective jealousy of outsiders. It suffices to refer to the jealousy of white men of the blacks who come to seduce their daughters, or of all kinds of native of immigrants. A special variant of such collective jealousy is the phenomenon that in many countries native whores are not at the disposition of strangers, or in the religious prescriptions that Christian whores are forbidden to serve Jews or Muslims.

Every form of sexual relation jealously protects itself against intruders or dissidents. To spare themselves this insight, many authors conceive of the community of women as of a universal community, so that there are no outsiders at all. One cannot escape the impression that Bachofen, McLennan and Morgan thought that the whole of humanity was engaged in once gigantic hetaerism. The idea of a universal brotherhood survives in the very term 'primeval communism' that happens to be as ineradicable as patriarchy or matriarchy. The universal ban of the last decades on everything that smells even faintly of communism, leads to the search for poor alternatives, like Borneman's 'libertarian life style' without jealousy.

Second, it is not unimportant to remind of the fact that there is also jealousy within the various polygamous sexual formations, just like among the children in a family, even when most of the partners learn to live with it, again just like the children in a family. In every harem, women are struggling for the highest position or the status of mother of the successor. Since not all can be the one and only, in concrete harems, not otherwise than in concrete families, we are facing the problem of distributive justice. In practice, this is implemented through strict regulations according to Freud's motto from the nursery: when nobody is allowed to be the favourite, then all must be treated equally. We refer to the love calendars in the Chinese harems and with the Mormons, and to the already mentioned Confucian and Islamic prescription that no wife should be neglected in the harem. The Confucian book Li Tshi prescribes that one should have sex at least once in a week with an older concubine. The problem is dealt with in the film 'Raise the red lantern. One master, four wives' ...


The above raises a number of questions. whence the emphasis on fraternal brotherhood? Whence the systematic denial of every jealousy? Whence the stubborn coupling of sexual and economic communism?

One cannot escape the impression that the commune is a reaction of those who are the denied the access to what others monogamically of polygamically possess. A harem holder does not conceal his jealousy: his eunuch are the living witnesses to it. And that cannot but provoke the jealousy of those who find themselves on the lower steps of the ladder. That are precisely those that would have an interest in others not being jealous: the monogamous middle bracket who would like to have a taste of other people's women; or still lower on the pyramid: those who are not able to keep a women altogether, let alone a beautiful women. To get access to the property of other people, the have to resign themselves from every property claim and to deny every jealousy in themselves. And since they do not own anything desirable or nothing at all, they do not find that difficult....

In that sense, we could well imagine that the sons of the primeval father were jealous of the monopoly of the primeval father and how their jealousy made them condemn every form of ownership. Let us suppose that the fraternal horde killed the primeval father. They then could not claim the rights for which they had murdered their father. Nothing was left to them but to fraternally share the pleasure in the females of their father. In such scenario the murder on the primeval father would have led to the foundation of .... the primeval commune!

We know that this story could never have occurred, simply because a primeval father is no match for his grown up sons, so that he never could have monopolised a harem. We have meanwhile constructed the historical counterpart of this mythical primeval father: the wealthy men, who, as slave holder, feudal lord or capitalist is able to collect the most beautiful women is his harem. He does so as an old man that lays hands upon the young women and thus bereaves the youngster of what rightfully belongs to them.

In this historical version of the story of the primeval father, the dominance of the 'father' over his 'sons' is really assured. To out rule the old wealthy 'father', the 'sons' will first have to become as old and rich as him. But, since the richness of the ones is the poverty of the others??, they surely will become old, but not necessarily rich. Only such historical 'primeval father' is able to castrate his grown up sons, albeit merely economically. Only the son that grows up under the protection of his mother will be able to be the successor of his dying father, as we have.

The historical counterparts of the primeval sons are the excluded slaves, serfs and proletarians. The historical primeval father bereaves them not only of the most beautiful girls,, but also of the means of buying them. These excluded sons can unite in a rebellious horde revolting against the jealous possessiveness of the primeval father and bereaving him of his harem and his treasures. Also these historical brothers will have to remain faithful to their slogans and resign themselves from every possessive greed. No revolutionary is allowed to monopolise his wife, if he has one, and the primeval father's wives have been freed from the primeval fathers dominance only to join the universal commune of the people. This pattern survives is the group rape of women of elders through youngsters in medieval cities, in the sexual practices of Taoists in China, the French Revolution and the wave of free love that swept over Russia after the Russian Revolution. Rossiaud is right when he is talking about the dream of a Golden Age that lies dormant in the deepest unconscious of the poor, the longing to return to a primitive community, that expresses itself in every revolt. Not only the women have to join the universal community. This fate is in store for private property of goods as well : everybody has to resign from private property and the property of the primeval father has to be distribute to the community. The dismantling of the harem and the redistribution of private property with each revolution is the late revenge of the preliminary conquest of land and property and of the abduction of women.

In expectance of this historical patricide, there is another possibility that was not at the disposition of the mythical fraternal horde. The historic 'primeval father' reaches his goal foremost through economical castration of his 'sons'. The historical 'sons' can protect themselves in the complex network of society by no longer working for him, but for each other. They then found an economical fraternal horde, the members of which work together and become rich together. And in such fraternal horde, the women are (accepted) as sisters: they are no longer abducted or bought, but acquire the means of their existence on the same footing as their brothers. Of course, they all resign from individual claims on each other and on each other's goods, and, as in one universal family, they share each other's bodies and the fruit of each other's labour.

Only against this background can the emphasis on fraternity and the taboo on jealousy be explained, but foremost the coexistence (coupling) of economical and sexual communism. Only against this background can we understand why the idea of the commune invariably pops up in the lower and reformative regions of the sexual-economical architecture and never in the economically and sexually privileged at the top. Has anybody heard of a harem holder ever threw away his females for the rabble? In the lower regions of the beehive or the termite hill, the commune is the counterpart of the merger of kingdom and harem in the higher regions.

In that sense, the story of the primeval father turns out to be the psychoanalytical or mythical version of a competing theory: that of socialism. The fraternal horde is the mythical name for the revolutionaries in the industrial society, the bourgeois and the proletarian, in case: socialists of all plumage. Whereas the bourgeois propagated monogamy against the feudal harem (as we shall describe in chapter IX), the less fortunate proletarians dreamed of a universal commune of the people. Under the flag of socialism, five years after the formulation of the story of the primeval father by Freud, patricide was perpetrated against the Tsar in 1917. The story of the primeval father is in fact a early reflection of Freud on socialism, with which the psychoanalytical movement had been confronted, first by Adler, and then by Reich. The successes of socialism and of the later perverted fascist variant have been a forceful motive for Freud to deepen out his story time and again. We can suffice with pointing to the fact that the mythical version of Freud has un unexpected charm. It condenses the means - the struggle for the collective ownership of the means of production - with the goal - the struggle for the access to the women. But this charm is at the same time a weakness. Whereas, in Freud's 'Totem and Taboo' the struggle for the means soft production disappears behind the goal, in Marx' Das Kapital' the goal disappears behind the means. Both reductions of the problematics are a special case of the reduction of conflicts in society to conflicts between classes or conflicts between the sexes, that we analysed at the end of the second chapter of this book. And they testify to a similar failure to understand the totality of the complex sexual-economical architecture of society.


Before proceeding to the next chapter, we should dwell somewhat on a terminological question. What we refer to with the unequivocal term 'reciprocal polygamy' sails under the most diverse flags: 'hetaerism', 'primeval communism', 'punalua marriage', 'community of women', 'group marriage', 'sexual communism', 'panmixy', 'polygynandry' or 'commune'.

Such terminological confusion is a result of a failure to grasp the difference between one-sided and reciprocal polygamy. In our terminology, polyandry and polygyny as two forms of one-sided polygamy are clearly discerned from reciprocal polygamy.

Whoever fails to make the required distinction, threatens to forget that with one-sided polygamy only one sex is polygamous: polygyny presupposes female monandry and polyandry male monogyny. The insight that the husbands of a polyandrous women are monogynous runs up against the conviction that men happen to be polygynous. But whoever imagines the husbands of a polyandrous women to be polygamous, inconspicuously converts the harem into a commune. We should beware when diverse authors are talking about 'polyandry'. With Bachofen and Briffault, we often have the impression that the existence of polyandry suffices to conclude on?? 'primeval communism'. Also in the mind of McLennan both formations are not clearly distinguished ion his saying that the desirable women in the horde are surrounded with a host of admirers. That implies that, in absence of scarcity of women, several men are living together with several women in on single commune. Only scarcity of women can safeguard the monopoly of one woman over several men. Most apparent is the confusion with Robertson Smith who opposes polyandry to 'mona ndry' without introducing the corollary 'monogyny' and who under the heading of 'polyandry' sleeves describes reciprocal polygamy. The same goes for Weininger. It seems as if men can only face the existence of polyandry when they are allowed to be polygynous.

The confusion between polyandry and reciprocal polygamy betrays also how much the brothel stood at the cradle of the theory of primeval communism. It suffices to refer to Bachofen's terminology: he is talking about'hetaerism' en 'Aphroditism'. The same goes for Bloch. The confusion is this time fed by the fact that, with asymmetric polyandry, the harem of the other party is all too easily lost from view: to be sure, hetaires and other servants of Aphrodite gathered many men around them in what was apparently a polyandrous harem, but the males in those harems flutter around from one beauty to another . Other authors link (primeval) communism and whoredom indirectly. Referring to prostitution and unfaithfulness, Marx writes that bourgeois marriage comes down to the community of married women. At best, one could blame the communists of introducing an open instead of a hypocrite concealed version of the community of women. McLennan holds that the savages felt no objection to share their sexual pleasures, not otherwise than civilised men and their 'sin of the cities'. Westermarck jokingly remarks that the existence of (temple)prostitution does not testify to primeval communism, no less than brothels for communism in the industrial age. With Robertson Smith, polyandry seems to be a civilised term for prostitution, and the same holds for Lowie. Whoredom as described at the beginning of this chapter has its reciprocal character in common with primeval communism. The most important difference is that communism is voluntary and not forced through economic productivity, as with whores - remind of the difference between desired and factual relations. The difference between a commune on the one hand and a brothel with habitual customers on the other hand is that in the commune, the desired relations fall together with factual relations, whereas it is the question whether the behaviour of whores corresponds to their desires...

We already pointed to the fact that relations with whores are polygamous in as far as a who re-hopper repeatedly visit the same whore, and that is especially the case with the most desired whores at the top. the commune is the voluntary version of this form of reciprocal polygamy. At the base another scheme prevails: a series of men have casual unique encounters with always different whores. There is a voluntary version also of this version of whoredom: reciprocal promiscuity. This counterpart of the commune will be dealt with in the second panel of this third diptych.

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