The Rootless Men
Paul Belien at the Brussels Journal has two posts, here and here, on "nontraditional" marriages in the EU. Belien's main argument is that, with the death of the "standard" model of the family, all kinds of families can -- and may become prevalent. For example, one European 'family' is polyamorous. "This is the case in the Dutch trio-marriage, where the partners sleep in the same bed and where the two women, who are bisexual, have sex with Victor as well as with each other." He quotes Bella Abzug's argument which maintains that there are five genders ... "male, female, homosexual, lesbian and bisexual. People can move from one gender to another, according to choice or at will, which liberates them from the sexual constraints of nature," which strikes me as oddly at variance with the advocated idea that gay people ought to be understood because they are born that way, with no choice in the matter. In Abzug's idea, not only do they have a choice of identities, they can mix 'n match
Much of the discussion over the shape of the family model is motivated by a desire to predict what Western society will look like after they all unfold. Logically, there is no reason why the religious or traditional polygamy -- such as that practiced by the Mormons or Muslims -- can be proscribed at all. It's uncertain that even incest can be long prohibited. Ironically, the real losers in a society with no standard family models may in the end be those groups which sought to drape themselves with the legitimacy of traditional marriage. With traditional marriage debased to the point of abolition, all modes, including the alternative forms, will simply become ones of cohabitation. In that future, it will be impossible to "get married". That term, as we understand it today, will have lost its meaning. About all that one can do is "live-in".
If Belien's indications are accurate then a future patchwork of alternative "families" may not be a very functional place. Here's a snapshot from one of his polygamous families who live off European welfare:
The wives are also cross because Régnier often withdraws into his room, locking the door. He is the only one to have a room of his own in the house. There he has a television set and a small fridge. The women complain he sits there watching football and drinking beer, while they cook, wash and iron and take care of the children. Régnier ignores their complaints, and tells the journalist: “I do not know whether you are married but if you have one wife you can imagine what it is like to have three.”
It may turn out that the traditional nuclear family played a key role in shaping the human unit that was best suited for meeting the demands of an modern society. The triangular family, father, mother and children, like the triangular military structure may have evolved, not by patriarchy or religion, but by practical necessity into its present state. The last years of the 20th century may have seen such a sense of unshakeable security in the permanence of the Western world that its leading intellectuals believed they had the luxury to pursue all kinds of optional extras: from unlimited sexual gratification to the idea that the ethnic groups could be preserved in some kind of ethnographic museum to visited on photographic safari. The future would be one big party in a world that had no need of God. Religion, national defense, traditional morality -- these were all superfluous obstacles to our enjoyment. Dispensable, unnecessary dead weight from a primitive past; excess baggage at the End of History. The family, once our link to both the past and the future may be slowly dying. Good luck to those who would prosper without it.