Monday, September 10, 2007

Doing Polygamy Badly

Reading this article on the sad fate of boys cast out from the big Fundamentalist Mormon enclave in Colorado and Utah to maintain the gender ratio at a level that allows all the men to have at least three wives, I realized that these guys simply don't know how to run a polygamous society. For most of human history, the species has been both polygamous and patriarchal, but has never had a problem with surplus boys. Most societies avoid this problem by limiting real polygamy to the very high status males and having women marry young and men wait until they are older. If I were leading a crazed religious sect and were motivated primarily by the desire to possess and dominate large numbers of women, I would be quick to impose both of those policies on my flock, just to insure that the operation is sustainable. I think this guy Warren Jeffs simply doesn't know how to be an effective cult leader.


undine said...

And by sending the young males off to war, where their numbers would be conveniently diminished so that fewer of them would get to the age at which they could take brides?

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

That's definitely another traditional tactic. I don't know if I'd want to employ that one if I was the leader of a small, isolated cult. It also is too much like simply exiling the young men. It's harsh and makes for bad relations with neighbors.