Tuesday 14 June 2016

The sex-addicted society

We live in a sex-addicted society: a society where the primary motivation is sex. So far, so uncontroversial.

What is a sex-addict?

It is not the narrowly-defined person who is addicted to having sex; but the person who organizes-his-life-around sex - such a person might never have had sex, but sex dominates his life like heroin dominates a junkie.

But then isn't this just our culture? Isn't the mass media sex-addicted - newspapers, magazines, social media; isn't almost all comedy, art, music? Public discourse generally?

And doesn't sex addiction characterize the micro-level of daily life inside almost all organizations, institutions, schools, groupings...

Of course, all is deniable - but not due to sublimation (the supposed channeling of sexual motivation into other domains), rather to self-deception.

Since the culture of sex addiction is 99.99 percent strategy, a long-termist vague plan/motivation with a small chance of payoff; then the fact that so much is underpinned by a sexual motivation is typically deniable - indeed it may be be non-transparent to the addict, who fails to perceive that their whole intricate world view - their politics, their style, their every choice - is ultimately organized by a sexual calculus.

How has this arisen and become established as the-water-we-swim-in in modern secular culture?

Denial of the power of sex

1. The decline of religion.

2. The denial of the power of sex.

Yet the culture of sex addiction has not turned out to be like a DH Lawrence novel in which sex has obviously displaced Christianity as a sacred and transformative/ transcendent overwhelming chthonic force...

No, it turns-out to be the opposite - we inhabit a culture which, while dominated by sex, simultaneously denies the power of sex; a culture which regards sex as 'merely' a lifestyle option, recreational, fun, a distraction, positive - a culture in which sexual desire is used to shape the society and at the same time which trivializes sexual desire, laughs at it!

(Except that to thwart the exercise of this lifestyle option is, in a non-religious society, a sin - a sin against the very core of a person's system of living. The denial of this particular kind of recreation is therefore an existential threat to person-hood. But this seeming contradiction is not a paradox: because unless the power of sex was denied, society could not neglect to take sex seriously, and would therefore structure society to control sex - which social control would constrain the power of sex to dominate society. Thus the society of sexual addiction is predicated upon a denial of the power of sex.)

The sex addicted culture arose partly by propaganda, was sped-up by propaganda; but sex needs no propaganda - sex is very powerful indeed; so powerful that nothing short of real, old-time religion can begin to tame or control it.

So the best way to create a sex-controlled society, is to deny that sex controls people.

The 'discovery' that sex is not, never was, a problem

Until the mid twentieth century, men and women were essentially never alone together unless chaperoned e.g. JRR Tolkien was allowed to give individual teaching to girl students, but only in his house with his wife present; not in his office, unchaperoned.

Then very suddenly all this stuff was 'discovered' to be not-a-problem after all, and chaperones were discarded (even in medicine - except specifically for examination of sexual regions), and workforces and educational institutions were integrated, and men and women were treated as identical interchangeable units.

And sexuality was officially not-a-problem - and any problems caused by sex were blamed on the individuals, bad individuals.

(Most obviously blamed on bad men. And of course the new assumptions indeed gave great scope to bad men. But it gives even more scope to bad women; becuase women - as females - have intrinsically greater power in the sexual arena; plus an intrinsic assumption of victimhood and associated sympathy - this being a mainstream doctrine of evolutionary biology. Originally, evolutionary realities had been subordinated to religious imperatives expressed through culture; but absent religion, biology rules culture, untrammeled.)

Consequently, because the power of sex was denied, and because sex really was a very powerful force, everything and every situation became sexualized - potentially or actually.

A society officially sex-blind, of interchangeable human units

Officially and in principle there was not a problem; and at the same time, and again officially, all the above situations became a seething mass of harrassment, discrimination, coercive sexualization, menace, oppression and the rest of it.

So, in principle there was no problem with treating men and women as identical and interchangeable and in control of sex.

Yet in practice, the sexual problems were perceived as vast and almost intractable - requiring ubiquitous micro-supervision and a new, expansile bureaucratic apparatus of institutional and legal protections.

Furthermore, since the decline of religion stripped life of meaning and purpose and enforced alienation on an epidemic scale; sexuality became the major source of social energy, which micro-motivated social life - sexualization became pervasive.

Pervasive, yet always deniable. Because sex was (officially) trivial, hence it did not need to be controlled hence it expanded without constraint; and when sex becomes nearly universal, it becomes almost invisible and almost-wholly theoretical - and dissociated from actual physical sex.

Powerful because it is everywhere, potentially; yet weak because it is spread-out everywhere. 

The only 'problem' is the people who are not sex-obsessed...

In such a world of sexually-addicted people driven by sexual energies, yet oblivious and indeed blinded-against the fact; the only 'problem' people are those who try to control, limit, restrain, and focus sexuality: i.e. the (few, remaining) religious.

Now, the religious are the only people who explicitly recognize sex for what it is - a vastly powerful force, a potentially overwhelming addiction, the major source of personal energy; thus something that must (if it is not to take-over) be shaped and clarified.

Hence the sex addicted majority regard the sexually-constrained religious minority as being sex-obsessed!

After all, if you are not religious, then what is there to worry about if sex does take-over everything, and if everybody (of all ages) does live 24/7 in a sexualized environment?

Indeed, the non-religious are grateful for their sex addiction - sex is what gets them up in the morning, dressed, and makes them go to work, and do work, and then leave work to socialize; sex makes them take interesting holidays and talk about them; sex keeps them smart and active and sociable.

If it wasn't for sex, most people would utterly lack effective motivation and would probably do nothing - they would have nothing to live-for...

(This can be seen embedded in modern society's attitude to ageing. Adult maturity, serious marriage and family - and even more old age - are feared and seen as 'bad things' insofar as they are all associated with reduced sexual attractiveness and/ or sexual activity. To be describe someone as 'hot' is regarded as a compliment - despite that the term implies apparent sexually availablility at least as much as it describes sexual desirability.) 

Sex addiction versus the family religious unit

Not many people now live outside of this bubble of sex addiction; and the contrast is not between the sexually active and the celibate (most celibates are part of the world organized around sexual motivations); but between the world of sexual addiction and the family.

That is the polarity: sex-addiction versus the family

Thus the family has become the primary religious unit, and the primary anti-radical force.

The hippies were correct: a life organized around sex is the primary counter-cultural force, the force most profoundly and most powerfully destructive of society.

Hence destruction of the family has become the primary focus of nihilistic secular Leftism - at first covertly, but now explicitly.

And every strong family which to any significant extent 'holds-out' against the dominant radicalism of the sexual revolution, is nowadays necessarily a religious unit - although the religious nature of the forces which hold a family together may well be implicit and self-disguised, may be non-institutional and unarticulated.

(The above is a lightly-edited and re-titled repost from March 2013.)
(Clarification - Religion does not mean Christianity alone, but includes other religions, and includes strong non-institutional individual religiosity that shapes that person's life. All sex addicts are non-religious (even if they self-identify as religious); all non-religious people may be presumed to be sex addicts until-proven-otherwise (that is, until it is clear from their life choices that this is not so) - because it takes a very powerful life goal/ ideology to overcome sex addiction, and aside from religion there aren't many of these. But when a person really has a dominating, underpinning but non-religious and non-sexual life goal/ ideology, then the fact is very obvious indeed. Such people are rare and stand-out sharply from the norm, their behaviour is very different from average.)


William Zeitler said...

What you describe sounds an awful lot like Aldous Huxley's _Brave New World_...

Unknown said...

You asked "what is my favorite"? This. Well stated, insightful, important. Thank you.

George said...

I would, however, dispute that sex is quite so powerful as you portray. After all, immense effort is spent in making people preoccupied with sex, which would not be necessary if it's power was spontaneous.

I suspect artificial stimulati on is required to reach the levels of sex obsession seen today.

Even as an atheist I remember at times "coming to my senses" and questioning the ubiquity of sex in modern life and finding it oppressive and tedious.

Even then I found it unnatural and blamed it on Freud.

Otherwise a very insightful post.

Bruce Charlton said...

@George - I cmpletely agree that sex is not universally powerful - many people are resistant or immune, and many people have higher priorities.

But the history of public life makes clear that many monarchs, presidents, prime ministers - people at the pinnacle of the social situation - will risk everything for sex; in a way that indicates their status is primarily a means-to-the-end of sex, which (for secular people) means it is the primary drive.

So, in public life, among the ruling elites, it is hard to overestimate the degree of sexual addiction (in the sense I describe above) - and the extent of influnce it has on their actions. For example, it is clear that many modern laws and regulations are implemented *primarily* to gain approval for, legalise, protect, or in various ways facilitate the particular sexual hopes, preferences and appetites of a particular person, or small group of people.

Andrew said...

This reminds me of another article along the same lines.


Modern secular "progressive" sexual mores are just a regression to heathen attitudes.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Andrew - Actually, modern progressive sexual mores are nothing whatsover to do with heathen attitudes (by which I presume you mean paganism?) and do not constitute a regression - heathenism is (more or less) the 'natural man' - and included most (not all) of the Christian virtues. But what we have now is deliberate, destructive inversion of values.