Christian von Ehrenfels (1859 - 1932 ) was an Austrian philosopher, and is known as one of the founders and precursors of Gestalt psychology.


Ehrenfels's Solution

Ehrenfels proposed solution was to do away with monogamy, and create a new social order based on polygamy. To begin with, the state would take complete control of human sexuality.

In Ehrenfels's new society, the "highest goal" would the "improvement of the human constitution" by allowing only the fittest white men to breed. In Ehrenfels's new society, only those white men who proved themselves to be social "winners" would be allowed to marry, and the number of wives a man could have would be based upon his degree of success. The more successful the man, the more wives he would have.

The state would assign a man his wives after determining his social success and other features such as health, looks, morality and intelligence. Woman by contrast would be allowed only one husband at a time. All women would be forced to live in communal barracks at the expense of the state, where they would help other each raise their children and where their husbands would visit for sex.

In this proposed new society, romantic love would be done away with, and relations between men and women would be only sexual. Ehrenfels maintained in his new society that henceforward only the "specifically sexual element" in relations between the sexes would matter and other "motives alien to breeding" like romantic love would done away with in order to improve the white race.

Ehrenfels argued that what men and women both really wanted were those "days and nights of great and insatiable longing and desire", so in this new society with no "trivialities" like romantic love to interference with the business of sex would be a great improvement for both sexes.

For men who were "social losers", a certain number of the genetically less fit women would be sterilized and turned into the "courtesan class" who would be set aside for the sexual use of the "loser" men in brothels.

Since in Ehrenfels's viewpoint, all that men really wanted from women was sex, not love, in this new society men would not suffer the psychological problems caused by monogamy, thus ending the "splitting". Since this new society would be meritocratic, this would solve the entire "Social Question" as there would no more inherited wealth and privilege.

Furthermore, in this new society, women living in their communal barracks would help each other with raising children, so women would have more time for leisure, and as such Ehrenfels believed that women would come to see this new society as a huge improvement over the previous monogamist society.

Their husbands now free of monogamy would treat them better, and so the entire "Women's Question" would dissolve as women would lose interest in feminism (which Enrenfels saw as very unnatural).

To end the "Yellow Peril" once and for all, Ehrenfels suggested that the "white nations" band together to conquer all the Asian nations before it was too late, and create a new world racial order with a hereditary, racially determined "caste system".

In Ehrenfels's vision, whites would serve as the oligarchic "Aryan" military and intellectual castes and the Asians and blacks as the slave castes supporting the whites.

Ehrenfels in essays published in 1903 and 1904 that in this industrial age, where the majority of humanity was doomed to spent their lives in "mindless, indeed mind-numbing mechanical labor", that this sort of work was best done by "regressive types" of people instead of "human types of higher value".

Ehrenfels argued that Asians and blacks were the "regressive types" born for lives of mindless labor while whites were the types of "higher value" meant for creative thinking, so the division of labor he proposed for his caste system was the one that best suited the intellectual capabilities of the different races that would create the "proper relationship" between them.

To prevent Miscegenation, interracial sex would be a capital crime with offenders to be publicly hanged.

Until the Russian-Japanese War of 1904-05, Ehrenfels believed that these sort of radical changes would only happened sometime in the far-future, or as Ehrenfels put it in 1902: "the Aryan will only respond to the imperative of sexual reform when the waves of the Mongolian tide are lapping around his neck".

After Japan's victory over Russia in 1905, Ehrenfels wrote "the absolute necessity of a radical sexual reform for the continued existence of the western races of men has... been raised from the level of discussion to the level of a scientifically proven fact".

In a 1907 essay, Ehrenfels wrote that radical sexual reform was "now a question of 'to be or not to be'...We have no time to lose."

Ehrenfels suggested as a starting point, the Austrian government begin to allow soldiers upon completing their military service to have polygamous marriages, with those soldiers who proven themselves especially intelligent, brave and physically fit to have the largest number of wives.

Subsequently, Ehrenfels made a public appeal to "manly Aryan men" who had proved themselves to be both "social winners" and "studs" to disregard monogamy and marriage, and to start impregnating as many women as possible to give the "white race" a genetic edge in the coming war against the "Yellow Peril".

Before the Russian-Japanese war, it has been the Chinese who had personified the Asian threat to Ehrenfels; after the war, the Asian enemy of the future was the Japanese.

In his essays in 1907-1908, Ehrenfels wrote that the Chinese lacked "all potentialities...determination, initiative, productivity, invention and organizational talent".

While the Chinese were now a listless mass of allegedly mindless Asians, Ehrenfels wrote that Japan was "a first-rate military power", and should the Japanese conquer the Chinese, the Japanese would engage in selective breeding to create a race of "healthy, sly, cunning coolies, virtuosos of reproduction" in China.

Once that happened, Ehrenfels warned that a vast Sino-Japanese army would set to conquer the world consisting of genetically superior soldiers whom the Western powers would be unable to stop.


Monogamy and polygamy

Ehrenfels [...] defended the opinion that monogamy would hinder a Darwinistic reproduction-logic and procreation-selection, which would have a devastating effect on society in a cultural-biological way and therefore monogamy should be combated.


The basis of Ehrenfels's thinking about a new sexual order were expressed in a series of essays published in several academic journals in Germany and Austria between 1902-1910. In his essays, Ehrenfels began with the argument that men are not naturally monogamous, and that monogamy was something that had come to Europe with Christianity.

Ehrenfels's starting point was that with many species of animals such as whales, walruses, elephants, lions, etc, the strongest male has a harem, which for him was sufficient proof that this was what nature had intended for humanity.

Ehrenfels stated through monogamy had some useful functions such as the "iron discipline" it imposed on European men, on the whole Europeans had suffered terribly from the unnatural condition of monogamy, which had seriously interfered with the Darwinian progress of ensuring the survival of the fittest (Ehrenfels was an avid Social Darwinist).

Ehrenfels believed polygamy was what nature had intended for men as it allowed the "fittest" men to father as many children as possible with as many women as possible in a process of "virile selection".

Ehrenfels wrote with disgust that monogamy was "that type of sexual life...that corresponded to the needs and capacities of women, at the cost of men".

By contrast, Ehrenfels believed that women were naturally monogamous, and that all that women desired was one good husband to look after them. Ehrenfels further believed that all social problems were caused by unnatural state of Christian monogamy, which caused a "splitting" between a man's "day consciousness" when he professed to believe in Christian marriage, and his "night consciousness", when a man's naturally aggressive, animistic sex drive come into play.

Ehrenfels argued that this "splitting" within men between their "day consciousness" and "night consciousness" caused men all sorts of psychological trauma, and led to men acting in irrational, often violent ways. The specific example of the sort of male irrationality brought up by Enrenfels concerning this "splitting" was that of men abusing the prostitutes they visited.

Additionally, Ehrenfels argued this psychological "splitting" led to men to treat their wives badly as men were forced into the unnatural condition of monogamy, and that the feminist movement and the entire "Women's Question" had arose as a response;

Enrenfels believed the "Women's Question" would naturally resolve itself if only husbands would learn to treat their wives better.

Finally, Ehrenfels argued that the monogamy was at the root to the "Social Question" (by which meant Ehrenfels meant the rise of the Austrian Social Democratic Party) as it encouraged men to leave their fortunes to their children, something that Ehrenfels believed to be natural, but also something that "very often contradicts the demands of social justice".

As a result of wealth being spread by "privilegistic" means as opposed to "meritocratic" means, the poor felt resentment and were voting for socialist parties, which promised to abolish inequality.

Ehrenfels believed that humanity was naturally unequal, and the demand for universal human equality had to be fought as it totally unnatural.[10] In a 1908 essay, the proud aristocrat Baron von Enrenfels called the demand for universal equality in the Austrian Empire being made by the Social Democrats "preposterous".


Public acceptance

Ehrenfels's ideas were not widely accepted by the public, but the very fact that he was allowed to publish essays on his new society in intellectually prestigious, learned academic journals in Germany and Austria show that his ideas were part of the intellectual mainstream in the first years of the 20th century.

Both Alfred Ploetz of Archiv für Rassen-und Gesellschaftbiologie, the journal for the widely respected Society for Race Hygiene, and Max Marcuse of the sexologist journal Sexual-Probleme endorsed Ehrenfels's plans for a new society.


Yellow Peril


Moreover, Ehrenfels was obsessed with the fear of the "Yellow Peril", and believed that Asian peoples were a deadly threat to European civilization.

Ehrenfels wrote if nothing was done to stop the rise of China, that "if there is no change in current practice, this will lead to the annihilation of the white race by the yellow race".

In April 1895, the German Emperor Wilhelm II had a nightmare where all the nations of Europe appeared as "prehistoric warrior goddesses" who were protected by Germany which took the form of the Archangel Michael.

To the East, they were threatened by a dark, stormy cloud in which a Chinese-style dragon carried a Buddha wreathed in fire under which marched millions of Asians who destroyed all in their path, killing all whites.

After his nightmare, which Wilhelm regarded as a message from God about the coming, apocalyptic great "race war" between Europe and Asia which would decide the future of the 20th century, he had a painting of his nightmare done by his court painter Hermann Knackfuss in September 1895.

From 1895 onwards, Ehrenfels was greatly influenced by the "Yellow Peril" propaganda put out by the German government, in which Wilhelm repeatedly warned of the alleged Asian menace to the West.

As a Wagnerite who deeply involved in the various Wagner societies in Vienna, Ehrenfels got to know Prince Philip von Eulenburg, the German ambassador to Austria-Hungary and an anti-Asian racist who promoted the fear of the "Yellow Peril".

Ehrenfels believed that Asians were especially dangerous enemies of the Europeans because in East Asia, polygamy was accepted as a natural part of the social order. Ehrenfels warned that this process of "socially victorious" Chinese men taking as many wives as possible was ultimately a grave threat to the West.

As a result of polygamy, genetically superior Asian men were fathering as many children as possible with as many women as possible while genetically superior European men were fathering children by only one woman.

As a result of European monogamy and Asian polygamy, the Europeans were losing out to the Asians, and it was only a matter of time before this genetic edge allowed the Asians to destroy European civilization.

In Ehrenfels's viewpoint, the fact that Chinese were capable of working hard while eating less than Europeans were an important sign that the Asian "race" was thanks to polygamy was starting become the stronger "tougher race".

Ehrenfels wrote with alarm that: "the average constitutional strength of the Chinese, their resistance to overwork and...noxious and prejudicial influences of all kinds...exceeds that of the civilized peoples of the West to an astonishing degree".

Ehrenfels stated that racist anti-Asian immigrant laws like the Chinese Exclusion Act in the United States were a good first step, but were insufficient to stop the rise of the "tough, fecund Mongol race".

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