Though screened for centuries, there is indeed another civilized social organization model that could spare us the disasters heralded by the collapse of our civilization: matriarchy. Living in matriarchy can help us avoid these catastrophes. Modern research on matriarchies conducted, for instance, by the philosopher Heide Göttner-Abendroth 1 has clarified it in concrete terms. And the results of this research are truly inspiring and encouraging.
Of course, this work and this new paradigm are still largely ignored and denigrated. There is even a fairly widespread belief that some western communities have been living for a long time in some form of matriarchal families. That explains why we prefer to use the term "matriarchist." These supposed matriarchal families have very little to do with the balanced political, social, and economic system found in matriarchies.
The situation of Western women has changed dramatically over the last century. The Canadian province of Quebec, for example, was once a symbol of particularly oppressive Catholic patriarchy for women. Within just a few decades, it has become one of the places in the world where women's emancipation stands out2 . From a "matriarchist" point of view, we could quickly summarize the current situation. Western women have already proven that they could eventually become men's equal in this world conceived and thought for and by men.
In fact, despite all the gains made to achieve some form of equality between men and women in the West, we still live in fundamentally "patriarchist" societies. We also prefer to use the term "patriarchist," rather than patriarchal, to describe the civilization we live in. Matriarchal and patriarchal adjectives have been too closely associated with mothers' and fathers' family roles in the West. We can no longer afford to play the puppets in this cunning dividing strategy so effective to let the ruling class prevail more easily. In a matriarchy, there is absolutely no point in opposing fathers to mothers in families, and by extension, men to women. This "war" of the sexes is absurd and leads nowhere.
Patriarchy and matriarchy are systems that are not limited to the functioning of families. However, families play vital roles in both cases. These are two different civilizations types. Each has developed political and economic systems based on worldviews with fundamentally different goals. The patriarchy establishes relations of domination by force, dividing the population into more or less isolated classes, which form a pyramid. Matriarchy bases the organization of society on the central role played by mothers in the cycle of life.
However, keep in mind that human civilizations are incredibly complex. Neither pure patriarchy nor pure or total matriarchy has ever existed. Most likely, none will ever exist. The Matriarchist Party's goal is to show that radical but tested solutions exist to get our world out of the impasse in which it finds itself. Our goal is not to impose a point of view on others. Most of us recognize that our way of life is organized and conditioned on a basis leading us to our loss. Our goal is to show that profound changes to our collective operating rules based on matriarchist principles are available. And that it will restore hope for better days for our community and future generations.
The very first family sense that exists above all for every one of us is, first and foremost, the one that binds us to our mother. Matriarchy recognizes this fact by clearly identifying the mother as the one who invests her whole being in the life cycle origin. The critical role of the spermatozoon in creating human life is comparable to that of the oocyte. At this point, the father and the mother are at the same level. What sets the mother apart is putting many aspects of her life at risk during pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. Generally, mothers also invest a lot in the early years of newborns. It is an invaluable mothers' contribution to the upholding of human society.
Patriarchy opposes this evidence with an almighty father who would be "the mother of the world"3 , the foundation of monotheistic religions. Thus, the word patriarchy refers to the original or founding meaning of the Greek suffix "arkhe", while emphasizing its other sense of dominant power. It is the patriarchs, or the fathers of the nation, who hold this role. Within religions, profoundly and firmly maintaining this belief of the all-powerful creator god rooted in citizens' minds. This belief is found explicitly, for example, in the preamble to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms of the Constitution Act, 1982.4
The first step in establishing patriarchy is the territory conquest and its people's submission by force. At the political level, the patriarchs then maintain a system where they divide the peoples into a hierarchy of several classes of decision-making powers. A designated or elected minority holds these powers. Armed forces control this organization and are responsible for maintaining order. The patriarchs themselves, formerly almost exclusively men, establish this "order" in their interest and not in that of the people.
At the economic level, the patriarchs have introduced the concept of private property, the basis of our economy. This expression comes from the verb "deprive" itself derived from the Latin "privare", which means to take away from others what they have or to deprive them of the right to access it. Initially, it is essentially theft. New owners deprive others of access to a territory that they could freely access before. In Canada and the Americas, despite all the colonial administrations' acrobatics to hide this reality, it is quite challenging to see otherwise what happened to aboriginals' nations5 .
The patriarchist economy aims to maintain or improve the privileged ruling class position. That occurs most often to the lower classes' detriment. In the West, the economic system in place to play this role is capitalism. It adds the market freedom principle to private property. The private property and wealth accumulation by the ruling class has grown uninterrupted over the past centuries. Since the 1980s, the "neo-liberal" ideology with its ultimate weapon of "globalization" markets has tackled the "colonization of the globe"6 .
The gap between the rich and the poor has never been more significant. The ecological balance of our world has never been so precarious. The Earth itself is the target of global nuclear and climate threats. All of this is a direct consequence of the patriarchist civilization that has taken control of our world.
The existence of an all-powerful father who is at the same time the world's mother does not correspond to anything found on Earth. To allow us to believe it, our religious patriarchs have imagined a "next world," where many other things would be possible too. One of those particularly attractive things is this idea of an eternal life that would continue after death, in that afterlife. As this idea brought immense success, our religions decided to extend it also to the family organization. Suddenly, thanks to "marriage," the parents' couple union had to be "eternal," too. In fact, to last at least until the death of one of the couple members.
Even today, for example, the unique event that automatically ends a marriage in the Province of Quebec is death. The only other marriage ending possibility is divorce. And this one must be approved by a judge and, based on only three possible reasons7 . One of these motives is adultery committed by one of the spouses (infidelity). Marriage foundation is monogamy, the partners' sexual exclusivity. We can also find the patriarchist's point of view even more clearly in the word marriage's etymology; that is, the husband's family ("Mari" in French).8
Marriage's obvious goal is to grow the private property model. The patriarchs would help, for example, married couples to establish themselves on a small piece of a conquered land. They legally assign them private ownership. By spreading the new families on the territory, one thus carried out its exploitation on a larger scale, with each generation. It is a very effective way to support colonization9 . The economy's patriarchs were delighted with this new way of seeing the family. It allowed them to increase their wealth even more quickly.
Of course, couples are far less eternal than life. Freed from religious domination, we are now witnessing our families' painful and chaotic dismantling10 , supposed to last at least the parents' whole life. It is quite surprising that very few people dare question this family model or even just that belief of an eternal parents' couple.
Religious marriage has institutionalized monogamy, a single marriage11 . Subsequently, a powerful stream of ideas trying to prove that human monogamy is "natural" has spread. As if we could find it in the animal world.12 .
However, it is tough to find a consensus on the definition of animal monogamy. The reason is that nothing compares to what humans have institutionalized as religious marriage with animals. Although there are rather broad definitions, animal monogamy is generally understood to mean keeping the same partner during the offspring growing season. Even if we stick to this loose definition, we can hardly justify structured human monogamy today. Nowadays, the more the members of civilized societies are free, the less monogamy is frequent. That is, short parents' couple duration does not relate to offspring growth. Therefore, the human being is not naturally monogamous.
And yet, monogamy still resonates in the scientific world, which persists in using this term. No matter how unlikely is this postulate, scientists go so far as to describe the human reproduction mode as "sequential"13 or "serial" monogamy.
This wording almost qualifies as an oxymoron. Indeed, the prefix "mono" clearly means "one." One wonders how it is possible to continue talking about human monogamy today. Indeed, the sequence of sexual relations with different partners can sometimes occur within minutes or hours.
It is as if the Western scientific community could not see the human family apart from the parents' couple's perspective.14 .
Human civilizations have been with us for thousands of years. Are we trying to make us believe that none would have successfully implemented another family lifestyle than monogamy?
The collapse of the patriarchist nuclear family is evident when observing the gradual decline in the parental couples' duration. But the grip of this model remains a foundation of patriarchy even today. However, marriage is only an intermediate step towards patriarchy's ultimate goal of taking control of the natural motherhood order, becoming the only human life creator. Assisted reproductive technologies have developed at a phenomenal rate, particularly in the last half-century. We are getting closer and closer to the ultimate moment targeted by patriarchy. The one where mankind (humanity from the male point of view) will really become the ultimate creator of life, almost without natural help. Because we still count at the base on the spermatozoon and the oocyte to achieve this "feat"15 .
Upon achievement of this goal, marriage and the family's nuclear model will no longer be of any use to patriarchy. But we are not there yet. And above all, is this the path we want to take to "save" humanity?
We can, therefore, identify four founding axes for the patriarchy in which we live:
- The conquest of a territory followed by the control by force of an order established and initially decided by a ruling class;
- The belief in an all-powerful patriarch god, at the origin of everything and controlling everything;
- An economy based on private property and the growth of a free market for the benefit of a dominant class;
- A social organization grouping families based on the sacred union of a parents' couple.
We established above the foundation axes of the patriarchy in which we live. What could it look like in a matriarchy? We attempt to answer this question precisely in this manifesto. We propose to replace our patriarchy with a matriarchy. Because we firmly believe that life in matriarchy will adequately solve many of the fundamental problems facing our civilization.
First, in a matriarchy, the world is not designed for and by women. Here is the first myth that it is essential to debunk. And that is causing a lot of confusion. The etymology of the word includes the Latin prefix "Mater" (the mother) and the Greek suffix "Arkhè", both well known. But "Arkhè" is not used here in the sense of command, dominant power, or authority. It is rather "Arkhè" in its broader sense of origin or foundation16 .
A matriarchy is thus a society that recognizes mothers as the base, the founding, and the central element. It is not at all about a community that is "dominated" by mothers. Conventional research has thus sought to seek a civilization where mothers, and by extension, women, would have found themselves in a dominant position over men. The existence of this kind of matriarchy is indeed challenging to demonstrate.
On the other hand, we can easily find evidence regarding the existence of civilizations where mothers play a central role (not only limited to the family sphere). In these societies, men most often retain essential political responsibilities. That is one of the reasons often cited to oppose the idea of calling these societies matriarchies. It merely shows that these are societies in balance17 .
Giving them the status of matriarchy allows us to consider them a well-organized political, social, and economic system. It is the primary inspiration behind the writing of these pages.
Let us take the Iroquois, one of the most famous matriarchies. The founders of the United States carefully transcribed the Iroquois Confederacy constitution to use it as an inspiration.18 .
Article 44 is unambiguous about the central role given to mothers :
44. The lineal descent of the people of the Five Nations shall run in the female line. Women shall be considered the progenitors of the Nation. They shall own the land and the soil. Men and women shall follow the status of the mother19 .
Unfortunately, the balanced social organization of the Iroquois has not crossed the barriers of culture and time so close to us. During its history, for example, the Quebec nation has often got close to the Amerindian societies. The intermingling of those cultures was part of a concrete reality not so long ago. For example, the Francophone origins of the Métis Nation are undeniable. And many French Canadians proudly mention having "Indian" blood flowing through their veins!
Matriarchies were common among Aboriginal societies in North America. Work to restore their status as authentic matriarchies is a valuable source of inspiration to help establish modern matriarchies. Barbara Alice Mann, a proud descendant of the Iroquois matriarchy, is one of this movement's leading figures. For example, her work dates the Iroquois Confederacy establishment back to 1142. That places the Iroquois Confederacy among the oldest democracies still alive, with the Switzerland's cantons and Iceland's Government20 .
But consider the Iroquois nation a democracy is certainly debatable. Without directly contradicting this statement, Barbara Alice Mann believes that the idea of distributing equal political power among the entire population is "a prescription for disaster" 21 .
For that matter, we propose a new political system more in line with matriarchies: Aviacracy. That is, grandmothers’ exclusive right to vote.
A more realistic definition of matriarchies also allows us to consider several matriarchies today, such as the Mosuo, the Khasi, and the Minangkabau, in Asia. These last two include populations that number in the millions. The Mosuo were chosen as a model community by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) as part of the United Nations’ fiftieth anniversary in 1995.
Pierre-Marc Jonhson co-chaired the committee responsible for selecting 50 model communities22 . In its press release, IISD reports that the matriarchal organization of the Mosuos has allowed them to maintain a fair distribution of wealth and resources for 2000 years 23 . IISD also made it clear that choosing the Mosuos as a model community intended to inspire change elsewhere in the world.
Contrary to what many scientific community members still believe, we must consider these societies as examples from which we can draw great lessons. There is indeed much to draw inspiration from, as we are far from qualifying as fair models of wealth and resources’ distribution.
More generally, matriarchies are civilizations that rest on a cycle form model inspired by natural life. The community identifies Mothers as being their origin and grants them the utmost respect. They celebrate Inherent skills related to motherhood. It provides mothers with fundamental roles in the organization and operation of these societies. Ensuring that decision-making bodies are always subject to the rule of consensus prevents situations where a group could become dominant.
We do have before us a credible, viable, and proven alternative to our delusional patriarchal capitalist democracy. Matriarchies are based on cycles rather than on the growth pyramid of patriarchy. They thus offer the fundamental advantage of being able to last practically forever.
Original quote : « … la société matriarcale n'est pas une utopie abstraite, contrairement à des projets de société purement philosophiques. De telles utopies ne se sont jamais traduites concrètement dans l'histoire de l'humanité. Au contraire, la société matriarcale est une expérience concrète, vécue pendant les périodes les plus longues de l'histoire des civilisations [...]. Ses règles montrent comment peut s'organiser une vie commune, suivant les besoins, en paix, sans violence, c'est à dire tout simplement humainement. » (p. 6)
Heide Göettner-Abendroth, La recherche moderne sur le matriarcat : Définitions, perspectives, actualité
Matriarchiv.info, not dated
Original quote: « Dans la Belle province, c'est la journée de la femme tous les jours, ou presque! »
http://www.lexpress.fr/emploi/gestion-carriere/au-quebec-le-machisme-n-a-pas-droit-de-cite_1260285.html Danielle Stanton, Au Québec, le machisme n'a pas droit de cité
In the section « S’installer au Canada » of the French magazine L’Express
CAPITALIST PATRIARCHY AND THE NEGATION OF MATRIARCHY THE STRUGGLE FOR A “DEEP” ALTERNATIVE
Claudia von Werlhof, Vaughan, Genevieve (ed.): Women and the Gift Economy. A Radically Different World View is Possible, Toronto 2007 (Inanna), pp. 139-153
Constitution Act, 1982 (visited April 9th, 2016)
Justice Laws Website (Canada.ca)
Original quote: « Avec créativité et passion, le mouvement Idle No More a mis en évidence les dynamiques abusives présentes de longue date entre les gouvernements canadiens successifs et les peuples autochtones. Il a fait la lumière sur des années de malhonnêteté, de racisme et de vol pur et simple. »
Idle No More
Daniel Chapdelaine, À babord (visited April 9th, 2016)
Original quote: « ces « réformes » rétablissent les modèles coloniaux, font obstacle à toute planification nationale et à toute véritable démocratie, tout en mettant en place les structures d’un monde d’inégalité croissante dans lequel la vaste majorité est vouée à la souffrance et au désespoir pour servir les intérêts d’un très petit nombre de privilégiés et de puissants » (outside back cover)
Noam Chomsky about the book Mondialisation de la pauvreté et nouvel ordre mondial (The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order, French Ed.) from Michel Chossudovsky,
Marriage in Quebec (visited June 6th, 2018)
Original quote : « La source étymologique bien arrangeante du mot "mariage" depuis le latin "matrimonium", bien que souvent citée est à écarter : "Mariage" vient de la source "mari" (le mâle) et non de "matri" (la mère). »
Etymologie Français latin grec Sanskrit (visited June 17th, 2018)
Marriage and Colonization, Soldiers
Daily Life in New France (visited June 17th, 2018)
Original quote: « C'est peu dire que la famille soit en crise. Le chamboulement de l'institution a jeté ses membres dans un profond désarroi qui nourrit une pathologie familiale dont les symptômes commencent seulement à poindre : violence conjugale, violence parentale, suicide, décrochage scolaire, abandon parental pur et simple, rajeunissement de la délinquance et du crime, etc. » (p. 198)
Daniel Dagenais, La fin de la famille moderne
Les Presses de l'Université Laval, 2000
Original quote: « en grec, le terme vient de deux mots signifiant unique, et mariage »
« monogame », definition from le dictionnaire Littré (visited April 10th, 2016)
Original quote: « Il s’agit de justifier par la « nature » le modèle de conjugalité des humains imposé jusqu’ici par l’Église »
Frank Cézilly, La monogamie est-elle naturelle ? (visited April 10th, 2016)
Original quote : « Ruptures et divorces rythment la monogamie humaine. Il serait donc plus juste de qualifier notre monogamie de « séquentielle », où plusieurs partenaires se succèdent habituellement au cours d’une vie humaine. »
Capsule outil: La monogamie humaine : causes et conséquences (visited June 17th, 2018)<br/> Bruno Dubuc,Université McGill
Original quote : « Le service de la vie La famille, plus précisément l’union stable et durable d’un homme et d’une femme, apparaît comme le mode le plus efficace, le plus adapté, pour assurer la reproduction, le renouvellement des générations. »
Jean-Didier Lecaillon, La famille au coeur de la société. La femme au centre de la famille
Académie d’Education et d’Etudes Sociales, February 2002 (visited April 16th, 2016)
Original quote : « Nous allons inexorablement vers une humanité unisexe, sinon qu’une moitié aura des ovocytes et l’autre des spermatozoïdes, qu’ils mettront en commun pour faire naitre des enfants, seul ou à plusieurs, sans relation physique, et sans même que nul ne les porte. Sans même que nul ne les conçoive si on se laisse aller au vertige du clonage. »
[http://www.slate.fr/story/67709/humanite-unisexe-biologie-immortalite Jacques Attali Vers l’humanité unisexe
slate.fr, 29.01.2013 (visited April 16th, 2016)
Peggy Reeves Sanday, Women at the Center : Life in a Modern Matriarchy
Cornell University Press, 2003
Original quote : « Toutes les personnes qui font des recherches sur ce thème ne donnent pas le même nom à cette forme de société, certain-e-s parlent de sociétés "matri-focales", d'autres de sociétés "matristiques" ou "matri-centrées" ou gylaniques. Elles/ils sont cependant d'accord sur un point : elles/ils font référence à la même forme de société qui ne présente pas de modèle patriarcal et qui se distingue par un niveau élevé de solidarité et de stabilité : Il s'agit donc d'une société en équilibre. » (p. 2)
Heide Goettner-Abendroth, La recherche moderne sur le matriarcat : Définitions, perspectives, actualité,
Bruce E. Johansen, Native American Ideas of Governance and the United States Constitution
eJournal USA, U.S. Department of State / June 2009 (visited June 18th, 2018)
http://www.ratical.org/many_worlds/6Nations/DatingIC.html Dating the Iroquois Confederacy (visited June 18th, 2018)
Barbara Alice Mann, conference
A (M)otherworld is Possible : Two Feminist Visions - Matriarchal Studies - The Gift Economy
October 23-25, 2009, York University, Toronto, Canada
We the Peoples: 50 Communities Awards (visited June 18th, 2018)
We the Peoples: 50 Communities Awards (visited June 18th, 2018)