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The business of marriage (access required)

By Sam Boykin A s if it wasn’t already in bad enough shape, the institution of marriage — not to mention the concept of fidelity — has taken a serious hit lately. There’s the whole Tiger Woods scandal, a prime example if ever there was one that money can’t buy marital bliss. And the Carolinas haven’t exactly represented the bonds of holy matrimony very well, with both South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards getting caught cheating on their wives. Such tawdry displays seem to add validity to the argument that most people just aren’t meant to get married. That tying the knot is more about social, political and financial pressures — in essence, a necessary business agreement — than it is about finding your one true love. Friedrich Engels, a German social scientist and philosopher, put forth such a theory in his 1884 book “The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State.” Engles connects capitalism with what he argues is an “unnatural institution” — family — designed to privatize wealth and human relationships contrary to the way early humans evolved. Engles posited that marriage emerged during the 19th century when people began to settle in organized communities with different social classes. Marriage was a way for wealthy men to subjugate and control women’s sexual behavior and guarantee their wealth would be passed down to heirs.

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