Dr. Baumeister’s argument is that “men will do whatever is required in order to obtain sex” – and that, historically, society has made them do quite a lot. To qualify as good marriage material, a young man used to have to show he could work hard, compete successfully, commit to family life, be a good provider and gain respect in the community. “The fact that men became useful members of society as a result of their efforts to obtain sex is not trivial,” he says.
Periodically, I find myself in conversation with the odd laissez-faire libertarian who insists that financial economics is the be-all and end-all of everything, and that we've landed on the best system - if only people would stop being people and let it work. For some odd reason they don't take kindly when I suggest, most often in kinder terminology, that they're as delusional about their system as communists were about theirs.
The whole point of life is to continue, not profit. Title, land, means of production, knowledge, wealth and charm are all just means to attract the "fittest" possible mate to ensure one's genes are carried on in the strongest possible package. The "weak" packages stand less chance of reproducing, meaning that over time, undesirable traits are minimized and desirable ones are expanded upon. Everything else we do as living creatures - territorialism, resource hoarding, tribalism, oppression of others and puffing ourselves up simply serves the purpose of increasing our desirability and ensuring the best possible access to quality mates and, therefore, strong offspring with a strong chance of carrying on our line. Fashion and social activities like dance and dating are part of the same, instinctual drive. Of course there is more to society than this - social evolution charts a different course than biological evolution does. Because we're not conscious of how the more engrained, limbicly-derived behaviours are formed, though, we have less control over them.
It is the economy, stupid - just not the one you thought it was.