February 16, 2013
The Relationship of Anarchism and Free Love
by Andy Carloff [a/k/a "Punkerslut"]
As originally posted on: Anarchist Revolt
March 25, 2010
"Only let us fully understand that a revolution, intoxicated with the beautiful words Liberty, Equality, Solidarity would not be a revolution if it maintained slavery at home. Half humanity subjected to the slavery of the hearth would still have to rebel against the other half."
- Peter Kropotkin, 1892
"The Conquest of Bread," Chapter 10, Part II
Anarchism can be defined as the philosophy that treats all authority as an evil in the individual's life. Free Love, more commonly called Polyamory, is a lifestyle where a person does not restrict themselves to one sexual partner. One is a political and economic ideal, the other is a way of living. It may not seem immediately clear, but they are motivated by the same principle: Each person is the only one who knows what they want, and only by freedom can we find true happiness.
Both of these ideas are complements to liberty. They do not declare humanity to be a devil, and they do not call him a saint. But, these ideas will say that liberty and freedom are the causes of social harmony. A tyrant, governing without restriction, cannot improve the conditions of the governed. This is true when it is someone in a relationship refusing to let their partner see someone else. And, similarly, it is just as true when it is a government trying to impose taxes and profits on its people. One is the statement of Polyamory, the other is the statement of Anarchism.
What is it that government and capitalism mean? They mean domination, control, and eventually and finally, our submission. It means having to compromise our time and our energy, our passion and our hunger. It means we have to become something that we aren't, something that destroys us from the inside. We can only live by taking orders. It is a hollow existence, where we cannot really possess or own anything; it is always within the power of our superiors to take it away.
What does monogamy mean? It means a system of being sexually exclusive to one person and on these explicit terms. It means choosing a single lover for long periods of time; relying on that person as your only source of sexual exploration and discovery. The means for expressing yourself physically can be a strong part of your identity -- it can be an important way of blending reality with your emotions. But for the monogamous person, they must learn to be content with whatever sexual restrictions their partner places upon them.
Anarchism is the revolt against all authority placed around us in economy and politics. Free Love is the revolt against all authority placed around us in society and romance. The individual does not need to be governed; they need to be allowed to govern themselves.
For Anarchism and Free Love, they are at their highest expression when they try to create a better society. It is not enough just to criticize existing institutions and ideas; we need to develop an alternative way of living and thinking. We cannot create the perfectly ideal, social relationship for every person in a single moment. To really create the social revolution, we need the time for propagating our ideas and organizing the people into meaningful relationships. Anarchism and Free Love take the same approach here, by trying to replace the existing society with something that makes people responsible and free.
Both of these ideals also approach the problem on similar terms. Before attempting to create the right society, the focus is on what is wrong with our current society. The Anarchist thought sees domination as the cause of our miseries. People must give in to the demands of a small group of people at the top of the system -- and they must do this, because of their need for bread or their fear of prison. Polyamory, similarly, sees control and exclusivity as the cause of our unhappiness and insecurity. It is restricting our sexual experience to one single person that becomes the barrier to our emotional development. These are the problems accompanying government and monogamy; and in examining them, we can find a solution.
If it is domination that causes our unhappiness, then only cooperation can work. If it is laws, parliaments, prisons, and police that create our suffering, then we need free association; we need voluntary organization that is based on the interests and direction of those who make it up. We need a social order that is built and designed by those who make up the vast whole of society. This is the Anarchist solution, and it is built around the collected knowledge we have from the history of civilization.
If it is exclusion to one partner that limits our experiences in life, then we must eliminate exclusion. We must have open relationships that aren't based on limiting and restricting our partner's emotions or activities. Monogamy's principle of one-person-relationships does not allow everyone to fully explore all of their passions and desires. To correct that difficulty, we must expand the sphere of partners for lovers. This is the Free Love solution, and like Anarchism, its approach is based on the problems of the present organization.
Free Love and Anarchism has this relationship: they are both a unity of passion and thought, bound up with the independence and the happiness of the individual. As their aim, they both have responsibility and social harmony.
"...all freedom that has been practiced in all ages of the world has been beneficial just in proportion to the extent of human nature it covered."
- Victoria C. Woodhull, with Stephen Pearl Andrews, 1871
"And the Truth Shall Make You Free: A Speech on the Principles of Social Freedom,"
Delivered in Steinway Hall