November 21, 2007

Thanks Eug.

Filed under: free love/ radical love — polywog @ 11:13 p11

Thanks for your thoughts, Eugene! Below is a response to your thoughts, a moment of dwelling on the parallels of interpersonal and economic exploitation, a moment of appreciation for what is “radical” about radical love, and finally, i thought I’d put out some specifics about what radical love is to me, in light of your own definition: “engaging in intimate and possibly romantic relationships while simultaneously maintaining unrestrained independence and the ability to pursue one’s own dreams.”

Your comments drew on the large and interconnected web of issues that our desire for ‘radical love’ is set within. You touched on the idea that radical love is connected to social and ecological sustainability, bodily integrity, language, and systems (i’m guessing economic systems but also social institutions like education and marriage) that support and encourage non-coercive behavior. I’m so glad you brought up the interconnectedness of these issues.

Love between people requires the logistical balance between interconnectedness and autonomy. It is important to understand that exploitative power often works via dependence: I am dependent on other people to make my clothes and grow, kill, or gather my food because i am not sophisticated enough to do it myself. Another individual (or hundreds) probably toil away their lives making/producing the things i buy because they have to have money to survive. Both groups are dependent, and exploitation rests on that relationship. Just as dependence in an economy leads to exploitative relationships, so too does dependence in love. Thus, as Maya Angelou wrote, “Every woman should have/ enough money within her control to move out/ and rent a place of her own, / even if she never wants to or needs to….” Free love to me means that each individual has as much autonomy as possible, because dependency is a trap.

I’m glad for your post because i think it is incredibly important to think about the interconnectedness of issues, and to understand what is at stake in our choices. Radical lovers are “radical” because we are actively choosing to live our lives as something other than symptoms of a diseased society. We are choosing to have the agency to not perpetuate the exploitation and domination we face on a daily basis by poisoning our relationships with it as well. As a result, we create (in my experience) mini environments in which the real freedom is a stark contrast to other definitions of “freedom” and “progress,” and i believe it creates a ripple effect, if even on the local level, in which noncoercive relationships shift political consciousness, creating happy “oh!” moments like flowers waking up in the sunshine…..

Ok. So Free Love is a Basket: and Here are Its Things.

Bodily Integrity–the freedom from bodily harm or physical coercion

Emotional Integrity–the freedom from emotional coercion (enforced obligation, blackmail, threat, etc)

Honesty and Respect

Choice–to live one’s life how she pleases and with whom as long as it does not encumber the freedom of others

The ability to leave–this is the most important for me because the ability to let another person go requires respect for that person’s bodily and emotional integrity, it requires an autonomy and self reliance, and it requires honest and self control.

In my experience, the depth of my relationships flow from the strength of these tenets. Since i’ve begun exploring radical love i have been poly, i have been with just one person, i have been alone, but i’ve never had a “boyfriend” or “girlfriend.” I’ve stopped using that language because it creates a false border. Love flows naturally between people, sexually or not, and creating a throne for sexual love in my life has only created unnecessary strife. It has created such absurdity as “leaving” or “breaking up” when the real desire has nothing to do with either of those words, but rather has to do with a shift in physicality between individuals. It creates a value dualism between friends and lovers which creates often false hierarchies and emotional coercion based on a sense of righteousness to another person’s priorities. It just creates a big mess! So in my life, everyone is a friend, and everyone is treated with the respect, autonomy, and mutuality of friendship. Sexual love is a terrible excuse to forget such basic concepts.


1 Comment »

  1. Yum! I feel happy to have this forum as a space to explore what radical love is, and how to best apply it to our lives. I agree that radical love creates a ripple effect within our social domain, although usually in small circles, and like NVC I believe that it can be used as a tool for peaceful and positive social change.

    I think that the dependence/exploitation connection is an integral facet of our society that rarely is noticed and less frequently discussed. This phenomenon is equally pervasive in the private sphere, and the public sphere as far as I can tell. Which leads me to question what other symptoms of an unhealthy population may appear similarly in both spheres.

    Further I question if another sphere may exist entirely, the “natural sphere”. If private is what happens in the home, and the public sphere is what happens between people in public spaces, is there not another human sphere-the one that encompasses the interaction between humans and nature?

    If a “natural sphere” does exist, it shows symptoms of the same dependence/exploitation chronic cycle that exists in the private and public sphere. Here for instance people are dependent on rivers for fresh water and fresh fish among other things. Of course this relationship of dependence can lead to exploitation as we so often see in the world around us, or as in a radical love relationship the river and its inhabitants can be treated with love and respect with the focus on all of the same elements that make up radical love in the private sphere.

    Indeed I believe the Natural Sphere naturally offers a radical love perspective, parallel to that of the private sphere. Here all of the “objects” in your basket of radical love still fit: bodily integrity, respect, choice, ability to leave. In the Natural Sphere both the river and co must retain bodily integrity, have respect for each other, be allowed to choose their own path, and have the ability to leave freely.

    In every sphere radical love is the most natural way to act, or behave, it is only the imaginative coercion of humanity that creates the groundwork for manipulation necessary to build systems of unsustainable dependence, and a depletion of what should naturally be a limitless source. Privately we see patriarchy manifesting a superiority complex, which in turn often diminishes the value of the female, and views females as a “resource” to be utilized. Where as the most natural relationship is one of equality, and offers limitless love, compassion, and friendship.

    I think what I’m getting at is this: radical love is natural, while it takes effort, and violence or the threat of violence, to enact any other type of relationship.

    Hmmm, I think I’m getting somewhere, but my eyes are tired and I can’t focus. I’ll come back to this tomorrow. I’m so glad we help each other to learn Love, to think about how to make it everything wonderful and free. Wild and Free.

    As an aside, I really enjoy your writing! You have a wonderful way of getting to the point and clearly articulating a perspective while remaining gentle and open.

    Comment by eug — November 22, 2007 @ 11:13 p11 | Reply

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