FREE LOVE

                      Because revolutionary anarchists of all types have
                      recognized the freedom of every individual to
                      determine how they will live on their own terms to
                      be a central aim of anti-authoritarian revolution, we
                      have spoken more often and with more courage of
                      the transformation of personal life that must be
                      part of any real revolution. Thus, questions of love
                      and erotic desire have been openly discussed in
                      anarchist circles from very early on. Anarchists
                      were among the first advocates of free love
                      recognizing in marriage and the absurd sexual
                      restrictions imposed by religious morality ways in
                      which submission to authority was imposed. Women
                      such as Emma Goldman and Voltairine de Clayre
                      recognized in puritanical morality one of the
                      greatest enemies to the liberation of women in
                      particular as well as humanity in general.
                      But the free love advocated by anarchists should
                      not be confused with the tawdry hedonism
                      advocated by Playboy and other promoters of
                      commodified sexual liberation. This latter is merely
                      a reaction to Puritanism from within the present
                      social context. Its continued adherence to the logic
                      of submission is evident in its commodification and
                      objectification of sex, its dismissive attitude toward
                      passionate love-because it can't be quantified and
                      priced-and its tendency to judge people based on
                      sexual willingness, performance and conquest. Love
                      and erotic desire freed from the logic of submission
                      clearly lies elsewhere.
                      The struggle against the logic of submission begins
                      with the struggle of individuals to create the lives
                      and relations they desire. In this context, free love
                      means precisely the freedom of each individual's
                      erotic desires from the social and moral restrictions
                      that channel them into a few specific forms useful
                      to society so that each may create the way she
                      loves as he sees fit in relation to those she may
                      love. Such a liberation opens the way for an
                      apparently infinite variety of possible loving and
                      erotic relations. Most people would only want to
                      explore a few of these, but the point of such
                      liberation is not that one must explore as many
                      forms of erotic desire as possible, but that one has
                      the possibility to really choose and create ways of
                      loving that bring him joy, that expand her life and
                      goad him to an ever increasing intensity of living and
                      of revolt.
                      One of the most significant obstacles presently
                      facing us in this area is pity for weakness and
                      neurosis. There are individuals who know clearly
                      what they desire in each potential loving encounter,
                      people who can act and respond with a projectual
                      clarity that only those who have made their
                      passions and desires their own can have. But when
                      these individuals act on their desires, if another
                      who is less sure of themselves is unnerved or has
                      their feelings hurt, they are expected to change
                      their behavior to accommodate the weakness of this
                      other person. Thus the strong-willed individual who
                      has grasped the substance of free love and begun
                      to live it often finds herself suppressed or
                      ostracized by his own supposed comrades. If our
                      aims are indeed liberation and the destruction of
                      the logic of submission in all areas of life , then we
                      cannot give in to this. The point is to transform
                      ourselves into strong, daring, self-willed, passionate
                      rebels-and, thus, also into strong, daring,
                      self-willed, passionate lovers-and this requires
                      acting without guilt, regret or pity. This
                      self-transformation is an essential aspect of the
                      revolutionary transformation of the world , and we
                      cannot let it get side-tracked by a pity that
                      degrades both the one who pities and the one who
                      is pitied. Compassion-that feeling with another
                      because one recognizes one's own condition in
                      theirs-can be a beautiful and revolutionary feeling,
                      but pity-which looks down at another's misery and
                      offers charity and self-sacrifice, is worthless for
                      creating a world of strong individuals who can live
                      and love as they choose.
                      But an even greater impediment to a real practise
                      of free love and the open exploration the varieties
                      of possible relationships is that most people (even
                      most anarchists) have so little greed for, and
                      therefore so little generosity with, passion,
                      intensity of feeling, love, joy, hatred, anguish-all
                      the flaming pangs of real living. To truly allow the
                      expansiveness of passionate intensity to flower and
                      to pursue it where the twisting vine of desire takes
                      it-this exploration requires will, strength and
                      courage...but mainly it requires breaking out of the
                      economic view of passions and emotions. It is only in
                      the realm of economy-of goods for sale-that greed
                      and generosity contradict each other. In the realm
                      of uncommodified feelings, passions, desires, ideas,
                      thoughts and dreams, greed and generosity go
                      hand-in-hand. The more one wants of these things,
                      the more expansive one must be in sharing them.
                      The more generous one is with them, the more one
                      will have. It is the nature of these things to be
                      expansive, to seek to broaden all horizons, to take
                      more and more of reality into themselves and
                      transform it.
                      But this expansiveness is not indiscriminate. Love
                      and erotic desire can manifest expansively in many
                      different ways, and individuals choose the ways and
                      the individuals with whom they wish to explore
                      them. It makes no sense, however, to make these
                      decisions based on an imagined dearth of something
                      that is, in fact, potentially beyond measure. Rather
                      such decisions are best based on desire for those
                      to whom one chooses to relate and the potential one
                      perceives in them to make the fires of passion burn
                      ever more brightly.
                      The mechanics of erotic desire-homosexuality,
                      heterosexuality, bisexuality, monogamy,
                      non-monogamy, etc.-are not the substance of free
                      love. It can manifest in all of these forms and
                      more. Its substance is found in those who choose to
                      expand themselves, to goad themselves to expand
                      their passions, dreams desires and thoughts. Free
                      love, like revolution, acts to recreate reality in its
                      own image, the image of a great and dangerous
                      utopia. Thus it seeks to turn reality on its head.
                      This is no easy path. It has no place for our
                      weaknesses, no time for neurotic self-pity or
                      meagerness. For love in its most impassioned and
                      unconstrained forms is as cruel as revolution. How
                      could it be otherwise when its goal is the same: the
                      transformation of every aspect of life and the
                      destruction of all that prevents it?

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