Regardless of the fact that it is a structural component of many people's subconscious, it is rare to offer a coherent, rational critique of the dominant attitude (at least when official rhetoric and conformism are concerned) that “the idea of marriage, certainly the highest achievement of humankind, the only morally acceptable way of life, is an inevitable consequence of every true love, in accordance with both the earthly, as well as the heavenly ways”. The latter are too high for my reach, so I will deal here primarily with the prosaic marital plains which, in any case, most people roam.
It might sound malevolent, still sensing a need to demystify this “primary social cell” (the ambiguity of language allows me to agree with religious zealots here), I would like to stress that marriage as we know it was in no case with us from the beginning of the human race (it is actually a historically younger occurance, which instantly invalidates a simple-minded thesis about some kind of “naturalness” of this institution). When some individuals became richer, rising above other members of the group as a result of their commercial cunning and, all too often, also due to outstanding cruelty, spoils of war and the like, they wanted to fundamentally dissociate themselves from the other members of the tribe since they (thanks to the development of the forces of production) didn’t need to cooperate in the production process any more. Therefore tribes started to disintegrate into smaller production and consumer units – more or less atomized families (thus allowing richer individuals to pass down all their material valuables exclusively to their descendants). Through successive decline of the primeval community others also gradually accepted such a particularization of human relations - monogamy, private ownership over the means of production and a violent, antagonistic and competitive class society.
In such a way “the noblest achievement of mankind” is actually a result of special economic interests which marriage simultaneously also perpetuates; it serves those interests and strongly supports them.
Marriage represents a particular pact against the world, “egotisme a deux” (egoism in two), a frantic search for a “heaven in a heartless world” (Bob Black). The function of the Church and the State in this case is granting a “licence for copulation”.
From times immemorial presented as a defence of sociability, sexual ethics can very well be immoral. Oppressive taboo’s have dire consequences. Large parts of the Middle East for instance, perhaps the most notorious stronghold of sexual purity, are also infamous for the most abominable abuse of (primarily) women, especially if they have wronged against social mores and the patriarchal order. Sexual violence and frustration are omnipresent and from there also spring other forms of structural violence – authoritarian schools, organized religion, neurosis, depression, drug abuse, youth delinquency and more generally aggression and conservative attitudes (see www.violence.de). Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop puritans (religious, “feminist”…) from damning pornography for instance, while at the same time they allow a form of human relations which, despite its outward ”romanticism” (How different it is from that of Blake, Byron or Shelley!), inevitably relies on the existence of a sexual market, sexual competition and other features typical of our four-legged relatives as well. From such an ethical outlook it therefore comes across that “the animal becomes human and the human becomes animal”(Marx).
So long as love and tenderness keep on being perceived as a limited resource, humankind will undoubtedly continue to crawl where it crawls today. Unfortunately, it seems that some people haven’t got enough love even for a single person. They consider themselves faithful to each other, yet they distrustfully shiver at the possibility that their partner could have feelings for other people as well. They condemn hippies for promiscuity, in the meanwhile burning children with napalm in some Third-World country or coldly passing by their homeless fellow-creature who sleeps on the city streets, forgotten and forsaken just like other latent suicide candidates. There is a boundary between those who aren’t ashamed to express tenderness and those who consider it a sin, a boundary determined by social attitudes which developed through the process of socialization, but sometimes I fear as a “genetically induced” mentality as well. However, we should bear in mind that a primitive kind of sexual communism was probably the original state of mankind.
Anarchopacifist, vegetarian commune presupposes and implies »a man with a different sensitivity and consciousness: people who would speak another language, move differently, be guided by different stimuli; people who have developed an innate impediment towards cruelty, brutality, nastiness. Such reconstruction of instincts is apprehendable as a factor of social change only if it grasps the social division of labour, the relations of production themselves. They would be shaped by men and women who are of clear conscience while being humane, tender, sensual, who are no longer ashamed of themselves – for “the token of achieved freedom is not to be ashamed of oneself any more” (Nietzsche)«(Herbert Marcuse, End of Utopia).
In an anarchocommunist society there will be no abandoned children, for
“so long as love begets life no child is deserted, or hungry, or famished for the want of affection”(Emma Goldman). There will be no reason and need for prostitution in marital, extramarital or any other sense. Rational, democratic, cooperative production and distribution will replace the savagery of the capitalist market, state tyranny and the exclusivity and detachment of the present-day nuclear family.
The estrangement of spirits will lose its institutional basis.
Revolutionaries, representatives of a new sensitivity, fighters against every kind of exploitation and oppression, so that work would become play and “humans sacred to each other” (Seneca), shouldn’t remain blind to the emancipatory potential of free love. An awareness of the goals’ interconnectedness is necessary. Disregard for a particular end undermines the means altogether; there is a certain unity between the destination and the journey.
Love truly is a child of freedom, and true love is unselfish and compassionate. Through open-heartedness and willingness to give we also receive more. In the words of Emma Goldman:
"Love, the strongest and deepest element in all life, the harbinger of hope, of joy, of ecstasy; love, the defier of all laws, of all conventions; love, the freest, the most powerful molder of human destiny; how can such an all-compelling force be synonymous with that poor little State and Church-begotten weed, marriage?"
www.altpr.org/apr14/group_sex.html - Communal ethics of eroticism, free love and the extended family
www.iisg.nl/%7Ewomhist/socandsex.html - Socialism & Sexuality
www.punkerslut.com/sexualityessays.html - thoughts of a free spirit
www.polyamorysociety.org - Polyamory Society
www.uk-poly.net – UK polyamory forum & personals
Homepage: http://www.aeinstein.org ; www.uow.edu.au/arts/sts/bmartin/pubs/peace.html