Hi. Welcome to the site. Please check out the About Us, and if you have a question about crime and/or punishment, perhaps look at some previous questions along those lines first.
Welcome to Anarchy101 Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers about anarchism, from anarchists.

anarchist relationships... how does that work?!

+2 votes
do anarchists have something unique to say about how people get along with each other, do romance, raise children, etc?
asked Jan 17, 2011 by dot (51,120 points)

2 Answers

+3 votes
so, i think most anarchists agree that how we interact with each other is a reflection of the messed up power dynamics we have grown up with, and that we perpetuate messed up power dynamics also.
in other words, there is some kind of reciprocal relationship between power dynamics on the macro and micro levels.
if you accept this premise, then it becomes particularly important to act in ways that challenge and deconstruct authoritarianism in our relationships, both friend, family, and romantic.
but the theory of how to do that is complicated by many things.
a) it's unclear how reciprocal it is exactly (if i as one individual create a perfect circle around myself--in which every time someone exhibits dominating or authoritarian behavior, we work it out to our satisfaction--that is not going to have a clear effect on the rest of the world).
b) the theory about how to respond to inappropriate behavior has been heavily dominated by identity essentialism, simplistic thinking, guilt, and blame.
c) the theory has also been victim to mass thinking, or the idea that we can make generalizations about things like relationships (which are not , after all, democratic institutions). if i punch one friend it's fine, because she doesn't care. if i punch another friend, he gets really scared. if i ask one person for permission to touch her she feels respected. if i ask another she feels alienated. being in relationship means paying attention to context, but much of the theory around appropriate behavior focuses entirely on rules and policies.

given the above, it becomes clear that there is no single answer to the question of how to be anarchist in our relationships, because no matter how it looks from the outside, it might be totally working from the inside, and autonomy means that people decide for themselves what works for them.
we can say "deconstruct bad power situations" but we have to leave it up to people to define those for themselves.
the closest we can get to saying that there is an anarchist way to do relationships is to emphasize the power that we have in our interactions. *we* are the ones who determine our relationships or how we deal with relationships that we might have to be in (for work, perhaps, or school, or bad family scenes). we are not victims. that is the other facet to autonomy. (this isn't to say that we don't get into situations that we don't want to be in, but that we are responsible then for doing something about it--even if all that can mean in the moment is recognizing that we want to get out and trying to make that happen--and examining how we got into it in the first place.)
answered Jan 20, 2011 by dot (51,120 points)
edited Jan 20, 2011 by dot
+1 vote
I think that one might objectify a means of interaction as easily as one might form desires around objectified roles for other individuals to fill.  The objectification of means over end appears to me as a recurrent theme in human thinking.  For instance, I have observed hetero-normative relationships strongly devalued in many circles, in the sense that many individuals would openly regard them with disdain.
I would argue that pursuing a specific, pre-packaged identity, whether sexual, political, or otherwise, on the grounds that it seems more objectively radical than others will ultimately result in dissatisfaction for those involved.  I know that I want to experience challenge, adventure, and pleasure through the interactions that I have with others, and assuming that I could not possibly find it through interactions that others might dub as hetero-normative, co-dependent,  mainstream, etc. on the grounds of our skin colors, sexes, and other variables seems inherently fallacious.  I see no more reason behind such thinking than I see in someone condemning an "interracial," poly-amorous relationship amongst a group of consenting and loving individuals on, say, religious grounds.  People can "do romance," resolve disagreements, raise children together, raise barns together, or raise hell together in whatever manner we feel mutually fulfilled by.  I feel that we will have wasted our time to have done things in any other fashion.

I definitely appreciated this bit:
"*we* are the ones who determine our relationships or how we deal with relationships that we might have to be in (for work, perhaps, or school, or bad family scenes). we are not victims. that is the other facet to autonomy. (this isn't to say that we don't get into situations that we don't want to be in, but that we are responsible then for doing something about it--even if all that can mean in the moment is recognizing that we want to get out and trying to make that happen--and examining how we got into it in the first place.)"
answered Apr 19, 2011 by blark (950 points)
edited Apr 25, 2011 by blark
" I see no more reason behind such thinking than I see in someone condemning an "interracial," poly-amorous relationship amongst a group of consenting and loving individuals on, say, religious grounds."

on some level, obviously, people get to love who and how they want. on another level, i can relate to eye-rolling, when people choose relationships that seem entirely unchallenging to them (or to my imagination).
is it anyone else's responsibility to be interesting to me? no, of course not. does choosing to be challenged and interesting relate somehow to changing the world/rejecting the status quo?
probably? maybe not?

again, there is not linearity here, which is a good thing... but there is a thin line between liberalism, and individual autonomy, and the premise that it's none of our business what other people do (which is both true and false)... and any easy answers are especially wrong here, i think.
Yes! http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/andie-nordgren-the-short-instructional-manifesto-for-relationship-anarchy

The End.

links alone are not answers. edited to make into a comment.
...