Free Love, by Glenn Parton

The Idea: As regular readers know, I have occasionally published articles on this site from people who do not have their own weblogs. This will mark the third time I’ve published the work of Glenn Parton, best known for his wonderful eco-philosophy/ eco-psychology essays The Machine in our Heads and Humans in the Wilderness. His essay Love Politics was published here last year, and Part 1 of this three-part essay, entitled Exterminism, was published here in January. As I mentioned in Part 1, the ideas in the essay are Glenn’s, not mine, and you can tell him what you think through the comment facility below, or e-mail him directly. I’ll add my two cents at the end of Part 3. In this part, Glenn moves from criticism of Western culture to mysticism in support of a polyamory life:

Free Love, by Glenn Parton

Look up at the clear night sky! The free play of two cosmic forces, Eros and Thanatos, Love and Hate, Attraction and Repulsion, Intimacy and Distance, sustains harmony among the heavenly bodies and evolves the beauty, wisdom, and goodness of the universe. What is the message or lesson for human association or society that is written in the cosmos? We know that human society is a microcosm of this great celestial order, and that we have fallen out of balance with the rest of Nature. What must we do in order to become part of the Universal Harmony again?

Everyone recognizes that friendship cannot be mandated or legislated, that it arises naturally, spontaneously, one person at a time, and that it is possible and desirable to have many friends, on different levels of communication, conversation, and commitment. The hope of peace on earth, and peace with the earth, has a lot to do with spreading friendship around the world, but I do not believe this ideal will ever be realized (enough to save the world) until we acknowledge that Yin and Yang, the feminine spirit and the masculine spirit, are also cosmological principles and/or forces, which change the balancing point between men and women by adding sexuality to the mix. We should not pursue a vision of worldwide peace and friendship that ignores, minimizes, or misunderstands the sexual-polarity of human association.

My heavenly vision, and long-range political solution, is Free Love between man and woman. By free love I mean sexual love that does not restrict itself to one person at a time. It means holding oneself open to the possibility of sexually loving more than one, and taking that voyage when the opportunity arrives; it means taking each man/woman relationship on its own terms, as far as it will go, as far as it wants to go, including sexuality, until it finds its own point of equilibrium between Love and Hate, Intimacy and Distance. That is the Way to reach the proper balance between men and women. The message of evolution is that each being finds its balancing point with all other beings, according to the laws of nature, including Yin-Yang, creating a self-balancing dynamic whole in which each being is what it is in terms of the totality of its relationships.

Human beings must freely associate, form, and bond, including Yin-Yang sexual energies, or we disturb the natural order of human society, our alignment or agreement with the logic and love of the cosmos. Human society, with its sexual-polarity, must freely arrange itself, or we will not achieve a harmonious community, and without a harmonious community we will not reach consensus on the political level because sexual frustrations, conflicts and hostilities spill over into the major areas of life, work and government.  In other words, the ideal of friendship will remain an empty ideal if we do not understand that free love is part of the original architecture of human togetherness, and that we must allow sexuality between men and women to work itself out, according to inherent interests and desires, or we will never build good government, real democracy, or a true Republic because if we do not first put our sexual lives in proper order, then politics will collapse on a faulty foundation. Out of the fundamental harmony of a sexually balanced civil society will come political intelligence and wisdom.

Respond, as much as you can, to all heavenly bodies orbiting around you. Thatís how the suns and moons and planets behave toward one another, pushing and pulling everything into a vibrating, pulsating, interconnected totality. Of course it is not possible to love everyone with the same intensity and completeness (with some people a simple nod or smile, or even silent toleration, is enough), but each man/woman relationship has its natural sexual closeness and distance, and we must have the courage to seek it, and go there, without interference from custom, convention, or imposed morality. Friendship is always, at bottom, a relationship between two people, but everyone knows that it is not socially desirable, not community-building, for each person to have only one friend. Rather, each person is permitted and encouraged to have a diversity of friends, each one created on its own unique terms, as deeply as possible, with no outside direction or definition. If sexual love was free to follow this path, like friendship, then we would have discovered the secret ingredient in a self-balancing social constellation (of friends and lovers), and secured the social foundation for rational discourse and action.

If there was only Love, then the Big Bang would not have occurred, and the world would collapse (into undifferentiated Oneness), and evolution would have to begin again; if there was only Hate, then the world would fragment, scatter, and fly apart. The Great Harmony is a balance between the forces of Attraction and Repulsion, Contraction and Expansion, Integration and Disintegration. Free Love is the mystery of the universe, and if human beings would learn to sexually love who we want, when we want, in the way that we want, as much as we want, instead of imposing artificial constraints, or false morality, on love, then the gravity of love would create a tight and intricate web of human connections in which we would not have to struggle for political consensus because we would already basically have it.

The first and foremost criticism that is raised against free love is that it harms children, but actually it is best for children because the nuclear family is too small a world for the development of the vast potential of children. The nuclear family limits childhood reality to the overbearing influence of two adult perspectives, making it nearly impossible for the child to escape from prejudice, ignorance, narrowness, and parental unconsciousness. The wounds of the parents are visited on the children, and the cycle of the neurotic family is perpetuated from one generation to the next, which slows down the evolution of the human species tremendously. Free love makes intimate communities (like tribes), rather than isolated families, the center of childhood upbringing, exposing the child to many viewpoints, expanding his/her consciousness, increasing the opportunities for sanity and self-realization.

A second objection that is raised against free love is that it will not work because human beings are competitive, jealous and possessive creatures, but actually it is monogamy that causes these problems because it makes us fearful that if s/he loves someone other than me, then s/he cannot also love me. If your concept of love is limited, then that creates jealousy and possessiveness because you are afraid of loss, abandonment and loneliness, but if you ìseeî that it is possible to love more than one, then you will not fear abandonment and loneliness when love overflows to include others. Free love makes intimate networks (like tribes), rather than fragmented couples, the center of personal life and love, exposing the adult to a diversity of potential lovers, broadening the horizon of intimate contact, communication, and knowledge, increasing the opportunities for security and happiness.

Another criticism leveled against free love is that there is not enough time to love more than one, but of course love concerns quality, not quantity. Eliminating the boredom of monogamy alone would provide more than enough time for at least a few additional lovers, and then there are those habits, routines, hobbies, and fantasies that could be replaced, for almost no money, with deep and thrilling real sexual love adventures. There will never be enough time for co-dependent individuals because every gesture or sign of independence is seen as a minimization or devaluation of their relationship, and there will never be enough time for someone who is waiting for the one and only perfect lover. Such people cannot get enough love no matter how much they get because they misunderstand free love. To these people I say: contemplate the heavens and let your personal life become a feeling and thoughtful expression of the Will, intention, and intelligence of the Universe!

This entry was posted in _ Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Free Love, by Glenn Parton

  1. Dale Asberry says:

    Dave,I missed your posting of Glenn’s earlier work. Thank you both.

  2. JC says:

    It’s an interesting utopian dream. I will say again, that is completely unworkable in the current real world, for a variety of reasons.Criticism 2: Jealousy, trust, possessiveness. Guess what – this is how humans are built now, socially, morally, and (somewhat) biologically. Perhaps that may change over time, but as I said in comments the last time this was raised – at this point 5-15% of couples could “get past” the feelings above. (All the pointing out of different social arrangements historically, are true, but are beside the point.) Even in the homosexual community, where there is a greater tolerance of having sexual relationships outside of the main emotional coupling, as Edward at Obsidian Wings has said in HIS experience, the homosexual couples who have proudly proclaimed that opening up the relationship has only strengthened their bond, the next thing Edward knew, more often than not, this announcement was the precursor to the homosexual couple splitting up.Criticism 1: This leads back to criticism 1. If 85-95% of the population isn’t able to get past the natural feelings (or perhaps more true – that this utopian version is actually DISCOUNTING of how real people are built, and thus damaging), then a stable, loving environment for children will not be created. Yes, it’s true that “it takes a village”, and that ONLY a nuclear family in the picture, is maladjusted for raising children successfully – but the village usually includes aunts, uncles, cousins, etc – ie tribes. Again, statistics clearly show that children with a stable household (married and not divorced) are, from a statistical point of view, better off.3. Human need for well-defined structures. This criticism actually applies to the current nuclear family setup, as well as a “free love” setup. Look, love may be free, but humans are bounded, and actually need appropriate, defined, social structures to come up against, for defining themselves. These “fluid arrangements”, again, simply don’t work very well in reality, unless you already are a very high-functioning mature, developed person, able to tolerate emotional ambiguity easily.And if you are that high-functioning – why aren’t you spending your energy “Saving the World”, rather than indulging in a typical narcissistic teenage male’s fantasies, gussied up in evolutionary language?

  3. Nephron says:

    What about love between two (or more) men, or two (or more) women? Does that exist?How does eliminating boredom give you more hours in a day?What about people who live in polyamorous relationships and still have to deal with jealousy and possessiveness on a regular basis?Have you lived in poly relationships for more than a 6 month stretch?

  4. Zach says:

    Guys, make sure you use a condom at your swinger parties, you never know who might have what.

  5. Terry says:

    People live down to the expectations of those around them. If it takes sanity and maturity to have a successful poly relationship, aren’t these things worth striving for, a standard we should be seeking rather than discouraging? I disagree that humans need bounds and structures. They come to expect them after bumping into them for so long, and limit themselves to avoid that conflict. This is a LEARNED behavior. What would our children achieve if they weren’t limited their entire lives? What could we achieve in our own lives if we were free to satisfy our natural desires rather than being ashamed of them as we are taught that we should?Why is our culture built on denying love, joy and self-realization? Can anyone believe that this makes us better adjusted, saner, more rational? Jealousy comes from the fear of loss, because we’re taught that if our lover loves another, we’ve lost something. And that’s only true if our lover feels they must leave us before they are allowed to love another. How can you claim to love someone while denying them their wants and their desires; while denying them love? Nobody tries to tell you that you can only have one friend, but everyone has always been taught that you can only love one person. How many people have ended relationships because they had feelings for another, and (whether they act on them or not) they assume this means they aren’t really in love with their current partner?I’ve lived in a stable poly relationship for 4.5 years (and I’m the newest member). I live with my girlfriend, her husband and his girlfriend. I’ve had a few other girlfriends during that time, and my girlfriend has had several other partners. Society tells me I should feel threatened by that, but I can’t see why. If anything ever does go wrong in our relationship, it will be something between us, and not because someone else finds a place in her heart. As the article said, each relationship will find it’s own style, intensity and even duration. These things should not be imposed upon it, doing so only adds stress and conflict. To the person that asked about poly gay relationships, yes, they do of course exist. And to the person who mentioned swinging: there are poly people who swing, but most swingers aren’t poly. To each his own and vive la differance. It is yet another example of the author’s point. Each relationship can, and should be allowed to, find it’s own natural progression. Some swingers seek deeper relationships with their “playmates”, others avoid them. Some poly people enjoy casual relationships of that sort, others find them shallow. If there is any correlation at all, it is merely that both groups, being outside one set of societal norms, find it easier to disregard others. More people than you realize aspire to more than they already have. So many people I’ve talked to about poly respond with “that sounds so cool, but my boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband could never accept it”. When you ask them if they’ve ever discussed it, the answer is usually “oh, I just couldn’t”. They are so societally conditioned that they can not discuss the things they would find fulfilling with the person who is supposedly their closest friend and confidante, who is dedicated to sharing their life and happiness, who loves them and wants them to be happy and fulfilled. I find that tragic, especially when I contemplate how many of their partners would respond in exactly the same way.

Comments are closed.