|Merry Christmas, everyone!
I wish you all peace, love and joy, learning and discovery in the year ahead.
We have so much work ahead of us, but it will not be tedious — it will be astonishing, delightful, intentional, and, in a million small ways, Earth-changing. We cannot fail.
:: Dave ::
In last week’s article I attempted to explain why I thought it made more sense to create new models than to try to fight or reform the existing political, educational, social and economic systems. I promised to write about why I think polyamorism is an essential element of what I’ve called ‘model intentional communities’ — models that are not abstractions or concepts, but real working models, people striving together with common purpose, showing rather than telling people a better way to live.
Let’s start with what an intentional community (IC) is. Diana Leafe Christian defines it as an autonomous, self-managed, democratic association of people with shared social, cultural and economic intentions and aspirations. My own definition of a model intentional community (MIC) is one that is:
In a recent post, I argued that for an MIC to be effective, its members probably had to have most or all of 16 natural capacities: deep capacity for love, passion for the community’s shared purpose/intention, trust, emotional strength, sensitivity/openness/perceptiveness, good instincts, self-sufficiency, honesty, intelligence/critical thinking ability, curiosity, imagination, creativity, responsibility, expressiveness, flexibility, and tolerance.
And in a follow-up, I suggested that MICs should adhere to certain collective political and economic operating principles: Stop at one child per woman, practice radical simplicity, pledge to buy local, leave the Earth as you found it, practice bioregionalism & permaculture, cooperate & collaborate, practice consensus democracy, value everyone’s time equally, pay attention to nature, be self-sufficient, incur no debts, be generous, organic and responsible, and understand and use the power of relationships.
Diana’s research suggests that the average active IC has about eleven members, meaning it’s about the same size as a pioneer family. My guess is that that’s not big enough to be self-sufficient and sustainable.
My argument is that our civilization society deliberately contrives to keep our social units this small. It doesn’t want us to be self-sufficient and sustainable. It wants us to be dependent on it for jobs, for money, and for the things that money buys, so we continue to support it even though it is inhuman, degrading, tedious, and keeps most of us in constant struggle and misery.
This civilization society is full of people in monogamous nuclear family units. It’s a society full of pain and disability, where millions live in one form or another of imprisonment. It’s a society devoid of imagination, incapable of change, grim, conforming, obedient, co-opted, brainwashed. Dependent and co-dependent. Obsessed with security, possession, survival. Addicted to consumption. Mostly joyless, tedious, jealous of others’ power, possessions, beauty, material and political and social and sexual success. The monogamous nuclear family unit is held together by a ‘marriage’, which we are taught is hard work, requires total commitment, struggle, sacrifice. Just like our jobs.
The information and education and entertainment media brainwash us into believing that this is the only way to live. They celebrate the arduous overcoming of hardship, the practice of fidelity, self-sacrifice, defeating the competition. The media adore the ritual of marriage, the giving of two people to each other, exclusively. Infidelity is always punished in the end, in film, in music, in literature. Jealousy and possessiveness are portrayed as natural, evidence of love.
So it’s not surprising that polyamorism — a group of people who love each other without restriction or restraint, with compersion (taking pleasure in the pleasure that someone one loves finds in the company of others) — is viewed as suspect, greedy, selfish, disrespectful, faithless, undisciplined, immoral, even exploitive.
There are four forms of love — intellectual, emotional, sensual/aesthetic and erotic. No one should be expected to love only one person in any or all of these ways. No one should be expected to fulfill everything that another person could want or need, to be that lovable in all four ways.
Several readers have told me that making the community polyamorous will only make it harder to find members, harder to self-manage the complex arrangements, elitist, and preoccupied with love among its members instead of being a true, generous, outward-focused model for others.
The important issue, I think, is whether such a polyamorous MIC would best manifest the behaviours consistent with sustainability, responsibility, generosity and self-sufficiency, and the operating principles listed above. Would a polyamorous community be more likely to have fewer children each generation, consume less, borrow and ‘import’ less, be more peaceful and cohesive, freer, and, perhaps most important, happier and better able to learn, imagine and adapt?
I think it would, but it’s hard to articulate my reason for believing so, other than to say:
There are about two dozen people on my current Love Conversation Community list, people I love deeply and I think I would enjoy living in an MIC with, either in Real Life or in Second Life or some other ‘virtual’ community, if those people were so inclined. Most, but not all, are women, and heterosexual, though, and I believe an MIC needs balance and diversity, so this group is not, and could not be, an MIC, though, hypothetically, it might be the nucleus of one. Some of these two dozen people I am intellectually infatuated with — I really love their minds, their imaginations, their creative genius. Others I love emotionally — they have a combination of strength and sensitivity, and they care about much the same things I do and articulate these shared passions and purposes well. They fulfill something in me that is otherwise unfulfilled, and they have told me that I likewise fill something in them.
Others I have an aesthetic love for — they are just beautiful people, physically, a joy to watch, to listen to, to admire for their art, or the way they move, their grace, their strength, their physical talent, their agility. And still others I have an erotic love for — expressed or (mostly) unexpressed, likely or unlikely to be reciprocated, but present and powerful nonetheless — as one of them put it “we want to fuck who we want to fuck”, and it is our bodies, not our minds, that choose this.
It is not even as simple as checking off which of these four types of love I feel for each of these two dozen people, because there are different aspects and means of loving and appreciating people in each of these four ways. I may love one person emotionally for their generosity, what they offer to me and to others, the way they exemplify openness and the raw gifting of their soul. I may love another person emotionally for their sensitivity, their perceptiveness, their ’emotional intelligence’. I may love yet another person emotionally for their energy, their intensity, and be attracted to them the way a moth is attracted to a flame.
So the idea that I could or should love only one person exclusively, and expect to get everything I would want or need from them, and that I should strive also to be able to provide that one person with everything they want or need seems like the stuff of romantic fantasy, an impossibility, a recipe for disappointment. No wonder monogamous marriage is such hard work — so many compromises, self-denials, frustrations, struggles to be enough, to do better, to make the marriage ‘work’!
I can see the value for a brief pair bonding during a woman’s pregnancy, and this is also manifest in the natural world of wild creatures. For this period, some self-sacrifice is necessary, and that requires a huge and personal commitment to one other person. But once the child is born, the bond should relax and re-permit polyamorism in all its dimensions, as the role of raising the child once it is born is a community-wide role.
My sense (and the purpose of trying out different IC approaches is to experiment, discover and learn what actually works, before presuming to offer a model to others) is therefore that the members of a polyamorous community would be happier, more relaxed, more trustful, more knowledgeable about other people’s feelings, beliefs, purposes, gifts and passions (through greater intimacy), less selfish, less insecure, less risk-averse, more imaginative and creative, more peaceful and adaptive and resilient. Mainly just because they know more and know and trust each other better, because there is an abundance of love, because the support network is broader, because there is emotional ‘safety in numbers’. And also because there is more time and space for love, conversation and community. Surely the consequence of this must be an emergent collective understanding of a better way to live?
And so, my intention is now to co-create with others not one, but a host of MICs, different experiments, full of people who love each other unequivocally. A dozen and then a hundred and then a million people, walking away from the bankrupt and dysfunctional systems of our civilization and discovering and learning together a better way to live, through Love Conversation and Community. Evolving the principles above in a way that works for each community, but with a shared vision of sustainability, responsibility, and gentle joyfulness. And networked together and with all-life-on-Earth, sharing stories of what works, co-creating a whole new and resilient society, with zero hierarchy and unlimited abundance. A natural society.
This may be just my crazy idealism. But my instincts are not usually wrong. At any rate, when we put this to the test of experiment and see what evolves, we will know. I just can’t imagine any community structure working worse than the monogamous isolated nuclear family structure. Despite all the propaganda in its defence, I am sure most of us can, in time, see that that structure is both cause and effect of our grotesque, greedy, hateful, thoughtless, violent, careless and unsustainable modern civilization.
Are you persuaded? What would it take for me to show you (rather than just try to convince you) that a polyamorous MIC is probably the best model for how to live, a model that we can create and offer to others? Do you still feel that polyamorism is a distraction, a red herring in the collective search for answers to our society’s most pressing and intractable problems? Is there a monogamous model out there that actually works?
Category: Intentional Community
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My Bio, Contact Info, Signature PostsAbout the Author (2016)
--- My Best 145 Posts, by category, from newest to oldest ---
Dying of Despair
Notes From the Rising Dark
What is Exponential Decay
Collapse: Slowly Then Suddenly
Slouching Towards Bethlehem
Making Sense of Who We Are
What Would Net-Zero Emissions Look Like?
Post Collapse with Michael Dowd (video)
Why Economic Collapse Will Precede Climate Collapse
Being Adaptable: A Reminder List
A Culture of Fear
What Will It Take?
A Future Without Us
Dean Walker Interview (video)
The Mushroom at the End of the World
What Would It Take To Live Sustainably?
The New Political Map (Poster)
Complexity and Collapse
Save the World Reading List
What a Desolated Earth Looks Like
If We Had a Better Story...
Giving Up on Environmentalism
The Dark & Gathering Sameness of the World
The End of Philosophy
A Short History of Progress
The Boiling Frog
Our Culture / Ourselves:
The Lab-Leak Hypothesis
The Right to Die
CoVid-19: Go for Zero
The Process of Self-Organization
The Tragic Spread of Misinformation
A Better Way to Work
Ask Yourself This
What to Believe Now?
Conversation & Silence
The Language of Our Eyes
May I Ask a Question?
Cultural Acedia: When We Can No Longer Care
Several Short Sentences About Learning
Why I Don't Want to Hear Your Story
A Harvest of Myths
The Qualities of a Great Story
The Trouble With Stories
A Model of Identity & Community
Not Ready to Do What's Needed
A Culture of Dependence
So What's Next
Ten Things to Do When You're Feeling Hopeless
No Use to the World Broken
Living in Another World
Does Language Restrict What We Can Think?
The Value of Conversation Manifesto Nobody Knows Anything
If I Only Had 37 Days
The Only Life We Know
A Long Way Down
No Noble Savages
Figments of Reality
Too Far Ahead
Learning From Nature
The Rogue Animal
How the World Really Works:
Republicans Slide Into Fascism
All the Things I Was Wrong About
Several Short Sentences About Sharks
How Change Happens
What's the Best Possible Outcome?
The Perpetual Growth Machine
We Make Zero
How Long We've Been Around (graphic)
If You Wanted to Sabotage the Elections
Collective Intelligence & Complexity
Ten Things I Wish I'd Learned Earlier
The Problem With Systems
Against Hope (Video)
The Admission of Necessary Ignorance
Several Short Sentences About Jellyfish
A Synopsis of 'Finding the Sweet Spot'
Learning from Indigenous Cultures
The Gift Economy
The Job of the Media
The Wal-Mart Dilemma
The Illusion of the Separate Self, and Free Will:
Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark
Healing From Ourselves
The Entanglement Hypothesis
Nothing Needs to Happen
Nothing to Say About This
What I Wanted to Believe
A Continuous Reassemblage of Meaning
No Choice But to Misbehave
What's Apparently Happening
A Different Kind of Animal
Did Early Humans Have Selves?
Nothing On Offer Here
Even Simpler and More Hopeless Than That
What Happens in Vagus
We Have No Choice
Never Comfortable in the Skin of Self
Letting Go of the Story of Me
All There Is, Is This
A Theory of No Mind
Reminder (Short Story)
A Canadian Sorry (Satire)
Under No Illusions (Short Story)
The Ever-Stranger (Poem)
The Fortune Teller (Short Story)
Non-Duality Dude (Play)
Your Self: An Owner's Manual (Satire)
All the Things I Thought I Knew (Short Story)
On the Shoulders of Giants (Short Story)
Calling the Cage Freedom (Short Story)
Only This (Poem)
The Other Extinction (Short Story)
Disruption (Short Story)
A Thought-Less Experiment (Poem)
Speaking Grosbeak (Short Story)
The Only Way There (Short Story)
The Wild Man (Short Story)
Flywheel (Short Story)
The Opposite of Presence (Satire)
How to Make Love Last (Poem)
The Horses' Bodies (Poem)
Distracted (Short Story)
Worse, Still (Poem)
A Conversation (Short Story)
Farewell to Albion (Poem)
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