08 February 2010

Free love and irresponsible sex

Marxism teaches us how to change the world, not how to live our lives. If you try to adopt Marxism as a way of life, then that's what it becomes - a lifestyle option rather than politics, and you end up in a sect or a cult indistinguishable from any other small, cranky, incestuous social circle. And I use the word "incestuous" advisedly. The sexcapades of small Marxist or anarchist social circles are legendary.

You do hear about otherwise upstanding socialist groups which have an internal culture based on primitive chimp-like sexual hierarchy, where rank has its privileges, and one of those privileges is sexual access to the desirable gender(s). On a lower level, you get small-group drama like you get in any community who tends to look to itself for its romantic partners. I really think that socialists should bring back the ancestral tribal tradition of (cultural or totemic) exogamy - or, to put it in modern language, don't screw the crew.

And the really dodgy thing is when people make apparent appeals to political principles - such as the critique of the nuclear family - to justify treating their comrades, friends and lovers with disrespect. There is a difference between free love (which socialists have been historically for, and with good reason) and irresponsible sex (which is what I think so many of us actually practice). Two-facedness and using other people are not socialist virtues. I do hear that Fripp's Guitar Craft tradition has actual community guidelines for how to sex one another responsibly while on their courses, although apparently the advice for those who're just beginning the recommended practice is "keep it in your pants". Good advice.

Robert Anton Wilson was wrong, the freedom to fuck is not the keystone to all other freedoms - in fact, that very idea (that the only real freedom is the freedom of private leisure-time activity) is at the basis of bourgeois individualism. I value my freedom to fuck or not to fuck, but I value my right to my own labour and my right to democratic participation equally as high.


  1. Exogamy is a good idea. When you have an inward-looking culture as it is, endogamy can very easily slip over into the incestuous. I used to say that having sexual partners within the party was potentially disruptive... it can also be abusive in terms of how the hierarchy operate.

  2. I agree with you. But some of my comrades have argued against me along the lines that it's so difficult to find a compatible partner who isn't politically active. I managed it for a number of years, but not everyone is that lucky - and the smaller the milieu you operate in, the more difficult, and doubly so if you're gay. I know someone who claims to have slept with every lesbian socialist in her country, and that's actually quite plausible.

    I take this as further evidence that anyone who doesn't have anything in their life but The Party (or Politics, in both cases with capital letters) is inevitably going to be kind of warped and stunted. Small-group Marxism is not a healthy lifestyle choice.

  3. I'm also strongly in favour of exogamy - my partner of 10 years is not politically active (other than going along to the old demo), and I think that has probably been one of the most important factors in me staying sane in amongst all the petty personal feuding that goes on in NZ left politics :)