Archive for December, 2009

Search This!

December 22, 2009

This blog was hit by a surge of activity over the past few days. The search term that brought the activity here was “rodger levesque polygamist”. I’m sorry to let the searcher down, but here goes, the rest of this post is for you. Now seems as good a time as any to put down a succinct statement of my view on conjugal relationships.

First, the concept of living together that I’m working on is far from finished. That’s part of the reason that very little of the concept has been a subject of my writing. Another part of the reason is the confrontational quality of a critique of commonsensical concepts. These are only two reasons, but they play off each other, and have created a necessity to develop a conceptual sphere within which the idea can be safely discussed. That sphere is a theory of social change. This work isn’t even in the beginning stages, but this short statement might help.

Polygamy creates an immediate reaction. The word is synonymous with polygyny, which is the practice of men marrying more than one woman. This practice is most frequently associated with religious institutions and under-aged (non-consensual) brides. This practice, like the common practice of marriage, limits human affection and relationships to an institutionally predetermined configuration. These relationships are closed and exclusive. And the breaching of these definitions is subject to a punitive justice that justifies violence against women, reveals the objectification of women as property.

There are a number of problems within society that are embodied in our cohabitation practices. And while a theory of change wouldn’t stop at the criticism of relationships, the criticism of relationships needs to be included. The criticism of our conjugal practices has a long tradition in the development of a theory of social change.

Abolition of the family! Even the most radical flare up at this infamous proposal of the Communists.

Today still the most radical freak out when the couple as the only possible relationship is contested. The immediate reaction is the illegality of polygamy, but this form needs to be contested as well. What I am currently proposing is an open , inclusive practice of living together. I’m not suggesting any form of polygyny or polyandry. I’m suggesting no institutionalized form, but a practice of living with friends and lovers in common.  I suggest it as a way of overcoming the splitting that is affecting us so deeply in this policed state we are living under.

“The bourgeois whose existence is split into a business and a private life, whose private life is split into keeping up his public image and intimacy, whose intimacy is split into the surly partnership of marriage and the bitter comfort of being quite alone, at odds with himself and everybody else, is already virtually a Nazi, replete both with enthusiasm and abuse; or a modern city-dweller who can now only imagine friendship as a “social contact”: that is, as being in social contact with others with whom he has no inward contact.” (Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno. Dialectic of Enlightenment. p.155. Continuum, New York)

When Rodney King asks “Can’t we all just get along?” the cynical modern city-dweller can only laugh at the naivete. But in that question is the seed of an important part of any theory of social change. Why can’t we get along? Why are we incapable of living together?

Very simply, I’d argue that our institutionalized relationship forms are not open enough to accommodate the variety of relational possibilities. And more the exclusive quality of the given form creates a taboo on intimacy outside the form. It can be argued that any taboo limits freedom, because of the possibility of free movement transgressing the taboo.

Of course we are not prepared to live together. We have lost the art. But manuals like Aristotle’s Ethics and The Way of The Samurai can teach us the way to live together, and with commitment to the experiment, we may once again experience living in groups or actually living in community.