Polyamory, Marriage Rights, and Social Control II

So, part two.  Part two is about socialism, among other things.

But let’s start with capitalism.  What are capitalist values?  Well, capitalism encourages things like individual achievement and responsibility.  It also encourages competition and jealousy as byproducts of the achievement value–your goal should be to outperform your peer, and if your peer is doing better than you, you should want his stuff, because wanting his stuff means you’re going to strive to do better (ie, make more money) so that you can have more property.  For capitalists, this is good.

There’s a condition of this individual achievement thing, though, and that’s regulated relationships.  Marriage.  Our capitalist system says okay, we want you to go out and do well for yourself, but we only want you to do well for yourself.  We want to discourage people making big, messy group bonds because then maybe they’ll start caring more about group welfare than themselves, and then they won’t support the system of individual achievement–a system, incidentally, that strongly benefits most of the law-makers out there, who aren’t doing too badly for themselves under capitalism.

Capitalism discourages creativity when it comes to family structures, and that includes polyamory.

The irony, though, is that communal, socialist forms of relating actually give the individual more freedom to use his own talents by providing resources and choices to everyone in the community and by protecting creativity and safe spaces to develop one’s individual self.  I was struck by a mention in A People’s History of the United States of how American Indians, with the tribal system, don’t consider communal arrangements a form of individual self sacrifice, but actually give the individual the ultimate freedom.  Every individual in the tribe has the right to leave.  Capitalism, on the other hand, gives you very strong legal and financial incentives not to leave.  Alternate family structures to marriage and the nuclear family are not given many of the benefits of living in a capitalist society, because capitalism is very jealous of its members.

“No, don’t go!” benevolent Father Capitalist says.  “I have mooooney for youuu…”

“No thanks.  I don’t want your money.  I’d actually rather be free to choose my own romantic relationships and family structure, and to live in an environment that nurtures my individual creativity.”

“But, but… here in Capitalist America, you can be all you can be.”

“Thanks… but no thanks.”

This post was originally published on the blog Sex Positive Activism, which has now merged to become the sex & relationships section of Queer & Now.

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