People talk a great deal about love, but fail to understand its nature or consequences. I have already discussed the former, and in this entry I want to talk more on the latter.
Jesus said “love your neighbor as yourself” and “love your enemies,” but how is this expressed in Christianity? By promoting denial of man’s nature, and treating people as pawns. Not to talk about how Christians themselves behave! Their behaviour is very much the opposite of loving behaviour, so the Christian religion is useless at best, destructive at worse. It may inspire love, but not because of the doctrines, but rather because of the love inherent in all of us. So a Christian can be a loving person, by virtue of following his own principles instead of his religion’s.
I think the biggest hurdle to accepting love is that love has no rules, only corollaries. It is an emotion, a state of being, not a system. This means that there is no conceptual distance between accepting love and its consequences, which means that people have to rationalize a lot more. As is true of a lot of good concepts, people pay a lot of lip service (no pun intended) to love, but distance themselves as far as possible from its consequences. People blabber about freedom but refuse to seek it or speak up against its opponents. People preach about peace but refuse to take steps to bring about peace, either inner or outer. The same is true about love.
One corollary of love is non-coercion: one does not seek to hurt what one loves. In a relationship, the use of violence is one of the ways in which we know love is absent, and that the relationship is really about control. Someone who believes in the concept of love must preach total non-coercion, not just “non-coercion unless it’s for the ‘greater good’,” or whatever other excuse is used. Conversely, people who preach the use or threat of violence do not love what they threaten.
Another corollary of love is the desire to express love. When you love something or someone, you want to express it: love without action feels hollow. If we love our society and wish its best, then we must act towards that goal. It is understandable (justifiable, that’s another matter) to let someone be hurt or assaulted because you don’t care about him, but not if you love that person. One can’t stand by idly while loved ones are hurt or assaulted by strangers. Likewise, if a society is based on love, it must necessarily entail freedom of mind (especially from collectivist indoctrination, which twists and warps love into belonging), freedom of speech, and the freedom to disagree and speak up.
But the State is the very opposite of all the things I have discussed so far. The State (as well as Christianity) is founded on the principle of “might makes right”: that coercion is not only moral, but in fact creates morality from thin air. The State aggressively suppresses freedom of mind and the freedom to disagree with its coercive, monopoloid policies. The State, therefore, is wholly incompatible with a society based on love.
This is not to say that the State is moved by hatred. Like any other system whose originators are long dead but continues to exist our of sheer inertia, the State is moved purely mechanically. It will continue to exist as long as its structures still stand, as long as there are enough greedy and damaged people to populate it, as long as the population at large cowers in fear and uncertainty, and as long as most people involved do not judge their own actions by the standard of their own love and compassion.
We therefore see the strong relevance of love to Anarchy, as well as the new worldview and lifestyle it proposes to the world. There must be more to life than making money for other people, or exploiting others for you to make more money. There must be more to life than just being alive. If there isn’t, then we might as well forget about the idea of freedom, because freedom without love is utterly useless (love without freedom, on the other hand, is useful, if very difficult).
The notion of being an activist, therefore, becomes understandable. For someone moved by love, being an activist is not about tilting at windmills, or mindless activity, but rather about shouting one’s love to the world, to try to expand and amplify it.
Love is transformative, love is addictive. Once you get some, you always want more, and you want to amplify it. This gives us hope that a society based on love will not slip back into the old patterns. You can break up with a girlfriend, but you can’t break up with love. All human beings need love, including- especially- those who are full of hate.
This being established, one may ask: how can you have a society based on love? Today’s societies are based on confrontation, co-optation, coercion, mostly because they have themselves been co-opted by the States that subject and indoctrinate them. How do we get from this to love?
Actually, we have observed a somewhat similar social transformation: the sexual revolution. But sex without love is a mechanistic act, far less useful to the individual than the love that should accompany it. Sex is a symbolic act that exists because of carnal or loving emotions. Without emotional freedom, sexual freedom (while of course necessary and needed) is a mostly empty pursuit.
So why was there no emotional revolution to accompany this sexual revolution? Probably because sexuality is easier to set free, precisely because it is more mechanical and does not involve emotional risk. People don’t feel vulnerable having sex the way they feel vulnerable opening up to someone emotionally, if only a little bit. So while the media is drenched in sexuality (censored by the State, of course, to its most banal and juvenile expression), there is very little love, affection or intimacy. Indeed, it would seem incongruous to have intimacy shown in the media, when our society itself is based on confrontation and expects it at every turn. I really think our socio-emotional IQ is close to retarded.
Part of this, I believe, is due to the concept of “romantic love” (which, in case you don’t know this, is a relatively recent invention). “Romantic love” is a hinderance because it channels love into an exclusive relationship where the sense of “belonging” is mixed in. The feelings of love become poisoned by the belief in “the couple” or “the family” as distinct from the rest of the world, as a unit that has inherent worth, to which the person belongs to and has allegiance towards. A man can be engaged in such a “love” relationship and yet justify hating the rest of the world: that would hardly make him a loving person!
But more importantly, the constructs of the family or couple are used to suppress love, which is very damageable to the individual. People cannot help but feel love even outside of the exclusive relationship, but our social mores demand that these feelings be suppressed in the name of “preserving the family” or “preserving the relationship.” So accepting “romantic love” as a concept does lead to lesser emotional freedom, and it is probable that the widespread belief in it hinders any possible “emotional revolution.”
As an Anarchist, I believe that taking down the State would be a great step forward in eliminating a lot of coercion, violence and hatred in society. But we must be realistic and acknowledge that taking away hatred does not create love in and of itself. But freedom without love is a very real possibility, although of course not quite as frightening as our current society, where even freedom is starting to run short.