In some of my previous entries, I have noted some radical properties of love:
1. Love excludes all participation in violence, except that of defending against aggression.
2. Love precludes control and exploitation, and is therefore anti-State and anti-capitalist (in short, Anarchism is the only possible political basis for the law of love).
3. Love is egalitarian.
4. Love cannot be enforced and can only be brought about by one’s own values.
These properties have very obvious consequences for the implementation of the law of love at an ethical level (ethical meaning: the rules we decide upon as a society or a sub-group of society). We can therefore ask, what kind of institutions fulfill these criteria? How can we define a society based on the law of love?
The kind of society moved by love is necessarily concerned with the well-being of people primarily, and it cannot admit of any power as a ruling principle over people, be it the power of law, the power of money, or any other such form of exploitation.1
Such an economy, for instance, would not look similar to ours, where workers are robbed of the product of their labour, but would be more egalitarian, where all workers (or at least, those who desire to participate) are equally free and equally responsible, and where the needs of the consumers and the workers are taken into account. All individuals should deal with each other as equals (not as part of hierarchies) and cooperate in order to achieve economic goals.
In the socio-political sphere, the main consequence of the law of love is that the rules governing people’s behaviour must be constructed from the bottom up, not from the top down. The idea of a legal system written down by a class of legislators must be rejected as breaking all of the principles I listed. This bottom up self-governing could take place in a number of manners, from market demand to small democratic communities.
In the moral and judicial spheres, the law of love implies that crime, being active disagreements about social ethics, must not be met with punishment (“we will beat you or kidnap you to make you conform”) or treatment (“your disagreement proves that you are sick and need to be cured”). The criminal is a person possessing rights, including the right to disagree, like all other members of society. To love them demands that we accept their self-determinism, but to love others also demands that we defend their victims and society at large. The end result should be to make society better than it was before the crime. People should be free to decide on the rules that they want to live by, and judge their peers (people who live in that same society) on the basis of those rules, using their own moral judgment (see Spooner’s Trial by Jury for a good example of this).
You might say that all these criteria are pretty obvious, because they’re all Anarchist principles. But this only serves to highlight why love is such an Anarchist concept: not only is it central, as a premise, to the kind of social ethics that Anarchists value, but it points in the same direction as well. We should not expect it to be otherwise.
So what sort of concrete form would such a society take? That’s impossible to say, since no one has really any idea of what they’re doing. All we can do is give some general principles and guidelines, but the actual results would be, I’m sure, far more creative, liberating and mind-blowing than anything I could come up with.
The trouble with defining a term like “freedom” or “love,” which describe future states, is that we really have no idea what they could be like. We’re like ants looking at the sole of a shoe, just realizing there is such a thing as a human being. The ant knows where that human being is (upwards), but he has no idea what it looks like or what it does or how it works. The ant cannot grow further, but our minds can: the more we grow, the more we’re able to apprehend. The saner our society will be, the more we’ll be able to get an understanding of that which we are seeking. Right now, all we can do is point in a direction and start walking.
A century from now, people reading our pitiful ideas will laugh at us, knowing that we were trying to grasp at something that is, within our depraved corrupt society and its context of knowledge, far too different from what we know to even imagine it. They will see us with the same contempt that we have for early 19th century slaveholders. And who could blame them?
1 Note that there are two distinct ways of dealing with power: one is to disperse it equitably, the left-libertarian solution, and another is to dispense with it altogether, the communist solution. Neither is judged here as superior to the other, and both are compatible with the application of the law of love insofar as they both eliminate that power as a ruling principle.