The Mending-Hearts Bloc speaks only for itself, and would never claim to give relationship advice from all anarchists, or for all anarchists or any other group. Its mutual aid should be only considered as part of a diversity of tactics, and other than that, perhaps entertaining.
Political Identification: Post-Left Anarchist
Relationships look like so much fun and shit (sometimes)! However, because of my past history of abuse (partly perpetuated by capitalism) I find the prospect of sharing that part of myself with another terrifying. As of now, I do a pretty good job by myself (if you know what I mean….) but being an autonomous romance collective of one does get boring! So, how do I best find a person with enough patience and overall attractiveness to join my affinity group for two??
Overcoming our society’s alienation is a lifelong struggle. What this alienation looks like for any one person always differs. Sometimes it is a process of learning how to relate to other people. Other times it is a process of learning to relate to ourselves. Most of the time, it’s a combination of the two. The process is always determined by our histories, and the personal alienations that we have interpolated into our personalities. Standing up and fighting back is harder than the phrase sounds.
What this means, political jargon aside, is that there is no single answer on how to start forming relationships. Relationships are not a party or an identity, with a platform we can ascribe to, and a banner we can decide we want to march behind. If only they were. If only relationships were so simple that we could simply decide that the moment is right, and stand en masse in front of the Ministry of Sexual Fulfillment, demanding an end to the old regime of lonely nights, and orgasms to each according to his/her needs. But there is no Velvet Revolution to be had here (nor leather, latex, vinyl, silk, chain-mail, thick poly-blend rope–whatever your particular tastes are). The effort to build our own lasting, resilient relationships is a daily struggle, worked out in the garden, on the street corner, in the living room, and in the workplace. In other words, the most political action we do in this regard, is the actions we are participating in when we think we aren’t participating at all.
Your reference to a relationship as an affinity group is apt, we think. Perhaps the best way of starting this relationship action is to start like it is an affinity group–find other people of similar interest, and simply start the conversation. You won’t stumble across the perfect affinity partner immediately. (Remember: the person in the room arguing for the most radical action immediately is probably an informant.) But by surrounding yourself with the people who are most like you in terms of interests and tactics, you might not find affinity with them, but they will lead you to others who are similar, and the network will build. Eventually, those who you can trust will come to you. Surrounded with those you trust, you may finally feel ready to pursue a particular action. But even if you still aren’t ready, you will be part of a network of friends that will understand your action or steadfastness equally and with solidarity, and that is a particularly strong place to stand. Don’t force the movement–the Mending-Hearts Bloc likes radical action, but detests vanguardist agitators. Start with friendship, and then move on from there. Friends make the best co-conspirators.
Because the personal is political,
Political Identification: communist
I have recently started seeing a communist woman, and I really like her, but my problem is that I still have overwhelmingly strong feelings for the communist woman I had a thing with in the summer, and who has gone to fight the good fight in other lands. Should I tell the comrade I’m currently seeing about my divided affections? As we are not yet in full communism, I fear I may not have enough to go round…
From: Bloody Red Heart
Dear Bloody Red Heart,
Always remember that information is power, and functions as such. Any piece of information can potentially strengthen some people, and potentially hurt others. Therefore, transparency can strengthen a movement, but also leave it vulnerable. Similarly, secrecy can be a shield, but it can also weaken the bonds it seeks to protect.
The important question to ask in this situation, is would this transparency strengthen this movement of which you are a part? What is to be gained by telling your current partner about the former partner, now abroad? What is risked? Bourgeois society and Christian morality tells us that honesty is to be valued as a virtue above all, and that the honest person will eventually be vindicated, no matter the harm s/he causes. But this is not the case. You wouldn’t just announce your true feelings to everyone all the time. To impose your own needs onto others is to really value your own ego over everyone around you. By telling your current partner that she is only a secondary goal in your mind, what you could be really saying is that the primary goal is always yourself. It might be interpreted that you care more about your own indecision, than you do about your current partner’s feelings.
On the other hand, keeping this information secret might end up being a deception, and another form of egocentrism. If your current partner thinks that she is primary in your mind but she is not, she could end up betrayed by that fact later. The fact is, you are thinking about someone other than your current partner. Perhaps by knowing that, she could better make her own decisions about you.
We suggest that you don’t think about this conundrum as a single issue. The problem here is not whether or not to tell. The problem is what sort of communication you want to have and are capable of having with your current partner. Trust networks are important to build, but they can also be exploited. Remember, it is a partnership, and there are two of you. Could you two talk on a regular basis about both of your feelings, as regards your current partnership, and any others, former and future? Would you want to hear her feelings about her former partners and you, as much as you want to share your own feelings? Are you two at a point in your relationship where you could facilitate these kinds of discussions, and make progress? If not now, do you see your relationship progressing to that point in the future? It sounds as if you are having doubts about your ability to commit to the consensus process necessary for that sort of relationship. Which is fine—some of the most beneficial affinities work best on an anonymous basis, if you catch our meaning. Not every relationship makes it to the point of full transparency, and this can be good for all parties involved. But make sure everyone in the collective is on the same page about what the appropriate security level is—because asymmetric security is no security at all.
Testifying to ourselves and not to grand-juries,
Tell Us Your Troubles, Let Us Fight For You!
The Mending-Hearts Bloc wants to hear about your struggles of heart, both large and small. Our radical collective can critique love issues, political quandries, questions of tactics, and even lifestyle impasses, both with humor and insight. Tell your friends and loved ones about us, and submit your questions to our form, here. Security is assured. Solidarity is for the willing, so join us in our struggle for sex, love, and better communication through tactical safe words!
Image via Newcastle Radical Art