Is there an attempt to radicalize polyamory?
I see these stories, over and over again. One or two people tweet outrage at a story, and a news outlet grabs the story as “public outrage”.
To even point to an example of this, would be difficult.
Not because it’s difficult to find an example. There are hundreds if not thousands of examples every day.
No, the difficulty lies in the fact that reproducing any single example would turn all discussions towards the validity of the claim rather than the point of this article.
Many of you may not have heard this phrase “Intersectional Feminism”. The experience of this phrase to some may not be positive. But the core of the actual theory of Intersectionality is not Feminist, though it has roots there.
In fact, to call it Feminist undermines what Intersectionality actually is, which is an abandonment of a single describer of a single form of a tactic of oppression as a descriptive of an individual. The theory holds that every person is a composite of biases, both positive and negative, both privileges and oppressions.
I use those terms as neutrally as possible, because they are very politically and sociologically loaded terms.
Why is Intersectionality not feminist? Because it also describes that there are extremely different biases when not speaking of gender at all, but that gender is just another bias that must be factored in.
In a science neutral way, sociologists can try to understand, for instance, the impact of different conditions within a subgroup, or even a subgroup of a subgroup. When we can line up various points of intersectionality, for instance, we can find out how a single factor makes overall changes.
One would be hard pressed to define AIDS by using one white gay man or one black straight woman and say with certainty that either is the “AIDS experience”. Some of their experience will be influenced by race. Some of their experience will be influenced by gender. Some of their experience will be influenced by sexual orientation. And there are further classifications which can influence them, such as education, class, nationality, age, disability, etc.
This is a very legitimate area of sociological study. It both can properly isolate a single issue for study, using multiple diverse groups, recombining them into similar subgroups, and looking for commonalities and variations on the single issue being studied.
And, conversely, it can study certain subgroups and show how compounding factors play into the groups sociology. For instance, one can see correlations under combined socio-economic conditions.
In this way, it is not only a theory, but a practical methodology.
Unfortunately, there is another form of this theory which is a ideology. And this is the idea of co-opting.
Co-opting reverses this, and brings me to more charged terms. But we’re a long way from talking about Co-opting without first talking about one group that uses it.
First, let’s define the area in which we are talking. We are moving out of the sociology departments and into public debate. In this area, we have the terms like social justice and social equality. Any student of philosophy will recognize modern definitions of these terms as having very old origins.
Along with these, we will see the usual debates from utilitarians, libertarians, and Kantian moral absolutists.
These debates, of which I’ve written much, and side with none, brought us the great twentieth century works on social justice and equality at the extremes. From A Brave New World to Orwell’s 1984, to Rand’s infamous Atlas Shrugged.
Not to, well, shit all over the Millennial Generation, but the debates we see today follow all the way back Plato, Aristotle, and Confucius. We may have more data today, but we have not resolved any more answers.
If any progress has been made, it is that which we can more readily reject the extremes of all these points of view, though we see public debate moving continually to these extremes.
If we explore a modern term which is itself highly charged, the Social Justice Warrior, or SJW, what we are really identifying is a particular type of extremist with very specific, and sometimes conflicting, philosophical stances, sociological tactics, and political stances.
It might be better to use a term that is not seen as derogatory, though. It will be difficult because political terms are themselves intersectional.
One is hard pressed to call anything liberal without context. A US liberal differs from a UK liberal, for instance, and those are both English speaking Western democracies.
And we cannot simply say terms like socially liberal American, because this defines a major tenant of a Libertarian, which one can easily argue is very much not an SJW in the modern age, even though they are heavily influenced by the ideas a of Libertarian, John Stewart Mill (though modern Libertarians differ greatly, and are far towards the other end on many other scales, having been influenced by Locke and Paine). However, Mill has been heavily taken from by many groups from which he himself would not have likely supported.
Using a modern equivalent, one cannot simply define terrorists of a particular ideology as “radical Islam”. One can be radical without promoting violence. And so we must be a bit more exact and would have to append it with “radical Islamic terrorist”.
When one means a thing, a terrorist for instance, one must be direct and plain spoken. The other terms merely define subgroup. But this phrase two leaves a strange taste in the mouth. For instance, is there a difference between a “radical Islamic terrorist” and a “Islamic terrorist”?
Does the term radical actually lend us any insight that we do not get from the latter term? Certainly we are making a distinction from a “political terrorist” that was common in the 1980s. But is there confusion that we might mean “moderate Islamic terrorist” and must specify the level of radicalism? Of course not. That’s very redundant.
When we are not precise with our terms, it usually just means we are speaking with emotion. There’s nothing wrong with that. But for the moment, let’s look at the silly phrase “moderate Islamic terrorist” and be a bit more exact when describing our groups here.
And to do that, we must explore some paradoxes to describe a hybrid socio-political group.
From Immanuel Kant, SJWs use the categorical imperative, or moral absolutist. What does this look like? Stances of “discrimination on the basis of race or gender is always wrong”.
And this seems fair on the surface. But then the paradox occurs.
From Utilitarians, SJWs take moral relativism from Jeremy Bentham and David Hume. What does this look like? Stances of exceptions to the rule, such as Affirmative Action, for instance. In other words, one may fix a wrong by placing their hand on the scales in the name of restoring equal justice.
Of course, this simply describes the modern social progressive within the US, not just SJWs.
We can also see here the ideological split between Progressives and Libertarians. Libertarians limit the first consequences of categorical imperatives to a minimum and outright reject Utilitarianism and embrace personal freedom.
In other words, Progressivism and Libertarianism could both agree that gender discrimination is a bad thing. What makes them both liberal is in how they identify markers of equality. But Progressivism will advocate for a corrective action that may itself be discrimination, while Libertarianism will advocate for adherence to the rule, which cannot be violated even by corrective actions.
This latter view is shared by Conservatism.
This is why one group will call an action Affirmative Action, while the other calls it reverse racism.
Both sees the violation of the rule. But they disagree on which means justify the ends.
Now that we understand and have contrasted modern Progressivism by simple means, what separates it from SJW, and how can we classify it.
If we look at it on a scale of what means are acceptable, it becomes fairly easy.
Libertarianism may say no, or minimally required, methods of influence are allowed to reach ethical goals. In other words, it must be almost completely by personal choice to be ethical.
At the other end of the spectrum, a group might advocate that all methods of influence are allowed to reach ethical goals. In other words, all methods can be exhausted until all individuals are ethical.
In the middle of the spectrum would be groups that advocate that measured and limited methods of influence are allowed to reach ethical goals. In other words, some methods may be acceptable.
We could define the Libertarian end of that spectrum as reserved, the middle of the spectrum as moderate, and the far end of the spectrum as radical.
A Libertarian falls near 0 on this scale of Progressivism, while remaining on the Liberal scale. Remember, one is methodology while the other is goals. One might think of Libertarianism as downright Hippocratic with an oath of “Primum non nocere”, or “First, do no harm.”
The modern democratic party of the United States generally falls in the moderate range. To use a relative scale, one might say that if Libertarians are on the right end of that scale, and Hillary Clinton is in the middle of the scale, Bernie Sanders sits to the left of Clinton.
Unlike the traditional “left and right” political scale, this is dealing specifically with the usage of means to justify an ends.
Donald Trump, while not a liberal, could even be placed on this scale, further to the left of Bernie Sanders. While they don’t agree on ideological goals, they agree on more aggressive means.
And this is why Trump has gained some Bernie supporters. They do not so much identify with specific goals, only a general dissatisfaction. But they agree on more radical and aggressive tactics of change.
Yes, I’m sure that stumped all of you on how someone could go from far left to far right, but once you break it down, it’s straight forward. They’re both left on the aggressive means scale.
So where does a SJW fall on that scale? They fall around the Donald Trump area of the scale, where there is a “say anything, and take any legal or economic action for change” position.
But this marks out the area of the radical end of the spectrum, but not the very end.
At the far end, where all means justify the ends, we have another word. The last word on the scale at the radical end.
Luckily, few go to this extreme, such as eco-terrorists which put nails in trees to try to blind, maim, or kill loggers.
These are the protestors that burn down shops and fire guns during peaceful protests (though there is a very heavy dose of groupthink and other psychology that plays into why large groups turn violent when individuals would not do this on their own).
The Dallas sniper, Micah Johnson, was just such a terrorist.
But when you pull back, and hear voices like Bill Maher say things like, “I don’t condone it, but I understand it,” one can see him on that radical end of the spectrum very close to Trump.
Though I can understand it logically, and on this scale, I do not think when Maher says “understand” that this is what he is talking about.
And this is where SJWs sit. But now, it’s time to redefine this group with a proper name.
Now that we have defined a scale of radicalism, through where they fit on a scale of justified means, we can apply it.
SJW is just another name for Radical Progressive. In the same vein, Donald Trump is a Radical Conservative (though his conservatism is itself very hybrid).
And it is at this end that we see radical tactics.
As I’ve told one self proclaimed SJW, “I agree with your goals, but I will never agree with your tactics”.
And it is here that we see tactics such as Co-Opting.
So, what is a Co-Opting tactic. Co-Opting, which is often under the guise of intersectionalism, is the tactic of taking over one area of oppression by co-opting the oppression of another group.
In fact, this is how intersectionality really started, to discourage this type of thing. Feminism was for quite a long time, viewed through the lense of white, middle class, women. There was the feeling that black women were invisible in Feminism.
The effort to give more clarity to Feminism was to work towards diversity of viewpoints.
As I laid out before, intersectionalism is both theory and methodology. Women’s studies would, in theory, be furthered by widening the net, grouping similar intersectional issues such as race, and reforming the view of Feminism.
What could then be seen is that there were even deeper issues Feminism had to deal with. It could be comparatively isolated better, and thereby nullifying as much as possible oppression that was covered up by competing oppressions and privileges.
For instance, how does one know how much oppression exists in the world if we don’t take into account economic class or race? We can’t, because they aren’t factored in.
Any good scientist needs their data to be pure. One can’t tell if it’s going to rain or snow simply by the moisture content of the air, but by knowing how that relates to the temperature.
But then something else happened.
First, there was a gained perception of who rates higher on a subjective scale of oppression, confusing sociology as a science of numbers. It’s the idea that one can simply plug in their privileges and oppression identifying markers, and out will pop a number.
“Congratulations! You’re only 15% oppressed!”
With this perception came a logical fallacy. Those who are most oppressed are the issue to deal with.
Why is this a fallacy? It’s assuming that all will benefit if the worst off are helped. And to do that, those who did not rank “high enough” were pushed to the margins.
Unfortunately, this skews the data, as it were.
While it was massively helpful to bring intersectionality to issues like feminism, it became massively unhelpful when it was co-opted.
Suddenly, archetypes of incredibly oppressed individuals were set as the new “norm” of oppression for feminism in general. While these are people who do exist, they are generalized and repackaged as the normal experience which is the “cause” to be fought for.
And when this view of social issues were radicalized, the tactics of those most vocal also became radicalized.
Welcome to co-opting, where outside issues are not used to clarify an issue, but are used to radicalize the norm, and then radicalize the tactics.
Currently, I’m seeing this radicalism spread through issues like a slow moving lava. Heating up the conversation, and burning down all views not equally as radical.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was a moderate Progressive. He saw that nonviolent civil disobedience would bring change.
Malcolm X, during his radical years, took the view that passivism was just another enemy to the rights, even the glory, of a Black Power movement.
One can see through the lens of history the effects of the language used. Unlike Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X used the language of violence and divisiveness. It drew clear lines of good and bad, declaring many more enemies than allies.
Martin Luther King, Jr., by contrast, was an ally builder.
Traits like this can be indicators of when a movement turns from moderate to radical.
We see this difference in Muslim American relations. Moderate Christians and Moderate Muslims work together to build interfaith ceremonies and open dialog. And the radicals of each group not only attack the other group, but attack the moderates within their own group.
Radicals are the ones who propose things like ideological purity tests.
I’ve seen this with American politicians talking about immigrants.
I’ve seen this with Feminists talking about men.
And this type of language only comes from radicals.
They co-opt a movement, radicalize the norm to fit a narrative of very bleak oppression, and radicalize the tactics of the group.
Under the leadership of such radicals, groups start becoming insular and isolationist. They fill their time with rhetoric and anger at imagined straw man oppressors. They appeal to emotion over logic. They promote their setbacks over results. They create new language to create ingroups and outgroups, even sometimes within the movement itself.
Malcolm X called Dr. King an Uncle Tom, for instance.
And they either move into obscurity or they escalate their tactics. Sometimes this escalation occurs as a whole, the “double down” effect we often see with Trump.
Sometimes, this escalation occurs through weaker minded individuals, unstable and pushed over the edge by radical elements to the further extreme of terrorism.
Why am I writing on this topic?
I’ve seen what happened to the peaceful movement of Black Lives Matter.
Many moderates in this group have achieved a dialog with their local police departments. Yet, they are criticized much like Malcolm X criticized Dr. King as an Uncle Tom.
But others go on the news, fighting it out with radicals from the other side as a form of entertainment, sport, and ratings for their positions. And individuals with high degrees of instability are now shooting police by sniping and fake 911 calls.
I’ve seen this happen to the movement to get more women interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) areas.
Many moderates in this group have achieved programs with universities and local schools to start encouraging programs for young women seeking to invent and program.
But others go on the news to debate “can women cry in the lab” with the likes of radicals like Milo Yiannopoulos. And even he laughs at how this works in his favor, actively informing everyone that he attacks those with “thin skins”. When your troll tells you exactly how he is baiting you, you’d do well to then continually fall for the tactic.
The radicals in every group do their own baiting. And in particular, this concerns me in feminism.
The articles which state over 100 times the phrase “beware men”, the use of “rape culture” terms and stories of men being beaten for their crimes, and the attacking of allies who don’t fit an arbitrary purity test specifically designed to exclude anyone who is not radical… these all point to issues close to two topics that concern me greatly.
LGBT issues and Polyamory issues.
Intersectionality, I am privileged as a white, capable, well educated, cis gendered male, lower middle class, living in the United States. I’m oppressed as a bisexual, atheist, polyamorous.
Of course, that’s all relative, nor complete.
I consider myself a feminist ally. I support the full goals of equal opportunity without regard for race, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, or any other factor which is inherent at birth or a life choice which doesn’t harm anyone else. I fall to the right of the moderate, but not quite as far as Libertarian. I do not take a completely hands off approach. I support Affirmative Action and voting rights laws that attempt to reverse the effects of institutional voter discrimination.
But I admit to having been targeted by radicals, because I will not agree to their tactics or divisive language.
Now, let me get a bit more colloquial from this point on…
I don’t give one rat’s fuck what they think of me. But what I do care about is diversions from real topics of change, and further efforts to co-opt.
And in the latest stories and online discussions I’ve been seeing, Radical Progressives are on the co-opting move again.
Polyamory is the new playground for Radical Progressives.
I’ll just call them RPs for short.
As if the trolling, flamebaiting, clickbaiting, asshattery wasn’t disturbing enough in long fought social issues of racial and gender equality, I’m seeing this starting to come from the general direction of RPs in feminism moving into Polyamory.
Not only that, but direct co-opting tactics that are extremely fringe. I recently posted on Facebook about an article from a self admitted serial monogamist and RP buzzword language user talking about how Polyamory was the future of feminism.
I personally think Polyamory, when done ethically, is very feminist friendly… this person sees where we are, where I am specifically, as a great way to push her radical ideology forward.
It’s not even so much that this person specifically has other issues they wish to deal with. We all do.
But this doesn’t even pretend to be intersectional. They blatantly admitted that they don’t really give two shits about who we are now. They called our own term for ourselves, Polyamory, as freakish, and not something they even really had an interest in practicing.
The article was fully about social justice, radical progressivism, toppling patriarchies, and pushing forward feminism, and using Polyamory as a vehicle.
Not one thing in the article, except the use of the word Polyamory, had one thing to do with Polyamory.
In my opinion… this person can go fuck themselves.
We’re not here for the hijacking! And while we have many intersectional issues, from promoting diversity to squashing arbitrary privilege… this person had no clue that we even have these issues.
Quite troublingly, they presented Polyamory as though it were this fresh, untouched land, where we haven’t had these issues to deal with, where they could find safe harbor with us, and mold us around them like a protective shield, isolating themselves with us as an ingroup, and lump all their enemies in monogamy as the outgroup.
What better way to add another purity test to their list. What better way to seek us out like just some other oppression to take on as easily as volunteering at an animal shelter.
We certainly want our allies, be it portions of the LGBT community where many of us also belong, or feminism which a vast majority of us are allies (men and women).
We welcome allies, with full open arms, and no purity tests. Nobody has to be polyamorous to be a poly ally.
But I can state the following without buzzwords. Feel free, though, to be offended by my “mansplaining”.
Those who share our goals and ethics are welcome here. And whether you support no changes to the law and simply want the personal choice to run your own life, or on the more moderate end, seek to have a conversation about family law changes to protect the rights of your extended family, you are welcome here.
If you see polyamory as a vehicle to create an ingroup and an outgroup; if you wish to bring your radical tactics and language from other movements; if you wish to troll monogamists or polyamorists who don’t share your goals; if you wish to wear polyamory as a mantle of oppression to push your other causes; if you wish to come here to mark everyone with certain privileges as not being worthy to speak to their thoughts and experiences in Polyamory…
You can get the fuck out, right now.
And if you don’t, mark my name first. I’m DeWayne. I’m happy to be your number one asshole, and I’m fine with that. I’ll be the one who will call you out, every time, on your shit.
I have one outgroup, and that’s the radical faction of any group.
I cannot prevent radical factions; nobody can. They naturally occur in all groups.
However, we don’t tolerate intolerance. We’ve got people who have spent years here, building people up, promoting positivity, not attacking those who disagree with us simply because they don’t understand us, or don’t live like us, or don’t want anything to do with us.
But do not think, for one second, that you come here like some uncharted territory without residents, or that you won’t face fierce opposition from those who lead happy lives without the intrusions of radicals.
We’ve challenged unethical behaviour in our own group long before you even thought about setting up shop here. And we’re very good at keeping our community tactics conservative to moderate.
We’ve fought very hard for our ethical standards. We do not tolerate unethical goals, and we’re specialists in fighting unethical tactics.
If you are new here, you may not realize this, but polyamory is ALL about tactics. Unlike other communities, ours is one based primarily on communication style and substance.
I can tell you right now, radical language will not fly here.
Personal attacks will not fly here.
Trolling will not fly here.
Anything that smells of reverse sexism or reverse racism will not fly here. Nobody cares about your politics here. There are no “relationship quotas” here.
That sounds much like the Libertarianism that I explained earlier, doesn’t it? That mark at the furthest end from radical end of the tactic spectrum, right?
That’s how it HAS to be. It’s a natural law of non-conformist relationships.
That’s because we’re a community based purely on ethical, consensual, romantic relationships.
Quotas don’t work here, you can’t force people to love.
Rules don’t work here, it’s the antithesis of who we are.
Laws don’t work here, we fight against laws of relationship conformity.
I’m about as close as the community will accept to a radical. I use crazy phrases, like demanding your boundaries are respected, and “rules will destroy you”.
I know, that sounds tame as hell. But you have no idea how much it takes to say that. We started off as a community more conservative than you can even imagine. If you don’t understand that, you’d better go back into our history and study the polyfidelity communes in our past.
But don’t let our apparent moderation confuse you.
People take their relationships very seriously, and they demand you respect them.
I can go out on limbs and attack the practice of Veto, but if anyone from the outside thinks for one second that I could attack couples, they’ve lost their fucking minds.
That is NOT who we are and that is NOT what we do.
And if I or anyone else did that, they’d be set on their metaphorical asses quicker than they can imagine. And that’s even true in subgroups of us that support non-hierarchical, non cohabitating, fully autonomous living polyamorists (aka SoloPoly).
We look so tempting, don’t we? Those on the outside only see our idealism, but not our internal struggles. We’re race positive, age positive, gender positive, sexual positive.
We fight every inch of ground to get where we are, and only using the tools like nonviolent communication.
We communicate nearly everything here from what some might call “lived experience”.
Our academic background is just now growing, with almost all studies less than 15 years old.
We built all of this through extreme trial and error.
We built this with broken hearts and broken homes.
We built this with dreams.
We did not build this with ideology.
We did not build this with political parties.
We did not build this from outside imposed trauma, but from internal trauma.
We ally with LGBT, but we are not them.
We ally with Feminism, but we are not them.
We ally with Civil Rights, but we are not them.
We self created out of internal drives.
How self created? We read books like The Ethical Slut and More than Two. But they are not bibles.
Each of us self created who we are in Polyamory. We made thousands of choices on individual levels to bring us to where we are.
We are not here to be sport for anyone to invalidate us, nor are we here to validate your particular ideology.
We exist together, but we are not a monolith.
Nothing bonds us together except for voluntary consent.
Any polyamorous person can walk away from everyone and everything, and still maintain their validity as a polyamorous person.
We have a saying here, “My polyamory isn’t your polyamory.”
And in that environment, your chances to come here with radical messages will fall on deaf ears for most, and under attack from many others who ethically police our community. That’s why we have remained in the conservative to moderate zone.
How do we ethically police ourselves? We use mad crazy skillz, yo!
Crazy shit like logic. Crazy shit like positivity. Crazy shit like personal boundaries and mutual respect. Crazy shit like flagging antisocial behavior.
We’ve got a lot of crazy people, too. I love crazy people, because I’m one of them.
We’ve got kinksters, bisexuals, group sex lovers, swingers, asexuals, relationship anarchists, and Republicans… christ, we’ve got Republicans! AHHHH! ;)
We’re just your normal misfits, geeks, and pervs. You ever radicalized a D&D loving furry? (Hi furries! Love you guys at the parades! Total awesome-sauce!) Yeah, good luck co-opting that shit!
Do we have our radicals? Sure we do. I’ve already met many.
They hide, mostly. They are already uber isolated. We’ve got radical couples who press the bounds of what the majority of our community considers ethical behaviour. We’ve got some local groups that discuss their radicalism as related to other movements in small private groups that are echo chambers of angst. And there are countless specialty groups online.
So why don’t they surface here? Why aren’t they as out and vocal like they are in other groups?
Because we pounce on that shit like cats on a mouse. And we usually do so with great tact and eventually silence.
One of the reasons we do this is we value our newbies more than any other group in history has valued newbies.
We’re promoting Polyamory, and the moment anyone tries to radicalize a newbie, we see that action for what it is. We know this person will be emotionally destroyed, and will run from all of us like we’re a zombie horde.
And we’ll never get acceptance that way.
We attract every single new person with honey, not vinegar. As such, we’re very anti-vinegar.
But there will still be many out there who see us as fertile ground for their radicalism. I’m already seeing it, which is why I wrote this essay.
This is your fair warning. If the normal community doesn’t put a boot on that fire, people like me will bring the airplanes and flame retardant.
Here, you are the toxic element. Our fields look clean and uncontaminated not because we haven’t see toxic elements before, but because we’re really fucking good at eliminating them.
You don’t think radicalizers tried to take over the communities we came from? You think we’re virgins who wandered into Polyamory out of the ether?
BDSM saw them, and crushed them under their 6 inch dominatrix heels.
LGBT saw them, and loved the fuck out of them until they were screaming hate all alone with nobody listening.
Geeks see their shit everyday, and have decades experiences shutting them down.
Swingers saw them, and withdrew consent, circling the wagons and pushing them out of the group.
And almost all of us came from abusive relationships. We were controlled, manipulated, and damaged. We’ve fought all of the moral radicals to be ourselves. We know how to spot users and abusers. And we’re here because we don’t take that shit anymore.
So, I’ll leave you now with a few words of warning.
Don’t fuck with us. And have a wonderful day! :D