Living as a Thick Libertarian OR Polyamory’s Discovery Process

April 22nd, 2011

All consensual relationships are contractual in nature.  The terms of friendship, romance and productive comradery are determined by the collective rule-making of its participants.  Within a thin libertarian lens all relationships which meet these criteria are legitimate, but I’d posit that more open relationships allow for the faster accumulation of knowledge and obliterate the obsession with having or possessing a boyfriend/girlfriend; goals which are consistent with the libertarian paradigm.

I’ve been seeing someone in Tempe in an explicitly polyamorous manner.  We still go out on dates, do cute things for each other, hell, I even received a ride to the airport recently,  but we also actively and honestly pursue romance with others when so inclined.

I feel like Randians already have an in on this model.  Polyamory can be seen as strong people coming together who admire and “respond to the highest values” of others and aren’t limited in their attempts to find and explore the highest values in additional third parties.

As a consequence, there aren’t built-in cultural expectations for what it means to be romantic.  Sex doesn’t necessarily connote an obligation as it often does under the traditional model.  People come back to each other because they want to, not because they know they’re supposed to.  Its the difference between doing homework and reading a book because it brings you joy.

On a rational level one can completely understand these concepts and find them laudable but one also has to retrain one’s hardwiring; evolutionary psychology can push back against these sorts of poly practices.

After I finished traveling in Africa and Europe and returned home my polyamorous paramour informed me that when I was gone she was seeing another man.  My nostrils briefly flared and I felt like beating my chest, but it flashed passed quickly.  We acknowledged what I just said about layers of rational cognition and primal hardwiring and the emotion floated on.  After all, I’m interested in doing the same thing, and openly trying to work through jealousy with one’s partners like this is a major part of maturing into a more healthy and fluid pattern of romantic interpersonal relations.  We want other people to be involved, or at the very least aren’t categorically opposed.  Holding someone else to a different standard in this regard is an overt and transparent hypocrisy.

Traditional relationships hinge upon an implicit belief that if one doesn’t have someone monopolized into an exclusive relationship they will not return.  Polyamorous relationships depend upon one possessing something worth returning to even in the context/collaboration of other recipients of affection, love and sex.

This is absolutely not to say that lifelong love and dedication could not be achieved through polyamory, it is only that the method which would lead one there is distinctly different.

This polyamorous methodology allows for a fluid conception of what it means to be romantic.  The open and exploratory nature of the perspective allows for the sort of experimentation necessary to discover not only new partners but also new ways of living, a key element of emergence-oriented libertarianism.

(I won’t make the rebuttal here regarding the nuclear family, raising children, etc. because I know almost nothing about that beyond being a former angsty teen.  .)

In the meantime, be thick in your application of libertarian values.  You don’t have to do it just like I do, but take license with the very freedom you endorse.  It isn’t only that you want others to be free to do outlandish things.  As Frank Reynolds of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia says, “I don’t know how many years on this Earth I got left.  I’m gonna get real weird with it.

I encourage you, humble libertarian, while you’re wearing your meat sculpture, to live thick and weird too.

About the Author: Ross Kenyon

Ross Kenyon is a Center for a Stateless Society Research Assistant currently living and studying in Istanbul, Turkey. He was a member of the Arizona State University Students For Liberty leadership team, and has recently started his own organization, Mutual Aid on the High Seas, devoted to sailing to impoverished communities in the Caribbean, performing humanitarian aid and promoting dialogue about liberty as an emancipatory philosophy for working people. On top of all of that, Ross will be joining us on Silver Underground as a contributor. Subscribe and follow his clever jabs and thoughtful reviews on news!