taking joy in human unreason

APW 2013: Intellectualism, Anarchy, Privilege and Power

(This is the fifth in a way-too-long-running series on APW 2013.)

I am not educated on anarchy or intentional communities. I consider this a lack in my education. (Seems like reddit may have a good starting place for me.)

Dennis Fox is a psychologist from Boston who focuses on a few interesting topics: intentional communities and critical psychology.

What is critical psychology, you ask? When speaking of truths, Fox said, “current psychology’s truth is in finding ways for unhappy people to adapt to the current world, rather than in changing the current world.”

That really resonated with me.

So many of the unhappinesses we struggle with derive from trying to live in ways our society deems correct: working a 40+ hour per week job in which we produce something of “value” to society and for which we receive money and (if you’re “lucky”) fame. Then we should partake in monogamous relationships that last for years, build wealth, and strive to have bodies like those of people in magazines.

When we fail at those things, we go to psychologists, who have techniques they teach us for how to set goals, how to love ourselves within this framework, and how to persevere in doing what’s good for us.

I do hope that doesn’t sound like a rant. I don’t mean it do.

I attended a couple panels that dealt with power dynamics and/or community building, which I touched on in the previous post (regarding the sociopathy concerns). Dr. Eli Sheff focused on things like gender, racial, and sexual privilege in relationships, while Dr. Fox spoke more on changing our (individual/community) world to find our own truths.

I, of course, consider these rather related.

Being a bisexual or bi-romantic female in the poly community is a powerful thing–like having O negative blood in a friggin’ donation facility. Hell, “hot bi-babe” is a term through around a lot in podcasts and in the community.

Being the third or newcomer in a triad? A distinctly un-powerful thing.

Being legally civil unioned? Powerful, because you can “pass” and be a gentle, suburban face for polyamory. On top of that, our culture at-large values relationships with a potential for raising healthy children, and nothing screams “family stability” like being legally married. Or so they tell me.

Financial privilege and social mobility is huge when you have a lifestyle that could cost you your job. I’m very privileged in working in a field where 1) I make a fair amount of money, 2) my work environments tend to be liberal, and 3) I have the ability to get a new job pretty quickly if I lose my current one.

But I don’t want the communities I’m part of to size me (or anyone) up by those metrics.

So how do we either 1) live (safely?) outside of that to have our own truths, and/or 2) change the world around us to be more accepting of those truths?

I don’t know.