A Communist Theory of Love
This first appeared in Skewed News.
1) How we love one another is determined by our ideology, our view of how the world works. This is historically determined and based in our material conditions. If we are to emancipate love from its current generally strangled and damaged state, it will be in the process of the transformation of society overall.
2) In any class-divided society, each class has its own ideology, and thus its own theory of love, with its corresponding practice. Under capitalism, there is capitalist love and working class love, corresponding to the two fundamentally antagonistic classes that exist in that mode of production.
3) When working class love is practiced by communists (militants striving toward proletarian-led revolution with the ultimate aim of breaking down all class divisions), it can be considered communist love. At the same time, it must be acknowledged that we can’t know what love will look like or what forms it will take under communism, until we get there.
4) As we struggle in the economic and political fields to defeat capitalism, we also do so in the ideological field. New forms and expressions of love inevitably develop during that process. Communist love is born from our hatred of capitalism and through its defeat.
5) The working class is fundamentally antagonistic to the capitalist class. Thus there is no similarity between communist love and capitalist love. Based on opposing interests, they are utterly different. Communist love is the struggle to rupture with the ideology of capitalist love and all its structures produced by class antagonism: jealousy, abuse, antagonistic domination, control. Communist love exceeds anything that capitalist love has to offer; it is the triumph of a new kind of love that will produce and be produced by utterly different social structures and practices.
6) Because capitalists are currently in power, they deny the existence of class struggle even as they aggressively wage it in every sphere of daily life. Thus they pretend that their view of love is outside of class struggle, somehow pure, universal, disconnected from history and their own dictatorship over society. In contrast, communists recognize that class struggle underpins everything, love included.
7) Capitalists approach everything with the ideology of individualism and utilitarianism. “What’s in it for me?” To them, it is each against all. Each individual is conditioned to focus first on their own personal cares, desires and concerns. Communists, on the other hand, put the interests of the working class before any personal considerations, and our relationships with others develop in this context. Most important to us is the collective, and our common purpose.
8) Capitalist love is self-centered. It uses the beloved like a product or commodity, to meet its own needs, and as a field for working out unresolved personal issues. Communist love respects the autonomy of the beloved. It’s not a martyr, putting the other’s needs first, but it is cooperative and collective, taking into consideration the needs of each person involved, and the class above all.
9) A relation of antagonistic domination and submission shapes capitalist love. One person must always prevail over another. One wins while another loses. Communist love is mutually supportive in our pursuit of common interests. We constantly struggle to rid ourselves of oppressive dynamics.
10) Capitalist love is a power trip. It imposes demands and manipulates to get satisfaction. Communist love is always voluntary. Coercion is never involved. We don’t desire anything—an act, an emotion, contact of any kind—that is not freely and enthusiastically offered.
11) Capitalists prize private property above all else. Capitalist love strives for possession, for control over every aspect of the beloved. Like capital, it breaks all boundaries and asserts the right to own and interfere in every aspect of the other’s life. The beloved is expected to account for every minute of their time, to share every passing thought, reveal every fleeting inner emotion. Capitalist love is clingy, insecure, harassing and annoying. Communist love is the opposite: it values, encourages and strengthens the freedom and autonomy of the beloved.
12) It is in the nature of capitalists to compete. The capitalist jealously guards the beloved from all competitors. Communist love doesn’t play that game.
13) Capitalist love is consumerist. It wants instant gratification and customer satisfaction. It demands service: “make me happy – now!” Communist love patiently and persistently constructs unity through common experience, developing a bond of trust and intimacy over time.
14) Capitalist love wants a shiny new object. It prizes superficial qualities of appearance and presentation. Communist love prizes the essence and heart of the beloved, their sincerity, simplicity, and class consciousness.
15) Capitalist love relishes drama, noise, and novelty. It will create conflicts just to feel something new, or anything at all, ever searching for more extreme experiences. Communist love avoids distraction. It focuses its attention not on itself devoid of context, but on how it corresponds and contributes to our common aims.
16) Capitalist love is opportunistic, willing to overlook violations of principle to preserve superficial peace to gratify itself in the short term. It settles for unprincipled compromises. Communist love takes the long view. It does not fear analysis and examination. It doesn’t take anything personally.
17) Capitalist love tries to impose a formula: it must be this way and not that way. Communist love breaks all previous frameworks, its nature to be determined by and through class struggle.
18) Capitalist love wants to close the deal. It demands a promise, a vow, a contract. It puts faith in institutions to police it and to lock it in. It imposes conditions, restrictions and rules. Communist love moves fluidly through a dialectical process. It doesn’t predict the future, but constructs itself as it moves forward.
19) A communist lover is a comrade. We walk hand in hand together toward our future. For a communist, a comrade is the highest form of relationship. It persists through time and space. A comrade can be personally known or unknown. It is a bond that only keeps growing stronger as we apply ourselves to our common work.
20) Communist love is unlimited, and we apply it to every relationship with those on our side: friend, comrade, lover, the working class, the masses. As we struggle for it as part of our constant ideological fight against our common enemy, it strengthens us and breaks down the divisions between us, weakening capitalism in the process. Together, we become more effective revolutionaries, better human beings, and can contribute to advancing society to a new level.