COLUMN: How to date Anarchists

Trying to date someone who isn’t on your side of the political spectrum can be exciting, or it can be a horribly rude awakening to the fact that not everyone sees the world the way you do. Though there are many classic examples of right versus left, conservative versus liberal and Republican versus Democrat, I would like to open up this topic of confronting opposition into something a bit more specific. Me and the anarchists.

I have dated a few anarchists and talked to a number of them on dating apps. There’s a lot of overlap with prison abolitionists, anti-capitalists and other far left political ideologies. Many of these have replaced Marxism and communism and are more left than Socialism and much more left than the Democratic Party. But they are all different.

When I first met my first anarchist — we’ll call them Alex — I was reading my diary as part of an art show I curated with a friend. They, according to friends, watched me read for almost an hour before moving on. We went for coffee and discussed environmental and anti-capitalist politics and it flew from there.

Alex’s political identity was a rigid one, even in its far-left nest. Alex would argue with people in their co-op over ways of challenging the state’s hold on people. Alex was ultimately an optimist who believed in collectivism that could challenge the government through shedding cynicism.

My second anarchist — we’ll call them Caleb — was an entirely different beast. Caleb was in an open relationship and avowedly an anarchist and not a radical feminist. I believe in radical feminism, which is marked for me by an inclusivity of people of color, trans folks and other oppressed groups. I was shocked at the almost demeaning use of the term. Caleb seemed to view this group as one that didn’t go far enough.

Additionally, Caleb was considering hosting and working on an Anti-Pride, a place for anti-capitalist and anti-corporate LGBT folks to go after the corporatization of Pride. I found Caleb’s ideas interesting as well. But I wasn’t sure I could stomach their ideas that seemed to mark who is in and out. Politics cannot truly decide who is good and bad, this only further perpetuates binary thinking that anti-capitalism proposes to destroy. Good exists even in the institutions we dislike.

While Alex and Caleb were nice enough, in the end they both held hard and fast roles about socialization that seemed to betray their political beliefs. While anti-capitalism seems to come from a place of empathy for and equity for oppressed people, these non-binary anarchists were not interested in the murkiness where things aren’t clearly right and wrong. They also weren’t interested in me.

How do you date an anarchist? Mostly, I found out, by not speaking your mind. For many anarchists there is a right way to believe in the far left and a right way to interact with self and others that I could not penetrate. For me the point of dancing in far left politics is that a flux and an openness allows one to be empathetic and have an ear for various viewpoints. Ultimately, even in communities we believe in there are people who we won’t agree with. Many think the enemy is those who have the opposite viewpoint that they do, but even in communities that seem similar there is disharmony.

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