The myth of equality

Twin Oaks was founded with Behaviorist concepts inspired by the fiction story Walden Two.  In this book, the way members of the fictional community were inspired to do unpopular work (say cleaning toilets) was by giving a slight premium to the number of labor credits they received for doing this drudgery.  Similarly, for work which was popular or considered easy (like cooking or child care) the person doing the work would get less than full credit.  And for the first few years of the real community Twin Oaks existence, a similar system was used.

we are now in the lower right

we are now in the lower right

Then a funny thing happened as the community grew.  When we reached about size 40, it turned out that there was no such thing as universally unpopular work.  Nor was there work which we had way too many volunteers for (except one on one child care).  So what ended up happening was even the smallest premiums would cause labor to flock to the drudgery and even the smallest penalties would cause us to loose our work force for desirable labor.  This forced the community into the philosophically desirable place of evaluating all work the same.  Something which is now the cornerstone of the egalitarian community movement.

Someone sloppily posited that romantic relationships in non-central polyamorous groups should be equal.  i barked back.  Perhaps there are some equal rights, but there is nothing like equal attraction, attention or commitment.  Romantic relationships are not (in this way) like egalitarian communities.

to say the very least, but not equal

to say the very least, but not equal

In fact central to my thinking about polyamory is that you would not actually choose an additional partner who you wanted to treat “equally” to one you already had, because typically you are looking for different needs or desires to be met by a new relationship and these are key to creating the different treatment and attractions.  These differences will nearly inevitably lead to significantly different types of emotional connections and relationships.  Comparing them is difficult, pretending they are somehow equal is a fools errand.