The anarchist movement presents some challenging theories regarding the structure and organisation of society. Not surprisingly perhaps, most of these are not in evidence in mainstream public or private life because of the human tendency to conform to pre-existing structures and models and familiar paradigms of social and governmental practice. Most commonly considered in political terms, free association is also personal and is increasingly a governing principle of my personal philosophy.
The idea of free association has been revelatory in terms of embracing the principle that one is wholly free to associate with whoever one likes and for that association to have no constraints on it. The nature of being is that we change and grow and being locked into relationships when they cease to be meaningful is a corrosive experience that inhibits growth for both parties. The biggest learning of this past year has been to recognise and be honest about when it is time to leave.
In practice, free association is difficult. Human beings form attachments and these can quickly become possessive and all encompassing. It is easy to be overwhelmed by these kinds of relationships and to feel disproportionately beholden to people or groups out of a sense of loyalty. Obligation that stunts growth is unhealthy and when any situation becomes a burden then it is time to go.
Free association enables us to bring out the best in ourselves and others for whatever time it is appropriate for the particular relationship to exist. It is a philosophy that recognizes the essential nature of individuals as beings in their own right. It empowers each individual to take responsibility for the path they are walking without the need to impose on others. It allows being to move and flow when it needs to and imposes no constraints.
Free association is at the heart of my sense of self. I own no one and no one owns me. I have no desire to own anyone and reject anyone who would impose their being on me. I delight in others and their achievements. I love working with people but respect their right to work with others and to do as they wish. This feels like a ridiculously simple and infallible way to live.