Originally Posted by london
I'm not sure how it differs from people who simply practice a very open and liberal style of polyamory. Or to be more honest, I'm not sure how it differs from someone like me and how I do and plan to continue structuring my relationships except the bits of it that I feel dismiss the idea of obligation to the people you form relationships with. Yeah, it all comes down to partner selection but my question would be why someone would subscribe to this label, when it doesn't really cover anything different than a liberal style of poly? What is it that is attractive?
If the concept is useful at all - and, for me, the jury is still out - it may be most useful when used in a way that is somewhat independent of 'polyamory': it's not a substitute but a supplement.
There are various approaches to polyamory, and it may be useful to have a more precise language for characterizing some of those differences. Characterizing some approaches as "more liberal," for example, is pretty vague, really.
What 'relationship anarchy' might allow us to do is very precisely to distinguish ways of being poly along one particular dimension, from those that include fairly rigid, fairly conventional categories of relationship, and perhaps a few well defined variants (e.g., romantic involvement, friendship, primary, secondary, etc.) from those that reject rigid categories in favor of a much more open approach.
As for the idea of 'relationship anarchy' itself, I don't see how it entails a rejection of responsibility or obligations toward other people. The idea, if I'm understanding it correctly, is that the terms of those obligations are to be worked out one relationship at a time, rather than simply buying the off-the-shelf packages of obligation and responsibility provided by mainstream culture (e.g., monogamous marriage, with all the rights, privileges and obligations appertaining thereunto).
The enforcement of those obligations should come from within the relationship itself, by direct accountability to each of the others with whom we have relationships, rather than from social norms and institutions.
In fact, the whole idea seems to be founded on a deeply ethical idea of respecting other individuals as individuals
, working things out on the basis of freedom and reciprocity.
To that extent it's a beautiful idea, really, whatever its other merits.