Traveller's Reviews > The Communist Manifesto

The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
3145526
's review
Sep 21, 12

bookshelves: sociology-politics-philosophy-world, re-reading
Read from July 07 to 23, 2012

This tract by Marx and Engels is too enormous in implication to review fully in the small little space that GR allows, so what I'll do for now is take extracts from it and comment on them, piece by piece.

Per the Maifesto:"
"Abolition of the family! Even the most radical flare up at this infamous proposal of the Communists. On what foundation is the present family, the bourgeois family, based? On capital, on private gain. In its completely developed form this family exists only among the bourgeoisie. But this state of things finds its complement in the practical absence of the family among the proletarians, and in public prostitution. The bourgeois family will vanish as a matter of course when its complement vanishes, and both will vanish with the vanishing of capital. Do you charge us with wanting to stop the exploitation of children by their parents? To this crime we plead guilty. But, you will say, we destroy the most hallowed of relations, when we replace home education by social. And your education! Is not that also social, and determined by the social conditions under which you educate, by the intervention, direct or indirect, of society, by means of schools, etc.? The Communists have not invented the intervention of society in education; they do but seek to alter the character of that intervention, and to rescue education from the influence of the ruling class. The bourgeois clap-trap about the family and education, about the hallowed co-relation of parent and child, becomes all the more disgusting, the more, by the action of Modern Industry, all family ties among the proletarians are torn asunder, and their children transformed into simple articles of commerce and instruments of labour.

Marx and Engels are here addressing a snapshot in time of European history. I don't have much knowledge of conditions during the industrial revolution in the rest of Europe, but have researched the situation relatively extensively as it was in Britain, as a background to a lot of criticism that was launched against the status quo by a lot of Victorian writers of fiction.

In the feudal system, "labor" did not remove laborers from their families at all, in fact, it rather strengthened family ties since most of what can be seen as the proletariat of feudal times, were indebted laborers on the fiefdom of their feudal lord.

So, the only labor which compromised the family situation, was the kind of labor done by men, women and children in mines and factories during the industrial revolution, from around 1750 to the early 1900's.

If you read up on reforms in Britain, you will see that by about 1831, public outcries against child labor and the conditions that adults and children were made to work under in mines, caused public commissions to be instituted by government, which started a slow and gradual reform of conditions via legislation, to the point that all kinds of laborers are pretty well-protected and well-represented at the present day.

Ironically, the big bad fat cats these days are not the kind that deal with direct labor, but rather the type who deal in/with secondary products (like financial products) and services. (By services we do not mean of the "labour" kind that Marx addressed- Marx was addressing the kind of workers who were exploited in mines and factories.)

Note that the industrial revolution, although it started off bringing such untold misery to so many, also had the following effect: average income and population began to exhibit unprecedented sustained growth. In the two centuries following 1800, the world's average per capita income increased over tenfold, while the world's population increased over sixfold. Finally it was within the grasp of those born outside of nobility to make a decent living for themselves.

A lot of workplace reform has taken place since the IR started.. and not through rabble-rousers like Marx, but because people with a conscience raised their voices and cried out against the injustices being done by capitalists against fellow human beings.

Authors like Charles Dickens, for instance, and Victor Hugo, helped to encourage the privileged to look upon their less fortunate brethren with greater sympathy, and to call for social reform in the name of conscience.

...so, Karl Marx is being a great opportunist here. At a time when history and society is in great flux and inner revolution, when a new era is dawning and social conscience still needs to become cognizant of the suffering of some of the members of society, Karl Marx exploits the situation, ironically by making use of the exploitation by one element of society, of another.

It is the poor and the ignorant that is being exploited, and Karl Marx exploits their helplessness, ignorance and gullibility to shout for revolution instead of evolution. Marx and Engels call for violence where no violence is necessary, because peaceful change was already taking place in any case.

Per the manifesto:
But you Communists would introduce community of women, screams the whole bourgeoisie in chorus. The bourgeois sees in his wife a mere instrument of production. He hears that the instruments of production are to be exploited in common, and, naturally, can come to no other conclusion than that the lot of being common to all will likewise fall to the women. He has not even a suspicion that the real point is to do away with the status of women as mere instruments of production. For the rest, nothing is more ridiculous than the virtuous indignation of our bourgeois at the community of women which, they pretend, is to be openly and officially established by the Communists. The Communists have no need to introduce community of women; it has existed almost from time immemorial. Our bourgeois, not content with having the wives and daughters of their proletarians at their disposal, not to speak of common prostitutes, take the greatest pleasure in seducing each other's wives. Bourgeois marriage is in reality a system of wives in common and thus, at the most, what the Communists might possibly be reproached with, is that they desire to introduce, in substitution for a hypocritically concealed, an openly legalised community of women. For the rest, it is self-evident that the abolition of the present system of production must bring with it the abolition of the community of women springing from that system, i.e., of prostitution both public and private.

The implication is obvious. According to the authors, the implication is that marriage is a bourgeois, patriarchal institution for the exploitation of women, a form of prostitution. You would think that anybody who is even in the slightest familiar with history, would be able to see immediately how fallacious and false such an accusation is, since marriage is a social institution that evolved gradually over many centuries, but has always been something that protected rather than exploited women. Remember, for centuries and centuries, women had no recourse save sexual abstinence (for which the best path was to become a nun) against falling pregnant.

Women had exactly three choices: Be a prostitute, be a nun, or have the protection of marriage, where you could at least have the privilege of raising your children in a protected environment, and in which the father of the child had the responsibility to care for the children and their mother on a material level.

It is only through birth control, which we at last have 99% effective technology for, that woman is emancipated from the hearth and can take her place next to males as a fully economically productive partner, since she doesn't have to be tied down in a perpetual cycle of pregnancy, childbirth and nursing anymore.

This has nothing to do with the bourgeoisie except that it was people out of the horrible, terrible ranks of those dastardly bourgeoisie, that modern medicine was developed, modern medicine, which keeps child- and maternal mortality at bay, has brought better health to people of all walks and stations in life, and has given us the technology to be able to choose when we do or don't have children. (..except if you let The Pope tell you, of course).

I have an overwhelming feeling that Marx was simply exploiting women's emancipation movements to gain more supporters for Communism, when he says the following:
He has not even a suspicion that the real point is to do away with the status of women as mere instruments of production.
Yes, women were being marginalized, but by the fact that we were excluded from property holding rights (something Marx scorns in any case) and from having an equal right to vote (something else which he scorns too).

Let's analyze this carefully:
How are bourgeois males exploiting women by marrying them? ..by having sex with them and expecting of them to have children? ..but it is usually women who want children in the first place. Certainly, in feudal times, children sons were deemed an essential item for males to acquire in order to continue the family line, but, since the human species would discontinue should women stop having children, calling it an exploitation of women by men sounds like a rather strange, roundabout way of putting things.

Certainly in the time that capitalism has steadfastly taken root, children have become really more of a liability financially speaking, than a prize.

..and calling a married woman more of a prostitute than an unmarried woman would be, who will still be used for sex, just this time by the entire mob instead of her husband, (unless the married woman decides to swing which will be HER decision to cuckold her husband - unless they both agree to swing) just sounds a bit crazy.

In fact, if you think about it, it is Marx who is making the implication that women are mere objects, property to be owned like cows or camels, by suggesting that they will be seen as fair game ("community of women", as he puts it, having a similar meaning to "community of property") under Communist rule.
I just can't help finding his attitude massively patronizing and insulting, both towards men and women, as much as I decry the patriarchy of the past, because Marx himself is speaking with the very voice of patriarchy and sexism that he supposedly decries. He speaks their language, the language of the white, supremacist patriarchal 'master'.


Also from the manifesto:
"The education of all children,from the moment that they can get along without a mother's care, shall be in state institutions at state expense."

...and our children must be taken away from us and brought up in some state institution. See: Communist Party Education Workers Congress, Communist quotes:
We must create out of the younger generation a generation of Communists. We must turn children, who can be shaped like wax, into real, good Communists.... We must remove the children from the crude influence of their families. We must take them over and, to speak frankly, nationalize them. From the first days of their lives they will be under the healthy influence of Communist children's nurseries and schools. There they will grow up to be real Communists.


It is generally accepted knowledge that institutionalized care away from any sort of notion of family, is psychologically unhealthy for children.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deinstit...

..so Marx wants to pull down the very fabric of society, to the point of removing even the notion of family - to remove from children the prerogative of having your own mother and father, of having brothers and sisters, and instead, humans must become cogs in the wheel of Communism, mindless automatons who have no individuality, no sense of self.

No thanks, I don't buy into the hive-mind insect-think.



This review is a work in progress, so more to follow soon.

EDIT: Dear reader, if you feel you need to comment, please take the time to read the discussion thread below first - these issues and even more regarding Marxism, Communism, etc, are discussed EXTENSIVELY in the comment thread below, and I fear that comments are starting to become repetitive, with clear indications that commentors are not bothering to check if their arguments might already have been discussed a few times over. Unfortunately all that is discussed cannot be worked into the review itself, since GR limits review space, and this is a HUGE subject.

I'd also like to mention that I am absolutely to a large extent a fan of Socialism in general and a great fan of the Scandinavian mixed system. What I am criticizing in this review, is specifically this document, 'The Communist Manifesto', and not Socialism itself.

I promise to make time soon to work more of the discussions into the review itself, but some very well-read and intelligent Marxian apologists have commented, so it might be worth your time to read the discussions in any case.
Thanks. :)
41 likes · likeflag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Communist Manifesto.
sign in »

Reading Progress

07/07/2012 page 185
61.0% 1 comment
show 1 hidden update…

Comments (showing 1-50 of 90) (90 new)


message 1: by L.H. (new)

L.H. Thomson Two stars for the communist manifesto. I love it. There's a good Norm MacDonald sketch in that, ending with the line, "Well, really: fuck you Karl, what do you know, anyway?"
Or something like that.


message 2: by Traveller (last edited Jul 06, 2012 07:25AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Traveller L.H. wrote: "Two stars for the communist manifesto. I love it. There's a good Norm MacDonald sketch in that, ending with the line, "Well, really: fuck you Karl, what do you know, anyway?"
Or something like that."


Yeah, I'm re-reading it, and it's really striking me how racist, sexist and conservative the first quarter of the document appears to me, which is perhaps why i previously might have put it aside in disgust.

My current reread is hopefully going to be rather more thorough, and possibly more sympathetic due to political and economic events of the last 10-15 years since my previous read.

I know Marx comes from a period where prejudices and bigotry were rife, and one usually tries to excuse this in literature from that period since it was a mass affliction, but phew, does it really shine through in Marx's writing! I can only shake my head and try to keep my temper down.


message 3: by Magdelanye (new)

Magdelanye plus his contempt for the 'lumpenproletariat' is so off putting and his thinking so convoluted, racist and sexist that he never gained much credibility with me.

Nazism was a mass affliction but that does not excuse those who bought it :-<


message 4: by Traveller (last edited Jul 06, 2012 07:41AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Traveller Magdelanye wrote: "plus his contempt for the 'lumpenproletariat' is so off putting and his thinking so convoluted, racist and sexist that he never gained much credibility with me.

Nazism was a mass affliction but th..."


Look, his thinking was pretty advanced for his time, i've thought, which is why i think i gave it a 2 stars and not the 1 star which i was tempted to give because of his tone and his over-generalizations.

The thing is, that i suppose it was a fine ideology for it's time, a necessary step in thinking over the development of world economics and politics, and some of what he says has become amazingly apt again for some aspects of our current world, which people of 20 or 30 years ago would have scoffed at.

..but this is an old ideology for a bygone era, of which we can do well to take cognizance of and acknowledge a lot of the aspects of what he brings to the fore, however - just as it is in it's original form as Marx and Engels wrote it? Nah... but i'll babble on some more once i've had time to finish my re-read. :)


message 5: by Magdelanye (new)

Magdelanye Traveller wrote>>.but this is an old ideology for a bygone era, of which we can do well to take cognizance of and acknowledge a lot of the aspects of what he brings to the fore...

In fact, it's imperative that we do so

Personally,I lean more to anarchist ideology, and there is a lot about communism I like. I just think they messed up by sanctifying the state. It's totalitarianism I oppose, and a communist democracy would be something else entirely.

Somewhere else I believe you recently mentioned the Israeli kibbutz/moshav experiment. This seemed to encounter problems as well, but again, they were fighting the glamor of materialism, surrounded by hostiles, considered bumpkins by the more sophisticated urban workers: but what they accomplished:gardens in the desert! remains impressive.


message 6: by Traveller (last edited Sep 15, 2012 12:58AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Traveller Magdelanye wrote: "Personally,I lean more to anarchist ideology,."

Yeah, well, as you know, i don't espouse anarchism very enthusiastically, but it depends exactly what you and i mean and may just be a matter of degree. So we'd have to define our terms first, i'd imagine.

It depends, for instance, on what you mean by anarchy and by democracy and so on.


message 7: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Keeten I'm looking forward to the full blown thought provoking Traveller extravaganza. Those Bourgeois were such SWINGERS.


message 8: by David (new)

David Katzman Traveller,

You might want to check this novel out someday. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/77...

Marge Piercy is quite feminist. The story fluctuates between a woman in the present, in a mental hospital, and the far future where her mind travels, to an eco-commune without nuclear families and children are raised by the community. You could say it's a utopian feminist communism of sorts.

I'm with Magdelyne in that I have a blend of anarchist and communistic sensibilities but no particular ideology. As a reformist, sure, workers deserve powerful unions and better to have an industry owned by its workers, but ...my main beef is the presumption that industrial process should be occurring at all. The impending global warming disaster appears to be hurtling toward us rather than slowing down, and it's because our civilization demands production/products/Capital.


message 9: by Traveller (last edited Jul 25, 2012 11:12AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Traveller David wrote: "As a reformist, sure, workers deserve powerful unions and better to have an industry owned by its workers, but ...my main beef is the presumption that industrial process should be occurring at all. The impending global warming disaster appears to be hurtling toward us rather than slowing down, and it's because our civilization demands production/products/Capital.
."


Yes, we've been having discussions about this all over GR lately. Thanks for the link! ..but like i've been arguing on another thread, capitalism and consumerism isn't the same thing, although many people seem to equate them with one another.


message 10: by David (new)

David Katzman Now I'm curious. Feel free to direct me to another thread if the answers are elsewhere, but I don't see how the difference between Capitalism and Consumerism is relevant. Especially if they are interrelated. Are they separable? Does one lead to over-use of resources and the other doesn't? Seems like they are probably both just different faces of a similar cultural force or system. I think we often try to force things into words that flow beyond the bounds of our definitions.

I'm not trying to argue about it, I just don't see why it matters. Defining ideologies or economic forces is always ambiguous because these things are amorphous processes and in many ways defined by how we talk about them.


message 11: by Kelly (last edited Jul 26, 2012 10:23PM) (new)

Kelly  Maybedog Traveller,

I, too, can be annoying with my feminist obsessions. And I think the majority of communism is horrific. But the good socialism of today, the Swedish type systems came out of a melding of the two.

Anyway, I don't see this passage as being innately anti-women. I see it as trying to address what Communists at the time felt was anti-women. I personally don't like what they want to replace it with but I will get to that later.

"The bourgeois sees in his wife a mere instrument of production."

"[The bourgeois] has not even a suspicion that the real point is to do away with the status of women as mere instruments of production [having babies].

"The Communists have no need to introduce community of women; it has existed almost from time immemorial."


but the sentences below sounds to me like they are trying to get rid of prostitution:

Bourgeois marriage is in reality a system of wives in common and thus, at the most, what the Communists might possibly be reproached with, is that they desire to introduce, in substitution for a hypocritically concealed, an openly legalised community of women. For the rest, it is self-evident that the abolition of the present system of production must bring with it the abolition of the community of women springing from that system, i.e., of prostitution both public and private.


Above he says,

"Our bourgeois, not content with having the wives and daughters of their proletarians at their disposal, not to speak of common prostitutes, take the greatest pleasure in seducing each other's wives."


Breaking this down:

Bourgeois marriage is a system of wives in common, including prostitution and adultery.
The Communists desire to introduce instead, an openly legalised community of women.
The abolition of the present system of production must bring with it the abolition of the community of women springing from that [bourgeois] system of prostitution both public and private.

What they want to replace it with appears to be a completely open free-for-all. THIS IS WHERE I MAY BE MISSING THE POINT. But going by the fact that their condemnation of prostituion above, it sounds like this is what they want: one community of women available for every man. They are putting this in the terms that people will understand in that era. But the reality is that in order for that to happen, the men are all shared, too. While I personally find this problematic, I know many people find this a perfectly viable lifestyle and I have even known a few people in such situations, all of whom would say that women and men are equal. I personally have not seen this--all such relationships I have seen are one man and two or more women and it is not at all equal--but that is what they claim.

The whole community-raised children thing is another issue. The hippie commune experiments of the 70's were largely unsuccessful but some still exist. Many cultures have the idea of everyone watching and raising the children with the roll of the actual parents less important. Tibetans send young children to be raised by monks. Most countries use orphanages not foster homes. Even the wealthy staid English send their kids off to boarding school at a very young age. But young age in all these situations is not birth.

That said, there is a reasons we have moved from orphanages to foster homes: children need one on one attention from a specific parent. They need the safety and security of someone looking out specifically for them, etc. And the mother has a visceral reaction, a genetic bond with her children, that isn't the same if it isn't biological unless those children have been specifically entrusted into her care as has happened with me as a foster parent. I think the idea of separating kids from their parents at birth and globally raising them is horrible abuse. The primary cause of Reactive Attachement Disorder is a break from the mother during infancy. Virtually all serial killers and mass murderers have RAD. The converse doesn't apply but people with RAD will never be able to love the way we understand it.

Whew, I feel like I just wrote an essay. Hack away at it, folks. Use a red pen.


message 12: by Traveller (last edited Sep 15, 2012 01:12AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Traveller Kelly wrote: "Traveller,
I, too, can be annoying with my feminist obsessions. And I think the majority of communism is horrific. But the good socialism of today, the Swedish type systems came out of a melding ..."


Oh, i am absolutely to a large extent a fan of Socialism in general and a great fan of the Scandinavian mixed system. But Socialism is not Marxism. I don't see why Marx should get the credit, he is not the only person to come up with socialistic ideas, and his ideas are far more radical.


Kelly wrote: "Traveller,
What they want to replace it with appears to be a completely open free-for-all. THIS IS WHERE I MAY BE MISSING THE POINT. But going by the fact that their condemnation of prostituion above, it sounds like this is what they want: one community of women available for every man. They are putting this in the terms that people will understand in that era. But the reality is that in order for that to happen, the men are all shared, too. While I personally find this problematic, I know many people find this a perfectly viable lifestyle and I have even known a few people in such situations, all of whom would say that women and men are equal. I personally have not seen this--all such relationships I have seen are one man and two or more women and it is not at all equal--but that is what they claim."


The point is that Marx is NOT saying that men and women are equal, he is not saying it at all. He is still looking at the world through the typical patriarchal imperialist racist white male supremacist eyes of his time. Perhaps he didn't have much of a choice, because that is what he had to deal with. It might be true that his voice was as radical for his time as Leonardo Da Vinci's was for his time and Galileo Galilei was for his time, but Marx himself was simply part of the process of the dialeticical process of change that takes place in human history in an ongoing process.

I think when he was saying that males 'consume' females, he meant it in a sense of sexual gratification in addition to having babies. After all, since in a Marxian world where all babies are institutionalized and there is no notion of family, why should a father care, and how would he even know, if he fathers any children?

So, basically, what Marx is saying, is that women's role is and should be that of a vehicle of sexual gratification and producing babies. He does NOT see them as equals or potential workers, because earlier in this manifesto and elsewhere, he decries the fact that females have now entered the workplace alongside men, as one of the evils of industrialization and capitalism.

He seems to share the common Victorian view which classed women as either madonnas or whores. note that he says: For the rest, it is self-evident that the abolition of the present system of production must bring with it the abolition of the community of women springing from that system,i.e., of prostitution both public and private.

The words: "of prostitution both public and private", therefore indicate that he sees marriage merely as private prostitution, (which in some marriages, is indeed an apt description, but i reject it as a blanket generalization - men and women 'use' one another equally in many cases) and that therefore, all women, are, in his eyes merely prostitute fodder. (If they are being "consumed" that is; - which he proposes should be done, in his system, but without it being: "hypocritically concealed").

But what really gets my gut about his comments, though, is that he seems to be talking over the heads of women, totally disregarding them as human beings, he is talking to other men,. and saying: "Hey buddy, in Communism you won't have to "pay" for having sex either through prostitution or marriage; you can have any woman you want at any time you want....and you won't even be held responsible for the children that might result, the state will take care of all that."

This might sound good to men, but to me as a woman it feels so abhorrent that it makes me want to vomit.

Not only does he treat women like cattle, but he seems to completely discount the desires of women in this whole thing; nevermind that women may also enjoy sex, and that a sexual act between a man and woman could be as reciprocal as as a sexual act between a man and a man and a woman and a woman, and therefore not necessarily an act of consuming and being consumed like a product on the shelf, nevermind that women may desire marriage and/or single relationships, nevermind that women may love their children and may not want to be separated from them, nevermind that women don't seem to be given a choice or control over their own bodies.

I will not even start talking here about all the negative effects of institutionalization on children that have come to the fore over the last few years.

In fact, being institutionalized is so bad and so traumatic for children, even older children, (let's not even mention infants who need to be in in a one-on-one caring and bonding situation with their mothers where the best situation for them is to be exclusively breastfed for at least six months), that authorities are often preferring to leave them in semi-abusive,/semi neglect situations and rather focus on educating/rehabilitating the parents/caregivers regarding parenting skills, than to remove children from such situations and face the trauma of institutionalization.

We'll not even start on the potential that orphanages leave wide open for the exploitation/abuse of children, just like with prison type situations.

I can write essays on this, and then i have not even started on the fact that,although, yes, in hippie communes the communality is voluntary, perhaps the very fact that such communes might work is that it is voluntary.

Can you imagine people who hate hippies being forced into the commune with them- which will be and is the case when communism is forced onto a population. It is simply inevitable that some heads will literally roll and blood will be spilt.

I for one, could never handle my children being taken away from me; it will have to be over my dead body, and for as long as i am still alive, i will fight tooth and nail to get them back again.


message 13: by Kelly (new)

Kelly  Maybedog I don't think we disagree at all. I was simply thinking of prostitution as a paid for service but you are of course right that he obviously saw women as vehicles for sexual gratification and making babies as he kept referring to "production" like women are factories. Like I said at the beginning, I knew I was missing the point somewhere. I haven't read this treatise and I think a lot of people who call themselves Marxists haven't either.

I do think many hippies were Marxist. I just met a guy here on Goodreads who introduced himself as a mostly Libertarian but really Marxist who hated Dems and the GOP equally because they've bankrupted the country the Dems because of their social programs. He is completely confused obviously. (He's in a group I moderate so I'm going to have to keep a careful watch.)

I of all people know about what happens to the institutionalization of babies and children being a foster parent if kids with reactive attachment disorder. Your last sentence is one of the reasons I have a problem with The Hunger Games.


message 14: by David (last edited Jul 28, 2012 06:05PM) (new)

David Katzman Seriously, y'all should check out Marge Piercy's novel. I'm not saying its feasible or likely or any such thing, but the feminist premise of it isn't that children are taken away from their families. It's how she imagined a utopian future where eco-communes developed as the best way for the species to survive and live. I have no doubt she would reject forced state childcare, but she imagined a place where all adults assume equal responsibility over all children, and all love the children regardless of whom the birth parents are. In fact, I don't think there was a "state" because the communities were so small. I read it many years ago.

If you think about life in terms of survival of our genes, which Is Dawkins premise in The Selfish Genes, then the instinct to protect our offspring that many animals, particularly mammals, experience is associated with a core genetic compulsion, much like fight or flight. Humans have the added complexity of culture on top of our genetic drives, and some of those cultural aspects dovetail with our genetic drives and others actually compete with them. For example, the lack of universal healthcare makes it harder for a large segment of parents to take care of their kids. Or the need to work two jobs to cover rent might might make it hard for other parents to be there for their kids. If we hypothesize a (distant?) future where the nuclear family is no longer the most effective way for children to survive, then the culture might turn where individuals become happy to raise their children communally. If it provides the greatest chance for our offspring to survive.

Admittedly, it's hard to imagine it really happening. But that's one of the great values of speculative fiction, it projects forward possibilities. I've got my own two-year old treasure that I would give up my life to protect.


message 15: by Kelly (new)

Kelly  Maybedog David, I've had Woman on the Edge of Time on my to-read shelf at home to read for about a decade. The premise is fascinating but getting into it is harder. I'm a Unitarian and it was recommended to me by my hippy-dippy friends at church (lest anyone think I am judging hippies by my previous comments). :) I really want to read it, I just find other books I want to read more each time I pick it up. :(


message 16: by David (new)

David Katzman I hear you. It's really kind of sad because half of it takes place in the mental hospital, and the woman's only escape is into the future in her dreams.


message 17: by Traveller (last edited Jul 29, 2012 04:07AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Traveller David wrote: "Now I'm curious. Feel free to direct me to another thread if the answers are elsewhere, but I don't see how the difference between Capitalism and Consumerism is relevant. Especially if they are int..."

Ah, I'm sorry, David, I was actually going to reply to your post as well, but i got a bit distracted with Kelly's post, and after i'd replied to her post, i got distracted from the thread. Apologies if my non-reply seemed rude.

Well, Capitalism describes a system and Consumerism describes a phenomenon, i'd say. Historically speaking, Capitalism happened to come hand in hand with industrialization mechanization and increasingly advanced technologies, and so capitalism, industrialization and the consumerism that resulted because of a combination of all the above, might make it seem as if consumerism is a result of capitalism, but this is not really necessarily per se the case.

Let's take Communist China. They are exploiting both workers and consumerism to a much higher degree than the Free World is managing to do.

I found an interesting excerpt the other day that i kept to work into my review when i had the time:"

In 1994 a British inventor, Trevor Bayliss, who was deeply concerned about the problems of Africa, designed a wind-up radio. His primary aim was to empower the people of that continent.

Firstly, the invention would facilitate radio communication in areas where there was no electricity and thus draw African people into the information society.

Secondly, factories manufacturing these radios and eventually wind-up torches as well would create jobs for people in disadvantaged communities.

The first factory in Cape Town, South Africa, went even further and employed a substantial number of handicapped people and rehabilitated criminals.

The South African company marketing wind-up 2 radios, the Freeplay Energy Group, was a great success and today has an annual turnover of close on 37 million USD. But both the empowerment drives floundered. Half the factory workers in Cape Town, -some 200- had to be retrenched and only about 20 percent of the products were sold in Africa.

The crux of the problem was that the products were too expensive because African labor costs are too high.

A further problem was the high import duties payable in African countries and the initial high ad valorem duty imposed in South Africa. However, the company itself thrived because it managed to find non-African markets for the wind-up radios and torches.

Americans in particular bought the products for outdoor excursions and/or for their novelty value, while innumerable people bought them to be ready for potential Y2K problems.
But the prices were exorbitant, even for Americans.

Eventually the problem was solved by starting a factory in China and the products were marketed at more competitive prices. There the wind-up radios are being manufactured at R40 less per unit than in South Africa.

Currently the possibility of opening a factory in Mexico is being explored. The irony is that a South African company manufacturing products for Africa is creating jobs for Chinese workers and markets its products elsewhere.

But there is one ray of light. Thanks to the lower production costs in China the products can be offered to African people at a more affordable price.

Hopefully they can be used for future development projects and will help these to reach illiterate peasants, schoolchildren, poor people in rural areas and refugees.


What struck me about this little story beyond the obvious irony that it seemed to be pointing out in how Chinese labor was cheaper than that of African labor, was that China is a full-on Communist system, whereas the South-African system is mainly a Free-market system with, admittedly a lot of Socialist features. Still, their labor market is free-market, -yet their labor is so expensive.

Not to be reductionist, i examined relative cost of living and exchange rates and inflation rates, since i thought the cost of labor might tie in with cost of living, etc,but no- in fact, ironically, if you look up cost of living comparisons, South Africa is pretty average (cost of housing and food is pretty cheap there, though imported luxury goods such as electronics inflates the cost of a market basket.) On South Africa's Northern border sits Zimbabwe, a country which has had one of the lowest exchanges rates and highest inflation rates in the world in the past 10 years or so.

I looked up inflation rates on this table: http://www.tradingeconomics.com/infla... China's inflation rate came down a lot since 2007, but compare the 2007 (probably around the time that the article i quoted was written) and you'll see it's not far below that of South Africa at the time.

Other factors that would influence the cost of manufacturing/labor of a product such as this one, would be mobility of labor and level of development/industrialization of the area. By all accounts, the level of industrial development, availability of transport, water, and all factors necessary for factory production is quite excellent in Cape Town, so the reasons aren't structural.

Interestingly though, South Africa does have very strong Labor Unions. [ See this article for something on the strength of trade unions in South Africa : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_M... ]

Does the answer perhaps lie there? Are Chinese workers ironically less well protected and represented than they are are in mixed capitalist/socialist systems like those of South Africa & Scandinavia, and where there are strong trade unions such as in the UK ?

Just for interest sake, i found this article while messing around trying to find reasons- the article features strongest countries according to national debt, productivity, etc. and, interestingly, South Africa, rates a C- along with Canada, the US and the UK. China gets an A-!

I think it is reports like these are what makes us tend to think that the Chinese system is so "successful" - but at what a cost! At the cost of the severe exploitation of its people, sadly.

As we all know, Chinese labor is probably amongst the cheapest (most low-paid) labor in the world, meaning that Chinese laborers are amongst the most highly exploited workers in the world. Isn't that just rich irony for you?

In fact, in a system that is supposed to have eradicated exploitation of people, the Chinese population is probably amongst the most exploited people in the world.

See this thread for some of the other nonsense that's happening in Communist China. http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

I'll just quote some of it: From the review: "Corneas are taken from barely living or just killed prisoners in Chinese prisons."
In the comment thread, Will quotes from the book itself in this regard: P 82 - …One [source was ]…the ex-wife of a transplant surgeon who performed more than two thousand cornea harvestings from living prisoners Over the years he told her about the day-to-day goings-on at what can only be called an organ factory. She described underground networks of holding cells at Sujiatun Hospital that housed at least five thousand prisoners in pens. Doctors there fed the prisoners only meager rations. Every day doctors removed three prisoners from their cells.

She says that the captives were then “injected with the shot that caused heart failure. During the process they would be pushed into operation rooms to have their organs removed. On the surface the heart stopped beating, but the brain was still functioning because of that shot.”

Her husband would then receive the patients and quickly slice out the corneas and send the patient on a gurney down the hall where “their organs were removed while alive, and that it was not just cornea removals—they were removing many organs."


..and in the post just below that, (Message 21) Scott mentions that: "My most recent information on China says that they are still using the bodies of executed prisoners as the source for a variety of organs and human tissue. Skin, corneas, kidneys, livers, ligaments, etc. They're a one stop shop. "

Can you imagine the brouhaha that would break out should this kind of thing be happening in a democratic, free-market, capitalist system and word leaked out about it?

..and most of the prisoners are 'political' prisoners, so the whole thing is just a consumerist meat factory...


message 18: by David (new)

David Katzman I have no love for the Chinese government or the U.S. government.

Sounds like your definition of consumerism vs. capitalism doesn't dispute my larger point that regardless of which abstract cultural/economic phenomenon is in play, they both are driving us off the global warming precipice.

China like Stalinist Russia is a dictatorship, with party leaders having most power. The centrally controlled economy doesn't make it communist to my mind - although to your point - it does make it efficient from a capitalist perspective. There is no contradiction because a dictatorship can keep labor costs suppressed. A true communist system would put workers in control of their labor and all production. Clearly, China does not do so. The Situationists during the 60s recommended Worker's Counsels as a structure instead of political parties. Whatever the flaws might be in Marx's writing, the foundation of his thinking was the empowerment of workers, and China does the opposite.

On the other hand, if you look at the Republican party agenda, and what happened in Wisconsin for example, the conservatives would prefer to eliminate all unions in the U.S., eliminate a minimum wage, and disempower workers as much as they are in China. Fascism and corporate capitalism complement each other well. As much as conservatives claim they want less government interference in our individual lives, they actually want to disempower individuals and empower large economic actors - corporations and the wealthy individuals that run them. With the corporate influence over our government, I find the Chinese one party is not so far off from he collusion of corporations and government in the U.S. We're not as harsh in some ways, of course, but there are significant analogies (for example, the degree of imprisonment of African Americans versus caucasians, the endorsement of CIA torture, etc.). And if you look at what has happened in many South American countries like Chile under Pinochet, fascism suits capitalism quite well. I might also point to Mexico. I don't think anyone would argue that Mexico isn't Capitalist (or Corporatist Capitalist as we all are now), and what has been happening in Juarez Mexico for ... decades? There has been blatant collusion between the drug cartels and the local governments to commit regular and consistent acts of violence against the citizens that are as cruel as any fascist government. Not to diminish the horrors of the Chinese government's crimes against humanity, but both Capitalist and fascist ("communist dictatorship") systems privilege elites with institutional power that perpetuates abuses of citizens. And my previous larger point is that whichever is "worse" in Lockean greater-good calculation, both of them are eating up the resources of the planet to a point where our civilization may very well collapse in a few generations or so.


message 19: by L.H. (new)

L.H. Thomson Traveller wrote: "Magdelanye wrote: "plus his contempt for the 'lumpenproletariat' is so off putting and his thinking so convoluted, racist and sexist that he never gained much credibility with me.

Nazism was a mas..."


If you look at the social behavioral bell curve that fits most public polling, where the middle ground is at the apex constantly in almost any subject, what it points to is that, as a dichotomous species, we initially define ourselves as both an "immediate self" and its opposite.

This is true of all social mechanisms. They start as their most extreme version and its opposite, then moderate towards the apex of the curve over time to survive.

With communism and capitalism, it could be argued that the former died out but was replaced with more moderate systems in many places; one of the reasons for the western democratic malaise right now is that U.S. capitalism -- the big daddy -- has not followed suit. It has not moderated away from its orthodox position.

(And orthodox is the ideal term; the ideas that stay as close to their initial point as possible as supported less and less over time, until they have to be actively and outwardly hostile in order to maintain their social status. That's why the term "orthodox" works so well for religion.)

David, I'd propose to you that Marx's simple intent to empower the workers may be seen as beneficial in the abstract; but like many generous ideas, it ignored that individuality and individual achievement is what fractures common consensus and leads to progress....because progress initially begins with a new idea, not a consensus position. And a new idea has to be generated in conflict with an old one.

So while the tendency of most humanists (guilty!) is to automatically gravitate to the notion of communal support, as Marx did, it becomes dangerous when it represses or seeks to repress individualism.

The same is true in reverse, which is why this form of individualism in the U.S. now, a bastardized take on Ayn Rand's early work, is eventually going to lead to either a forced reform towards a more egalitarian balance or a collapse. Probably the former, although the attempts by the right to push that mantra back into regions that have previously rejected it is notable.


message 20: by Traveller (last edited Jul 29, 2012 09:11AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Traveller David wrote: "I have no love for the Chinese government or the U.S. government.

Sounds like your definition of consumerism vs. capitalism doesn't dispute my larger point that regardless of which abstract cultu..."


I agree with more or less all of your post except for one aspect: I want to point out that what you seem to see as a Marxist utopia has NEVER been achieved, and IMO, is not achievable, because human society will always tend towards a hierarchical structure; both because of the genetic differences between humans and also because all social communities, even those of animals and insects, require hierarchical structures.

The abominations that called themselves "Communist", as embodied by Stalinist Russia and Communist China are only cases in point.


message 21: by Traveller (last edited Jul 29, 2012 09:20AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Traveller L.H. wrote: "Traveller wrote: "Magdelanye wrote: "plus his contempt for the 'lumpenproletariat' is so off putting and his thinking so convoluted, racist and sexist that he never gained much credibility with me...."

Excellent post!

Yes, it's rather unnerving how the (US) conservatives seem to be actually gaining foothold and pulling back instead of giving way a bit and allowing themselves to be pulled towards the middle. (..but that's money talking there, my friend...)

I'm always weary of extremes and see myself more towards the middle but on the left of the middle. Never been a Republican fan, (nor one of Ayn Rand! Ugh!) though not quite a leftist extremist either.


Traveller L.H. wrote: "The same is true in reverse, which is why this form of individualism in the U.S. now, a bastardized take on Ayn Rand's early work, is eventually going to lead to either a forced reform towards a more egalitarian balance or a collapse. Probably the former, although the attempts by the right to push that mantra back into regions that have previously rejected it is notable. ..."

I've always been an ardent fan of individual freedoms and especially free speech, but in many cases in the US the exercise of free speech rights, are actually damaging others, and infringe on the rights of others, such as for instance, the so-called 'rights' practiced by the Westboro Baptist Church http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westboro...

Once again, i'm a proponent of moderation and i feel that some rights and freedoms must at least have provisos. Amazingly, it is these same kinds of people who practice censorship and the like. They very enthusiastically express their own rights and freedoms but are forgetful when it comes to the rights and freedoms of others.


message 23: by David (new)

David Katzman Dear L.H., I think progress is an ambiguous term, and it's desirability is debatable. If we, for example, alter our perspective and examine the world let's say as ... whales ... do they seek or achieve progress? Do they need it? If not, why not? Rather is their existence about maximizing the happiness of their own pod of whales in the moment? Perhaps. We can't say for sure. But i think the term progress if far too loaded and subject to manipulation. Most people think of it in terms of advancing technology, when in fact, our survival may require a form of deep regression in terms of technology. This is all hypothetical of course.

Traveller - i don't disagree with you here, and I don't think I claimed a Marxist utopia has been achieved or is likely to be achieved. Neither has a Capitalist utopia (How could a utopia around competition for Capital not by it's contradictory nature require losers?) or any utopia for that matter. I am by no means a cultural anthropologist, but I believe there are some tribal peoples who have achieved a broader distribution of power and less rigid hierarchy. I'm not ready to cede the claim that hierarchies are built into our DNA. And even if that is true, I think cultural imperatives have the potential to overcome genetic drives. And I think we can see they currently do in both destructive and constructive ways.


message 24: by Traveller (last edited Jul 29, 2012 09:56AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Traveller David wrote: "Dear L.H., I think progress is an ambiguous term, and it's desirability is debatable. If we, for example, alter our perspective and examine the world let's say as ... whales ... do they seek or ach..."

Agreed with all of your post except for: "I'm not ready to cede the claim that hierarchies are built into our DNA. And even if that is true, I think cultural imperatives have the potential to overcome genetic drives. And I think we can see they currently do in both destructive and constructive ways. "

Like i said elsewhere, communism is the perfect system for a hunter-gatherer nomadic society, but even in such a society would you have found a hierarchical system.

Some people WANT to be leaders and other DON"T want to be leaders because they are simply either too timid or don't want to be strapped with the responsibility and all the other flak that goes with it.

People are different, our personalities have a great heterogeneity but Marxism doesn't allow for how deeply different humans are from one another.


message 25: by David (new)

David Katzman Differences in personalities can be fulfilled in many ways within a surrounding culture. Radically different cultures, such as what might occur if we had a massive human die-off due to eco-collapse, might find alternate means for people to work together based on individual skills. Or ... we might all have to do whatever is required to survive regardless of our proclivities or natures (or die). I believe these things are far more amorphous than they appear to be. Look how different the lives of the Yanomano appears to be to us. Hard to imagine living as they do, but they are as comfortable in their cultural world as we are in ours.

I am not making a defense of Marxism, but perhaps the depth of our personality differences is less important than our similarities as a species - our needs for food, water and shelter. Our desire for love and companionship. How these things are expressed is shaped by our individual experiences, but the core that is masked (or warped) by our differences might be quite unified. If you take the same person and put them into radically different cultural circumstances, they will exhibit very different traits even if certain genetic attributes remain. Personality is fluid and dependent on so many many factors, the child's treatment by their parents when they are young being one of the major ones. But the parents behavior toward their children is hugely dependent on their feelings about themselves, their social status, intelligence, and their own cultural inclinations, etc. Nature versus nurture. I don't dismiss nature entirely, of course. There are basic physical attributes that direct us down certain paths. But I think if you consider the effects nurture can have when radically withheld, then you can see nurture can easily over-ride nature.

If survival of our species is the goal, then I'm not sure focusing on how radically different we are is going to buy us much. I prefer to think of that as the illusory surface of culture whereas the deeper untapped potential comes from our common humanity, obscured as it might be. Individuality after all is what consumerism is very good at exploiting. Hence all the different styles, products, models and brands.


message 26: by Traveller (last edited Jul 29, 2012 10:32AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Traveller Sure, i'm not an apologist for nature over nurture, David, but it definitely does play a role as well in addition to nurture. You see it even with identical twins brought up in the same household.

Busy looking up Yanomami.


message 27: by Traveller (last edited Jul 29, 2012 10:34AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Traveller Per Wikipedia: "The Yanomami depend on the rain forest; they use "slash-and-burn" horticulture, grow bananas, gather fruit, and hunt animals and fish. Yanomami frequently move to avoid areas that become overused, a practice known as shifting cultivation when the soil becomes exhausted."

See my earlier comment about hunter-gatherer nomadic societies. ;)


Traveller Oi, another patriarchal sexist society.. *sigh* :

"Although many ceremonies exclude female involvement or participation, they are a large part of the preparation. In preparation for large ceremonies, Yanomami women make alcoholic drinks for the men.[3] The use of hallucinogenic drugs is very common, however women are forbidden from involving themselves in this practice. The women do, however, participate in the practice of endocannibalism. In this practice, the Yanomami people consume the bones of a deceased kinsman.[4] The body is burned, and the bones mixed with food. This tradition is meant to strengthen the Yanomami people and keep the spirit of that individual alive."

Interesting. I wonder if they bother eating women's bones.. :P Just wondering... ;)


message 29: by Traveller (last edited Jul 29, 2012 11:28AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Traveller Shame, and this is truly so sad: (I remember now of reading similar accounts of females being put in cages while they menstruate (it's already such a difficult time)):

The start of menstruation symbolizes the beginning of womanhood. Girls typically get their periods between the ages of 10 and 12, and as soon as the period begins, girls are married off. Due to the belief that menstrual blood is poisonous and dangerous, girls are kept hidden away in a small tent-like structure constructed of a screen of leaves. A deep hole is built in the structure over which girls squat, to "rid themselves" of their blood. These structures are regarded as isolation screens.[10]

The mother is notified immediately, and she, along with the elder female friends of the girl, are responsible for disposing of her old cotton garments and must replace them with new ones symbolizing her womanhood and availability for marriage.[10] During the week of that first menstrual period the girl is fed with a stick, for she is forbidden from touching the food in any way. While on confinement she has to whisper when speaking and she may only speak to close kin, such as siblings or parents, but never a male.


All i can do is thank the heavens that i was not born a Yanomami woman... :(

So so sad.


message 30: by David (new)

David Katzman I'm not holding up Yanomami as a better society, merely how human nature can differ dramatically based on the surrounding culture.

I do want to be clear that I have no love for Marxism except perhaps for its perceptive critique of the oppressive nature of capitalism. I think industrialism itself is a significant part of the problem getting us to where we are. Marxism may provide for a more egalitarian industrialism, but we need to leapfrog beyond that baby step, Marxism is attacked as revolution by the wealthy but in a way it's really just another reform that won't necessarily stop our ecocide. In other words, an oil company run by its workers is still an oil company.


message 31: by Traveller (last edited Jul 29, 2012 11:59AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Traveller David wrote: "I'm not holding up Yanomami as a better society, merely how human nature can differ dramatically based on the surrounding culture.
"

..and sadly not all to different from what i can read of that article. It seems to be the same old story regarding rule of the physical stronger all over again...

David wrote: "Marxism is attacked as revolution by the wealthy but in a way it's really just another reform that won't necessarily stop our ecocide. In other words, an oil company run by its workers is still an oil company. "

Perxactly.
Perhaps were looking in the wrong places for what to blame and for what to fear.

...and yes, i do agree with you that "progress" should be rather social progress rather than industrial progress.
But also technological progress rather than industrial progress- once again, the two are interlinked bit not the same thing. We can use technology for good or for bad, the same as capitalism, and the same for communism.


message 32: by Laura (new)

Laura "Yuck. So all women must become prostitutes for the use of all men."

Oh, that's interesting. I read that passage totally differently. I had read it as saying that "after the revolution, there will be no more marriages" in the 19th century bourgeois sense -- e.g., female economic dependency on the male occasioned by rigorous gender roles.


message 33: by Traveller (last edited Jul 29, 2012 01:12PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Traveller Laura wrote: ""Yuck. So all women must become prostitutes for the use of all men."

Oh, that's interesting. I read that passage totally differently. I had read it as saying that "after the revolution, there will be no more marriages."


Yes, of course he is saying there will be no more marriages, but the point is that it is still a question of women being used or consumed by men. At no point does he say that women will equally use or consume men, if i can put it like that to show the distinction.

I quote:
For the rest, nothing is more ridiculous than the virtuous indignation of our bourgeois at the community of women which, they pretend, is to be openly and officially established by the Communists. The Communists have no need to introduce community of women; it has existed almost from time immemorial. Our bourgeois, not content with having the wives and daughters of their proletarians at their disposal, not to speak of common prostitutes, take the greatest pleasure in seducing each other's wives. Bourgeois marriage is in reality a system of wives in common and thus, at the most, what the Communists might possibly be reproached with, is that they desire to introduce, in substitution for a hypocritically concealed, an openly legalised community of women.

That whole paragraph seems obviously to me to be about the sharing of women. (As with the sharing of all other property)
His word for using women is "community of women", if you look higher up where he says: "The Communists have no need to introduce community of women; it has existed almost from time immemorial. Our bourgeois, not content with having the wives and..." in other words, another way of saying it would be: "having our women in common"

Just the fact that he even mentions women and children as if they are possessions to be done away with to me causes pause.

We are talking economic theory here, and he is talking to men from a man's point of view, and he is talking about women and children as the 'other' as not human beings who could perhaps also read what he is saying, but as simply as those possessions that once communist rule takes over, will be in common to all of 'us men' who are able to read his manifesto.

Laura wrote: e.g., female economic dependency on the male occasioned by rigorous gender roles.

I don't really see him saying that here. If he was for the abolition of gender roles, he wouldn't be talking about women as if they were products to be consumed, i feel. Perhaps he said it somewhere else, i'll need to read more again. ..but i definitely get an impression of this being a very belligerent and patriarchal text.


message 34: by David (new)

David Katzman This is likely a linguistically complex section to parse. I found this feminist reading of it which differs from yours.

http://www.newsandletters.org/Issues/...


message 35: by Kelly (new)

Kelly  Maybedog Now I'm confused. That's what I thought he was saying (see my post above) but Traveller's interpretation made more sense to me.


message 36: by Traveller (last edited Jul 30, 2012 09:05AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Traveller David wrote: "This is likely a linguistically complex section to parse. I found this feminist reading of it which differs from yours.

http://www.newsandletters.org/Issues/..."


I agree. This is why i said i probably need to read more Marx, and most probably alternate translations of this; since i think not only the German/English translation might be a barrier, but also the archaic usage of language and idiom to be found in the text.

I've just read your link, David, and i think here we need to talk a bit about feminism a bit.

In one respect have men really got us wrong. Women are NOT all the same, in fact we are an extremely heterogeneous bunch, which is a good thing but which has some unfortunate effects on movements working towards the emancipation of women.

See, you get feminists and you get feminists and you get feminists and you get feminists. It's a bit like Christians. You get Christians and you get Christians and you get Christians. They all agree on certain basic principles, which is why they have the label femninst/Christian, but about the details they can end up disagreeing mightily.

I think it would be safe to say that all feminists will agree with you that females should be allowed to vote on an equal basis with men. ..and this is about where the agreement seems to end.

There are many women who call themselves feminists (usually those who work from a religious POV, ) who are actually seen by other feminists as anti-feminists.

I'll call them the "Right" because they're the most conservative bunch, and want to keep things basically as they have been for centuries, they want to keep their traditionally feminine role within the family with a patriarch at its head, with the only difference being that they are allowed to vote and to drive a car and to dress as they wish (well, not even all of them) and to work outside the house (not even all of them there either). Yet they still call themselves 'feminists', (and feminist is in some circles seen as the right to do traditionally feminine things and stressing the importance of traditionally feminine things.)

Then you get what i would call the radicals within the women's movement, what i would call the 'Left' because they are extremely liberal and want to do away with all traditional roles and do away with families and children and anything remotely feminine or masculine or traditional, and they most certainly do not want children and spit upon those women who do. Some of those that i see as the radicals also radically hate men; they see men as the root of all evil and they spout hatred against men as far as they go.

I see myself as sitting somewhere in the middle between these two groups. (The moderate as usual- yes, guys, i'm your resident fence-sitter in all things)

I don't hate men. I don't think they're the root of all evil- i think they were merely exploiting the fact that they are the physically stronger gender, BUT it is human to exploit.

Exploitation is part of what makes us human, and this is something that Marx missed. He himself was part of our exploitative system, and he himself exploited. Politically speaking, for instance, he exploited people's naivete and their need to be emancipated.

He exploited this need of women as well (the need to be emancipated) - he saw a potential ally in the women's movements and he exploited it. We are all exploiters. If you say you never exploit anything- think carefully first before you speak.

We have learnt to see exploitation as an 'evil' word/concept, just as we were taught at school by our conservative teachers to view "Marxism" and "Communism" as evil words.

But one can also exploit a situation towards a positive outcome.

I digress. Back to the feminism. See, with Marx we are talking radical feminist language, something that strips, once again, a female of all humanity.

In spite of my contempt for traditional patriarchal oppression, i definitely still see the value in familial and sexual love, and in maternal an paternal love for your children- in fact, i think it can be one of the most uplifting experiences in the entire range of human experiences. And, might i add, a huge agent of personal growth and maturity.

And, little moderate that i am, i see people on either end of the feminist spectrum as harmful towards women and the interests of women and general perceptions of women by men.

The bottom line is that i want the humanity of all people recognized. Whether you be black, white, yellow or brown or pink, whether you be male, female, transgender, agender, hermaphrodite, bisexual, asexual, male gay, lesbian, theist, atheist,whatever - you are HUMAN and need to be treated as such.

So, i don't think a woman's choice to have or not have a family and babies should be either forced on her or taken away from her.

I'm all for increasing choices, not removing them. For my own part, although i feel i can do many things as well as a man (except, for instance wrestle or box or play contact football) and want the freedom to at least be allowed to express myself in all spheres, personally i do like having a family, and i do believe it is conducive to the well-being of society to retain the family unit as a place to be safe and grounded and a whole lot of other things.
This does NOT mean i think it is the right answer for ALL women though, since we are all different, and so my brand of feminism is one of freedom of choice for all humans, irrespective of race, creed or gender.


message 37: by David (new)

David Katzman I've just read your link, David, and i think here we need to talk a bit about feminism a bit.

You don't need to explain this to me...I read feminist critique on a weekly basis. I'm quite aware that there is no monolithic feminism. I was just sharing a link from someone with a different feminist understanding of the text.

I'm a fan of Katha Pollitt; I tend to agree with her 90% of the time. She's a columnist for The Nation magazine. Here's a link to her digital blog, which i believe differs from her posts in the magazine: http://www.thenation.com/blogs/katha-... I believe she's married and heterosexual.


Traveller David wrote: "I've just read your link, David, and i think here we need to talk a bit about feminism a bit.

You don't need to explain this to me...I read feminist critique on a weekly basis. I'm quite aware tha..."


Apologies, i should perhaps have made clear that i was simply attempting to make my own stance clear and was not attempting to give you a lecture on feminism. :)


message 39: by David (new)

David Katzman cool. :-)


message 40: by Magdelanye (last edited Jul 30, 2012 11:02PM) (new)

Magdelanye Kelly wrote: "David, I've had Woman on the Edge of Time on my to-read shelf at home to read for about a decade. The premise is fascinating but getting into it is harder. I'm a Unitarian and it was recommended to..."

Woman On Edge of Time is an amazing book, but not for the fluidity or ease of it's writing. I was working at a women's bookstore when it camer out, had just finished reading the major canon for that time (Greer,Millet,Firestone et al) and remember struggling with the beginning, having to begin again a couple of times before I got the rhythm of the book. I did that by speeding up my reading a bit,not letting myself get bogged down in the confusing bits, which were in fact quite apt when I knew what was going on.
Don't get discouraged by clumsy writing,just see where her ideas lead...


Sujit you have misunderstood.. it is in the world of capitalism is woman a 'thing' of personal possession.. the correct interpretation should be: marx is talking about abolishion of such a mentality, women are human beings. When women are liberated and not bound by shackles of property, then can only be there true relations of love.. please notify if we can discuss further..


message 42: by Maxx (new) - rated it 5 stars

Maxx ^^^ Sujit is right. Marx is talking about the abolition of patriarchy here.

"…it is self-evident that the abolition of the present system of production [capitalism] must bring with it the abolition of the community of women springing from that system, i.e., of prostitution both public and private [patriarchy]."


message 43: by Nick (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nick You've largely misinterpreted the quoted passage. He is advocating the abolition of prostitution, and is generally saying things intended as pro-feminist. Read it again.


Traveller Good heavens... GR hasn't even been keeping me updated re the comments on one of my own reviews.. i only received notification now... so apologies if i haven't replied, will come back to this ASAP.


message 45: by Traveller (last edited Sep 15, 2012 10:32AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Traveller Sujit wrote: "you have misunderstood.. it is in the world of capitalism is woman a 'thing' of personal possession.. the correct interpretation should be: marx is talking about abolishion of such a mentality, wom..."

Well, yes according to Marx & Engels, that is. ;) I understand that that is what they are saying, but i am criticizing their assertions; i'm not agreeing with the actual assertions that they make. That is why i bothered to write it down in the form of a review. People tend to exaggerate things when they are busy making propaganda, and i think that is exactly what was happening here.

Bear in mind that i have taken cognizance of the milieu they are talking from. Marx & Engels were themselves still part of a patriarchal system, and is still so entrenched in it, that they don't seem to realize how much of it shows through in the way they put things.

However, i must agree with anti-capitalist sentiment in one regard where our modern world is concerned: marketing strategies have been exploiting sexuality and objectifying women. ..but that is nothing new, this has been the norm in pre-capitalist societies as well.

Although capitalism didn't really 'fix' objectification of women, (though women do have the best deal yet in modern democracies) capitalism most definitely did not create the problem...


message 46: by Traveller (last edited Sep 15, 2012 10:33AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Traveller Aaron wrote: "The meaning of the passage you've cited seems to have utterly escaped you. It's disappointing to see that such a flagrant misunderstanding of Marx's writing has somehow become the top review here. ..."

Feel free to correct me, Aaron.

However, I do hope you have read the discussion above. I answer your accusation here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...


message 47: by Traveller (last edited Sep 15, 2012 10:43AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Traveller Nick wrote: "You've largely misinterpreted the quoted passage. He is advocating the abolition of prostitution, and is generally saying things intended as pro-feminist. Read it again."

Please see my reply to Aaron's post above.

Tell you what. I'll see if i can find a different translation of the manifesto. Perhaps that might shed more light as to his exact meaning.

(I do presume you've read this entire thread?)

I don't think i've misread Marx's suggestion that marriage is a form of prostitution; and i don't think i have misread that he plays on (exploits) the commonly-held notion that prostitution is "bad" ; but i do not share Marx's opinion on this. There's a difference between "not understanding" and "not agreeing with"

I am saying that Marx/Engels are twisting things to fit in with their own personal propaganda .

Personally, i don't think prostitution is "bad". If men and women (and men and men)want to make that particular transaction between them, that is their business. However, it is when pimps start to push women/boys into prostitution when the exploitation takes place; exploitation of the prostitute by the pimp/madam.


message 48: by Scribble (new)

Scribble Orca Another of your sparkling gems!

Capitalism does not equal consumerism.

It takes a village to raise a child.

Laws regarding childbirth and childrearing would be better made by women with input from men, for both men and women.

Children are not weaned - they wean themselves when they are ready - at that can be up to seven years.

Parenting (and teaching) need to receive the same support and recognition as any other labour and intellectually effort-intensive work.

Reproduction is a physical capability - parenting is not a right. Like any other role in caring for others, we should earn it.

I could keep going on here....

As far as I'm concerned, anarchy rules. I don't need a state and I don't need someone making decisions for me, and I believe we now have a level of technology which invalidates many of the old axioms that market imperfections require the 'steadying hand' of the state.

At the same time, my motto is 'think long and hard about my own actions first, because I prefer no action to improve my own situation if it is at the expense of someone else.'


message 49: by Traveller (last edited Sep 15, 2012 10:42AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Traveller Scribble wrote: "Another of your sparkling gems!

Capitalism does not equal consumerism.


Yes, see posts 11, 12, etc. http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...


Reproduction is a physical capability - parenting is not a right. Like any other role in caring for others, we should earn it.

As discussed earlier in the thread, parenting is a responsibility, rather than anything else, once you have created a child. However, not all parents are able to raise children adequately, in which case it is still often better to educate the parents than to place the children into institutional care which impacts extremely negatively on children for various reasons.

Of course, it's a different matter matter if good adoptive or foster parents are available, but then you still deal with separation trauma. Removing a child from their mother(or father) is simply not healthy for the child, especially if the mother was in a stable relationship with the father and they both had good parenting skills.

Scribble wrote: "s far as I'm concerned, anarchy rules. I don't need a state and I don't need someone making decisions for me, and I believe we now have a level of technology which invalidates many of the old axioms that market imperfections require the 'steadying hand' of the state.
"


I agree that anarchy is preferable to the extent that it is necessary for personal freedom in developed nations. However, no matter how sophisticated your society is you are still going to need a judiciary and an enforcement of law and order, though i agree that laws should not be too restrictive of personal freedoms.
I know democracy has it's downside, but to me, totalitarianism is worse.

On the other hand, an ultimate marxism etopia wheere the state has fallen away, is simply too idealistic regarding the true nature of humanity.

Once again, i need more time and i need to get to read more Marx, and more background on Marx, but time is the constant enemy.


message 50: by Traveller (last edited Sep 12, 2012 04:23AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Traveller Maxx wrote: "^^^ Sujit is right. Marx is talking about the abolition of patriarchy here.

"…it is self-evident that the abolition of the present system of production [capitalism] must bring with it the abolitio..."


Read the passage above that: For the rest, nothing is more ridiculous than the virtuous indignation of our bourgeois at the community of women which, they pretend, is to be openly and officially established by the Communists. The Communists have no need to introduce community of women; it has existed almost from time immemorial. Our bourgeois, not content with having the wives and daughters of their proletarians at their disposal, not to speak of common prostitutes, take the greatest pleasure in seducing each other's wives. Bourgeois marriage is in reality a system of wives in common and thus, at the most, what the Communists might possibly be reproached with, is that they desire to introduce, in substitution for a hypocritically concealed, an openly legalised community of women.

Marx preached that having notions like marriage, religion or family or property of any kind is wrong, that no person must have any notion of separate identity from the hive-mind.

I am not a bee or an ant, thank you. I like the idea of humans being individuals, and not just one huge, formless mass.

Regarding the prostitution, please see a previous post: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...


« previous 1
back to top