1920s >> 1923 >> no-221-january-1923

Sex

“The economic structure of society, is the real basis on which the juridical and political superstructure is raised, and to which definite social forms of thought correspond; that the mode of production determines the character of the social, political, and intellectual life generally.” K. Marx, Capital, p. 54.

How many times have our opponents warned us that the establishment of Socialism would involve the destruction of family life, which, we are informed, forms the very basis of “our” civilisation and “our” humanity.

The inference being, that despite the refining (sic) influences of war, poverty, unemployment, and other vicissitudes of working-class life, sex relations are still governed by only the purest and most lofty of motives: In sober truth this aspect of their lives forms one of the saddest features in the irksome sameness of the toilers drab existence.

Even the Press treads warily when writing upon such a subject, and reformers employ cunning caution lest orthodox respectability and conventional morality be outraged, and exposed for the sordid and mercenary institution, Capitalism forces it to become: Poets, artists, and singers have exercised their talents to the glorification of that highly developed human emotion, sex love; but does it require a profound wisdom to discern that, to millions to-day, the major portion of whose life is spent in the life sapping process of wealth production for the enjoyment of others, such emotions cannot find an environment wherein the most beautiful expression of such feelings can fructify: Fundamentally, the objective of such relations, must always be the reproduction of the human species, which implies the production of food, clothing, and shelter. Just as there have been varying methods of producing these things, so have there been changing sex relations in the human family.

“We have, then, three main forms of the family corresponding in general to the three main stages of human development, for savagery, group marriage, for barbarism the pairing family, for civilisation, monogamy, supplemented by adultery and prostitution.” “Origin of the Family.” F, Engels, (p. 90.)

From the available information collected by travellers, missionaries, sociologists, and aided by the Socialist method of studying social development, as summarised at the beginning of this article, it becomes clear that woman’s economic subjection commences with the early accumulation of property. The further development of property caused the transference of recognised descent from the maternal to the paternal side. This enforced fidelity upon the married female, though still allowing for irregular forms of cohabitation for the male. Concubinage or the sexual submission of female slaves to their owners, was recognised under chattel slavery.

With modifications the “rights” of the ruling- class over their economic inferiors, persists through Feudalism, and to this day, under the hypocritical guise of freedom and the monetary purchase of the daughters and sisters of the working-class. The workers in general accept the morality imposed upon them by the possessors of their means of livelihood, the capitalist class. “The ruling ideas of any particular age have ever been only the ideas of its ruling class” (Communist Manifesto). That the property basis of sex relations should give rise to a double standard of morality has ever confused our would-be moral reformers, to whom, these relations appear as man-made laws, or sex antagonism.

But to-day, larger numbers of women than ever before must seek the labour market in order to dispose of their bodily activities, their only possession, to the class who own all the resources of nature, the master class. Add to this the economic inability of large numbers of men to marry, and is it to be wondered at that in the large cities thousands of women and girls, unable to secure the ordinary occupational opportunity to live, drift to that degrading cesspool of Capitalism, “The Streets.” Even marriage, when the primary motive of the woman is the apparent security it confers upon her, inevitably leads to discord and unhappiness.

Working-class life and “security” are incompatible: Too often, alas! it means that marriage transforms a bright and cheerful girl into a haggard domestic drudge, worn out with worry and anxiety long before the idle dolls and playthings of our masters lose their bloom and freshness of youth; try as they may, the efforts of our reformers must fail, they can seek to “rescue the fallen,” or extol the blessings of “virtue,” combined with work in some capitalist sweat den, but while the same conditions remain which breed the criminals, the paupers, the millionaires, and those who must traffic their sex to live, in short Capitalism, their efforts cannot avail.

The vicious conditions of life, whether unemployment, overwork, or the perversion of the most exquisite physical functions, have their origin deep in a system of life which we claim has outlived its usefulness. Our analysis of present-day society proclaims the workers the only useful class; when workers reach that consciousness, they will understand that their emancipation involves the emancipation of humanity irrespective of race or sex.

Then women, like men, will become units in a classless society; wherein the useful necessary tasks of that day, will be undertaken by all capable, with the object of securing the best physical and mental development possible. Socialism will assure a leisured and bountiful life to all, because, even with our present powers of production, unfettered by the restrictions of trade and profit, and used with the object of satisfying all our needs, with the minimum of effort, wealth could be produced to almost any quantity we might demand. As yet, we have but scratched nature’s skin; under Socialism the basis of our social order will cease to be a private property one, giving way to common ownership and democratic control by the whole people : Individual egotism can then be pursued through the communal welfare of all, as against the present wasteful competitive cut-throat methods of life. Under such conditions the strongest sex attraction yet known, mutual affection, will have opportunity of free and unhampered expressing, bringing forth a race of intelligent and beautiful men and women.

Mac