- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Marcos' Imperative #2

Posted by: Barry Stoller on November 15, 1999 at 11:33:31:

Marcos, in this post, has stated:

It is vitally necessary to undo the fallacies of love ties to individuals and spread this to society. A vital component of the socialist future is the dissolution of marriage and long term relationships between men and women. It is vital because when people favor one person over another, whether it be a man favoring one woman or a parent favoring their offspring, they cease to behave in the interests of the equal totality. Many socialists shy away from this, but that is cowardly. Pair bonding and parent-child bonding is inimical to universal equality in a brotherhood of humankind. All favoring of one person over another by people must be eliminated for this is what destabilizes the equality of our socialist future.

As far as I can tell, there is nothing in the literature of Marx, Engels, or Lenin to support this conclusion.

Using Engels' classic work on the topic of love-bonds and marriage---The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State---as my guide, I will attempt to demonstrate that Marcos has misunderstood the Marxian attitude toward monogamy.

Engels stated:

[I]t will be plain that the first condition for the liberation of the wife is to bring the whole female sex back into public industry, and that this in turn demands the abolition of the monogamous family as the economic unit of society.(1)

Please note the last four words of that sentence: the economic unit of society.

Engels did NOT urge the abolition of monogamy as true love in the socialist future; he suggested instead that the socialization of the means of production would then permit monogamy to flourish---unfettered by economic consideration.

For example:

[B]y transforming by far the greater portion...of permanent, heritable wealth---the means of production---into social property, the coming social revolution will reduce to a minimum all th[e] anxiety about bequeathing and inheriting. Having arisen from economic causes, will monogamy then disappear when these causes disappear?(2)

Here's the answer:

[F]ar from disappearing, it will be realized completely. For with the transformation of the means of production into social property there will disappear also wage-labor, the proletariat, and therefore the necessity for a certain---statistically calculable---number of women to surrender themselves for money. Prostitution disappears; monogamy, instead of collapsing, at least becomes a reality---also for men.(3)

Indeed, once economic contracts between couples disappear, then monogamy becomes POSSIBLE.

Far from OPPOSING marriages, Engels stated:

Full freedom of marriage can therefore only be generally established when the abolition of capitalist production and of the property relations created by it has removed all the accompanying economic considerations which still exert such a powerful influence on the choice of a marriage partner. For then there is no other motive left except mutual inclination.(4)

Of course, divorces shall be easily granted in the socialist future---the child's well-being assured by the socialist state---because the CONTRACT INSTITUTION of marriage will have become obsolete.

What couples choose to do, however, will not be the business of the state---or anyone but themselves:

What will there be new [in the socialist future]? That will be answered when a new generation has grown up: a generation of men who never in their lives have known what it is to buy a woman's surrender with money or any other social instrument of power; a generation of women who have never known what it is to give themselves to a man from any other considerations than real love, or to refuse to give themselves to their lover from fear of the economic consequences. When these people are in the world, they will care precious little what anybody today thinks they ought to do; they will make their own practice and their corresponding public opinion about the practice of each individual---and that will be the end of it.(5)

So! Here we see the Marxian vision of love-bonds in the future are NOT dissolved or made subordinate to society as a whole. On the contrary, love-bonds become FREE of any factors other than love itself.

And that is liberating!

Sorry, Marcos; when you state 'In our new society men and women will discover that the most ecstatic pleasure of all is to serve the Revolution ceaselessly and selflessly!' you have exceeded the humanist vision of Marx and Engels.

Your other imperatives were, I believe, excellent.


1. Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State [1891], International 1942, p. 66.
2. Ibid., p. 67.
3. Ibid., p. 67, emphasis added.
4. Ibid., p. 72.
5. Ibid., p. 73.

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