Saturday, November 23, 2013


For Theoretical Weekends Scission takes a look at sex.  Really!   A communist theory of love and sexuality, I bet Lenin didn't write this.  Alexandra Kollontai did.  She was always such a thorn in his side.

Kollontai argued,in favor of carrying out ideological struggle over the structure of gender and sexual relations simultaneously with the social and economic struggles.  She attempted a materialist analysis of the historically varied forms of love and sexuality and their relationship to class and class struggle.


Tansy Hoskins writes at CounterFire:

Alexandra Kollontai was a Russian revolutionary who wrote extensively on women's rights. In her 1921 essay ‘Sexual Relations and the Class Struggle’ Kollontai identifies three obstacles to sexual freedom. The first obstacle is the extreme individualism that exists in capitalist society which leads to people to try and find “themselves through another person.” The second obstacle is the belief that people in relationships have the right to possess each other and the third obstacle is the acceptance of inequality of the sexes in terms of physical and emotional experience.

Keep in mind that this stuff was written over ninety years ago.

I present you then, from the Marxist Internet Archive, Sexual Relations and the Class Structure.

Sexual Relations and the Class Struggle

SourceAlexandra Kollontai, Selected Writings, Allison & Busby, 1977;
Translated: by Alix Holt, 1972;
Written: 1921;

Among the many problems that demand the consideration and attention of contemporary mankind, sexual problems are undoubtedly some of the most crucial. There isn’t a country or a nation. apart from the legendary “islands”, where the question of sexual relationships isn’t becoming an urgent and burning issue. Mankind today is living through an acute sexual crisis which is far more unhealthy and harmful for being long and drawn-out. Throughout the long journey of human history, you probably won’t find a time when the problems of sex have occupied such a central place in the life of society; when the question of relationships between the sexes has been like a conjuror, attracting the attention of millions of troubled people; when sexual dramas have served as such a never-ending source of inspiration for every sort of art.
As the crisis continues and grows more serious, people are getting themselves into an increasingly hopeless situation. and are trying desperately by every available means to settle the “insoluble question”. But with every new attempt to solve the problem, the confused knot of personal relationships gets more tangled. It’s as if we couldn’t see the one and only thread that could finally lead us to success in controlling the stubborn tangle. The sexual problem is like a vicious circle. and however frightened people are and however much they run this way and that, they are unable to break out.
The conservatively inclined part of mankind argue that we should return to the happy times of the past, we should re-establish the old foundations of the family and strengthen the well-tried norms of sexual morality. The champions of bourgeois individualism say that we ought to destroy all the hypocritical restrictions of the obsolete code of sexual behaviour. These unnecessary and repressive “rags” ought to be relegated to the archives – only the individual conscience. the individual will of each person can decide such intimate questions. Socialists, on the other hand, assure us that sexual problems will only be settled when the basic reorganisation of the social and economic structure of society has been tackled. Doesn’t this “putting off the problem until tomorrow” suggest that we still haven’t found that one and only “magic thread"? Shouldn’t we find or at least locate this “magic thread” that promises to unravel the tangle? Shouldn’t we find it now. at this very moment? The history of human society. the history of the continual battle between various social groups and classes of opposing aims and interests. gives us the clue to finding this “thread”. It isn’t the first time that mankind has gone through a sexual crisis. This isn’t the first time that the pressure of a rushing tide of new values and ideals has blurred the clear and definite meaning of moral commandments about sexual relationships. The “sexual crisis” was particularly acute at the time of the Renaissance and the Reformation, when a great social advance pushed the proud and patriarchal feudal nobility who were used to absolute command into the background, and cleared the way for the development and establishment of a new social force – the bourgeoisie. The sexual morality of the feudal world had developed out of the depths of the – tribal way of life – the collective economy and the tribal authoritarian leadership that stifles the individual will of the individual member. This clashed with the new and strange moral code of the rising bourgeoisie. The sexual morality of the bourgeoisie is founded on principles that are in sharp contradiction to the basic morality of feudalism. Strict individualism and the exclusiveness and isolation of the “nuclear family” replace the emphasis on – collective work – that was characteristic of both the local and regional economic structure of patrimonial life. Under capitalism the ethic of competition. the triumphant principles of individualism and exclusive private property, grew and destroyed whatever remained of the idea of the community, which was to some extent common to all types of tribal life. For a whole century, while the complex laboratory of life was turning the old norms into a new formula and achieving the outward harmony of moral ideas. men wandered confusedly between two very different sexual codes and attempted to accommodate themselves to both.
But in those bright and colourful days of change, the sexual crisis, although profound. did not have the threatening character that it has assumed in our time. The main reason for this is that in “the great days” of the Renaissance, in the “new age” when the bright light of a new spiritual culture flooded the dying world with its clear colours, flooded the bare monotonous life of the Middle Ages, the sexual crisis affected only a relatively small part of the population. By far the largest section of the population. the peasantry, was affected only in the most indirect way and only as, slowly, over the course of centuries, a change in the economic base, in the economic relations of the countryside. took place. At the top of the social ladder a bitter battle between two opposing social worlds was fought out. This involved also a struggle between their different ideals and values and ways of looking at things. It was these people who experienced and were threatened by the sexual crisis that developed. The peasants, wary of new things, continued to cling firmly to the well-tried tribal tradition handed down from their forefathers. and only under the pressure of extreme necessity modified and adapted this tradition to the changing conditions of their economic environment. Even at the height of the struggle between the bourgeois and the feudal world the sexual crisis by-passed the “class of tax-payers”. As the upper strata of society went about breaking up the old ways, the peasants in fact seemed to be more intent on clinging firmly to their traditions. I, spite of the continuous whirlwinds that threatened overhead and shook the very soil under their feet, the peasants, especially our Russian peasantry, managed to preserve the basis of their sexual code untouched and unshaken for many centuries.
The story today is very different. The “sexual crisis” does not spare even the peasantry. Like an infectious disease it “knows neither mansions to the rank nor status”. It spreads from the palaces and crowded quarters of the working class. looks in on the peaceful dwelling places of the petty bourgeoisie, and makes its way into the heart of the countryside. It claims victims in the villas of the European bourgeoisie. in the fusty basement of the worker’s family, and in the smoky hut of the peasant. There is “no defence, no bolt” against sexual conflict. To imagine that only the members of the well-off sections of society are floundering and are in the throes of these problems would he to make a grave mistake. The waves of the sexual crisis are sweeping over the threshold of workers’ homes, and creating situations of conflict that are as acute and heartfelt as the psychological sufferings of the “refined bourgeois world”. The sexual crisis no longer interests only the “propertied”. The problems of sex concern the largest section of society they – concern the working class in its daily life. It is therefore, hard to understand why this vital and urgent subject is treated with such indifference. This indifference is unforgivable. One of the tasks that con. front the working class in its attack on the “beleaguered fortress of the future” is undoubtedly the task of establishing more healthy and more joyful relationships between the sexes.
What are the roots of this unforgivable indifference to one of the essential tasks of the working class? How can we explain to ourselves the, hypocritical way in which “sexual problems” are relegated to the realm of “private matters” that are not worth the effort and attention of the collective? Why has the fact been ignored that throughout history one of the constant features of social struggle has been the attempt to change relationships between the sexes, and the type of moral codes that determine these relationships; and that the way personal relationships are organised in a certain social group has had a vital influence on the outcome of the struggle between hostile social closes?
The tragedy of our society is not just that the usual forms of behaviour and the principles regulating this behaviour are breaking down, but that a spontaneous wave of new attempts at living is developing from within the social fabric, giving man hopes and ideals that cannot yet be realised. We are people living in the world of property relationships, a world of sharp class contradictions and of an individualistic morality. We still live and think under the heavy hand of an unavoidable loneliness of spirit. Man experiences this “loneliness” even in towns full of shouting. noise and people, even in a crowd of close friends and work-mates. Because of their loneliness men are apt to cling in a predatory and unhealthy way to illusions about finding a “soul mate from among the members of the opposite sex. They see sly Eros as the only means of charming away, if only for a time, the gloom of inescapable loneliness.
People have perhaps never in any age felt spiritual loneliness as deeply and persistently as at the present time. People have probably never become so depressed and fallen so fully under the numbing influence of this loneliness. It could hardly be otherwise. The darkness never seems so black as when there’s a light shining just ahead.
The “individualists”. who are only loosely organised into a collective with other individuals, now have the chance to change their sexual relationships so that they are based on the creative principle of friendship and togetherness rather than on something blindly physiological. The individualistic property morality of the present day is beginning to seem very obviously paralysing and oppressive. In criticising the quality of sexual relationships modem man is doing far more than rejecting the outdated forms of behaviour of the current moral code. His lonely soul is seeking the regeneration of the very essence of these relationships. He moans and pines for “great love”, for a situation of warmth and creativity which alone has the power to disperse the cold spirit of loneliness from which present day “Individualists” suffer.
If the sexual crisis is three quarters the result of external socioeconomic relationships, the other quarter hinges on our “refined individualistic psyche”, fostered by the ruling bourgeois ideology. The “potential for loving” of people today is, as the German writer Meisel-Hess puts it, at a low ebb. Men and women seek each other in the hope of finding for themselves, through another person, a means to a larger share of spiritual and physical pleasure. It makes no difference whether they are married to the partner or not they give little thought to what’s going on in the other person, to what’s happening to their emotions and psychological processes.
The “crude individualism” that adorns our era is perhaps nowhere as blatant as in the organisation of sexual relationships. A person wants to escape from his loneliness and naively imagines that being “in love” gives him the right to the soul of the other person – the right to warm himself in the rays of that rare blessing of emotional closeness and understanding. We individualists have had our emotions spoiled in the persistent cult of the “ego”. We imagine that we can reach the happiness of being in a state of “great love” with those near to us, without having to “give” up anything of ourselves.
The claims we make on our “contracted partner” are absolute and undivided. We are unable to follow the simplest rule of love – that another person should be treated with great consideration. New concepts of the relationships between the sexes are already being outlined. They will teach us to achieve relationships based on the unfamiliar ideas of complete freedom, equality and genuine friendship. But in the meantime mankind has to sit in the cold with its spiritual loneliness and can only dream about the “better age” when all relationships between people will be warmed by the rays of “the sun god”, will experience a sense of togetherness, and will be educated in the new conditions of living. The sexual crisis cannot be solved unless there is a radical reform of the human psyche, and unless man’s potential for loving is increased. And a basic transformation of the socio-economic relationships along communist lines is, essential if the psyche is to be re-formed. This is an “old truth” but there is no other way out. The sexual crisis will in no way be reduced, ‘whatever kind of marriage or personal relationships people care to try.
History has never seen such a variety of personal relationships – indissoluble marriage with its “stable family”, “free unions”, secret adultery; a girl living quite openly with her lover in so-called “wild marriage”; pair marriage, marriage in threes and even the complicated marriage of four people – not to talk of the various forms of commercial prostitution. You get the same two moral codes existing side by side in the peasantry as well – a mixture of the old tribal way of life and the developing bourgeois family. Thus you get the permissiveness of the girls’ house>*, side by side with the attitude that fornication, or men sleeping with their daughters-in-law, is a disgrace. It’s surprising that. in the face of the contradictory and tangled forms of present-day personal relationships, people are able to preserve a faith in moral authority, and are able to make sense of these contradictions and thread their way through these mutually destructive and incompatible moral codes. Even the usual justification – “I live by the new morality” – doesn’t help anyone, since the new morality is still only in the process of being formed. Our task is to draw out from the chaos of present-day contradictory sexual norms the shape, and make clear the principles, of a morality that answers the spirit of the progressive and revolutionary class.
Besides the already mentioned inadequacies of the contemporary psyche – extreme individuality, egoism that has become a cult – the “ sexual crisis” is made worse by two characteristics of the psychology of modern man:
1. The idea of “possessing” the married partner;
2. The belief that the two sexes are unequal, that they are of unequal worth in every way, in every sphere, including the sexual sphere.
Bourgeois morality, with its introverted individualistic family based entirely on private property, has carefully cultivated the idea that one partner should completely “possess” the other. It has been very successful. The idea of “possession” is more pervasive now than under the patrimonial system of marriage relationships. During tile long historical period that developed under the aegis of the “tribe”. the idea of a man possessing his wife (there has never been any thought of a wife having undisputed possession of her husband) did not go further than a purely physical possession. The wife was obliged to be faithful physically – her soul was her own. Even the knights recognised the right of their wives to have chichesbi (platonic friends and admirers) and to receive the “devotion” of other knights and minnesingers. It is the bourgeoisie who have carefully tended and fostered the ideal of absolute possession of the “contracted partner’s” emotional as well as physical “I”, thus extending the concept of property rights to include the right to the other person’s whole spiritual and emotional world. Thus the family structure was strengthened and stability guaranteed in the period when the bourgeoisie were struggling for domination. This is the ideal that we have accepted as our heritage and have been prepared to see as an unchangeable moral absolute! The idea. of “property” goes far beyond the boundaries of “lawful marriage”. It makes itself felt as an inevitable ingredient of the most “free” union of love. Contemporary lovers with all their respect for freedom are not satisfied by the knowledge of the physical faithfulness alone of the person they love. To be rid of the eternally present threat of loneliness, we “launch an attack” on the emotions of the person we love with a cruelty and lack of delicacy that will not he understood by future generations. We demand the right to know every secret of this person’s being. The modern lover would forgive physical unfaithfulness sooner than “spiritual” unfaithfulness. He sees any emotion experienced outside the boundaries of the “free” relationship as the loss of his own personal treasure.
People “in love” are unbelievably insensitive in their relations to a third person. We have all no doubt observed this strange situation two people who love each other are in a hurry, before they have got to know each other properly. to exercise their rights over all the relationships that the other person has formed up till that time, to look into the innermost corners of their partner’s life. Two people who yesterday were unknown to each other, and who come together in a single moment of mutual erotic feeling, rush to get at the heart of the other person’s being. They want to feel that this strange and incomprehensible psyche. With its past experience that can never be suppressed, is an extension of their own self. The idea that the married pair are each other’s property is so accepted that when a young couple who were yesterday each living their own separate lives are today opening each other’s correspondence without a blush, and making common property of the words of a third person who is a friend of only one of them, this hardly strikes us as something unnatural. But this kind of “intimacy” is only really possible when people have been working out their lives together for a long period of ‘time. Usually a dishonest kind of closeness is ‘substituted for this genuine feeling, the deception being fostered by the mistaken idea that a physical relationship between two people is a sufficient basis for extending the rights of possession to each other’s emotional being.
The “inequality” of the sexes – the inequality of their rights. the unequal value of their physical and emotional experience – is the other significant circumstance that distorts the psyche of contemporary man and is a reason for the deepening of the – sexual crisis”. The – double morality” inherent in both patrimonial and bourgeois society has, over the course of centuries. poisoned the psyche of men and women. These attitudes are so much a part of us that they are more difficult to get rid of than the ideas about possessing people that we have inherited only from bourgeois ideology. The idea that the sexes are unequal, even in the sphere of physical and emotional experience, means that the same action will be regarded differently according to whether it was the action of a man or a woman. Even the most “progressive” member of the bourgeoisie, who has long ago rejected the whole code of current morality, easily catches himself out at this point since he too in judging a man and a woman for the same behaviour will pass different sentences. One simple example is enough. Imagine that a member of the middle-class intelligentsia who is learned, involved in politics and social affairs – who is in short a “personality”, even a “public figure” – starts sleeping with his cook (a not uncommon thing to happen) and even becomes legally married to her. Does bourgeois society change its attitude to this man, does the event throw even the tiniest shadow of doubt as to his moral worth? Of course not.
Now imagine another situation. A respected woman of bourgeois society – a social figure, a research student, a doctor, or a writer, it’s all the same – becomes friendly with her footman, and to complete the scandal marries him. How does bourgeois society react to the behaviour of the hitherto “respected” woman? They cover her with “scorn”, of course! And remember, it’s so much the worse for her if her husband, the footman, is good-looking or possesses other “physical qualities”. “It’s obvious what she’s fallen for”, will be the sneer of the hypocritical bourgeoisie.
If a woman’s choice has anything of an “individual character” about it she won’t be forgiven by bourgeois society. This attitude is a kind of throwback to the traditions of tribal times. Society still wants a woman to take into account, when she is making her choice. rank and status and the instructions and interests of her family. Bourgeois society cannot see a woman as an independent person separate from her family unit and outside the isolated circle of domestic obligations and virtues. Contemporary society goes even further than the ancient tribal society in acting as woman’s trustee, instructing her not only to marry but to fall in love only with those people who are “worthy” of her.
We are continually meeting men of considerable spiritual and intellectual qualities who have chosen as their friend-for-life a worthless and empty woman, who in no way matches the spiritual worth of the ,husband. We accept this as something normal and we don’t think twice about it. At the most friends might pity Ivan Ivanovich for having landed himself with such an unbearable wife. But if it happens the other way round, we flap our hands and exclaim with concern. “How could such an outstanding woman as Maria Petrovna fall for such a nonentity? I begin to doubt the worth of Maria Petrovna.” Where do we get this double criterion from? What is the reason for it? The reason is undoubtedly that the idea of the sexes being of “different value'’ has become, over the centuries, a part of man’s psychological make-up. We are used to evaluating a woman not as a personality with individual qualities and failings irrespective of her physical and emotional experience, but only as an appendage of a man. This man, the husband or the lover. throws the light of his personality over the woman, and it is this reflection and not the woman herself that we consider to be the true definition of her emotional and moral make-up. In the eyes of society the personality of a man can be more easily separated from his actions in the sexual sphere. The personality of a woman is judged almost exclusively in terms of her sexual life. This type of attitude stems from the role that women have played in society over the centuries, and it is only now that a re-evaluation of these attitudes is slowly being achieved, at least in outline. Only a change in the economic role of woman, and her independent involvement in production, can and will bring about the weakening of these mistaken and hypocritical ideas.
The three basic circumstances distorting the modern psyche – extreme egoism, the idea that married partners possess each other, and the acceptance of the inequality of the sexes in terms of physical and emotional experience – must be faced if the sexual problem is to he settled. People will find the “magic key” with which they can break out of their situation only when their psyche has a sufficient store of “feelings of consideration”. when their ability to love is greater, when the idea of freedom in personal relationships becomes fact and when the principle Of “comradeship” triumphs over the traditional idea of Inequality” and submission. The sexual problems cannot be solved without this radical re-education of our psyche.
But isn’t this asking too much? isn’t the suggestion utopian Without foundation, the naive notion of a dreaming idealist? How are you honestly going to raise mankind’s “potential for loving"? Haven’t wise men of all nations since time immemorial, beginning with Buddha and Confucius and ending with Christ, been busying themselves over this? And who can say if the – potential for loving” has been raised? Isn’t this kind of well – meaning daydream about the solution of the sexual crisis simply a confession of weakness and a refusal to go on with the search for the “magic key"?
Is that the case? Is the radical re-education of our psyche and Our approach to sexual relationships something so unlikely, so removed from reality? Couldn’t one say that, on the contrary, while great social
and economic changes are in progress, the conditions are being created that demand and give rise to a new basis for psychological experience that is in line with what we have been talking about? Another class, a new social group, is coming forward to replace the bourgeoisie. with its bourgeois ideology. and its individualistic code of sexual morality. The progressive class, as it develops in strength. cannot fail to reveal new ideas about relationships between the sexes that form in close connection with the problems of its social class.
The complicated evolution of socio-economic relations taking place before our eyes. which changes all our ideas about the role of women m social life and undermines the sexual morality of the bourgeoisie. has two contradictory results. On the one hand we see mankind’s tireless efforts to adapt to the new, changing socio-economic conditions. This is manifest either in an attempt to preserve the “old forms” while providing them with a new content (the observance of the external form of the indissoluble, strictly monogamous marriage with an acceptance. in practice, of the freedom of the partners) or in the acceptance of new forms which contain however all the elements of the moral code of bourgeois marriage (the “free” union where the compulsive possessiveness of the partners is greater than within legal marriage). On the other hand we see the slow but steady appearance of new forms of relationships between the sexes that differ from the old norms in outward form and in spirit.
Mankind is not groping its way toward these new ideas with much confidence. but we need to look at its attempt, however vague it is at the moment, since it is an attempt closely linked with the tasks of the proletariat as the class which is to capture the “beleaguered fortress” of the future. If, amongst the complicated labyrinth of contradictory and tangled sexual norms, you want to find the beginnings of more healthy relationships between the sexes – relationships that promise to lead humanity out of the sexual crisis – you have to leave the “cultured quarters” of the bourgeoisie with their refined individualistic psyche, and take a look at the huddled dwelling-places of the working class. There, amidst the horror and squalor of capitalism. amidst tears and curses, the springs of life are welling up.
You can see the double process which we have just mentioned working itself out in the lives of the proletariat, who have to exist under the pressure of harsh economic conditions, cruelly exploited by capitalism. You can see both the process of “passive adjustment” and that of active opposition to the existing reality. The destructive influence of capitalism destroys the basis of the worker’s family and forces him unconsciously to “adapt” to the existing conditions. This gives rise to a whole series of situations with regard to relationships between the sexes are similar to those in other social classes. Under the pressure of low wages the worker inevitably tends to get married at a later age. If twenty years ago a worker usually got married between the ages of twenty and twenty-five, he now shoulders the cares of a family only towards his thirtieth year. The higher the cultural demands of the worker – the more he values the opportunity of being in contact with cultural life, of visiting theatres and lectures, of reading papers and magazines, of giving his spare time to struggle and politics or to some favourite pursuit such as art or reading etc. – the later he tends to get married. But physical needs won’t take a financial situation into consideration: they insist on making themselves felt. The working-class bachelor, in the same way as the middle-class bachelor, looks to prostitution for an outlet. This is an example of the passive adjustment of the working class to the unfavourable conditions of their existence. Take another example – When the worker marries, the low level of pay forces the worker’s family to “regulate” childbirth just as the bourgeois family does. The frequent cases of infanticide. the growth of prostitution – these are all expressions of the same process. These are all examples of adjustment by the working class to the surrounding reality. But this is not a process characteristic of the proletariat alone. All the other classes and sections of the population caught up in the world process of capitalist development react in this way.
We see a difference only when we begin to talk about the active. creative forces at work that oppose rather than adapt to the repressive reality. and about the new ideals and attempts at new relationship between the sexes. It is only within the working class that this active opposition is taking shape. This doesn’t mean that the other classes and sections of the population (particularly the middle-class intelligentsia who, by the circumstances of their social existence, stand closest to the working class) don’t adopt the “new” forms that are being worked out by the progressive working class. The bourgeoisie, motivated by an instinctive desire to breathe new life into their dead and feeble forms of marriage, seize upon the “new” ideas of the working class. But the ideals and code of sexual morality that the working class develops do not 9~er: the class needs of the bourgeoisie. They reflect the demands of the working class and therefore serve as a new weapon in its social struggle. They help shatter the foundations of the social domination of ,tlhg bourgeoisie. Let us make this point clear by an example.
The attempt by the middle-class intelligentsia to replace indissoluble marriage by the freer, more easily broken ties of civil marriage destroys the essential basis of the social stability of the, bourgeoisie. It destroys the monogamous, property-orientated family. On the other hand. a greater fluidity in relationships between the sexes coincides with and is even the indirect result of one of the basic tasks of the working class. The rejection of the element of “submission” in marriage is going to destroy the last artificial ties of the bourgeois family. This act of “submission” on the part of one member of the working class to another, in the same way as the sense of possessiveness in relationships, has a harmful effect on the proletarian psyche. It is not in the interests of that revolutionary class to elect only certain members as its independent representatives, whose duty it is to serve the class interests before the interests of the individual. isolated family. Conflicts between the interests of the family and the interests of the class which occur at the time of a strike or during an active struggle, and the moral yardstick with which the proletariat views such events, are sufficiently clear evidence of the basis of the new proletarian ideology.
Suppose family affairs require a businessman to take his capital out of a firm at a time when the enterprise is in financial difficulties. Bourgeois morality is clear-cut in its estimate of his action: “The interests of the family come first”. We can compare with this the attitude of workers to a strikebreaker who defies his comrades and goes to work during a strike to save his family from being hungry. “The interests of the class come first”. Here’s another example. The love and loyalty of the middle-class husband to his family are sufficient to divert his wife from all interests outside the home and end up by tying her to the nursery and the kitchen. “The ideal husband can support the ideal family” is the way the bourgeoisie looks at it. But how do workers look upon a “conscious” member of their class who shuts the eyes of his wife or girl-friend to the social struggle? For the sake of individual happiness. for the sake of the family, the morality of the working class will demand that women take part in the life that is unfolding beyond the doorsteps. The “captivity” of women in the home, the way family interests are placed before all else, the widespread exercise of absolute property rights by the husband over the wife – all these things are being broken down by the basic principle of the working-class ideology of “comradely solidarity”. The idea that some members are unequal and must submit to other members of one and the same class is in contradiction with the basic proletarian principle of comradeship. This principle of comradeship is basic to the ideology of the working class. It colours and determines the whole developing proletarian morality, a morality which helps to re-educate the personality of man, allowing him to be capable of feeling, capable of freedom instead of being bound by a sense of property, capable of comradeship rather than inequality and submission.
It is an old truth that every new class that develops as a result an advance in economic growth and material culture offers mankind an appropriately new ideology. The code of sexual behaviour is a part of this ideology. However it is worth saying something about “proletarian ethics” or “proletarian sexual morality”, in order to criticise the well-worn idea that proletarian sexual morality is no more than “super-structure and that there is no place for any change in this sphere until the economic base of society has been changed. As if the ideology of a certain class is formed only when the breakdown in the socio-economic relationships, guaranteeing the dominance of that class. has been completed! All the experience of history teaches us that a social group works out its ideology, and consequently its sexual morality. in the process of its struggle with hostile social forces.
Only with the help of new spiritual values, created within and answering the needs of the class. will that class manage to strengthen its. social position. It can only successfully win power from those groups in society that are hostile to it by holding to these new norms and ideals. To search for the basic criteria for a morality that can reflect the interests of the working class, and to see that the developing sexual norms are in accordance with these criteria – this is the task that must be tackled by the ideologists of the working class. We have to understand that it is only by becoming aware of the creative process that is going on within society, and of the new demands, new ideals and new norms that are being formed, only by becoming clear about the bash of the sexual morality of the progressive class, that we can possibly make sense of the chaos and contradictions of sexual relationships and find the thread that will make it possible to undo the tightly rolled up tangle of sexual problems.
We must remember that only a code of sexual morality that is in harmony with the problems of the working class can serve as an important weapon in strengthening the working class’s fighting position. The experience of history teaches us that much. What can stop us using this weapon in the interests of the working class, who are fighting for a communist system and for new relationships between the sexes that are deeper and more joyful?


* In the traditional Russian villages, the young girls would often get together to rent an old hut or a room in someone’s house. They would gather there in the evenings to tell stories, do needlework and sing. The young men would come to join in the merrymaking. Sometimes it seems that the merrymaking would become an orgy, though there are conflicting ideas about this.

Friday, November 22, 2013


William Sullivan and J. Edgar Hoover shake hands.
Sullivan oversaw COINTELPRO for Hoover. – Photo: FBI

It is Prison Friday here at Scission and once more I return to the glaring case of total injustice which has been perpetrated upon two Nebraska men for more than four decades now.  The case, the saga, of the Omaha Two continues.

If you are not familiar with the case referred to here, merely click here.

No matter what happens now, the Omaha 2 have been robbed of their lives because they stood for Black Liberation.  Mondo now, according to the Lincoln Journal Star, "...needs a walker to leave his cell in the Nebraska State Penitentiary's skilled nursing facility. He breathes heavily, clear plastic tubes pumping oxygen into his nostrils to compensate for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a legacy of a cigarette habit he gave up when tobacco was banned in state prisons eight years ago."

It's an outrage.

Still he hopes to die a free does Ed Poindexter, the other of the Omaha 2.

From the Lincoln Journal Star:

Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers, who helped facilitate we Langa's surrender to police, considers their convictions “a gross miscarriage of justice” and said authorities feared loaded mouths more than they feared loaded guns.

"I brought Mondo in because I didn't want anything to happen to him," Chambers said recently. "... They felt Ed and David were like the head of a beast and if you killed the head, the body died. So they couldn't kill them literally because generally they were around other people. So the next best thing was to let the system take care of them, and they locked them away."

In 1975, U.S. District Judge Warren Urbom, and later a three-judge panel of the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, ordered a new trial for Mondo we Langa. However, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the merits of Mondo’s appeal and sent the case back to the Nebraska Supreme Court on procedural grounds during Chief Justice Warren Burger’s effort to undo rulings of his predecessor, Earl Warren. The Nebraska Supreme Court denied a new trial request despite the rulings of the four federal judges.

Recently the memoirs of Judge Warren Urborn who as noted above once ordered a retrial for the Two have been published.  In it, the judge says quite simply the Supreme Court got it wrong.

Unfortunately, this isn't likely to do either man much good, although it does add another voice to the many crying out for their release.  

The following  is from the Examiner. 

Federal judge says Supreme Court got it wrong on Black Panther Mondo we Langa

United States District Judge Warren Urbom, whose ruling ordering a new trial for Mondo we Langa (then David Rice) was overturned on procedural grounds in 1976 by the Supreme Court, says the high court was wrong . The Supreme Court retroactively applied a new restriction on access to federal courts on Mondo we Langa which Judge Urbom says is not fair.
In Called to Justice, Judge Urbom’s recent memoir published by the University of Nebraska Press, there are several pages about Mondo we Langa’s trial with Edward Poindexter for the murder of Omaha police officer Larry Minard, Sr, on August 17, 1970. Mondo and Poindexter were officers in an affiliate chapter of the Black Panthers and were prosecuted for Minard’s death. Mondo’s house was searched and dynamite was allegedly found in the basement,
Mondo we Langa objected to the dynamite evidencebecause it was the result of an illegal search and Judge Urbom agreed with him that the Fourth Amendment had been violated by the police search. In the memoir, Urbom explained the exclusionary rule that guided the case.
“That rule was controversial from its beginning, and walked on wobbly legs until this Rice case went to the Supreme Court. Simply put, many state court judges and prosecutors were offended over the fact that after two tiers of state courts—the state trial court and at least one appellate court in Rice’s case, that meant the trial judge and the state’s supreme court, a total of eight judges)—had held that the dynamite could be considered by the jury in deciding guilt or innocence of Rice, that the holding could be overturned by a single federal judge, including me,” wrote Urbom.
However, a three-judge panel of the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld Judge Urbom and complimented him on his decision to require a new trial for Mondo we Langa.
“Judge Urbom exercised painstaking care in resolving the factual and constitutional issues in this case. Having done so, Judge Urbom conscientiously and courageously concluded and demonstrated in two soundly reasoned opinions that the petitioner had been deprived of a basic constitutional right.,” said the federal appellate court decision.
The Supreme Court refused to consider the merits of Mondo we Langa’s case and whether or not Urbom was correct in ordering a new trial. Instead, the Supreme Court returned Mondo to Nebraska courts on procedural grounds limiting habeas corpus appeals of state prisoners.
“I think it unfair to apply the new rule to David Rice’s case…and I stoutly think that the law in effect when Rice was convicted should have been applied to his case, which would allow him a new trial without the use against him of the dynamite and other evidence found by an illegal search,” wrote Urbom.
“The decision of the Supreme Court did not find that the dynamite and accoutrements were legally found or that the Nebraska state courts had been right in allowing use of that evidence at trial.” Judge Urbom continued, “It found only that the federal court should not have taken the case—not because that had been the law when Rice had his trial, but because the Supreme Court was now changing the law as to when a federal court should take such a case.”
Chief Justice Warren Burger was successful in his effort to reverse the so-called liberal trend of his predecessor Earl Warren. Mondo we Langa’s case was consolidated with another convicted murderer and the Supreme Court restricted access to federal courts by state prisoners sending both men back to the state courts, where their outcomes were predictable.
Mondo we Langa and Ed Poindexter were targets of a clandestine operation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation code-named COINTELPRO. Secret FBI documents released long after the conviction of the Omaha Two, as the men are now called, reveal the FBI manipulated evidence in the case under orders of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.
The jury that convicted the Omaha Two was never told about evidence tampering and the Supreme Court did not address COINTELPRO or the illegal search at Mondo we Langa’s house.
Mondo we Langa is a twice-made political prisoner, first by the Director of the FBI and second by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The COINTELPRO-tainted trial in 1971 ordered by J. Edgar Hoover was the first time. The underlying agenda of Warren Burger to roll back Earl Warren’s jurisprudence and Burger’s retroactive application of new restrictions in 1975 on Mondo we Langa was the second time.
Warren Urbom was an appointee of President Richard Nixon and in August announced his retirement next year. Judge Urbom’s career on the bench has spanned over four decades. Urbom is perhaps best known for presiding over many of the Wounded Knee trials in the late 1970’s.
Mondo we Langa and Ed Poindexter remain in prison serving life sentences at the maximum-security Nebraska State Penitentiary where they continue to maintain their innocence.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Here is something I don't think I've done before, but I'm reading this book about the Zapatistas and have this sudden urge to be of more assistance.    The book itself is a description and disucssion of what the its Introduction calls the first post modern revolution (not a term, I like particularly, but I get it):

The first “postmodern revolution” presented itself to the world through a complex web of propaganda in every available medium: the colorful communiqués of Subcomandante Marcos, the ski masks, uniforms, dolls, murals, songs, and weapons both symbolic and real. By proliferating a profound and resonant set of myths, symbols, and grand historical gestures calculated to reflect their ideologies, organizing methodologies, and cultural values, the Zapatistas helped set into motion a global uprising, and the awareness that behind this uprising is a renewed vision of history.

The Zapatistas have figured out that they need more than the guns they have to build a new society in the middle of an old one.

What can I do?  Well, how about publishing their latest communique.  The communique is a great example of the way the Zapatistas have gone about things.  This, like all the communiques before it, is not bland Marxist tract or a bunch of piled on revolutionary rhetoric.  It is something else entirely.

I have lots of friends who have very serious doubts about the whole Zapatista enterprise.  You know what?  I just think they don't get it.  They don't get that this just isn't "your old man's world' anymore.

Anyway, here ya go from Dorset Chiapas Solidarity.

NOVEMBER 17, 2013
Here we explain the reasons behind this strange title and those that will follow, narrate the story of an exceptional encounter between a beetle and a perplexing being (that is, more perplexing than the beetle) and the reflections of no immediate relevance or importance which occurred therein; and finally, given a particular anniversary, the Sub tries to explain, unsuccessfully, how the Zapatistas see their own history.
November 2013
To whom it may concern:

WARNING – As noted in the text entitled “The Bad and Not So Bad News,” the writings that preceded that text had not yet been published. Ergo, what we are going to do is “rebobinar” (that is, “rewind” the tape) to what should have appeared on the Day of the Dead. Having rewound, you may then read in inverse order the inverse order in which the texts will appear and that way you will…hmm…forget it, I’ve even managed to confuse myself. The point is that you get the gist of the “retrospective” perspective. It’s as if one is going in one direction but later returns to see how they got going in that direction in the first place. Got it? No?
WARNING TO THE WARNING – The following texts do not contain any reference to present, current, important, or pressing situations, nor do they have any political references or implications or anything of the kind. They are “innocent” texts, as are all the writings of the self-designated “supcomandante of stainless steel” (that is, me). Any resemblance or similarity to real persons or events is purely coincidental and quite frankly schizophrenic…yes, just like the national and international situation where it is clear that…okay, okay, okay, no politics.
WARNING SQUARED – In the highly unlikely event that you feel that what is said below refers to you, you are categorically mistaken…or you are shameless fan of ad hoc conspiracy theories (which can be translated as “for every failure, there is a conspiracy theory that can explain everything and therefore repeat the mistakes.”)
Alright then.
P.S. Durito’s First Encounter with the Cat-Dog.
Durito was solemn. But not with that false posturing of government officials the world over. He was serious in that sense of when one is hit in the face by a heavy loss and there’s nothing one can do about it other than curse…or tell a story.
Don Durito of the Lacandón lights his pipe, this errant and wandering knight, comforter of the afflicted, delight of children, unrequited yearning of women and others, unattainable standard for men, nightmare of tyrant and despots, uncomfortable thesis for ignorant sophists.
Entranced in the light of our insomnia, he narrates, almost in a whisper, for me to transcribe:
(How Durito met the Cat-Dog and what they said, in those dark morning hours, about fanaticism)
At first glance, the cat-dog looks like a dog…ok, maybe more like a cat…or a dog…until it meows…or a cat…until it barks.
The cat-dog is unknown to terrestrial and marine biologists (in which category of living things would it fit?), an irresolvable case for psychology (neural surgery cannot locate the part of the brain that defines dogness orcatness), a mystery for anthropology (can traditions and customs be simultaneously similar and antithetical?), a source of despair for jurisprudence (what rights and duties emerge from both being and not being?), and the holy grail of genetic engineering (it is impossible to privatize that elusive DNA). In sum: it is the missing link that would bring down the entire Darwinist laboratory, seminar, symposium, and much-reiterated scientific fashion.
But let me tell you what happened.
As is the rule, it was the dark hours of the early morning. There was just enough light to cast a shadow. I walked calmly, taking steps only by memory. Then, I clearly heard someone say:
A fanatic is someone who, in shame, hides their doubt.”
Internally agreeing with the assertion, I approached and found the voice. Without any introduction, I asked:
“Ah, so you are… a dog.”
“Meow,” he replied.
“…Oh, okay, a cat then,” I said tentatively.
Woof,” he replied.
Okay, a cat-dog,” I said to him and to myself.
There you go,” he said… or I thought he said.
So well, how’s life?” I asked (and I transcribed without hesitation, determined not to be surprised by anything, since it was a beetle who was dictating this exceptional story to me).
Sometimes it’s worthwhile,” he responded with a kind of purr.  “At times it’s like cats and dogs,” he growled.
Is it a problem of identity?” I ask, lighting a pipe and taking out my multi-touch smartphone-tablet (in reality it’s more like a spiral notebook, but Durito wants to appear very modern—transcribers note).
Nah, one doesn’t choose who they are, but rather who they could be,” the cat-dog barked disdainfully. “And life is no more than that complicated transition, achieved or truncated, from one thing to the other,” it added with a meow.
So then, cat or dog?” I asked.
Cat-dog,” he said, as if stating the obvious.
And what brings you to this area?”
“A she, what else.”
“I am going to sing to her, because some cats can actually sing you know.”
“Umm… before your serenade, which this female who stirs you will no doubt find sublime, can you clarify for me what you said at the beginning of this story?”
“About fanaticism you mean?”
“Yes, it was something like, ‘there are those who hide their doubts behind irrational devotion.’”
“But, how does one avoid ending up in one of the sinister rooms of that grim house of mirrors that is fanaticism? How does one resist the pressure and the blackmail to join in and embrace religious or lay fanaticism,.. the oldest kind, yes, but not the only current one?
It’s simple,” said the cat-dog laconically, “don’t join.
Build many houses, each their own. Abandon the fear of difference.
Because there is something that is the same as or worse than a religious fanatic, and that is an anti-religious fanatic, or secular fanaticism. And I say that it could be worse because the latter uses reason as an alibi.
And, of course, it has its equivalents: homophobia and sexism, phobia of heterosexuality and hembrismo [the assumed moral superiority of women]. And you can add to this the long etcetera of the history of humanity.
 The fanatics of race, color, creed, gender, politics, sport, etc., are, in the end, fanatics of themselves. They all share the same fear of difference. And they pigeonhole the entire world in the closed box of exclusive options: “if you aren’t this, than you must be its opposite.”
“Are you saying, my esteemed sir, that those who criticize sports fanatics are just as bad as the sports fanatics?Durito interrupts.
It is the same thing. You have, for example, politics and sports, both professional: in both cases, the fanatics think that the professional is the one that counts; in both cases they are merely spectators applauding or booing the opponents, celebrating victories that are not their own and mourning losses that are not theirs. In both, they blame the players, the referee, the field, the opponent; in both they hope that “next time we’ll win,” both think that a change in coach, strategy, or tactic will resolve everything. Both pursue and harass the fans of the opposition; both ignore the fact that the problem is with the system.”
“Are you talking about soccer?” Durito asks as he takes out a ball that he himself autographed.
“Not only about soccer. In everything, the problem is who commands, the owner, he who makes the rules.
In both spheres, whatever is not paid is scorned: field or street soccer, the politics that doesn’t converge with electoral conjunctures. ‘If it doesn’t pay, then why do it?’ they ask.”
Ah, are you talking about politics?”
“Not at all. Although, for example, with every passing day it is more evident that what they call ‘the Modern Nation-State’ is a heap of debris for sale, and that the respective political classes are determined to rebuild, again and again, the rooftop of a crumbling house of cards, without realizing that the deck is completely torn and tattered, unable to stand upright itself, let alone support something on top.”
“Hmm… it would be very difficult to put this in a tweet,” Durito says as he counts to see if it could fit into 140 characters.
The modern political class is fighting over who will be the pilot of a plane that crashed a long time ago into neoliberal reality,” pronounces the cat-dog, and Durito thanks him with a bow.
So, what is to be done?” asks Durito as he demurely stows his Chiapas Jaguars banner.
Avoid the trap which holds that freedom is the power to choose between the two imposed options.
All categorical options are a trap. There are not only two paths, just as there are not just two colors, two sexes, or two beliefs. The answer is neither here nor there. It is better to make a new path that goes where one wants to go.”
“And the conclusion?” Durito asks.
Neither dog nor cat. Cat-dog, not at your service.
And let no one judge nor condemn that which they do not understand, because difference is a sign that all is not lost, the we still have a lot to see and to hear, that there are still other worlds to discover…”
And with that he left, the cat-dog that is, which, as its name indicates, has the disadvantages of both dog and cat… and the advantages of neither (if there are any).
Dawn had already come when I heard a sublime mix of meow and bark. It was the cat-dog serenading, out-of-tune, the light of our sweetest dreams.
And in some early morning hour, perhaps on a still distant calendar in an uncertain geography, she, the light that both unveils me and keeps me from sleeping, will understand that there were hidden lines, drawn for her, that maybe only then will be revealed or recognized in these words now, and she will know in that moment that it didn’t matter what path my steps tread. Because she was, is, and will be, always, the only worthwhile destination.
The end.
Postscript: where the Sup tries to explain, in a postmodern multimedia format, the way in which the Zapatistas see and are seen in their own history.
Well, first it’s necessary to clarify that for us, our history is not just who we have been, what has happened to us, and what we have done. It is also, and above all, what we want to be and do.
Now, in this avalanche of audiovisual media ranging from 4D cinema and LED 4K televisions to the polychrome andmulti-touch screens of cell phones (which, allow me the digression, show reality in colors that have nothing to do with reality), we can place, in an improbable timeline, our way of seeing our history with… a kinetoscope.
Yes, I know that I went a bit far back, to the origins of cinema, but with the internet and the multiple wikis that abound and redound, you won’t have a problem figuring out what I’m referring to.
Sometimes, it can seem like we are getting close to 8 tracks and super 8 tracks, and even then the 16 millimeter format is still far off.
What I mean is that our way of explaining our history seems like an image of continuous and repetitive movement, with some variations that give that sense of mobile immobility: always attacked and persecuted, always resisting; always being annihilated, always reappearing. Maybe that’s why the denouncements made by the Zapatista support bases, via their Good Government Councils, have so few readers. It’s as if one had already read that before and they only changed the names and the geographies.
But it’s also where we show ourselves. For example, here:
Yes, it’s a little like Edison’s moving images from 1894, in his kinetoscope (“Annie Oakley”): we were the coin tossed into the air, while the young lady “civilization” shot at us over and over again (yes, the government would be the servile employee that tossed the coin). Or like in “The Arrival of a Train” from 1895 by the Lumiere brothers; we were the ones who stayed on the platform while the train of progress came and went. At the end of this text you will find some videos that will help you understand this.
But now and then the collective that we are takes and makes each still shot, drawing it and painting it as the reality that we were and that we are, many times with the black shades of persecutions and prisons, with the gray shades of contempt, and with the red of plunder and exploitation. But also with the browns and greens of we who are of the earth.
When someone from outside stops to look at our “movie,” they often comment: “what a skillful shooter!” Or “what a daring employee who throws the coin into the air without fear of injury!” But no one says anything about the coin.
Or, about the Lumiere brothers’ train, they say: “but how stupid, why do they stay on the platform and not board the train?” Or, “we have here another example of why the indigenous are how they are—because they don’t want to progress.” Or the more daring ones, “Did you see what ridiculous clothes they wore in that era?” But if someone would ask us why we don’t get on that train, we would say“because the next stations are ‘decadence,’ ‘war,’ and ‘destruction,’ and the final destination is ‘catastrophe.’ The pertinent question is not why we don’t board the train, but why you all don’t get off of it.”
Those who come to be with us, to look at us looking at ourselves, to listen to us, to learn from us in the little school, discover that in each still shot, we Zapatistas have aggregated an image that is not perceptible at first glance. It is as if the apparent movement of the images hides the particular that each still shot contains. That which is not seen in the daily comings and goings is the history that we are. And no smartphone captures those images. Only with a very big heart can they be detected.
Of course, there is always someone who comes and tells us that now there are tablets and cellphones with cameras in front and back, with colors more vivid than those of reality, that there are now cameras and printers in the third dimension, that there is plasma, LCD and LED, and representative democracy, and elections, and political parties, and modernity, and progress, and civilization.
They tell us that we should leave behind all that stuff about collectivism (which, besides, rhymes with primitivism): that we abandon this obsession with taking care of the environment, the discourse of mother earth, self-organization, autonomy, rebellion, freedom.
They tell us all this while clumsily editing out the fact that it is in their modernity where the most atrocious crimes are perpetrated: where children are burned alive and the pyromaniacs are congressional representatives and senators; where ignorance pretends to govern the destiny of a nation; where sources of work are destroyed; where teachers are persecuted and slandered; where one big lie is overshadowed by another, bigger one; where inhumanity is awarded and honored and any ethical or moral value is a symptom of “cultural backwardness.”
For the mass (paid) media, they are the modern ones, we are the archaic. They are the civilized, we are the barbarians. They are the ones who work, we the idle. They are the “decent people,” we the pariahs. They the wise, we the ignorant. They are the clean, we are the dirty. They are the beautiful, we are the ugly. They are the good, we are the bad.
And they forget what is most fundamental: this is our history, our way of seeing it and of seeing ourselves, our way of thinking ourselves, our way of making our path. It is ours, with our errors, our failures, our colors, our lives, our deaths. It is our freedom.
This is our history.
Because when we Zapatistas draw a key below and to the left in each still shot in our movie, we are thinking not about what door to open, but about what house with what door we need to create so that this key will have a purpose and a destiny. And if the soundtrack of this movie has the rhythm of polka-ballad-corrido-ranchera-cumbia-rock-ska-metal-reggae-trova-punk-hip-hop-rap-and-whatever else is added, it’s not because we don’t have musical taste. It’s because this house will have all colors and all sounds. And there will be therefore new gazes and new ears that will understand our efforts… even if we are only silence and shadow in those future worlds.
Ergo: we have imagination, they only have plans with terminal options.
That’s why their world is crumbling. That’s why ours is resurging, just like that little light that, although small, is not less when embraced by shadow.
Vale. Cheers, and here’s to celebrating our birthdays very happily, which is to say, in struggle.
El Sup, confusing himself with the videos that he wants to include in order to, as they say, put the candle on the cake that does not say, but knows itself to be, thirtysomething.
Mexico, November 17, 2013.
Thirtieth anniversary of the EZLN.
Watch and listen to the videos that accompany this text:
Video that tells the story of the “Dog that was a cat on the inside,” by Siri Melchoir. United Kingdom, 2002.
cat-dog in action. Note how he returns to his secret identity when he is discovered.
A very brief reference to the origin of cinema. Pay attention to the mini-short: “Annie Oakley,” seconds 20 through 26.
The Arrival of a Train,” by the Lumiere brothers, 1895.
For a birthday boy as other as the eezeelen, Las Otras Mañanitas, con Pedro Infante y Los Beatles.