Passages from the English Notebooks, Volume 1.

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Places: Global. Many feminist scholars have had, at best, an ambiguous relationship with Marx and Marxism.

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This is especially relevant to current debates, since a number of feminist scholars have criticized Marx and Engels for what they see as their economic determinism. Both view Engels as more monistic and scientistic than Marx. In any event, the fall of Communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe probably had a negative effect on the popularity of socialist feminism. As Iris Young had already argued, dual-systems theory was inadequate since it was based on two very different theories of society—one involving the historic dynamic development of society, primarily social, economic and technological, and the other based on a static psychological view of human nature.

He was certainly not the first to make a statement such as this—Charles Fourier is often attributed as the inspiration for this statement—but for Marx, this was more than simply a call for men to change the position of women. Instead, Marx was making a dialectical argument directly related to his overall theory of society. In order for society to advance beyond its capitalist form, new social relations would have to be formed that did not rely solely upon a crude, alienated formulation of value.

Human beings would have to become able to see each other as valuable in themselves, rather than as only worth what one individual can provide to another.

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Women would be especially significant in this regard, since they have tended to be a marginalized group within most, if not all, societies. Thus, men and women would have to reach a point of development where an individual is valued for who they are, rather than any abstract category of man, woman, etc. Moreover, Marx appears to point in the direction of gender as a dynamic rather than static category. Instead of nature and society existing as two distinct entities that interact with each other without fundamentally changing the essence of itself or the other, Marx argues that the two are dialectically related.

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As human beings interact with nature through labor, both the individual and nature is changed. This occurs because human beings exist as part of nature, and the labor process provides the means for such a temporary unity. Moreover, since a social element is involved, more is needed than technological development: women will have to work themselves to change their situation. In at least two other places in his early writings, Marx discusses the position of women in capitalist society. He entrusts her into the care of a religious woman and a priest who both teach her of the immorality of her behavior.

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Eventually, she enters a nunnery and dies shortly thereafter. Here, Marx criticizes Sue for his uncritical acceptance of Catholic social teaching which focuses on an abstract form of morality that can never actually be achieved. Human beings are not merely spiritual beings that can ignore their bodily needs. This was particularly relevant for someone like Fleur de Marie since, as Marx notes, she had no options available to her other than prostitution to provide herself with a livelihood.

However, the priest showed Marie her moral degeneration and told her of the guilt that she should feel, despite the fact that she had no real choice in the matter. Thus, in this text, Marx shows a great deal of sympathy for the plight of working-class women. Moreover, he criticizes the one-sidedness of Christianity, which seeks to raise the position of a pure form of mind against a pure form of the body. In one case, a married woman committed suicide, at least in part because her jealous husband confined her to the home and was physically and sexually abusive.

After she returned home, her parents publicly humiliated her, and she later drowned herself. In two of the cases, Marx shows great sympathy for the plight of these women by emphasizing certain passages from Peuchet and surreptitiously adding his own remarks. The evil which one blames on arbitrary forces exists in families, where it causes crises, analogous to those of revolutions.

Marx and Engels returned to a critique of the bourgeois family in The Communist Manifesto. There, they argued that the family in its bourgeois form, based primarily on the management and transfer of property, was in a state of dissolution. The material conditions that had led to this form of the family were disappearing among the proletarians because they had no property to give to their children.

They may have once been small subsistence farmers, but this was no longer possible as land was expropriated by a number of means and they were forced into the cities and factories to make their livelihood. Marx and Engels, at this point, did not discuss in any detail what would potentially come after the dissolution of this form of the family, however. Although Capital is devoted to the critique of political economy, there is a significant amount of material on gender and the family.

In it Marx returns to and concretizes what he described as the abolition [ Aufhebung ] of the family in The Communist Manifesto.

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As machinery is introduced into the factories, requiring less physically demanding labor, women and children become important categories of workers as well. Capital finds these workers particularly valuable, since they are from an oppressed group that can be compelled to work for less. A number of other passages in Capital illustrate that Marx held a much more nuanced view of the position of women in the workforce than most feminists acknowledge. This had a significant effect on the family.

Here, Marx shows both sides of this development. Here, he makes a strong distinction between the concept of productive labor under capitalism and a concept of productive labor as such. The first is a one-sided understanding of productivity, where the only relevant factor is the production of surplus value for the capitalist. However, the second concept of productive labor focuses on the production of use values.

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Here, labor is valued as such if it produces something that can be used by individuals or society at large. While Marx never directly repudiated this type of argument, his later positions appear to have changed, since he worked to incorporate women into the First International on an equal basis to men in the s.

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