Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line


First Published: Red Star, No. 5, March 1971
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

February 3, 1971

I would like to discuss with you in a more concrete form some questions that have emerged as a result of the meetings between The FEMINISTS and the RED WOMEN’S DETACHMENT and a series of conversations with sister L.

The most burning question is the class question. The question is not whether we are living in a class society. We are in common agreement also that revolution is an act of violence by which one class overthrows another. Principally, the contradiction lies in our defined usage of the word “class” itself and our class analyses. The Feminists practice the Lot System and the Red Woman’s Detachment democratic centralism, which in organisational principles reflect our political differences. From our discussions I have concluded that the feminists have a pessimistic view of the women’s movement at this time and do not seem to recognise the development of other feminist tendencies such as expressed in the Women’s Page.

Every person born in human society is thereby a social being. In society divided into classes, every person is necessarily born into a class. Since social being determines social consciousness, in class society there can be no consciousness but class-consciousness. This is our basic materialist premise. Our philosophy is dialectical-materialism and we cannot abandon it for one minute. Our outlook must be world-historical to cover in breadth and depth the past, the present, and especially, the future. Marxism-Leninism is the science of proletarian revolution founded upon the philosophic and analytical method of dialectical and historical materialism. Communism is proletarian ideology as well as a new social system.

Feminism implies itself to be the theoretical embodiment of female consciousness. For The Feminists, feminism is class consciousness: your Conceptual Analysis presents all females as a class opposed to the class of males. On these assumptions, you idealize the male sex as if they possessed male-consciousness and were consciously motivated to conspire against women.

Right here it becomes clear that in terms of “class” we are speaking two different languages. We must come to grips with this terminology and go straight to the essence of our differences to avoid talking in circles without common understanding and acknowledgement of our contradictory useage of the word “class.”

The Marxists did not invent the term class, nor did Marx and Engels invent the class struggle. Utopians and early anarchists recognised the class struggle, but they did not see it as the motivating force in society, nor did they recognize the historical role of the proletariat and its dictatorship. Communism will be the classless society. The dictatorship of the proletariat is still class society but the workingclass is the ruling class. The slave masters and kings and landlords and capitalist bourgeoisie are the oppressed classes and the dictatorship of the proletariat led by the Party of the Proletariat ensures that the defeated and obsolescent classes never regain political power. Class struggle goes on under the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is what the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China taught us and this is why Mao Tsetung Thought is a higher development of Marxism-Leninism, To be a Marxist-Leninist in the era of Mao Tsetung Thought, which is the era of the victory of socialism world-wide, it is necessary to recognize not only the dictatorship of the proletariat but also the continuation of the class struggle under the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. By socialism, we mean precisely the Dictatorship of the Proletariat such as exists as a living historical reality in the Peoples Republics of China and Albania, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and The Democratic Republic of Vietnam, Capitalist restoration has taken place in the once Soviet Union, now Social-Imperialist, and the nation of Cuba is now in the gravest danger of capitalist restoration largely due to the fact that the island is a practical neo-colony of Soviet Social-imperialism.

We must constantly reiterate that we, as Marxist-Leninists, are speaking in a scientifically defined terminology with a precise content to every word. We do not throw words around loosely because language must be the abstraction of reality. Such words as “class” are a more profound abstraction of reality than say “book” which signifies an inanimate object. Cognition of a book merely requires perception.

Class-consciousness, however, requires conception of the laws of society and in itself class-consciousness is not revolutionary. Class-consciousness, which arises spontaneously, must make a qualitative leap. Marxism-Leninism, which is proletarian consciousness {not merely class-consciousness which the bourgeoisie also possesses), recognises that history has given rise to four class systems: chattel slavery, feudalism, capitalism-imperialism, and socialism. Savagery and barbarism are forms of pre-historical culture or non-class or pre-class societies, while Communism is a classless society which does not exist any whore on the planet earth. Some groups hold the mistaken idea that barbaric tribal societies were an early form of socialism but this is an unscientific theory which in practice often sees free clothing and breakfast programs as “socialistic”. Each successive social system is based upon different modes of production, and the opposed classes that compose those social systems as the relations in the means of production. This clearly means something more than pure and simple “economics” since a social system means the complexity of the base, the superstructure, the culture, and political classes that co-exist in society. Marx’s theory of Kapital is the theory of political economy which revealed the relation between the superstructure and the base, between the means of, production and the relations of production which together establish the mode of production, i.e., the true nature of society. Marxism is not “economics.” Marxism is not “economic determinism.” (In fact “Economics” is a bourgeois school.) For the Red Women’s Detachment, “class” means only one thing: the relations in the means of production.

If we wanted to use “class” in one way and then again in other to refer to relations between males and females, what could that lead to but confusion? We have derived that sex is the relations in the means of reproduction, and that there is an oppressor sex (male) which oppresses the female sex, but that this is a contradiction of a different nature than the contradiction of class. We know that this is true because we know that male supremacy did not begin with capitalism but coincided with the founding of class society based on slavery. Monogamy was the first expression of class struggle, which is not to say that all males were the ruling class, but that not only were most men and most women enslaved by a totally male ruling class, but all women were forced into the slave-like status of prostitution-monogamy. We know this because there was trade in women and earlier forms of prostitution during the pre-historical period of barbarism. Women were oppressed before class society, but it was the rise of classes that established the absolute supremacy of the male and the degradation of the female. Communism is a social system which is not based on classes, it is a classless society. We are so far away from Communism that we know very little about what it will be like except that it is a classless society and that it is the realm of freedom and this is still the realm of necessity. It does seem most likely that there will be two sexes. Since sex existed before classes, and will most certainly continue after classes, it is obvious that sex is more fundamental and basic to society than class and plays a more important and significant role in social development overall (in the broadest historical context of pre-history, civilization, and communism) than class society. If we forget for one moment that today we are struggling inside class society, we will become divorced from concrete historical reality (materialism).

All women would really constitute an oppressed class if “class” meant relations in the means of re-production, the means of reproduction being the females themselves.

The family, which has existed in several forms in different historical periods, is the social organism which embodies those relations. The form of the family which exists all throughout class society, is the monogamous family. It is a mistake to separate marriage from the family because marriage is the means by which the family is perpetuated and the family is maintained by the exploiting classes. Marriage is itself a form of prostitution. It is enslavement, but not slavery (a mode of production).

By all this, I am trying to make clear to The Feminists why the Red Women’s Detachment cannot speak of the “primary and secondary class systems” and use the word “class” in the Marxist-Leninist sense at the same time. When slavery started women were the first slaves but there were also male slaves, but women were “enslaved” (oppressed) for a long time before classes in certain particular ways that males were not. Out of society organized on the basis of the family arose society based upon classes. When one class overthrows another, it sets itself up as the ruling class. The Dictatorship of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie is the pre-condition for a classless society but so is the total emancipation of the female sex and the overthrowal of male supremacy. Socialism or the dictatorship of the proletariat is a whole historical epoch which must exist world-wide and will probably endure for a very considerable length of time (hundreds of years) until all remnants of the oppressor classes and bourgeois class ideology have been eliminated. A component part of this task is the eradication of all vestiges of male supremacy and male chauvinism, a struggle which will assume more importance and take place on a wider scale than is possible now. The task now is to overthrow the bourgeoisie to bring about the dictatorship of the proletariat, not fight the male supremacy by itself as if it were not a component part of bourgeois class rule.

“.. .unless we study the particularity of contradiction, we have no way of determining the particular essence of a thing which differentiates it from other things, no way of discovering the particular cause or particular basis for the movement or development of a thing and no way of distinguishing one thing from another or of demarcating the fields of science…” (Chairman Map Tsetung, “On Contradiction”}

The language of Marxism-Leninism is not sexist. It is not concerned with sex, in that it is the language of class struggle. The word “proletariat” like its opposite “bourgeoisie” are French in origin, since the dictatorship of the proletariat was born in the Paris Commune in 1871. In that language it is a feminine word, translated literally it means “breeders.”

Reproduction and production are two interdependent aspects of human social activity. Marxism-Leninism serves the female sex as well as the proletariat it seems since it also provides the only dialectical-materialist analysis and scientific terminology that enables the feminist revolutionaries to develop a sound theoretical foundation. Because it is, in essence, true that childbirth is socially useful and necessary labor, that the female is the means of reproduction, that sexual and domestic services are forms of reproductive labor which married women, unless they are prostitutes or “domestic servants,” perform unpaid and, so are forms of scabbery, that reproductive activity, in which can be included childrearing, is totally bound up with production. In fact women have borne a double burden in that they perform at least one-half of society’s productive labor and virtually all of equally necessary reproductive labor. It can only be in the interest of Feminism to arm with Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought and turn the laws of the society which was built on the blood and sweat of uncountable billions of women into an invincible weapon in the service of the oppressed female sex.

For the Red Women’s Detachment