Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Workers Viewpoint Organization

Degenerate Culture & the Women’s Question


First Published: Workers Viewpoint, newspaper, Vol. 1, No. 1, March 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Demonstrations against porno shops and movie houses showing sadist films, and book burning in Kanawha County in protest against liberals’ ideas about sex education are signs of the spontaneous response of the working class against the bourgeoisie’s attempts to dope us with degenerate culture and fascist ideology.

U.S. imperialism is indeed parasitic, decaying and moribund, and today the U.S. bourgeoisie are on their deathbeds. The present economic-political crisis of the capitalist world is unprecedented and signals the death knell of imperialism. The working class and all oppressed people are fighting back hard against the intensified ’attacks from the bourgeoisie. In their last desperate attempt to divert and smash our resistance which is growing stronger everyday, the bourgeoisie inevitably turn towards new wars of aggression, towards imperialist war with the Soviet social-imperialists, and towards fascism at home as a way out.

Bourgeois fascist rule is inherently more unstable than bourgeois democracy. However, fascism, such as the Nazi Germany type., i.e. fascist rule assisted by a corresponding mass base among the broad strata of the petty bourgeoisie, labor aristocracy, organized crime, lumpen-proletariat and even some of the more backward sections of the working class itself, is more dangerous. For this reason, Communists today must pay special attention to the bourgeoisie’s attempt to rally to their side a mass base from among these class forces. They do it through bourgeois tricks like the forced busing plans, ERA, and Title XX which manipulate the real needs of our multinational working class. They try to pit us against one another, whip up chauvinism, racism and male supremacist ideology, and counterpose the already threatened interests of different sections of the working class and all the oppressed people against each other. Through these tricks, the bourgeoisie hopes to induce a mass following.


We must not underestimate the power of bourgeois ideology. In this period, the ideological offensive of the bourgeoisie is intensifying a hundredfold. On the cultural front they are using TV, books, magazines and movies to promote reactionary ideas to further consolidate their “divide and rule” tactics. This is part and parcel of the fascization process, along with the greater economic, political and military centralization of the bourgeoisie and their state apparatus.

The great leader of the antifascist struggles of the 30’s and 40’s, and proletarian internationalist Georgi Dimitrov pointed out:

Many comrades did not believe that so reactionary a variety of bourgeois ideology as the ideology of fascism, which in its stupidity frequently reaches the point of lunacy, was capable of gaining a mass influence at all. This was a great mistake. The putrefaction of capitalism penetrates to the innermost core of its ideology and culture, while the desperate situation of wide masses of the people renders certain sections of them susceptible to infection from the ideological refuse of this putrefaction. Under no circumstances must we underrate fascism’s power of ideological infection. (Report to the 7th Congress Communist International, 1935. Red Star Press, London, 1973, p. 99)

Fascist ideology is not an independent ideology. It is bourgeois ideology and highly eclectic in nature. It is an art of sophistry and demagogy which appeals to genuine sentiments as well as to the worst instincts of the masses. Its appeal lies in that it speaks to the conditions of extreme decay and destitution of the oppressed. The approach of fascist ideology is pragmatic (“whatever works, use it”).

The ultimate aim of the bourgeoisie is to crush the heroic resistance of the working class and to prolong the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie on its deathbed.

The bourgeoisie uses different “covers,” depending on the nationally-specific features of the country. For example, Hitler appealed to the German peoples’ humiliation after the Versailles Treaty by creating a “super Aryan race.” And here in the U.S., where bourgeois democracy is most developed, fascism will be ushered in under the cover of “liberalism,” “democracy” and “equal rights for women.” As Dimitrov pointed out:

In contradistinction to German fascism, which acts under anti-constitutional slogans, American fascism tries to portray itself as the custodian of the Constitution and ’American democracy.’ (The United Front, Proletarian Publishers, 1975, p. 41)

Besides these tricks of the bourgeoisie to induce an “anti-government” and “anti-monopoly” movement, irrationality of all forms “helps” the masses to accept fascist “answers,” similar to the Weimar Republic in Germany where the movies and culture of the time were obsessed with themes of chaos, instincts of lust, irrational impulses, nostalgia and other philistine sentiments of the dying petty bourgeois class. This irrationality takes the form of trash like “Snuff,” pornography, the “Total Woman” program, the gay movement, the “right to die” and “right of the unborn” movements, we have “conservatives” on the one hand and “liberals” on the other who – all dialectically reinforce each other to grow and spread. They are developing mostly at the expense of the degradation of women.

Communists must address these questions as integral parts of our political line – the questions pertaining to the ways and means the bourgeoisie use to maintain their power today and in the immediate future.


The exploitation and oppression of women is an integral part of class oppression. It is one of the indispensable foundations of private-property society. Under moribund, decaying monopoly-capitalism, this exploitation of working class women has intensified:

Modern capitalism, while freely exploiting women in industry at sweated rates so far as it has use for their labor, kicks the remainder out of industry...bidding them become dependent on male wage-earners and thus save its total bill for wages or unemployment relief, and at the same time calls on them to perform their service in producing plenty of recruits for the increasing needs of the slaughterhouses of imperialist war. This is the viewpoint of modern capitalism in extreme decay, or Fascism, on the role of women. (R. Palme Dutt, Fascism and Social Revolution, Proletarian Publishers, 1974, p. 242)

On the ideological level, to justify their immoral acts, the fascists will raise cries of:

Back to the home! Back to economic dependence on marriage as the sole career for women! Cut down women’s education! Expel women from employment and give the jobs to men! Back to pots and pans! Produce more cannon-fodder for war! Back to kitchen-slavery! This is the line of Fascism on the women’s question. (Ibid., p. 241)

These all sound very familiar because the bourgeoisie has used the cultural front (through TV, movies, books, songs, etc.) to bombard us with such reactionary garbage.


The rash of pornography sweeping the country clearly degrades women. Spreading male supremacist ideas among the working class, it splits our movement and demoralizes our class. It keeps us so preoccupied with sex that we must abandon our class struggle. Such films and literature are actively defended by ACLU-type liberals (American Civil Liberties Union) under the sham of “freedom of speech.” Today the degeneration has reached such an extreme that pornography is linked with sadism. We get trash like “Snuff,” which is an open and violent attack on women’s lives and is being pushed on the masses using an imperialist pitch: “nowhere but in South America could such a film be made.” We also get pornography from the revisionist point of view, like “Swept Away...” which sets out to prove that all working men, even “communists,” are chauvinist to the core, and there’s no use struggling for socialism because women will always be oppressed and man-woman relations always transcend classes.

At the same time that they encourage these attacks on working women, these bourgeois liberals “defend” women against rape. Their solution is to beef up the police force. More police mean, for the working class, not less crime, but more police brutality, especially when the bourgeoisie use the police to violently smash the working class movement to end rape and all oppression through socialist revolution.


Arch-fascist Hitler himself once wrote:

In the case of female education the main stress should be laid on bodily training, and after that on development of character and last of all, on intellect. But the one absolute aim of female education must be with a view to the future mother. (Mein Kampf)

The current bourgeois offensive against the hard-won gains of working women the world over is no different from Hitler’s! It is reflected in the steadily declining rate of literacy among women in imperialist and exploited Third World countries. The right to abortion is also under attack, guided by the feudal religious ideology of Catholicism and given a new “democratic” twist by upholding the “Right of the Unborn.” The liberals support abortion as the “right to choose,” while the anti-abortion groups dub this the “right to kill.” The liberals, by pushing promiscuity and by pushing the illusion that abortion is strictly a matter of “freedom of choice” rather than a democratic right, do nothing to fight for the genuine democratic rights of women such as free and quality birth control care. In fact, they feed the growth of sprouting right-wing groups, like the anti-abortion movement. These groups, reacting to the arbitrary “choice” of abortion posed by the liberals go to the other extreme and treat all women as killers who do not carry out their “duty” as mothers. The way the liberals pose the question only helps to induce and perpetuate the slavery of working women by helping to push many in the working class to the right, aiding the fascists under the guise of “free will.”

On the other hand, the bourgeoisie are using birth control methods to carry out forced sterilization, especially among oppressed nationalities and national minority women. The liberals, in their “concern,” blame overpopulation and propose Zero Population Growth as the solution. ZPG is only an excuse to commit genocide against working women, especially women of oppressed nationalities and national minorities here and the world over. It is no different from Hitler’s gas chambers.

Since now the birth rate in the U.S. is below Zero Population Growth, the bourgeoisie is pushing deadly ideas like the “Right to Die”, euthanasia, “mercy killing” etc. This is a glaring way of breeding pessimism among the working class. The Pros and Cons that came out of the Karen Quinlan case give us an instructive lesson on the bourgeoisie’s pragmatist social and ethical views and on why they are straight-up fascist.


One thing about Karen Quinlan’s case is the bourgeoisie’s push for a legal definition of death by using brain wave activity as the criterion for life. Under capitalism, a person is judged by his ’use value’, and intelligence is what determines that ’use value.’ So when a person is retarded, he or she is worthless. These disguised cries about the “Right to Die” and “mercy killing” go counter to the real situation in class society today.. Hundreds of thousands of impoverished class brothers and sisters are seriously injured on the job or in accidents. They are not treated at all or else are poorly treated and left to die or lapse into paralysis in public hospitals. There are literally tens of millions of mentally retarded children and adults and many more elderly workers who are abandoned in mental hospitals and “senior citizen homes” and allowed to rot and die. For the working class and all oppressed people in the U.S. today the concrete situation is one where we ’fight to live’. The campaign mounted on the pretext of a few exceptional medical cases has clear social implications for the further neglect of the elderly workers who have given their entire lives to the bourgeoisie and are finally abandoned because they have exhausted their ’use value’. This also applies to the mentally retarded and other “disadvantaged”.

This campaign will do nothing except further the bourgeoisie’s killing of them through neglect and now the elevation of these murders to the level of “principles.”


In the U.S., pragmatism, together with chauvinism, are the two most sinister ideological sources for fascism. Pragmatism is an ideology of dying classes like the bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie. Due to their anarchist mode of production and class position, they do not and cannot have any long-range plans and principles. They can only react to crises from ’day to day and abandon whatever long-range goals and principles they have to short-term and immediate aims. This becomes a force of habit within their outlook on life. Ultimately, in the absence and forced abandonment of all long-range goals and principles, they have only one thing left – the ’pleasure principle!’ “Whatever satisfies me ’is correct,’ is ’what I will work for.’” This is the principle that guides their living. This ’pleasure principle,’ living for good food, good life, good sex and good music, is hedonism. Dying classes like the bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie are, by force of habit and mode of thinking, hedonistic.

They adopt whatever principles give them physical and sensual pleasure – ’good experiences’, advocate subjectivism and glorify empiricism (“learn from your own experience”, “don’t knock it till you’ve tried it”). This helps to spread mysticism and the whole thing about ’experience God’ or ’experience the holy spirit’. Many of the new religious sects are building on this. The flip side of this hedonist, pragmatist sick social and ethical view is the fundamentalist puritanical’ clericalism, the right wing social movement which is also on the rise now.

The essence of pragmatist social and ethical views is the preaching of the totally reactionary ideology of individualism. This is also related to the abstract bourgeois concept of “free will”.

Since the dying bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie are capable only of immediate “principles” derived from reaction to immediate bodily and sensual experiences, their existence is totally animalistic. This is a sure sign of their parasitism and decay. They want to push this trash onto the working class, to drag us down with them into their graves, but this attempt will surely fail because we are the rising class. Our strength is growing daily and we will uproot the cause of such degradation.


The gay movement has grown in the last decade, taking a lot of motion from the open decadent atmosphere of hedonism in the U.S. which says that “nothing is wrong if it feels good”. Communists promote working class friendship, including solidarity between men and men, women and women, but bourgeois ideology alienates class brothers and sisters away from each other. Homosexuality is a form of hedonism, for it follows the “principle” of fulfilling sexual needs. The bourgeoisie uses the gay issue to divert the working class struggle from its true course. They promote the gays as another example of bourgeois freedom, trying to further our illusions about bourgeois democracy. The trend today is to legalize, to justify gayness.

While we Communists oppose attacks on anyone by the bourgeoisie, including homosexuals, we do not uphold homosexuality as a democratic right. Homosexuality is a form of social sickness, a form of social perversion. It is a form of bourgeois ideology which appeals especially to the petty bourgeoisie because of its appearance as sexual freedom. Homosexuality arose from class oppression and the oppression of women, “...degradation of the women was avenged on the men and degraded them also, till they fell into the abominable practice of sodomy and degraded alike their gods and themselves with the myth of Ganymede.” (“Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State”, Engels, Selected Works, Vol.3, 1884).


The all American family is being held up as the only “natural” way for men and women to live – good old American clean living. The “Total Woman” program preaches that “real freedom” is to “stay at home and please your man.” But under capitalism, do couples marry for “true love”, fidelity, “through sickness and health till death do us part”? The bourgeois family has nothing whatever to do with this.

As Engels said:

The bourgeois family is “based, not on natural, but on economic conditions – on the victory of private property over primitive, natural communal property ... The sole, exclusive aims of monogamous marriage were to make the man supreme in the family and to propagate, as the future heirs to his wealth, children indisputably his own.” (“Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State”, Engels, Selected Works, Vol. 3, 1884) The family where the man wears the pants and is the breadwinner and the woman knows that her place is in the home “contains within itself in miniature all the antagonisms which later develop on a wide scale within society and its state.” (“Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State”, Engels, Selected Works, Vol.3,1884).

Bourgeois ethics and morals demand that women be faithful, carry out their domestic duties to husband and children, while sanctioning men to “sow their wild oats.” Bourgeois society uses a fundamentalist pitch to preach submission to and acceptance of the present oppression of women, justifying it by saying it’s God’s will. This poison serves the needs of the monopoly capitalists, dulling our fighting spirit and breeding pessimism.

But even as the bourgeoisie tries to feed us these lies, the proletariat is also spontaneously beginning to practice equality between the sexes within the family.

And now that large-scale industry has taken the wife out of the home onto the labor market and into the factory, and made her often the bread-winner of the family, no basis for any kind of male supremacy is left in the proletarian household... Here, therefore, the eternal attendants of monogamy, hetaerism (prostitution) and adultery, play only an almost vanishing part. The wife has in fact regained the right to dissolve the marriage, and if two people cannot get on with one another, they prefer to separate. In short, proletarian marriage is monogamous in the etymological sense of the word, but not at all in its historical sense. (“Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State”, Engels, Selected Works, Vol.3, 1884)

This proletarian relationship can be achieved only through unity-struggle-unity. It is struggle on a principled basis, in order to move on to higher unity.

On the other hand, under a “left” cover, the gay movement attacks the family. They fail to separate the oppressive bourgeois family from proletarian families which serve the working class struggle. Under socialism, when there are larger numbers of daycare centers, public cafeterias, where household labor is collectivized and socialized, women will participate fully in socialized production. The traditional “division of labor” with man doing outdoor work and women doing indoor work will gradually disappear, breaking down the family as an economic unit. The old unequal relations in the family will give way to more equal relations. This doesn’t mean the elimination of families altogether but it does mean new family relations based more on class equality, love and devotion. It will do away with men buying love with money, property and social status and women marrying for fear of economic and social consequences and rejecting a man they really love.

By attacking families in general and not distinguishing between the bourgeois family and its oppression of women and the proletarian kernels in families, gays are inducing the development of right wing fascists who defend the bourgeois family, which imposes oppression on women in the. family to serve the bourgeoisie.


Our outlook on the future is bright and optimistic. Unlike the petty bourgeoisie and bourgeoisie, we are not afraid to raise children because we know we’re the rising class and the future is in our hands. As Lenin said:

Yes, we workers and the mass of small proprietors lead a life that is filled with unbearable oppression and suffering. Things are harder for our generation than they were for our fathers. But in one respect we are luckier than our fathers. We have begun to learn and are rapidly learning to fight – and to fight not as individuals, as the best of our fathers fought, not for the slogans of bourgeois speechifiers, that are alien to us in spirit, but for our slogans, the slogans of our class. We are fighting better than our fathers did. Our children will fight better than we do, and they will be victorious. (“The Working Class and Neomalthusianism”, Lenin, The Emancipation of Women, 1913)


At the present time, at home and all over the world, the situation is characterized by great disorder. That is a good thing for the working class. While the objective conditions are increasingly becoming favorable for making revolution, the subjective forces are still weak and unable to provide Communist leadership to spontaneous struggles springing up everywhere. ’Now, when social and political attitudes are changing rapidly, when the minds of the working class are wide open to socialism, it is urgent that Communists boldly introduce Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse-tung Thought to the working class, and win over the advanced workers to Communism, to combat the influence of bourgeois ideology. We must heed the teachings of Dimitrov on the importance of fighting on the ideological front in the context of political struggle against the monopoly capitalists for proletarian dictatorship in the U.S.

We must see through all the poisonous ideas and attitudes and expose all bourgeois culture for its decadence and degeneration, especially those in a “liberal” disguise which only pacify us and divert our struggle against the bourgeoisie.

Lenin said:

The elements of democratic and socialist culture, are present, if only in rudimentary form, in every national culture since in every nation there are toiling and exploited masses, whose condition of life inevitably gives rise to the ideology of democracy and socialism. But every nation also possesses a bourgeois culture (and most nations a reactionary and clerical culture as well) in the form not merely of “elements”, but of the dominant culture ... In advancing this slogan of ’the international culture of democracy and of the world working class movement’ we take from each national culture only its democratic and socialist elements, we take them only and absolutely in opposition to the bourgeois culture and the bourgeois nationalism of each nation.’ (“Critical Remarks on the National Question”, Lenin, Collected Works, Vol.20, 1913)

In the context of the day-to-day struggle against the bourgeoisie, we must promote the proletarian kernels of our culture – the rich proletarian kernels of the culture of oppressed nationalities and national minorities, working class traditions, songs and writing, and nurture these ’young shoots of communism’ in the course of political and ideological struggle against filth and parasitism of dying capitalism. We must distinguish appearance from essence, get rid of the dross, and retain the essence of ethics in practice in the working class.

Sometimes, for example, proletarian ethics may take the form of spontaneous revolutionary nationalism. We should draw out its essence, give it Marxist-Leninist leadership, otherwise it will be left in the hands of the bourgeoisie to serve fascism. Another example, “hard work and plain living” or puritanical arguments against pornography are spontaneous reactions of the masses which can be used by the bourgeoisie and turned into a reactionary force. The shackles of bourgeois ideology must be cast off and re-, placed by the true revolutionary essence in the course of class struggle. This in turn will promote our unity in class struggle against the bourgeoisie.

The bourgeoisie’s schemes are doomed to fail. The very same forces of history which create bourgeois oppression also give rise to the invincible struggle by the proletariat, the producers of all value, to put our new order of society in command. Through socialist revolution we will end all oppression, especially the oppression of women which is fundamental to bourgeois society.