Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

San Diego Organizing Committee

A Communist View: Contradictions in the Family

First Published: The Communist, Vol. III, No. 6, March 15, 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Workers Congress (M-L) Introduction: The following contribution by the San Diego Organizing Committee is an excellent presentation of problems in family relations faced by communists which are rarely presented in our press. Our own organization has struggled with these same problems. Based on our experience, we expect the article to be a useful propaganda weapon to assist in overcoming contradictions within the family.

It is essential that comrades and friends recognize the practical, revolutionary importance of this kind of political sum-up of actual work. Preparing the conditions for a new communist party requires that revolutionaries throughout the country generalize their experience. Comrades need to provide political analyses of the problems we confront in day to day work. By submitting results openly to the movement for criticism and. evaluation, we enrich the fund of our common experience. This is a powerful means to develop common method and policy which is stable, consistent and correct in the face of our tasks.

Our struggle to build the vanguard communist party of the working class confronts us with tremendous theoretical and practical tasks. For most of our cadre and advanced contacts, this political work affects not only themselves but also their entire families. Whole evenings and weekends are now required for study and meetings. Ideological struggles among family members develop as some transform their world outlook faster than others. Security measures impose new restrictions on a whole set of existing family habits. These are just a few examples of the situations that we have seen develop in our own work. We see this article as an introduction to some aspects of the contradictions that arise in families of the advanced, particularly contradictions between parents and children.

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Enver Hoxha has stated, “The work of the Party (for us this means pre-party organizations – SDOC) is, above all, work with the people, and as such, it has many approaches, for people themselves are different, with interests, requirements, problems, and worries of all kinds. Their life is a whole complex; therefore, the Party should grasp all this complex and must not be one-sided in its work.” (Hoxha Speeches 1969-1970)

Comrade Hoxha makes clear that our work with the advanced is all-sided work. Furthermore, it must be taken up in a class-conscious way. Hoxha goes on to say, “Work with the people requires a thorough knowledge of the line of the party and a skill and tact in carrying it out... side by side with its Marxist Leninist content, its militant revolutionary class spirit, the method and style of our Party work plays a very important role.”(Ibid.) (Also see “Be Concerned with the Weil-Being of the Masses,” Mao’s Selected Works, V. 1, pg.147)


First of all, like all other political work, our approach to family relations must be guided by our political line. Family relations are inseparably connected with the Woman Question. The source of the oppression of women and children is historically connected with the appearance of private property and the consequent establishment of the male supremacist, monogamous family as the economic unit of society. Engels clearly demonstrated in Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State that the monogamous family of this period is “based on the supremacy of the man; its express aim is the begetting of children of undisputed paternity, this paternity being required in order that these children may in due time inherit their father’s wealth as his natural heirs.” (The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, Engels, Moscow Ed. pg. 62) With the overthrow of mother right (descent traced through women) and the changes of family form, children became the private property of their fathers and the care of children became the individual responsibility of women inside their private households. The full emancipation of women can occur only under the dictatorship of the proletariat, with the socialist ownership of the means of production, the full and equal participation in social production, the transformation of private household production into large scale socialized production, and the ideological struggle against all manifestations of male chauvinism. In socialist society there will exist the basis to struggle for the end of relations of exploitation and oppression between family members, between husband and wife, between parents and children.

While we struggle for proletarian revolution and the emancipation of women and children, we must recognize that contradictions exist within the working class family. These contradictions are a reflection of the inequality between men and women under capitalist production. They are a reflection of the bourgeois ideology of male chauvinism, which seeks to justify the existing inequalities by the idea that men are superior to women, that children belong to their parents. We unite with WCML’s position that these contradictions, including the contradictions between parents and children, are “contradictions among the people.” As such they “must be handled through democratic methods of discussion, persuasion, education and criticism-self criticism.” (see WC’s Resolutions on the Women Question, section 3.3)

Furthermore, we unite with WC’s position that “contradictions within the family are the responsibility of the whole organization”. Here, as in all our political work, it is a question of combatting bourgeois ideology. Instead of permitting individuals to take up these contradictions as purely “personal” matters, we should be applying a communist collective style of work. As Comrade Hoxha has said, “it is indispensable to eradicate the mentality of private property, the idea that family problems are merely private”. (Problems of the Struggle for the Complete Emancipation of Women, pg.185) If we consider our daily lives for a moment, we can realize that our personal family relations have a powerful effect on our political work. Our failure to handle these contradictions correctly retards the work of communist organizations and, consequently, the revolutionary struggle of the masses.


We learned of one person’s experience with the CPUSA in the 1940’s, when he was a young boy. His father had been designated as an union representative of the party in his trade union work. The boy resented the fact that his father’s political work kept them apart most of the time. He also resented the hardships on the whole family which was frequently harassed by the police. According to this person, the father’s response to his resentment was to avoid discussion of the problems of his work.

The boy came to resent the party itself and the ideology it stood for. Consequently, he never became active in the party, never took up the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat (which the party itself began to abandon by that time). The question arises – what does it mean to be trying to win people to communism, and fail to win our own children?

In this case we don’t know what the policy of the party was on this particular question; but we do see a definite line in practice. The father failed to deal with the contradictions between himself and his son as part of the class struggle. The father failed to take up the ideological struggle within his own family and thereby lost the invaluable initiative of at least one child. We can also conclude that the party itself, in this case, did not consciously struggle with the contradictions within the family, but rather left it to the spontaneous activity of the family, assuming that the father would take care of any family problems. In accepting that the family is a private matter, they promoted the ideology of male chauvinism.


From the beginning of our organization, we have had to deal with contradictions between parents and children. We didn’t start off being clear on the political line that could guide our work. And we have vacillated on how much organizational responsibility was correct and even realistic in this pre-party period. But we did realize that organizational discussion and decisions about parent-child relationships are crucial to the political development of the advanced both cadre and people with whom we work.


First of all, the same bourgeoisie that parents are fighting in the plants and communities is also oppressing our children: autocratic and anti-proletarian education, national chauvinism, police repression, sex-role stereotyping, “teen culture”, T.V propaganda etc. These are powerful weapons of the bourgeoisie and any class conscious parent can testify to their influence on our children. This influence demands that we pay more attention to developing our children politically and to help them with these problems. We cannot collectively transform ourselves into class conscious revolutionaries and leave our children to deal with bourgeois society alone. An important part of political work with our children is the ideological struggle to transform their world outlook. One reaction to this position is “No, they’re my kids.” Actually this means that the parents are viewing their children as private property. Communists instead view children as members of the revolutionary proletariat, whose care and education is the responsibility of us all. Another reaction is “Oh, not the kids, they’re too young.” Actually what this boils down to is that comrades don’t want to deal with the situation. It means that they are agreeing with bourgeois ideology that children are incapable of being responsible, productive members of society. Thus they are exaggerating the differences between children and adults and justifying the oppression of children. We aren’t talking about petty-bourgeois counter-culture trips where we get three year olds to yell pig at cops passing by. No, we mean that we apply the science of Marxism-Leninism to the everyday experiences of our children to show them our view on the questions facing them. We use the science to help them to work through the problems they face.

For example, several children of people we work with were fighting a lot when together. Their parents and other adult friends arranged a criticism-self criticism session for the children, who are of grade school age. In this session, and in other individual discussions, the children are learning to take criticism and to do self-criticism, analysing the source of their actions, and trying to work out plans for improvement in the future. This is one aspect of our children learning collective behaviour and learning to overcome the individualism they are taught in school and elsewhere.

As another modest but real example, the daughter of an advanced worker, along with three other girls had joined a grade school athletic team. They immediately faced a lot of male chauvinist harassment from the teacher and some boys on the team. Although the girls would fight back as individuals, they faced a superior force. The worker explained to the daughter that she should organize the others to all confront any further harassment from the boys or the male teacher. The girls did organize and at least temporarily halted the harassment. For the daughter of the worker, she learned through discussion and struggle about the need to organize the unity necessary to overcome the special oppression of women.

Some people might argue that this was no great victory for the proletariat, but it is one example of the real world of our parents and children. Moreover, in our present state of amateurishness and fragmentation it is a step forward. It cannot be dismissed anymore than the day-to-day struggles against harassment in a plant. Our movement is still plagued by the narrow notion that workers’ struggles occur only in plants. Our political work with children will not only help transform their world view, but also broaden our own view of the complexities of class struggle in the everyday lives of working people.


We have found that the second aspect of this question is the responsibilities of child care. The commitment of politically advanced forces to party-building means a very full week, not just an occasional evening now and then.

Parents, especially single parents, need help with child-care if they are to study and do their other political work. Moreover, because parents are not able to spend as much time with their children, childcare must be an all-sided responsibility, not only babysitting. We have tried to take up this responsibility not only to help our comrades, but also because as communists we share responsibility for all children.

Because of the woman’s role in household production, she bears primary responsibility for childrearing. We all know that all too often the woman in the family is left to deal with the problems of the children. As a result, women are held back the most by the contradict ions between parents and children. We need to struggle with families to see that the responsibilities of childrearing are shared.


We know that some communists do not engage in such struggle against manifestations of male chauvinism when they occur within working class families. They often don’t because they have idealized the proletarian family as it exists today. It is an error, to assume that the proletariat has spontaneously been able to combat subjective and objective conditions within bourgeois society and establish families based on mutual love and respect and free of inequality. Marxist-Leninists know that class consciousness does not develop spontaneously. We unite with WC’s presentation of the question in their Resolutions on the Woman Question: “In bourgeois society freedom of marriage and individual sex love based on mutual affection can become the rule only among the oppressed classes because all the foundations of the monogamous family based on private property are removed. But this can only happen where there is a constant and militant struggle against every form of male chauvinism, a sharing of domestic chores and a struggle for the full and equal participation of women in social production.” (see section 3.1)

To pretend that the proletarian family already spontaneously exists and not to take up the struggle against manifestations of male chauvinism within working class families is opportunism. It is the liquidation of an important aspect of the Woman Question and proletarian revolution. It is the liquidation of the struggle necessary to make proletarian relationships a reality.


We certainly recognize that our present level of organization limits us in our ability to carry out the correct line on problems that confront parents and children, just as it limits our ability to carry out all our work. Only with a party can we take up all these questions effectively and in a mass way. Party building is our central task and that points to definite tactical tasks that we must concentrate on and priorities we must set. But we cannot neglect children in the families of the advanced forces who are building the party. We must achieve some division of labor within our organization and collectives for this work. The kinds of problems we face when we neglect our children always come back to hold back our other work. Small contradictions become crises and parents then have to stop political work and take the time to deal with a more serious situation. Or, as in the case of the son of the CPUSA cadre discussed above, the children may come to resent our politics and turn their backs on communism, stifling their own political development. We can afford none of this.


Our policies towards political work with the children of the advanced should not be an attempt to create an alternative culture for “our” children alone. Rather the question of youth is a class question. In this pre-party period when we focus on winning the advanced of the whole working class, we are taking up a particular practical part of the whole question of youth–our work with the children of advanced forces.

But in this work we must broaden our view and develop our line on all the questions facing youth. It is only by applying Marxism-Leninism to the particular struggles they face that we demonstrate the power of M-L and begin to win them to our cause. Thus we need to discuss in our communist press our views on the various aspects of family life the divisions of age, bourgeois education, the so-called “youth culture”.

In conclusion, we encourage all comrades and advanced workers to defeat the tendency to leave the contradictions between parents and children to the individual family. Defeat spontaneity! Develop our communist line and method of work in all the questions that face us in our struggle to build the vanguard party of the working class! Use THE COMMUNIST to weld our unity!