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Marx, Engels and Lenin on the Origin of the Human Family

Outline of Class I

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S. J.


The basic principle of modern feminism is The Communist Manifesto. Marx and Engels could not have been more clear. They state, if Communism is to succeed, there must be the “Abolition of the family! Even the most radical flare up at this infamous proposal of the Communists. On what foundation is the present family, the bourgeois family, based? On capital, on private gain. In its completely developed form this family exists only among the bourgeoisie. But this state of things finds its complement in the practical absence of the family among the proletarians, and in public prostitution. The bourgeois family will vanish as a matter of course when its complement vanishes, and both will vanish with the vanishing of capital. Do you charge us with wanting to stop the exploitation of children by their parents? To this crime we plead guilty. But, you will say, we destroy the most hallowed of relations, when we replace home education by social. And your education! Is not that also social, and determined by the social conditions under which you educate, by the intervention of society, direct or indirect, by means of schools, etc.? The Communists have not invented the intervention of society in education; they do but seek to alter the character of that intervention, and to rescue education from the influence of the ruling class. The bourgeois claptrap about the family and education, about the hallowed co-relation of parent and child, becomes all the more disgusting, the more, by the action of modern industry, all family ties among the proletarians are torn asunder, and their children transformed into simple articles of commerce and instruments of labor. But you Communists would introduce community of women, screams the whole bourgeoisie in chorus."

Principal Sources

There are three main sources for Marxist feminism, which introduced the radical feminism of our day. The first was authored by Frederick Engels. The last two by Lenin.

They are: The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State; The Emancipation of Women; and Soviet Power and the State of Women.

Among these, the most important is Engels’ work The Origin of the Family. According to Engels, the family came into existence as a result of masculine domination of women. This is bedrock Marxism, as is also the foundation of present-day feminism.

As expressed by a present-day American leader of feminism, “The significant characteristic of monogamous marriage was its transformation of the nuclear family into the basic economic unit of society, within which a woman and her children became dependent upon an individual man. Arising in conjunction with exploitative class relations, this transformation resulted in the oppression of women that has persisted to the present day. As corollary to, or symptomatic of this transformation, the reckoning of descent was changed from `mother right’ (matrilineality) to `father right.’”

The author of the foregoing statement wrote the Introduction to Lenin’s, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. For years, she was professor of anthropology at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, New York.

Copyright © 1998 Inter Mirifica

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