Marxist feminism in Russia

  • Valerie Bryson
Part of the Women in Society book series


Although the Russian revolution has often been seen as a testing-ground for Marxist theory, it must be stressed that for Marx himself communism was essentially the product of industrial capitalism, in which technology could be used to liberate men from drudgery, and problems of scarcity would be ended; as capitalism was becoming a worldwide system, he also believed that communism would replace it on a world scale. All this was very different from the situation facing the Russian Bolsheviks when they seized power at the end of 1917, for although Russia had been industrialising rapidly it was still basically a peasant society, and the war with Germany had had a devastating effect on the economy. Moreover, contrary to the expectations of its leaders, events in Russia did not spark off successful proletarian revolutions in the more advanced European nations, but were followed by both civil war and foreign invasion. Many Western defenders of Marxism would therefore argue that the material preconditions for a successful communist revolution simply did not exist in Russia in the early twentieth century, and that failure was inevitable. From the point of view of the Woman Question, the resources needed to liberate women were not available: Engels, Bebel and Zetkin had all argued that women in communist society would be freed from domestic toil, but the provision of adequate public facilities was a luxury unattainable in a society fighting for its very survival.


Capitalist Society Marxist Theory Communist Society Orthodox Theory Marxist Analysis 
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© Valerie Bryson 1992

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  • Valerie Bryson

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