নতুন চেহারায়,নতুন ভঙ্গিমায় ছত্তিশগড়ে ফিরে আসছে সালওয়া জুদুম। ‘মাওবাদী’ আখ্যা দিয়ে চলছে নির্বিচারে সমাজকর্মী-সাংবাদিক-আইনজীবীদের ওপর আক্রমণ। আদিবাসী মানুষদের ধরপাকড়। হঠাৎই নিরুদ্দেশ হয়ে যাচ্ছেন নিরীহ গরিব আদিবাসীরা বস্তার থেকে! আদিবাসী মহিলাদের শ্লীলতাহানি, দল বেঁধে ধর্ষণ। অভিযোগ পুলিশের বিরুদ্ধে। বি জে পি কর্মীদের বিরুদ্ধে। সামাজিক একতা মঞ্চ গড়ে তুলে মাওবাদী দমনের নামে যে কোন প্রতিবাদকে থামানোর চেষ্টা চলছে কয়েকমাস ধরেই। বি জে পি শাসিত ছত্তিশগড়ের মুখ্যমন্ত্রী রামন সিং ও তাঁর বশংবদ পুলিশের একটাই লক্ষ্য বস্তার, বিজাপুর, সুকমার খবর যাতে বাইরের পৃথিবীতে না আসে।
২০শে ফেব্রুয়ারি। জগদলপুর থেকে গিদমে নিজের বাড়ি ফিরছিলেন মানবাধিকার ও সমাজকর্মী-আপ নেত্রী সোনি সোরি। অতর্কিতে আক্রমণ, সোনি সোরির মুখে ছোঁড়া হয় সবুজ রঙের রাসায়নিক তরল। কালো মুখ নিয়ে সোনি সোরি দিল্লিতে, অ্যাপোলো হাসপাতালে ভর্তি ছিলেন। দীর্ঘদিন ধরেই বস্তার অঞ্চলে আদিবাসীদের মধ্যে কাজ করে আসছেন সোরি। মাওবাদী তকমা সেঁটে দিয়ে আদিবাসী মানুষদের ওপর পুলিশের অত্যাচার, জুলুমের বিরুদ্ধেও বারে বারে সরব হয়েছেন তিনি। সালওয়া জুদুমের বিরুদ্ধে লাগাতার আন্দোলন চালিয়ে গেছেন সোরি। অভিযোগ করেছিলেন জেলে শারীরিক নির্যাতনের বিরুদ্ধে। গত লোকসভা ভোটে বস্তার কেন্দ্র থেকে আপ-র প্রার্থী ছিলেন সোরি।
কয়েকদিন ধরেই চলছিল হুমকি। বাড়িতে ছোঁড়া হয়েছিল পাথর। সোরির পরিবারের লোকেদেরও দেওয়া হয়েছিল প্রাণনাশের হুমকি। বস্তার ছাড়তে হবে সোনি সোরিকে, অভিযুক্ত সেই বি জে পি কর্মীদের নিয়ে গঠিত ‘সামাজিক একতা মঞ্চ’। শেষ পর্যন্ত হামলা।
গত তিন বছর ধরে নিরীহ আদিবাসীদের ওপর পুলিশী জুলুম, মিথ্যা মামলায় তাদের সাহায্যের জন্য কাজ করছিলেন দুই মহিলা আইনজীবী শালিনী গেরা ও ইশা খান্ডেলওয়াল। গড়ে তুলেছিলেন ‘জগদলপুর লিগাল এইড গ্রুপ’। কয়েকমাস ধরে চলছে জগদলপুরে আদিবাসী মহিলাদের ওপর যৌন হেনস্তা, অভিযোগ এসেছে দলবদ্ধ ধর্ষণেরও। বেশিরভাগ ক্ষেত্রেই অভিযুক্ত পুলিশ ও আধা সামরিক বাহিনী। শালিনী ও ইশাকে জগদলপুর ছাড়তে হয়েছে। পুলিশ বাড়িওয়ালাকে ডেকে বলেছে ওঁদের ভাড়া থেকে তুলতে।
একই অবস্থার শিকার হয়েছেন সাংবাদিক মালিনী সুব্রহ্মণ্যম। একসময়ে ছত্তিশগড়ে রেডক্রসের প্রধান ছিলেন মালিনী। নিরীহ আদিবাসীদের ওপর মাওবাদী অভিযোগ দেখে পুলিশের ধরপাকড়, ভুয়ো এনকাউন্টার, মিথ্যে আত্মসমর্পণের নাটক নিয়ে এখন নিয়মিত লিখছেন ওয়েব পোর্টাল স্ক্রল ডট ইন এ। বিজাপুরে আদিবাসী মহিলাদের ওপর পুলিশ-আধাসেনার যৌন আক্রমণ নিয়েও লিখেছিলেন তিনি। বারে বারে হুমকির মুখে পড়েছেন মালিনী। ‘সামাজিক একতা মঞ্চ’ গত ৬ই ফেব্রুয়ারি চড়াও হয় মালিনীর ভাড়াবাড়িতে। মালিনী নাকি মাওবাদীদের প্রতি সহানুভূতিশীল, এই অভিযোগে তাঁর বাড়িতে ঢিল ছোঁড়া হয়, গাড়ির কাচ ভাঙা হয়। চলতে থাকে অশ্রাব্য গালিগালাজ। আজ বস্তারে থাকেন না মালিনী। গত ১৯শে ফেব্রুয়ারি ছাড়তে বাধ্য হয়েছেন ছত্তিশগড়।
বস্তার ছাড়া হয়েছে বিশিষ্ট সমাজকর্মী বেলা ভাটিয়াও। কেমব্রিজ বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের পি এইচ ডি, মুম্বাইয়ের ‘টাটা ইন্সটিটিউট অফ সোশ্যাল সায়েন্স’-র প্রাক্তন অধ্যাপিকা বেলা বিগত একবছর ধরে গরিব আদিবাসীদের মধ্যে কাজ করছিলেন। ২০০৬ সালে প্ল্যানিং কমিশন গঠিত বিশেষজ্ঞ কমিটির সদস্যা ছিলেন বেলা, সেই একই কমিটিতে ছিলেন আজকের জাতীয় নিরাপত্তা উপদেষ্টা অজিত দোভালও! ছত্তিশগড়ের মাওবাদী সমস্যা নিয়ে সেই বিশেষজ্ঞ কমিটি বলেছিল গরিব আদিবাসী ও দলিত সম্প্রদায়ের সাথে সরকার, সমাজের মূলস্রোতের ধারাবাহিক বিচ্ছিন্নতার সুযোগেই মাওবাদীরা নিজেদের অবস্থান তৈরি করেছে। বেলা ভাটিয়ার বিরুদ্ধেও একই ভাবে মাওবাদীদের সহানুভূতিশীল অভিযোগে আক্রমণ, কুৎসা,হুমকি চালিয়ে গেছে ‘সামাজিক একতা মঞ্চ’। বেলা ভাটিয়াও এখন বস্তার ছাড়া। জগদলপুরের বাইরে এখন থাকেন তিনি।
আদিবাসীদের ওপর আক্রমণ, মাওবাদী অভিযোগে মিথ্যে মামলা, ভুয়ো সংঘর্ষে মৃত্যুর বিরুদ্ধে সরব হওয়া কন্ঠস্বরগুলিকে দমানো হচ্ছে বারে বারেই। দীর্ঘ হচ্ছে তালিকা। অভিযোগ মূলত দুটি সংগঠনের বিরুদ্ধে। পুলিশের প্রত্যক্ষ মদতে চলছে তাদের কাজ।
সালওয়া জুদুমের প্রাক্তন নেতা, এখন বি জে পি-র মাতব্বর মধুকর রাওয়ের নেতৃত্বে গড়ে ওঠা ‘নকশাল পীড়িত সংঘর্ষ সমিতি’ আর বস্তারের স্থানীয় নেতার ভাইপোর গড়ে তোলা ‘সামাজিক একতা মঞ্চ’।
গত কয়েক মাসে বস্তার, বিজাপুর, জগদলপুরে অজস্র মানবাধিকার লঙ্ঘনের ঘটনা ঘটলেও নীরব পুলিশ। একটা এফ আই আরও দায়ের হয়নি, তদন্ত দূর অস্ত। এত ঘটনা ঘটলেও দায় এড়িয়েছেন বস্তারের ইন্সপেক্টর জেনারেল কাল্লুরি।
‘বস্তারের মানুষ বাইরে থেকে আসা ওনাদের মেনে নিতে পারছিলেন না, সমাজকর্মীরা মাওবাদীদের প্রতি সহানুভূতিশীল হয়ে পুলিশের অভিযানে বাধা দিচ্ছিলেন, এই ঘটনাগুলি তারই বহিঃপ্রকাশ’! সাফ সাফাই কাল্লুরির।
Sexual Relations and the Class Struggle
Source: Alexandra Kollontai, Selected Writings, Allison & Busby, 1977;
Translated: by Alix Holt, 1972;
Among the many problems that demand the consideration and attention of contemporary mankind, sexual problems are undoubtedly some of the most crucial. There isn’t a country or a nation. apart from the legendary “islands”, where the question of sexual relationships isn’t becoming an urgent and burning issue. Mankind today is living through an acute sexual crisis which is far more unhealthy and harmful for being long and drawn-out. Throughout the long journey of human history, you probably won’t find a time when the problems of sex have occupied such a central place in the life of society; when the question of relationships between the sexes has been like a conjuror, attracting the attention of millions of troubled people; when sexual dramas have served as such a never-ending source of inspiration for every sort of art.
As the crisis continues and grows more serious, people are getting themselves into an increasingly hopeless situation. and are trying desperately by every available means to settle the “insoluble question”. But with every new attempt to solve the problem, the confused knot of personal relationships gets more tangled. It’s as if we couldn’t see the one and only thread that could finally lead us to success in controlling the stubborn tangle. The sexual problem is like a vicious circle. and however frightened people are and however much they run this way and that, they are unable to break out.
The conservatively inclined part of mankind argue that we should return to the happy times of the past, we should re-establish the old foundations of the family and strengthen the well-tried norms of sexual morality. The champions of bourgeois individualism say that we ought to destroy all the hypocritical restrictions of the obsolete code of sexual behaviour. These unnecessary and repressive “rags” ought to be relegated to the archives – only the individual conscience. the individual will of each person can decide such intimate questions. Socialists, on the other hand, assure us that sexual problems will only be settled when the basic reorganisation of the social and economic structure of society has been tackled. Doesn’t this “putting off the problem until tomorrow” suggest that we still haven’t found that one and only “magic thread”? Shouldn’t we find or at least locate this “magic thread” that promises to unravel the tangle? Shouldn’t we find it now. at this very moment? The history of human society. the history of the continual battle between various social groups and classes of opposing aims and interests. gives us the clue to finding this “thread”. It isn’t the first time that mankind has gone through a sexual crisis. This isn’t the first time that the pressure of a rushing tide of new values and ideals has blurred the clear and definite meaning of moral commandments about sexual relationships. The “sexual crisis” was particularly acute at the time of the Renaissance and the Reformation, when a great social advance pushed the proud and patriarchal feudal nobility who were used to absolute command into the background, and cleared the way for the development and establishment of a new social force – the bourgeoisie. The sexual morality of the feudal world had developed out of the depths of the – tribal way of life – the collective economy and the tribal authoritarian leadership that stifles the individual will of the individual member. This clashed with the new and strange moral code of the rising bourgeoisie. The sexual morality of the bourgeoisie is founded on principles that are in sharp contradiction to the basic morality of feudalism. Strict individualism and the exclusiveness and isolation of the “nuclear family” replace the emphasis on – collective work – that was characteristic of both the local and regional economic structure of patrimonial life. Under capitalism the ethic of competition. the triumphant principles of individualism and exclusive private property, grew and destroyed whatever remained of the idea of the community, which was to some extent common to all types of tribal life. For a whole century, while the complex laboratory of life was turning the old norms into a new formula and achieving the outward harmony of moral ideas. men wandered confusedly between two very different sexual codes and attempted to accommodate themselves to both.
But in those bright and colourful days of change, the sexual crisis, although profound. did not have the threatening character that it has assumed in our time. The main reason for this is that in “the great days” of the Renaissance, in the “new age” when the bright light of a new spiritual culture flooded the dying world with its clear colours, flooded the bare monotonous life of the Middle Ages, the sexual crisis affected only a relatively small part of the population. By far the largest section of the population. the peasantry, was affected only in the most indirect way and only as, slowly, over the course of centuries, a change in the economic base, in the economic relations of the countryside. took place. At the top of the social ladder a bitter battle between two opposing social worlds was fought out. This involved also a struggle between their different ideals and values and ways of looking at things. It was these people who experienced and were threatened by the sexual crisis that developed. The peasants, wary of new things, continued to cling firmly to the well-tried tribal tradition handed down from their forefathers. and only under the pressure of extreme necessity modified and adapted this tradition to the changing conditions of their economic environment. Even at the height of the struggle between the bourgeois and the feudal world the sexual crisis by-passed the “class of tax-payers”. As the upper strata of society went about breaking up the old ways, the peasants in fact seemed to be more intent on clinging firmly to their traditions. I, spite of the continuous whirlwinds that threatened overhead and shook the very soil under their feet, the peasants, especially our Russian peasantry, managed to preserve the basis of their sexual code untouched and unshaken for many centuries.
The story today is very different. The “sexual crisis” does not spare even the peasantry. Like an infectious disease it “knows neither mansions to the rank nor status”. It spreads from the palaces and crowded quarters of the working class. looks in on the peaceful dwelling places of the petty bourgeoisie, and makes its way into the heart of the countryside. It claims victims in the villas of the European bourgeoisie. in the fusty basement of the worker’s family, and in the smoky hut of the peasant. There is “no defence, no bolt” against sexual conflict. To imagine that only the members of the well-off sections of society are floundering and are in the throes of these problems would he to make a grave mistake. The waves of the sexual crisis are sweeping over the threshold of workers’ homes, and creating situations of conflict that are as acute and heartfelt as the psychological sufferings of the “refined bourgeois world”. The sexual crisis no longer interests only the “propertied”. The problems of sex concern the largest section of society they – concern the working class in its daily life. It is therefore, hard to understand why this vital and urgent subject is treated with such indifference. This indifference is unforgivable. One of the tasks that con. front the working class in its attack on the “beleaguered fortress of the future” is undoubtedly the task of establishing more healthy and more joyful relationships between the sexes.
What are the roots of this unforgivable indifference to one of the essential tasks of the working class? How can we explain to ourselves the, hypocritical way in which “sexual problems” are relegated to the realm of “private matters” that are not worth the effort and attention of the collective? Why has the fact been ignored that throughout history one of the constant features of social struggle has been the attempt to change relationships between the sexes, and the type of moral codes that determine these relationships; and that the way personal relationships are organised in a certain social group has had a vital influence on the outcome of the struggle between hostile social closes?
The tragedy of our society is not just that the usual forms of behaviour and the principles regulating this behaviour are breaking down, but that a spontaneous wave of new attempts at living is developing from within the social fabric, giving man hopes and ideals that cannot yet be realised. We are people living in the world of property relationships, a world of sharp class contradictions and of an individualistic morality. We still live and think under the heavy hand of an unavoidable loneliness of spirit. Man experiences this “loneliness” even in towns full of shouting. noise and people, even in a crowd of close friends and work-mates. Because of their loneliness men are apt to cling in a predatory and unhealthy way to illusions about finding a “soul mate from among the members of the opposite sex. They see sly Eros as the only means of charming away, if only for a time, the gloom of inescapable loneliness.
People have perhaps never in any age felt spiritual loneliness as deeply and persistently as at the present time. People have probably never become so depressed and fallen so fully under the numbing influence of this loneliness. It could hardly be otherwise. The darkness never seems so black as when there’s a light shining just ahead.
The “individualists”. who are only loosely organised into a collective with other individuals, now have the chance to change their sexual relationships so that they are based on the creative principle of friendship and togetherness rather than on something blindly physiological. The individualistic property morality of the present day is beginning to seem very obviously paralysing and oppressive. In criticising the quality of sexual relationships modem man is doing far more than rejecting the outdated forms of behaviour of the current moral code. His lonely soul is seeking the regeneration of the very essence of these relationships. He moans and pines for “great love”, for a situation of warmth and creativity which alone has the power to disperse the cold spirit of loneliness from which present day “Individualists” suffer.
If the sexual crisis is three quarters the result of external socioeconomic relationships, the other quarter hinges on our “refined individualistic psyche”, fostered by the ruling bourgeois ideology. The “potential for loving” of people today is, as the German writer Meisel-Hess puts it, at a low ebb. Men and women seek each other in the hope of finding for themselves, through another person, a means to a larger share of spiritual and physical pleasure. It makes no difference whether they are married to the partner or not they give little thought to what’s going on in the other person, to what’s happening to their emotions and psychological processes.
The “crude individualism” that adorns our era is perhaps nowhere as blatant as in the organisation of sexual relationships. A person wants to escape from his loneliness and naively imagines that being “in love” gives him the right to the soul of the other person – the right to warm himself in the rays of that rare blessing of emotional closeness and understanding. We individualists have had our emotions spoiled in the persistent cult of the “ego”. We imagine that we can reach the happiness of being in a state of “great love” with those near to us, without having to “give” up anything of ourselves.
The claims we make on our “contracted partner” are absolute and undivided. We are unable to follow the simplest rule of love – that another person should be treated with great consideration. New concepts of the relationships between the sexes are already being outlined. They will teach us to achieve relationships based on the unfamiliar ideas of complete freedom, equality and genuine friendship. But in the meantime mankind has to sit in the cold with its spiritual loneliness and can only dream about the “better age” when all relationships between people will be warmed by the rays of “the sun god”, will experience a sense of togetherness, and will be educated in the new conditions of living. The sexual crisis cannot be solved unless there is a radical reform of the human psyche, and unless man’s potential for loving is increased. And a basic transformation of the socio-economic relationships along communist lines is, essential if the psyche is to be re-formed. This is an “old truth” but there is no other way out. The sexual crisis will in no way be reduced, ‘whatever kind of marriage or personal relationships people care to try.
History has never seen such a variety of personal relationships – indissoluble marriage with its “stable family”, “free unions”, secret adultery; a girl living quite openly with her lover in so-called “wild marriage”; pair marriage, marriage in threes and even the complicated marriage of four people – not to talk of the various forms of commercial prostitution. You get the same two moral codes existing side by side in the peasantry as well – a mixture of the old tribal way of life and the developing bourgeois family. Thus you get the permissiveness of the girls’ house>*, side by side with the attitude that fornication, or men sleeping with their daughters-in-law, is a disgrace. It’s surprising that. in the face of the contradictory and tangled forms of present-day personal relationships, people are able to preserve a faith in moral authority, and are able to make sense of these contradictions and thread their way through these mutually destructive and incompatible moral codes. Even the usual justification – “I live by the new morality” – doesn’t help anyone, since the new morality is still only in the process of being formed. Our task is to draw out from the chaos of present-day contradictory sexual norms the shape, and make clear the principles, of a morality that answers the spirit of the progressive and revolutionary class.
Besides the already mentioned inadequacies of the contemporary psyche – extreme individuality, egoism that has become a cult – the “ sexual crisis” is made worse by two characteristics of the psychology of modern man:
1. The idea of “possessing” the married partner;
2. The belief that the two sexes are unequal, that they are of unequal worth in every way, in every sphere, including the sexual sphere.
Bourgeois morality, with its introverted individualistic family based entirely on private property, has carefully cultivated the idea that one partner should completely “possess” the other. It has been very successful. The idea of “possession” is more pervasive now than under the patrimonial system of marriage relationships. During tile long historical period that developed under the aegis of the “tribe”. the idea of a man possessing his wife (there has never been any thought of a wife having undisputed possession of her husband) did not go further than a purely physical possession. The wife was obliged to be faithful physically – her soul was her own. Even the knights recognised the right of their wives to have chichesbi(platonic friends and admirers) and to receive the “devotion” of other knights and minnesingers. It is the bourgeoisie who have carefully tended and fostered the ideal of absolute possession of the “contracted partner’s” emotional as well as physical “I”, thus extending the concept of property rights to include the right to the other person’s whole spiritual and emotional world. Thus the family structure was strengthened and stability guaranteed in the period when the bourgeoisie were struggling for domination. This is the ideal that we have accepted as our heritage and have been prepared to see as an unchangeable moral absolute! The idea. of “property” goes far beyond the boundaries of “lawful marriage”. It makes itself felt as an inevitable ingredient of the most “free” union of love. Contemporary lovers with all their respect for freedom are not satisfied by the knowledge of the physical faithfulness alone of the person they love. To be rid of the eternally present threat of loneliness, we “launch an attack” on the emotions of the person we love with a cruelty and lack of delicacy that will not he understood by future generations. We demand the right to know every secret of this person’s being. The modern lover would forgive physical unfaithfulness sooner than “spiritual” unfaithfulness. He sees any emotion experienced outside the boundaries of the “free” relationship as the loss of his own personal treasure.
People “in love” are unbelievably insensitive in their relations to a third person. We have all no doubt observed this strange situation two people who love each other are in a hurry, before they have got to know each other properly. to exercise their rights over all the relationships that the other person has formed up till that time, to look into the innermost corners of their partner’s life. Two people who yesterday were unknown to each other, and who come together in a single moment of mutual erotic feeling, rush to get at the heart of the other person’s being. They want to feel that this strange and incomprehensible psyche. With its past experience that can never be suppressed, is an extension of their own self. The idea that the married pair are each other’s property is so accepted that when a young couple who were yesterday each living their own separate lives are today opening each other’s correspondence without a blush, and making common property of the words of a third person who is a friend of only one of them, this hardly strikes us as something unnatural. But this kind of “intimacy” is only really possible when people have been working out their lives together for a long period of ‘time. Usually a dishonest kind of closeness is ‘substituted for this genuine feeling, the deception being fostered by the mistaken idea that a physical relationship between two people is a sufficient basis for extending the rights of possession to each other’s emotional being.
The “inequality” of the sexes – the inequality of their rights. the unequal value of their physical and emotional experience – is the other significant circumstance that distorts the psyche of contemporary man and is a reason for the deepening of the – sexual crisis”. The – double morality” inherent in both patrimonial and bourgeois society has, over the course of centuries. poisoned the psyche of men and women. These attitudes are so much a part of us that they are more difficult to get rid of than the ideas about possessing people that we have inherited only from bourgeois ideology. The idea that the sexes are unequal, even in the sphere of physical and emotional experience, means that the same action will be regarded differently according to whether it was the action of a man or a woman. Even the most “progressive” member of the bourgeoisie, who has long ago rejected the whole code of current morality, easily catches himself out at this point since he too in judging a man and a woman for the same behaviour will pass different sentences. One simple example is enough. Imagine that a member of the middle-class intelligentsia who is learned, involved in politics and social affairs – who is in short a “personality”, even a “public figure” – starts sleeping with his cook (a not uncommon thing to happen) and even becomes legally married to her. Does bourgeois society change its attitude to this man, does the event throw even the tiniest shadow of doubt as to his moral worth? Of course not.
Now imagine another situation. A respected woman of bourgeois society – a social figure, a research student, a doctor, or a writer, it’s all the same – becomes friendly with her footman, and to complete the scandal marries him. How does bourgeois society react to the behaviour of the hitherto “respected” woman? They cover her with “scorn”, of course! And remember, it’s so much the worse for her if her husband, the footman, is good-looking or possesses other “physical qualities”. “It’s obvious what she’s fallen for”, will be the sneer of the hypocritical bourgeoisie.
If a woman’s choice has anything of an “individual character” about it she won’t be forgiven by bourgeois society. This attitude is a kind of throwback to the traditions of tribal times. Society still wants a woman to take into account, when she is making her choice. rank and status and the instructions and interests of her family. Bourgeois society cannot see a woman as an independent person separate from her family unit and outside the isolated circle of domestic obligations and virtues. Contemporary society goes even further than the ancient tribal society in acting as woman’s trustee, instructing her not only to marry but to fall in love only with those people who are “worthy” of her.
We are continually meeting men of considerable spiritual and intellectual qualities who have chosen as their friend-for-life a worthless and empty woman, who in no way matches the spiritual worth of the ,husband. We accept this as something normal and we don’t think twice about it. At the most friends might pity Ivan Ivanovich for having landed himself with such an unbearable wife. But if it happens the other way round, we flap our hands and exclaim with concern. “How could such an outstanding woman as Maria Petrovna fall for such a nonentity? I begin to doubt the worth of Maria Petrovna.” Where do we get this double criterion from? What is the reason for it? The reason is undoubtedly that the idea of the sexes being of “different value’’ has become, over the centuries, a part of man’s psychological make-up. We are used to evaluating a woman not as a personality with individual qualities and failings irrespective of her physical and emotional experience, but only as an appendage of a man. This man, the husband or the lover. throws the light of his personality over the woman, and it is this reflection and not the woman herself that we consider to be the true definition of her emotional and moral make-up. In the eyes of society the personality of a man can be more easily separated from his actions in the sexual sphere. The personality of a woman is judged almost exclusively in terms of her sexual life. This type of attitude stems from the role that women have played in society over the centuries, and it is only now that a re-evaluation of these attitudes is slowly being achieved, at least in outline. Only a change in the economic role of woman, and her independent involvement in production, can and will bring about the weakening of these mistaken and hypocritical ideas.
The three basic circumstances distorting the modern psyche – extreme egoism, the idea that married partners possess each other, and the acceptance of the inequality of the sexes in terms of physical and emotional experience – must be faced if the sexual problem is to he settled. People will find the “magic key” with which they can break out of their situation only when their psyche has a sufficient store of “feelings of consideration”. when their ability to love is greater, when the idea of freedom in personal relationships becomes fact and when the principle Of “comradeship” triumphs over the traditional idea of Inequality” and submission. The sexual problems cannot be solved without this radical re-education of our psyche.
But isn’t this asking too much? isn’t the suggestion utopian Without foundation, the naive notion of a dreaming idealist? How are you honestly going to raise mankind’s “potential for loving”? Haven’t wise men of all nations since time immemorial, beginning with Buddha and Confucius and ending with Christ, been busying themselves over this? And who can say if the – potential for loving” has been raised? Isn’t this kind of well – meaning daydream about the solution of the sexual crisis simply a confession of weakness and a refusal to go on with the search for the “magic key”?
Is that the case? Is the radical re-education of our psyche and Our approach to sexual relationships something so unlikely, so removed from reality? Couldn’t one say that, on the contrary, while great social
and economic changes are in progress, the conditions are being created that demand and give rise to a new basis for psychological experience that is in line with what we have been talking about? Another class, a new social group, is coming forward to replace the bourgeoisie. with its bourgeois ideology. and its individualistic code of sexual morality. The progressive class, as it develops in strength. cannot fail to reveal new ideas about relationships between the sexes that form in close connection with the problems of its social class.
The complicated evolution of socio-economic relations taking place before our eyes. which changes all our ideas about the role of women m social life and undermines the sexual morality of the bourgeoisie. has two contradictory results. On the one hand we see mankind’s tireless efforts to adapt to the new, changing socio-economic conditions. This is manifest either in an attempt to preserve the “old forms” while providing them with a new content (the observance of the external form of the indissoluble, strictly monogamous marriage with an acceptance. in practice, of the freedom of the partners) or in the acceptance of new forms which contain however all the elements of the moral code of bourgeois marriage (the “free” union where the compulsive possessiveness of the partners is greater than within legal marriage). On the other hand we see the slow but steady appearance of new forms of relationships between the sexes that differ from the old norms in outward form and in spirit.
Mankind is not groping its way toward these new ideas with much confidence. but we need to look at its attempt, however vague it is at the moment, since it is an attempt closely linked with the tasks of the proletariat as the class which is to capture the “beleaguered fortress” of the future. If, amongst the complicated labyrinth of contradictory and tangled sexual norms, you want to find the beginnings of more healthy relationships between the sexes – relationships that promise to lead humanity out of the sexual crisis – you have to leave the “cultured quarters” of the bourgeoisie with their refined individualistic psyche, and take a look at the huddled dwelling-places of the working class. There, amidst the horror and squalor of capitalism. amidst tears and curses, the springs of life are welling up.
You can see the double process which we have just mentioned working itself out in the lives of the proletariat, who have to exist under the pressure of harsh economic conditions, cruelly exploited by capitalism. You can see both the process of “passive adjustment” and that of active opposition to the existing reality. The destructive influence of capitalism destroys the basis of the worker’s family and forces him unconsciously to “adapt” to the existing conditions. This gives rise to a whole series of situations with regard to relationships between the sexes are similar to those in other social classes. Under the pressure of low wages the worker inevitably tends to get married at a later age. If twenty years ago a worker usually got married between the ages of twenty and twenty-five, he now shoulders the cares of a family only towards his thirtieth year. The higher the cultural demands of the worker – the more he values the opportunity of being in contact with cultural life, of visiting theatres and lectures, of reading papers and magazines, of giving his spare time to struggle and politics or to some favourite pursuit such as art or reading etc. – the later he tends to get married. But physical needs won’t take a financial situation into consideration: they insist on making themselves felt. The working-class bachelor, in the same way as the middle-class bachelor, looks to prostitution for an outlet. This is an example of the passive adjustment of the working class to the unfavourable conditions of their existence. Take another example – When the worker marries, the low level of pay forces the worker’s family to “regulate” childbirth just as the bourgeois family does. The frequent cases of infanticide. the growth of prostitution – these are all expressions of the same process. These are all examples of adjustment by the working class to the surrounding reality. But this is not a process characteristic of the proletariat alone. All the other classes and sections of the population caught up in the world process of capitalist development react in this way.
We see a difference only when we begin to talk about the active. creative forces at work that oppose rather than adapt to the repressive reality. and about the new ideals and attempts at new relationship between the sexes. It is only within the working class that this active opposition is taking shape. This doesn’t mean that the other classes and sections of the population (particularly the middle-class intelligentsia who, by the circumstances of their social existence, stand closest to the working class) don’t adopt the “new” forms that are being worked out by the progressive working class. The bourgeoisie, motivated by an instinctive desire to breathe new life into their dead and feeble forms of marriage, seize upon the “new” ideas of the working class. But the ideals and code of sexual morality that the working class develops do not 9~er: the class needs of the bourgeoisie. They reflect the demands of the working class and therefore serve as a new weapon in its social struggle. They help shatter the foundations of the social domination of ,tlhg bourgeoisie. Let us make this point clear by an example.
The attempt by the middle-class intelligentsia to replace indissoluble marriage by the freer, more easily broken ties of civil marriage destroys the essential basis of the social stability of the, bourgeoisie. It destroys the monogamous, property-orientated family. On the other hand. a greater fluidity in relationships between the sexes coincides with and is even the indirect result of one of the basic tasks of the working class. The rejection of the element of “submission” in marriage is going to destroy the last artificial ties of the bourgeois family. This act of “submission” on the part of one member of the working class to another, in the same way as the sense of possessiveness in relationships, has a harmful effect on the proletarian psyche. It is not in the interests of that revolutionary class to elect only certain members as its independent representatives, whose duty it is to serve the class interests before the interests of the individual. isolated family. Conflicts between the interests of the family and the interests of the class which occur at the time of a strike or during an active struggle, and the moral yardstick with which the proletariat views such events, are sufficiently clear evidence of the basis of the new proletarian ideology.
Suppose family affairs require a businessman to take his capital out of a firm at a time when the enterprise is in financial difficulties. Bourgeois morality is clear-cut in its estimate of his action: “The interests of the family come first”. We can compare with this the attitude of workers to a strikebreaker who defies his comrades and goes to work during a strike to save his family from being hungry. “The interests of the class come first”. Here’s another example. The love and loyalty of the middle-class husband to his family are sufficient to divert his wife from all interests outside the home and end up by tying her to the nursery and the kitchen. “The ideal husband can support the ideal family” is the way the bourgeoisie looks at it. But how do workers look upon a “conscious” member of their class who shuts the eyes of his wife or girl-friend to the social struggle? For the sake of individual happiness. for the sake of the family, the morality of the working class will demand that women take part in the life that is unfolding beyond the doorsteps. The “captivity” of women in the home, the way family interests are placed before all else, the widespread exercise of absolute property rights by the husband over the wife – all these things are being broken down by the basic principle of the working-class ideology of “comradely solidarity”. The idea that some members are unequal and must submit to other members of one and the same class is in contradiction with the basic proletarian principle of comradeship. This principle of comradeship is basic to the ideology of the working class. It colours and determines the whole developing proletarian morality, a morality which helps to re-educate the personality of man, allowing him to be capable of feeling, capable of freedom instead of being bound by a sense of property, capable of comradeship rather than inequality and submission.
It is an old truth that every new class that develops as a result an advance in economic growth and material culture offers mankind an appropriately new ideology. The code of sexual behaviour is a part of this ideology. However it is worth saying something about “proletarian ethics” or “proletarian sexual morality”, in order to criticise the well-worn idea that proletarian sexual morality is no more than “super-structure and that there is no place for any change in this sphere until the economic base of society has been changed. As if the ideology of a certain class is formed only when the breakdown in the socio-economic relationships, guaranteeing the dominance of that class. has been completed! All the experience of history teaches us that a social group works out its ideology, and consequently its sexual morality. in the process of its struggle with hostile social forces.
Only with the help of new spiritual values, created within and answering the needs of the class. will that class manage to strengthen its. social position. It can only successfully win power from those groups in society that are hostile to it by holding to these new norms and ideals. To search for the basic criteria for a morality that can reflect the
interests of the working class, and to see that the developing sexual norms are in accordance with these criteria – this is the task that must be tackled by the ideologists of the working class. We have to understand that it is only by becoming aware of the creative process that is going on within society, and of the new demands, new ideals and new norms that are being formed, only by becoming clear about the bash of the sexual morality of the progressive class, that we can possibly make sense of the chaos and contradictions of sexual relationships and find the thread that will make it possible to undo the tightly rolled up tangle of sexual problems.
We must remember that only a code of sexual morality that is in harmony with the problems of the working class can serve as an important weapon in strengthening the working class’s fighting position. The experience of history teaches us that much. What can stop us using this weapon in the interests of the working class, who are fighting for a communist system and for new relationships between the sexes that are deeper and more joyful?
In the traditional Russian villages, the young girls would often get together to rent an old hut or a room in someone’s house. They would gather there in the evenings to tell stories, do needlework and sing. The young men would come to join in the merrymaking. Sometimes it seems that the merrymaking would become an orgy, though there are conflicting ideas about this.