Jenny von Westphalen - Wikipedia
Karl Marx was a German philosopher, economist, historian, sociologist, political theorist, Following the death of his wife Jenny in December , Marx developed a catarrh that kept him in ill health for the last 15 months of his life. . Capitalism mediates social relationships of production (such as among workers or. In recent years, there has been little discussion of Marx's writings on gender have had, at best, an ambiguous relationship with Marx and Marxism. . He entrusts her into the care of a religious woman and a priest who both. The focus is on relationships. Karl had a very loyal wife, and a devoted family. It was, after all, Marx's family's urgent needs that motivated him to.
Here, Marx shows both sides of this development.
Here, he makes a strong distinction between the concept of productive labor under capitalism and a concept of productive labor as such. The first is a one-sided understanding of productivity, where the only relevant factor is the production of surplus value for the capitalist. However, the second concept of productive labor focuses on the production of use values. Here, labor is valued as such if it produces something that can be used by individuals or society at large.
While Marx never directly repudiated this type of argument, his later positions appear to have changed, since he worked to incorporate women into the First International on an equal basis to men in the s. In his writings for the New York Tribune inMarx returned to his discussion of the position of upper-class women in capitalist society.
In two articles for the Tribune, Marx recounts the confinement of an aristocratic woman to an asylum in order to silence her and prevent her from further embarrassing her politically influential husband. While Marx does not discuss the ways in which women in particular are often falsely confined as a means of control, he does note the ease with which people can be confined regardless of their actual psychological state, if those requesting the confinement are wealthy and powerful enough to induce medical professionals to give their signatures.
Additionally, he shows a great deal of sympathy for Lady Bulwer-Lytton, who was effectively silenced due to an agreement by which she was only able to regain her freedom so long as she agreed to never discuss the incident again. In his research notebooks, as well as his letters and published writings, he began to articulate a less deterministic model of social development, in which less-developed societies could be the first to carry out revolutions so long as they were followed by revolutions in more advanced states.
Marx incorporated new historical subjects into his theory. It was not just the working class as an abstract entity that was capable of revolution. These notebooks give some indications, albeit in a fragmentary way, of how Marx saw women as subjects in the historical process. But there are significant differences. Engels tended to focus almost solely and one-sidedly on economic and technological change as factors in societal development. Marx, in contrast, took a more dialectical approach, where social organization is not only a subjective factor, but in the right situation can become an objective one as well.
This is particularly relevant to understanding their differences on gender oppression. In contrast, Marx not only noted the subordinate position of women, but also pointed to the potential for change, even under private property, with his discussion of the Greek goddesses. Even though ancient Greek society was quite oppressive to women, confining them to their own section of the home, Marx argued that the Greek goddesses potentially provided an alternative model for women.
Marx also showed in these notes the progress of upper-class Roman women, in contrast to their Greek counterparts. Moreover, Marx tended to take a more nuanced and dialectical approach to the development of contradictions in these early egalitarian societies.
Engels tended to view the relatively egalitarian communal societies as lacking significant contradictions, especially with regard to gender relations. This is particularly important since it tends to point in the direction of a historical understanding of the family.
In these, as well as the Morgan notes, Marx charts the contradictions present in each form of the family and how these contradictions sharpen, leading to significant changes in the structure of the family. Here, Marx appears to view the family as subject to a similar dialectic as that of other areas of society. What, if anything, does Marx have to offer to contemporary feminist debates? Is there the possibility of a Marxist feminism that does not lapse into economic determinism or privilege class over gender in analyzing contemporary capitalist society?
Thus, these categories could change as society changes. This could potentially be valuable to a feminist analysis. Marx never directly addressed gendered dualisms and categories, but he leaves some room in his theory for change within these categories. This is especially true in regard to two dualisms: In both cases, Marx points to the historical and transitory nature of these formulations.
Nature and culture are not absolute opposites: Moreover, in terms of the production-and-reproduction dualism, Marx is normally careful to note that both are necessary to humanity, but that these will take different forms based upon the technological and social development of the society in question. Marx points to two different aspects of these categories—the historically specific elements and the more abstract characteristics that exist in every society.
However, biology cannot be viewed as such outside of the social relations of a particular society. Rather, biology and nature are important variables when viewed within a socially mediated framework.
This is important for another reason.Marxist Feminism, Marriage and More
With his focus on social mediation and his emphasis on understanding particular social systems, Marx, as contemporary scholarship has demonstrated, avoided economic determinism. Certainly, economic factors play a very significant role in his thought, because they are seen as conditioning other social behavior, particularly in capitalism. However, Marx was often careful to note the reciprocal, dialectical relation between economic and social factors.
As was the case with nature and culture as well as product ion and reproduction, economic activity and social activity are dialectical moments of the whole in a particular mode of production.
In the last analysis, the two cannot be separated out completely. Thus, in these and his other writings, Marx, at least tentatively, began to discuss the interdependent relationship between class and gender without fundamentally privileging either in his analysis. Even though Marx did not write a great deal on gender, and did not develop a systematic theory of gender and the family, it was, for him, an essential category for understanding the division of labor, production, and society in general.
Marx noted the persistence of oppression in the bourgeois family and the need to work out a new form of the family. Eventually they returned to Germany, where they started the radical newspaper Neue Rheinische Zeitung after Prussian censorship subsided.
During the transition Jenny thought of the people who had made the same journey and found hope in their struggles: On reaching London, Karl, Jenny, and Friedrich Engels established a political review Revue and desperately fought to keep their enterprise alive by soliciting funds.
Her baby boy Fawsky, then six months old, slept no more than two hours at a time and suffered terrible convulsions. Meanwhile, she faced harassment from her landlady and two bailiffs for overdue rent. When Jenny did not have the money, they stripped her home of all its possessions, leaving the baby without a cradle and the children shivering on bare boards. Jenny travelled to Holland to beg her relatives for money with little success. Jenny was also pregnant, meaning both women would give birth in the spring of She had asked him for nothing but love and loyalty, and given him everything in return.
Karl knew that if Jenny learned of his adultery, she would leave with the children and their marriage would be ruined.
Housekeeper at the centre of Karl Marx's illicit affair in new play by central Victorian writer
Whenever Karl left London, Jenny had to fend off creditors and care for the family by herself. Karl, it is now at its worst pitch…I sit here and almost weep my eyes out and can find no help. My head is disintegrating. For a week I have kept my strength up and now I can no more.
Karl Marx - Wikipedia
The next spring, tragedy struck again. Jenny described the change in circumstance: We were sailing with all sails set into bourgeois life. And yet there were still the same petty pressures, the same struggles, the same old misery, the same intimate relationship with the three balls of the pawnshop — what was gone was the humor.
InCapital — the book Karl had been working on for some fifteen years, and his greatest achievement to date — was published in London. His family was hoping its success would not only buy food and pay off debt, but ignite the masses.
When the book went unrecognized they were crushed. You can believe me when I tell you that can be few books that have been written in more difficult circumstances, and I could write a secret history of it which would tell many, extreme many, unspoken troubles and anxieties and torments. If the workers had an inkling of the sacrifices that were necessary for this work, which was written only for them and for their sakes to be completed they would perhaps show a little more interest.
Jenny began to lose the faith and courage that had sustained her strength and resilience; she was beaten down and miserable, often lashing out at her family. In all these struggles we women have the harder part to bear because it is the lesser one.
A man draws strength from his struggle with the world outside, and is invigorated by the sight of the enemy, be their number legion.
We remain sitting at home, darning socks.
Marx on Gender and the Family: A Summary
I speak out of thirty years experience. Jenny lost four children as a result of poverty and illness. More than anything, she wanted her surviving daughters to have better lives — to never experience the deprivations she suffered. But it was not to be: Jenny was diagnosed with liver cancer in