Saturday, 29 May 2010

Kollontai: a revolutionary view of work, sex, love and just about everything

Counterfire has just published a classic work by Alexandra Kollontai: a remarkably ahead-of-its-time analysis (from 1909) of class, women's oppression and strategies for women's liberation. This version has a bracing introduction by Tansy Hoskins:

'When will someone make a film about the incredible life of Alexandra Kollontai? Born into a rich family, she rebelled with an 'unsuitable' marriage, was radicalised by visits to textile factories, became a political campaigner in the late 1890's and then left her husband and child to study Marxism in Europe.

Returning to Russia she became a leader in the movement of women workers, a role that put a price on her head and forced her into exile in 1908. Whilst in exile, Kollontai continued her political work in England, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, America and spent 1914 in Germany and Austria fighting against the impending world war.

Returning to Russia in 1917 Kollontai was elected to the executive committee of the Petrograd Soviet. Whilst in prison she became the only woman elected to the Central Committee of the Bolsheviks and, with the Revolution of October 1917, was appointed by Lenin as People's Commissar for Social Welfare.

Working with other leading female Bolsheviks, like Inessa Amand, Kollontai founded the Zhenotdel (or "Women's Department") in 1919. They introduced contraception, abortion and divorce on demand, and equal rights for both partners in a marriage. They turned into communal duties all the chores that had bound women to the home. Suddenly Russia was decades ahead of every other nation in terms of social welfare...'

Read more HERE. Is it still relevant today? In my view most definitely yes, but judge for yourself.


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