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Alexandra Kollontay - To dear comrade Louise Bryant from her friend, September 1918

A photo addressed to the wife of John Reed, 1918

1872-1952

Википедия

1.      Женщина-революционерка – получила разностороннее образование дома, вышла замуж не по расчету, а за бедного родственника. Оставила мужа ради революционного движения. Участвовала в социал-демократических съездах, читала лекции за границей. С 1915 г. – член РСДРП(б). Народный комиссар государственного презрения (соц. Обеспечения). Создала женотдел при ЦК РКП(б). Затем, на дипломатической службе.

2.      Первым советским гражданским браком, сознательно и публично заключённым вне церкви, считается гражданский брак между бывшей дворянкой, политиком, активисткой женского движения Александрой Коллонтай и красноармейцем Павлом Дыбенко из крестьянской семьи

3.      Александра Коллонтай ещё до Революции придерживалась идей свободной любви (подобнее см. Теорию стакана воды), публиковала статьи и рассказы на эту тему, пользовалась популярностью среди мужской части революционной России. Биографы отмечают: «Была она уверена и в том, что о рожденных в «свободной любви» детях должно заботиться государство победившего пролетариата в нужном для него русле.» - Итак, Коллонтай – за «free love». О детях заботится государство пролетариата.

4.      Часть революционеров сочувствовала идеям Коллонтай, возникали призывы вслед за религией отменить “устаревший”, буржуазный и порочный институт брака и семьи. – Коллонтай против брака.

5.      Ленин тогда шутил, что расстрел для Дыбенко и Коллонтай будет недостаточным наказанием и предлагал «приговорить их к верности друг другу в течение пяти лет»

Introduction to the Book The Social Basis of the Women's Question. 1908

1.      “… women can only become truly free and equal in a world that has been transformed and based on new social and economic principles. This assertion, however, does not rule out the possibility of a partial improvement in the life of women within the framework of the existing system, although a truly radical solution of the labour problem is possible only with the complete restructuring of existing production relations. Nonetheless, such a view of the situation should not act as a brake upon reform work aimed at satisfying the immediate interests of the proletariat” – work both toward radical and partial improvements.

The Social Basis of the Woman Question, 1908

1.      First of all we must ask ourselves whether a single united women’s movement is possible in a society based on class contradictions – obviously, not possible.

2.      However apparently radical the demands of the feminists, one must not lose sight of the fact that the feminists cannot, on account of their class position, fight for that fundamental transformation of the contemporary economic and social structure of society without which the liberation of women cannot be complete.

3.      “Free love”, introduced consistently into contemporary class society, instead of freeing woman from the hardships of family life, would surely shoulder her with a new burden – the task of caring, alone and unaided, for her children.

Любовь и новая мораль, 1911

1.      Это рецензия на книгу изд. Около 1911 г. Мейзель-Хесс «Сексуальный кризис». «Подвергая последовательному анализу все три основные формы брачного общения между полами: легальный брак, свободный союз и проституцию, Мейзель-Хесс приходит к пессимистическому, но неизбежному выводу, что при капиталистическом строе все три формы одинаково засоряют и извращают человеческую душу, разбивая всякую надежду на длительное и прочное счастье, глубоко человеческое общение душ.

2.      Необходимость коренного преобразования социальных отношений для открытия «любовной потенции».

3.      либо "большая любовь", либо "эротический голод"? Мейзель-Хесс ищет и находит другой путь: там, где отсутствует "большая любовь", там ее заменяет "любовь-игра". Чтобы "большая любовь" стала достоянием всего человечества, необходимо пройти трудную, облагораживающую душу "школу любви". "Игра-любовь" - это тоже школа, это способ накопления в человеческой психике "любовной потенции

4.      любовь станет культом будущего человечества. И сейчас, чтобы бороться, жить, трудиться и творить, человек должен чувствовать себя "утвержденным", "признанным".

5.      Как идеал остается моногамный союз, основанный на "большой любви". Но "не бессменный" и застывший. Чем сложнее психика человека, тем неизбежнее "смены". "Конкубинат", или "последовательная моногамия" - такова основная форма брака. Но рядом - целая гамма различных видов любовного общения полов в пределах "эротической дружбы".

6.      Уже брезжит свет, уже намечаются новые женские типы - так называемых "холостых женщин", для которых сокровища жизни не исчерпываются любовью. В области любовных переживаний они не позволяют жизненным волнам управлять их челноком; у руля опытный кормчий - их закаленная в жизненной борьбе воля.

Женщина-работница в современном обществе

1.     Чем хуже обставлен труд, чем ниже его оплата, чем длиннее рабочий день, тем больше там занято женщин

2.     В Лондоне насчитывается свыше 250 тысяч проституток, в Париже - 100 тысяч, в Петербурге - от 30 до 50 тысяч. Тысячи, десятки тысяч женщин толкают на этот скользкий путь необеспеченность, сиротство, нищета...

3.     В Москве из 957 опрошенных проституток одна начала свою профессию с 11 лет, 5 - с 12 лет... В Париже возраст большинства проституток колеблется от 18 до 23 лет. В наиболее "утонченных" притонах Неаполя держат проституток не старше 15 лет. В Лондоне есть дома с проститутками моложе 14 лет.

Preface to the Book Society and Motherhood, 1916

1.      protecting and providing for motherhood via state insurance

2.      (In Romance countries) maternity is viewed as a particular social function, and the assistance given to the working mother is treated as a reward for the service that the mother is performing for the state. Such a point of view results in the formulation of a different principle of maternity insurance that is not connected with illness and enforced unemployment, and which makes it possible to separate off maternity provision as a special and independent branch of insurance

3.      there is the third view of maternity provision as one of the means of lightening the burden of motherhood for the woman worker, as a transitional stage on the way to a situation in which concern for the new generation will cease to lie with individuals and will be handed over to society – this is the goal.

4.      The lack of provision for millions of mothers, and the lack of concern for young children on the part of society, are the cause of the present bitter conflict over the incompatibility of female professional labour and motherhood, a conflict which lies at the heart of the whole problem of motherhood. This conflict has only two possible solutions: 1) either the woman must be returned to the home and forbidden any participation in national economic life or 2) such social measures, including comprehensive maternity insurance and provision for young children, must be implemented as will enable the woman to fulfill her natural calling without abandoning her professional obligations, without losing her economic independence, and without withdrawing from active participation in the struggle for the ideals of her class

5.      How often is it that the ceremony of marriage, even among the working class, is a funeral service said over the corpse of dead feelings...

6.      If every working woman was guaranteed the possibility of giving birth to her child in healthy conditions, with the appropriate care for herself and her child, the possibility of looking after the child during the first weeks of its life, the possibility of feeding him herself without the risk of loss of pay, this would constitute the first step to the designated end. If, in addition, the state and the community would undertake to build refuges for expectant and nursing women, to provide medical consultations for mother and child, and to supply high-quality milk and a layette, if there was a broad network of creches, nursery schools and children's centres where the working mother could leave her child with a quiet mind, this would be the second step towards the designated end.

Proper approach to drafting a program: 1) practical request; 2) investigate the question in theory; 3) formulate practical conclusions:

Kollontai began work on her book Society and Motherhood long before the outbreak of the First World War, after the Social-Democratic faction in the Third State Duma requested her to write a section on maternity insurance to be included in draft legislation on labour insurance. By the beginning of 1914 the work was completed and given to the St Petersburg publishing house Zhizn i Znaniye (Life and Knowledge), run by the Bolshevik historian and writer, Vladimir Dmitriyevich Bonch-Bruyevich. It was published in 1916. The book is almost 650 pages long

“New Woman” from The New Morality and the Working Class, 1918

1.      Flaubert wrote Madame Bovary at a time when George Sand, so shining a herald of the new woman awakening to life, lived near him in flesh and blood, suffering and asserting her human and feminine "ego" alike.

2.      A.K. describes the new women, from novels at the end of XIX century. Good method. Almost all of these “new women” are single women. They get involved with some men, but only for a brief period of time (several weeks), do not live permanently with them.

On the History of the Movement of Women Workers in Russia, 1919

1.      The life led by six million proletarian women in Russia at the beginning of the 20th century was still too dark, too unenlightened, and their existence too much in the grip of hunger, deprivation and humiliation. A 12-hour, or at best an 11-hour working day, a starvation wage of 12-15 roubles a month, accommodation in overcrowded barracks, the absence of any form of assistance from the state or society in case of illness, pregnancy or unemployment, the impossibility of organising self-help as the tsarist government savagely persecuted any attempts at organisation by the workers – these were the conditions surrounding the woman worker. Her back was bent by the intolerable burden of oppression, and her soul, terrified by the spectre of poverty and starvation, refused to believe in a brighter future and the possibility of fighting to cast off the yoke of tsarism and capital. – This description reminds me of the Chinese women factory workers, 2000’s.

Communism and the Family, 1920

1.      a woman must accustom herself to seek and find support in the collective and in society, and not from the individual man

2.      In days gone by, to be an orphan was one of the worst fates imaginable.

3.      Today, girls adopt for a “consecutive monogamy”, i.e. a kind of polygamy that is allowed by society.

Theses on Communist Morality in the Sphere of Marital Relations, 1921

1.      The form of marriage and of the family is thus determined by the economic system of the given epoch, and it changes as the economic base of society changes.

2.      Where economic functions are performed by the family rather than by society as a whole, family and marital relations are more stable and possess a vital capacity

3.      The communist economy does away with the family… consumption ceases to be organised on an individual family basis, a network of social kitchens and canteens is established. and the making, mending and washing of clothes and other aspects of housework ‘are integrated into the national economy – Soviet level of economy proved inadequate for these. Today, however, public “eateries” are much better than “home cooking”. That is material pre-conditions for “socialization of a family”.

4.      What kind of relations between the sexes are in the best interests of the workers’ collective?

5.      The law ought to emphasise the interest of the workers’ collective in maternity and eliminate the situation where the child is dependent on the relationship between its parents...

6.      Each historical (and therefore economic) epoch in the development of society has its own ideal of marriage and its. own sexual morality … (e.g.) The importance of virginity before legal marriage sprang from the principles of private property and the unwillingness of men to pay for the children of others

7.      In the period of the dictatorship of the proletariat relations between the sexes should be evaluated only according to the criteria mentioned above – the health of the working population and the development of inner bonds of solidarity within the collective. The sexual act must be seen not as something shameful and sinful but as something which is as natural as the other needs of healthy organism. such as hunger and thirst… The satisfaction of healthy and natural instincts only ceases to be normal when the boundaries of hygiene are overstepped

8.      both early sexual experience (before the. body has developed and grown strong) and sexual restraint must be seen as equally harmful. This concern for the health of the human race does not establish either monogamy or polygamy as the obligatory form of relations between the sexes

9.      In view of the need to encourage the development and growth of feelings of solidarity and to strengthen the bonds of the work collective, it should above all be established that the isolation of the “couple” as a special unit does not answer the interests of communism… Even at this present, early stage. the workers’ republic demands that mothers, learn to be the mothers not only of their own child but of all workers’ children; it does not recognise the couple as a self-sufficient unit. and does not therefore approve of wives deserting work for the sake of this unit. – Interests of collective, society, above the interests of family («Первым делом самолеты, ну а девушки потом»).

10.  The ideal of the bourgeoisie was the married couple, where the partners complemented each other so completely that they had no need of contact with society. Communist morality demands, on the contrary, that the younger generation be educated in such a way that the personality of the individual is developed to the full and the individual with his or her many interests has contact with a range of persons of both sexes. Communist morality encourages the development of many and varied bonds of love and friendship among people. The old ideal was “all for the loved ones”; communist morality demands all for the collective.

11.  The bourgeois attitude to sexual relations as simply a matter of sex must be criticised and replaced by an understanding of the whole gamut of joyful love-experience that enriches life and makes for greater happiness. The greater the intellectual and emotional development of the individual the less place will there be in his or her relationship for the bare physiological side of love and the brighter will be the love experience

Sexual Relations and the Class Struggle, 1921

1.      We live in times of sexual crisis.

2.      Three different eras are still present in today’s society: the feudal, the bourgeois, and the socialist. “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.”

3.      The problem is widespread. Hence, it is not clear why the problem is treated with indifference.

4.      This problem touches upon the problem of loneliness, and hence is a deeply human, hence post-communist problem.

5.      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

6.      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

Workers’ opposition, 1921

1.      Struggle against bureaucracy.

2.      The basis of the controversy is namely this: whether we shall realize communism through workers or over their heads by the hands of soviet officials..... The solution of this problem as it is proposed by the industrial unions, consists in giving complete freedom to the workers as regards experimenting, class training, adjusting and feeling out the new forms of production, as well as expression and development of their creative abilities, that is, to that class which alone can be the creator of communism. There can be no self-activity without freedom of thought and opinion, for self-activity manifests itself not only in initiative, action, and work, but in independent thought as well. We are afraid of mass-activity. We are afraid to give freedom to the class activity, we are afraid of criticism, we have ceased to rely on the masses, hence, we have bureaucracy with us. That is why the Workers' Opposition considers that bureaucracy is our enemy, our scourge, and the greatest danger for the future existence of the Communist Party itself.

3.      Kollontai proposed democracy and relyance mostly on  elections (instead of appointments) as a method against democracy. Also, expelling non-proletarians from admininistrative positions.

4.      Bureaucracy is opposed to self-activity of the masses, their own creativity.

5.      In 1926, the workers’ opposition joined the Left Opposition (of Trotsky).

“Autobiography of a Sexually emancipated woman” by A. Kollontai, 1926

1.      Struggle between “work” and “love”, as goals in life. (This essay would be perfect for discussion with my “upper” students.)

2.      Basic goal in life: I wanted to be free, “ the complete liberation of the working woman and the creation of the foundation of a new sexual morality will always remain the highest aim of my activity, and of my life”.

3.      A basic trait of all revolutionaries: “Already as a small[18] child I criticized[19] the injustice of adults and I experienced as a blatant contradiction[20] the fact that everything was offered to me whereas so much was denied to the other children. My criticism sharpened as the years went by and the feeling of revolt against the many proofs of love around me grew apace.[21] Already early in life I had eyes for the social injustices prevailing in Russia.”

4.      Her education: “I received my education at home under the direction of a proficient, clever tutoress who was connected with Russian revolutionary circles. I owe very much to her, Mme. Marie Strakhova. I took[23] the examinations qualifying me for admission to the university when I was barely sixteen (in 1888)[24] and thereafter I was expected to lead the life of a "young society woman."[25]”

5.      First struggle: “My first bitter struggle against these traditions revolved around the idea of marriage. I was supposed to make a good match[27] and mother was bent upon marrying me off at a very early age. My oldest sister, at the age of nineteen, had contracted marriage with a highly placed gentleman who was nearly seventy.[28] I revolted against this marriage of convenience, this marriage for money[29] and wanted to marry only for love, out of a great passion”.

6.      Gave birth to a son, raised for 3 years. “I still loved my husband, but the happy life of a housewife and spouse became for me a "cage." More and more my sympathies, my[32] interests turned to the revolutionary working class of Russia.”

7.      “A visit to the big and famous Krengolm textile factory, which employed 12,000 workers of both sexes, decided my fate. I could not lead a happy, peaceful life when the working population was so terribly enslaved. I simply had to join this movement. At that time this led to differences with my husband, who felt that my inclinations constituted an act of personal defiance directed against him. I left husband and child and journeyed to Zurich in order to study political economy under Professor Heinrich Herkner.”

8.      Comes back to St. Petersburg in 1899 and joins illegal Russian SD party. Works as a writer and propagandist.

9.      1903: “Thus my first extensive[35] scientific work in political economy was a comprehensive investigation[36] of the living and working conditions of the Finnish proletariat in relation to industry.”

10.  “I had to go away, I had to break with the man of my choice, otherwise (this was a subconscious feeling in me) I would have exposed myself to the danger of losing my selfhood.”

11.  Raises the “women’s question” inside the party where she is isolated.

12.  Faces a long jail sentence, hence disappears. Son is taken over by friends. Home liquidated. (The way to work with this is read in class, and summarize. At home: write up. Read for about 15-20 minutes a class. Each one reads for half a page, approx.) December 1908: flees to Germany.

13.  Becomes a member of the German SDP.

14.  “I had above all set myself the task of winning over women workers in Russia to socialism and, at the same time, of working for the liberation of[65] woman, for her equality of rights.”

15.  Book “Social foundations of women’s question”.

16.  For Duma: “Social Democratic Duma faction (of the Menshevik wing) requested me to elaborate the draft of a bill on maternity welfare”. She undertakes a thorough study of the problem. Book “Motherhood and society”. “The fundamental regulations and demands in this field, which I summed up at the end of my book, were realized later in 1917 by the Soviet regime in the first social insurance laws”.

17.  Problems with men: “the longing to be understood by a man down to the deepest, most secret recesses of one's soul, to be recognized by him as a striving human being, repeatedly decided matters. And repeatedly disappointment ensued all too swiftly, since the friend saw in me only the feminine element which he tried to mold into a willing sounding board to his own ego. So repeatedly the moment inevitably arrived in which I had to shake off the chains of community with an aching heart but with a sovereign, uninfluenced will. Then I was again alone.”

18.  Anti-patriotic towards WWI. Goes from Germany to Sweden to struggle against the war.

19.  Jailed for anti-war propaganda in Sweden, banished to Denmark. Then Norway. Serves as a link between Lenin and CC is Switzerland and Russia. United to Lenin and Trotsky on the attitude to war. “Since the Bolsheviks were those who most consistently fought social-patriotism, in June of 1915 I officially joined the Bolsheviks and entered into a lively correspondence with Lenin (Lenin's letters to me have recently been published in Russia).”

20.  “In the autumn of 1915 the German section of the American Socialist Party invited me to journey to America to deliver lectures there in the spirit of "Zimmerwald" (a gathering of international-minded socialists)… the journey had become very hazardous as a result of submarine warfare [“Lousitania”]”

21.  “I shared Lenin's view which aimed at spreading the conviction that the war could be defeated only by the Revolution, by the uprising of the workers.”

22.  1917. Supported Lenin’s April thesis from the start (i.e. no support for the Provisional government).

23.  As a member of Bolshevik CC, votes for armed uprising. “The Soviet Government was formed. I was appointed People's Commissar (Minister) of Social Welfare. I was the only woman in the cabinet and the first woman in history[123] who had ever been recognized as a member of a government”.

24.  Compensates a peasant for his horse, on request from Lenin.

25.  Organizes pre-natal care. “My efforts to nationalize maternity and infant care set off a new wave of insane attacks against me. All kinds of lies were related[140] about the "nationalization of women," about my legislative proposals which assertedly ordained that little girls of 12 were to become mothers.”

26.  Disagrees with the party policy. Resigns her post as a Commissar, gives lectures on “new morality”.

27.  “The question now was one of drawing women into the people's kitchens and of educating them to devote their energies to children's homes and day-care centers, the school system, household reforms”.

28.  “the special proviso: maternity was to be appraised as a social function and therefore protected and provided for by the State” – it is a special function in the society, and very important one.

29.  Worked in the Soviet government in Ukraine during the civil war of 1919.

30.  “During my diplomatic activity, therefore, I wrote only one article, "The Winged Eros," which caused an extraordinarily great flutter. Added to this were three short novels, "Paths of Love," which have been published by Malik-Verlag in Berlin.[172] My book "The New Morality and the Working Class" and a socio-economic study, "The Condition of Women in the Evolution of Political Economy," were written when I was still in Russia.”

(In understanding something, one first desires to obtain an overview. Then, one can go into details, as much as is necessary. Thus, first biography, then autobiography, then some works, then perhaps, some modern commentary.)

Red Love, 1927

Большая любовь (Great Love) - 1929

Читал в 2015 г.

Т. Осипович, «Коммунизм, феминизм, освобождение женщин и Коллонтай»

  1. Переоценка отечественного феминизма.
  2. Коллонтай остается на позиции, что идеалом является моногамный брак.
  3. Новая женщина отказывается играть второстепенную роль. Её основными чертами является: 1) победа над эмоциональностью, самодисциплина. 2) Требовательность к мужчине, бережливое отношение к своей личности. 3) Самостоятельность. 4) Любовные переживания – на втором месте.

Вполне возможно, что эта статья прекрасно резюмирует Коллонтай. 

"В 1913 году Александра Коллонтай опубликовала статью «Новая женщина», в которой развивала взгляды на женщину нового, передового общества. В продолжении развития концепции новой женщины она посвятила повести «Большая любовь» и «Василиса Малыгина» (1923) и рассказ «Любовь трёх поколений» (1923), в которых описывает раскрепощенных женщин, не желающих связывать себя семьёй."

  • New Woman
  • Метод Коллонтай в "Новой женщине": прочтение множества романов о "новых женщинах", резюмирование их различных путей и того, что у них есть общего. 
  • Литература (теория) явно отстает от жизни: Flaubert wrote Madame Bovary at a time when George Sand, so shining a herald of the new woman awakening to life, lived near him in flesh and blood, suffering and asserting her human and feminine "ego" alike.
  • The new women do not want exclusive possession when they love. Since they demand respect for the freedom of their own feelings, they also learn to accord this respect to others. Characteristic of this is the attitude of the heroine towards the rival as portrayed in a string of contemporary novels. We come upon a tactful, circumspect attitude towards the other woman rather than sulphuric acid and defamatory attacks. Maya and the first wife of her chosen one, in the Voice, not only are free from any mutual hatred, but even find a common language and in many things they show more of a closer bond between themselves than with the man to whom the hearts of both belong.
  • In the new woman, the human being increasingly conquers the jealous "wifie."
  • The modern woman can forgive much to which the woman of the past would have found very difficult to reconcile herself: the husband's inability to provide for her material maintenance, lack of attention of an external kind, even infidelity, but she never forgets or forgives the non-esteem of her spiritual "ego," of her sensibility.
  •  "I curse my female body; because of it you do not notice that there is still something else in me – something more valuable" – that is the cry that is heard through the whole novel of Nadjescha Sanschar (Anna's Notes). And heroines of all nationalities repeat this protest in this or that form. Even the simple soul of Gorki's Tatiana protests against an attitude that brands her as a single instrument of pleasure.
  • Benette's heroine has just had her first passionate-blissful conversation with the man she loves. But when he tells her he wants to call on her next morning, very early, the beloved, the blissful woman, notwithstanding, interrupts him almost horrifiedly, "But please not before breakfast!" "'Not before breakfast'? Why?" "He was astonished. But in the course of these five years I had grown accustomed to being my own master. My taste, my habits had crystallized, I had created my own arrangement for my life. I never receive anybody before breakfast and I have so much work staring me in the face precisely in the morning. Should I really favor this man as a conqueror, and ruin my morning. A dull anxiety for my freedom, my independence, burgeoned in me." Are these not wholly new traits in the woman in love? A woman who voluntarily dismisses the longed-for encounter with the beloved with its promise of joy, only because she is used to doing her writing in the morning, only because she is pained at the thought of these lost hours taken from work.
  • "If Goethe and George Sand – we cite only these two although many have acted similarly – dared to live according to the promptings of the heart, if Goethe's love-experiences fill volumes, which are devoured with worshipful rapture by his readers of both sexes, why condemn others for what in Goethe and George Sand imbue us with enthusiasm and delight?" - почему "великим" можно жить полной любовной жизнью, а нам нельзя?
  • Freedom of feeling, freedom in the choice of the beloved, of the possible father of "her" child. The struggle against the fetish of the "double standard" – this is the program that the contemporary heroine tacitly wages in life
  •  Contemporary heroines ... must wage a struggle on two fronts: with the external world and with the inclinations of their grandmothers dwelling in the recesses of their beings.

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