A brief history of ‘marriage,’ part 30

Final thoughts

This series has sought to shed a historical materialist spotlight on the human social/sexual relationship usually referred to as marriage. As they do with so many other social phenomena of importance to humanity, most bourgeois intellectuals doggedly avoid subjecting the institutions of social/sexual relations to historical analysis. In so doing, in their role as servitors of the dominant class, they shamelessly deprive the workers and oppressed of an essential tool for their liberation: the knowledge of the impermanence and transformation of all social phenomena.

It could be considered an unfortunate error that we used the word “brief” in the title of this series, an effort that has ended up amounting to 30 installments. That word choice represented our initial, rough estimation of the typographical space that would be needed to elaborate for the Workers World newspaper readership the prehistory and history of human social/sexual relations as gleaned from both classic and contemporary Marxist writers and other scientific sources.

However, it seemed important as the work progressed to at least call attention to, partially summarize, and partially evaluate the mountain of archeological, anthropological, zoological, ethnographic, historical and sociological material bolstering the view first laid out by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, material that has only become available in the many decades since their monumental achievements. The result has been a series warranting a title that more accurately reflects its length or, more significantly, its approach. We modestly suggest “A Marxist View of the Institution of ‘Marriage.’”

In the course of the series, reference has been made to and quotations have been extracted from quite a large number of distinct sources. Basic bibliographic information has been provided for those readers so inclined to pursue further the subjects treated in these materials.

Most importantly, since the series rests both ideologically and substantively on the writings of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels and, in particular, on Engels’ “Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State,” it hopefully need not be stressed that the work of these pioneering communist revolutionaries continues — a century and a half later — to constitute supremely relevant guides to human thought and struggle in the present epoch of dead-end capitalism.

We Marxist revolutionaries are united in our belief that the destructive contradictions imposed on human society, including those that have distorted social/sexual relations ever since the imposition of private property, can only be resolved by its elimination.

In the words of Workers World Party Secretariat member Fred Goldstein in the preface to his recent book, “Capitalism at a Dead End”: “There needs to be a serious conversation within the movement about what to replace the present system with. It is the thesis of this work that capitalism has reached a dead end. It is bringing humanity and the environment down. It must be abolished. The starting point for that conversation should be that the new society must be free of class exploitation; must be free of national, sexual and gender oppression; must put an end to war; must be free from all forms of domination and have respect for the planet. Above all, it must use the wealth of society to benefit all of society.” (New York: World View Forum, 2012, p. vii)

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