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 Post subject: The Transition from Matrilineal Kinship to Patriarchy
PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2017 3:48 pm 
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Engels wrote:
In an old unpublished Manuscript written by Marx and myself in 1846, I find the words: 'The first division of labour is that between man and woman for the propagation of children.' And today I can add: The first class opposition that appears in history coincides with the development of the antagonism between man and woman in monogamous marriage, and the first class oppression coincides with that of the female sex by the male.


I've been reading some of the articles by Chris Knight of the Radical Anthropology Group. He presents a lot of interesting research with regards to the original form of human kinship being matrilineal and matrilocal. However I think some of the conclusions he draws are problematic.

I watched through a lecture that he gave, specifically about the continuing relevance of Engels' Origins. He quotes the above passage believing the reading of the quote to be obvious. His basic theory is, in early human societies, women banded together in solidarity, forcing men to provide them with food, and using 'sex strikes' to control male sexual behaviour and a tendency towards competition. The dynamics of this early form of human society, with communal child rearing were essential in the 'human revolution' - the emergence of language and 'symbolic culture' sometime between 150,000 and 40,000 years ago.

The thing is, women aren't a class, and Knight's constant parallels between the 'sex strike' and the modern day picket line, the 'human revolution' and the communist revolution seem questionable. A primary point I wanted to make is that, the Engels quote doesn't say that the first class oppression is the oppression of women by men, it says that oppression coincides with the first class oppression. The rise of patriarchy is caused by an increase in the scope of private property and a division between masters and slave. Gender and class are interrelated, but they aren't the same, equating them so directly in this way isn't particularly helpful.

There's some other weird things about Knight, most notably part of his theory relies on menstrual synchrony being a thing, which it isn't.

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 Post subject: Re: The Transition from Matrilineal Kinship to Patriarchy
PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2017 5:35 pm 
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I'm a one trick pony on the subject, but my working assumption is that gender was not the definitive (or possibly even a significant) issue at the original emergence of class society:

http://en.internationalism.org/forum/10 ... ureaucracy

To be fair: aside from The Golden Bough, I don't read much on the subject (though did see some of the ICC's reviews of Knights work)

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A primary point I wanted to make is that, the Engels quote doesn't say that the first class oppression is the oppression of women by men, it says that oppression coincides with the first class oppression. The rise of patriarchy is caused by an increase in the scope of private property and a division between masters and slave. Gender and class are interrelated, but they aren't the same, equating them so directly in this way isn't particularly helpful.


Agreed.


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