Category Archives: Review

Weigel/Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating

Marxism is Feminism, and vice versa. Or at least these two strands have been coupled for so long that the difference between them, while not negligible, is still pretty minor. This can range from the second wave (the 1970s and 80s), with a range of thought and action from the university to the home to the picket line, and the almost atomic level betwixt genders. Feminism suffered the ignominy of quote unquote post feminism (along with the rest of post modern dreck of the 90s, the worst, most nothing decade of the 20th Century), but thankfully we’ve moved on. And Marxism/socialism, and its attendant targets, are back on the table.

This is where delightful books like Labor of Love fall into – a space that’s removed from the university, and still further removed removed from orthodox feminism, into a frank, engaging, but still essentially socialist take on dating. Dating, that most commonplace activity that the modern romantic comedy is built on, is taken through a historical lens, in a manner that’s intelligent, entertaining, and somehow almost grassroots in its’ Marxist feminist focus. Moira Weigel is not writing a dissertation here, and this topic isn’t some weighty piece on dialectics, but she isn’t writing a popcorn book either. This is a fascinating look at dating from a vantage point that’s largely left unspoken in pop culture.

Specifically, that vantage point is materialism – concrete money or resources. Weigel deftly looks at the industry of dating, from its beginnings at the end of the 19th Century – when police could and frequently did arrest daters and “Charity girls” for prostitution, up through its acceptance and the codification of the usual double standards that lie behind gender relations, and into the wide world of today, where things are even less clear than ever. Money and labor – the sheer costs involved in pursuing and maintaining a relationship – are what’s at stake, and misogyny, the patriarchy that buys and sells life as we know it is never far away.

Misogyny today is perhaps best embodied by the usual veiled threats of women getting pregnant before she’s forty (and with all that statement is based on – namely a genetic imperative that women are slaves to, no matter what those damn “libbers” say or do) and its that low view of women that is still deeply embedded in the dating conversation. And Weigel brings up that modern conversation, literally and figuratively, throughout Labor of Love. This makes the entire text approachable and engaging, to say nothing of the almost universal human aspect of dating itself.

This combination of intelligence, analytical clarity, and A SENSE OF HUMOR make the books’ hard truths easier to bear. Even as one reads the saga of how we ended up with an entire industry which is based on desire yet somehow manages to avoid being called prostitution, the reader is drawn in and hypnotized by her very human treatment of the subject.

The Marxist/Feminists excel at this sort of organic, unorthodox (but still resolutely Marxist/feminist) take on (often pop/cultural) subjects, subjects which are treated with far too much frivolity. This is a sweeping look at the process of dating and mating which revealed considerable truth while at the same time had me shouting “Yes! Exactly!” And honestly, Marxism, as it is entwined with radical feminism, needs to gain better, more concrete understanding of specific practices like the dating industry, beyond mere dialectical materialist theory. It needs to understand what materialism we’re facing. Labor of Love tackles this admirably.

Communal Luxury/Kristin Ross

Oh, postmodernism. Weren’t you quaint? Remember your heyday back in the nineties, when those rascally communists appeared to be routed, the liberal and neo-liberal crowing about the coming “post-political” era (an idea as laughable as its’ ridiculous moniker)? The world felt safer (for those in the North and Western hemispheres – let’s make believe that the rest of the planet doesn’t exist), and post-modernism offered succor to people who were ill-equipped to deal with actual unpleasant situations that require teamwork and cooperation. Instead, the academics really managed to put their heads deep in the sand, and fell into irrelevance as meaningless terms such as meta, deconstruction, and the end of history” were shouted at an increasingly apathetic world.

Them days have finished of course – every major event that has occurred since George W Bush managed to steal an election in 2000 has buried the idea that there’s no such thing as objectivity as well as the usual po-mo drivel that group movements are foolhardy due to mass activism’s “shaky philosophy”. But that spirit of taking thoughts, ideals, theories and movements and throwing them into some “the personal is the political” stew continues to this day; we call it by generic, off-brand terms such as progressive without really digging all that deeply into what that term means. Thus we have Occupy Wall Street. And thus we have the present volume – Communal Luxury by French Literature academic Kristin Ross.

Communal Luxury deals with the legacy of the Paris Commune, an event that appears to now eclipse the original French Revolution as the launching point for modernity. There is no shortage of material on the Commune, but it is an interesting change of the seasons when a volume claims to deal with the legacy (rather than the history) of the Paris Commune, and particularly what those brief desperate months mean to modern activists. It’s a pity that this volume fails do so.

Kristin Ross specifically draws links between the Commune (and more importantly, the Commune’s ideals) and events like Occupy Wall Street. And for two thirds of the writing, Ross offers cogent analysis on what those ideals actually were/are, although she is not quite as successful when she tries to drive those ideals into contemporary days. However, Ross’ parallels between art (functional or otherwise) and labour is fascinating, and there is an attempt to find consistencies between the shared communalism of Paris with modern concept of the lived, shared space of urbanity, as it is found via urban planning and living.

Communal Luxury argues for an anarchist sense of decentralizing and dismantling everything that is bound to the repressive capitalist state; and yes, there are similarities between academic postmodernism and anarchy in this respect. When Ross begins building arguments for anarchism’s line of thinking, she subsequently veers off the road and into supposition, conjecture and basically faulty reasoning.

Ross suggests that even Marx himself, after witnessing the events of the Commune, began to believe that state machinery should not be used to smash state machinery (and state machinery should be smashed by some “Other” means, which is never explained); furthermore, Ross’ Anarchist Marx apparently felt that the entire concept of historical phases (of which capitalist development is one) is fraudulent. Ross bases all of this on a few unpublished letters that Marx sent to a fellow radical in Russia, near the end of his life.

The fact that Marx was in the middle of writing Das Kapital which drove home the very concept of historical phases, is not taken into account (to say nothing of the fact that minor correspondence that one writes near death’s door doesn’t constitute an official renunciation of one’s previous theories). Ross spends an inordinate amount of pages trying to justify her own conceptualization with dubious “evidence” that Marx was actually a crypto-anarchist.

Ross then proceeds to spend the final third of the book addressing how certain anarchists (especially Kropotkin) massively influenced the Commune, which is certainly true to an extent; however, the sheer amount of time and ink devoted to singular anarchists overshadow how the Commune was influential for the world, anarchist or not – anarchists were and are still a tiny minority, even amongst the left.

There are some moments that deal with the heritage and optimism had a ripple effect on the Communards’ contemporaries, but very little time is spent on how a through-line exists from the Commune to the movements of today, particularly the much ballyhooed but never explicated Occupy Wall Street.

In all honesty, it’s a little baffling as to what Ross was attempting to accomplish with this slim volume. Was this a take on communalism and urban space, and the manner in which those two concepts have changed since the Commune? Is it about anarchism? Is it about Marx totally disavowing the work of his lifetime and embracing the “sudden destruction” anarchist school of thinking? Is it about the conflict between higher and lower forms of art?

All of this revolves around the neo-leftist potpourri methodology mentioned at the top of this article, and the connection between Then and Now (along with ideology, personalities, and the palpable effects felt around the world)  are all stirred in a pot to produce a mishmash whole.

Post-modernism was always a question without an answer, and in that sense it shares a few features with anarchism; however, without any kind of uniting factors, the anarchist/postmodern approach resembles incomprehensible muck. And sadly, that resemblance is shared by Ross.

Tony Cliff/Lenin Vol. 2 – Building the Party

Dear reader of this occasionally updated blog: I apologize for the inconsistency, but with another round of intense labour in my life, there simply hasn’t been sufficient time to read and (more importantly) analyze the width and breadth of radical publishing. Furthermore, as the world continues its atavistic backslide into law-of-the-jungle primitivism, with the sheer amount of bodies piling up in the US, with the anarchy in the UK regarding Brexit, with Ramadan murders becoming part of the religious ritual, the idea of maintaining a book review site isn’t very inspirational.

On the other hand, this is a radical journal of writing, and as such it will aid and prop up radical, progressive sentiment, especially at the cultural level. This may not be as important as mass strikes and hardcore demos, but it’s a part of that picture.

Now we can flash back a century or more.

Tony Cliff was one of a myriad of dissenters within the official Marxist universe, a universe that had undergone Stalinism and his particular bloody regime in Cliff’s recent past. Cliff was a Trotskyist deviant in the eyes of orthodox Marxism, and not only was he not welcome amongst various Moscow-run parties throughout the world, he was also expelled from the official inheritors of Trotsky, namely the Fourth International. He helped found the Socialist Workers Party in the UK, and continued his heterogeneous, off-beat Marxism until the day he died.

Cliff was as much a furious writer as he was an organizer (and we’ll see some similarities below), and he produced a wide range of work that covered the now-reactionary Russian state, workers rights on a global scale, and most importantly, history. Cliff wrote mammoth, multi volume tomes that dealt with the lives of Lenin, Trotsky and other early Bolsheviks, as well as savage attacks of the recently passed Stalinist era.

Lenin was intended to cover every trace of a revolutionary mastermind over the course of 3-4 volumes, but interestingly the volumes delved deep into the thought process of Lenin as much as it dealt with elements of his actual life. This is an intellectual history, a history which needless to say deals with concrete elements of existence and how they affected Lenin’s thought process, as well as the manner in which Lenin and the Bolsheviks tactically responded to wild changes in circumstance. The emphasis remains focused on Lenin’s thoughts, tactics, philosophy and actions which he utilized at various points.

Vol. 2 deals with building the Bolshevik party, from roughly the late 1800s until 1914 (further discussion of the war, the 1917 revolutions and Lenin’s place in the latter’s landscape are saved for future volumes). This was the formative period of not only Bolshevism, but radical mass movements in Russia altogether. The events that marked this 14 year period included the emergence of the nascent proletariat, the beginning of the shift in attitudes amongst the peasantry; as Lenin was shaped by concrete events on the ground (rather than abstract theory), all of these events influenced Lenin’s tactics and mindset.

The writing follows Little Lenin from association with a small handful of socialists at the turn of the century, through the aborted 1905 revolution, and finally his organizational skills into transforming the Bolshevik into a mass organization that happened to be linked to rest of the workers in the last dying days of Tsardom.

Recently, there has been talk amongst activists of reviving Leninism as a method that remains highly applicable in our current period; Lenin Vol.2 was one of the works mentioned and recommended by a fairly wide variety of Marxists, who are keen on rescuing Lenin from not only the garbage can of history, but from sterile hero worship or even worse, retrograde communism. This is understandable, and Cliff certainly attempts to provide the contextual nature of Lenin’s tactical attitude, as well as offering a wide range of ideas that remain applicable today, in the modern progressive movements of our own age.

The problem, however, is that Cliff follows suit and once again created a fairly fawning, uncritical presentation of the Father of the Revolution. Lenin can do no wrong in these pages, and every single instance in which missteps were made are explained away, creating an almost mythic figure of unassailable abilities.

This runs counter to one of the basic tactical elements of Lenin himself; he was able to self-correct and bend one or another to deal with actual pressing concerns in a wide range of contexts. History and human behavior are fluid, accidents can happen, and Lenin was not a fortune teller. Lenin was able to learn from his mistakes, and learn from the present, current context and act accordingly. However, Cliff’s treatment of the man made him almost inhuman and almost incapable of making bad choices.

Leninism is itself a strange concept in that Lenin was able to move with the times, and while he had a definite end goal, he was also capable of bending in different situations in order to better drive his goals forward, no matter what (with the primary consisting of a successful Marxist revolution) . The idea of creating some kind of unchanging, platonic model of LENINISM that is not prone to change (and in which Lenin’s theory becomes absolute) is the last thing that Lenin would do. The very idea of having static, unwavering ideals that are not willing/able to change with the times is anathema to what Lenin actually did and said during his lifetime.

If nothing else, Vol. 2 presents aspects of Lenin that should draw readers’ attention; these include Lenin’s ability to have a “standpoint” and long term goals to meet, while also being flexible enough to change focus is one of those elements. Further, Lenin’s decisiveness is also quite noteworthy; after gathering information and attempting bring mass actions to the fore, Lenin would act without hesitation. If something unforeseen occurs, it will be dealt with as it comes up, as it pertains to mass action. But the resolve to make bold decisions is a clearly positive element of “Leninism” that can be applied in other instances, and is worth examination.

Lenin Vol 2: Building the Party remains a sought after object, and rightfully so. The volume is almost a handbook of how to deal with the real problems that come with building a party; it also acts as one of the better interpretations of Lenin’s thought process which also bear investigation and reading. Intellectual history, the history of thought itself, is a fascinating subject, and should be explored more often (although I can hear Lenin doing cartwheels in his grave at the mention of he word “intellectual”). A little less hero worship would be greatly appreciated however. Masses make the revolution, not Big Men, and Lenin was keenly aware of that fact.

Althusser/Macciocchi/Letters from the Italian Communist Party

Sometimes you trip over a dusty corner and find gold. Sometimes the best writing, the most insightful, the most beautiful and haunting, are found in forgotten volumes long since out of print. And the truth that is revealed within these hidden texts remains; you do not necessarily need something that was published 12 months ago to find relevant info, sharp theoretics, and a reflection of the long term conditions of humanity. Letters from the Italian Communist Party to Louis Althusser is one such text. From the turbulent late sixties to the turbulent 21st century.

Maria Macciocchi wrote Daily Life in Revolutionary China shortly after writing Letters, and that former book changed my life (for the better) a few years ago. Daily Life blew my mind at the time, during an already turbulent year; Macciocchi thrived during such periods of upheaval, and it was fitting that reading her account of China during the Cultural Revolution would fit neatly at the perfect time in my life.

Macciocchi herself led an unbelievable life that sounds insane on paper. She joined the Italian Resistance to fight against Mussolini in the late thirties, and shortly thereafter joined the Communist Party of Italy (PCI). The PCI was the most progressive and radical of Western Europe’s Communist parties, and the largest, at one point commanding the support of two million members. It was also the leading party in the so-called “Eurocommunism Heresy”, in which many official Communist parties began to distance themselves from the Soviet Union, for obvious reasons.

Louis Althusser was also a member of the Resistance against fascism during WWII, though in his case, France was the battleground and the Communist Party of France (PCF, still existent to this day) was the organization. More importantly, Althusser was the leading theorist of the PCF after the war, and he blasted down fossilized forms of thought and helped create the bedrock, the underlying philosophy of Modern Neo-Marxism. Althusser was another massive influence for me, and more than any other theorist save Badiou and Marx himself, Althusser drew me into Marxism.

In the late 60s, the PCI asked Macciocchi to come on down to southern Italy, to Naples, to run in the national elections which were taking place in the spring. Macciocchi had been living in Paris and writing for the PCI publication, L’Unita, but she jumped at this opportunity. She and Althusser wished to work together in a fashion, with Althusser providing the underlying theory and Macciocchi handling the footwork and agitation. The two agreed to establish correspondence during the election period, and this epistolary narrative makes up the bulk of this volume. The theorist, the militant and the situation; this combination was intended to generate new insight in a general manner as well as concrete observations of one of the poorest regions in Europe.

Althusser unfortunately does not contribute as much content as Macciocchi, but the input that he did produce was profound; they reflected the vantage point of a PCF member, an academic, and a Marxist theorist in the midst of the upheaval in France, May ’68. But more important is the biographical and theoretical writings of Macciocchi, as she devotes herself to aiding and working with the comrades of Naples (some of whom are not especially happy to see her – surprise surprise, all of those bitter people are men).

The “Southern Problem” of Italy had remained as intact as it ever was since Italian unification in the 1800s, and endemic poverty and lethal “living” conditions were still the order of the day. As was the case everywhere else in the south of Italy, chronic unemployment had created a slave labor pool of desperate people who were willing to do and endure anything in order to pay for the basics of survival. And as is the case elsewhere in the world, capitalists neatly pitted possible comrades against each other; the proletariat hated the unemployed, and the unemployed thought that the proles were a bunch of snobs.

Of keen interest to the reader of 2016, this collection falls into the classic category due to the essential truths that ring loud throughout the book. The insights of the theoretical writing, combined with the very real, concrete experiences of Macciocchi who attempted to facilitate dialogue amongst potential Communists, create trenchant, immortal observations. 1968 bears more than a passing resemblance to 2016. Why is that? How is that possible? Because endgame zombie capitalism still dominates us, perhaps even moreso as we get neo-liberalism crammed down our throats. And of course, the State still prioritizes good business over every other human concern.

Macciocchi’s rich storytelling, plainly evident here as it was in Daily Life in Revolutionary Chinacaptures the reader, and her own dry sense of humor sidesteps outright despair when confronted by an ugly situation. Nevertheless, the face of crushing urban poverty is familiar and is terrifying to us – we’re quite familiar with it, and it certainly hasn’t disappeared since Macciocchi’s time. The situation has merely shifted locales, from Southern Italy to the Southern hemisphere.

Really, if you want to see evidence that communists really can be dynamic, flexible, and ready for a range of troubles/situations, give Letters from the Italian Communist Party a chance. I know that principles should come before personalities (do you see what I’m inferring, Bernie Sanders?), and I do sincerely believe that the masses make history, not a handful of godlike MEN, but Althusser and Macciocchi have been incredibly important to me. If you want to see what I mean, pick this up if/when you see it at your local used bookstore or at Amazon.

Just FYI: If you think labor problems have just gone away in Europe, google “France, News, 2016”. It is anarchy in Paris and all of the major cities in France right now, even if the media would rather focus on some goddamn Trump Tweets rather than total chaos on the streets of a major Western country. As the Greek protesters said a few years ago, “We are you in the future”. Start forming groups.

Rebel Lives: Louise Michel/Edited by Nic Maclellan

IT’S NOT WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH IF YOU STUDY FEMINIST HISTORY EVERY DAY.

Ahem. On with the show.

There are truly few books written in English about the Paris Commune, the world’s first (and short lived) radical democracy. I’ve written a few reviews that dealt with the Commune, but sadly I believe I have missed the human element, the actual face of the Commune. I intend to redress that fact with a bizarre “biography”(?) of Louise Michel, one of the firebrands of the Commune, dedicated feminist, and anarchist.

Michel has been declared a heroine for (and therefore property of) socialists, anarchists, and even liberal democrats; the same process has unfortunately been shared by other radicals such as Rosa Luxembourg, Victor Serge, and Bertolt Brecht. It shouldn’t be that difficult to understand that some people are just good people, above and beyond political schematics. Rebel Lives‘ strange bio reflects that basic truth.

When I say “strange”, it is because this bio is actually a handful of printed material either written by Michel herself, or more general commentary of the Paris Commune. And this polyglot works – the reader gets the sense of who Michel might have been from this kaleidoscope of differing writings.

Michel was largely responsible for setting up women’s committees during the siege of Paris by Versailles’s reactionary army. Michel made sure that women shared the work, and physically defend the city, as much as their male counterparts. Michel raised the consciousness of every woman she met, due to her egalitarian values and the belief that men (capitalists etc) were largely responsible for the evils that plagued women. She wanted equality in the Commune, and she was largely successful at this.

It should be noted that as Michel was a loud and proud anarchist, some of the commentary in this bio unfortunately emanate from armchair anarchists. The latter really don’t care for Marxists, or socialists, or anybody that’s not them, and this vanguard sensibility comes across in the articles; jabs are continually made against those gosh-darned Reds, despite the complete lack of spite generated towards said anarchists. It’s a little petty, and it does take away from the sheer amount of work and progressive politics that Michel represented.

A word should be made about the period after the fall of the Commune: Michel demanded to be tried in court, out of camaraderie with her fellow fighters.. She spent 8 years in external deportation, and upon returning to Paris, she continued rabble-rousing and raising hell. Michel stood stock-still in the court rooms of France, willing to die (and become a martyr) for the left. She remained stalwart until her death.

This is a volume for feminists, in case they were curious about what kind of hell-raising has to take place for the ancien regime to fall into oblivion. This latter topic should be interesting for similarly violent, chaotic anarchists (the majority of whom are still men, who should take a look at feminism before hurtling into the whirlwind). But this also an ode to egalitarianism, and the fact that the aims of the Paris Commune still resonate today.

In solidarity, Louise Michel.

 

Bartlett, Ruebsaat/Soviet Princeton

No, not that Princeton. This is a story of the little town in British Columbia’s Interior Region, which suffered from such easily identifiable woes during the Depression that the town is almost a Platonic Ideal of Depression-era class conflict.

Soviet Princeton should be purchased by any left-wing human being currently living in Vancouver, considering the sheer lack of interest/resources to tackle the greater province’s history. Left-wing history in Canada in general is fairly limited, with a few key events (the Winnipeg General Strike, the March to Ottawa, the language revolution in Quebec) highlighted, while seemingly nothing else happens in this country.

The turmoil in Princeton has a depressing regularity to anyone familiar with the patterns that follow a strike in a company town. Princeton had one major industry (a mine), as well as a handful of commercial businesses that served the needs of the miners and the ranchers who lived in the sweeping fields that surrounded Princeton.

As has always been the case, monopoly capitalism (in the form of one major employer in Princeton), recognizing just how desperate people were willing to work, lowered wages and turned a blind eye to severely dangerous conditions in the workplace. The workers went on strike, which was quickly followed by what could be termed as sympathy strikes in neighboring towns. Organization was handled by “Slim” Evans, a Communist and member of the Workers Unity League, the arm of the CPC which directly dealt with labour strife.

The middle class naturally turned to the police for strike-breaking power, and when the RCMP was deemed insufficient, they formed a Concerned Citizens Alliance, which was uniformly made up of thugs (the irony that this “Citizens Alliance” only constituted and represented a small minority of townspeople seems to have been lost).

Slim Evans was run out of town by vigilantes, and the mine was essentially shut down – it seemed like the strike conflict had managed to kill the town, but Princeton was kept alive by trade with the ranchers, who never cared one way or another about the strike.

All of these historical points are covered in Soviet Princeton, and the patterns mentioned above can be applied to many, many different cases throughout the late 1800s and the 20th Century. What makes this volume so interesting is the sheer amount of lore that would otherwise be unknown.

The fact that the Ku Klux Klan even had a presence in Canada is astonishing, let alone their role in attacking “reds” like Evans and strikebreaking in general. The specific conditions of the working class in a province which was still considered as straightforward Crown Property are also eye-opening. Everything from labour camps that resembled concentration camps, to a police force that was suspicious of anyone foreign (including and especially white people from Eastern Europe and Italy), to the grid of rail-riding which made migrant work possible, are all conditions which are brought into sharp focus by the volume.

These are all reasons why Soviet Princeton is required reading for the Canadian leftist who is curious as to what exactly was going on west of the Rockies during the worst of the Depression: the history also provides almost unclassified information which deals with the very specifics of what was occurring in Princeton, as well as providing an archetype of the mass strike in the early 20th Century.

But most important of all, at least from a historical point of view: it gives voices to the voiceless and forgotten men and women who fought, struggled, lived and died during this period. If it was not for the care and research that the authors provide, Princeton’s strike would a historical footnote, if anything at all. Come and see the hidden history of the province that time has seemingly forgotten.

Orr/Marxism and Women’s Liberation

Feminism has come back into vogue, echoing the good old days of radical chic in the seventies. Women everywhere, across the universe of digital media and mainstream “celebrity” circles, are once again taking up the torch against a patriarchy which has unsurprisingly grown stronger after the “post-feminist” wave of the last century. Feminism is no longer a historical phenomenon, AND THIS IS A GOOD THING. Modern discourse needs to include as many feminist voices as possible, and we are blessed that writers and analysts like Judith Orr still have plenty to say. And more wonderful than anything else, socialism is back on the table after the frightful “Me Decade” of the 90s. Welcome to the fourth wave of feminism.

Marxism and Women’s Liberation comes at an acute time, a moment in history when the basically democratic ethos of the digital/social media has been brought to the fore; the concept of united, mass action is most definitely one of the options available to activists, if not the only choice. This is in stark contrast with the so-called “third wave” of 90s post-feminism, wherein socialist ideals were opposed by the self-appointed leaders of the movement, where postmodernism and its’ intellectually fraudulent notions worked to isolate and alienate women. Judith Orr is absolutely against such navel-gazing pap, and her conclusions, drawing in historical and theoretical examples, are devoted to the idea that the main enemy is capitalism; patriarchy is a side dish to the crushing power of capital. The supposedly unchanging, static roles for traditional women are a falsehood created by capitalism relatively recently (post-1840s); patriarchy is a tool in the hands of the elite.

Socialism and feminism have gone hand in hand since the very concept of oppression was identified as such. Capitalism crushes all, and the specific crushing of women is a part of the divide and conquer method that the world’s elites have been practicing since the beginning of time. Orr refers heavily to Engels’ classic, Origin of the Family, and while she recognizes that there are dated aspects to Origin of the Family, Engels’ basic theory of domination and hegemony over the unpaid house-slaves of the world (and the somewhat better paid working women) remains powerful.

Orr explores the waves of feminism that have taken place since the French Revolution, citing inferences of proto or unconscious Marxist rebellion as it appeared throughout the 19th Century. With the dawn of the 20th Century, and with the dawn of actual, realistic revolutions that were meant to include EVERYONE, Marxism and Women’s Liberation truly hits its stride. It is not a hagiography; Orr is well aware of the mistakes made by feminists throughout the century, and she is able to discuss them rationally, seeing where solutions to problems can be found.

Marxism and Women’s Liberation is truly revolutionary in and of itself, arguing that mass action by a genuine united front of women AND men is the best method of fighting patriarchy and its’ big brother, capitalism. It is the first feminist book that I have encountered that has placed such an emphasis on group action, a method that is far more achievable in the social media age and with the practitioners of digital revolution. Twitter can be used for other purposes other than making fun of celebrities.

Judith Orr is part of a new wave of feminist-Marxists, a group which includes Lise Vogel, Heather Brown, and Caitlin Moran (to name just a few). They are just as interested in genuine Neo-Marxism (i.e. the abandonment of traditional “socialist states” like Russia or China) as they are in abandoning the utterly unhelpful advice of elders from the 90s, such as Camille Paglia (a woman that once stated that female sexual assault survivors were somehow asking for it with their air of weakness). The new school is also beyond the ivory tower of higher education, where post-modernism fled. These feminists are completely integrated into the actual physical struggle, and they have no time for the hermeneutics of language and symbols.

If you want a taste of this fourth wave, if you are interested to see what the collision of feminism and Marxism looks like, Marxism and Women’s Liberation is a sweeping, totalistic introduction to resurgence of feminist-socialism. It was printed in 2015, and that fact alone should tell you how cutting edge this analysis is.