Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Free love

Socialism: Part I,Ch.4 in paragraph I.4.36
Proposals to transform the relations between the sexes have long gone hand in hand with plans for the socialization of the means of production. Marriage is to disappear along with private property, giving place to an arrangement more in harmony with the fundamental facts of sex. When man is liberated from the yoke of economic labour, love is to be liberated from all the economic trammels which have profaned it. Socialism promises not only welfare—wealth for all—but universal happiness in love as well. This part of its programme has been the source of much of its popularity. It is significant that no other German socialist book was more widely read or more effective as propaganda than Bebel's Woman and Socialism, which is dedicated above all to the message of free love.Utopianism presents all its ideals for the future as the reconstruction of a Golden Age which humanity has lost through its own fault. In the same way it pretends that it is demanding for sexual life only a return to an original felicity. The poets of antiquity are no less eloquent in their praises of marvellous, bygone times of free love than when they speak of the saturnian ages when property did not exist.*65 Marxism echoes the older Utopians.Free love is the socialist's radical solution for sexual problems. The socialistic society abolishes the economic dependence of woman which results from the fact that woman is dependent on the income of her husband. Man and woman have the same economic rights and the same duties, as far as motherhood does not demand special consideration for the woman. Public funds provide for the maintenance and education of the children, which are no longer the affairs of the parents but of society. Thus the relations between the sexes are no longer influenced by social and economic conditions. Mating ceases to found the simplest form of social union, marriage and the family. The family disappears and society is confronted with separate individuals only. Choice in love becomes completely free. Men and women unite and separate just as their desires urge. Socialism desires to create nothing that is new in all this, but "would only recreate on a higher level of culture and under new social forms what was universally valid on a more primitive cultural level and before private ownership dominated society.Without coercive regulation of the growth of population, a socialist community is inconceivable. A socialist community must be in a position to prevent the size of the population from mounting above or falling below certain definite limits. It must attempt to maintain the population always at that optimal number which allows the maximum production per head. Equally with any other order of society it must regard both under- and over-population as an evil. And since in it those motives, which in a society based on private ownership of the means of production harmonize the number of births with the limitations of the means of subsistence, would not exist, it will be obliged to regulate the matter itself. How it will accomplish this need not be here discussed. Nor is it relevant to our purpose to inquire whether its measures will serve eugenic or ethnological ideas. But it is certain that even if a socialist community may bring "free love," it can in no way bring free birth. The right to existence of every person born can be said to exist only when undesirable births can be prevented. In the socialist community as in any other, there will be those for whom "at the great banquet of Nature no place has been laid" and to whom the order must be given to withdraw themselves as soon as may be. No indignation that these words of Malthus may arouse can alter this fact.