• Contradictions in Marxist Feminism(1)

  • Frigga Haug | 15 Apr 19
  • My title does not indicate an intention to find errors in Marxist Feminism but rather to understand contradictions as making change possible. The approach is a dialectical one that does not involve some high-flown mesmerisation but which, with Marx, indicates a method that ‘in its comprehension and affirmative recognition of the existing state of things, at the same time also, the recognition of the negation of that state, of its inevitable breaking up’, ‘regards every historically developed social form as in fluid movement, and therefore takes into account its transient nature’.[2] So, in what follows I will try to show and understand how the individual elements contradict each other in the real movement within society. To work this out is essential for us as feminists in any attempt to develop our theory and politics.

    Our theses: Marxist feminism as a transformative power

    I want to recall the 12 Theses proposed at the first two large International Marxist-Feminist conferences (in 2015 and 2016), [3] theses which we revised during the discussion and which we still continue to revise, using them as a standard against which we measure our projects aimed at broadening the consensus; we want to critically continue writing them as a joint manifesto being constantly developed and elaborated. In the beginning, we stated that to connect Marxism with feminism would change, enrich, and vitalise both. This is the orientation of the present article; put differently, I am discussing what gives us hope that Marxist feminists can represent a transformative force.
          It is to these postulates that I refer in the following roughly outlined theses:
    1. Marxism and Feminism are two sides of a coin, but the coin itself requires transformation. Feminist Marxism adheres to Marx’s legacy, and thus to the significance of the analysis of work in the form of wage labour and as the driving force of the labour movement. However, in its attempt to also put the remaining female activities at the centre of the analysis, Marxist Feminism goes beyond the paralysing attempts to conceive domestic and non-domestic activities either as completely one and the same thing or, vice versa, as completely separate (as in the discussion on dual economy and domestic labour), and poses the fundamental challenge of occupying and further developing the concept of the relations of production for feminist questions.
    2. Here (as with Marx and Engels) two forms of production are assumed, those of life and those of the means of life. By analysing the two together it is possible to examine specific practices and how they interact. This opens up an enormous field of research, in which the different historically and culturally specific modes of domination – as well as the possibilities for change – must be investigated.
    3. It is clear that gender relations are relations of production, not something else added to them. All practices, norms, values, authorities, institutions, language, culture, etc. are coded in gender relations. This assumption makes Feminist Marxist research as fruitful as it is necessary.

    Women as an illusionary commons

    On what grounds do we argue that we as Marxist Feminists, or that the claims we make, have nothing to do with the essentialist assumption that women are the ‘better beings’, which is what the enemies of feminism accuse of us? 
       The practices attributed to women worldwide and on which we pin our hopes are those resulting from our concrete care for life. This is not only true biologically for the nine months it takes for a new human being to grow inside a woman’s body, nor is it merely true for the phase of breastfeeding, the nutrition provided at the beginning of life. It is also true for the care of those growing up, of those who are ill or handicapped, and of the elderly – of all those who without support would not be able to survive in the usual everyday struggle of existence. We call these the caring practices in which women are active as an ‘illusionary commons’. These are doubtless activities that will outlast different social formations and will also remain in the perspectives of a transformed non-capitalist society. They are glorified in norms and values and ascribed to the female being as motherliness, helpfulness, selflessness, which usually are not sold at the market, thus as behaviour that also exists even if unpaid; but if these practices have entered the realm of wage labour, like the work of nurses, kindergarten teachers, geriatric nurses, etc., they are badly paid with a low exchange value, precisely because of their similarity to everyday female life, which makes them appear ‘natural’. Currently, they are at the centre of political struggles in Germany where we have a crisis of the nursing professions. As far as this behaviour, as unpaid work, fills an entire life, it amounts to self-sacrifice and the renunciation of personal development. The reward consists in social esteem, which does not inquire into the costs it has for the individuals. But this moral recognition is at the same time a denial of the equality that underpins wage labour. For the individual women in different societies this relation manifests itself in myriad forms of marginalisation, non-recognition as human beings, and repression, even to the point of rape and murder. In reality, our hope to use these practices of women to take steps towards an alternative society therefore stands on tenuous ground.

    First contradiction

    One fundamental contradiction that confronts us is expressed in the fact that to become a transformative force one would first have to do away with the female virtues and practices; like men, we would have to send ourselves into the competitive or even revolutionary struggle. Women would thus have to adopt the modes of behaviour that are common in capitalism, the transgression of or disrespect for which was the reason why we could be counted on to act as a transformative power in the first place. This contradiction has been repeatedly dealt with in literature by Brecht (The Seven Deadly Sins, The Good Person of Szechuan) and also by Heiner Müller (Zement 1972).
        In his play Zement, Müller depicts in stark woodcut-like lines a revolutionist who comes home as a husband who expects his wife waiting for him as his sexual possession, and in charge of caring for the child and the beauty of their home, but no longer finds her this way when coming home now. The woman herself has become an active revolutionist and sent the child into a home because she no longer had time for it. She has to care for the many hungry children in need in all homes and not just for her own child, and she organises the women to do this. The man insists on taking his own child out of the home, ‘so that it does not die’ like the others, to repossess his own home, wife, and child, while she withdraws: ‘I was stupid. Our home was my prison.’ And finally she achieves freedom. ‘I did not shed a single tear for this detritus. My home is the executive committee, my work. There, in the canteen, is where I eat my meal.’ The property relations have been radically changed and likewise their glorified forms.

    Traditional feelings

    We are a bit perplexed in the face of our feelings, which seek out consent, before the ruins of a long tradition of labour struggles. The songs still ring in our ears, Brothers to the sun, to freedom..., There stands a man like an oak ..., Awake, you working man..., This is how we stand, one brother for the other, full of earnest strength..., Who mines the gold? It’s the working men, the proletariat, etc. Also in pictures and symbols we come across the callous, clenched fists of working men, in short the manual labourers ‘who can stop the wheels’, etc. Our stirred feelings attempt to resist the urge to condemn the behaviour of the woman who sent her child to a home in order to be able to make revolutionary speeches herself, as cruel, stepmotherly, and heartless. Only later do we notice that this judgement stems from our unquestioning acceptance of a division of labour within which the ‘normal’ formation in the context of capitalist competition selects those who win against others and where women’s strengths derived from our female practices, strengths that we wanted to call on for the transformation of society, have been relegated to the shadowy realms of forgetfulness.
       Provisionally we lack both the imagination and the strength of feelings corresponding to it, and also the theory that can go further, to imagine and stand up for a society in which the division of labour affecting the genders so differently would be arranged in a different way; or we do not dare to think of this division of labour in ways other than in diametrical oppositions, such as soft or hard, friendly or antagonistic, loving or hating. It is necessary to continue working this out.

    Learning from Brecht

    Bertolt Brecht is one of the poets from whom feminists can learn a lot, among other things, how to deal with contradictions. In his Flüchtlingsgespräche(Refugee Conversations) he has the worker Kalle provide the information that searching for a country in which ‘love of one’s country, thirst for freedom, kindness, and selflessness’ are not required, nor are their opposites, the mere ‘not giving a shit about one’s country, beatified servitude, savagery, and egoism, but that it is precisely those virtues that are needed which the revolutionaries had started to get rid of in the first place: namely, ‘extreme braveness, the deepest thirst for freedom, the greatest selflessness, the greatest egoism. [4]
       Brecht’s message is baffling in a number of ways. First, because he places the attitudes that are usually ascribed to male heroes (love of one’s own country and thirst for freedom) and those usually attributed to female heroines (kindness and selflessness) side by side, in order to say goodbye to all of them. What he is looking for is a country where none of these virtues is required. In examining our desires Brecht shows that it is not enough to simply negate them. Nor is it enough to establish a prioritised list to supposedly make it easier for us to bid farewell to the bad attitudes such as beatified servitude, savagery, and egoism in order to reach the promised land of the good virtues. Some of these attitudes are required in their extreme forms if we want to reach our desired goal of socialism. We need a strong and egoistic desire in order to want socialism for ourselves, if we are to develop the force necessary to effect a radical change. And with this the last of our familiar solutions to these issues is also called into question, namely the distinguishing of means and ends. This had allowed us to think of the means as hard and difficult and to cover up all problems if only the objective remained untouched, shining brightly, pleasantly, and unblemished. But the unusual connection Brecht proposes, for example of egoism and selflessness – which we could adopt, consequently thinking of braveness and cowardice as connected, or kindness and harshness, and thus upset our customary ways of thinking and feeling – now shows us that we, in our search for the strengths of women as a transformative power, must open up our own feeling and thinking for discussion and change; this means that we also have to re-examine what is considered weakness in a new light if we want to form a different picture of transformation. The terrain of our research as the foundation of our politics becomes richer if we call into question what we are used to thinking of as belonging together and consequently also try out all kinds of new alliances in our thinking, as for example when we recognise that it requires courage to understand that cowardice is vitally necessary in many situations, that conscientious objectors are possibly acting heroically and that peace is something that has to be fought for. At the same time what we are used to thinking of as firm ground becomes shaky, as we are forced to doubt everything and to constantly start from the beginning again.

    The second contradiction: construction and deconstruction

    Those of us who are old enough to remember the emergence of the Second Women’s Movement can still picture the many assemblies and the accumulation of complaints through which we as women started to become aware of our common experience of repression. The crucial turn, which also took place internationally, came with the ‘victim – perpetrator’ thesis. In the form of a short essay, this was the call to enter the path to liberation from a different point, not presuming that an entire sex, all women, were victims of men or, later, of conditions, but rather to assume that women as human beings also produce their own lives, that is, that they must have themselves walked the paths that ultimately lead to their oppression. This thesis triggered a fierce debate (essentially within the organisations closest to the labour movement), which lasted for more than a decade and led to expulsions and new formations and to the redefinition of what had previously been regarded as weakness and as strength in both of the movements concerned.[5]
       For me this collision led not only to a personal crisis but above all to the further development of collective memory work, which involved the socialist groups of the women’s movement right from the start. It concerned everybody who was moving towards the goal of women’s liberation, no matter how vague their involvement and positions. There was a brief moment of shock in which we realised that women’s politics could not, contrary to how it was usually understood, mean liberating the other repressed women while the liberators themselves were already on the safe side of liberation – a moment in which we realised that we ourselves, like all the others, had, in our socialisation, also accommodated on specific levels and had given in to compromises, had constructed ourselves as subjugated beings. After this realisation, there followed the laborious but joyously taken path of researching ourselves, understanding ourselves as the object of research – as subject and object in one person. It was necessary, in essentially two steps, to arrive at another idea of the subject: first, to grasp the concept of the subject as already indicated by Louis Althusser, based on the literal meaning of the Latin word, that is, understood as the product of subjugation[6] and, in the next step, to surpass it in the process of acquiring the capacity to act collectively, to acquire agency. We began to struggle productively with many of our contradictory emotions: curiosity and shame, deception and revelation, love of truth and the instinct to cover up, pain and joy. In short, we set out collectively to discover ourselves as historical persons within history.

    Memory work

    Memory work as a method of tracing women’s self-construction and self- production with the aim of greater agency through knowledge of our own subjugation, of the paths not taken, the search for alternatives that could have been chosen, became a cultural practice for many. The second book, Sexualisierung der Körper (1982), was published in English as Female Sexualization in 1983, thus paving the way to the international reception of this method of research, which crossed the boundaries of the academic disciplines by combining biography, discourse analysis, psychology, and politics at the same time and included the individual work of all participants. Of course, memory work never became part of the mainstream feminism, which one can hardly call a liberatory science. Memory work has been practiced in sixteen countries for almost four decades now, always leading to further knowledge.

    Entering history

    At root, memory work is a contribution to women entering history as subjects. We are using this contested term subject as a necessary form in which women must enter history, not only as subjugated but as acquiring responsibility, and search, among many disciplines and accumulated knowledge, for a language that we can recognise as describing ourselves. Literature as a condensation of experiences is one of the storehouses which we want to make use of. In her acceptance speech for the Büchner Prize (Büchnerpreisrede,1980), in a rapid journey through the huge number of historical forms of women as mediated by literature, Christa Wolf finds vivid words. Rosetta stands for the female persona in history,

    Rosetta, and that is her fate, lives, invisible to herself, without a language, without a reality [...] She becomes definable as that which she is not. She allows herself to be robbed of history and to be deprived of a soul, a mind, her humanity, her responsibility for herself. And allows herself to be given into marriage. She serves her husband, bestows his progeny on him, has to believe him.[...]. Rosetta allows herself to be deprived of her rights, to be silenced, to be deprived of her mourning. her joy, of love, of work, of art. She allows herself to be raped, to be prostituted, to be locked away, to be made mad, allows herself, as Rose, to be mistreated and exploited, and this ‘doubly’. She allows herself to be forced to give birth. Allows herself to be forced to abort her children. Allows her gender to be analysed into non-existence. She gets caught in the nets of helplessness. Becomes a nag, a slut, a vamp, a homebody. As Nora she leaves the doll’s house. Finally, as Rosa, she starts to fight. But then she is beaten to death, thrown into the canal. As the persecuted woman she, finally, has equal rights with the suppressed and persecuted man.[7]

       I have quoted Christa Wolf at some length to suggest how much we can gain from literature, but also to show how much we have uncritically swallowed from belles lettres in terms of possible women’s forms, of reality, without protesting seriously, indeed feeling compassion at the wrong places, shedding tears of sympathy when anger and indignation would have been much more appropriate. This reminds us of how much we have already accepted, with false emotions, false consideration, and false respect preventing us from considering other serious possibilities and alternatives. With memory work too there is the issue of how individuals, even when they are in a collective, can work out who they are in such a way that they enter uncharted territory.
       We must recognise – and we have up to now insufficiently considered and analysed this – the fact that a precondition of each process of renewal is the destruction of the old and familiar, that each process of construction is at the same time one of painful and unfamiliar destruction.

    Re-reading Marx and Luxemburg(8)

    We would only have had to allow ourselves to take in and feel Marx’s prophetic words more clearly, words that many of us know by heart. In the Communist Manifesto he writes,

    All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real condition of life, and his relations with his kind.[9]

       On closer reading one recognises that this is not a matter of the logic of ‘on the one hand and on the other hand’ or ‘first this and then that’ but that an inner connection is being indicated here: development requires a break with the old form as a precondition of the new. In a similar way, Marx depicts the introduction of science into production not as a mere impoverishment of the workers, although he characterises scientification as a complete separation of mental labour from manual labour, accompanied by the subjugation of the workers and the assignment of science to a ‘numerically unimportant class of persons’.[10] He derives his ‘sober’ view from the analysis of the fate of labour and its historical critique in political economy. He shows that the ‘abstract category “labour”, “labour as such” […] the point of departure of modern [political] economy, is first seen to be true in practice’[11] with the formation of bourgeois society. I am quoting this here, because it is of fundamental importance for us to know how to deal with development, with contradictions, with crises and ruptures, how to use them as means of knowledge and thus to understand how they can enable us to act in terms of theory and practice. In Capital (especially in the chapter on Machinery and Modern Industry in Volume One) Marx elaborated in great detail on how working people became ‘indifferent’ (gleichgültig) towards the specificity of work, which practically reduced them to mere owners of labour power to be deployed.[12] Earlier, in ‘The Method of Political Economy’, in his discussion of the forms of value, he uses the same concept of ‘indifference’ or ‘irrelevance’ to demonstrate the dynamics of development which has to be understood as movement. There he says,

    The fact that the specific kind of labour is irrelevant presupposes a highly developed totality of actually existing kinds of labour, none of which is any more the dominating one. Thus the most general abstractions arise on the whole only with the most profuse concrete development, when one [phenomenon] is seen to be common to many, common to all.[13]

       By labour Marx here does not merely intend people’s necessary mediation with non-human nature. Rather, he is more specifically referring to the fact that this occurs under conditions that do not necessarily require domination but, on the contrary, make horizontal socialisation possible – his choice of the words ‘gemein’ and ‘gemeinsam’ (common) can surely be read as foreshadowing commonwealth. The optimistic expressions ‘highly developed totality’, ‘none of which is any more the dominating one’, ‘common’ are embedded in a sentence with the ambiguous word ‘irrelevant’(Gleichgültigkeit) as subject. I call the clash of descriptions of misery with expressions denoting preconditions of future commonwealths a crisis arrangement. Development is thought of as a break with old forms. People who have lived in the old forms may now come into still greater misery. But at the same time Marx insists on the old forms having prevented development. From the ruins of the old forms something better can be built. This construction is not deterministic. It leaves open whether people grasp the conditions and act constructively, and also the question of what political practice we should encourage.
       Once on to this kind of configuration of problems, you will find it in many important sections of Capital and in the Grundrisse. When dealing with the development of productive forces Marx mentions obstacles, for example, when the carrying out of tasks is tied to human skills, the guild rules are ‘shackles’, or the ‘traditional stagnation in some very definite kind of labour’[14] hinders development. In the same way – and here we come to the question of gender relations and their contradictions – Marx writes that ‘custom, morality, family ties’, the old social forms, appear as ‘obstacles’ while at the same they provide protection to individuals as their ‘last resorts’; they are the ‘sole remaining safety-valve of the whole social mechanism’.[15] This limitation, this rescuing shackle causes liberation to be experienced as a catastrophe, as when dams burst. The breaking of the old forms presents tasks of reorganisation, conditions that must and can be grasped, but not liberation itself. This connection can also be found in Marx’s Capital:

    However terrible and disgusting the dissolution, under the capitalist system, of the old family ties may appear, nevertheless, modern industry, by assigning as it does an important part in the process of production, outside the domestic sphere, to women, to young persons, and to children of both sexes, creates a new economic foundation for a higher form of the family and of the relations between the sexes.[16]

       Marx arranges the categories in such a way that our spontaneous sympathy, our emotions and desires, are addressed such that we side with the old forms, which means that our involvement on the side of liberation from the old forms at the same time requires a farewell to what has become dear to us, to tradition, to parts of ourselves. Acting on these propositions is extremely difficult, all the more so that a ready empathy with the old is just as much a part of being in the mainstream as a fashionable espousal of the new. But as long as we remain within the old forms we will not be free of the contradictions, which not only afford a better knowledge of the driving forces but are at the same time distressing. As Marx says concisely and pointedly: ‘[…] the historical development of the antagonisms, immanent in a given form of production, is the only way in which that form of production can be dissolved and a new form established.’[17]
       Rosa Luxemburg takes up and further develops the constellation found in Marx that makes it possible to grasp crisis as an opportunity for development. She repeatedly uses the language of the Communist Manifesto to strikingly depict the catastrophe of war, for example in her brief text Trümmer ([Ruins], 1914):

    But it is not only physical goods that every war destroys, not merely material cultural values. It is, at the same time, an irreverent attacker of traditions. Old sanctuaries, venerable institutions, devotedly repeated formulas are thrown onto the same heap of ruins by its iron broom on which lie the remnants of used canons, guns, kitbags, and other war rubbish.[18]

       In the pathos-filled introductory passages to The Crisis of Social Democracy she uses the following words to describe bourgeois society after the war:

    Business thrives in the ruins. Cities become piles of ruins; villages become cemeteries; countries, deserts; populations are beggared; churches, horse stalls. International law, treaties and alliances, the most sacred words and the highest authority have been torn to shreds. Every sovereign ‘by the grace of God’ is called a rogue and lying scoundrel by his cousin on the other side. Every diplomat is a cunning rascal to his colleagues in the other party. Every government sees every other as dooming its own people and worthy only of universal contempt. There are food riots in Venice, in Lisbon, Moscow, Singapore. There is plague in Russia, and misery and despair everywhere.[19]

       But it is not this ‘witches’ Sabbath’ that she takes as the real ‘catastrophe of world-historical proportions’,[20] but the fact that, in the midst of this anarchy, ‘International Social Democracy has capitulated’. What a call to us today!

    Provisional conclusion

    The productive discussion of contradictions within Marxist Feminism and the re-reading of Marx and also of Luxemburg assigns us new and widely ranging tasks of research. We had mostly been focusing on naming the institutional conditions and relations within which women in history remain a marginalised species and, applying the method of memory work, had put primary emphasis on our collaboration, our production of ourselves as subject creatures, with the goal of becoming generally capable of acting concretely politically to work together towards a culture of change. This step, too, was very productive both for the individuals and the respective collectives, resulting in books and concrete knowledge of the process, which went far beyond subsequent postmodernism’s mere proclamation that ‘woman is a social construct’. Memory work is a school of language and of writing, of perception, and at the same time, a method to trace the threads that tie individuals to the social and, conversely, keep them there.
       But what is it that follows from the contradiction that it is exactly the attitudes and practices that we need for the transformation of society into a more humane alternative which underlie the division of labour between the sexes, with its marginalisation of women but also the desired practices?
       In building a socialist society, Lenin once proposed that ‘any cook[21] should be able to run the state’, and Brecht objected that this ‘obviously required another state and another cook’. The attempt to socialise the caring practices, with all of ‘society organised like a single factory’ at the beginning of the socialist experiment of the twentieth century did not lead to a humanisation of society.
       The attempt to achieve equality between the genders within capitalist conditions – that is, with all the mostly unpaid caring practices that had previously been carried out in the form of the family transferred to waged labour and, correspondingly, subject to labour struggles, strikes, and walkouts – brought movement into the familiar relations. The nursing crisis, which, true to capitalist-imperialist tradition, is being tackled by ‘people imports’ from poor countries, and strikes in all the social professions (from nurses to teachers and professors) represent a challenge for the state but also encourage investment-seeking capital to carry out the privatisation of these social services to profit from previously unpaid work by reorganising it. This process is still ongoing and at any rate is deepening the division within society between the classes that can afford such private services and the majority of the population, including a part of the middle classes, which increasingly can no longer afford them. The contradiction requires shifting to another level where caring work is no longer allocated according to gender or concentrated among individual groups of people but becomes general. This requires a reduction of the necessary waged work for everyone so that every person has enough time for the caring, friendly, and loving practices and services for our fellow humans. And this in turn requires another way of dealing with time and work for the social whole and each individual.
       With the second contradiction we took another step by applying what we had long thought of in abstract terms as applied to our feminist questions, namely that each process of construction is also one of deconstruction. The stubborn survival of the family, as a form we recognised as reproducing women’s repression, shows that it was not possible simply to abolish it, that the reproduction of the human species could not simply be shifted to the societal level. This ultimately forces us to study those forces that undergird our remaining in these forms, with our love of the familiar and the old, even if those forms are brittle, and mere ruins of the previous form of the family, as is still seen in the real existence of ‘single parents’. It seems that it is individual people who guarantee the emotional support of the old, as a last resort when society turns out to be a cold wasteland.
       If women’s isolation is an obstacle to their amalgamation, which is a prerequisite for any transformation, and if at the same time individuals are emotionally tied to the old forms in highly contradictory ways, then let us start to study how the knots that keep individuals in the old forms are tied and need to be cut, and which elements of the new that are already found in the womb of the old forms need to be strengthened – that is, how the collective can be made into a new home against the private form that exists at the costs of the individual.
       Provisionally, it seems to us that the idea of moving towards the Four- in-One-Perspective[22] may be a political solution that productively carries forward both contradictions elaborated here. The Four-in-One-Perspective is a proposal to link to political intervention the familiar division between caring reproductive unpaid work and necessary paid work, as well as the development of individuals, their learning, and the development of their artistic skills. Here too, further research and insightful political will are necessary to press ahead with this.

    translated by Hilde Grammel


    Bosch, Herbert, and Jan Rehmann, ‘Ideologische Staatsapparate und Subjekteffekt bei Althusser’, in Projekt Ideologietheorie (eds), Theorien über Ideologie, Berlin/West: Argument-Verlag, 1979, pp. 105-29.

    Brecht, Bertolt, ‘Flüchtlingsgespräche’, in Bertolt Brecht, Große kommentierte Berliner und Frankfurter Ausgabe 18, Frankfurt/M: Suhrkamp, 1989-.

    Haug, Frigga, Der im Gehen erkundete Weg. Marxismus-Feminismus, Hamburg: Argument Verlag, 2015, pp. 69-113.

    --, Die Vier-in-einem-Perspektive. Politik von Frauen für eine neue Linke, Hamburg:Argument Verlag, 1980.

    --, Sexualisierung der Körper, Hamburg-Berlin: Argument Verlag, 1982.

    Luxemburg, Rosa, ‘Trümmer’, in Rosa Luxemburg Gesammelte Werke, volume 4, Berlin/ GDR: Dietz, 1974.

    Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Collected Works, New York: International Publishers, 1975-. Müller, Heiner, Zement (1972), Berlin, 2011.

    Wolf, Christa, ‘Büchnerpreisrede’, in Christa Wolf, Die Dimension des Autors, Berlin-Weimar, 1980; Darmstadt and Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1987.


    1. I want to thank Hilde Grammel for her help in translating my German text.
    2. Karl Marx, Capital, volume one, in Marx and Engels, Collected Works (hereafter MECW), vol. 35, New York: International Publishers, 1996, p. 20.
    3. See <https://marxfemconference.net>
    4. Bertolt Brecht, Gesammelte Werke, volume 18, p. 304.
    5. Most of the newspapers, journals, indeed even institutions, do not exist in the same form now; the main features of the debate are documented and summarised in my 2015 book, Der im Gehen erkundete Weg. Marxismus-Feminismus [The Path Made by Walking. Marxism-Feminism], pp. 69-113.
    6. On this see the adoption and critique carried out in the framework of the ideology theory project: Theorien über Ideologie, chapter 6, ‘Ideologische Staatsapparate und Subjekteffekt bei Althusser’, AS 40, Argument, Hamburg, 1979, pp. 105-129.
    7. Christa Wolf, Die Dimension des Autors, Essays und Aufsätze, Reden und Gespräche, 1959- 1985, Darmstadt and Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1987, pp. 161 f.
    8. The following presentation of Marx’s way of dealing with contradictions draws on    a contribution that I wrote more than three decades ago on the centenary of Marx’s death. As the volume Aktualisierung Marx (Berlin 1983) is no longer in print I am here using a part of the arguments developed there, since they have lost nothing of their validity.
    9. MECW, vol. 6, 1976, p. 487.
    10. Capital, vol. 1, in MECW, vol. 35, 1996, p. 423.
    11. Karl Marx, ‘The Method of Political Economy’, in MECW, volume 28, 1986, pp. 41.
    12. And see Marx, Capital I, p. 69-70.
    13. Marx, ‘The Method of Political Economy’, MECW, vol. 28, pp. 69-70.
    14. Marx, ‘The Method of Political Economy’, p. 42.
    15. Marx, Capital I, p. 504.
    16. Marx, Capital I, p. 492.
    17. Marx, Capital I, p. 491.
    18. Rosa Luxemburg, Gesammelte Werke, volume 4, Berlin: Dietz, 2000, p.10
    19. Luxemburg, p. 52 f.
    20. Luxemburg, p. 53.
    21. Editor’s note: The gender of the word ‘cook’ is feminine in the German translation of Lenin and in the quoted response by Brecht.
    22. See Frigga Haug, Die Vier-in-einem-Perspektive. Politik von Frauen für eine neue Linke, Hamburg: Argument Verlag, 2008.