LENIN, WOMEN AND PROSTITUTION


Translated by Google from Original Spanish (see links below)

Interview by Clara Zetkin, the leader of the Russian Revolution Vladimir Lenin in 1924.

Lenin had spoken many times of the problem of women. He looked it attached a great importance to the women’s movement as an essential, sometimes even decisive movement of the masses. Needless to say, for him, the full

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CLARA ZETKIN

social equality of women with men was a firm rule, and that no communist could not even argue. It was in the big office of Lenin in the Kremlin where, in the fall of 1920, we had the first conversation a little long on this subject. Lenin was sitting at his writing table, which, covered with papers and books, spoke of study and work, not to reign in it any “great disorder”.


-We have to create at all costs a strong international women’s movement on a clear theoretical Lenin said, directing the conversation after the words of greeting.

-No Marxist theory can not have a good performance practice, this is obvious. We Communists, we also need a high purity of principles on this issue. We have to distinguish clearly from all other parties. Unfortunately, our second international congress has failed in the way of posing the problem of women. He raised the issue, but without taking a position on it. The matter is still in the hands of a commission. This will draft a proposal, thesis guidelines. However, until now it has not done much. You need to take a hand.

What Lenin said I had heard already from another source, expressing my amazement at it. I was excited for everything that Russian women had contributed to the revolution and what still contributed to defend and take it forward.

-Yes, that is true, and it is magnificent and very well-Lenin said, with a quiet smile, barely sketched. In Petrograd, here, in Moscow, in the cities and industrial centers and in the field, were proletarian behaved beautifully in the revolution. Without them, we would not have succeeded. Or we would have succeeded with difficulty. I think so. You can not imagine how brave they were and how brave they are being still. Represent you all the hardships and privations that support these women.

I informed him about this, as well as they could, given the poor and irregular joint that existed at that time in parties affiliated to the Third International. Lenin listened to my words carefully, with the body slightly bent forward, without a trace weariness, impatience or boredom, following reconcentrado interest until the secondary details. I have not met anyone who would listen better than him or that I heard better ordered, drawing general conclusions from it. This is denoted quick questions and always very concrete that interrupted from time to time reports and so accurate with returning after this or that detail of the conversation. Lenin took some quick notes.

As was natural, special caution analyzed the German situation. I explained to Lenin’s insistence that Rosa Luxemburg posed the need to win for the revolutionary struggles of the female masses. At the founding of the Communist Party, nagged because they hurl a newspaper for women. When Leo Jogisches, in the last interview we had, two days before he assassinate-discussed with me the immediate tasks of the party and entrusted me some work, was among them a plan for the organization of work among working women. In his first lecture clandestine party had dealt with this issue. The agitators and leaders before and during the war had stood as disciplined and skilled women within the movement had been almost without exception within social democracy, holding them to the proletarian more restless. However, having collected and comrades a small core of very energetic and ready for any sacrifice, taking part in all the work and all party struggles. This core of women had already gone to organize systematic performance between the proletarian. Naturally, everything was still in its infancy, but were already certainly very promising beginning.

Not bad, not bad, ‘said Lenin. Energy, the ability to sacrifice and enthusiasm of the comrades, his bravery and his skill at times clandestine open a good perspective on future work. They are very valuable for the development and strengthening party for their ability to attract the masses and to plan and develop actions. But how about walk the comrades and comrades in point of clarity and discipline on principle? This is of fundamental importance for the work among the masses. Greatly influences what happens among the masses, know what attracts and excites. For now, I do not remember who it was that said “to do great things there that excited.” We and the workers of the world we still really great things to do. Let us see what is it that excites these comrades, proletarian women from Germany? How are proletarian class consciousness? They concentrate their interest?, His performance in the political demands of the hour? What is the focus of your thoughts?

THE ORGANIZATION OF PROSTITUTES
“About this, I have heard some curious things Russian and German comrades.’m Gonna tell you one. I am told, for example, that a very intelligent communist Hamburg publishes a newspaper for prostitutes, and wants to organize these in the revolutionary struggle. Rosa felt and acted humanely as communist when, in an article came out in defense of whores who do not know what transgression committed against police ordinances for governing the exercise of his sad profession had taken to jail. Such beings are victims of bourgeois society, pitied by two concepts.’re victims of their bloody ownership and are also victims of their bloody moral hypocrisy. This is evident, and only one man boorish and myopic can not see it. But one thing is to understand this and quite another to want to organize prostituteshow shall I say? – gremialmente as a revolutionary troops apart for them by editing a newspaper industry. Is that in Germany there are no longer workers industrial organization for whom editing a newspaper, who attract our struggles? They are obviously a sickening outbreak. This reminds me too that poetically literary fashion that made ​​every prostitute in a saint of the altar. was also here healthy root: a sense of social solidarity, of rebellion against the hypocrisy of the honorable virtuous bourgeois.

But this feeling healthy degenerated and corrupted in bourgeois manifestations. Moreover, we also will pose more of a problem difficult subject of prostitution. We must aim at incorporating prostitutes to productive work, to the social economy. But this is difficult and complicated to get into the current state of our economy and on the entire set of circumstances. There you have a piece of the problem of the woman who stands before us after the conquest of power by the proletariat and that demands a practical solution. In Soviet Russia, this will give us a lot still to do. But back to the special case of Germany. The party can not, far from it, to sit idle during these outrages committed by its individuals. This creates confusion and dispersed force. And you, let’s see, what have you done to prevent these things?

Before he could answer, Lenin continued:

-In his “must”, Clara, there’s more targeted. I am told that in the reading and discussion evenings are organized for the comrades are preferred object of sexual attention to the problem and the problem of marriage, and that on these issues relates primarily interest and educational work and political culture. When I was told, I did not believe my ears. The first state of proletarian dictatorship struggle to counter the world. The same situation of Germany claimed the most intense concentration of all forces proletarian revolutionary advances cutting increasing the counter. And here that are made ​​active comrades discuss the sexual problem and the problem of the forms of marriage “in the past, the present and the future”!

They believe that their most pressing duty at this time is to illustrate to the proletarian about this. It tells me that the most widely read publication is a brochure of a young Viennese comrade on the sex question. Valiente cobblers! Our interest in these issues in the workers long ago that they have read in Bebel … But not a boring style, stone, sketchy as the brochure, but in a tough style of agitation, aggression against bourgeois society. Wanting to expand the Freudian hypotheses that may seem “cult” and to go through science, but it is more than a profane stupidity. Freudian theory is also, today, one of those nonsense fashion. I mistrust sex theories set forth in articles, essays, flyers, etc., In a word, in that specific literature that grows lush in the dung of bourgeois society. Distrust of those who can only look at the sexual problem as the Indian saint to his navel. I think that this exuberance of sexual theories, which for the most part, are no more than hypotheses, and often arbitrary assumptions springs from a personal need, the need to justify to bourgeois morality, imploring tolerance aberrations the abnormal sexual life or hypertrophied. Repugnant to me that respect equally hypocritical bourgeois morality and the constant sexual nuzzle the issue. As much as they give a rebel and revolutionary, this attitude is, at bottom, perfectly bourgeois.’s, In fact, a favorite trend of intellectuals and sectors related to them. In our party, within the militant proletariat, class conscious, they have nothing to do these issues.

I objected that, under the system of private property and the bourgeois order, the sexual problem and the problem of multiple enveloped marriage concerns, conflicts and hardships for women of all classes and social sectors. That war and its consequences had come precisely to exacerbate conflict on women and the hardships that carry sex, exposing problems that were previously buried. The atmosphere lent revolution going beautifully for this. The old world of feelings and ideas began to falter. The old social ties loosened and broke, discovering new relationships and glimpses of human attitudes. I said that the interest in these issues was a sign that he felt the need for clarity and new directions. That this is also a reaction revealed the falsity and hypocrisy of bourgeois society. That traffic forms of marriage and family throughout history, under the dependence of the economy, lent to destroy the consciousness of the proletarian superstitious faith in the eternity of bourgeois society. That a historical critical attitude to these problems was bound to lead to a ruthless analysis of the bourgeois, to lay bare its roots and its effects, to score with the hot iron the hypocrisy of sexual morality. That all roads led to Rome. That all who belong to analyze a truly Marxist approach an important part of the ideological superstructure of society, a social highlight, had necessarily lead to the analysis of bourgeois society and the basic scheme of the property, was bound to lead est in Carthiginem delendam!

Lenin nodded smiling:

-Did we have it. Defend yourself as a true advocate for his comrades and his party! Of course, what you say is true. But in the best case, that does nothing to excuse, and justify the mistake made ​​in Germany. Such behavior is and remains a mistake. Could you seriously ensure that those readings and discussions we study the sexual problem and the problem of marriage, from the point of view of mature Marxism, historical materialism alive and real? This requires extensive and profound culture, complete mastery of a huge item. Where do you have the elements for that? If they had, you would not take the case of a rule of teaching in these readings and discussions a brochure like the one I quoted. Instead of criticizing, you are encouraged and will spread. And where that leads Marxist superficial and treat the problem? A sexual problem that the marriage and not focus as a part of the great social problem, but, on the contrary, he, the great social problem, as a part, as an appendage of sexual problems. What becomes the main accessory. This not only creates confusion on these issues, but insists the thoughts, consciousness of the proletarian class in general.

“Moreover, this is not the least important, as the wise Solomon said everything required time. And you tell me, is it time to entertain this months and months to proletarian explaining how to love and make love, how are courting and wooing women leave? course everything is “in the past, the present and the future” and the most diverse. peoples. And they say, very proud, this is historical materialism! not , at the moment, all thoughts of the comrades, women of working people, should focus on the proletarian revolution. This cast is also the basis for the necessary renewal of marriage and sex. Nowadays they are, indeed, other problems that are in the foreground, and not the double forms of black Australians and marriage between siblings in antiquity. The primary problem for German proletarians remain the Soviets. Versailles Treaty and its effects on the lives of the masses of women, unemployment, low wages, taxes and many other issues: these are the problems that are now the order of the day. In a word, I hold in my idea that this kind of culture social policy, which is given to the proletarian is false, completely false. How could you silent about these facts? You should have filed his authority to prevent it. “

I explained to the angry friend who, for lack of criticism and reproach at different sites leading comrades had not been, but I knew that no one was a prophet in his own land and among his people. That my criticism had brought upon me the suspicion that still had “strong remnants of social prejudices and petty outmoded conceptions.” But that, after all, the criticism was not in vain, for the sexual problem the marriage were no longer the focus of the courses and discussions. But Lenin further developed the idea treated.

-I know, I know, she said, also I am accused me in this respect from the Philistine by certain little people, despite what the philistinism disgusts me, so that locks of hypocrisy and narrowness. But, I patiently endure all that. These yellow-billed birds, coming out just the shell of bourgeois prejudices, are always terribly clever. But, what to do! We must resign ourselves to that, and if not corrected. Youth movement also suffers from modernism in its attitude to the sexual problem and its excessive concern for him-Lenin put in the word “modernism” ironic accent, making a dismissive gesture to pronounce

As I have reported many - continued - the sexual problem is also favorite topic of study in the German youth organizations. The speakers can not cope, apparently, the public’s appetite. And in the youth movement, this havoc is especially harmful, especially dangerous. Easily can lead, in many young people, exaltation and sexual life overdrive, destroying youth health and strength. You need to fight also against this. No wonder the women’s movement and youth have many points of contact. Our comrades should collaborate systematically in all countries with youth. This would be a continuation and a celebration of motherhood from the individual to the social. And we must encourage women everything in her point of life and social action to help it overcome its narrow and petty individual psychology of home and family. But this consideration is incidental or na.

“Here also a large part of youth is delivered passionately to” review “the” bourgeois conceptions of morality “in sexual problems. And I must add that this is just a big part of our best young people, the really promise.’s like you said before. In the atmosphere of the ravages of war and revolution underway, the old ideological values ​​dissolve, to shiver the economic foundations of society, and lose their coercive force. And the new values crystallize slowly, fighting force. Again point to human relationships, relationships between men and women, will revolutionize the feelings and ideas. new boundaries are drawn between the right of the individual and the right of the public and, Thus, the individual duty. things are still in full fermentation chaotic. Counseling evolutionary force of the various trends found, does not stand still with absolute clarity.’s a slow, and often painful, destruction and creation. Where else notice this is precisely sex, marriage and family.’s decay, rot, dirt of bourgeois marriage, with its difficult solubility, with their freedom to the man and his slavery to the woman, disgusting hypocrisy of morality and sex, deep disgust filled spiritually sensitive beings and better.


“Coercion of bourgeois marriage and the laws governing the family of the bourgeois states, sharpens the evils and conflicts. Coercion is the” holy estate “which sanctifies the venality, the vileness and filth. The conventional hypocrisy honest bourgeois society does the rest. People seeking satisfaction to their legitimate aspirations against disgusting and unnatural order that prevails. During times like these, when powerful kingdoms crumble in that ancient institutions come ashore and in which a whole social world threatens to collapse, individual feelings are transformed quickly, the hunger and the desire to change the enjoyment too easily run wild.

“Not enough to reform sex and marriage in bourgeois sense. Sexual revolution and is a marriage that is preparing, as befits the proletarian revolution.’s Logical that this intricate complex of problems raised here most especially interested women and youth, as both are the first victims of sexual regime prevailing false. youth rebels against this abuse with all the momentum of his years. And understood. Nothing could be more false than preaching monastic asceticism youth bourgeois morality and holiness. But it’s dangerous in those years to become life axis sexual issue, and his strong enough for physiological imperative. The consequences are fatal. Inquire you about this on our Comrade Lilina. This woman has been able to gather great experiences in his long work in educational establishments of all kinds and you know that it is a full body communist without prejudice.

“The change in attitude of young people to the problems of sexual life is, of course, a matter” in principle “, and aims to build upon a theory. Many call their attitude” revolutionary “and” communist. “And honestly believe it is. To me, I’m old, I do not impose. And although I have no gloomy ascetic, I think that what they call “new sex life” of the young and sometimes older men-not, too often, rather than a purely sexual life bourgeois, bourgeois brothel prolongation. All this has nothing to do with freedom loving, as we conceive the Communists. Surely you know the famous theory that in communist society , the satisfaction of the sexual impulse, the need of love, is something so simple and unimportant as the “drink a glass of water.” This theory of the glass of water has gone crazy, completely crazy to a part of our youth, and has been fatal to many boys and many girls. Proponents claim that is a Marxist theory. bitches I do not give three girls by that Marxist who wants to derive all phenomena and all the transformations in the ideological superstructure of society directly and online Straight economic base. No, the thing is not so simple, not at all. already revealed long ago, so refer to historical materialism, a certain Frederick Engels.

ON THE THEORY OF “GLASS OF WATER”
“The famous glass of water theory is, in my opinion, completely Marxist and also antisocial. Sexual in life, not only reflected the work of nature, but also the work of culture, whether high or bottom. In his work on the “origins of the family”, Engels has demonstrated the importance of physiological sexual instinct has been developed and refined to become individual sexual love. Relations between the sexes are not simply a reflection of exchange between the social economy and society mentally isolated physical physiological consideration. Wanting to directly reduce t he economic foundations of society transformation of these relations, isolating and broken down to its junction with the general ideology, it is not Marxism but rationalism. Obviously whoever should quench thirsts. But is that the normal man in normal, folded in the mud of the street to drink in a puddle? Or simply a vessel whose edges preserved greasy fingerprints from many lips? But, even more important than this is the social aspect. Well the drinking water is actually an individual act, and the two people involved love and be born a third, a new life . In this act lies a social interest, a duty to the community.

“As a communist, I have no sympathy for the theory of the glass of water, although it is presented with the colorful label of” emancipation of love. “Moreover, this alleged emancipation Love is neither Communist nor new. As you recall, is a theory that was preached mainly to mid-century in the literature under the name of “freedom of the heart”. then showed bourgeois reality of what was free was not the heart, but meat. least, the preaching of the time denoted more talent than today, for what concerns the practical reality, I can not judge. And not that I, with my review, want to preach asceticism. Nada that. Communism need not aspire to an ascetic life, but, on the contrary, to a joyful life full force, full, even when it comes to love. But, in my opinion, that hypertrophy sexual what is now seen at every step, away from infusing enjoyment and strength to life, takes them off. And in revolutionary moments, this is serious, very serious.

“Young people especially need joy and vitality. Sports healthy, gymnastics, swimming, walks, exercise of all sorts, variety of spiritual interests. Learning, studying, researching, making, whenever possible, collectively!

“This will give more than the eternal youth lectures and discussions on sexual problems and the damn right to” live your life. “Healthy body, healthy mind! Neither monk nor Don Juan, but not the average German philistine . Surely you know our young comrade Xiz a gorgeous boy, very intelligent. Well, despite everything, I fear nothing will come of it. He keeps jumping from one adventure to another female. That’s not good for political struggle or used for the revolution. too little I trust the strength, perseverance in the struggle of those women in whom personal novel interweaves with politics. And I do not trust men who run after every skirt and fish left by the first young little woman. That does not square with the revolution “- Lenin stood up, banged the table with his hand and took a few steps around the room.

“The revolution requires concentration, exaltation of forces. Among the masses and individuals. Those lives not tolerate orgiastic own heroes and heroines of D’Annuzio decadent.’s Unbridled sexual life is a bourgeois phenomenon, a sign of decline. The proletariat is a class upward. need not drunk, nor as a narcotic or as a stimulus. Neither the intoxication of sexual excitement or intoxication by alcohol. should not and can not forget, or forget the abominable, so dirty, wild is capitalism. Their situation class and the communist ideal are the best stimuli that can compel him to fight. need clarity, clarity and clarity always. therefore, I repeat, nothing weak, to squander, to destroy their forces . Whoever knows how to control and discipline is not a slave, even in love. But, forgive you, Clara. I have strayed considerably from the starting point of our conversation. Why did not you call me to order? concerns me have loosened his tongue. disturbs me much the future of the youth.’s a fragment of the revolution. phenomena suggest harmful if they enter the world of creeping revolution from the world of bourgeois society as the roots of these parasitic plants, crawling and extend to great distances, it is better to give the battle soon. Moreover, these problems are also part of the women’s problems “.

Lenin had spoken with great vivacity and great energy. One could see that every word was coming out of the soul, and the expression on her face confirmed it as well. Occasionally, an aggressive move made ​​by hand underlined a thought. A Lenin amazed me not to worry about only the big political issues, but also devoted great attention to the concrete manifestations and isolated, dealing with them. And not only in Soviet Russia, but also in states governed by capitalism yet. As great Marxist who was focused concrete, anywhere and in the form that is filed in connection with the general, with the big problems, and in terms of their importance to them. His will, the goal of his life, were heading in block, unmoved as unstoppable natural force, to a single purpose: to accelerate the revolution as the work of the masses. So he valued and prosecuted primarily by the reaction that could produce about propulsion conscious forces of the revolution. From national and international revolution, as before. his eyes always stood, covering in full the concrete historical reality of the various countries and the various stages of evolution, the world proletarian revolution, one and indivisible.

– How I feel, I cried Comrade Lenin, that. have not heard his words hundreds, thousands of people! To me, you know you do not need to convince me. But it would have been desirable for the friends and enemies escuchasen your opinion.

Lenin grinned:

‘Maybe someday write or talk about these issues. Later, not now. Now, you have to concentrate all the strength and all the time on other things. We care more and more serious. The struggle to affirm and strengthen the Soviet state has not finished yet, far from it. We have to digest the consequences of the war with Poland and seek out the best we can from completion. In the South is still Wrangel. Course, I have the firm belief that we will end with him. This will also give pause to the British and French imperialists and their young subjects. But we still have before us the most difficult part of our task: the building. This will also highlight, as current problems, problems of sex, marriage and the family. Meanwhile, you will have to fend for themselves when and where these problems arise. Preventing be handled in a Marxist and that serve to feed handling deviations deaf and hidden. And with that, we turn to speak, at last, his labo r – Lenin looked at his watch. The time available for you will already averaged she said. I chatted over the account. Should you draft guidelines for communist work among the masses of women. As I know the principled position of you and your experience, our conversation about this may be brief. So we are going there. How do you see these guidelines?
I drew a quick summary of them. Lenin constantly nodding his head. Without interrupting. When I finished, I looked like interrogating.

 

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