The alternative to patriarchy

The ‘sex wars’ discussed by Amia Srinivasan are a symptom of a deeper crisis, argues Rex Dunn

Brexit, Trump, a burgeoning debt crisis; neoliberalism challenged by economic nationalism; the endless war in Syria; Russian spies; fake news versus real news; tech companies able to harvest voters’ personal data in order to influence elections - what next?

Meanwhile the campaign against sexual misconduct has been put on the back burner, but sexual relations continue to disintegrate. The way Amia Srinivasan sees it, we are in the middle of a ‘sex war’ (or two!). Yet, writing in the London Review of Books (March 18), she chooses in her article, ‘Does anyone have the right to sex?’, to tackle the problem in a vacuum, despite her multiple degrees. Come down from your academic tower!

Moreover, she could not be more negative: for her, not all human beings have a right to sex and she elevates this to a principle. Of course, such a right is not without limits (for example, an adult is not entitled to have sex with a child). But why not be positive? That is, start by arguing for a new kind of society, wherein no-one would want to have sex with a child anyway and where patriarchy has been swept away. Then sex becomes a universal right, in practice, because sexual desire is an essential human trait.

But, the longer capitalism continues, the more alienation there is from such traits, which leads to erroneous ideologies and demands; because the root cause of all alienation is the capitalist mode of production, which bases itself on alienated labour. By contrast, as early as 1844, Marx puts forward the idea of socialism as a “new mode of production”, which leads to “the confirmation of human powers and a fresh enrichment of human nature”.1 But in the absence of such a “new mode of production”, there is no guarantee that we will become more human. Perhaps, along with the disintegration of the system as a whole, the relationship of man to woman has begun to follow suit? Hence, according to Srinivasan, we have become embroiled in a “sex war” (in fact we should use that phrase in the plural, because the antagonism between men and women has now spread into the women’s movement as well).

As a result, we are confronted with a growing mass of confusion and even hatred, which leads to conflicting demands for exclusion and inclusion. Unfortunately Srinivasan is unable to offer a way out of the mire.

Rise of the ‘incels’

She opens her account with a patriarchal horror story. In 2014 Elliot Rodger, a 22-year-old college drop-out (of mixed white and Asian parentage), murdered several young men, starting with his two Asian housemates; then he went on to shoot two women on a California university campus, along with another male student, before finally shooting himself. Rodger was an ‘incel’ (involuntary celibate). During his killing spree, as Srinivasan puts it, he

went to Starbucks, ordered coffee, and uploaded a video, ‘Elliot Rodger’s retribution’, to his YouTube channel. He also emailed a 107,000-word memoir-manifesto, ‘My twisted world’ [part of which says]: “All I wanted was to fit in and live a happy life ... but I was cast out and rejected, forced to endure an existence of loneliness and insignificance, all because females of the human species were incapable of seeing the value in me.”

It so happened that he lusted after “hot sorority white girls [who] don’t as a rule date men like Rodger”. Srinivasan says that this “has something to do with gender norms enforced by patriarchy: alpha females want alpha males.” And “The necessary result of all this, Rodger said, was his ‘War on Women’, in the course of which he would ‘punish all females’ for the crime of depriving him of sex.” In fact he killed more men than women!

Srinivasan then turns to an online discussion forum called Reddit. It started out as “a support group for the lonely and sexually isolated, [but soon] became a forum whose users raged against women and the ‘noncels’ and ‘normies’ who get to sleep with them; they also frequently advocated rape.” Consequently Reddit introduced “a new policy of prohibiting content that ‘encourages, glorifies, incites or calls for violence’”. This was the only response possible after

incels [had taken] to the manosphere [!] to explain that women (and feminism) were in the end responsible for what happened. Had one of those ‘wicked bitches’ just fucked Elliot Rodger, he wouldn’t have had to kill anyone. (Nikolas Cruz, who gunned down 17 students and staff members at [a high school in] Florida on Valentines Day, 2018, vowed in a comment on a YouTube video that “Elliot Rodger will not be forgotten”.)

Of course, Srinivasan is right to point out that “no woman was obligated to have sex with Rodger; that his sense of entitlement was a case-study in patriarchal ideology”. It was “the very system that made him feel … inadequate”. He was bullied by other boys, who “made fun of his virginity. But it was the girls who deprived him of sex.” Therefore it was girls “who had to be destroyed”.

Then she asks, was his undesirableness “a symptom of the internalisation of patriarchal norms of men’s sexual attractiveness on the part of women”? If so, a feminism which opposes these sexual stereotypes is not his enemy. She is also right to add:

Feminist commentary on … Rodger and the incel phenomenon … has said much about male sexual entitlement, objectification and violence. But so far it has said little about desire: men’s desire, women’s desire, and the ideological shaping of both.

Excellent point; but, as we shall see, in her attempt to find an answer, although she critiques the debate within radical feminism, she ends up by taking a contradictory position: ie, one which includes both exclusion and inclusion, as opposed to a united fight against patriarchy and a system that encourages sexual stereotypes - which also leads to disputes among women too.

Srinivasan reminds us that some women are willing to see themselves as sexual objects; as “a paradigm of female beauty”, whereby they are happy to attract the male gaze. Is this a form of false consciousness? On the other hand, Marx has a theory of beauty, which is based on classical aesthetics. Obviously this must include ideas not just about the beauty of the female form, but also the male (albeit idealised from nature). Is this an example of false consciousness as well?

‘Paradigm of beauty’

Whether we like it or not, in western society the idea of the beautiful female form (etc) is derived from the Athens golden age over 2,000 years ago: ie, it belongs to a body of aesthetics, based on the objectivity of concepts, which Hegel, Schiller and Marx were able to tap into millennia later.

Among the many examples of the idealised human form, one of my favourites is the relief of Athena Nike. Wearing transparent drapery, she is caught in the act of removing a sandal. Then there is Praxiteles, who sculpted a statue of a naked Hermes, leaning to his left, because he is cradling the infant Dionysus with one arm. And we have Greek vases, many of which depict red or black images of men and women who are engaged in diverse erotic acts.

But today, the idealised female form could not be more different. It is a reflection of ‘society’s real unreality’: ie, the commodified female body under the influence of the culture industry (fashion, cosmetics, advertising and entertainment). As a result, many women strive to look like Barbie dolls. For them, this is the epitome of attractiveness. Not only is this a real example of false consciousness: it also shows how the beauty myth has withered!

Catch 22: If only we could abolish the bourgeois division of labour now - ie, between ‘head’ and ‘hand’ labour - then more people would be able to distinguish between beauty and ugliness, instead of inverting the two, because they would have access to classical theory of the aesthetic. More importantly, they would be more willing to read and understand Marx!2

On the other hand, according to Srinivasan, the “politics of desire” has come to be generally accepted within the women’s movement; which then leads to attempts to police sexual desire. But you cannot politicise desire! Everyone has the right to her/his own idea of beauty and sexual attraction. Not only is this biologically driven: it is also cultivated by ideas about the beautiful; because sexual desire for human beings should engage “the five senses”, which are “the work of all previous history”.3 It is not just about the need to procreate.

In this regard, the relationship between beauty and desire is influenced by the following:

(i) aesthetic considerations, associated with male or female desire for the ‘object’ of their gaze;

(ii) for males, this is linked to patriarchy - ie, an ideology based on male power, which has a long history. But male desire for a woman does not equate with patriarchy necessarily.

(iii) The same dynamics also apply to homosexual, lesbian love, etc.

(iv) But now we have feminists, who want to proscribe sexual desire, based on the “paradigm of female beauty” (or not). As a result, sexual preference is turned into a political question. Rather than oppose this tyranny, Srinivasan appears to be confused about her own position.

The feminist “political critique of desire” dates back to the 1970s:

Catherine MacKinnon began to argue that “we [must] abandon the Freudian view of sexual desire as ‘an innate, primary, natural, pre-political, unconditioned drive divided along the biological gender line’”. Whilst acknowledging “that sex under patriarchy is inherently violent”, [the fact that] there were women who seemed capable of achieving pleasure under these conditions was a sign of how bad things were. [So for MacKinnon] the solution lay in the self-disciplining of desire demanded by political lesbianism … sex under male supremacy might well be “so gender-marked that it carries dominance and submission with it, no matter the gender of its participants”.

But patriarchy is not “inherently violent” - ie, innate to the male gender - because it is an ideology, which emerged from a historical division of labour before being incorporated into class society. Later MacKinnon’s position was attacked by Ellen Willis - not because she saw patriarchy in this way, but because she was in favour of “sex-positive feminism”. She criticised MacKinnon, because the latter “not only denied women the right to sexual pleasure, but also reinforced the ‘neo-Victorian’ idea that men desire sex, while women merely put up with it”. Paradoxically, says Srinivasan , this position undermines woman’s autonomy, both in the bedroom and outside of it, because women are being asked “to accept a spurious moral superiority as a substitute for sexual pleasure, and curbs on men’s sexual freedom as a substitute for real power”. It is hard to keep track with this argument!


Srinivasan goes on to argue that Willis’s position also led to the rise of multifarious feminist groups based on identity and the exclusion of others, because they seek to confirm the ‘white’ paradigm: ie, they are anti-black, anti-disabled, anti-trans women, etc; or because they seek to confirm the latter - viz the politics of intersectionality. But this takes us further away from the idea of the universality of sexual desire:

Thinking about how patriarchal oppression is inflected by race and class - patriarchy…can’t be understood independently of other systems of oppression - has made feminists reluctant to prescribe universal policies, including universal sexual policies. [Yet] sexual self-objectification may mean one thing for a woman who, by virtue of her whiteness, is already taken to be a paradigm of female beauty, but quite another for a black or brown woman, or a trans woman.

At this point, she introduces bourgeois concepts of female empowerment and consensual sex: “If a woman says she enjoys working in porn, or being paid to have sex with men, or engaging in rape fantasies … even if she doesn’t just enjoy these things but finds them emancipatory, as part of her feminist praxis - then we are required, as feminists, to trust her”! (But Srinivasan fails to mention that there is a huge difference between desperately poor women in Haiti who are forced into the game in order to feed themselves and their families, and female escorts in London, whose clients are rich Russian oligarchs, etc.)

Here she errs on the side of liberal feminism, which accepts that desire is by no means uniform (thank goodness), and therefore insists that “acting on that desire is morally constrained only by boundaries of consent”. But she is right to point out that “the norms of sex are like the norms of capitalist free exchange”. On the other hand, she acknowledges that some feminists have not given way without a fight to being coopted by neoliberalism:

Generations of feminists and gay and lesbian activists have fought hard to free sex from shame, stigma, coercion, abuse and unwanted pain. [Yet it] has been essential to this project to stress that there are limits to what can be understood about sex from the outside, that sexual acts can have private meanings that cannot be grasped from a public perspective, that there are times when we must take it on trust that a particular instance of sex is OK, even if we can’t imagine how it should be.

Whereas, if there is evidence of abuse, then consent is not OK. Social intervention is required.


Firstly, Srinivasan is critical of MacKinnon’s position because it gives rise to the “political critique of desire”. Secondly, she is critical of Willis’s “sex-positive feminism”, because it is unable to deal with “false consciousness” (she gives the example of rape fantasy.) Thirdly, she is critical of the supporters of intersectionality, because this is based on reactionary ideas within feminism (eg, the ‘white’ paradigm which is anti-black, etc). That said, she is correct to point out that rape fantasy is not “primordial”. Instead, it is a “political fact” (whereas I would say it is a product of self-alienation - as opposed to ideology which is a set of ideas: eg, patriarchy or radical feminism). She writes:

Consider the supreme fuckability of ‘hot blonde sluts’ and east Asian women, the comparative unfuckability of black women, the fetishisation and fear of black male sexuality, the sexual disgust expressed towards disabled, trans and fat bodies. These too are political facts, which a truly intersectional feminism should demand that we take seriously. But the sex-positive gaze, unmoored from Willis’s call to ambivalence, threatens to neutralise these facts, treating them as pre-political givens. [It] risks covering not only for misogyny, but [also] racism, ableism, transphobia and every other oppressive system …

This makes me cringe. I would argue that the ideology of intersectionality should be opposed, because it is not only based on self-alienation: it is also reactionary and divisive.

Srinivasan agrees that there are risks associated with subjecting prejudices to political scrutiny: “Openness to desire critique” leads to “authoritarian moralism”. On the other hand, the liberal response, which is motivated by a “fear of authoritarianism”, could “encourage a discourse of sexual entitlement” again. This brings us back to the demands of incels, if not the mass murderer, Elliot Rodger, which clearly is out of the question.

At this point, Srinivasan returns to the question of exclusion, which she opposes, because it infringes the rights of trans women. But this raises a new problem: some of the latter are excluded by lesbian feminists, because of their ultra-feminine desires: ie, they “equate and conflate womanhood with traditional femininity”, which “strengthens the hand of patriarchy”. So “no-one is required to have sex with you”. For Srinivasan, the only solution is to “fully exorcise the radical-feminist ambition to develop a political critique of sex”. Then there would be no need to exclude and marginalise trans women”. On the other hand, she says, “a feminism that totally abjures the political critique of desire is a feminism with little to say about the injustices of exclusion and misrecognition suffered by the women who arguably need feminism the most”. Thus we have to have a limited political critique - ie, against feminists who want to exclude trans women, because of their “ultra-feminine desires”. Except that this is how many men view women - not just patriarchal men, but incels too.

Srinivasan’s conclusion

“[W]ho is desired and who isn’t is a political question, [which is] usually answered by more general patterns of domination and exclusion” - not just amongst men, she says, but also amongst women, regardless of sexual preference:

[W]hile men respond to sexual marginalisation with a sense of entitlement to women’s bodies, women who experience [this] typically respond with talk not of marginalisation, but empowerment … in so far as they do speak of entitlement, it is entitlement to respect. That said, the radical self-love movements among black, fat and disabled women do ask us to treat our sexual preferences as less than perfectly fixed.

So Srinivasan falls back on the fluidity of sexual desire - the only way she can square the circle! But it is based on subjective idealism - in the end, she can only rely on hope: “the very idea of fixed sexual preference is political, not metaphysical”. What she calls “good politics” means that “we treat the preferences of others as sacred”. No-one should seek to impose their own “idealised version” of what people should want on others. Right!

Sexual preferences can and do alter, sometimes under the operation of our wills … Desire can take us by surprise, leading us somewhere we haven’t imagined we would ever go … In the very best cases - the cases that perhaps ground our best hope - desire can cut against what politics has chosen for us, and choose for itself.

But what about the worst cases? In the real world we are still left in the mire of gross prejudice, marginalisation and exclusion, a fragmented mass of sexual desires which are in perpetual conflict with each other: ie, the “logics of disintegration” in practice!

In her online profile Srinivasan says that she is interested in an “alternative to liberalism and capitalism”. But there is no evidence of this here. I suggest that she starts by abandoning poststructuralism, because it leaves her stuck in the morass of today’s sexual politics. The latter, of course, is a mirror of the anarchy of commodity capitalism itself. The only alternative to this is Marxism, based on the methodology of dialectical materialism: either it will lead to socialism and communism or extermination. (In this regard, Marx is the originator of the idea of socialism or barbarism, later revived by Engels and Luxemburg.)

But, as Francis Wheen reminds us, Marxism does not merely interpret the world: it requires us to change it, because,

However inglorious its apparent economic [and technological] triumphs, capitalism remains a disaster, since it turns people into commodities, exchangeable for other commodities. Until humans can assert themselves as the subjects of history rather than its objects, there is no escape from this tyranny.4

If only Srinivasan could take this on board!

Marxism and patriarchy

I think we need to discuss both Marx and Engels on this and related questions: the one being the source of basic theory, whilst the other explains the origins of patriarchy. But, due the constraints of space, I shall leave aside the latter’s Origin of the family, private property and the state.

As for Marx, I can only offer a ‘taster’ here. (This is despite the fact that he himself is not the best role model of a socialist man! On the one hand, he started writing before the idea of woman’s liberation had been properly thought about. On the other, given his rational optimism, he anticipated that the bourgeoisie itself would destroy all “patriarchal, idyllic relations”: ie, under the impact of the “nihilism of the bourgeois mode of production ... [all] that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life and his relations with his kind”.5

In the third of his Economic and philosophical manuscripts (1844), Marx makes the distinction between primitive communism, which arose thousands of years ago and the communism of the future. Whereas the former was based on a shortage of the necessities of life, and was doomed to fail, even descend into barbarism, true communism is only possible as a result of the rise of a mode of production which has the potential to produce an abundance for all: ie, once capitalism has fulfilled its own revolutionary potential: “In the relationship with woman, as the prey and handmaid of communal lust, is expressed the infinite degradation in which man exists for himself.” But equally, the

secret of this relationship … of man to woman … reveals in a sensuous form … the extent to which the human essence has become nature for man or nature has become the human essence for man. It is possible to judge from this relationship the entire level of development of mankind ... the relation of man to woman [should be] the most natural relation of human being to human being. It therefore demonstrates the extent to which man’s natural behaviour has become human or … the extent to which his human nature has become nature for him. This relationship also demonstrates the extent to which man’s needs have become human needs.6

At the subjective level, men and women are capable of a relationship, based on real love and equality. Such relationships are the harbingers of a communist future, wherein they become objective, as well as subjective. But without a social revolution the productive forces become more and more destructive, vis-à-vis the relationship between “man and man” (not to mention man and woman!), as well as the rest of nature. Therefore the only way forward is the struggle for a communist organisation of society. Anticipating his ideas in Capital III (published after his death), as early as 1844, Marx describes this as:

the positive supersession of private property as human self-estrangement, and hence the true appropriation of the human essence by and for man; it is the complete restoration of man to himself as a social - ie, human - being, a restoration which has become conscious and which takes place within the entire wealth of previous periods of development. This communism, as fully developed naturalism, equals humanism … it is the genuine resolution of the conflict between man and nature, and between man and man, the true resolution of the conflict between existence and being, between objectification [of the human] and self-affirmation, between freedom and necessity, between the individual and [the potential] of the species.7

I would like to make three main points about patriarchy today:

  1. A Marxist theory of patriarchy - as opposed to subjective idealism - may be summarised as follows:

    (i) Sexual desire is a biological need. but sexual attraction is also cultivated by aesthetic ideas about beauty, (which are both objective/subjective), as well as ideology. This includes patriarchy.

    (ii) Despite the famous statement in The communist manifesto above, patriarchal relations have not disappeared. As a traditional ideology based on the power which men are able to exert over women, it has become more entrenched for multifarious reasons.

    (iii) Even in secular democracies, women do not enjoy economic equality with men. But at least they have more sexual independence, thanks to the contraceptive pill, which freed them from marriage slavery, wherein they had to fulfil a dual role, both as mother and domestic servant. As a result more women are able to become wage slaves, but only a few are able to fill the top jobs in business and politics. On the other hand, if they are no longer able to act as breadwinners, many men feel emasculated by female sexual independence.

    (iv) Post-1968 and the defeat of the left, socialist feminism fell into decline. The vacuum was filled by the rise of radical feminism, because women were still subjected to patriarchal abuse, especially sexually. Therefore more and more women chose to become lesbians as a life-style choice (which, of course, is their right).

    (v) The situation is made worse by sexual stereotyping via the “society of the spectacle” (news/propaganda, advertising and the entertainment industry). As a result, non-alpha males believe that they are entitled to have sex with alpha women. But, when they are rebuffed, their patriarchy becomes aggressive. So they lash out at heterosexual women, as well as lesbians, etc.

    (vi) Latterly, the radical feminist movement has opened itself up to further confusion and criticism, because it has disintegrated into intersectionality groups, many of which, as Srinivasan points out, advocate reactionary ideas.

    (vi) The ideology of patriarchy can only be overthrown via a united struggle of men and women for socialism, whilst at the same time recognising the rights of minorities.

  2. There is no solution to the ‘sex wars’ within neoliberalism; rather it is an incubator for them. Arguably, the antecedents of neoliberalism are to be found in Stalinism (the antithesis of socialism and communism), which opened the door wide to the post-war settlement. The latter is the current form of mediation between the contradictory poles of capitalism, which threaten to undermine it, albeit not a viable or stable form of mediation.

    Neoliberalism refers to developments within the economic base over the past 50 years. But it also developed its own ideology (even if this consists of interchangeable ‘memes’; therefore it is less than satisfactory from the standpoint of the bourgeoisie). However, the end result is the same: more atomisation and alienation of the masses.

    (i) In economic terms, neoliberalism relies on the free market and global capital. On the one hand, this leads to growing inequality worldwide (rise of the working poor, etc); on the other, the individual is reduced to “mere exchange value”, albeit with less and less redress.

    (ii) In social terms, neoliberalism is in a process of unravelling: it exacerbates economic/social atomisation and fragmentation, at the expense of a working class which is both ‘in itself’ and ‘for itself’.

    As a result, we have the rise of identity politics - ie, the politics of recognition - as a basis for group rights; as opposed to the politics of class interest, which enables diverse groups to unite around the question of oppression in all its forms, via political demands, such as for racial equality, equal rights for women, gay and lesbian rights, etc. Unlike socialist feminism (long since marginalised), which is derived from Marxist theory, radical feminist groups are derived from poststructuralism, the “logics of disintegration” in both theory and practice. Not only are these groups in conflict with each other, but, as Srinivasan points out, the feminist movement has also moved to the right: eg, the “political critique of desire”, intersectionality groups which identify as white - therefore they are anti-black, anti-trans, etc, which leads to more and more exclusion, rather than inclusion.

  3. (i) The rise of the ‘sex wars’ is also fuelled by the bourgeois media (in both its traditional and new digital forms) - in part because this offers a lurid/lucrative diversion from the real problem: ie, capitalism itself.

    (ii) But, following the demise of the left, we are now seeing a backlash among workers and the lower middle class in the rebirth of traditional reactionary ideologies as well: ie, sexism, racism, xenophobia and economic nationalism. (NB: Both the election of Trump and Brexit are fuelled by these ideas, which are class-collaborationist in character.)

    (iii) Thus the resurgence in patriarchal behaviour today has to be seen in the context of all of the above. It is not just a response to radical feminism and its exclusionist tendencies.

Eleanor Marx

If Srinivasan is serious about finding “an alternative to capitalism”, she could also read Eleanor Marx (again, if she has not already done so); then turn to Karl Marx as well as Engels, etc. Eleanor’s essay, on The woman question (1886), co-written with her partner, Edward Aveling, was inspired by Engels’ Origin of the family, as well as the work of the German socialist, August Bebel. This essay should also be read, because it not only provides a vision of human relations between men and women: it is also a sober reminder that this is in danger of disappearing. Capitalism continues, mainly because the communist movement was betrayed by Stalinism. Now it is being propped up by social democracy. But it is capitalism which should be in the dock.

Here is a synopsis of Eleanor Marx’s essay. Its overarching theme is the idea of “a man and a woman thinking and working together”. Eleanor covers both “the present relations between woman and men” (in the late 19th-century), as well as some historical background. She compares those who attack the present position of women without understanding the context - ie capitalist society - to a doctor “who tries to treat a local infection without inquiring into the patient’s general health”. This ignorance is characteristic of many bourgeois feminists: ie, those who have a vested interest in private property. Therefore they ignore what is happening to ordinary women - and men - in society as a whole. By contrast, socialist women are aware of the role that women play in the production of surplus value, directly, as factory workers and servants, or indirectly, as housewives and mothers: “Without the larger social change, women will never be free.”

As for marriage, this is a far cry from Kant’s idea of relations between a man and a woman, wherein “the one sex completes the other”. In reality marriages (then and, to a lesser extent, now) are based on “commercialism” and “serfdom”, within which men exercise their own patriarchal power over the household, whilst their spouses do all the domestic chores and bring up the children. Some men even behave like brutes and beat up their wives, if they are not satisfied with the ‘duties’ they are expected to perform.

Undeterred, Eleanor goes on to write about what socialism can achieve both for women and men: it will be “a society in which all the means of production belong to the community, which recognises the full equality of all without distinction of sex”. Thus, it “raises the mental and physical condition of all its members to the highest attainable pitch”. Then all women can be truly equal; each is independent and free, able to fulfil her own potential. And under socialism, the relationship between women and men will be based on mutual “love, respect, intellectual likeness, [with each] in command of the necessities of life”, wherein monogamy is negotiable. (With hindsight, this last point has to be seen as a tragic irony.)8

To return to my introduction, if capitalism today were an airbus, then one of the engines is out; there are cracks in the airframe. We are flying through extreme turbulence and the aircraft is in danger of disintegrating - the pilots have lost control and behind them the cabin crew are unable to restore order. Some passengers are embroiled in a fight over who sits with whom, while the rest are trying to stay calm, hoping that they will survive.

If only the latter were to realise that they can change things themselves: from neoliberalism to Karl and Eleanor Marx. This includes Srinivasan, who is too distracted by the unruly minority l



1. K Marx Economic and philosophical manuscripts London 1975, p358.

2. This is an important “impediment” to revolutionary consciousness, which Marx alludes to many times in his EPM, beginning with the first manuscript . But he never provides an answer as to how this can be overcome. Obviously a strategy to deal with this should be part of our revolutionary programme. Having an independent revolutionary press is good, but not enough.

3. K Marx Economic and philosophical manuscripts London 1975, p353.

4. F Wheen Marx’s ‘Das Kapital’: a biography London 2007, p13.

5. K Marx and F Engels The communist manifesto: www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch01.htm.

6. 18. K Marx Economic and philosophical manuscripts London 1975, p347.

7. Ibid p348.

8. www.marxists.org/archive/eleanor-marx/works/womanq.htm. When Eleanor discovered that her lover, Edward Aveling, had secretly married a 22-year-old actress, he suggested a suicide pact. She swallowed the Prussic acid and died in agony at the age of 43. But Aveling never intended to keep his side of the bargain. As Francis Wheen says, “Though not charged with her murder, he undoubtedly killed her” (F Wheen Karl Marx London 1999, p386).