WOMAN UNDER SOCIALISM
Woman Under Socialism
Translated from the Original German of the 33d Edition By DANIEL DE LEON.
1917 NEW YORK LABOR NEWS COMPANY NEW YORK
"The end of social development resembles the beginning of human existence. The original equality returns. The mother-web of existence starts and rounds up the cycle of human affairs."—Bachofen.
"Since the advent of civilization, the outgrowth of property has been so immense, its forms so diversified, its uses so expanding and its management so intelligent in the interests of its owners, that it has become, on the part of the people, an unmanageable power. The human mind stands bewildered in the presence of its own creation. The time will come, nevertheless, when human intelligence will rise to the mastery over property, and define the relations of the State to the property it protects, as well as the obligations and the limits of the rights of its owners. The interests of society are paramount to individual interests, and the two must be brought into just and harmonious relations. A mere property career is not the final destiny of mankind, if progress is to be the law of the future as it has been of the past. The time which has passed away since civilization began is but a fragment of the past duration of man's existence; and but a fragment of the ages yet to come. The dissolution of society bids fair to become the termination of a career of which property is the end and aim; because such a career contains the elements of self-destruction."—Morgan.
Copyright 1904, by the New York Labor News Company
Bebel's work, "Die Frau und der Socialismus," rendered in this English version with the title "Woman under Socialism," is the best-aimed shot at the existing social system, both strategically and tactically considered. It is wise tactics and strategy to attack an enemy on his weakest side. The Woman Question is the weakest link in the capitalist mail.
The workingman, we know, is a defenceless being; but it takes much sharpening of the intellect to appreciate the fact that "he cannot speak for himself." His sex is popularly coupled with the sense of strength. The illusion conceals his feebleness, and deprives him of help, often of sympathy. It is thus even with regard to the child. Proverbially weak and needing support, the child, nevertheless, is not everywhere a victim in the existing social order. Only in remote sense does the child of the ruling class suffer. The invocation of the "Rights of the Child" leaves substantially untouched the children of the rich. It is otherwise with woman. The shot that rips up the wrongs done to her touches a nerve that aches from end to end in the capitalist world. There is no woman, whatever her station, but in one way or other is a sufferer, a victim in modern society. While upon the woman of the working class the cross of capitalist society rests heaviest in all ways, not one of her sisters in all the upper ranks but bears some share of the burden, or, to be plainer, of the smudge,—and what is more to the point, they are aware of it. Accordingly, the invocation of the "Rights of Woman" not only rouses the spirit of the heaviest sufferers under capitalist society, and thereby adds swing to the blows of the male militants in their efforts to overthrow the existing order, it also lames the adversary by raising sympathizers in his own camp, and inciting sedition among his own retinue. Bebel's exhaustive work, here put in English garb, does this double work unerringly.
I might stop here. The ethic formula commands self-effacement to a translator. More so than well-brought-up children, who should be "seen and not heard," a translator should, where at all possible, be neither seen nor heard. That, however, is not always possible. In a work of this nature, which, to the extent of this one, projects itself into hypotheses of the future, and even whose premises necessarily branch off into fields that are not essentially basic to Socialism, much that is said is, as the author himself announces in his introduction, purely the personal opinion of the writer. With these a translator, however, much in general and fundamental accord, may not always agree. Not agreeing, he is in duty bound to modify the ethic formula to the extent of marking his exception, lest the general accord, implied in the act of translating, be construed into specific approval of objected-to passages and views. Mindful of a translator's duties as well as rights, I have reduced to a small number, and entered in the shape of running footnotes to the text, the dissent I thought necessary to the passages that to me seemed most objectionable in matters not related to the main question; and, as to matters related to the main question, rather than enter dissent in running footnotes, I have reserved for this place a summary of my own private views on the family of the future.
It is an error to imagine that, in its spiral course, society ever returns to where it started from. The spiral never returns upon its own track. Obedient to the law of social evolution, the race often is forced, in the course of its onward march, to drop much that is good, but also much that is bad. The bad, it is hoped, is dropped for all time; but the good, when picked up again, never is picked up as originally dropped. Between the original dropping and return to its vicinity along the tracks of the spiral, fresh elements join. These new accretions so transmute whatever is re-picked up that it is essentially remodeled. The "Communism," for instance, that the race is now heading toward, is, materially, a different article from the "Communism" it once left behind. We move in an upward spiral. No doubt moral concepts are the reflex of material possibilities. But, for one thing, moral concepts are in themselves a powerful force, often hard to distinguish in their effect from material ones; and, for another, these material possibilities unfold material facts, secrets of Nature, that go to enrich the treasury of science, and quicken the moral sense. Of such material facts are the discoveries in embryology and kindred branches. They reveal the grave fact, previously reckoned with in the matter of the breeding of domestic animals, that the act of impregnation is an act of inoculation. This fact, absolutely material, furnishes a post-discovered material basis for a pre-surmised moral concept,—the "oneness of flesh" with father and mother. Thus science solidifies a poetic-moral yearning, once held imprisoned in the benumbing shell of theological dogma, and reflects its morality in the poetic expression of the monogamic family. The moral, as well as the material, accretions of the race's intellect, since it uncoiled out of early Communism, bar, to my mind, all prospect,—I would say danger, moral and hygienic,—of promiscuity, or of anything even remotely approaching that.
Modern society is in a state of decomposition. Institutions, long held as of all time and for all time, are crumbling. No wonder those bodies of society that come floating down to us with the prerogatives of "teacher" are seen to-day rushing to opposite extremes. On the matter of "Woman" or "The Family" the divergence among our rulers is most marked. While both extremes cling like shipwrecked mariners to the water-logged theory of private ownership in the means of production, the one extreme, represented by the Roman Catholic church-machine, is seen to recede ever further back within the shell of orthodoxy, and the other extreme, represented by the pseudo-Darwinians, is seen to fly into ever wilder flights of heterodoxy on the matter of "Marriage and Divorce." Agreed, both, in keeping woman nailed to the cross of a now perverse social system, the former seeks to assuage her agony with the benumbing balm of resignation, the latter to relieve her torture with the blister of libertinage.
Between these two extremes stand the gathering forces of revolution that are taking shape in the militant Socialist Movement. Opinion among these forces, while it cannot be said to clash, takes on a variety of shades—as needs will happen among men, who, at one on basic principles, on the material substructure of institutional superstructure, cannot but yield to the allurements of speculative thought on matters as yet hidden in the future, and below the horizon. For one, I hold there is as little ground for rejecting monogamy, by reason of the taint that clings to its inception, as there would be ground for rejecting co-operation, by reason of the like taint that accompanied its rise, and also clings to its development. For one, I hold that the smut of capitalist conditions, that to-day clings to monogamy, is as avoidable an "incident" in the evolutionary process as are the iniquities of capitalism that to-day are found the accompaniment of co-operative labor;—and the further the parallel is pursued through the many ramifications of the subject, the closer will it be discovered to hold. For one, I hold that the monogamous family—bruised and wounded in the cruel rough-and-tumble of modern society, where, with few favored exceptions of highest type, male creation is held down, physically, mentally and morally, to the brutalizing level of the brute, forced to grub and grub for bare existence, or, which amounts to the same, to scheme and scheme in order to avoid being forced so to grub and grub—will have its wounds staunched, its bruises healed, and, ennobled by the slowly acquired moral forces of conjugal, paternal and filial affection, bloom under Socialism into a lever of mighty power for the moral and physical elevation of the race.
At any rate, however the genius of our descendants may shape matters on this head, one thing is certain: Woman—the race's mothers, wives, sisters, daughters—long sinned against through unnumbered generations—is about to be atoned to. All the moral and intellectual forces of the age are seen obviously converging to that point. It will be the crowning work of Militant Socialism, like a mightier Perseus, to strike the shackles from the chained Andromeda of modern society, Woman, and raise her to the dignity of her sex.
DANIEL DE LEON.
New York, June 21, 1903.
TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE iii
WOMAN IN THE PAST— Chapter I—Before Christianity 9 Chapter II—Under Christianity 47
WOMAN IN THE PRESENT— Chapter I—Sexual Instinct, Wedlock, Checks and Obstructions to Marriage 79 Chapter II—Further Checks and Obstructions to Marriage, Numerical Proportion of the Sexes, Its Causes and Effects 118 Chapter III—Prostitution a Necessary Social Institution of the Capitalist World 146 Chapter IV—Woman's Position as a Breadwinner, Her Intellectual Faculties, Darwinism and the Condition of Society 167 Chapter V—Woman's Civic and Political Status 216 Chapter VI—The State and Society 235 Chapter VII—The Socialization of Society 272
WOMAN IN THE FUTURE 343
POPULATION AND OVER-POPULATION 355
We live in the age of a great social Revolution, that every day makes further progress. A growingly powerful intellectual stir and unrest is noticeable in all the layers of society; and the movement pushes towards deep-reaching changes. All feel that the ground they stand on shakes. A number of questions have risen; they occupy the attention of ever widening circles; and discussion runs high on their solution. One of the most important of these, one that pushes itself ever more to the fore, is the so-called "Woman Question."
The question concerns the position that woman should occupy in our social organism; how she may unfold her powers and faculties in all directions, to the end that she become a complete and useful member of human society, enjoying equal rights with all. From our view-point, this question coincides with that other:—what shape and organization human society must assume to the end that, in the place of oppression, exploitation, want and misery in manifold forms, there shall be physical and social health on the part of the individual and of society. To us, accordingly, the Woman Question is only one of the aspects of the general Social Question, which is now filling all heads, which is setting all minds in motion and which, consequently, can find its final solution only in the abolition of the existing social contradictions, and of the evils which flow from them.
Nevertheless, it is necessary to treat the so-called Woman Question separately. On the one hand the question, What was the former position of woman, what is it to-day, and what will it be in the future? concerns, in Europe at least, the larger section of society, seeing that here the female sex constitutes the larger part of the population. On the other hand, the prevailing notions, regarding the development that woman has undergone in the course of centuries, correspond so little with the facts, that light upon the subject becomes a necessity for the understanding of the present and of the future. Indeed, a good part of the prejudices with which the ever-growing movement is looked upon in various circles—and not least in the circle of woman herself—rests upon lack of knowledge and lack of understanding. Many are heard claiming there is no Woman Question, because the position that woman formerly occupied, occupies to-day and will in the future continue to occupy, is determined by her "natural calling," which destines her for wife and mother, and limits her to the sphere of the home. Accordingly, whatever lies beyond her four walls, or is not closely and obviously connected with her household duties, concerns her not.
On the Woman Question, the same as on the general Social Question, in which the position of the working class in society plays the chief role, opposing parties stand arrayed against each other. One party, that which would leave everything as it is, have their answer ready at hand; they imagine the matter is settled with referring woman to her "natural calling." They forget that, to-day, for reasons later to be developed, millions of women are wholly unable to fill that "natural calling," so much insisted upon in their behalf, of householders, breeders and nurses of children; and that, with other millions, the "calling" has suffered extensive shipwreck—wedlock, to them, having turned into a yoke and into slavery, compelling them to drag along their lives in misery and want. Of course, this fact concerns those "wise men" as little as that other fact, that unnumbered millions of women, engaged in the several pursuits of life, are compelled, often in unnatural ways, and far beyond the measure of their strength, to wear themselves out in order to eke out a meager existence. At this unpleasant fact those "wise men" stuff their ears, and they shut their eyes with as much violence as they do before the misery of the working class, consoling themselves and others with "it has ever been, and will ever remain so." That woman has the right to share the conquests of civilization achieved in our days; to utilize these to the easing and improving of her condition; and to develop her mental and physical faculties, and turn them to advantage as well as man,—they will none of that. Are they told that woman must also be economically, in order to be physically and intellectually free, to the end that she no longer depend upon the "good-will" and the "mercy" of the other sex?—forthwith their patience is at end; their anger is kindled; and there follows a torrent of violent charges against the "craziness of the times," and the "insane emancipational efforts."
These are the Philistines of male and female sex, incapable of finding their way out of the narrow circle of their prejudices. It is the breed of the owls, to be found everywhere when day is breaking, and they cry out in affright when a ray of light falls upon their comfortable darkness.
Another element among the adversaries of the movement cannot shut its eyes before the glaring facts. This element admits that there was hardly a time when a larger number of women found themselves in so unsatisfactory a condition as to-day, relatively to the degree of general civilization; and they admit that it is therefore necessary to inquire how the condition of woman can be improved, in so far as she remains dependent upon herself. To this portion of our adversaries, the Social Question seems solved for those women who have entered the haven of matrimony.
In keeping with their views, this element demands that, to unmarried woman, at least, all fields of work, for which her strength and faculties are adequate, shall be opened, to the end that she may enter the competitive field for work with man. A small set goes even further, and demands that competition for work be not limited to the field of the lower occupations, but should also extend higher, to the professions, to the field of art and science. This set demands the admission of woman to all the higher institutions of learning, namely, the universities, which in many countries are still closed to her. Their admission is advocated to the classes of several branches of study, to the medical profession, to the civil service (the Post Office, telegraph and railroad offices), for which they consider women peculiarly adapted;, and they point to the practical results that have been attained, especially in the United States, through the employment of woman. The one and the other also make the demand that political rights be conferred upon woman. Woman, they admit, is human and a member of the State, as well as man: legislation, until now in the exclusive control of man, proves that he exploited the privilege to his own exclusive benefit, and kept woman in every respect under guardianship, a thing to be henceforth prevented.
It is noteworthy that the efforts here roughly sketched, do not reach beyond the frame-work of the existing social order. The question never is put whether, these objects being attained, any real and thoroughgoing improvement in the condition of woman will have been achieved. Standing on the ground of bourgeois, that is, of the capitalist social order, the full social equality of man and woman is considered the solution of the question. These folks are not aware, or they slide over the fact that, in so far as the unrestricted admission of woman to the industrial occupations is concerned, the object has already been actually attained, and it meets with the strongest support on the part of the ruling class, who as will be shown further on, find therein their own interest. Under existing conditions, the admission of women to all industrial occupations can have for its only effect that the competitive struggle of the working people become ever sharper, and rage ever mere fiercely. Hence the inevitable result,—the lowering of incomes for female and male labor, whether this income be in the form of wage or salary.
That this solution cannot be the right one is clear. The full civic equality of woman is, however, not merely the ultimate object of the men, who, planted upon the existing social order, favor the efforts in behalf of woman. It is also recognized by the female bourgeois, active in the Woman Movement. These, together with the males of their mental stamp, stand, accordingly, with their demands in contrast to the larger portion of the men, who oppose them, partly out of old-fogy narrowness, partly also—in so far as the admission of woman to the higher studies and the better-paid public positions is concerned—out of mean selfishness, out of fear of competition. A difference in principle, however, a class difference, such as there is between the working and the capitalist class, does not exist between these two sets of male and female citizens.
Let the by no means impossible case be imagined that the representatives of the movement for the civic rights of woman carry through all their demands for placing woman upon an equal footing with man. What then? Neither the slavery, which modern marriage amounts to for numberless women, nor prostitution, nor the material dependence of the large majority of married women upon their marital lords, would thereby be removed. For the large majority of women it is, indeed, immaterial whether a thousand, or ten thousand, members of their own sex, belonging to the more favored strata of society, land in the higher branches of learning, the practice of medicine, a scientific career, or some government office. Nothing is thereby changed in the total condition of the sex.
The mass of the female sex suffers in two respects: On the one side woman suffers from economic and social dependence upon man. True enough, this dependence may be alleviated by formally placing her upon an equality before the law, and in point of rights; but the dependence is not removed. On the other side, woman suffers from the economic dependence that woman in general, the working-woman in particular, finds herself in, along with the workingman.
Evidently, all women, without difference of social standing, have an interest—as the sex that in the course of social development has been oppressed, and ruled, and defiled by man—in removing such a state of things, and must exert themselves to change it, in so far as it can be changed by changes in the laws and institutions within the frame-work of the present social order. But the enormous majority of women are furthermore interested in the most lively manner in that the existing State and social order be radically transformed, to the end that both wage-slavery, under which the working-women deeply pine, and sex slavery, which is intimately connected with our property and industrial systems, be wiped out.
The larger portion by far of the women in society, engaged in the movement for the emancipation of woman, do not see the necessity for such a radical change. Influenced by their privileged social standing, they see in the more far-reaching working-women's movement dangers, not infrequently abhorrent aims, which they feel constrained to ignore, eventually even to resist. The class-antagonism, that in the general social movement rages between the capitalist and the working class, and which, with the ripening of conditions, grows sharper and more pronounced, turns up likewise on the surface of the Woman's Movement; and it finds its corresponding expression in the aims and tactics of those engaged in it.
All the same, the hostile sisters have, to a far greater extent than the male population—split up as the latter is in the class struggle—a number of points of contact, on which they can, although marching separately, strike jointly. This happens on all the fields, on which the question is the equality of woman with man, within modern society. This embraces the participation of woman in all the fields of human activity, for which her strength and faculties are fit; and also her full civil and political equality with man. These are very important, and as will be shown further on, very extensive fields. Besides all this the working woman has also a special interest in doing battle hand in hand with the male portion of the working class, for all the means and institutions that may protect the working woman from physical and moral degeneration, and which promise to secure to her the vitality and fitness necessary for motherhood and for the education of children. Furthermore, as already indicated, it is the part of the working-woman to make common cause with the male members of her class and of her lot in the struggle for a radical transformation of society, looking to the establishment of such conditions as may make possible the real economic and spiritual independence of both sexes, by means of social institutions that afford to all a full share in the enjoyment of all the conquests of civilization made by mankind.
The goal, accordingly, is not merely the realization of the equal rights of woman with man within present society, as is aimed at by the bourgeois woman emancipationists. It lies beyond,—the removal of all impediments that make man dependent upon man; and, consequently, one sex upon the other. Accordingly, this solution of the Woman Question coincides completely with the solution of the Social Question. It follows that he who aims at the solution of the Woman Question to its full extent, is necessarily bound to go hand in hand with those who have inscribed upon their banner the solution of the Social Question as a question of civilization for the whole human race. These are the Socialists, that is, the Social Democracy.
Of all existing parties in Germany, the Social Democratic Party is the only one which has placed in its programme the full equality of woman, her emancipation from all dependence and oppression. And the party has done so, not for agitational reasons, but out of necessity, out of principle. There can be no emancipation of humanity without the social independence and equality of the sexes.
Up to this point all Socialists are likely to agree with the presentation made of fundamental principles. But the same cannot be said on the subject of the manner in which we portray the ultimate aims to ourselves; how the measures and special institutions shall be shaped which will establish the aimed-at independence and equality of all members of the sexes, consequently that of man and woman also.
The moment the field of the known is abandoned, and one launches out into pictures of future forms, a wide field is opened for speculation. Differences of opinion start over that which is probable or not probable. That which in that direction is set forth in this book can, accordingly, be taken only as the personal opinion of the author himself; possible attacks must be directed against him only; only he is responsible.
Attacks that are objective, and are honestly meant, will be welcome to us. Attacks that violate truth in the presentation of the contents of this book, or that rest upon false premises we shall ignore. For the rest, in the following pages all conclusions, even the extremest, will be drawn, which, the facts being verified, the results attained may warrant. Freedom from prejudice is the first condition for the recognition of truth. Only the unrestricted utterance of that which is, and must be, leads to the goal.
WOMAN IN THE PAST
Woman and the workingman have, since old, had this in common—oppression. The forms of oppression have suffered changes in the course of time, and in various countries. But the oppression always remained. Many a time and oft, in the course of the ages, did the oppressed become conscious of their oppression; and such conscious knowledge of their condition did bring on changes and reliefs. Nevertheless, a knowledge, that grasped the actual feature of the oppression by grasping its causes, is, with woman as with the workingman, the fruit of our own days. The actual feature of society, and of the laws that lie at the bottom of its development, had first to be known, before a general movement could take place for the removal of conditions, recognized as oppressive and unjust. The breadth and intensity of such a movement depends, however, upon the measure of the understanding prevalent among the suffering social layers and circles, and upon the measure of freedom of motion that they enjoy. In both respects, woman stands, through custom and education, as well as the freedom allowed her by law, behind the workingman. To this, another circumstance is added. Conditions, lasting through a long series of generations, finally grow into custom; heredity and education then cause such conditions to appear on both sides as "natural." Hence it comes that, even to-day, woman in particular, accepts her subordinate position as a matter of course. It is no easy matter to make her understand that that position is unworthy, and that it is her duty to endeavor to become a member of society, equal-righted with, and in every sense a peer of man.
However much in common woman may be shown to have with the workingman, she leads him in one thing:—Woman was the first human being to come into bondage: she was a slave before the male slave existed.
All social dependence and oppression has its roots in the economic dependence of the oppressed upon the oppressor. In this condition woman finds herself, from an early day down to our own. The history of the development of human society proves the fact everywhere.
The knowledge of the history of this development is, however, comparatively new. As little as the myth of the Creation of the World—as taught us by the Bible—can be upheld in sight of the investigations of geographers and, scientists, grounded as these investigations are upon unquestionable and innumerable facts, just so untenable has its myth proved concerning the creation and evolution of man. True enough, as yet the veil is far from being lifted from all the sub-departments of this historical development of mankind; over many, on which already light has been shed, differences of opinion still exist among the investigators on the meaning and connection of this or that fact; nevertheless, on the whole, there is agreement and clearness. It is established that man did not, like the first human couple of the Bible, make his first appearance on earth in an advanced stage of civilization. He reached that plane only in the course of endlessly long lapses of time, after he had gradually freed himself from purely animal conditions, and had experienced long terms of development, in the course of which his social as well as his sexual relations—the relations between man and woman—had undergone a great variety of changes.
The favorite phrase—a phrase that the ignorant or impostors daily smite our ears with on the subject of the relations between man and woman, and between the poor and the rich—"it always has been so," and the conclusion drawn therefrom—"it will always be so," is in every sense of the word false, superficial and trumped-up.
For the purposes of this work a cursory presentation of the relations between the sexes, since primitive society, is of special importance. It is so because it can thereby be proved that, seeing that these relations have materially changed in the previous course of human development, and that the changes have taken place in even step with the existing systems of production, on the one hand, and of the distribution of the product of labor, on the other, it is natural and goes without saying that, along with further changes and revolutions in the system of production and distribution, the relations between the sexes are bound to change again. Nothing is "eternal," either in nature or in human life; eternal only is change and interchange.
As far back as one may go in the development of human society, the horde is found as the first human community. True enough, Honeger mentions in his "General History of Civilization" that even to-day in the little explored interior of the island of Borneo, there are wild people, living separately; and Huegel likewise maintains that, in the wild mountain regions of India, human couples have been discovered living alone, and who, ape-like, fled to the trees as soon as they were met; but there is no further knowledge on the subject. If verified, these claims would only confirm the previous superstition and hypothesis concerning the development of the human race. The probability is that, wherever human beings sprang up, there were, at first, single couples. Certain it is, however, that so soon as a larger number of beings existed, descended from a common parent stock, they held together in hordes in order that, by their joint efforts, they might, first of all, gain their still very primitive conditions of life and support, as well as to protect themselves against their common enemies, wild animals. Growing numbers and increased difficulties in securing subsistence, which originally consisted in roots, berries and fruit, first led to the splitting up or segmentation of the hordes, and to the search for new habitats.
This almost animal-like state, of which we have no further credible antiquarian proofs, undoubtedly once existed, judging from all that we have learned concerning the several grades of civilization of wild peoples still living, or known to have lived within historic times. Man did not, upon the call of a Creator, step ready-made into existence as a higher product of civilization. It was otherwise. He has had to pass through the most varied stages in an endlessly long and slow process of development. Only via ebbing and flowing periods of civilization, and in constant differentiation with his fellows in all parts of the world, and in all zones, did he gradually climb up to his present height.
Indeed, while in one section of the earth's surface great peoples and nations belong to the most advanced stages of civilization, other peoples are found in different sections standing on the greatest variety of gradations in development. They thus present to us a picture of our own past history; and they point to the road which mankind traversed in the course of its development. If but certain common and generally accepted data are established, that may serve everywhere as sign-posts to guide investigation, a mass of facts will follow, throwing a wholly new light upon the relations of man in the past and the present. A number of social phenomena—unintelligible to us to-day, and attacked by superficial judges as nonsensical, not infrequently even as "immoral"—will become clear and natural. A material lifting of the veil, formerly spread over the history of the development of our race, has been effected through the investigations made, since Bachofen, by a considerable number of scientists, like Tylor, MacLennan, Lubbock and others. Prominently among the men who joined these was Morgan, with his fundamental work, that Frederick Engels further substantiated and supplemented with a series of historical facts, economic and political in their nature, and that, more recently, has been partly confirmed and partly rectified by Cunow.
By means of these expositions—especially as clearly and lucidly presented by Frederick Engels, in his support of Morgan's excellent and fundamental work,—a mass of light is shed upon hitherto unintelligible, partly seemingly contradictory phenomena in the life of the races and tribes of both high and low degree of culture. Only now do we gain an insight into the structure that human society raised in the course of time. According thereto, our former views of marriage, the family, the community, the State, rested upon notions that were wholly false; so false that they turn out to be no better than a fancy-picture, wholly devoid of foundation in fact.
All that is said and proved about marriage, the family, the community and the State holds good especially with regard to woman, who, in the various periods of development did likewise fill a place, that differs materially from the "eternal," imputed to her.
Morgan, whom Engels agrees with in this, divides the history of mankind into three main epochs:—savagery, barbarism and civilization. Each of the two first ones he again divides into an under, a middle and an upper period, each distinguishing itself from the other by certain innovations and improvements, predicated in each instance upon the control over subsistence. Morgan, accordingly, exactly in the sense of the materialist conception of history, as established by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels,—perceives the leading characteristics in the development of society to be the changes that, in given epochs, the conditions of life are molded into; and he perceives the changes to be due to the progress made in the process of production, that is to say, in the procurement of subsistence. Summed up in a few words, the lower period of savagery constitutes the infancy of the human race, during which the race, partly living in trees, is mainly nourished by fruits and roots, and during which articulate language takes its inception. The middle period of savagery commences with the acquisition of a fish subsistence, and the use of fire. The construction of weapons begins; at first the club and spear, fashioned out of wood and stone. Thereby also begins the chase, and probably also war with contiguous hordes for the sources of food, for domiciles and hunting grounds. At this stage appears also cannibalism, still practiced to-day by some tribes and peoples of Africa, Australia and Polynesia. The upper period of savagery is characterized by the perfection of weapons to the point of the bow and arrow; finger weaving, the making of baskets out of filaments of bark, the fashioning of sharpened stone tools have here their start, and thereby begins also the preparation of wood for the building of boats and huts. The form of life has accordingly, become many-sided. The existing tools and implements, needed for the control of a plentiful food supply, make possible the subsistance of larger communities.
The lower period of barbarism Morgan starts with the invention of the art of pottery. The taming and domestication of animals, and, along with that, the production of meat and milk, and the preparation of hides, horns and hair for various purposes of use, have here their start. Hand in hand therewith begins the cultivation of plants,—in the West of maize, in the East of almost all known cereals, maize excepted. The middle period of barbarism shows us, in the East, the ever more extensive domestication of animals; in the West, the cultivation of maize and plants by irrigation. Here also begins the use of adobe-bricks and of stone for house-building. The domestication of animals promotes the rearing of herds, and leads to the pastoral life. The necessity of larger quantities of food for men and beasts leads to field agriculture. Along therewith, the people begin to be localized; food increases in quantity and diversity, and gradually cannibalism disappears.
The upper period of barbarism begins finally with the smelting of iron ore, and the discovery of the phonetic alphabet. The iron plow-share is invented, making possible agriculture on a larger scale; the iron axe and spade are brought into requisition, making easy the clearing of the forests. With the preparation of iron, a number of fields are opened to activity, imparting to life a new form. Iron utensils help the building of houses, vessels and weapons; with the preparation of metals arises skilled handwork, a more perfect knowledge of weapons, and the building of walled cities. Architecture, as an art, then rises; mythology, poetry and history find support and expansion in the discovery of the phonetic alphabet.
The Orient and the countries bordering on the Mediterranean, particularly Egypt, Greece and Italy, are those in which the last sketched stage of life principally unfolded; and it laid the foundation for the social transformation that in the course of time exercised a determining influence on the social development of Europe and of the whole earth.
As a matter of course, the social development of the human race through the periods of savagery and barbarism had also its peculiar sexual and social relations, differing materially from those of later days.
Bachofen and Morgan have traced these relations by means of thorough investigations. Bachofen, by studying closely all ancient and modern writings, so as to arrive at the nature of phenomena that appear singular to us in mythology, folk-lore and historic tradition, and that, nevertheless, seem to be re-echoed in incidents and events of later days, occasionally even of our own. Morgan, by spending decades of his life among the Iroquois Indians, located in the State of New York, and thereby making observations, through which he gained new and unexpected insight into the system of life, the family and the relationships of the said Indian tribe, and, based upon which, observations made elsewhere, first received their correct interpretation and explanation.
Both of them, Bachofen and Morgan, discovered, each along his own line of research, the latter, however, far more clearly than the former, that the relations of the sexes during primitive times of human development were substantially different from the relations existing in historic days, and among the modern civilized peoples. Especially did Morgan discover—thanks to his many years' sojourn among the Iroquois of North America, and grounded upon comparative studies, which he was moved to by that which he there observed,—that all the existing races, that are still materially backward, possess systems of family and consanguinity that are totally different from ours, but must be similar to those once prevalent among all races during the previous stages of civilization.
Morgan found, at the time that he lived among the Iroquois, that among them there existed a system of monogamy, easily dissolvable by both parties, and which he designated as the "pairing family." He also found that the terms for the degrees of consanguinity—father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister—although, according to our conception, there can be no doubt as to their application, were there, nevertheless, applied in quite different sense. The Iroquois calls not only his own children "sons" and "daughters," but also the children of all his brothers; and their children call him "father." Conversely, the female Iroquois calls not only her own children "sons" and "daughters," but all those of her sisters, and likewise do their children call her "mother." On the other hand, she calls the children of her brothers "nephews" and "nieces," and these call her "aunt." The children of brothers call one another "brothers" and "sisters;" likewise the children of sisters. Finally, the children of a woman and those of her brother call one another "cousins." Accordingly, the singular spectacle is seen of the terms of relationship going, not as in our sense, by the degree of consanguinity, but by the sex of the relative.
This system of relationship is in full force, not only among all the American Indians, as well as among the aborigines of India, the tribes of Dekan and the Gaura tribes of Hindostan, but, according to the investigations that have taken place since Bachofen, similar conditions must have existed everywhere in primitive times, as they still exist to-day among many peoples of Upper and Further Asia, Africa and Australia. When, in connection with these investigations and established facts, the investigation will be everywhere taken up on the sex and family relations of wild and barbarous nations still living, then will the fact transpire that, what Bachofen still confusedly found among numerous peoples of antiquity, and rather surmised than otherwise; what Morgan found among the Iroquois; what Cunow found among the Austral-Negros, are but social and sexual formations, that constitute the groundwork of human development for all the peoples of the earth.
The investigations of Morgan bring, moreover, other interesting facts to light. Although the "pairing family" of the Iroquois starts in insolvable contradiction with the terms of consanguinity in use among them, it turns out that, as late as the first half of the 19th Century, there existed on the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) a family-form that actually tallied with that which, among the Iroquois, existed in name only. But the system of consanguinity, in force in Hawaii, failed, in turn, to tally with the family-form actually in existence there. It referred to an older family-form, one still more primitive, but no longer extant. There, all the children of brothers and sisters, without exception, were "brothers" and "sisters." Accordingly, they were not considered the common children of their mothers and of the sisters of these, or of their fathers and of the brothers of these, but of all the brothers and sisters of their parents, without distinction. The Hawaiian system of consanguinity corresponded, accordingly, with a stage of development that was lower than the family-form still actually in existence. Hence transpires the curious fact that, in Hawaii, as with the Indians of North America, two distinct systems of consanguinity are, or rather, at a time, were in vogue, which no longer tallied with actual conditions, but were both overtaken by a higher state. On this head Morgan says: "The family represents an active principle. It is never stationary, but advances from a lower to a higher form as society advances from a lower to a higher condition, and finally passes out of one form into another of higher grade. Systems of consanguinity, on the contrary, are passive; recording the progress made by the family at long intervals apart, and only changing radically when the family has radically changed."
The theory,—even to-day generally considered conclusive, and which is stubbornly upheld as irrefutable by the representatives of the status quo—to the effect that the existing family-form has existed since time immemorial, and, lest the whole social fabric be put in jeopardy, must continue to exist forever, turned out, accordingly, after these discoveries of the investigators, to be wholly false and untenable. The form, under which the relations of the sexes appear and the situation of the family is raised, depends rather upon the social conditions, upon the manner in which man controls his subsistence. The form changes with the changed degree of culture at each given period.
The study of primitive history leaves now no room for doubt that, at the lowest grades of human development, the relation of the sexes is totally different from that of latter times, and that a state of things resulted therefrom, which, looked at with modern eyes, appears as monstrous, and as a sink of immorality. Nevertheless, as each social stage of human development has its own conditions of production, so likewise has each its own code of morals, which is but the reflection of the social condition. That is moral which is usage; and that, in turn, is usage which corresponds with the innermost being, i. e., the needs of a given period.
Morgan reaches the conclusion that, at the lower period of savagery, there was sexual intercourse between the several grades or generations, every woman belonging to every man, and every man to every woman,—in other words, promiscuity. All men live in polygamy and all women in polyandry. There is a general community of women and of men, but also a community of children, Strabo reports (sixty-six years before our reckoning) that, among the Arabians, brothers cohabited with sisters and with their own mother. On any route other than that of incest, the increase of population is nowhere possible, if, as alleged in the Bible also, descent from one couple is granted. The Bible itself contradicts itself on this delicate point. It is stated there that Cain, after he had murdered his brother Abel, took a wife of another people. Whence came that other people? The theory of promiscuity in primitive times, that is to say, that the horde was endogamous, that sexual intercourse was indiscriminate, is furthermore supported by the Hindoo myth, according to which Brahma married his own daughter Saravasti. The same myth turns up again among the Egyptians and the northern Edda. The Egyptian god Ammon was the spouse of his own mother, and boasted of it. Odin, according to the Edda, was the mate of his own daughter Frigga. Morgan proceeds from the principle that, from the state of promiscuity, soon a higher form of sexual intercourse took shape. He designates this the consanguine family. Here the groups, that stand in sexual relation, are separated by grades or generations, so that grandfathers and grandmothers, within an age group, are husbands and wives. Their children, likewise, constitute a group of common couples; likewise the children of these, so soon as they have reached the requisite age. Accordingly, in contrast with the sex relations of the rawest period, in which promiscuity of sexes exists without distinction of age, now one generation is excluded from sexual intercourse with another. Sexual intercourse, however, exists between brothers and sisters, male and female cousins of the first, second and third remove. All of these together are brothers and sisters, but towards one another, they are all husbands and wives. This family-form corresponds with the system of consanguinity that still existed in Hawaii during the first part of the 19th Century, in name only, but no longer in fact. On the other hand, according to the American Indian system of consanguinity, a brother and sister can never be the father and mother of the same child—a thing, however, permissible in the Hawaiian family system. Probably the consanguine family was the state that, at the time of Herodotus, existed among the Massagetae, on the subject of which he reports: "Each man received a wife, but all were allowed to use her." And he continues: "At any time a man desires a woman, he hangs his quiver in front of his wagon, and cohabits, unconcerned, with her.... He at the same time sticks his staff into the ground, a symbol of his own act.... Cohabitation is exercised in public." Similar conditions Bachofen shows have existed among the Lycians, Etruscans, Cretans, Athenians, Lesbians and Egyptians.
According to Morgan, the consanguine family is supervened by a third and higher form of family relationship, which he designates as the Punaluan family. Punalua, "dear friend," "intimate companion."
Cunow, in his above named book, takes exception to Morgan's views that the consanguine family, which rests on the organization of marriage classes by generations, preceded the punaluan family as an original organization. Cunow does not see in the consanguine family the most primitive of all social forms, until now discovered. He sees in it merely a middle form, that takes its origin in the generation groups; a transition stage toward the pure gentile organization, on which, as a graft, the division in age classes, belonging to the consanguine family system, still continues for a time in altered form, along with the division in totem-groups. Cunow explains further: The division in classes—every individual, man or woman, carries the name of his or her class and generation group totem—does not serve to exclude sexual intercourse between collateral, but to prevent cohabitation between relatives in the ascending and descending line, between parents and children, aunts and nephews, uncles and nieces. Terms such as "aunt," "uncle," etc., he designates as grade-names.
Cunow furnishes the proofs for the correctness of the views in which he differs from Morgan on some points. But, however he may differ from Morgan in single instances, he emphatically defends him against the attacks of Westermann and others. He says:
"Although here and there a hypothesis of Morgan may have proved itself false, and some others may be allowed only a qualified approval, that merit none can gainsay him that he has been the first to establish the identity of the North American totem-group with the gentile organization of the Romans; and, secondly, to demonstrate that our modern systems of consanguinity and family-forms are the result of a long process of development. In a measure he has thereby first made recent investigations possible; he has first built the foundation on which we may build further." In the introduction also to his book he says expressly that his own work is partly a supplement to Morgan's book on primitive man.
The Westermanns, the Starckes, the Zieglers—the latter of whom, in his book, criticized in the introduction to the twenty-fifth edition of this work, refers mainly to the first named, in order to attack our statements with theirs—will have to submit, with good grace or bad, to the fact that the rise and development of the family has not taken the course that fits in with their bourgeois prejudices. The refutation that, in the last part of his work, Cunow bestows upon Westermann and Starcke, Ziegler's authorities, are calculated to enlighten their most fanatic followers upon the value of their caviling criticisms of, and arguments against, Morgan.
According to Morgan, the punaluan family has its start with the exclusion of consanguineous brothers and sisters, on the mother's side. Where a woman has several husbands, the evidence of paternity is impossible. Paternity becomes a fiction. Even to-day, under the rule of strict monogamous marriage, paternity, as Goethe, in his "Apprenticeship," lets Frederick say, "rests only upon faith." If with monogamy, paternity is often doubtful, it is impossible of proof in polygamy: only descent from the mother is certain and unquestionable. Accordingly, descent from the mother afforded the only criterion. As all deep-reaching transformations in the social relations of primitive man are accomplished only slowly, the change of the so-called consanguine into the punaluan family must unquestionably have engaged vast periods of time, and been broken through by many relapses, still noticeable in much later days. The proximate external inducement for the development of the punaluan family was, possibly, the necessity of splitting up the strongly swollen membership of the family, to the end that new grounds could be occupied for cattle ranges and agriculture. Probably, also, with the reaching of a higher grade of civilization, a sense gradually asserted itself of the harmfulness and indecorousness of sexual intercourse between brothers and sisters, and close relatives. In favor of this theory stands a pretty tradition, that, as related by Cunow, Gaston found among the Dieyeries, one of the South Australian tribes, on the rise of the "Mordu" consanguine group. He says:
"After creation, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers and other near relatives married promiscuously among one another, until the evil effects of such connections showed themselves clearly. A conference of leaders was held, and it was considered in what way this could be avoided. The outcome of the conference was a request to the Muramura (Great Spirit); and he ordered in his answer that the tribe be divided into several branches, and that, in order to distinguish them, they be called by different names, after animate or inanimate objects. For instance: after the dingo, the mouse, the emu, the rain, the iguana-lizard, etc. The members of one and the same group could not marry another. The son of a Dingo could not, for instance, marry the daughter of a Dingo; each of the two could, however, enter into connections with the Mouse, the Emu, the Rat, or any other family."
This tradition is more sensible and natural, by a good deal, than the Christian tradition, taught by the Bible. It shows plainly the rise of the consanguine groups. Moreover, Paul Lafargue, makes in the "Neue Zeit" the sagacious, and, we think, felicitous point, that names, such as Adam and Eve, are not names of individual persons, but the names of gentes, in which, at the time, the Jews were joined. Lafargue solves by his argument a series of otherwise obscure and contradictory passages in the first Book of Moses. Again, M. Beer calls attention, likewise in the "Neue Zeit," that, to this day, it is a conjugal custom among Jews that the bride and the bridegroom's mother may not carry the same name, otherwise—thus runs this belief—a misfortune will befall the family: sickness and death will pursue them. In our opinion, this is a further proof for the correctness of Lafargue's theory. The gentile organization forbids marriage between persons that descend from the same gens stock. Such a common descent must be considered to exist, according to gentile principles, between the bride, that carries the name of "Eve," and the bridegroom's mother of the same name. Modern Jews, of course, have no longer the remotest suspicion of the real connection between their prejudice and their old gentile constitution, which forbade such marriages of relatives. The old gentile order had for its object to avoid the degenerating consequences of in-breeding. Although this gentile constitution has for thousands of years been destroyed among the Jews, tradition, as we see, has continued to live in superstition.
Quite possible, the experience, made at an early day with the breeding of animals, revealed the harmfulness of in-breeding. How far this experience went transpires from the manner in which, according to the first Book of Moses, chap. 30, verse 32 and sequel, Jacob understood how to outwit his father-in-law Laban, by knowing how to encompass the birth of eanlings that were streaked and pied, and which, according to Laban's promises, were to be Jacob's. The old Israelites had, accordingly, long before Darwin, studied Darwinism.
Once upon the subject of the conditions existing among the old Jews, a few other facts are in order, clearly proving that, among them, descent in the female line was actually in force of old. True enough, on the subject of woman, I Moses, 3, 16, runs this wise: "And thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee;" and the verse also undergoes the variation: "the woman shall leave father and mother, and cleave to her husband." In point of fact, however, I Moses, 2, 24, has it this way: "Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh." The same language recurs in Matthew 19, 15; Mark 10, 7, and in the Epistle to the Ephesians 5, 31. The command sprang, accordingly, from the system of descent in the female line, and the exegetists, at a loss what to do with it, allowed it to appear in a light that is utterly false.
Descent in female line appears clearly also in IV Moses, 32, 41. It is there said that Jair had a father, who was of the tribe of Judah, but his mother was of the tribe of Manasseh, and Jair is expressly called the son of Manasseh, and he inherited in that tribe. Another instance of descent in the female line among the Jews is met in Nehemiah 7, 63. There the children of a priest, who took to wife one of the daughters of Barzillai—a Jewish clan—are called children of Barzillai; they are, accordingly, not called after the father, who, moreover, as a priest occupied a privileged position, but after the mother. For the rest, already in the days of the Old Testament, accordingly, in historic times, the father-right prevailed among the Jews, and the clan and tribe organization rested on descent in the male line. Accordingly, the daughters were shut off as heirs, as may be seen in I Moses 31, 14-15, where even Leah and Rachel, the daughters of Laban, complain: "Is there yet any portion or inheritance for us in our father's house? Are we not counted of him strangers? for he has sold us, and hath quite devoured also our money."
As happened with all peoples where descent in male replaced descent in female line, woman among the Jews stood wholly bereft of rights. Wedlock was marriage by purchase. On woman the obligation was laid of the strictest chastity; on the other hand, man was not bound by the same ordinance; he, moreover, was privileged to possess several wives. Did the husband, after the bridal night, believe to have found that his wife had, before marriage, lost her maidenhood, not only had he the right to cast her off, she was stoned to death. The same punishment fell upon the adultress; upon the husband, however, only in case he committed adultery with a married Jewish woman. According to V Moses 24, 1-4, the husband had also the right to cast off his newly-married wife, if she found no favor in his eyes, even if only out of dislike. He was then to write her a bill of divorcement, give it in her hand, and let her out of the house. An expression of the low position that woman took later among the Jews is furthermore found in the circumstances that, even to this day, woman attends divine service in the synagogue, in a space strictly separated from the men, and they are not included in the prayers.
The relations of the sexes in the punaluan family consisted, according to Morgan, in one or more sisters, belonging to one family group, marrying jointly one or more brothers of another group. The consanguine sisters, or the first, second and more remote cousins were wives in common with their husbands in common, who could not be their brothers. These consanguine brothers, or cousins of several degrees, were the husbands in common of their wives in common, who could not be their sisters. With the stopping of in-breeding, the new family-form undoubtedly contributed towards the rapid and vigorous development of the tribes, and imparted to the tribes, that had turned to this form of family connection, an advantage over those that still retained the old form of connections.
In general, the physical and intellectual differences between man and woman were vastly less in primitive days than in our society. Among all the peoples, living in the state of savagery or barbarism, the differences in the weight and size of the brain are slighter than among the peoples in civilization. Likewise, in strength of body and agility, the women among these peoples are but little behind the men. This is attested not only by the testimony of the ancient writers on the peoples who clung to the mother-right. Further testimony is furnished by the armies of women among the Ashantees and of the King of Dahomey in West Africa, who distinguished themselves by special bravery and ferocity. Likewise does the opinion of Tacitus on the women of the old Germans, and Caesar's accounts of the women of the Iberians and Scots confirm the fact. Columbus had to sustain a fight before Santa Cruz with an Indian skiff in which the women fought as bravely as the men; and we find this theory further confirmed in the passages from Havelock Ellis's work, "Man and Woman," which Dr. Hope B. Adams-Walther deals upon in Nos. 39 and 40 of the "Neue Zeit." He says:
"About the Andombis of the Congo, Johnson relates that the women work hard as carriers and in other occupations. All the same, they lead a perfectly happy life. They are often stronger and more handsomely built than the men; not a few of them have positively magnificent figures. Parke styles the Manynema of the same neighborhood 'fine animals,' and he finds the women very stately. They carry burdens as heavy as the men and with equal ease. A North American Indian chief said to Hearne: 'Women are created for labor; a woman can carry or drag as much as two men.' Schellong, who published a painstaking study on the Papuans of New Guinea in the Ethnologic Journal, issued in 1891, is of the opinion that the women are more strongly built than the men. In the interior of Australia, women are sometimes beaten by men out of jealousy; but it happens not infrequently that it is the man, who, on such occasions, receives the stronger dose. In Cuba the women fought shoulder to shoulder with the men. Among some tribes in India, as well as the Pueblos of North and the Patagonians of South America, the women are as tall as the men. Even among the Arabians and Druses the difference in size is slight; and yet nearer home, among the Russians, the sexes are more alike than is the case among the western Europeans. Accordingly, in all parts of the earth there are instances of equal or approximately equal physical development."
The family relations that flow from the Punaluan family were these: The children of my mother's sisters are her children, and the children of my father's brothers are his children, and all together are my brothers and sisters. Conversely, the children of my mother's brothers are her nephews and nieces, and the children of my father's sisters are his nephews and nieces, and they, all together, are my cousins. Again, the husbands of my mother's sisters are her husbands also, and the wives of my father's brothers are also his wives; but my father's sisters and my mother's brothers are excluded from family relationship, and their children are my cousins.
Along with arising civilization, sexual intercourse is proscribed between brothers and sisters, and the proscription gradually extends to the remotest collateral relatives on the mother's side. A new group of consanguinity arises, the gens, which, in its first form, is made up of a series of consanguine and more remote sisters, together with their children and their consanguine and more remote brothers on their mother's side. The gens has a common female ancestor, from whom the female successors descend in generations. The husbands of these women are not of the consanguine group, the gens, of their wives; they are of the gens of their sisters. Conversely, the children of these men belong to the family group of their, the children's mother, descent being in the female line. The mother is the head of the family; and thus arises the "mother-right," which for a long time constitutes the basis of the family and of inheritance. In keeping therewith—so long as descent was recognized in the female line—woman had a seat and voice in the councils of the gens; they voted in the election of the sachems and of the military chiefs, and deposed them.
About the Lycians, who abided by the mother-right, Herodotus says; "Their customs are partly Cretan, partly Carian. They have, however, a custom that distinguishes them from all other nations in the world. Ask a Lycian who he is, and he answers by giving you his own name, the name of his mother, and so on in the female line. Aye, if a free-born woman marries a slave, her children are citizens, but if a free man marries a stranger, or takes a concubine, even if he be the highest person in the State, his children forfeit all citizen rights."
In those days, "matrimonium" and not "patrimonium," "mater familias" and not "pater familias" were the terms used; and the native land is called the "dear motherland." As with the previous family-forms, so did the gens rest upon the community of property, and had a communistic system of household. The woman is the real guide and leader of this family community; hence she enjoys a high degree of respect, in the house as well as in the affairs of the family community concerning the tribe. She is judge and adjuster of disputes, and frequently performs the ceremonies of religion as priestess. The frequent appearance of Queens and Princesses in antiquity, their controlling influence, even there where their sons reigned, for instance, in the history of old Egypt, are results of the mother-right. Mythology, at that epoch, assumes predominantly female characters: Astarte, Ceres, Demeter, Latona, Isis, Frigga, Freia, Gerdha, etc. Woman is considered inviolable; matricide is the blackest of all crimes: it summons all men to retribution. The blood-feud is the common concern of all the men of the tribe; each is obliged to avenge the wrong done to a member of the family community by the members of another tribe. In defence of the women the men are spurred to highest valor. Thus did the effects of the mother-right, gyneocracy, manifest themselves in all the relations of life among the peoples of antiquity—among the Babylonians, the Assyrians, the Egyptians, the Greeks, before the time of the Heroes; among the peoples of Italy, before the founding of Rome; among the Scythians, the Gauls, the Iberians and Cantabrians, the Germans of Tacitus, etc. Woman, at that time, takes in the family and in public life a position such as she has never since taken. Along these lines, says Tacitus in his "Germania": "They (the Germans) even suppose somewhat of sanctity and prescience to be inherent in the female sex; and, therefore, neither despise their counsels, nor disregard their responses;" and Diodorus, who lived at the time of Caesar, feels highly indignant over the position of women in Egypt, having learned that there, not the sons, but the daughters, supported their aging parents. He contemptuously shrugs his shoulders at the poltroons of the Nile, who relinquish household and public rights to the members of the weaker sex, and allow them privileges that must sound unheard-of to a Greek or a Roman.
Under the gyneocracy, a state of comparative peace prevailed in general. The horizon was narrow and small, life primitive. The different tribes separated themselves from one another, as best they could, and respected their mutual boundaries. Was, however, one tribe attacked by another, then the men were obliged to rush to its defence, and in this they were supported by the women in the most vigorous fashion. According to Herodotus, the women joined in battle among the Scythians: as he claims, the maid could not marry before she had slain an enemy. What role women played in battle among the Germans, Iberians, Scots, etc., has already been stated. But in the gens also did they, under given circumstances, command a strong regiment:—woe to the man who was either too lazy or too unskilled to contribute his share to the common support. He was shown the door, and, either he returned to his own gens, where it was with difficulty he was again received with friendliness, or he joined another gens that was more tolerant toward him.
That conjugal life still bears this character in the interior of Africa, Livingstone learned to his great surprise, as he narrates in his "Missionary Travels and Researches in Southern Africa," London, 1857. On the Zambesi he ran across the Valonda—a handsome, vigorous negro tribe, devoted to agriculture—where he found confirmed the informations received from the Portuguese, and which at first seemed incredible to him, with regard to the privileged position enjoyed by women. They sit in council; the young man who marries must move from his own, to the village of his wife: he thereby pledges himself to furnish the mother of his wife for life with kindling wood: if he divorces, the children remain the property of the mother. On the other hand, the wife must see to the sustenance of the husband. Although, occasionally, slight disagreements break out between man and wife, Livingstone found that the men did not retaliate, but he discovered that the men, who offended their wives, were punished in the most sensitive manner—through their stomachs. The husband, he says, comes home to eat, but one woman sends him off to another, and he gets nothing. Tired and hungry he climbs a tree in the most populous part of the village, and announces in woeful tones: "Hear! Hear! I thought I had married women, but they are witches to me! I am a bachelor; I have not a single wife! Is that right towards a man like me?" If a woman gives physical expression to her anger at a man, she is sentenced to carry him on her back from the court of the chieftain to her own house. While she is carrying him home, the other men scoff at and jeer her; the women, on the contrary, encourage her with all their might, calling out to her: "Treat him as he deserves; do it again!"
Similar conditions still exist in the German colony of Cameroon in West Africa. A German ship's doctor, who studied the country and its people by personal observation, writes us thus:
"With a large number of tribes, inheritance is based on maternity. Paternity is immaterial. Brothers and sisters are only the children of one mother. A man does not bequeath his property to his children, but to the children of his sister, that is to say, to his nephews and nieces, as his nearest demonstrable blood relatives. A chief of the Way people explained to me in horrible English: "My sister and I are certainly blood relatives, consequently her son is my heir; when I die, he will be the king of my town." "And your father?" I inquired. "I don't know what that means, 'my father,'" answered he. Upon my putting to him the question whether he had no children, rolling on the ground with laughter, he answered that, with them, men have no children, only women.
"I can assure you," our informant goes on to write, "that even the heir of King Bell in Cameroon is the King's nephew, and not one of his sons. The so-called children of King Bell, several of whom are now going through training in German cities, are merely children of his wives, whose fathers are unknown; one of them I might, possibly, claim for myself."
What say the adversaries of the theory of descent in the female line to this sketch drawn from the immediate present? Our informant is a man with eyes open, who probed things to the very bottom. How many of those who live among these semi-savage races, do as much? Hence the wild accounts about the "immorality" of the natives.
Furthermore, there come to our notice the memorials of the Imperial Government, submitted to the Reichstag on the German colonies (Session of 1894-95). In the memorial on the Southwestern territory of Africa there occurs this passage, p. 239: "Without their advice—the oldest and wealthiest—he (chief of the tribe in principal village) can not render the slightest decision, and not the men only, but quite often the women also, even the servants, express their opinion."
In the report of the Marshall Islands, p. 254 of the memorial, it runs thus: "The ruling power over all the islands of the Marshall group never rested in the hands of a single chieftain.... Seeing, however, that no female member of this class (the Irody) is alive, and only the mother conveys nobility and rank to the child, the Irodies dies out with their chieftain." The expression used, and the descriptions made, by reporters betray what an utter blank are to them the conditions that they refer to: they can not find their bearings among them.
With an increasing population, there arise a number of sisters, which, in turn, produce daughter gentes. Over and against these, the mother gens appears as phratry. A number of phratries constitute a tribe. This social organization is so firm that it still constituted the foundation for the military organization in the old States, after the old gentile constitution had fallen to pieces. The tribe splits up into several tribes, all of which have the same constitution, and in each of which the old gentes are reproduced. However, seeing that the gentile constitution forbids the intermarriage of brothers and sisters, and of relatives on the mother's side to the furthest degree, it undermines its own foundation. Due to the evermore complicated relations of the separate gentes with one another—a condition of things that the social and economic progress promotes—the inhibition of marriage between the several gentes, that descend from the mother's side, becomes in the long run impracticable: it breaks down of itself, or is burst asunder. So long as the production of the means of subsistence was still at the lowest stages, and satisfied only simple wants, the activity of man and woman was essentially the same. Along with an increasing division of labor, there came about, not merely a division of functions, but also a division of occupations. Fishing, the hunt, cattle-raising,—demanded separate knowledge; and, to a still higher degree, the construction of tools and utensils, which became mainly the property of the men. Field agriculture expanded materially the circle of activities, and it created a supply of subsistence that satisfied the highest demands of the time. Man, whose activity stood in the foreground in the course of this development, became the real lord and owner of these sources of wealth, which, in turn, furnished the basis for commerce; and this created new relations, and social changes.
Not only did ever fresh causes of friction and conflicts arise for the possession of the best lands, due to the increase of population, and the need of wider domains for cattle-raising and agriculture, but, along with such increase of population, there arose the need of labor power to cultivate the ground. The more numerous these powers, all the greater was the wealth in products and herds. These struggles led, first, to the rape of women, later to the enslaving of conquered men. The women became laborers and objects of pleasure for the conqueror; their males became slaves. Two elements were thereby simultaneously introduced into the old gentile constitution. The two and the gentile constitution could not, in the long run, get along together.
Furthermore, hand in hand with the increasing differentiation of occupations, owing to the growing need of tools, utensils, weapons, etc., handicraft rises into existence. It follows its own course of development and separates itself from agriculture. As a consequence, a distinct population, one that plies the trades, is called into life; and it splits off from the agricultural population with entirely different interests.
According to the mother-right, i. e., so long as descent followed only in female line, the custom was that the gentile relatives inherited from the deceased gentile fellow-members on the mother's side. The property remained in the gens. The children of the deceased father did not belong to his gens, but to that of the mother: accordingly, they did not inherit from the father; at his death his property fell back to his own gens. Under the new conditions, where the father was the property-holder, i. e., the owner of herds and slaves, of weapons and utensils, and where he had become a handicraftsman, or merchant, his property, so long as he was still considered of the gens of his mother, fell after his death, not to his own children, but to his brothers and sisters, and to the children of his sisters, or to the successors of his sisters. His own children went away empty-handed. The pressure to change such a state of things was, accordingly, powerful;—and it was changed. Thereupon a condition arose that was not yet monogamy, but that approximated it; there arose the "pairing family." A certain man lived with a certain woman, and the children, born of that relation, were that couple's own children. These pairing families increased in the measure in which the marriage inhibitions, that flowed from the gentile constitution, hampered marriage, and in which the above mentioned economic grounds rendered desirable this new form of family life. Personal property accorded ill with the old condition of things, which rested upon the community of goods. Both rank and occupation now decidedly favored the necessity for the choice of a domicile. The production of merchandise begot commerce with neighboring and foreign nations; and that necessitated money. It was man who led and controlled this development. His private interests had, accordingly, no longer any real points of contact with the old gentile organization, whose interests often stood in opposition to his own. Accordingly, the importance of the gentile organization sank ever more. The gens finally became little more than the center of the religious functions for the family, its economic significance was gone. The complete dissolution of gentile organization became only a question of time.
With the dissolution of the old gentile organization, the influence and position of woman sank rapidly. The mother-right vanished; the father-right stepped into its shoes. Man now became a private property-holder: he had an interest in children, whom he could look upon as legitimate, and whom he made the heirs of his property: hence he forced upon woman the command of abstinence from intercourse with other men.
At the same time man assumed the right of taking unto himself, beside his own wife, or several of them, as many concubines as his condition allowed; and the children of these concubines were likewise treated as legitimate. On this head we find two valuable illustrations in the Bible. In I Book of Moses, chapter 16, verses 1 and 2, we read: "Now Sarai, Abram's wife, bare him no children: and she had a hand-maid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the Lord has restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai." The second remarkable illustration is found in I Book of Moses 30, 1 and sequel: "And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die. And Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel; and he said, Am I in God's stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb? and she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees that I may also have children by her. And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife: and Jacob went in unto her."
Jacob, accordingly, had not only the daughters of Laban, two sisters, simultaneously for wives, they also helped him to their maids, all of which, according to the usage of the times, was wholly free from taint of impropriety. The two principal wives he had bought, as is well known, by serving Laban seven years for each. The purchase of a wife was at the time common among the Jews, but, along with the purchase of wives, whom they were compelled to take from among their own people, they practiced on an extensive scale the rape of women from among the peoples that they conquered. The Benjaminites raped the daughters of Silos. In such wars, it was originally customary that all the men who fell into the hands of the vanquisher were killed. The captured woman became a slave, a concubine. Nevertheless, she could be raised to the dignity of a legitimate wife so soon as she had fulfilled certain conditions of the Jews: she had to cut her hair and nails; to lay off the dress she was captured in, and exchange it for another that was given her; thereupon she had to mourn a whole month for her father and mother: she was, in a manner to be dead to her own people, become estranged from them: then could she climb into the conjugal bed. The largest number of wives had King Solomon, as is known. According to Kings 1, 11, not less than 700 wives and 300 concubines are ascribed to him.
With the rule of the father-right and descent in the male line in the Jewish gentile organization, the daughters were excluded from inheritance. Later this was, however, changed, at least when a father left no sons. This appears from IV Book of Moses 27, 2-8, where it is reported that, as Zelaphehad died without sons, and his daughter complained bitterly that she was to be excluded from her father's inheritance, which was to fall back to the tribe of Joseph, Moses decided that, in that case, the daughters should inherit. But seeing that she contemplated marrying, according to custom, in another tribe, the tribe of Joseph complained that thereby the inheritance would be lost to it. Thereupon Moses decided further (4, 36) that heiresses, though free in the choice of a husband, were bound to marry in the tribe of their own father. For the sake of property, the old ordinance was overthrown. Similarly, in Athens, did Solon decree that an heiress had to marry her nearest male agnate, even though both belonged to the same gens, and, according to former law, such a marriage was forbidden. Solon ordered also that a property-holder was not compelled as thitherto, to leave his property to his own gens in case he died childless; but that he could by testament constitute any one else his heir. From all this it is obvious:—man does not rule property, property rules him, and becomes his master.
With the rule of private property, the subjection of woman to man, her bondage was sealed. Then came the time of disregard, even of contempt for woman.
The reign of the mother-right implied communism; equality for all; the rise of the father-right implied the reign of private property, and, with it, the oppression and enslavement of woman.
It is difficult to trace in detail the manner in which the change was achieved. A knowledge of the events is lacking. Neither did this first great revolution in the lap of mankind come into force simultaneously among the ancient nations; nor yet is it probable that it was accomplished everywhere in the same manner. Among the peoples of old Greece, it was Athens where the new order of things first prevailed.
Frederick Engels is of the opinion that this great revolution was accomplished peacefully, and that, after all the conditions for the new rights were at hand, it only required a simple vote in the gens in order to rear the father in the place of the mother-right. Bachofen, on the contrary, grounding his opinion upon more or less reliable information from the old writers, holds that the women offered strong resistance to this social transformation. He, for instance, sees in the legends of the Amazonian Kingdoms, which re-appear under manifold variations in the old history of Asia and the Orient, and also have turned up in South America and in China, proofs for the struggle and resistance which the women offered to the new order. We leave that as it may be.
With the rule of man, women lost their position in the community; they were excluded from the councils and from all leading influence. Man exacts conjugal fidelity from her, but claims exemption for himself. If she violates that, she is guilty of the most serious deception that can afflict the new citizen; she thereby introduces into his house stranger's children as heirs of his property. Hence, among all ancient nations, the breach of conjugal fidelity on the part of woman is punished with death or slavery.
Notwithstanding women were thus removed from their position as leaders, the customs connected with the old system of morals continued for centuries to sway the public mind, although the meaning of the surviving customs was gradually lost to the people. It is only in modern times that pains are being taken to inquire into the original meaning of these old customs. In Greece, for instance, it remained a religious practice that Greek women prayed only to goddesses for advice, help and favors. Likewise, the yearly recurring celebration of the Thesmophoria owed its origin to the days of mother-right. Even in later days, the women of Greece celebrated this festival for five days in honor of Demeter; and no man was allowed to be present. It was similarly in old Rome with a festival in honor of Ceres. Both Demeter and Ceres were considered goddesses of fertility. In Germany also such festivals, once customary in the heathen days of Frigga, were held, deep into the Middle Ages, Frigga being considered the goddess of fertility among the old Germans. According to the narratives, women gave a free reign to their frolicsomeness on the occasions of these festivals. Also here men were excluded from participation in the festival.
In Athens, where, as already stated, the mother-right made earliest room for the father-right, but, as it seems, under strong opposition from the women, the transition is portrayed touchingly and in all the fullness of its tragic import, in the "Eumenides" of Aeschylus. The story is this: Agamemnon, King of Mycene, and husband of Clytemnestra, sacrifices his daughter, Iphigenia, upon the command of the oracle on his expedition against Troy. The mother, indignant at the sacrifice of her daughter, takes, during her husband's absence, Aegysthos for her consort. Upon Agamemnon's return to Mycene, after an absence of many years, he is murdered by Aegysthos with the connivance of Clytemnestra. Orestes, the son of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, avenges the murder of his father, at the instigation of Apollo and Athene, by slaying his mother and Aegysthos. The Erinnyes, as representatives of the old law, pursue Orestes on account of the murder of his mother. Apollo and Athene, the latter of whom, according to mythology, is motherless—she leaped full-armed out of the head of Jupiter—represent the new law, and defend Orestes. The issue is carried to the Areopagus, before which the following dialogue ensues. The two hostile principles come here into dramatic vividness of expression:
Erinnyes—The prophet bade thee be a matricide?
Orestes—And to this hour I am well content withal.
Erinnyes—Thoul't change that tune, when judgment seizes thee.
Orestes—My father from his tomb will take my part; I fear not.
Erinnyes—Ay, rely on dead men's aid, When guilty of matricide!
Orestes—She, that is slain, Was doubly tainted.
Erinnyes—How? Inform the court.
Orestes—She slew her wedded lord, and slew my sire.
Erinnyes—Death gave her quittance, then. But thou yet livest.
Orestes—And while she lived, why did you not pursue her?
Erinnyes—No tie of blood bound her to whom she slew.
Orestes—But I was tied by blood-affinity To her who bare me?
Erinnyes—Else, thou accursed one, How nourished she thy life within her womb? Wouldst thou renounce the holiest bond of all?
The Erinnyes, it will be noticed, recognize no rights on the part of the father and the husband; to them there exists only the right of the mother. That Clytemnestra slew her husband is indifferent to them; on the other hand, they demand punishment for the matricide, committed by Orestes: in killing his mother he had committed the worst crime imaginable under the old gentile order. Apollo, on the contrary, stands on the opposite principle. Commissioned by Zeus to avenge the murder of his father, he had led Orestes to the murder of his own mother. Apollo now defends Orestes' action before the judges, saying:
That scruple likewise I can satisfy. She who is called the mother of the child Is not its parent, but the nurse of seed Implanted in begetting. He that sows Is author of the shoot, which she, if Heaven Prevent not, keeps as in a garden-ground. In proof whereof, to show that fatherhood May be without the mother, I appeal To Pallas, daughter of Olympian Zeus, In present witness here. Behold a plant, Not moulded in the darkness of the womb, Yet nobler than all scions of Heaven's stock.
According to Apollo, the act of begetting confers the superior right; whereas, according to the views in force until then, the mother, who gives to the child her blood and its life, was esteemed the sole possessor of the child, while the man, the father of her child, was regarded a stranger. Hence the Erinnyes reply to the strange notions of Apollo:
Thou didst lead astray Those primal goddesses with draughts of wine, O'erturning ordinance. Young, thou wouldst override our ancient right.
The judges, thereupon, make ready for the sentence. One half stand by the old, one half by the new right; a tie is threatened; thereupon Athene seizes the ballot from the altar and dropping it in the urn, says:
To me it falls to give my judgment last. Here openly I give it for Orestes. No mother bore me. To the masculine side For all save marriage my whole heart is given,— In all and everything the father's child. So little care I for a woman's death, That slew her lord, the guardian of her home. Now though the votes be even, Orestes wins.
The new right won. Marriage with the father as head, had overpowered the gyneocracy.
Another legend represents the downfall of the mother-right in Athens this way: "Under the reign of Kekrops, a double miracle happened. There broke forth simultaneously out of the earth an oil-tree, and at another place water. The frightened king sent to Delphi to interrogate the Oracle upon the meaning of these happenings. The answer was: 'The oil-tree stands for Minerva, the water for Neptune; it is now with the citizens after which of the two deities they wish to name their city.' Kekrops called together the assembly of the people in which men and women enjoyed the right of suffrage. The men voted for Neptune, the women for Minerva; and as the women had a majority of one, Minerva won. Thereupon Neptune was angered and he caused the sea to wash over the territory of the Athenians. In order to soothe the wrath of the god, the Athenians placed a threefold punishment upon their women:—they were to forfeit the suffrage, children were no longer to carry their mother's name, and they themselves were no longer to be called Athenian women."
As in Athens, the transition from the mother to the father-right was everywhere achieved so soon as a certain height was reached in social development. Woman is crowded into the house; she is isolated; she is assigned special quarters—the gynekonitis—, in which she lives; she is even excluded from intercourse with the male visitors of the house. That, in fact, was the principal object of her isolation.
This change finds its expression as early as the Odyssey. Telemachus forbids Penelope's, his mother's, presence among the suitors. He, the son, orders his mother:
But come now, go to thy bower, and deal with such things as ye can; With the sock and the loom be busy, and thine handmaids order and teach, That they speed the work and the wearing; but for men is the word and the speech; For all, but for me the chiefest, for here am I the might and the power.
Such was the doctrine already common in Greece at that time. It went even further. Woman, even if a widow, stands so completely under the rule of the nearest male relative, that she no longer has even the choice of a husband. The suitors, tired of long waiting, due to the cunning of Penelope, address themselves to Telemachus through the mouth of Antinous, saying:
But for thee, do we the suitors this answer to thee show, That thou in thy soul may'st know it, and that all the folk may know, Send thou thy mother away, and bid her a wedding to gain With whomso her father willeth, of whomso her heart may be fain.
It is at an end with the freedom of woman. If she leaves the house, she must veil herself not to awaken the desires of another man. In the Orient, where, due to the warm climate, sexual passion is strongest, this method of seclusion is carried even to-day to extreme lengths. Athens becomes in this a pattern for the ancient nations. Woman shares, indeed, her husband's bed, but not his table; she does not address him by name, but "Sir;" she is his maid-servant; she was allowed to appear nowhere openly; on the street she was ever veiled and clad with greatest simplicity. If she committed adultery, she paid for the trespass, according to the laws of Solon, with her life, or with her freedom. The husband could sell her for a slave.
The position of the Greek woman at the time when Greece was rushing to the zenith of her development comes into plastic expression in the "Medea" of Euripedes. She complains:
Ay, of all living and of all reasoning things Are women the most miserable race: Who first needs buy a husband at great price, To take him then for owner of our lives: For this ill is more keen than common ills. And of essays most perilous is this, Whether one good or evil do we take. For evil-famed to women is divorce, Nor can one spurn a husband. She, so brought Beneath new rule and wont, had surely need To be a prophetess, unless at home She learned the likeliest prospect with her spouse. And if, we having aptly searched out this, A husband house with us not savagely Drawing in the yoke, ours is an envied life; But if not, most to be desired is death. And if a man grow sick to herd indoors, He, going forth, stays his heart's weariness, Turning him to some friend or natural peer; But we perforce to one sole being look. But, say they, we, while they fight with the spear, Lead in our homes a life undangerous: Judging amiss; for I would liefer thrice Bear brunt of arms than once bring forth a child.