The Feminine Mistake
The philosophical basis of Hegelian/Marxist philosophy is antithetical not only to the family; it is irreconcilable with the rights of women everywhere. The philosophy is, at its core, misogynist. Hitching the feminist wagon to Marxism was, and is, the feminine mistake. In this article, I will dig deeply into the Marxist notions about women, the family, and the workplace. As I will show, Marxism, and the far left, are not female friendly.
First a little history: Betty Friedan (1921-2006) is often cited as the pioneer of the modern women's rights movement. Friedan co-founded the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1966. Her 1963 book, The Feminine Mystique, is credited with launching radical feminism in America. What is not often discussed is how entrenched this movement was with the radical left and international communism.
Friedan was active in the labor movement and toyed with communism in her youth.[i] As she grew older (and wiser) Friedan pulled away from the main argument of The Feminine Mystique (which was based on the flimsy -- and superficially Marxist -- idea that women should be free to abandon the home and move into the workplace.) Friedan's The Second Stage (1981) backtracks, somewhat, from her adolescent misreading of Marxist philosophy that grounded the earlier The Feminine Mystique.
The works of French existentialist philosopher, Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986), greatly influenced Friedan's writing. In fact, Friedan's The Second Stage mimics the title of de Beauvoir's two-volume work, Le Deuxième Sexe (1949). Friedan once stated of de Beauvoir:
I had learned my own existentialism from her. It was The Second Sex that introduced me to that approach to reality and political responsibility ... [and] led me to whatever original analysis of women's existence I have been able to contribute.
Simone de Beauvoir was a brilliant woman and a gifted mathematician. She was a devoted admirer of both Hegel and Marx. Thus, de Beauvoir was a hard-core leftist.[ii] Her writings on feminism are filled with the typical Marxist rhetoric of class identity and economic struggle against the male dominated "bourgeoisie."
Like most leading French intellectuals of the time, de Beauvoir was influenced by the lectures (and unpublished writings) of Alexandre Kojève.[iii] It is by reviewing certain portions of the works of the Hegelian/Marxist Kojève that we will be able to vividly see the feminine mistake.
Alexandre Kojève (1902-1968) was a world-class thinker -- undoubtedly one of the most important philosophers in the 20th century. His influence on intellectuals in Europe (and to some extent in the US) was enormous.
Kojève did not hesitate in his work to disclose to us what Hegel and Marx really thought about women. Both Hegel and Marx grounded their philosophical theories in Hegel's infamous master/slave dialectic. Kojève explained the essence of the master/slave dialectic in a lecture on Hegel (see Note 3 below) in 1939:
Man is desire directed toward another desire -- that is, desire for recognition -- that is, negating action preformed for the sake of satisfying this desire for recognition -- that is, bloody fighting for prestige -- that is, the relation between master and slave -- that is, work -- that is, historical evolution that finally comes to the universal and homogenous state and to the absolute knowledge that reveals complete man realized in and by this state. [Emphasis added.]
In other words, men become self-conscious and fully human by subjugating other men. This historical process of certain classes of men enslaving other classes of men eventually ends in the "universal and homogenous state" when all men are either (depending on one's perspective) "free and equal" ... or enslaved to a monolithic one-world government.
Kojève's studies of Hegel and Marx taught Kojève that only men could participate in this struggle. (Man in the passage above means "male human being" -- not "any human being.")
Kojève explained why only men would attain "absolute knowledge," by serving in a one-world state, in his posthumously published Esquisse d' une phenomenology du Droit (Outline of a Phenomenology of Right):
It is because man has already been made human (by the negation of his animal nature through fighting and work) that man also "negates" his animal sexuality and transforms his pairing [with a woman] into a family. It is because he is now a master (of a slave) ... that the man behaves differently [than an animal] towards his woman and becomes a "husband" of a "wife." [Page 486 footnote.]
Two pages later, in another footnote, Kojève clarifies and reemphasizes his position:
The humanization of the wife is mediated by the man (the husband) in the same way as the slave (by working) is made human by the mediation of the master (and through rebellion); this is the basis of the analogy between the wife and the slave.
Women are tied to life. They give us life. They are not inclined to fight and die for recognition or the "struggle" or the revolution -- so, according to Kojève, women can never be fully "human."
It gets worse. In another footnote in the same chapter Kojève remarks:
The newly born [son], when assumed to be unable to be humanized, ... may be killed like any animal (and also the daughter -- since she cannot be humanized, humanity being refused to women). [Emphasis added.]
Now you know where the idea of forced abortion comes from in communist China. And why John Holdren, Obama's "science czar," espouses the notion of "compulsory sterilization" and the creation of a "planetary regime" (read: universal and homogenous state) that would control the number of human beings allowed on earth.
The garden variety (university professor) Marxist will object to Kojève's position, explaining that women will, in the end, be equal to men by working -- in the same jobs as men -- in the "universal and homogenous state." (Remember, that's the position that Betty Friedan and Simone de Beauvoir both held.) Other faux leftist intellectuals will add that the family is the last great obstacle to attaining universal freedom and equality through labor. Ridding ourselves of the patriarchal family will bring about "happiness" (more accurately, "satisfaction") -- or so we have been told.[v]
My response to these café philosophers is this: someone in your perfect state will have to mop the floors, stock the shelves, and work in the assembly lines. I have done all three jobs, at various points in my life, and I can assure you neither "happiness" nor "satisfaction" is a term that is used by anyone (male or female) performing these mundane tasks.
This pseudo-intellectual phoniness runs rampant through the hard left. Betty Friedan could rant about women getting out of the home and into the workplace -- because her workplace was Cosmopolitan magazine. Simone de Beauvoir could talk and talk and talk about women as a subjugated class at her numerous lectures and book signing events (and make a good sum of money while doing it).
Alexandre Kojève was straightforward about the results of what people would really experience in the "universal and homogenous state." In a very famous footnote, in his lectures on Hegel, Kojève states:
[The] end of human time or history -- that is, the definitive annihilation of man properly so-called or of the free and historical individual -- means quite simply the cessation of action in the full sense of the term.
Stated differently, in the universal and homogenous state there is no freedom, no choice, just (equal and equally meaningless) work for all.
There is a reason why the left is so dead set on a woman's "right" to an abortion -- and why the health care bill in the senate will have the central government pay for this "right." State controlled abortion moves the left that much closer to eliminating the family and establishing its much-desired universal and homogenous state.
As Alexandre Kojève so bluntly showed us, women who have bought into the radical feminist agenda must, eventually, trade their freedom for slavery. In his 1939 lecture on Hegel, Kojève stated:
Hegel also sees, and he is the first to say so in so many words, that truly human existence is possible only by the negation of life.... [Emphasis in original.]
In my view, most women are (and should be) above this "Maoist" view of human existence.
Feminism, by grounding itself in the philosophy of Hegel and Marx, is condemning women to a new servitude: slavery to the state. Not to worry, liberated ladies, in the paradise of the universal and homogenous state, you will still be able to mop the floors.
[This article is dedicated to Ann Kucera (1925-2009) of Garland, Maine. Ann was a poet, writer, and, most of all, a dear friend. May her sweet spirit find peace.]
Larrey Anderson is a writer, a philosopher, and submissions editor for American Thinker. He is the author of The Order of the Beloved, and the memoir, Underground: Life and Survival in the Russian Black Market.
[i] Daniel Horowitz outlines Friedan's ties to the far left in "Rethinking Betty Friedan and The Feminine Mystique: Labor Union Radicalism and Feminism in Cold War America," American Quarterly, March, 1996. (It is the lead article, if memory serves.)
[iii] It is possible, if not probable, that de Beauvoir attended at least some of Kojève's famous series of lectures on Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit. The lectures were delivered at the École des Hautes Etudes from 1933 to 1939. Kojève's classes were frequented by a literal who's who of leading French intellectuals, including Merleau-Ponty, Raymond Aron, Jacques Lacan, Georges Bataille, Andre Breton, and Raymond Queneau. Queneau took meticulous notes of the Kojève lectures. The notes were eventually published under the title, Introduction a la Lecture de Hegel in 1947. Even Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault were "students" of Kojève. See Stanley Rosen's, Hermeneutics as Politics, Oxford University Press, 1987, pp. 91-110 for details.
After losing power, Leon Trotsky claimed the reason communism had not been successful in Russia was that Stalin had not been ruthless enough in his efforts to eliminate the family. See Trotsky's The Revolution Betrayed, trans. Max Eastman, New York, 1965, pp. 145ff.
Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/11/the_feminine_mistake_1.html at November 29, 2009 - 06:44:24 AM EST