Marxist Discourses on Gender and Utopia: A Study of Imperative and Millenarian Rhetorics


Charles Fourier’s utopian phalanstère


Beginning with Mary Wollstonecraft, early European feminism focused on the absence of women’s rights to hold property, to vote, to secure a divorce, et cetera. Feminist theory was elaborated throughout the century that followed, eventually encompassing an analysis that historically tied women’s oppression to the emergence of private property. In this respect, the contribution of Marx and Engels to the feminist thought of their day was paramount – especially in that Engels’s The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State brought several of these radical strains of thought into a coherent and sophisticated historiography. On the question of tactics and the future of the women’s movement, however, a less cohesive rhetorical landscape emerges within nineteenth-century feminism. Here, a spectrum of thought emerges that consists on the one hand of a galvanizing and what I refer to as “imperative” rhetoric exemplified by early-nineteenth century feminist women such as Anna Wheeler and Flora Tristan; on the other hand, a more complicated, mythologizing and millenarian school was embodied by the utopian socialist men such as Fourier and Owen. Given their notion of the teleological inevitability of the revolution, coupled with their repudiation of utopian systems of thought, Marx and Engels fell somewhere in between these imperative and millenarian schools on the question of women’s liberation. At a strictly theoretical level, their writings can in many ways be seen to reconcile these two genres of rhetoric.


Rousseau exerts himself to prove that all was right originally: a crowd of authors that all is now right: and I, that all will be right.[i]
—Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Women.

The contribution of Marx and Engels to nineteenth-century European feminism was significant first in its development of an intellectual historiography of patriarchy, and secondly in its contribution to an ongoing dialogue between the women’s and labour movements. Intellectually, the contribution of the Marxists text was tremendous; Engels’s The Origin of The Family, Private Property and the State was certainly among the most important texts of its time in proving that women are not naturally or inherently inferior to men, and that their political subordination in European society is therefore the result of various social-economic technologies. Additionally, they contributed to a growing body of literature that demanded recognition of the fundamental personhood of women. Politically, however, the contribution of Marx and Engels to the women’s movement was less clear. Some, including Joan Landes and Elizabeth Taylor, have blamed Marxist thought for the emergence of a schism between the socialist and women’s movements, which had been more cohesive earlier in the nineteenth century within the utopian schools of thought led by Fourier, Owen and Saint-Simon. There is some truth to this historical approach insofar as class struggle was unequivocally the Marxist priority; however this schism developed to a much greater extent as a result of the rise of the bourgeois suffrage movement in late nineteenth century, especially in Britain and the United States.[ii]

However, with respect to the theoretical dimensions of nineteenth century feminism – which is the primary focus of this essay – the writing of Marx and Engels actually seems to have played a role in reconciling some of the conflicts and contradictions within the earlier school of utopian feminism. In basic terms, that contradiction concerned a chiliastic conception of women’s liberation, espoused more often by men, versus a more immediate approach typically supported by the intellectual women in the movement, such as Flora Tristan, Anna Doyle Wheeler, and Catherine Barmby. These women typically get lumped in with the utopian socialist men who led the movements that they became a part of, yet within these movements, they arguably developed a distinct mode of feminist thought. What separates them is that the utopian writers themselves – in particular Fourier, Owen, and Cabet – led movements that were fundamentally millenarian[1] and secessionist in their character. As Carol Kolmerton has written, the communities that were born out of these movements were highly patriarchal in their structure, despite their relatively feminist outlook of their founding intellectual theories.[iii]

Within this framework, the overwhelmingly male nature of utopia comes into sharp relief. Even the most progressive thinking in this respect seemed to lend itself to male hubris. The influence of Rousseau’s secularized narrative of the fall of man – centering around the formative moment of property and the state when “All ran headlong into their chains in hopes of securing their liberty” – exerts itself heavily in the narratives of human history woven by these utopian intellectuals. Rousseau’s own historiography focused on the construction of class-based hierarchy, and advocated for a modern communitarianism that would re-establish the egalitarian principles of his infamous noble savage. Yet, in keeping with the overarching patterns of Enlightenment thought, he expressed concern only for equality among men, and advocated the sustained domestic role of women. Thus, early feminist thinkers like Wollstonecraft and Fourier explicitly took aim at his writing, whilst they simultaneously developed a parallel strategy in historicizing gender oppression – a project that Engels would later bring to its apotheosis.

The utopian socialists thus attempted to negotiate the bucolic egalitarianism of prelapsarian or “savage” humanity with modernity. The formulation of these elaborate and at times even fascistic plans for the redemption of humanity sometimes led them to cast themselves in romantic and quasi-messianic roles. Thus we see Robert Owen, (who was “convinced of the absolute originality of his plan and of his ideas,”[iv]) proclaiming that his theories would lead to humanity’s overcoming “the real fall of man”, which he characterized as the priesthood’s imposition of an ideology of sexual secrecy and shame. Fourier draws a parallel narrative, decrying the abject matrimonial slavery to which both men and women – though especially the latter – are confined through the institutions of Civilization.[v] And he is no more modest than any of his peers in celebrating the significance of his own emancipatory theories: “I alone have confounded twenty centuries of political stupidity, and it is to me alone that present and future generations will owe the foundation of their immense happiness,” he wrote.[vi]

This eminently male character of utopia can be theorized in two important ways. The first stems from the basic patriarchy of nineteenth-century Europe, and in particular the grossly segregated spheres of male and female labour – especially among the bourgeois classes from which the utopians themselves emerged. Decision making – in particular of a long-term and large-scale nature – was decisively in the male domain. The work of bourgeois women was inherently more concerned with the immediate day-to-day operations of the family. As Kolmerton writes, these patriarchal patterns have tended to replicate themselves in prefigurative schemes. The utopian imagination is formed by the lived experience of labour and class. “Utopia has always been conceived as a male construct,” she writes, “with women being defined by their relation to those with the power and providing a permanent class of secondary citizens created, as it were, to serve the men by guaranteeing that all the bothersome, endlessly trivial work will get done without question. The result is that utopian dreams in many ways replicate the culture from which they spring.” [vii]

The second, and intrisically related, dimension of utopia’s patriarchal character during this time period has to do with the differing sexual and political interests of men and women. Both increasingly shared an analysis that saw property and monogamy as connected and oppressive, but their prescriptive responses differed in their emphases. As we shall see, the women saw the immediate establishment of equal political and economic rights among the sexes as critical to their social emancipation in all respects – including matters of sex and marriage. The utopian socialist men, on the other hand, seem to have been more fixated on the idea of sexual liberation and promiscuity – a vision that was sufficiently personal and uncomfortable that it had to be articulated in more abstract terms, and manifested, if at all, within secessionist communities. In these respects, Marx and Engels seem to have shared more in common with the feminist women, and their repudiation of utopian prefiguration writ large can be read as a repudiation of its patriarchal nature.

Early 19th century Feminist Thought

The stage for nineteenth-century European feminism had, of course, been set by Mary Wollstonecraft more than any other, but three decades after her death it was Charles Fourier and Robert Owen who had taken the lead in popularizing the idea of women’s rights. Fourier’s thought was as unprecedented as it was elaborate, mystical, and idiosyncratic. His writings focused to a much greater extent than any of his peers on the denial of basic rights to women, and their consequent sexual enslavement through both marriage and prostitution. He discussed at length the drudgery of modern marriage, and in particular bourgeois marriage, whereby men decide that they “must marry money” for the sake of a dowry, while women seek much the same thing albeit for different reasons.[viii] As much as this system of gender and the family debases the stature and dignity of women, it destroys men’s self-confidence as they are transformed into base, jealous cuckolds. Despite the sincere efforts of so many philosophers to mould humanity toward perfect monogamy within the economic contract of marriage, human passions cannot be repressed; the conflicts manifest in pervasive cruelty and confusion. Thus society cannot possibly function in a healthy manner so long as women are repressed and sex continues to follow the absurd contours of economic interest. “As a general proposition,” wrote Fourier, “social progress and changes of historical period are brought about as a result of the progress of women towards liberty; and the decline of social orders is brought about as a result of the diminution of the liberty of women”[ix]

This notion would be echoed on several occasions by both Marx and Engels where the question of gender arises. It marks a part of their thinking that is characterized by the notion that positive change can and should occur immediately and perpetually. In The Holy Family, for instance, they write, “The change in a historical epoch can always be determined by the progress of women toward freedom, because in the relation of woman to man, of the weak to the strong, the victory of human nature over brutality is most evident. The degree of emancipation of woman is the natural measure of general emancipation.”[x]

Another highly significant dimension of Fourier’s thought as it came to bear on Marx and Engels was his division of history into the four stages of savagery, barbarism, patriarchate, and civilization[xi] – a framework that Engels borrowed wholesale in The Origin. This framework plays heavily into Engels’s thought as he traces the historical beginnings of monogamy, which facilitated patrilinealism’s usurpation of matrilinealism, and thus enabled the man to decisively lay claim to his enclosed family unit.

Where Fourier’s thought bears almost no resemblance to that of Marx and Engels lies in his highly specific prescriptions for the ordering of human civilization, including their sexuality. To the contemporary reader, probably as much as to Marx and Engels, Fourier’s “system which could replace our domestic state”[xii] reads almost like a flippant, if long-winded joke. He lays out an ironically rigid lifestyle for his utopian colony, whereby his “tribes” are divided into groups by sex and occupation, each eating at different dining halls and sleeping in different quarters. His characterization of the idealized female sexuality is no less presumptuous and systematic (and no less contrary to his exaltation of human nature and human passions) even as it seeks to challenge the rigidity of modern bourgeois marriage. He writes, “A woman may simultaneously have: first, a husband by whom she has two children; second, a co-parent by whom by has one child; third, a favourite who has lived with her and retained the title; and in addition to these, plain lovers, who have no rights in the law.”[xiii] A man may simultaneously treat women as such as well, he adds. Engels made explicit his own repudiation of such schemes where he wrote that they were “foredoomed as Utopian; the more completely they were worked out in detail, the more they could not avoid drifting off into pure phantasies.”[xiv] Engels here can be seen as rejecting the metaphysical, and hence patriarchal, politics of Fourier’s utopianism in favour of a dialectical paradigm of historical materialism, the development of which by Marx he cites as the intellectual basis for scientific socialism.[xv]

Even as Engels critiques the basis of utopian socialism, he speaks just as gushingly of Robert Owen, whose views on sex and marriage Engels borrowed extensively.[xvi] Owen’s analysis of prostitution was virtually identical to that of Fourier, and his language in repudiating the institution of marriage was highly bombastic, writing for instance that the vast majority of married couples were practising “the deepest deception, and living in the grossest prostitution of body and mind.” He adds, “It is a Satanic device of the Priesthood to place and keep mankind within their slavish superstitions.”[xvii] In his practical proposals for the reconfiguration of marriage, he suggests not that the institution be abolished but simply that women too be given the opportunity to file for divorce, and he does not imply that sex outside of wedlock should be prohibited in any way[xviii] – a position virtually identical to that which Engels took in The Origin.[xix]

The women who entered these spheres and began to engage intellectually with feminist thought focused more on the immediate lived experience of women in society, and called therefore for more urgent and immediate action. Implicitly, then, they were calling for a more constant and gradual approach, rather than one that assumed a single future moment of utopian consummation. Prefigurative social blueprints were far less present in the writings of Tristan, Wheeler and Barmby, (who were certainly among the most prominent of the feminist women of their time, but by no means the only ones). These women followed to a great extent in the tradition of Mary Wollstonecraft, though in all three of their cases, the language they used was far more bombastic than the calm and methodical rhetoric of her famous Vindication. All of these women – in addition to Fourier and Owen – have important philosophical roots in Rousseau’s thinking, and thus all of their analyses incorporated some connection between property and gender oppression. But where these women in particular share a critical parallel with Wollstonecraft is that they look ahead to a brighter future; they call for immediate and topical change on the matter and they refuse to attach too many elaborate contingencies to their own victory.

A consistent pattern of outrage emerges from these women’s writing, indicating that the situation simply cannot wait for the utopian colony to be constructed. Their writings implicitly abandon utopian secessionism, focusing instead on the subjugation of women throughout their own society – bourgeois and proletarian alike. This marks an important distinction too from the phlegmatic, occasionally wry tone struck by the feminist men on these matters. For these women the cessation of their abhorrent treatment was the end in itself; it was immediately realizable, and if wholesale revisions of social custom needed to follow in order to sustain their liberation, then so be it. As such, they espoused a patently imperative style of rhetoric. All of them wrote energetic and passionate entreaties for the immediate emancipation of women that struck a tone quite similar to that of The Communist Manifesto. The following, for instance marks the beginning of a passage on women’s emancipation by Wheeler, a middle-class British woman who in 1812 fled her failed marriage to an alcoholic with her children and made her way to France where she became involved with both the Saint-Simonians and with Fourier:[xx] “Women of England! Women, in whatever country ye breathe – wherever ye breathe, degraded – awake!”[xxi] From here she goes on to call for the emancipation of women through a system of “Labor by Mutual Co-Operation” which would encompass social support for child rearing – a demand that parallels those made by Owen and Engels – but she does so with a call for action, and with the implication that such a goal could be achieved tomorrow.[xxii] Similarly, in the tract by the Owenite feminist Catherine Barmby, The Demand for the Emancipation of Women, we see the emergence of a series of immediate demands that are directed at society at large: “The emancipation of the woman, the man, and the child, is now demanded. … We demand the political emancipation of woman, because it is her right. … We demand the ecclesiastical emancipation of woman, because from her strong percipient power she has the ability to educate. … We demand the domestic emancipation of woman, that is to say, we claim her freedom at the hearth and the board.”[xxiii] The writings of Flora Tristan – a middle-class Parisian woman who was strongly influenced by Fourier – also fell exactly into this mould: in her famous pamphlet The Workers’ Union she calls for the mobilization and liberation of the working class as often and emphatically as she calls for the same for women. One could not occur without the other. And like Wheeler and Barmby, she addresses her call for class struggle and the women’s struggle to the system she sees before her as opposed to any mythical utopian colonies.[xxiv] Thus we see an important parallel between the camp of feminist women and that of Marx and Engels, which is that both were explicitly revolutionary – certainly far more so than Owen, Fourier, Cabet, or Saint-Simon.[2]

And yet Marx and Engels also used language that was millenarian in character. Sooner or later, they write, the contradictions of capitalism push it into a revolutionary phase.[xxv] In Socialism, Engels divides the historical teleology of civilized humanity into the three neat and likewise inexorable stages of Medieval Society, Capitalist Revolution, and Proletarian Revolution.[xxvi] Their writings are replete with such formulations. And they did of course prioritize the liberation of the proletariat – who were significantly more numerous and more organized by the latter nineteenth century – over that of women. Yet, insofar as both Marx and the feminist women were demanding equal property rights, this should not be seen as the expression of stone-hearted patriarchy that Harold Benenson and others have characterized it as. The abolition of private property would emancipate women as much as it would the proletariat.

Here, the imperative-millenarian dichotomy must be refined significantly. Fundamentally, it can be reduced to a question of content and tone. It is extremely difficult, if not perhaps impossible, to develop an over-arching theory of history (and hence the future) without adopting a tone of inevitability, as for instance Engels does in Socialism. The Communist Manifesto, on the other hand, represents the epitome of imperative rhetoric. Thus Marx and Engels were somewhere in between the millenarian and imperative camps. Their precise location within this spectrum is difficult to peg decisively partly because their equivocations on the structure of the revolution were often deliberate, partly because of the inchoate nature of the manuscripts we’ve been left with, and partly because there were some differences between the two on the question of gender and utopia. Most of all, it is difficult to peg because they played the dual role of agitators and theorists.

In short, Marx and Engels abandoned the secessionism of the utopian socialists, and perhaps about half of their millenarianism. This ambiguity played out similarly on the question of women’s liberation. On the one hand, they borrow from Fourier’s notion that “The change in a historical epoch can always be determined by the progress of women toward freedom,”[xxvii] implying a more gradual and more imperative approach – and one that does not demand waiting until the time is ripe. On the other hand, however, their teleological thought assumes that if the revolution was not successful in 1830, or 1848, or in 1871, then it will be eventually – and that when it is, women will be liberated. In what may have become their most well-known maxim on the subject of the family, and also maybe their most millenarian, The Communist Manifesto declares that upon the revolutionary abolition of private property, “The bourgeois family will vanish as a manner of course.” [xxviii] It therefore bears noting that although the Manifesto was by far their most imperative work, it also contained one of their most millenarian comments on the question of women’s liberation.[3]

Thus there are ambiguities and perhaps even contradictions within the Marxist texts on the question of the abolition of property and women’s liberation. What is clear is that the two must necessarily coincide. This has been characterized by some as a “question of the chicken and the egg.”[xxix] The answer to this question depends on who one would have asked. The women within the early 19th-century socialist movement prioritized equal political and property rights, and framed their demands in extremely agitative and imperative language. The men on the other hand, tended to prioritize sexual liberation to a greater extent – a vision that they articulated in terms that were far more abstract and millenarian.

Fourier can be see as the archetype of the millenarian male utopian who attempted to construct such a vision of promiscuous sexuality before attempting to construct a viable means of achieving rights for women throughout society; in fact, Marx explicitly criticized “the fantasies by which Fourier tried to give himself a picture of free love.”[xxx] Another millenarian leader of this period who seems to have simply been indulging his sexual fantasies was one of Saint-Simon’s successors, Barthélemy Enfantin. Enfantin broke significantly from the orthodox Saint-Simonian commitment to monogamy (which is discussed in further detail below) by espousing a sort of spiritual project of “rehabilitation of the flesh” through polyamory. After a few years of this, he was imprisoned for offending the public morality, and the Saint-Simonian church never recovered.[xxxi]

Marx & Engels’s Historiography of Gender Oppression

Because the ideology of feminism was so closely identified with utopianism, which Marx and Engels renounced as flaccid and counterproductive, understanding the nature of the transformation within the family they envisioned demands significant exegesis. Where women’s liberation was discussed in detail, Marx and Engels strove to formulate a vision of modern human sexuality and family life that was inherently speculative; yet beyond their resolute demand for the social recognition of women’s personhood, no clear or conclusive model of gender norms and the family emerges from their texts.

The main thrust of their argument in proving that women’s subaltern status is a result of social technologies – as opposed to “nature” – lay in their interpretation of western society’s historical development. Several scholars, J.W. Messerschmidt for instance, have criticized the Marxist texts by claiming that they argued that “gender oppression was the result of class oppression,”[xxxii] whereas in fact the opposite is closer to the truth.[xxxiii] Monogamy constituted private property’s formative historical moment because the family as a social unit needed to be delineated and enclosed before further enclosures – of land and commodities et cetera – could proceed. Monogamy further normalized and promoted the jealous instincts of men. The emergence of bourgeois family values thus normatively enables the expansion of a system of enclosure: the accumulation of property by the husband is not seen as selfish as it would be were he a fully independent actor, but rather as responsible and even benevolent. Whereas societies operated on a matrilineal basis when practicing promiscuity, given that there was often a question of who the father is but never the mother, monogamy enabled the man to enclose the children and his wife, and moreover consolidate his material power over them as his status as breadwinner gradually became entrenched. “The jealous man,” they wrote, “is above all a private property owner.”[xxxiv] The family therefore can be seen as a foundation, expression and microcosm of capitalism. Writes Engels:

Within the family, [the husband] is the bourgeois, and the wife represents the proletariat. In the industrial world, the specific character of the economic oppression burdening the proletariat is visible in all its sharpness only when all special legal privileges of the capitalist class have been abolished and complete legal equality of both classes established. And in the same way, the peculiar character of the supremacy of the husband over the wife in the modern family, the necessity of creating real social equality between them and the way to do it, will only be seen in the clear light of day when both possess legally complete equality of rights. [xxxv]

Thus the struggles of women and the proletarian can scarcely be extricated from one another. To concede slightly to Messerschmidt’s school, it is true that Marx and Engels address gender norms largely in order to build a cogent and holistic paradigm of capitalism’s development, and in this respect one could argue that the scope of the historical materialist project was so ambitious that they simply could not ignore the emergence of the modern family.

While they do not see the existence of modern (post-feudal) society as inherently inimical to gender equality, they view the development of “civilization” (following from “savagery” and “barbarism,”) as having necessarily given rise to a gendered division of labour that expressed itself as the primordial proletarian-bourgeois relationship. In his theses on Feuerbach, Marx states that the “transition from barbarism to civilization, from tribe to state, from locality to nation,”[xxxvi] begins with the advent of the town. Industrial and commercial structures – based within the town – over time seek political supremacy over agricultural ones, thus giving rise to a series of competitions and contradictions that can only be negotiated through the emergent state apparatus and the delegation of various labour tasks.

The division of labour in which all these contradictions are implicit… simultaneously implies the distribution, and indeed the unequal distribution, both quantitative and qualitative, of labour and its products, hence property, the nucleus, the first form of which lies in the family, where wife and children are the slaves of the husband. This latent slavery in the family, though still very crude, is the first form of property…[xxxvii]

At this point in the Marxist historical narrative, the gradual development of labour towards modernity was inherently problematic; the division of labour within the nascent modern family was tantamount to the emergence of capitalist ideology. “Division of labour and private property are, after all, identical expressions,” writes Marx: “in the one the same thing is affirmed with reference to activity as is affirmed in the other with reference to the product of the activity.”[xxxviii]

Where they look to the future, the family remains a fundamental locus of economic morality; the condition of women is “the best measure of humanization.”[xxxix] Just as women’s enslavement had led to a cascade of privatizations and enclosures throughout history, so too would their emancipation spur the “reintegration of man, his return to himself, the supersession of man’s self-alienation.”[xl] The focus by Marx and in particular Engels on sexual liberation and the role of the family within communist society indicates the extent to which their revolutionary project was one of individual self-realization more than an hierarchically enforced political regime. In its most abstract form, it encompassed the consummate victory of a specific ideology that would pervade society, and thus social organization or reorganization would be conducted entirely through the voluntary and non-coercive decision-making processes of individuals.

Marx & Engels on Prefigurative Politics

The Marxist repudiation of utopianism was multifaceted. Utopianism has been an extremely important means by which radical ideologies have been marketed throughout modern history. Marx could rely upon the widely accepted understanding that had emerged from the Enlightenment that men were born equals and could therefore cohabitate as such. That romantic notion was not accepted across the board perhaps, but it had emerged as a powerful thought nonetheless – and partly because such a tremendous plethora of utopian works had been written by this time. It had thus become a fixture of the European popular imagination. From this perspective, Marx captured a relatively privileged position that enabled him to reject the “fantastic pictures of future society,”[xli] painted by so many other radicals, even while his work would likely not have been so well received without the precedent set by the utopianists. His theories likely would have struck Europe’s reading audience as illogical and nonsensical – in much the same way that discussions of women’s equality did in fact strike many as nonsensical. The Marxists’ writings were primarily analytical of course, but there was a narrative underlying that analysis – and that narrative would likely need to have been made more explicit were it not already embedded within the European psyche. Thus, with the exception of a couple short passages, we are left with little to interpret by way of prefigurative discourse. Writes Axel van den Berg, “Marxism seems to have nothing to offer but an utterly cloudy millennium whose credibility can only be sustained, if at all, by postponing its eventual arrival indefinitely.”[xlii]

Beyond the problems of credibility that arise with any form of soothsaying, their aversion to utopian thought was also motivated by their view that utopianism is inherently inimical to the historical materialist conception of history, whereby social change is generated through a “universal intercourse” of individuals.[xliii] In an important jab at the patriarchal structure of the utopian movements, Marx and Engels write that they tend to countervail the democratic complexity of historical change in that they “hold fast by the original views of their masters, in opposition to the progressive historical development of the proletariat.”[xliv] Implicit within this quote is a critique of the totalitarian and patriarchal nature of utopianism. This dictatorial character of utopia was partly supported by the insular nature of the movements led by Fourier, Owen and Cabet,[4] which typically sought to establish their perfect societies through secession from the broader political networks of the day. Rather than contributing to the liberation of the entire working class, they kept their distance from the struggle. As the primary class struggle of capitalism develops, “this fantastic standing apart from the contest… loses all practical value and all theoretical justification.”[xlv]

This naïve approach was largely the result of the inchoate class distinctions of the early nineteenth-century. The Manifesto asserts that the utopianists are even liable to replicate the existing power structures in that they “want to improve the condition of every member of society, even that of the most favoured. Hence, they habitually appeal to society at large, without distinction of class; nay, by preference, to the ruling class.”[xlvi] Engels would later echo the sentiment in his pamphlet Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, where he acknowledges the significance of the “three great Utopians” – Saint-Simon, Fourier, and Owen – in introducing the concept of a classless society but adds, “One thing is common to all three. Not one of them appears as a representative of the interests of the proletariat.”[xlvii] Again, the weakness of their analysis was a product of their transitional moment in history: “To the crude conditions of capitalistic production and the crude class conditions correspond crude theories.”[xlviii]

Yet on the question of the liberation of women and the family, Marx and Engels sometimes employed a rhetoric that was almost inherently utopian. Women were widely assumed to be fundamentally inferior to men by nature, and thus the notion that their reduced status in society may be socially contingent was less self-evident. Therefore the Marxist critique of women’s oppression discursively demanded a view of gender relations that defined itself in more positive terms. Demonstrating the degradation of the present demanded a cogent view of the brilliant possibilities of the future. Here, then, the use of vaguely prefigurative and quasi-utopian rhetoric should be seen merely as an effective rhetorical strategy. Engels’s writing in particular exhibits this tendency. In one of the clearest and perhaps most important passages on this subject, Engels explains why communism would empower women by allowing for divorce rights:

[Communist society] will make the relation between the sexes a purely private relation which concerns only the persons involved, and in which society has no call to interfere. It is able to do this because it abolishes private property, and educates children communally, thus destroying the twin foundation of hitherto existing marriage – the dependence, through private property, of the wife upon the husband and of the children upon the parents.[xlix]

The work of Marx and Engels may, then, be at its most prefigurative and utopian where it addresses the question of gender. Indeed, here in particular we find an uncanny parallel to Owen’s decree, “As all the children of the new world will be trained and educated under the superintendance and care of the Society, the separation of the parents will not produce any change in the condition of the rising generation.”[l] At the same time, it is also true that they became self-consciously wary of such prophesying where they did engage in prefigurative rhetoric. The most important point here, however, is that Engels is suggesting a return of the responsibility of child-rearing to the community, as in pre-civilized ages. He is not advocating for any specific type of sexual dynamic.[li]

Engels echoes the above suggestion again in The Origin,[lii]and Draper indicates that Engels had also intended to include a similar passage in The Communist Manifesto, but that it was quite tellingly excised by Marx.[liii] Thus, these ambiguities within the texts also speak significantly to the differing approaches towards speculation and prefiguration taken by the two men. As Engels acknowledges,[liv] Marx had done more to formulate the historical materialist paradigm, and of the two he was certainly more stringently committed to the theory. For Marx, political prefiguration defeated the basis of the ontology he had developed, which sought to eliminate manipulative political narratives – utopian, religious, or otherwise.[lv]

As several scholars, including David Graeber and Avery Gordon, have pointed out,[lvi] Marx’s aversion to utopian thinking appears to contradict his conception of the intellectual nature of human labour, whereby human will and agency are expressed through a definite conception of the product before it is produced.[lvii] Yet, when understood within their own varied contexts, these passages are not as contradictory as they might seem. Rather, it is clear that it was the cultural formations of these utopian movements that Marx despised more so than the principle of articulating a goal and actively struggling for it. The specific demands listed within The Communist Manifesto are the best example of this. It was precisely the ineffectuality, the “standing apart,” of the utopianists that Marx criticized: for instance the refusal of the Owenites to participate in the Chartist movement and of the Fourierites to engage the Réformistes.[lviii] There is an important distinction to be made between the establishment of clear political goals and the propagandistic promotion of a mythical state of social perfection. Marx embraced the former, and repudiated the latter.

Engels was more of a populist than his partner. Unlike Marx, he never received a formal academic training in philosophy, and was more committed than Marx to reading the socialist press.[lix] He was influenced to a greater extent than Marx by the utopian socialists, Fourier and Owen in particular, and he was thus more willing to engage in quasi-utopian discourse whilst also maintaining a safe analytical distance from what he and Marx viewed as its pitfalls.[lx] Engels’s interest in utopian thinking should thus be seen as deeply linked to the more pointed and expansive analysis of capitalist patriarchy he developed in The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State.

Engels’s work advocated for the establishment of socialist communities on a number of occasions. His essay on the Recently Founded Communist Colonies in America paints an extremely bucolic image of the communities of Rappists, Owenites, and Shakers, who, he writes “enjoy complete community of goods,” and who live with “not a single gendarme or police officer, no judge, lawyer, or soldier, no prison or penitentiary; and yet there is proper order in all their affairs.”[lxi] [5] Engels makes no attempt to address the practices of marriage and sexuality in these communities, however. In fact, he gives a nod to the traditional gender division of labour in one of the Owenite communities where he writes that the housekeeping is done collectively by the women in a manner that “saves a great deal of expense” for everybody. (This points to the rather facile and un-radical nature of utopian feminism in practice, but it also bears noting that gender relations were not the focus of that essay.) Further demonstrating Engels’s inclination toward utopianism: in his tract on The Condition of the Working Class in England, he endorsed the Owenite project of introducing “possession in common in home colonies embracing two to three thousand persons who shall carry on both agriculture and manufacture and enjoy equal rights and equal education.” Again, however, Engels keeps the utopians at arms length, in particular where he criticises the utopians for seeing class hatred as “unfruitful.”[lxii]

Sex and the Family in Post-Revolutionary Society

It is significant that within both Marx and Engels’s writing, gender roles tend to arise in the few places where they attempt to describe the guiding principles of the post-revolutionary society. In his book on Marxism’s relationship to utopianism – which at no point addresses the question of gender – Axel van den Berg points to two particular passages as the most salient instances of Marx’s utopian writing.[lxiii] The first comes from the 1844 Manuscripts, where Marx describes communism as the “definitive resolution of the antagonism between man and nature, and between man and man. It is the true solution of the conflict between existence and essence, between objectification and self-affirmation, between freedom and necessity, between individual and species.”[lxiv] In the other, van den Berg quotes what may be the most famous passage from The German Ideology: “In communist society where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, cowherd, or critic.”[lxv] [6] Beyond these two passages, Van den Berg writes that Marx offers “only the vaguest and most absurdly bucolic” descriptions of post-revolutionary society.[lxvi] What he neglects to mention is the notable fact that both of these short essays by Marx are remarkable not only for their utopian content but also for their direct discussion of gender politics.

In the 1844 Manuscripts (published the same year as Engels’s paean to the communist colonies in America), Marx makes an effort to indicate that his communism is of a decisively higher order than that of Fourier, Saint-Simon, Owen or Cabet, and he does so precisely by claiming that they have fundamentally failed to philosophically overcome this problem of property and coercion. Here, the central objective is to distinguish “communism,” in its purest and most emancipatory form, from the “crude communism” of the utopians which “has well understood the concept, but not the essence.” Here Marx is not laying out an explicit prefigurative approach, but rather interrogating the question as to how humanity might return to its essential and natural state. Within the paradigm of crude communism, the self is not liberated because it remains bound by the ideology of property, albeit managed exclusively by a public institution. The passage is perhaps best read as an admonition against the potentially fascistic strains within communist, and especially utopianist, movements. In such scenarios, the dominion of the public institution “looms so large that it aims to destroy everything which is incapable of being possessed by everyone. … The community is only a community of work and of equality of wages paid out by the communal capital, by the community as universal capitalist.”[lxvii] The worker is not liberated, rather all are equally oppressed by the singular vision of the utopian scheme. Their individual talents and hence identities are erased within the productive schema. Perhaps most importantly, under crude communism, “The relation of private property remains the relation of the community to the world of things.” Hence the corrupting and coercive nature of property has not been overcome.

Marx analogizes this circumstance directly to what he conceives as an inchoate and still fundamentally bourgeois form of sexual liberation under crude communism: “Finally,” he writes,

this tendency to oppose general private property to private property is expressed in an animal form; marriage (which is incontestably a form of exclusive private property) is contrasted with the community of women, in which women become communal and common property. … Just as women are to pass from marriage to universal prostitution, so the whole world of wealth (i.e. the objective being of man) is to pass from the relation of exclusive marriage with the private owner to the relation of universal prostitution with the community. This communism, which negates the personality of man in every sphere, is only the logical expression of private property, which is this negation.[lxviii]

The idea of the community of women originates in Plato’s Republic, in which Socrates proposes a situation of shared spousal and child-rearing arrangements as a means of nation-building and the production of an equality among men. It is far from expressing a sensitivity to the needs and desires of the women themselves;[lxix] nor does it encompass a recognition of the fundamental personhood of women that Marx advocates.[lxx] By implication in this passage, Marx is accusing Fourier’s brand of communism of promoting the community of women; indeed, Fourier’s suggestion that everyone be entitled to a “sexual minimum” did imply an element of social coercion toward sexual activity, and in that sense was highly reminiscent of the community of women.[lxxi]

As in the case of Marx and Engels’s own thoughts on communist gender dynamics, the community of women in itself attests to the difficulty that gender faces in utopia. Proposed sexual norms can easily fall into totalitarian mores on the one hand or threaten too radically to tear apart the family and the structure of child rearing if they are too liberal. Any radical proposal on law or property immediately raises questions for the family structure, thus impelling the utopian intellectual to specify their schema.

The community of women is referenced sporadically throughout European discussions of either gender and utopia throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth century, often referred to as a “filthy sin” and used to tarnish any critic of the marriage covenant.[7] By the time of Marx and Engels, an association between communism and the community of women lingered – a problem that they addressed directly in both the Principles of Communism and the Communist Manifesto, where they asserted that the accusation could be more accurately levelled at their bourgeois contemporaries, who were “not content with having the wives and daughters of their proletarians at their disposal, not to speak of common prostitutes, [and thus] take the greatest pleasure in seducing each other’s wives.” Thus a system in which the material and legal status of women is no longer much lower than that of men would liberate women from their subaltern status in marriage and in prostitution. The bourgeois, they write, “has not even a suspicion that the real point aimed at is to do away with the status of women as mere instruments of production.”[lxxii] As communist ideology was especially vulnerable to this attack then, we see Marx deflecting the accusation towards the lower-order utopian socialists like Fourier and also back at bourgeois capitalist society itself.[8]

Marx’s early intellectual life had been influenced to a great extent by the thinking of Saint-Simon, to which he was introduced by his neighbour and future father in law, Ludwig Westphalen, as a teenager. The Saint-Simonians were highly distinct as an intellectual movement; unlike the movements of Cabet, Fourier, or Owen, the Saint-Simonians predominantly emerged from France’s elite; many of them had in fact attended the École Polytechnique.[lxxiii] As such they were not ones to show much interest in secessionist movements; indeed, they were precisely of the class that had significant influence on national politics in France. Though Saint-Simon is typically lumped in with the other utopian socialists of the early nineteenth century there was in fact no equivalent in his thinking to Fourier’s Phalanstère or Cabet’s Icaria.[lxxiv] On repeated occasions the Saint-Simonians asserted their demands – including for the emancipation of women and the granting of their divorce rights – publicly, as direct recommendations to the state.[lxxv] [9]

Where these demands, coupled with their demands for shared property rights, provoked accusations of “promiscuous intercourse,” the Saint-Simonian collective responded by clarifying their position, which utterly repudiated the community of women idea:

The wife should become the equal of her husband, and be associated with him in the exercise of the triple function of the temple, the State, and the family; so that the “social individual,” which has hitherto been the man alone, may henceforward be composed of man and woman. The Saint-Simonian religion proposes only to terminate the shameful traffic, the legal prostitution, which, under the name of marriage, now so frequently sanctifies a monstrous union between devotion and egotism, education and ignorance, youth and decrepitude.[lxxvi] [10]

Marx of course repudiated this bourgeois view of marriage, and yet Gareth Stedman Jones is not entirely inaccurate where he claims that while Engels was tremendously influenced by the thinking of Fourier and Owen, Marx remained “closer to the Saint-Simonian position.” In particular, the above passage’s endorsement of the married couple as the quintessential social unit seems reminiscent of Marx’s dictum that “The relation of man to woman is the most natural relation of human being to human being.”[lxxvii] This statement does indeed have implications as to how Marx thinks that human sexuality and family life should operate, but it is also relatively unspecific. Some scholars have pointed to this and similar passages in order to make grossly exaggerated claims about the conservatism of Marx’s gender politics. Benenson, for instance, asserts that Marx maintained an “idealization of men’s economic providership,” and that because he was writing to a male-dominated labour movement, he “abandoned the utopians recognition of women’s interest in social transformation and emphasis on changing family arrangements.”[lxxviii] Karin Schönpflug’s thesis on Marx’s gender politics is equally precarious where she claims that Marx “expected women to give up their priorities in order to support men’s class struggle.”[lxxix] Such interpretations make only vague and abstract references to the Marxist texts, and neglect to mention the fact that Marx called repeatedly for the abolition of the family.[lxxx] Any attempts to further specify Marx’s belief system here has only led scholars, including Hal Draper, into even more ambiguous passages within Marx’s personal letters, at which point it becomes difficult to distinguish his broad ideological belief system from his own personal sexuality.[lxxxi]

By contrast to the Saint-Simonian position, Engels considered the institution of monogamy to be the source of prostitution – not its solution. Engels borrowed significantly from Fourier’s thought on prostitution, writing, “Have we not seen that in the modern world monogamy and prostitution are indeed contradictions, but inseparable contradictions, poles of the same state of society?” [lxxxii] Here he quotes Fourier’s witty dictum: “As in grammar two negatives make an affirmative, so in matrimonial morality two prostitutions pass for a virtue.”[lxxxiii]

To further unpack some of the subtle distinctions between the thought of Marx and Engels: Engels also would have perhaps been less inclined to engage the discourse of “the natural.” Indeed, in The Origin he takes specific aim at philosophers who attempt to promote and justify monogamy on naturalistic grounds. In it, he writes that there has been a tremendous unwillingness among the academic or intellectual establishment to acknowledge that at one time humanity (including white people) did practice promiscuity; thus scientists have looked with frustration to the natural world to justify their tenacious attachment to monogamous marriage, finding only a handful of birds and mammals that do indeed practice monogamy. “The only conclusion I can draw from all these facts, so far as man and his primitive conditions of life are concerned, is that they prove nothing whatever,” writes Engels. He adds, “If strict monogamy is the height of all virtue, then the palm must go to the tapeworm, which has a complete set of male and female sexual organs in each of its 50-200 proglottides, and spends its whole life copulating in all its sections with itself.”[lxxxiv]

There should therefore be no specific prescription on sexual practice to emerge from intellectual leaders such as himself; what matters is that the integrity, independence, and personhood of women is realized through the collectivization of traditionally private and domestic labour. In The Origin, he indicates that the independence afforded by communism to each unique individual – to each unique relationship – could be manifested through a circumstance of sexual diversity:

What we can now conjecture about the way in which sexual relations will be ordered after the impending overthrow of capitalist production is mainly of a negative character, limited for the most part to what will disappear. But what will there be new? That will be answered when a new generation has grown up: a generation of men who never in all their lives have had occasion to purchase a woman’s surrender either with money or with any other means of social power, and of women who have never been obliged to surrender to any man out of consideration other than that of real love, or to refrain from giving themselves to their beloved for fear of the economic consequences. Once such people appear, they will not care a rap about what we today think they should do. They will establish their own practice and their own public opinion, comfortable therewith, on the practice of each individual – and that’s the end of it.[lxxxv]

This conclusion, combined with Engels’s earlier assertion that society would have “no call” to impose a single and unitary sexual paradigm upon everyone, is perhaps the most radical element of the gender politics of the Marxist texts. It is also perhaps the clearest statement that is made on the gender politics of the future; the most coherent with their theory of historical materialism; and finally, it is more consistent with the demands of the feminist women than were the formulations of utopian men.

Marxism and the Protective Legislation Debate.

It is unfortunate, given the significant intellectual contribution of Marx and Engels’s writing to the nineteenth-century feminist project, that the communist and feminist movements came to be seen increasingly as divergent and even incompatible. Indeed, while they had been inextricably connected in the era of Owen and Fourier, they drifted apart as they began to articulate their interests very different ways. The following passage by Elizabeth Taylor exemplifies the view taken by several historians of class and the women’s movement in Britain:

The consequences of [the emergence of Marxism] for feminism and feminists are still being felt in socialist organizations today. As the utopian imagination faded, so also did the commitment to a new sexual order. As the older schemes for emancipating ‘all humanity at once’ were displaced by the economic struggles of a single class, so issues central to that earlier dream – marriage, reproduction, family life – were transformed from political questions into ‘merely private’ ones, while women who persisted in pressing such issues were frequently condemned as bourgeois “womens rightsers.” Organized feminism was increasingly viewed not as an essential component of the socialist struggle, but as a dis-unifying, diversionary force, with no inherent connection to the socialist tradition.[lxxxvi]

It would be unfair, however, to blame the schism on Marxist thought alone: men had long been distrustful of women workers, fearing they would drive their own wages down, and their growing trade unions gave them a means by which to formally exclude them. The schism, then, should be ascribed more to chauvinism within the labour movement, not within Marxism.

An important moment in the history of Marxism’s relationship with the women’s movement came in the 1870s; as the suffrage debate was swelling, so too was the debate surrounding protective legislation. The British Parliament passed a series of laws – most notably the 1874 Factory Act – which restricted the number of hours and the types of legislation women could be assigned.[lxxxvii] The male-dominated labour movement tended to favour such legislation for the sake of excluding women from the workplace; bourgeois feminists – including Emma Paterson, the chair of the Women’s Protective and Provident League – tended to oppose it as a contravention of the equal-rights ideology they sought to promote. Interestingly, however, the working-class rank and file within the WPPL were by and large in favour of protective legislation because they needed and wanted more time at home.[lxxxviii] Marx and Engels both made passing references that allowed for protective legislation, but it was not a central issue for them. Landes accuses them of damaging the relationship between the women’s and labour movements through these comments, but only cites some of their most obscure writings: the Appendix to Marx’s Critique of the Gotha Programme and a private letter sent by Engels to a friend in 1885. More importantly, though, she overlooks the class divisions within the women’s movement, and the fact that Marx and Engels were siding to a greater extent with the working class women than their own male counterparts.

This position was held by Marx and Engels largely coming out of their critique of capitalist production, whereby the value of men’s labour is depreciated, and thus the entire family is forced into industrial labour against their will.[lxxxix] Where Engels criticises the bourgeois women opposing protective legislation, (writing that they must be “interested…in the capitalistic exploitation of both sexes,”) he is simply railing against their coercion into factory work against their will. He is fully aware of the absolute necessity that women’s labour, if not identical in nature to that of men must be seen as equivalent in stature in order that they may be socially emancipated.[xc]

This history is significant partly because it is so often pointed to as a moment of decisive rift between the socialist and feminist movements. That may indeed have been the case, given the growth and entrenchment of a male-dominated union movement as well as the ascendancy of a bourgeois feminist movement. But given the large-scale nature of these changes in the movements, the role of Marxist dogma in contributing to this rift should not be overplayed. In fact, Marx encouraged the active participation of women in the International independently of their husbands.[xci]

More importantly, however, this narrative demonstrates a parallel between the stance that Marx and Engels take on protective legislation and their approach to sexuality. We see a return to the central hypothesis of Marx’s of historical materialism, which is that fair negotiations can only take place among partners where the terms of the negotiation are equal. Thus he and Engels decline to advise couples on how their sex lives ought to be managed, and they decline to proclaim that both ought to work an equal number of hours in the factories each day. They simply support the sustenance of a healthy dialectic grounded in material equality. The post-revolutionary society, then, is probably best understood as an abstract space in which fair negotiations can occur.



The imperative character of Marx and Engels work was supported not simply by their writing of the Manifesto but also through their active involvement in the Internationals, and their development of a dialectical theory of history. Hence the prefigurative aspect of Marx and especially Engels’s passages on gender equality should be read as explicit endorsements of the women’s movement, as well as a recapitulation of their political objectives. In another eminently prefigurative passage, Engels writes:

The position of men will be very much altered. But the position of women, of all women, also undergoes significant change. With the transfer of the means of production into common ownership, the single family ceases to be the economic unit of society. Private housekeeping is transformed into a social industry. The care and education of the children becomes a public affair; society looks after all children alike, whether they are legitimate or not. This removes all the anxiety about the “consequences,” which today is the most essential social – moral as well as economic – factor that prevents a girl from giving herself completely to the man she loves. Will not that suffice to bring about the gradual growth of unconstrained sexual intercourse and with it a more tolerant public opinion in regard to a maiden’s honor and a woman’s shame?[xcii]

Thus Marxism incorporated the revolutionary gender politics of the utopian women of the former half of the nineteenth century. The prefigurative character of their writings were often highly necessary both for the demonstration to the mainstream of the viability of women’s emancipation and also for the sake of an explicit expression of support for the demands of the women’s movement. Their writings were only millenarian insofar as the revolution was so often couched as inevitable. Even as it remained a “cloudy millennium,” this is perhaps the weakest dimension of their thought; the narrative of inevitability (where they used it) ultimately served to tamp down the agitative and imperative tone of so much of the early feminist literature.

Still, they are a far cry from the anti-revolutionary utopian socialists themselves, whose millenarian rhetoric demonstrated only a vague understanding of the issues that bourgeois and poor women faced, and who do in some cases even seem to have been motivated largely by their own sexual fantasies. Marx and Engels brought none of that baggage into their theory of gender, and instead incorporated the more revolutionary and imperative politics of the utopian women into the evolving socialist movement.


[1] I use the term millenarian to connote movements that are characterized not necessarily by religious predictions of the Christian millenium, but by any abstract mythologies of social perfection. This millenarian-versus-imperative dimension of socialist rhetoric can be seen as applying to all dimensions of utopian thought during this time period, not simply property and family relations. However, it is true that these dual issues share a unique relationship with one another and play a central role throughout all of the utopian and socialist writing of the modern era.

[2] Though none called for violent upheaval, (Tristan explicitly opposed it,) the fact remains that they staunchly promoted the idea of resistance. Here it also bears noting that neither Marx nor Engels ever cited any of these women to the best of my knowledge.

[3] Plently of other passages also inidicate that marriage cannot become a genuine and happy experience until the material terms of the negotiation amongst the two partners are made equal, but they are not written with the same sort of strident tone as this passage in the Manifesto. In this sense, the proletarian family is seen by Marx and Engels to transcend the monogamy and hetaerism of bourgeois marriage. (Engels, The Origin, 135.)

[4] Cabet was a less intellectually influential utopian socialist than Fourier, Owen or Saint-Simon. His politics on the woman question were also more conservative than theirs, and he never explicitly even endorsed their right to vote. (Christopher H. Johnson, Utopian Communism in France: Cabet and the Icarians, 1839-1851. (Ithica: Cornell University Press, 1974), 90

[5] Marx and Engels both speculate on occasion about the dissolution of the state. Socialism includes one of the most millenarian examples of this, where Engels writes, “As soon as there is no longer any social class to be held in subjection…a State is no longer necessary. … The State is not ‘abolished.’ It dies out.” (Engels, 1936. 76-77) This stands in stark contrast to the imperative demands made of the state in the Communist Manifesto, and thus we see another important contradiction within their prefigurative passages.

[6] Terrell Carver has pointed out that in the case of the passage from The German Ideology, much of it passage was written in Engels’s hand, while Marx appears to have added the final word about criticism potentially as a sly joke. He argues that it therefore should not be treated as entirely earnest, and certainly should not receive the tremendous attention that it has. (Terrell Carver, The Postmodern Marx. (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998.) Likewise, in the case of the other quote, from the 1844 Manuscripts, Richard Marsden suggests that it too should not be treated as credible. He finds it “far too sweeping and romantic” to be taken at face value. (Hoffman, 60)

[7] Indeed, here we can speculate that the socialist feminist women tended to shy away from discussions of utopian sexual reform lest they would have been interpreted as endorsing this system.

[8] Ironically, it was Fourier who first accused bourgeois society of passing women around like this. Thus here Marx and Engels can be seen to have been borrowing another leaf from Fourier’s Theory of the Four Movements. (Fourier, 140)

[9] Marx was also tremendously influenced by Saint-Simon’s emphasis (which was unique among the early socialist thinkers) on the value of industrial labour and of “scientific thought”.

[10] Arthur John Booth notes that this passage was almost certainly written by the more orthodox Saint-Simonian Amand Bazard – not Enfantin, who, following Saint-Simon’s death, attempted to take the school in a direction that was far more millenarian and polyamorous than it had been previously.

[i] Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Women. (London T Fisher Unwin, 1891), 43.

[ii] Elisabeth Taylor, Eve and the New Jerusalem. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993) xvi, and

Joan Landes “Feminism and the Internationals” in Telos Journal. (Fall, 1981), 117-126

[iii] Taylor, Eve. and Carol A. Kolmerten, Women in Utopia: The Ideology of Gender in the American Owenite Communities. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990)

[iv] A.L. Morton. The Life and Ideas of Robert Owen. (New York: International Publishers, 1969), 64

[v] Charles Fourier, The Theory of the Four Movements. ed. Gareth Stedman Jones and Ian Patterson. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 148.

[vi] Morton, The Life, 66.

[vii] Kolmorton, Women, 2.

[viii] Fourier, Theory, 114.

[ix] Ibid, 132.

[x] Hal Draper, “Marx and Engels on Women’s Liberation,” in Karl Marx’s Social and Political Thought, Volume VII, ed. Bob Jessop and Russell Wheatley. (New York: Routledge, 1999)

[xi] Friedrich Engels, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific. (Edinburgh: Riverside Press, 1936), 18.

[xii] Fourier, Theory, 116.

[xiii] Ibid, 124.

[xiv] Engels, Socialism, 12.

[xv] Ibid, 44.

[xvi] Kolmerton, Women, 10.

[xvii] Morton, The Life, 206-207.

[xviii] Ibid, 215.

[xix] Friedrich Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. (New York: International Publishers, 2001), 145.

[xx] Kolmerton, Women, 25.

[xxi] William Thompson and Anna Wheeler. Appeal of One Half the Human Race, Women, Against the Pretensions of the Other Half, Men, To Retain Them in Political and Thence in Civil and Domestic Slavery; In Reply to a Parargraph of Mr. Mill’s Celebrated “Article On Government” 187

[xxii] Ibid, 199

[xxiii] Taylor, Eve, 386-392.

[xxiv] Doris Beik and Paul Harol Beik, eds. Flora Tristan, Utopian Feminist: Her Travel Diaries and Personal Crusade, (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993), 103-123

[xxv] Daniel Little, The Scientific Marx. (Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 1986), 42

[xxvi] Engels, Socialism, 83-86

[xxvii] Draper, Marx, 1970.

[xxviii] Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. The Communist Manifesto. (London: Penguin Classics, 2002), ed. Gareth Stedman Jones, 239.

[xxix] Karin Schönpflug, Feminism, Economics, and Utopia: Time Travelling Through Paradigms. (New York: Routledge, 2008), 102.

[xxx] Draper, Marx, 438.

[xxxi] M.E., Manifesto, 68 ft.

[xxxii] J.W. Messerschmidt, “From Marx to Bonger: Socialist Writings on Women, Gender, and Crime,” in Karl Marx’s Social and Political Thought, Volume VII, ed. Bob Jessop and Russell Wheatley. (New York: Routledge, 1999), 471.

[xxxiii] See, for instance, The German Ideology, 52, and The Origin, 106

[xxxiv] Draper, Marx.

[xxxv] Engels, The Origin, 137.

[xxxvi] Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The German Ideology. (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1976.) 72.

[xxxvii] Ibid, 51-52

[xxxviii] Ibid, 52

[xxxix] M.E., Manifesto, 132.

[xl] Karl Marx, The Portable Karl Marx. ed. Eugene Kamenka. (New York: Viking Penguin Inc. 1983), 149

[xli] M.E., Manifesto, 238

[xlii] Axel van den Berg. The Immanent Utopia: From Marxism on the State to the State of Marxism. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988), 57

[xliii] M.E., German Ideology, 54

[xliv] M.E., Manifesto, 256

[xlv] Ibid, 255

[xlvi] Ibid, 254

[xlvii] Engels, Socialism, 6.

[xlviii] Ibid, 11.

[xlix] Freidrich Engels, “The Principles of Communism,” in The Collected Works of Marx and Engels. (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1975,) vol. 6, 354

[l] Morton, The Life, 214

[li] Engels, The Origin, 137

[lii] Engels, The Origin, 139

[liii] Draper, Marx, 439.

[liv] Engels, Socialism, xiii.

[lv] John Hoffman, John Gray and the Problem of Utopia, (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2008), 58.

[lvi] Avery Gordon, Some Thoughts on the Utopian. 2004. <; and David Graeber, Revolution in Reverse, 2011

[lvii] Karl Marx, Capital. (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1887), 270. accessed online: <; 124.

[lviii] M.E. Manifesto, 256.

[lix] Ibid, 66.

[lx] Engels, Socialism,  6.

[lxi] Freidric Engels, “Descripion of the Recently Founded Communist Colonies.” MECW vol. 4, 216-218

[lxii] Ibid.

[lxiii] Axel van den Berg. The Immanent Utopia: From Marxism on the State to the State of Marxism. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988), 55

[lxiv] Ibid, 54

[lxv] Ibid, 54

[lxvi] Ibid, 53

[lxvii] Marx, The Portable, 147-148

[lxviii] Ibid, 147-148

[lxix] Plato, The Republic. (Millis: Agora Publications, Inc. 2001), 169

[lxx] Marx, The Portable, 149

[lxxi] Joanne Ellen Passet, Sex Radicals and the Quest for Women’s Equality. (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2003), 12

[lxxii] M.E., Manifesto, 240.

[lxxiii] Mark Allison, “Utopian Socialism, Women’s Emancipation, and the Origins of Middlemarch.” In ELH Journal, 78, Fall 2011. John Hopkins University Press, 715-739. 721

[lxxiv] K.M., Manifesto, 68

[lxxv] Arthur John Booth, Saint-Simon and Saint-Simonism: a chapter in the history of socialism in France. (London: Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer, 1871.) vi.

[lxxvi] Ibid, 133

[lxxvii] Marx, The Portable, 149.

[lxxviii] Harold Benenson, “Victorian Sexual Ideology and Marx’s Theory of the Working Class.” in Karl Marx’s Social and Political Thought, Volume VII, ed. Bob Jessop and Russell Wheatley. (New York: Routledge, 1999), 513, 530

[lxxix] Schönpflug, Feminism, 102.

[lxxx] Draper, Marx, 438.

[lxxxi] Ibid, 447.

[lxxxii] Engels, The Origin, 139

[lxxxiii] Ibid, 135.

[lxxxiv] Ibid, 97-98.

[lxxxv] Ibid, 145.

[lxxxvi] Taylor, Eve, xvi.

[lxxxvii] Rosemary Feurer. “The Meaning of ‘Sisterhood’: The British Women’s Movement and Protective Labor Legislation, 1870-1900” in Victorian Studies, 31 (Winter 1988), 236

[lxxxviii] Gerry Holloway, “United we stand: class issues in the early British women’s Trade Union Movement.” In Class and Gender in British Labour History: Renewing the Debate (or Starting It?) ed. Mary Davis.

[lxxxix] Karl Marx, Capital. (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1887), 270. accessed online: <;

[xc] Engels, The Origin, 137

[xci] Draper, Marx, 449.

[xcii] Engels, The Origin, 139.

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