Lenin's gOwn Wordsh
(Part Two: On the Issues of Sex, Women, Youth, Education, and Morality)
4. Sex and Love
Absorption in the Problem of Sex
gThe mention of Freudfs hypothesis is designed to give the pamphlet a
scientific veneer, but it is so much bungling by an amateur. Freudfs theory
has now become a fad. I mistrust sex theories expounded in articles, treatises,
pamphlets, etc. -- in short, the theories dealt with in that specific literature
which sprouts so luxuriantly on the dung heap of bourgeois society. I mistrust
those who are always absorbed in the sex problems, the way an Indian saint
is absorbed in the contemplation of his navel. It seems to me that this
superabundance of sex theories, which for the most part are mere hypotheses,
and often quite arbitrary ones, stems from a personal need. It springs
from the desire to justify onefs own abnormal or excessive sex life before
bourgeois morality and to plead for tolerance towards oneself. This veiled
respect for bourgeois morality is as repugnant to me as rooting about in
all that bears on sex. No matter how rebellious and revolutionary it may
be made to appear, it is in the final analysis thoroughly bourgeois.h
(Clara Zetkin, Reminiscences of Lenin, p. 101)
Lenin was not interested in the approach of the method whereby Freudfs
gtheoryh was used to explain everything, as well as grooting about in
all that bears on sex.h This was based simply on a hypothesis -- and moreover
a nonsensical one. Lenin ridiculed people gwho are always absorbed in
the sex problemsh and the gsuperabundance of sex theories.h
In bourgeois society the question of sex is one-dimensionally exaggerated
in the name of gsexual liberation,h meaning that instead of sex being
dealt with in a truly healthy manner, it becomes increasingly mystified
and aggrandized, and what is worse, by sex being turned into a business
and treated vulgarly, this especially distorts and eats away at the healthy
spirit of youth, turning it into something abnormal and lopsided -- and
this is something that we can see occurring every day. Lenin recognized
that a one-dimensional exaggeration of sex in this distorted form is connected
to the rule of the bourgeoisie and serves the interests of bourgeois society.
Therefore, Lenin took an attitude of extreme cautious towards attempts
to place the psychological concern with sex at the center of things.
gYou must be aware of the famous theory that in communist society the
satisfaction of sexual desire, of love, will be as simple and unimportant
as drinking a glass of water. The glass of water theory has made our young
people mad, quite madcI think this glass of water theory is completely
un-Marxist, and moreover, anti-social. In sexual life there is not only
simple nature to be considered, but also cultural characteristics, whether
they are of a high or low ordercOf course, thirst must be satisfied. But
will the normal man in normal circumstances lie down in the gutter and
drink out of a puddle, or out of a glass with a rim greasy from many lips?
But the social aspect is the most important of all. Drinking water is of
course an individual affair. But in love two lives are concerned, and a
third, a new life, arises. It is that which gives it its social interest,
which gives rise to a duty towards the community.h (Clara Zetkin, Reminiscences of Lenin, p. 49)
In periods of turmoil, it is easy for sexual relations to be overturned.
The French Revolution is a classic example of this. During the 1917 Russian
Revolution, and the subsequent civil war, the past order, authority, and
morality were completely rejected, collapsed, and were overturned, and
a new order and morality emerged. In such an age, it was inevitable that
sexual relations among young people would also be very confused and tend
towards being impulsive.
A gcommunisth theory that encouraged this also emerged, and the gglass-of-water
theoryh criticized here is one example. There was much talk at the time
of a new sexual lifestyle, and Kollontaifs history of women sang the praises
of absolute free love.
Lenin opposed this tendency, and sought gself-control and self-disciplineh
even in affairs of love, warning that gdissoluteness in sexual life is
bourgeois [and] a phenomenon of decayh and that this should not be imitated.
He asked how this gglass-of-water theoryh was any different from bourgeois
Lenin, in particular, pointed out that the gglass-of-water theoryh completely
ignored the social aspect of love. Certainly the drinking of a cup of water
is merely an individual thing. But love, although seen as something gprivate,h
in fact has another aspect. Love is first of all a relationship and connection
between two people. Therefore, it is already a social relation. Moreover,
through the connection of two people, a gthird new lifeh can be born.
Seen from the perspective of humanity, the birth of a child through the
relationship between a man and a woman is of decisive social importance.
Thus, the social significance of love must be noted, rather than viewing
it as purely individual problem. Young people tend to view this as a purely
individual problem, and there is no lack of theories that appeal to this
tendency. However, according to Lenin this is a mistake and he says that,
gas a communist I have not the least sympathy for the glass of water theory,
although it bears the fine title esatisfaction of love.fh
On gFree Loveh
gI feel bound to make one point right away. I suggest you delete altogether
paragraph 3 dealing with ethe demand (on the part of women) for free love.f
This is, in fact, a bourgeois, not a proletarian demand. What do you really
mean by it?h (Jan. 17, 1915 letter to Inessa Armand, Collected Works vol. 34)
This is one part of Leninfs reply to Inessa Armandfs plan to publish
a pamphlet for women workers. Lenin says that the section on womenfsf
gdemand for free loveh should be eliminated because it is a gbourgeois,
not a proletarian demand.h In other words, gwhat matters is the objective
logic of class relations in affairs of love,h not subjective hopes.
Does the term gfree loveh really express the interests of the proletarian
in gfreedom from material (financial) considerations in love,h and freedom
gfrom material caresh? The answer is no. What, then, does this term express?
Lenin points out that gin modern society the most talkative and noisy
etop strataf mean by efree lovefh such things as gfreedom from earnestness
in love,h gfreedom from childbirth,h and gfreedom to commit adultery.h
Therefore, he finds the slogan of gfree loveh to be a demand of bourgeois
Pure and Impure Kisses
gEven fleeting passion, a passion liaisonh is emore poetic and puref
than the eloveless kissesf exchanged as a matter of habit between husband
and wife. That is what you write. And you propose writing this in your
pamphlet. Excellent. Is this counterposing logical? Loveless kisses
which a husband and wife exchange as a matter of habit are impure. Agreed.
What do you want to make the contrary? A loving kiss, it would appear.
No. You make the contrary a epassingf (why passing?) epassionf (why
not love?). It follows logically that these loveless kisses (since they
are passing) are the contrary of loveless kisses exchanged between husband
and wife... strange!h (Jan. 24, 1915 letter to Inessa Armand, Collected Works vol. 34)
Inessa Armand raised the idea of gfree love,h or geven a short-lived
passion and love affair,h in opposition to a vulgar, loveless marriage.
But Lenin found this a strange opposition. He felt that a loveless connection
between a man and a woman should be contrasted instead with a loving relationship.
And so Armand was being inconsistent by contrasting a loveless relationship
with another unloving relationship of fleeting passion. For this reason,
Lenin gave her the following advice: gWould it not be better in a popular
pamphlet to contrast the petty-bourgeois, intellectual or peasant vulgar
and dirty marriage without love to the proletarian civic marriage with
love (and add, if you must have it in, that a short-lived passionate affair
can be pure and can be dirty).h (Ibid.)
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