Family, History, Women, Empiricism, and Related Matters: A foretaste of things to come, was re: Mark Jones: ...conjuncture]

Carrol Cox cbcox at
Wed Dec 1 10:54:12 MST 1999

Abu Nasr wrote:

> I think Nestor and Mark have both made valuable contributions to this line of
> discussion of the "nuclear" family supposedly being western and the extended
> family being third world.  That's not altogether a realistic dichotomy.

There has been a long and exhausting set of threads on this and related
topics on lbo and I don't want to plunge into it at once. But it is, I believe,
properly defined, one of the two or three, perhaps the *one*, most
important topic for anyone hoping to create a communist movement in
the United States. (I say nothing of other countries.) I will content myself
for now with the following preliminary observation.

It would be a mistake I believe to discuss the history of the family and
the nature of sex/gender in terms of contrasts in the world today. It is
the past (and in particular the *very* distant past) that may be relevant.
The question is not in the first instance what capitalism (or any other
particular mode of production) has done to the family, or what particular
variations there are in family structure in different parts of the world
today, but whether family structures are historically generated. Mark
comes perilously close in his observations to making the family an
eternal form, of taking it out of history and thereby making it


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