A comment on sexuality

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at tomaatnet.nl
Fri Jul 25 08:54:42 MDT 2003


> Hi, Juriaan!
>
> A short comment on sexuality and Marx.  The Old Man wrote a few lines on
> this issue, somewhere in the Grundrisse or in the Philosophical
Manuscripts
> of 1844.  I don´t remember the exact quote, but the idea was that sexual
> activity was the only one where human beings behaved both as social and
> animal beings in the full and (dialectically) synthetic sense of the word.
> How could sexuality under capitalism be noble through joy, when the whole
> fabric of the society tears people away not just from their animality but
> also from their social selves by means of commodity exchange and its
> fetishism? Not even "complete humans", much less "complete social/natural
> beings".  Maybe there is a line of analysis there
>
>
> Lic. Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
> I N D E C

The passage to which you refer is the following evolutionary statement in
the 1844 Paris Manuscripts:

"In the relationship with woman, as the prey and handmaid of communal lust,
is expressed the infinite degradation in which man exists for himself -- for
the secret of this relationship has its unambiguous, decisive, open and
revealed expression in the relationship of man to woman and in the manner in
which the direct, natural species- relationship is conceived. The immediate,
natural, necessary relation of human being to human being is the
relationship of man to woman. In this natural species-relationship, the
relation of man to nature is immediately his relation to man, just as his
relation to man is immediately his relation to nature, his own natural
condition. Therefore, this relationship reveals in a sensuous form, reduced
to an observable fact, the extent to which the human essence has become
nature for man or nature has become the human essence for man. It is
possible to judge from this relationship the entire level of development of
mankind. It follows from the character of this relationship of this
relationship how far man as a species-being, as man, has become himself and
grasped himself; the relation of man to woman is the most natural relation
of human being to human being. It therefore demonstrates the extent to which
man's natural behavior has become human or the extent to which his human
essence has become a natural essence for him, the extent to which his human
nature has become nature for him. This relationship also demonstrates the
extent to which man's needs have become human needs, hence the extent to
which the other, as a human being, has become a need for him, the extent to
which in his most individual existence he is at the same time a communal
being."

Of interest also is the following passage from the same source:

Just as women are to go from marriage into general prostitution, so the
whole world of wealth -- i.e., the objective essence of man -- is to make
the transition from the relation of exclusive marriage with the private
owner to the relation of universal prostitution with the community. This
[petit-bourgeois, pseudo-] communism, inasmuch as it negates the personality
of man in every sphere, is simply the logical expression of the private
property which is this negation. Universal envy constituting itself as a
power is the hidden form in which greed reasserts itself and satisfies
itself, but in another way. The thoughts of every piece of private property
as such are at least turned against richer private property in the form of
envy and the desire to level everything down; hence these feelings in fact
constitute the essence of competition. The crude communist is merely the
culmination of this envy and desire to level down on the basis of a
preconceived minimum. It has a definite, limited measure. How little this
[primitive attempt at] abolition of private property is a true
appropriation, is shown by the abstract negation of the entire world of
culture and civilization, and the return to the unnatural simplicity of the
poor, unrefined man who has no needs and who has not yet even reached the
stage of private property, let along gone beyond it.

You ask:

How could sexuality under capitalism be noble through joy, when the whole
> fabric of the society tears people away not just from their animality but
> also from their social selves by means of commodity exchange and its
> fetishism? Not even "complete humans", much less "complete social/natural
> beings".  Maybe there is a line of analysis there

Reply:

Of course "sexuality under capitalism can be noble through joy", why not ?
One is quite able to revolt against bourgeois sexuality and experience sex
as it should be, if one can see through the web of social relations which
seek to covert sexuality into an exploitable commodity, an object of
negotiations, property relations, haggling and trade, the production of
which is to be stage-managed by the bourgeois.  I do not think "the whole
fabric of the society tears people away not just from their animality but
from their social selves", to the contrary, modern capitalist culture
emphasizes animality and exerts incessant pressure to be "social". The
problem is rather that this animality and sociality is savagely exploited,
and attempts are made to control and manage it to the very last detail, such
that the sexual freedom promised in commercials is, in practice, totally
fake, and people are left fantasising about having sexual experiences from
which they are shut out. I think a lot of sexual progress has been made in
the last quarter century, but this progress goes hand in hand with decadent
trends, and the growth of brutal forms of prostitution, where all further
sentimentality is stripped away by the cash nexus and relationship of force.

Feminist drivel about prostitution has its source in the feminist
incomprehension of male sexuality, and the alienation of male sexuality, the
sexual harrassment of men by other men, and by women. Bourgeois drivel about
prostitution has its source in the desire to prove manhood by "protecting
women", as if they needed protection other than with condoms, and as if they
are innocents who don't know what they are doing - as if prostitutes are una
ware of raw lust, male gullibility and its cash-earning potential. The
discussion about prostitution is totally unbalanced, if it does not refer to
the sexual alienation of men and its causes, if it does not relate
prostitution to the social effects of capitalist development, and if it does
not wish to address sexual revolts against hypocritical bourgeois morality
for the sake of "decency".

Regards

Jurriaan









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