[Marxism] Socialism, women, violence and crime - few notes

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at tomaatnet.nl
Sat Mar 27 12:48:54 MST 2004

Marx scribbled in his 1844 Paris Manuscripts that "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

The aggregate number of violent crimes against women in the
world appears to increasing, but in some countries they are decreasing, and
others increasing disproportionately. The difficulty however is that a very
significant proportion of violent crimes against women are unreported,
i.e. there is underreporting, hence there is no good statistical proof
for the purpose of international comparisons. .

The formation of a world market for industrial goods had the
effect of causing upheavals in the existing social structures leading to a
continual series of violent wars, in fact there is almost no year in the
20th century when there were no violent wars going on somewhere on the
planet. This is actually the most important reason why imperialism (the
economic, political-military and cultural domination of one nation or people
by another, within a framework of international competition) is such a
terrible thing. The more violent wars, the more violence against women.

I would say that, to the extent that particular categories of violent crime
against women have decreased in the richer industrialised countries, this is
due primarily to (1) the fact that more women have an independent source of
money income, which has strengthened their position overall and (2) stronger
cultural sanctions and changing sexual habits. Even so, it is generally
accepted that overall world crime rates are now between two to three times
as high as they were in the 1960s.

Two basic sources for international comparisons are: UN World Crime Surveys
and UN WHO mortality statistics. In general, you can say that:

(1) if GDP per capita rises, the overall incidence of crime goes down and
if GDP per capita shrinks, the overall incidence of crime goes up;

(2) if income inequality between social classes and between nations
increases, overall crime incidence also burgeons, and if income inequality
between social classes and nations declines, overall crime incidence also

(3) If the hard drugs trade increases, violent crime goes up; and when the
hard drugs trade decreases, violent crime falls.

(4) The incidence of robberies does not really seem to be affected very
significantly by the amount of police or by the scope of the drugs trade.

(5) If ethnic and linguistic fractionalisation increases, the overall crime
rate rises, and if ethnic and linguistic fractionalisation is reduced,
the overall crime rate decreases.

(6) Even although the biggest part of all crime, including violent crime, is
perpetrated by young men, the total demographic structure of a country
doesn't appear to have a very significant effect on the overall crime rate.

(7) Fear of violent crime is more frequently expressed by women, even if in
reality, the risk of assault has decreased, and thus, women's fear is often
exploited by the "law and order" lobby to regiment the working class.
Conversely however, if women are not afraid anymore, this doesn't
necessarily lower crime.

On violence against women in the USA, see

I think the problem of crime provides the very strongest case for socialism,
because the incidence of crime happens to be the most basic and the simplest
indicator we have of immoral behaviour. Quite simply, a more egalitarian
society is a more morally healthy, civilised society, and in part, this is
purely attributable to higher economic growth rates in a more egalitarian

One observable historical  effect of capitalist "deregulation" or
"liberalisation" (removing restrictions to capital mobility) is an increase
in the overall crime rate. The bourgeois classes respond to this by
increasing the number of police and military, but while this has a positive
effect in reducing some categories of crime, it has no significant effect on
the overall crime rate.
Because the old bourgeois classes have a specific ethos of individualism,
they tend to view "society" as an "externality" and hence cannot recognise
the relationship between individual dismeanour and aggregate social trends,
and recipes for social change are mainly limited to trying to change social
values. This is a largely idealist philosophy, because social values are
disconnected from the objective conditions which create and shape social
values in the first place. Hence, the traditional bourgeois answer to crime
is just containment and limitation.


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