[Marxism] Anarchism and The Sanctity of Marriage debate

eugene plawiuk eugene at union.org.za
Tue Nov 16 08:15:31 MST 2004

What's Love got to do with it? 
Anarchism and The Sanctity of Marriage debate 

©Eugene Plawiuk---September 2004
eugene at union.org.za

?The popular notion about marriage and love is that they
synonymous, that they spring from the same motives, and
cover the 
same human needs. Like most popular notions this also rests
not on 
actual facts, but on superstition.? 
Emma Goldman, Marriage and Love 
The hue and cry that has been raised by patriarchal
monotheists over 
Gay Marriage belies the real truth about marriage. A
veritable united 
front of Christians (all 57 varieties), Jews, Moslems and
sects such 
as Mormons, have been denouncing the Canadian Supreme Court
that declared Provincial marriage acts as discriminatory,
because the 
existing law did not provide for homosexual couples, only 
heterosexual couples. 

The vast right wing media monopoly in Canada has joined in
the government for attempting to change the law in Canada
recognize Gay Marriage. The federal Conservative Party and
provincial counterpart; the Alberta Government, have
declared their 
opposition to gay marriage. 

And what is this common cause between the Church and State
opposing Gay Marriage, ah well there's the rub. It's all
the "Sanctity" of Marriage, a sacred act between a man and
a woman, 
declared so by some holy book or other. And if this piece
historical revisionism wasn't enough to convince you, then
opponents of Gay Marriage declare that marriage is all
about the 
family, having children, the family as you know is the very
basis of 
society, or at least the health of the State. 

As a wise woman once said; "the truth shall set you free",
and the 
truth is Marriage is about property and chattel slavery,
supposed sacredness is the cloth of oppression that
obscures this 
horrible truth. 

Yes I did say chattel slavery, for Marriage began before
the advent 
of the Jewish, Christian or Islamic faith. Marriage was the
law of the Greek and Roman Empires, it allowed men to own
children and slaves as possessions, including taking
possession of 
their names and their property. The family was key to the
of both the Greek and Roman states. The family is the
state, as much 
as it is community and society. The formal family is
defined by law, 
laws being needed to legitimate 'property relations', as
opposed to 
moral customs which define and legitimate interpersonal

The current hue and cry about marriage is a defense of an
founded on slavery and reformed in the 19th Century into
what we know 
today as the nuclear family; dad, mom and the kids. 

?The modern family contains in germ not only slavery
(servitus), but 
also serfdom, since from the beginning it is related to
services. It contains in miniature all the contradictions,
later extend throughout society and its state. 
Such a form of family shows the transition of the pairing
family to 
monogamy. In order to make certain of the wife's fidelity
therefore of the paternity of the children, she is
delivered over 
unconditionally into the power of the husband; if he kills
her, he is 
only exercising his rights. ?
Karl Marx 

>From ancient times, and in other cultures and societies,
the family 
was communal, in fact it was the village, hence the axiom
"it takes a 
village to raise a child". This is still true today in many

aboriginal cultures. The customs of marriage, rather than
its legal 
existence, vary through time and space of human history.
There is NO 
one form of marriage. 

For anarchists we believe that love should be the condition
companionship, and that love is free, not subject to state
or church 
recognition. In fact it is the recognition of common law,
or custom 
versus legal sanction. This is known as Free Love. 

Free Love was the harbinger of feminism in the 19th and
early 20th 
Century, its advocates were feminist socialists like
Woodhull, Stella Browne, Emma Goldman, and Alexandra

It was the bane of church and middle class morality of its
day. Today 
with the liberalization of social relations, the acceptance
of no 
fault divorce and common law relations and even birth
control, we 
forget that these were the social outrages of a mere 40
years ago, 
and the social improprieties and moral turpitude of the
past century. 
The social outrage of editorialists, church leaders and
was heaped on the advocates of Free Love. Today it is this
outrage that vents against Gay Marriage. 

Contrary to the assertions of the radical right, and the 
fundamentalist religious types of all patriarchal
denominations, we 
as libertarian socialists, need to reaffirm the principles
of Free 
Marriage is NOT sacred, it is a property relationship that 
oppresses women. All relations should be civil unions
consenting adults, not a special relationship recognized by
Church and State. 

?That the abolition of individual economy is inseparable
from the 
abolition of the family is self-evident. ?
Karl Marx, The German Ideology 

Marriage is a property relationship, and we have yet to
hear the 
Canadian left criticize the statements coming out that make
somehow a sacred ancient institution of the church-state.
Have we 
failed to read our Marx, Engels or Emma Goldman? 

?Religion, especially the Christian religion, has condemned
woman to 
the life of an inferior, a slave. It has thwarted her
nature and 
fettered her soul, yet the Christian religion has no
supporter, none more devout, than woman. Indeed, it is safe
to say 
that religion would have long ceased to be a factor in the
lives of 
the people, if it were not for the support it receives from
The most ardent churchworkers, the most tireless
missionaries the 
world over, are women, always sacrificing on the altar of
the gods 
that have chained her spirit and enslaved her body. ?
Emma Goldman, Woman Suffrage 

We do not support church state sanctioned Marriage and do
not believe 
that gay marriage is any less oppressive than straight
marriage as 
radicals we advocate free love relations, relations freely
into by people under common law. 

That being said it is clear that the state can't have it
both ways it 
can't have civil unions for some and marriage for others.
Does this 
mean we support the institution of church/state marriage?
Not at all, 
free love unions should be seen as civil/common law
relations, with 
full benefits that heterosexual couples have. It has taken
many years 
for the Canadian State to recognize common law relations
heterosexuals and then only for the taxes it brings in. 

All marriage relations are property relations, even common
law, and 
are recognized as such based on the necessity of taxation
by the 
state. Where they are religious, they condemn women to the 
continuation of oppression by patriarchal men. There is no
in such institutional slavery. 

Pierre Elliot Trudeau said that the State had no place in
bedrooms of the nation. He legalized sexual relations
consenting adult's even gay and lesbian relations, back in
1968. This 
was done before the Stonewall riots! The fact is that the
liberal social democratic state and its Supreme Court,
having ruled 
in favour of women's privacy regarding abortion, would
recognize the significance of the Trudeau law as paving the
way for 
gay marriage in Canada. 

The provincial Supreme Courts in Canada have taken the
position that 
the state cannot define marriage as limited to only
couples it has secularized marriage to mean any two people.
This does 
not change the relationship from its bourgeois form it
merely expands 
the private property relationship engendered in bourgeois
marriage to 
now include gay and lesbian couples. 
?The inequalities of property among the individual heads of
break up the old communal household communities wherever
they had 
still managed to survive, and with them the common
cultivation of the 
soil by and for these communities. The cultivated land is
for use to single families, at first temporarily, later
The transition to full private property is gradually
parallel with the transition of the pairing marriage into
The single family is becoming the economic unit of society.
Fredrick Engels, 
The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State 
Should the Court in Canada and the US allow for Gay
Absolutely as it recognizes this as a common right anything
would be discrimination and an injustice. As long as the
state denies 
some of its citizens the benefits of marriage as a
institution, then it is discrimination. 

But free love unions are common law in that the church or
state does 
not sanctify them. Free love common law relations are
freely entered 
into by lovers/comrades/companieros and are not formally
by the state, though after a period of time the Canadian
state and 
its tax department will recognize those relations if they

We must continue to oppose marriage as an institutional
form of 
oppression, instead we must promote the free association of
Down with all forms of patriarchal marriage! Anarchie


?Conservatives are not in the least mistaken when they
speak in 
general terms of Revolutionists as enemies of religion, the
and property. Yes; Socialists do reject the authority of
dogma and 
the intervention of the supernatural in nature, and, in
this sense 
however earnest their striving for the realization of their
they are the enemies of religion. Yes; they do desire the
of the marriage market; they desire that unions should be
depending only on mutual affection and respect for self and
for the 
dignity of others, and, in this sense, however loving and
devoted to 
those whose lives are associated with theirs, they are
certainly the 
enemies of the legal family. Yes; they do desire to put an
end to the 
monopoly of land and capital, and to restore them to all,
and, in 
this sense, however glad they may be to secure to every one
enjoyment of the fruits of the earth, they are the enemies
property. ?
Elisee Reclus 

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