Cathy Porter on Alexandra Kollontai
Personally Kollontai experienced severe isolation. She was isolated from her class as an aristocrat who was a Marxist. And she was isolated from her sex because she was one of a very small number of intellectual women in the Bolshevik underground.
In exile after the defeat of the 1905 revolution she wrote about how social relations changed in revolution—and how Marxists had to bring these issues into an analysis of class relations.
She was utopian about morality and believed a new self-sufficient and independent woman could be born of class struggle. She had read Frederick Engels, Karl Marx and August Bebel. But she wanted to go further to write about a new sexual morality.
She talked about free love and free unions—and showed how the working class was already freeing itself from the shackles of bourgeois marriage.
Change was only going to be possible if women received support from the state for the responsibilities of motherhood and other domestic functions.
When Kollontai’s work was reprinted after the 1917 revolution it had a new resonance and became concrete. It formed the basis of her work as the only woman member of the Bolshevik government after the revolution.
Reading Kollontai today, her writings seem timeless and modern.
Full article here for more on Kollontai see here and this is Kollontai on International Women's Day