Communism, gender mutability, spending infinite amounts of money, freeing all the criminals and abolishing the family.
There’s no idea so discredited that the Left won’t hit the pause button and revive it again a generation later.
Remember In Defense of Looting, a book whose title summed up its idea?
It was the work of Willie ‘Vicky’ Osterweil, who changed his gender, and married Sophie Lewis, a British lesbian feminist who has two degrees from Oxford, had translated “Communism for Kids”, and had her own book “Full Surrogacy Now: Feminism Against Family”, which attacked the existence of the family
A splashy Vice profile mentions that at their wedding, instead of vows, the happy couple gave speeches disavowing the institution of marriage and the biological family.
And then they headed to Boston where Willie’s mother wanted a more traditional wedding.
You can disavow the institution of marriage, but you’re still going to get married. And you can write a book attacking the existence of the biological family, but when your ‘wusband’s mommy wants a traditional wedding she can invite her friends to, you drop the nonsense and go.
Sophie is back now with a New Statesman piece promoting more family abolition. For other people anyway. The British leftist article is an unintentional illustration of the staying power of stupid, bad ideas on the Left. It hilariously begins with Charles Fourier.
For the 19th-century silk merchant and socialist philosopher Charles Fourier, utopia was the kitchenless house. Men and women would live collectively, cooking instead in open common kitchens and free canteens, serving up marmalades and pastries and lemonades in abundance. The Fourierist communities that arose in the mid-19th century US built their homes just as he imagined. Their communal life would relieve women – in the words of the radical feminist and utopian architect Alice Constance Austin – of “the thankless and unending drudgery of…
Wait, wait. Fourier?
Fourier’s communes collapsed after everyone melted down. The USSR in its early years experimented with “kitchen abolition” to better control people. It was a dystopian misery.
And Fourier’s feminism extended to promoting a corps of women assigned to prostitution duty.
Also, he claimed that human beings would grow to 7 feet tall and develop tails.
But feminism often didn’t have very much to do with women. The term was coined by the mad French socialist Charles Fourier who also believed that women should have four husbands and that human beings would grow to be seven feet tall and develop tails. More seriously, he envisioned the end of the family and collectivist living that influenced the nightmarish socialist utopias that used him as a model.
As one critic noted, Fourier envisioned abolishing marriage and using women for “sexual services” that would be “bought by society as a whole to further industrial or general economic productivity”. It’s easy to mock Fourier’s deranged ideas, but his central premise of replacing marriage and the family with a collectivist system is still at the heart of modern feminism.
Fourier was also quite antisemitic, but that’s more of a selling point for leftists.
Anyway, back to abolishing the family.
Lewis is clear-eyed and witty about the inevitable knee-jerk reaction to calls for family abolition. (“So! The left is trying to take grandma away, now, and confiscate the kids, and this is supposed to be progressive?) And it’s true that family abolition, like other abolitionist movements, presents certain discomforts. Maybe you love your family! Or maybe you just like cooking in your own kitchen. Lewis acknowledges these discomforts, and asks us to imagine beyond them
We can imagine beyond to Lewis’ own arrangement of being a lesbian married to a man who claims to be a woman. I’m not sure how this is an improved version of the family.
In her 1977 book of poetry Marxism for Infants, Denise Riley writes: “today it is all grandiose domestic visions truly,/in St Petersburg now Leningrad we have communal kitchens/the cooking is dreadful but we get to meet our friends”.
This is so bad that it’s almost intentionally subversive.
By 1977, the communal kitchen was all but dead in the USSR. When it existed, it was sheer misery with rampant theft, abuses and violent fights breaking out.
The product of Oxford, a writer in residence at the Tate Gallery, she lives somewhere in London, I suspect, a million miles away from the Soviet communal kitchen. I doubt she has a communal kitchen for that matter. I doubt that Willie/Vicky and Sophie do either.
The Left loves reviving terrible ideas, but doesn’t want to live under them. Soviet elites didn’t live with communal kitchens. Neither will our elites. But they want to take everything away from us even as they give themselves everything. The only things they ever really abolish is our lives.