Autobiography .of.,an Emancipated Woman The Autobiography of a Sexually Emancipated munist Woman, by Alexandra Kollontai, Herder Herder, N.Y. 1971.
‘leading.force’ of her life and activity. It is an account of the long, arduous and lonely struggle of Alexandra Kollontai, fighting prejudice within her party to get the question of woman’s rights included as one of its aims. She passive resistance, little understanding, says, “much even less interest for this aim, over and over again, lay as an obstacle in the path.” She wanted to give woman a ‘place of honour in human society; not according to her femininity but according to her worth as a human being.’ Kollontii saw that this could not take place by means of I the bourgeois-minded suffragette movement that already existed in Russia. She says.. .“my Marxist outlook pointed out to me with an illuminating clarity that women’s liberation could take place only as a result of the victory of a new social order and a different economic system”. It was not until 1914 that Kollontai saw results for her work; both factions of the Communist Party started to deal with the question in a serious way. She saw this as ‘almost tantamount to a personal commendation.’ , Whether this was so is very suspect. Kollontai was one of the most hated and ostracized members of the Communist Party. She was branded as a ‘mad female Bolshevik’ by the press, as a syndicali,st and a free love advocate by members of her own party. At one point ,Lenin referred td l%r moral beliefs gs ‘anti-Marxist and anti-social.’ Kollontai made practically no mention of this in her autobiography. She passed all criticisms off by saying, “I did not worry at all of the hatred around me and, of course there was also a great number of enthusiastic friends....who were utterly devoted to me.” Kollontai was accused of supporting the glass-of-water theory of sex (when one is thirsty, one drinks) so vehemently opposed by Lenin. ‘Free-love’ became identified with the name of Alexandra Kollontai, which she supposedly supported in her book “‘Love of Three Generations”. All of the attacks (some of them were physical! > and.criticisms stemmed from her championing of women’s rights in the new Soviet St&e. She proposed a new proletarian morality and the overthrow of the old capitalist view of sexual behavior. She wanted the new Soviet woman to have full freedom -in a new kind of
Kollontai’s autobioiraphy serves only as an appetizer. It is a short 48 page account, written in a very tense, restricted,style, of her life’as a revolutionary. The reader is left with a thirst to know more about the personal life of this intriguing feminist. Kollontai began writing with the premise that, in an autobiography, one must forget that ‘one is writing about oneself’ and must write only about the events in life that ‘are most useful to the general public’. This is disappointing, especially to the present day women’s liberationist; Kollontai left out most of the references to her own personal struggle as a woman trying to free herself from the bonds of the old morality. The personal and social problems regarding sexuality are the most difficult ones facing revolutionary women today and the ones that cause the most confusion in countries where women are striving to be liberated. Perhaps Kollontai could have offered more’ insight into the problem by writing of her own struggles on a more personal level. The book does give us a sketchy ,account of the development of the Communist Party from the stage of a vanguard to that of a highly bureaucratized oppressive party. We get glimpses of in-party quarrels and problems of policy in dealing with the drastic changes taking place in Russia in the first quarter of the 20th century. The second part of the book is Kollontai’s essay describing the ‘new woman’, the ideal she consciously tried to live up to in her daily life. In this section she writes in an optimistic flowing style. Her ideas about the ‘new woman’ comprise one of the most relevant aspects of the book. Her hopes for the new woman can be summarized in this statement, “..before us no longer stands the ‘wifie’, the shadow of the husband-before us stands the personality, the woman as human being .” There does seem to be a theme running throughout the autobiography and that is Kollontai’s struggle for the liberation of the working class woman. She saw this as the
Paul krassner How a Satirical Ten Easy Years,
Editor Became a Yippie Conspirator in by Paul Krassner, G.P.Putnams, 319 pgs.
The Penguin Book of Comics, by George Aldrige, Penguin, 272 very large pgs.
Since it has become culturally unacceptable to subscribe to Reader’s Digest, one of the most frustrating dilemmas faced by happy hippy hosts is what to have on hand fbr that all-important literary medium, toilet reading. In order to accommodate guests, communards, and oth&r assorted visitors, it is of absolute necessity to have available interesting, humourous, and, hopefully, richly illustrated material for the tasteful’shitter. Some of our past favourites have included Ted Mark’s Man From O.R.G.Y. novels, R. Crumb and Stan Lee comix; the Holy Bible, Hermann Hesse, and, of course, the Chevron, which doubles as an acceptable anal tissue. Now, we’re pleased to suggest two recent and appropriate offerings from Putnams and Penguin, which any enterprising person can probably rip-off from the book store. The first, How a Satirical Editor Became a- Yippie Conspirator in Ten Easy Years, is a best worst collection culled from the Realist, aythored by America’s most jaundiced eyed, satirist Paul Krassner. The pieces are chronologically arranged, dating from the magazine’s 1958 beginnings and spanning the sixties. As the title implies, this arrangement permits the reader a peek at one individual’s political development (Krassner, it seems, began his irreverent career as an atheist before moving on to higher pursuits than religion). He writes at times in a spiyit akin to Jonathan Swift’s ‘A Modest Proposal.’ As with this satirical classic, some of Krassner’s best work, f’rinstance the parts that were left out of Manchester’s book on the JFK assasination, are guaranteed to gross out any reader who possesses even the slightest modicum of decency and taste.
communist family. Specifically, she wanted to end the sexual expLoitation of women by men. She tried to defend herself by saying that she was preaching to women to free themselves from ‘the enslavement of love to a man.’ Perhaps this was asking for too much of a change too quickly. Whatever the cause, the first few years after the revolution were confusing with regard to sexuality, and Kollontai, accused of championing a libertine philosophy of sex, became the ‘enfant terrible’ of ‘the Communist Party. Perhaps Kollontai’s ideas were too advanced for her party and her time. Her belief that women must have equality in sexual relationships was regarded as ‘feminist nonsense’. However, Kollontai was perceptive enough to know that women would end up in the same authoritarian family structures if the sexual morals were not changed in concurrence with the changing economic conditions. Kollontai’s theory seems to have held true. Although women workers are ubiquitous throughout Russia, there is also a noted lowered stabs for the vocations where women predominate su+ as public health, education and medicine (general practitioner 1. There is still an absence of women in the higher political positions and the fact remains that working women end up doing a full-time job and running the home as well. Although Kollcjntai’s personal life is still an enigma, there are enough cdnnotations in the little that she did write to make any of her not yet translated works welcome. This will be especially so to men and women interested in knowing the dialectics of living as a revolutionary within a society not yet rea’dy to accept changing life-styles and changing morality in women but quite ready to speak of and create revolution. The Communist Party in Russia helped to begin the revolution and failed on this very important issue, and the New Left in Western society, while they intellectualize and analyze in Marxist jargon, always place women’s liberation as something secondary to the liberation of the working class. We can learn a lesson from Kollontai. Read it!
editor yippie conspirator Elsewhere, straight akticles from publications like the Journal of the American Medical Association, concerning such thoroughly revolting topics as foreign bodies in the rectum and fracturg of the penis, are reprinted verbatim : “causes (of per% fracture) -were hsted as follows: striking or kneading with the hand to reduce erection+ cases; rolling over in bed-4 ,cases; cases ; coitus-? bumping into chair-l case; thrown on saddlehorn of motorcycle-l case; striking toilet seat-l case; kickedjn ’ fight-l case; kicked by horse-l case; slammed in car door-l’case.” Continuing to fuck more with reality (and, to enjoy it ’ more), Krassner has conducted Realist experiments which seem to prove that people will believe almost anything; he invented a town called Farnsworth, New Jersey, which had supposedly made it a statutory offence to advocate the overthrow of the municipal sanitation department, and received incredulous feedback from the straight press who wer’e ‘bothered only because Farnsworth couldn’t be located on a map. In the same vein, he wrote an obituary of his friehd Lenny Bruce two years before the fact, a story which was picked up and reported by the wireservices. As Krassner points out, the strength of such put-ons is their very believability, a fact which is, itself, painfully hilariously indicative of the terminal state of our (North American) culture. There is a tragi-comic duality to insanity, both on a’n individual level and on a societal level; its on the mass level which Krassner, with tongue positioned firmly in cheek, explores and illuminates, unintentionally producing, we b?lieve, legitimate illegitimate literary art in the process. You must decide whether’ or not to believe the above; but if you find yourself chuvkling a lot when confronted by those most plentiful of all sources of black humour, the daily newspaper and the television news, then this is the
book for you. Perhaps the truest test of its worth is the fact that it was read cover to cover by this reviewer; the last book to be so abused was one hundred pages long. However, as efficient as the foregoing book was for our purposes, we found it lacked one major criterion-it didn’t have no pictures. This drawback is not possessed by the second book which we wish to draw to your attention, the profusely illustrated Penguin Book of Comics. The latter tra,ces the development of this particular art (?> form frtim its beginnings in ancient Egypt (you’ve all seen, we’re sure, sequences of drawing (hieroglyph& on pyramids walls in any half-assed source on Egypt e.g. The Mummy starring Boris Karloff), through its early growth in Great Britain in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, to its maturation in the U.S. OF A. commencing in the 20’s. It is all very nice and all very coinpetent from a historical standpoint, although the best parts are the actual comics (or rather, excerpts of comics which, in the case of serials, tend to leave you hanging. Admittedly, it becomes a drag sitting on the can each day reading one episode of a different serial. Again, speaking from an acknowledgedly limited perspective, we feel that our favourites from Stan Lee (Marvel, post early 60’s), have been badly and inadequately handled. Furthermore, underground commieix (as often seen in the Chevron) are covered in a one sentence reference to R. Crumb. We are distressed that this 1971 revised edition of the 19-67 original contains these deficiencies (another is the omission of Jack Kirby’s recent offerings for D.C., possibly the most visually spectacular of all comic books.) But, lest we be accused of negative thinking, let us merely say that we found both books (almost) compatible with our every purpose, and, after all, what more can one realistically ask? Hmmmmmmmmmmm? ,-james
Published on Nov 4, 2011
recommending an investigation into the feasability of im- plementing a liberal arts and science programme. Sub- sequently, he served on a se...