Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State

Preface to the Fourth Edition, 1891

Frederick Engels


Written: March-May, 1884;
First Published: October 1884, in Hottingen-Zurich;
Source: Marx/Engels Selected Works, Volume Three;
Translation: The text is essentially the English translation by Alick West published in 1942, but it has been revised against the German text as it appeared in MEW [Marx-Engels Werke] Volume 21, Dietz Verlag 1962, and the spelling of names and other terms has been modernised;
Transcription/Markup: Zodiac/Brian Baggins;
Online Version: Marx/Engels Internet Archive (marxists.org) 1993, 1999, 2000.
Proofed and corrected: Mark Harris 2010

The earlier large editions of this work have been out of print now for almost half a year, and for some time the publisher has been asking me to prepare a new edition. Until now, more urgent work kept me from doing so. Since the appearance of the first edition seven years have elapsed, during which our knowledge of the primitive forms of the family has made important advances. There was, therefore, plenty to do in the way of improvements and additions; all the more so as the proposed stereotyping of the present text will make any further alterations impossible for some time.

I have accordingly submitted the whole text to a careful revision and made a number of additions which, I hope, take due account of the present state of knowledge. I also give in the course of this preface a short review of the development of the history of the family from Bachofen to Morgan; I do so chiefly because the chauvinistically inclined English anthropologists are still striving their utmost to kill by silence the revolution which Morgan’s discoveries have effected in our conception of primitive history, while they appropriate his results without the slightest compunction. Elsewhere also the example of England is in some cases followed only too closely.Read More »


On 5th Anniversary of First Women Workers’ and Peasants’ Congress

J. V. Stalin

Woman image in Soviet propaganda, poster 19

Published: Women and Communism, Lawrence & Wishart, London, 1950;
Transcribed and HTML Markup: Sally Ryan.

Marxists Internet Archive

It is five years since the Central Committee of our Party convened in Moscow the All-Russian women workers’ and peasants’ congress. Over a thousand delegates, representing one million working women, gathered for the congress. This congress was a landmark in the work of our Party among working women. The incalculable service rendered by this congress was to lay the foundation for the organisation of the political education of our Republic’s women workers and peasants.

Some may think that there is nothing out of the ordinary in this, since the Party has always carried out political education among the masses, including women, or it may be thought that the political education of women can have no real importance since we shall soon have united worker and peasant cadres. Such opinions are fundamentally incorrect.Read More »


Quotations from Mao Tse Tung

31. Women

Quotations from: 1927 – 1964
First Published: 1966
Publisher: Peking Foreign Languages Press
Transcription/Markup: David Quentin / Brian Baggins
Online Version: Mao Tse Tung Internet Archive (marxists.org) 2000


A man in China is usually subjected to the domination of three systems of authority [political authority, family authority and religious authority]…. As for women, in addition to being dominated by these three systems of authority, they are also dominated by the men (the authority of the husband). These four authorities – political, family, religious and masculine – are the embodiment of the whole feudal-patriarchal ideology and system, and are the four thick ropes binding the Chinese people, particularly the peasants. How the peasants have overthrown the political authority of the landlords in the countryside has been described above. The political authority of the landlords is the backbone of all the other systems of authority. With that overturned the family authority, the religious authority and the authority of the husband all begin to totter…. As to the authority of the husband, this has always been weaker among the poor peasants because, out of economic necessity, their womenfolk have to do more manual labour than the women of the richer classes and therefore have more say and greater power of decision in family matters. With the increasing bankruptcy of the rural economy in recent years, the basis for men’s domination over women has already been undermined. With the rise of the peasant movement, the women in many places have now begun to organize rural women’s associations; the opportunity has come for them to lift up their heads, and the authority of the husband is getting shakier every day. In a word, the whole feudal-patriarchal ideology and system is tottering with the growth of the peasants’ power.

“Report on an Investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan” (March 1927), Selected Works, Vol. I, pp. 44-46.*Read More »


Correspondence between Sylvia Pankhurst and V.I. Lenin

Compiled from Marxists Internet Archive

lenin and pankherst

Pankhurst, E. Sylvia (1882-1960)

Sylvia Pankhurst, and sister of Adela, above, were born in Manchester, the daughters of Dr. Richard Pankhurst and Emmeline Pankhurst. Both their father, who did political work as an attorney radical lawyer, and mother, were major influences on Sylvia’s commitment to socialism.

Sylvia was a talented artist by training but during her schooling also became involved in the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), founded by her mother in 1903, and in which her sister, Christabel, was also very active. In 1906 she served her first prison sentence for her political activities–in her life she would endure several brutal prison sentences involving hunger strikes and forced feedings. She also did work for the Labour Party and became and was closely associated with Kier Hardie, the leader of the party in the House of Commons. In 1911 her book The History of the Women’s Suffrage Movement was published. Her writings include 22 books and pamphlets, and numerous articles including the launching of four newspapers.Read More »


Why do women get paid less than men? Hours and commuting provide clues

Jordy Meekes

The Conversation | March 06, 2021

That Australian women earn less than Australian men is well-known. The latest calculation put the gap – the extent to which the average female full-time wage is less than the average male full-time wage – at 13.4%.

Women are also less likely to be employed than men, about 14% less likely, in part because women give birth to and are more likely to care for children.Read More »


No ‘Hot Pants’: Sexist Rules for Women on Arctic Expedition

E&E News | September 8, 2020

Drifting on a ship in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, four women listened in quiet disbelief to the rules of a new dress code.

No leggings. No crop tops. No “hot pants.” Nothing too tight or too revealing.

It was for their own safety, they were told. Most of the crew on board the ship were men.

The wan polar sun was falling on Oct. 8, halfway through a six-week voyage across the central Arctic Ocean. The ship, a Russian research vessel named Akademik Fedorov, was crunching through sea ice a few hundred miles from the geographic North Pole. Outside the cabin window, a vast expanse of glistening blue and white was streaming past.Read More »


In Turkey, Unions and Women’s Organizations Call for Defense of Women’s Rights

Steve Sweeney

Morning Star | September 01, 2020

In Turkey, unions and women’s organizations call for defense of women’s rights

In Istanbul, people clash with police during the funeral of Ebru Timtik, a human rights lawyer who died during a hunger strike in a Turkish prison to demand a fair trial for herself and colleagues. | AP

Activists have called for an organized defense of women’s rights in Turkey, where at least 15 women have been murdered in the last 10 days. Thirteen were killed by men and two died in suspicious circumstances.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government is trying to take Turkey out of the Istanbul Convention, which obliges signatories to tackle gender-based crime, provide protection and services for women, and ensure that perpetrators are prosecuted. In March 2012, Turkey became the first country to ratify the convention. But the government now claims that it is incompatible with “family values,” bowing to conservative and Islamist pressure.Read More »


Breaking the Cycle of Poverty: Financial Freedom for Tribal Women

Atreyee Kar

Down To Earth | August 14, 2020

Jasho Devi. For tribal communities, financial freedom translates into financial literacy, with which comes the access to various government safety nets.

Self-help groups helped Jasho Devi to come out of poverty and provide for her children.  Self-help groups helped Jasho Devi to come out of poverty and provide for her children.

Nawatoli village in Jharkhand’s Latehar district is home to at least 52 families. A small, picturesque village, it is nestled within the folds of the Netarhat forests, famous for its wildlife and beautiful sunset viewpoints.

It is, however, a remote location, barely connected with the rest of the civilisation by a long, mostly isolated route of winding road.

Jasho Devi lives with her husband, Dondwa Briji, and eight children there. Like most people in her village, Jasho belongs to the Birjia tribe, a particularly vulnerable tribal group (PVTG).

Read More »


Amazon Women Warriors and Revolutionary Pants

Fred Magdoff

MR Online | July 24, 2020

Wikipedia Exile of Ovid - Wikipedia

For much of human history, most people—men and women—wore loose fitting robes of various types to cover their bodies. It is thought that trousers were invented relatively recently in human history, around 1000 BCE, so that people could be more comfortable riding horses.

The Scythians, nomadic horse people on the Eurasian grasslands (the steppes), had a reputation of being excellent and fierce warriors. They flourished from around 900 BCE to 200 BCE, living mainly in what is now the Crimea region but having wide influence on the steppes to the east. In these nomadic societies, based on the use of the horse, it was common for women to wear trousers and to fight as warriors alongside men. Some of the earliest depictions of trousers were being worn by both male and female Scythian warriors. It is thought that while women were not able to match the strength and size of men—a distinct disadvantage in ground combat with swords, shields, and armor—they could control horses and shoot arrows as well as men. “They were horse people par excellence, and—no coincidence—many of these groups were also distinguished by relative gender equality, compared to the Greeks.”(1) Viking women may also have participated as warriors, but it was the norm among the Scythians.

Read More »