Primitive communism is no longer what it was

Leila Ouitis


Many ethnological materials have been accumulated since the publication of The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State (Engels, 1884). In a recent book, Primitive Communism (2012) Darmangeat proposes to reexaminate the thesis of "primitive matriachy", long considered as indisputable in the field of historical materialism.

According to Darmangeat, male domination is rooted in the distant past, long before the apparition of the State, and is based on the sexual division of labor which specific ways of functioning would then have given to men a decisive advantage in the succession of different modes of production. Capitalism is, in this view, the first to create the conditions for overcoming this division: with the beggining of abstract labor, the gendered nature of the tasks may begin to dissolve.

However, interesting as it is, Darmangeat's thesis fails to evade the circle of naturalization and at the end, leads to a tautology, explaining the sexual division of labor by the fact that women have children. Indeed, our author has not read the anthropologists who claim for materialist feminism.

In this paper, I aim to show that a more careful reading of these materialist feminist anthropologists, namingly Tabet, who gives theoretical ground to the idea that women, as a group, are socially created, would allow him to get out of this circle. But it is true that this involves to analize at the same time appropriation and explotation, and leads to conceive the whole dynamics of capitalism as entirely gendered (Federici, 2014) and therefore to imagine women's revolutionary activity as something which occurs against men.

Gender - Marxist-feminism - Materialist Feminism