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Communist Dialectics


Marriage Today is a Capitalist Institution:

Communism Will Transform All Social Relationships


The US Supreme Court recently surprised many by deciding that same-sex couples have the right to marry.  We look forward to attending our friends’ weddings. Like many who have waited and fought for this, however, we know that this narrow decision barely scratches the surface of legal discrimination against gay men and lesbians.  But we also need to recognize that capitalism distorts or corrupts all our social relationships.  Only communism can create the conditions for living and loving in a fully human way. 

Marriage has had different forms and meanings at different times and for different social classes.  In medieval and early modern Europe, for example, ruling-class marriages were arranged to cement political and military alliances.  Men and women of the laboring classes more often chose mates based on mutual attraction.
Today marriage is both a civil institution and, for some, a religious rite.  The Supreme Court decision concerns only civil marriage.  A quick survey of the benefits of civil marriage exposes it as a thoroughly capitalist proposition.
The advantages of marriage today include tax and estate-planning benefits, government-sponsored benefits (like Social Security) and employer-provided job benefits like family leave and health insurance.  They include rights to property and/or support in case of divorce.  
None of these will be meaningful in communism.  There will be no money and everyone’s needs will be met.  Anyone can take time off work when needed.
Other advantages reflect the idea that marriage gives you a special proprietary interest in another person.  Examples include special visiting rights to a spouse in jail or in hospital, and making medical decisions or burial arrangements. 

In communism, we will all take responsibility for each other.  We will treat each other as comrades.  Removing money from the equation will mean that we can collectively make decisions in the best interest of all involved. 
Marriage and family laws treat children as private property.  This includes regulations involving adoption, foster care, and visitation rights in case of divorce.
In communist society, nothing and nobody will be “private property.”  Even the history of socialism (for example, in the USSR in the 1930s and China in the 1950s) lets us glimpse what it will be like to live in a society where children’s welfare is the highest collective priority.
Marriage today allows citizens, sometimes, to get immigration and residency benefits for noncitizen spouses.  In communism we will be comrades, not “citizens” or “noncitizens.”  No more borders or nations!  Everyone will be welcome anywhere, married or not.
“Marriage” as we know it will have no place in communist society.  In particular, we’ll end the subordination of women to men.  What will households and relationships be like?

Communism values and fosters commitment.  That includes helping people in their struggles to maintain and deepen committed relationships.   It also means removing the material basis for many relationship problems that have their roots in the stresses and isolation of capitalist society.
At the same time, nobody will have to remain in a relationship for economic reasons or “for the sake of the children.” 
The capitalist family “ideal” of a life-long married couple living with “their” biological children is not the reality for most people today.  The Supreme Court ruling won’t change this, although it allows same-sex couples to live this way. 
Nor is it a communist ideal.  In communism, housing and child care arrangements will be far more collective.  They won’t be tied to the question of “who can have sex together.” This is more like the way most people lived in pre-class societies, before the rise of “the family, private property, and the state.” 

The future will be different because of the scientific communist understanding we have now and will develop further.  For example, we will consciously fight the gendered division of labor and the sexist ideas connected to it.
Sometimes we think too narrowly about communism. We might see it only as a better way of producing and distributing goods.  Communism is much more.  It’s how we’ll realize our full potential as human beings.

We invite readers to comment or respond to these ideas.

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