A Punk in the 19th Century

Eleanor Marx – nicknamed “Tussy” – was born on this day, January 16, in 1855. The owner of the important name, she saw how to create her own legacy in the form of a propagator of socialist ideals and an organizer.

Tussy’s favorite word is “Forward!” He loved William Shakespeare unconditionally and founded the Dogberry Club, which reproduced and debated his plays. He admired Percy Shelley, incorporated the poet’s work into his political speeches, and fought for his legacy to be recognized in terms of socialist culture. He was delighted to see Henrik Ibsen A Doll’s House in the theater as Victorian Britain was scandalized. His hands wrote the first English translation of Gustave Flaubert Madame Bovary.

But that was only part of his life.

The communities of London saw this struggle of the socialist, trade union, and political organizer with Fabians, radicals, suffragettes, and anarchists. She never tired of fighting to reduce the working day, to end child labor, and for workers’ unions to include equal pay for women in their demands. Her nickname isn’t just Tussy; his other was “Our Old Stoker,” given to him by the gas-makers.

Citizen of the World

When Eleanor was born, her father announced, “A citizen of the world is born.” When he started talking, he told her he had “two brains.” He was popular in the neighborhood and his family was called “the Tussys,” even though they were the Marxes.

“I inherited my father’s nose…not his wit,” Eleanor wrote in a letter. Many people disagree.

When he died, Will Thorne, a British gas producer and trade union leader, said they had lost their “important political role.” A delegate to the International Congress, he traveled the world at the invitation of trade unions and left-wing organizations to spread the ideas of socialism. He was a part of many attempts to build organizations related to the implementation of the socialist program. Not always successful.

The historian EP Thompson praised Eleanor Marx in a 1976 essay. New Nation, but he also said that he has not made the best political decisions and it is important to say so in order not to fall into some kind of religious dogma. Of course, Tussy agreed. Thompson wrote, “Most of his international work, not only for the big International but for the smaller councils of miners and glassmakers, is tedious, back-breaking, and unpaid.” He added, “Her good work among the most exploited women of the Middle East continues to be an example for us.”

Feminism didn’t happen in the 1970s

Rachel Holmes, one of Eleanor’s biographers, writes in the foreword of Eleanor Marx: A Life (1984) argued that contrary to what many believe, feminism did not emerge in the 1970s but a hundred years earlier. It’s a great reminder of the movements that fight oppression, a whisper in the ear that says we don’t have to start from scratch. We can recapture history, less as an educational and nostalgic activity and more in search of results that will be a guide to work, a way to put a new light “the ideas first just waiting to return to the stage” (according to the journalist Laura. Fernández Cordero wrote).

The struggles against oppression in the 19th and early 20th centuries often demonstrated (to anyone who cares to see) the unreality of the promise of gradual progress in capitalist societies. And they confirm that legal victories are too weak for our fight to stop, much less for them to explain what to do.

In 1895, Eleanor had an exchange with the social leader E. Belfort Bax published in Right newspaper:

I, of course, as a Socialist, am not a representative of “Women’s Rights.” It is the question of feminism and its value that I intend to discuss with you. The so-called “Woman’s Rights” question (that’s all you understand) is a bourgeois idea. I intended to work on the question of women from the point of view of the working class and the class struggle.

Eleanor accepted this drunken voice because Bax told her that she would fight with him or “any other approved representative of ‘Women’s Rights. , but it is important to know what kind of the roots of capitalism. This is one of the times he discusses how social organizations and workers should be.

In 1886, Eleanor co-wrote “The Woman Question” with her partner Edward Aveling, although she acknowledged that most of the work was Tussy’s. In 1879, August Bebel published Women and Socialismand, in 1884, Friedrich Engels’ The purpose of the family, private property and the state He saw the light of day (Eleanor was the first to read the drafts, serving as both critic and facilitator). The work that Eleanor Marx and Aveling did with those two works will continue for decades.

It was in a presentation by the German woman Clara Zetkin at the Gotha Congress of 1896 that Eleanor found the catch she needed for her ideas of “The Woman Question”. As a good translator, she rewrote her words for the British people, including suffragettes, union soldiers, and socialists. She spoke volumes for the generation of the New England trade union that ignored the reality of “proletarian proletariat women” (as the 19th-century French-Peruvian socialist writer Flora Tristán put it). The majority of the elections were not important to the difference of class and gender which fell to the majority of women, and therefore the partners of their teachers were separated. He wrote for them.

In his article, he summarized Zetkin and emphasized that the fight against oppression should be fought by all women, even if they are affected in different ways and have each section has different objectives. “The woman of the top ten thousand, thanks to her wealth, can develop her own character. Of course, as a woman she is dependent on the man.” The “real struggle” is in the “middle and lower middle class,” whose women are “sick of their moral and intellectual humiliation.” Referring to Ibsen’s play, he continued, “They are Noras who rebel against the houses of their babies.”

She devoted most of her text to what Zetkin said about women workers: “The machine has replaced the meat [and] so the proletarian woman gained freedom. … But he paid the price! … If it is … a man’s duty to ‘punish a woman sometimes with confusion’ — indeed, capitalism has skinned him with poisonous snakes.

So Eleanor writes again from Zetkin:

A working woman cannot, like a bourgeois woman, struggle with the man of her own class. …. With proletarian women, in a sense, it is a woman’s struggle along with the person of his own class against the capitalist class. He did not have to fight with the men of his class in order to break down the barriers that shut him out from free competition. The greed of capital and the growth of modern industry freed him from this struggle. … Its end and its aim is not the duty of free competition with men, but the attainment of the political power of the proletariat.

Confrontation with workers does not mean that they do not want to compromise their organization. These arguments have translated, for example, into the struggle for unions to include demands for equal pay for women. They can be seen in speeches to left-wing trade unions in the United States, where he tells men that they have a duty to help women with children and the home to ensure their can be involved in social and political movements. .

Through these articles, debates, and reflections, it is possible to record some of the ideas that those of us do not enjoy some rights for some women who are fighting today, and such as Tussy, think of a different key. social.

Punk is not dead. The fight continues

Italian director Susanna Nicchiarelli has made a biopic of Eleanor called Miss Marx. According to some critics, Nicchiarelli ruined the story with a punk attack of 19th century scenes that resembled the style of pop culture. Punk can act as an interesting interpretation of the ideas that Eleanor shook the woman and the commercial society and the socialist world of her time. With its successes, some failures, and – above all – its legacy, every time the punk chord strikes you can hear “Our Old Stoker” saying “The Struggle Continues” and Tussy saying, “Forward!”

It was first published in Spanish on January 16 Opinion de Izquierda.

Translated by Scott Cooper

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