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Post by thelivyjr » Sat Oct 10, 2020 1:40 p

Frederick Engels

Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State

II. The Family, continued ...

The Punaluan Family, concluded ...

The system of two moieties is found, not only at Mount Gambier in South Australia, but also on the Darling River further to the east and in Queensland in the northeast; it is therefore widely distributed.

It excludes marriages only between brothers and sisters, between the children of brothers and between the children of sisters on the mother's side, because these belong to the same moiety; the children of sisters and brothers, however, may marry.

A further step towards the prevention of inbreeding was taken by the Kamilaroi on the Darling River in New South Wales; the two original moieties are split up into four, and again each of these four sections is married en bloc to another.

The first two sections are husbands and wives of one another by birth; according to whether the mother belonged to the first or second section, the children go into the third or fourth; the children of these last two sections, which are also married to one another, come again into the first and second sections.

Thus one generation always belongs to the first and second sections, the next to the third and fourth, and the generation after that to the first and second again.

Under this system, first cousins (on the mother’s side) cannot be man and wife, but second cousins can.

This peculiarly complicated arrangement is made still more intricate by having matriarchal gentes grafted onto it (at any rate later), but we cannot go into the details of this now.

What is significant is how the urge towards the prevention of inbreeding asserts itself again and again, feeling its way, however, quite instinctively, without clear consciousness of its aim.

Group marriage which in these instances from Australia is still marriage of sections, mass marriage of an entire section of men, often scattered over the whole continent, with an equally widely distributed section of women – this group marriage, seen close at hand, does not look quite so terrible as the philistines, whose minds cannot get beyond brothels, imagine it to be.

On the contrary, for years its existence was not even suspected and has now quite recently been questioned again.

All that the superficial observer sees in group marriage is a loose form of monogamous marriage, here and there polygyny, and occasional infidelities.

It takes years, as it took Fison and Howlett, to discover beneath these marriage customs, which in their actual practice should seem almost familiar to the average European, their controlling law: the law by which the Australian aborigine, wandering hundreds of miles from his home among people whose language he does not understand, nevertheless often finds in every camp and every tribe women who give themselves to him without resistance and without resentment; the law by which the man with several wives gives one up for the night to his guest.

Where the European sees immorality and lawlessness, strict law rules in reality.

The women belong to the marriage group of the stranger, and therefore they are his wives by birth; that same law of custom which gives the two to one another forbids under penalty of outlawry all intercourse outside the marriage groups that belong together.

Even when wives are captured, as frequently occurs in many places, the law of the exogamous classes is still carefully observed.

Marriage by capture, it may be remarked, already shows signs of the transition to monogamous marriage, at least in the form of pairing marriage.

When the young man has captured or abducted a girl, with the help of his friends, she is enjoyed by all of them in turn, but afterwards she is regarded as the wife of the young man who instigated her capture.

If, on the other hand, the captured woman runs away from her husband and is caught by another man, she becomes his wife and the first husband loses his rights.

Thus while group marriage continues to exist as the general form, side by side with group marriage and within it exclusive relationships begin to form, pairings for a longer or shorter period, also polygyny; thus group marriage is dying out here, too, and the only question is which will disappear first under European influence: group marriage or the Australian aborigines who practice it.

Marriage between entire sections, as it prevails in Australia, is in any case a very low and primitive form of group marriage, whereas the punaluan family, so far as we know, represents its highest stage of development.

The former appears to be the form corresponding to the social level of vagrant savages, while the latter already presupposes relatively permanent settlements of communistic communities and leads immediately to the successive higher phase of development.

But we shall certainly find more than one intermediate stage between these two forms; here lies a newly discovered field of research which is still almost completely unexplored.


[1] There can no longer be any doubt that the traces which Bachofen thought he had found of unrestricted sexual intercourse, or what he calls “spontaneous generation in the slime,” go back to group marriage. “If Bachofen considers these punaluan marriages ‘lawless,’ a man of that period would consider most of the present-day marriages between near and remote cousins on the father’s or mother's side to be incestuous, as being marriages between blood brothers and sisters.” (Marx.)


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Post by thelivyjr » Sun Oct 11, 2020 1:40 p

Frederick Engels

Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State

II. The Family, continued ...

3. The Pairing Family

A certain amount of pairing, for a longer or shorter period, already occurred in group marriage or even earlier; the man had a chief wife among his many wives (one can hardly yet speak of a favorite wife), and for her he was the most important among her husbands.

This fact has contributed considerably to the confusion of the missionaries, who have regarded group marriage sometimes as promiscuous community of wives, sometimes as unbridled adultery.

But these customary pairings were bound to grow more stable as the gens developed and the classes of “brothers“ and “sisters” between whom marriage was impossible became more numerous.

The impulse given by the gens to the prevention of marriage between blood relatives extended still further.

Thus among the Iroquois and most of the other Indians at the lower stage of barbarism we find that marriage is prohibited between all relatives enumerated in their system – which includes several hundred degrees of kinship.

The increasing complication of these prohibitions made group marriages more and more impossible; they were displaced by the pairing family.

In this stage, one man lives with one woman, but the relationship is such that polygamy and occasional infidelity remain the right of the men, even though for economic reasons polygamy is rare, while from the woman the strictest fidelity is generally demanded throughout the time she lives with the man, and adultery on her part is cruelly punished.

The marriage tie can, however, be easily dissolved by either partner; after separation, the children still belong, as before, to the mother alone.

In this ever extending exclusion of blood relatives from the bond of marriage, natural selection continues its work.

In Morgan’s words:

The influence of the new practice, which brought unrelated persons into the marriage relation, tended to create a more vigorous stock physically and mentally....

When two advancing tribes, with strong mental and physical characters, are brought together and blended into one people by the accidents of barbarous life, the new skull and brain would widen and lengthen to the sum of the capabilities of both.
[Morgan, Op. cit., p. 468. – Ed.]

Tribes with gentile constitution were thus bound to gain supremacy over more backward tribes, or else to carry them along by their example.

Thus the history of the family in primitive times consists in the progressive narrowing of the circle, originally embracing the whole tribe, within which the two sexes have a common conjugal relation.

The continuous exclusion, first of nearer, then of more and more remote relatives, and at last even of relatives by marriage, ends by making any kind of group marriage practically impossible.

Finally, there remains only the single, still loosely linked pair, the molecule with whose dissolution marriage itself ceases.

This in itself shows what a small part individual sex-love, in the modern sense of the word, played in the rise of monogamy.

Yet stronger proof is afforded by the practice of all peoples at this stage of development.

Whereas in the earlier forms of the family men never lacked women, but, on the contrary, had too many rather than too few, women had now become scarce and highly sought after.

Hence it is with the pairing marriage that there begins the capture and purchase of women – widespread symptoms, but no more than symptoms, of the much deeper change that had occurred.

These symptoms, mere methods of procuring wives, the pedantic Scot, McLennan, has transmogrified into special classes of families under the names of “marriage by capture” and “marriage by purchase.”

In general, whether among the American Indians or other peoples (at the same stage), the conclusion of a marriage is the affair, not of the two parties concerned, who are often not consulted at all, but of their mothers.

Two persons entirely unknown to each other are often thus affianced; they only learn that the bargain has been struck when the time for marrying approaches.

Before the wedding the bridegroom gives presents to the bride's gentile relatives (to those on the mother's side, therefore, not to the father and his relations), which are regarded as gift payments in return for the girl.

The marriage is still terminable at the desire of either partner, but among many tribes, the Iroquois, for example, public opinion has gradually developed against such separations; when differences arise between husband and wife, the gens relatives of both partners act as mediators, and only if these efforts prove fruitless does a separation take place, the wife then keeping the children and each partner being free to marry again.

The pairing family, itself too weak and unstable to make an independent household necessary or even desirable, in no wise destroys the communistic household inherited from earlier times.

Communistic housekeeping, however, means the supremacy of women in the house; just as the exclusive recognition of the female parent, owing to the impossibility of recognizing the male parent with certainty, means that the women – the mothers – are held in high respect.

One of the most absurd notions taken over from eighteenth-century enlightenment is that in the beginning of society woman was the slave of man.

Among all savages and all barbarians of the lower and middle stages, and to a certain extent of the upper stage also, the position of women is not only free, but honorable.

As to what it still is in the pairing marriage, let us hear the evidence of Ashur Wright, for many years missionary among the Iroquois Senecas:

As to their family system, when occupying the old long-houses [communistic households comprising several families], it is probable that some one clan [gens] predominated, the women taking in husbands, however, from the other clans [gentes] ....

Usually, the female portion ruled the house....

The stores were in common; but woe to the luckless husband or lover who was too shiftless to do his share of the providing.

No matter how many children, or whatever goods he might have in the house, he might at any time be ordered to pick up his blanket and budge; and after such orders it would not be healthful for him to attempt to disobey.

The house would be too hot for him; and ... he must retreat to his own clan [gens]; or, as was often done, go and start a new matrimonial alliance in some other.

The women were the great power among the clans [gentes], as everywhere else.

They did not hesitate, when occasion required, “to knock off the horns,” as it was technically called, from the head of a chief, and send him back to the ranks of the warriors.
[Quoted by Morgan, Op. cit., P. 464. – Ed.]


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Post by thelivyjr » Mon Oct 12, 2020 1:40 p

Frederick Engels

Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State

II. The Family, continued ...

3. The Pairing Family, continued ...

The communistic household, in which most or all of the women belong to one and the same gens, while the men come from various gentes, is the material foundation of that supremacy of the women which was general in primitive times, and which it is Bachofen’s third great merit to have discovered.

The reports of travelers and missionaries, I may add, to the effect that women among savages and barbarians are overburdened with work in no way contradict what has been said.

The division of labor between the two sexes is determined by quite other causes than by the position of woman in society.

Among peoples where the women have to work far harder than we think suitable, there is often much more real respect for women than among our Europeans.

The lady of civilization, surrounded by false homage and estranged from all real work, has an infinitely lower social position than the hard-working woman of barbarism, who was regarded among her people as a real lady (lady, frowa, Frau – mistress) and who was also a lady in character.

Whether pairing marriage has completely supplanted group marriage in America today is a question to be decided by closer investigation among the peoples still at the upper stage of savagery in the northwest, and particularly in South America.

Among the latter, so many instances of sexual license are related that one can hardly assume the old group marriage to have been completely overcome here.

At any rate, all traces of it have not yet disappeared.

In at least forty North American tribes the man who marries an eldest sister has the right to take all her other sisters as his wives as soon as they are old enough – a relic of the time when a whole line of sisters had husbands in common.

And Bancroft reports of the Indians of the California peninsula (upper stage of savagery) that they have certain festivals when several “tribes” come together for the purpose of promiscuous sexual intercourse.

These “tribes” are clearly gentes, who preserve in these feasts a dim memory of the time when the women of one gens had all the men of the other as their common husbands, and conversely.

The same custom still prevails in Australia.

We find among some peoples that the older men, the chieftains and the magician-priests, exploit the community of wives and monopolize most of the women for themselves; at certain festivals and great assemblies of the people, however, they have to restore the old community of women and allow their wives to enjoy themselves with the young men.

Westermarck (History of Human Marriage, 1891, pp. 28, 29) quotes a whole series of instances of such periodic Saturnalian feasts, when for a short time the old freedom of sexual intercourse is again restored: examples are given among the Hos, the Santals, the Punjas and Kotars in India, among some African peoples, and so forth.

Curiously enough, Westermarck draws the conclusion that these are survivals, not of the group marriage, which he totally rejects, but of the mating season which primitive man had in common with the other animals.

Here we come to Bachofen’s fourth great discovery – the widespread transitional form between group marriage and pairing.

What Bachofen represents as a penance for the transgression of the old divine laws – the penance by which the woman purchases the right of chastity – is in fact only a mystical expression of the penance by which the woman buys herself out of the old community of husbands and acquires the right to give herself to one man only.

This penance consists in a limited surrender: the Babylonian women had to give themselves once a year in the temple of Mylitta; other peoples of Asia Minor sent their girls for years to the temple of Anaitis, where they had to practice free love with favorites of their own choosing before they were allowed to marry.

Similar customs in religious disguise are common to almost all Asiatic peoples between the Mediterranean and the Ganges.

The sacrifice of atonement by which the woman purchases her freedom becomes increasingly lighter in course of time, as Bachofen already noted:

Instead of being repeated annually, the offering is made once only; the hetaerism of the matrons is succeeded by the hetaerism of the maidens; hetaerism during marriage by hetaerism before marriage; surrender to all without choice by surrender to some.
(Mutterrecht, p. xix.)

Among other peoples the religious disguise is absent.

In some cases – among the Thracians, Celts, and others, in classical times, many of the original inhabitants of India, and to this day among the Malayan peoples, the South Sea Islanders and many American Indians – the girls enjoy the greatest sexual freedom up to the time of their marriage.

This is especially the case almost everywhere in South America, as everyone who has gone any distance into the interior can testify.

Thus Agassiz (A Journey in Brazil, Boston and New York, 1868, p. 266) tells this story of a rich family of Indian extraction: when he was introduced to the daughter, he asked after her father, presuming him to be her mother's husband, who was fighting as an officer in the war against Paraguay; but the mother answered with a smile: "Nao tem pai, e filha da fortuna" (She has no father. She is a child of chance):

It is the way the Indian or half-breed women here always speak of their illegitimate children . . . without an intonation of sadness or of blame....

So far is this from being an unusual case, that... the opposite seems the exception.

Children are frequently quite ignorant of their parentage.

They know about their mother, for all the care and responsibility falls upon her, but they have no knowledge of their father; nor does it seem to occur to the woman that she or her children have any claim upon him.

What seems strange here to civilized people is simply the rule according to mother-right and in group marriage.


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Post by thelivyjr » Mon Oct 12, 2020 1:40 p

Frederick Engels

Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State

II. The Family, continued ...

3. The Pairing Family, continued ...

Among other peoples, again, the friends and relatives of the bridegroom, or the wedding guests, claim their traditional right to the bride at the wedding itself, and the bridegroom's turn only comes last; this was the custom in the Balearic Islands and among the Augilers of Africa in ancient times; it is still observed among the Bareas of Abyssinia.

In other cases, an official personage, the head of the tribe or the gens, cacique, shaman, priest, prince or whatever he may be called, represents the community and exercises the right of the first night with the bride.

Despite all necromantic whitewashing, this jus prime noctis [Right of first night. – Ed.] still persists today as a relic of group marriage among most of the natives of the Alaska region (Bancroft, Native Races, I, p. 8i), the Tahus of North Mexico (Ibid., P. 584) and other peoples; and at any rate in the countries originally Celtic, where it was handed down directly from group marriage, it existed throughout the whole of the middle ages, for example, in Aragon.

While in Castile the peasants were never serfs, in Aragon there was serfdom of the most shameful kind right up till the decree of Ferdinand the Catholic in 1486.

This document states:

We judge and declare that the aforementioned lords (senors, barons) ... when the peasant takes himself a wife, shall neither sleep with her on the first night; nor shall they during the wedding-night, when the wife has laid herself in her bed, step over it and the aforementioned wife as a sign of lordship; nor shall the aforementioned lords use the daughter or the son of the peasant, with payment or without payment, against their will.

(Quoted in the original Catalan by Sugenheim, Serfdom, Petersburg, 1861, p. 35)

Bachofen is also perfectly right when he consistently maintains that the transition from what he calls “Hetaerism” or “Sumpfzeugung” to monogamy was brought about primarily through the women.

The more the traditional sexual relations lost the native primitive character of forest life, owing to the development of economic conditions with consequent undermining of the old communism and growing density of population, the more oppressive and humiliating must the women have felt them to be, and the greater their longing for the right of chastity, of temporary or permanent marriage with one man only, as a way of release.

This advance could not in any case have originated with the men, if only because it has never occurred to them, even to this day, to renounce the pleasures of actual group marriage.

Only when the women had brought about the transition to pairing marriage were the men able to introduce strict monogamy – though indeed only for women.

The first beginnings of the pairing family appear on the dividing line between savagery and barbarism; they are generally to be found already at the upper stage of savagery, but occasionally not until the lower stage of barbarism.

The pairing family is the form characteristic of barbarism, as group marriage is characteristic of savagery and monogamy of civilization.

To develop it further, to strict monogamy, other causes were required than those we have found active hitherto.

In the single pair the group was already reduced to its final unit, its two-atom molecule: one man and one woman.

Natural selection, with its progressive exclusions from the marriage community, had accomplished its task; there was nothing more for it to do in this direction.

Unless new, social forces came into play, there was no reason why a new form of family should arise from the single pair.

But these new forces did come into play.


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Post by thelivyjr » Wed Oct 14, 2020 1:40 p

Frederick Engels

Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State

II. The Family, continued ...

3. The Pairing Family, continued ...

We now leave America, the classic soil of the pairing family.

No sign allows us to conclude that a higher form of family developed here, or that there was ever permanent monogamy anywhere in America prior to its discovery and conquest.

But not so in the Old World.

Here the domestication of animals and the breeding of herds had developed a hitherto unsuspected source of wealth and created entirely new social relations.

Up to the lower stage of barbarism, permanent wealth had consisted almost solely of house, clothing, crude ornaments and the tools for obtaining and preparing food – boat, weapons, and domestic utensils of the simplest kind.

Food had to be won afresh day by day.

Now, with their herds of horses, camels, asses, cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs, the advancing pastoral peoples – the Semites on the Euphrates and the Tigris, and the Aryans in the Indian country of the Five Streams (Punjab), in the Ganges region, and in the steppes then much more abundantly watered of the Oxus and the Jaxartes – had acquired property which only needed supervision and the rudest care to reproduce itself in steadily increasing quantities and to supply the most abundant food in the form of milk and meat.

All former means of procuring food now receded into the background; hunting, formerly a necessity, now became a luxury.

But to whom did this new wealth belong?

Originally to the gens, without a doubt.

Private property in herds must have already started at an early period, however.

It is difficult to say whether the author of the so-called first book of Moses regarded the patriarch Abraham as the owner of his herds in his own right as head of a family community or by right of his position as actual hereditary head of a gens.

What is certain is that we must not think of him as a property owner in the modern sense of the word.

And it is also certain that at the threshold of authentic history we already find the herds everywhere separately owned by heads of families, as are the artistic products of barbarism – metal implements, luxury articles and, finally, the human cattle – the slaves.

For now slavery had also been invented.

To the barbarian of the lower stage, a slave was valueless.

Hence the treatment of defeated enemies by the American Indians was quite different from that at a higher stage.

The men were killed or adopted as brothers into the tribe of the victors; the women were taken as wives or otherwise adopted with their surviving children.

At this stage human labor-power still does not produce any considerable surplus over and above its maintenance costs.

That was no longer the case after the introduction of cattle-breeding, metalworking, weaving and, lastly, agriculture. just as the wives whom it had formerly been so easy to obtain had now acquired an exchange value and were bought, so also with the forces of labor, particularly since the herds had definitely become family possessions.

The family did not multiply so rapidly as the cattle.

More people were needed to look after them; for this purpose use could be made of the enemies captured in war, who could also be bred just as easily as the cattle themselves.

Once it had passed into the private possession of families and there rapidly begun to augment, this wealth dealt a severe blow to the society founded on pairing marriage and the matriarchal gens.

Pairing marriage had brought a new element into the family.

By the side of the natural mother of the child it placed its natural and attested father, with a better warrant of paternity, probably, than that of many a “father” today.

According to the division of labor within the family at that time, it was the man’s part to obtain food and the instruments of labor necessary for the purpose.

He therefore also owned the instruments of labor, and in the event of husband and wife separating, he took them with him, just as she retained her household goods.

Therefore, according to the social custom of the time, the man was also the owner of the new source of subsistence, the cattle, and later of the new instruments of labor, the slaves.

But according to the custom of the same society, his children could not inherit from him.

For as regards inheritance, the position was as follows:

At first, according to mother-right – so long, therefore, as descent was reckoned only in the female line – and according to the original custom of inheritance within the gens, the gentile relatives inherited from a deceased fellow member of their gens.

His property had to remain within the gens.

His effects being insignificant, they probably always passed in practice to his nearest gentile relations – that is, to his blood relations on the mother's side.

The children of the dead man, however, did not belong to his gens, but to that of their mother; it was from her that they inherited, at first conjointly with her other blood relations, later perhaps with rights of priority; they could not inherit from their father, because they did not belong to his gens, within which his property had to remain.

When the owner of the herds died, therefore, his herds would go first to his brothers and sisters and to his sister’s children, or to the issue of his mother’s sisters.

But his own children were disinherited.


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Post by thelivyjr » Thu Oct 15, 2020 1:40 p

Frederick Engels

Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State

II. The Family, continued ...

3. The Pairing Family, continued ...

Thus, on the one hand, in proportion as wealth increased, it made the man’s position in the family more important than the woman’s, and on the other hand created an impulse to exploit this strengthened position in order to overthrow, in favor of his children, the traditional order of inheritance.

This, however, was impossible so long as descent was reckoned according to mother-right.

Mother-right, therefore, had to be overthrown, and overthrown it was.

This was by no means so difficult as it looks to us today.

For this revolution – one of the most decisive ever experienced by humanity – could take place without disturbing a single one of the living members of a gens.

All could remain as they were.

A simple decree sufficed that in the future the offspring of the male members should remain within the gens, but that of the female should be excluded by being transferred to the gens of their father.

The reckoning of descent in the female line and the matriarchal law of inheritance were thereby overthrown, and the male line of descent and the paternal law of inheritance were substituted for them.

As to how and when this revolution took place among civilized peoples, we have no knowledge.

It falls entirely within prehistoric times.

But that it did take place is more than sufficiently proved by the abundant traces of mother-right which have been collected, particularly by Bachofen.

How easily it is accomplished can be seen in a whole series of American Indian tribes, where it has only recently taken place and is still taking place under the influence, partly of increasing wealth and a changed mode of life (transference from forest to prairie), and partly of the moral pressure of civilization and missionaries.

Of eight Missouri tribes, six observe the male line of descent and inheritance, two still observe the female.

Among the Shawnees, Miamis and Delawares the custom has grown up of giving the children a gentile name of their father's gens in order to transfer them into it, thus enabling them to inherit from him.

Man's innate casuistry!

To change things by changing their names!

And to find loopholes for violating tradition while maintaining tradition, when direct interest supplied sufficient impulse. (Marx.)

The result was hopeless confusion, which could only be remedied and to a certain extent was remedied by the transition to father-right.

“In general, this seems to be the most natural transition.” (Marx.)

For the theories proffered by comparative jurisprudence regarding the manner in which this change was effected among the civilized peoples of the Old World – though they are almost pure hypotheses see M. Kovalevsky, Tableau des origines et de l'evolution de la famille et de la propriete. Stockholm, 1890.

The overthrow of mother-right was the world historical defeat of the female sex.

The man took command in the home also; the woman was degraded and reduced to servitude, she became the slave of his lust and a mere instrument for the production of children.

This degraded position of the woman, especially conspicuous among the Greeks of the heroic and still more of the classical age, has gradually been palliated and glazed over, and sometimes clothed in a milder form; in no sense has it been abolished.

The establishment of the exclusive supremacy of the man shows its effects first in the patriarchal family, which now emerges as an intermediate form.

Its essential characteristic is not polygyny, of which more later, but “the organization of a number of persons, bond and free, into a family, under paternal power, for the purpose of holding lands, and for the care of flocks and herds...."

"(In the Semitic form) the chiefs, at least, lived in polygamy...."

"Those held to servitude, and those employed as servants, lived in the marriage relation.” [Morgan, op. cit., p. 474]

Its essential features are the incorporation of unfree persons, and paternal power; hence the perfect type of this form of family is the Roman.

The original meaning of the word “family” (familia) is not that compound of sentimentality and domestic strife which forms the ideal of the present-day philistine; among the Romans it did not at first even refer to the married pair and their children, but only to the slaves.

Famulus means domestic slave, and familia is the total number of slaves belonging to one man.

As late as the time of Gaius, the familia, id est patrimonium (family, that is, the patrimony, the inheritance) was bequeathed by will.

The term was invented by the Romans to denote a new social organism, whose head ruled over wife and children and a number of slaves, and was invested under Roman paternal power with rights of life and death over them all.

This term, therefore, is no older than the iron-clad family system of the Latin tribes, which came in after field agriculture and after legalized servitude, as well as after the separation of Greeks and Latins. [Morgan, Op. cit., p. 478]


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Post by thelivyjr » Fri Oct 16, 2020 1:40 p

Frederick Engels

Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State

II. The Family, continued ...

3. The Pairing Family, continued ...

Marx adds:

The modern family contains in germ not only slavery (servitus), but also serfdom, since from the beginning it is related to agricultural services.

It contains in miniature all the contradictions which later extend throughout society and its state.

Such a form of family shows the transition of the pairing family to monogamy.

In order to make certain of the wife’s fidelity and therefore of the paternity of the children, she is delivered over unconditionally into the power of the husband; if he kills her, he is only exercising his rights.

With the patriarchal family, we enter the field of written history - a field where comparative jurisprudence can give valuable help.

And it has in fact brought an important advance in our knowledge.

We owe to Maxim Kovalevsky (Tableau etc. de la mine et de propriete, Stockholm, 1890, pp. 60-100), the proof that the patriarchal household community, as we still find it today among the Serbs and the Bulgars under the name of zadruga (which may be roughly translated "bond of friendship") or bratstvo (brotherhood), and in a modified form among the Oriental peoples, formed the transitional stage between the matriarchal family deriving from group marriage and the single family of the modern world.

For the civilized peoples of the Old World, for the Aryans and Semites at any rate, this seems to be established.

The Southern Slav zadruga provides the best instance of such a family community still in actual existence.

It comprises several generations of the descendants of one father, together with their wives, who all live together in one homestead, cultivate their fields in common, feed and clothe themselves from a common stock, and possess in common the surplus from their labor.

The community is under the supreme direction of the head of the house (domacin), who acts as its representative outside, has the right to sell minor objects, and controls the funds, for which, as for the regular organization of business, he is responsible.

He is elected, and it is not at all necessary that he should be the oldest in the community.

The women and their work are under the control of the mistress of the house (domacica), who is generally the wife of the domacin.

She also has an important and often a decisive voice in the choice of husbands for the girls.

Supreme power rests, however, with the family council, the assembly of all the adult members of the household, women as well as men.

To this assembly the master of the house renders account; it takes all important decisions, exercises jurisdiction over the members, decides on sales and purchases of any importance, especially of land and so on.

It is only within the last ten years or so that such great family communities have been proved to be still in existence in Russia; it is now generally recognized that they are as firmly rooted in the customs of the Russian people as the obshchina or village community.

They appear in the oldest Russian code of laws, the Pravda of Yaroslav, under the same name as in the Dalmatian laws (vervj), and references to them can also be traced in Polish and Czech historical sources.

Among the Germans also, according to Heusler (Institutionen des deutschen Rechts), the economic unit was originally not the single family in the modern sense, but the “house community,” which consisted of several generations or several single families, and often enough included unfree persons as well.

The Roman family is now also considered to have originated from this type, and consequently the absolute power of the father of the house, and the complete absence of rights among the other members of the family in relation to him, have recently been strongly questioned.

It is supposed that similar family communities also existed among the Celts in Ireland; in France, under the name of parconneries, they survived in Nivernais until the French Revolution, and in the Franche Comte they have not completely died out even today [1884].

In the district of Louhans (Saone et Loire) large peasant houses can be seen in which live several generations of the same family; the house has a lofty common hall reaching to the roof, and surrounding it the sleeping-rooms, to which stairs of six or eight steps give access.

In India, the household community with common cultivation of the land is already mentioned by Nearchus in the time of Alexander the Great, and it still exists today in the same region, in the Punjab and the whole of northwest India.

Kovalevsky was himself able to prove its existence in the Caucasus.

In Algeria it survives among the Kabyles.

It is supposed to have occurred even in America, and the calpullis which Zurita describes in old Mexico have been identified with it; on the other hand, Cunow has proved fairly clearly (in the journal Ausland, 1890, Nos. 42-44) that in Peru at the time of the conquest there was a form of constitution based on marks (called, curiously enough, marca), with periodical allotment of arable land and consequently with individual tillage.

In any case, the patriarchal household community with common ownership and common cultivation of the land now assumes an entirely different significance than hitherto.

We can no longer doubt the important part it played, as a transitional form between the matriarchal family and the single family, among civilized and other peoples of the Old World.

Later we will return to the further conclusion drawn by Kovalevsky that it was also the transitional form out of which developed the village, or mark, community with individual tillage and the allotment, first periodical and then permanent, of arable and pasture land.


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Post by thelivyjr » Fri Oct 16, 2020 1:40 p

Frederick Engels

Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State

II. The Family, continued ...

3. The Pairing Family, concluded ...

With regard to the family life within these communities, it must be observed that at any rate in Russia the master of the house has a reputation for violently abusing his position towards the younger women of the community, especially his daughters-in-law, whom he often converts into his harem; the Russian folk-songs have more than a little to say about this.

Before we go on to monogamy, which developed rapidly with the overthrow of mother-right, a few words about polygyny and polyandry.

Both forms can only be exceptions, historical luxury products, as it were, unless they occur side by side in the same country, which is, of course, not the case.

As the men excluded from polygyny cannot console themselves with the women left over from polyandry, and as hitherto, regardless of social institutions, the number of men and women has been fairly equal, it is obviously impossible for either of these forms of marriage to be elevated to the general form.

Polygyny on the part of one individual man was, in fact, obviously a product of slavery and confined to a few people in exceptional positions.

In the Semitic patriarchal family it was only the patriarch himself, and a few of his sons at most, who lived in polygyny; the rest had to content themselves with one wife.

This still holds throughout the whole of the Orient; polygyny is the privilege of the wealthy and of the nobility, the women being recruited chiefly through purchase as slaves; the mass of the people live in monogamy.

A similar exception is the polyandry of India and Tibet, the origin of which in group marriage requires closer examination and would certainly prove interesting.

It seems to be much more easy-going in practice than the jealous harems of the Mohammedans.

At any rate, among the Nairs in India, where three or four men have a wife in common, each of them can have a second wife in common with another three or more men, and similarly a third and a fourth and so on.

It is a wonder that McLennan did not discover in these marriage clubs, to several of which one could belong and which he himself describes, a new class of club marriage!

This marriage-club system, however, is not real polyandry at all; on the contrary, as Giraud-Teulon has already pointed out, it is a specialized form of group marriage; the men live in polygyny, the women in polyandry.


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Post by thelivyjr » Fri Oct 16, 2020 1:40 p

Frederick Engels

Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State

II. The Family, continued ...

4. The Monogamous Family

It develops out of the pairing family, as previously shown, in the transitional period between the upper and middle stages of barbarism; its decisive victory is one of the signs that civilization is beginning.

It is based on the supremacy of the man, the express purpose being to produce children of undisputed paternity; such paternity is demanded because these children are later to come into their father’s property as his natural heirs.

It is distinguished from pairing marriage by the much greater strength of the marriage tie, which can no longer be dissolved at either partner’s wish.

As a rule, it is now only the man who can dissolve it, and put away his wife.

The right of conjugal infidelity also remains secured to him, at any rate by custom (the Code Napoleon explicitly accords it to the husband as long as he does not bring his concubine into the house), and as social life develops he exercises his right more and more; should the wife recall the old form of sexual life and attempt to revive it, she is punished more severely than ever.

We meet this new form of the family in all its severity among the Greeks.

While the position of the goddesses in their mythology, as Marx points out, brings before us an earlier period when the position of women was freer and more respected, in the heroic age we find the woman already being humiliated by the domination of the man and by competition from girl slaves.

Note how Telemachus in the Odyssey silences his mother.

[The reference is to a passage where Telemachus, son of Odysseus and Penelope, tells his mother to get on with her weaving and leave the men to mind their own business – Ed.]

In Homer young women are booty and are handed over to the pleasure of the conquerors, the handsomest being picked by the commanders in order of rank; the entire Iliad, it will be remembered, turns on the quarrel of Achilles and Agamemnon over one of these slaves.

If a hero is of any importance, Homer also mentions the captive girl with whom he shares his tent and his bed.

These girls were also taken back to Greece and brought under the same roof as the wife, as Cassandra was brought by Agamemnon in AEschylus; the sons begotten of them received a small share of the paternal inheritance and had the full status of freemen.

Teucer, for instance, is a natural son of Telamon by one of these slaves and has the right to use his father’s name.

The legitimate wife was expected to put up with all this, but herself to remain strictly chaste and faithful.

In the heroic age a Greek woman is, indeed, more respected than in the period of civilization, but to her husband she is after all nothing but the mother of his legitimate children and heirs, his chief housekeeper and the supervisor of his female slaves, whom he can and does take as concubines if he so fancies.

It is the existence of slavery side by side with monogamy, the presence of young, beautiful slaves belonging unreservedly to the man, that stamps monogamy from the very beginning with its specific character of monogamy for the woman only, but not for the man.

And that is the character it still has today.


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Post by thelivyjr » Sat Oct 17, 2020 1:40 p

Frederick Engels

Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State

II. The Family, continued ...

4. The Monogamous Family, continued ...

Coming to the later Greeks, we must distinguish between Dorians and Ionians.

Among the former – Sparta is the classic example – marriage relations are in some ways still more archaic than even in Homer.

The recognized form of marriage in Sparta was a pairing marriage, modified according to the Spartan conceptions of the state, in which there still survived vestiges of group marriage.

Childless marriages were dissolved; King Anaxandridas (about 650 B.C.), whose first wife was childless, took a second and kept two households; about the same time, King Ariston, who had two unfruitful wives, took a third, but dismissed one of the other two.

On the other hand, several brothers could have a wife in common; a friend who preferred his friend’s wife could share her with him; and it was considered quite proper to place one’s wife at the disposal of a sturdy “stallion,” as Bismarck would say, even if he was not a citizen.

A passage in Plutarch, where a Spartan woman refers an importunate wooer to her husband, seems to indicate, according to Schamann, even greater freedom.

Real adultery, secret infidelity by the woman without the husband’s knowledge, was therefore unheard of.

On the other hand, domestic slavery was unknown in Sparta, at least during its best period; the unfree helots were segregated on the estates and the Spartans were therefore less tempted to take the helots’ wives.

Inevitably in these conditions women held a much more honored position in Sparta than anywhere else in Greece.

The Spartan women and the elite of the Athenian hetairai are the only Greek women of whom the ancients speak with respect and whose words they thought it worth while to record.

The position is quite different among the Ionians; here Athens is typical.

Girls only learned spinning, weaving, and sewing, and at most a little reading and writing.

They lived more or less behind locked doors and had no company except other women.

The women’s apartments formed a separate part of the house, on the upper floor or at the back, where men, especially strangers, could not easily enter, and to which the women retired when men visited the house.

They never went out without being accompanied by a female slave; indoors they were kept under regular guard.

Aristophanes speaks of Molossian dogs kept to frighten away adulterers, and, at any rate in the Asiatic towns, eunuchs were employed to keep watch over the women - making and exporting eunuchs was an industry in Chios as early as Herodotus’ time, and, according to Wachsmuth, it was not only the barbarians who bought the supply.

In Euripides a woman is called an oikourema, a thing (the word is neuter) for looking after the house, and, apart from her business of bearing children, that was all she was for the Athenian – his chief female domestic servant.

The man had his athletics and his public business, from which women were barred; in addition, he often had female slaves at his disposal and during the most flourishing days of Athens an extensive system of prostitution which the state at least favored.

It was precisely through this system of prostitution that the only Greek women of personality were able to develop, and to acquire that intellectual and artistic culture by which they stand out as high above the general level of classical womanhood as the Spartan women by their qualities of character.

But that a woman had to be a hetaira before she could be a woman is the worst condemnation of the Athenian family.

This Athenian family became in time the accepted model for domestic relations, not only among the Ionians, but to an increasing extent among all the Greeks of the mainland and colonies also.

But, in spite of locks and guards, Greek women found plenty of opportunity for deceiving their husbands.

The men, who would have been ashamed to show any love for their wives, amused themselves by all sorts of love affairs with hetairai; but this degradation of the women was avenged on the men and degraded them also, till they fell into the abominable practice of sodomy [Knabenliebe][1] and degraded alike their gods and themselves with the myth of Ganymede.


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