Primitive communism and women's role in its emergence

Bushman Rock Art

How did human evolution give rise to a species whose very survival is based on mutual confidence and solidarity? More particularly, what was woman’s role in this process?

This is a review of Christophe Darmangeat's recent book, 'Primitive Communism is Not What it Was'.

SWP 'expulsions' for discussing rape - not for the first time!

For the Socialist Workers’ Party, rape is now a big issue. Under very different circumstances – when it was more of a theoretical topic – rape was also a big issue twenty years ago.

The document reproduced below was written in association with the Radical Anthropology Group. It summarizes debates during the SWP’s Marxism event in 1991 – debates triggered by the marxist anthropological theory that the prohibition against rape, enforced through struggle thousands of years ago, was the foundational rule of early human society and culture.

Anthropology: Reclaiming the dragon (what was primitive communism?) - Lionel Sims

red dragon

Article arguing that class society and patriarchy only arose ten to twenty thousand years ago. For over a hundred thousand years, before this counterrevolution, we lived in more gender-egalitarian and anarchist/communist hunter-gatherer societies. Lionel Sims shows the evidence for this counter-revolution in the Bible, in world-wide myths, in hunter-gatherer studies, in research on apes and in archaeology.

Engels was Right: Early Human Kinship was Matrilineal

Mother and baby, Hadza tribe, Tanzania

The earliest human institution was not the nuclear family. The latest research now indicates that it was the communistic, female-centred clan.

Engels argued this in 1884. After a century of establishment denial, including complicity by 'Marxists', it now turns out that he was right after all.

Primitive communism, barbarism and the origins of class society - Lionel Sims

Mammoth hunting: big-game abundance

Lionel Sims on primitive communism, in particular examining the claims of Frederick Engels.

Hunter-gatherers and the mythology of the market - John Gowdy

Marx claimed that "the vitality of primitive communities was incomparably greater than that of ... modern capitalist societies." This claim has since been vindicated by numerous studies which are neatly summarised in this entry from the prestigious Cambridge Encyclopedia of Hunters and Gatherers. As the Encyclopedia says: "Hunting and gathering was humanity's first and most successful adaptation, occupying at least 90 percent of human history. Until 12,000 years ago, all humans live this way."

How hunter-gatherers maintained their egalitarian ways - Peter Gray

Dr Peter Gray outlines his theories attempting to explain why and how hunter-gatherer societies were so peaceful and egalitarian. It gives us glimpses of how we could organise a free and egalitarian society in the future.

The origins of hunter-gatherer egalitarianism - Christopher Boehm

Christopher Boehm's theory on how rebellions against alpha-male despotism created hunter-gatherer egalitarianism (primitive communism) which humans maintained for 100,000 years.

"Once a prehistoric hunting band institutionalized a successful and decisive rebellion, and did away with the alpha-male role permanently ... it is easy to see how this institution would have spread."

Christopher Boehm is Director of the Jane Goodall Research Institute.

Egalitarian Societies - James Woodburn

Humans lived as hunter-gatherers for 90% of human history. This classic article describes the radical egalitarianism of such societies.