Fundamentals of Historical Materialism: The Marxist View of History and Politics

In one of my feminist groups we were just discussing works which present marxist ideas accessibly, and this occurred to me as one of the best examples. Doug died a few years ago, but made a major contribution to keeping marxist theory accessible and practised, ensuring that it was not “something over there” that existed apart from day-to-day political activity: not referenced occasionally as proof of how marxist we are, while otherwise ignoring it.

Click on the image to download the pdf.

Fundamentals of Historical Materialism

The Marxist View of History and Politics

Doug Lorimer
1999, 216 pp



Does she mean it?


Can I just say how annoying it is that men self-servingly pick and choose which of women’s boundaries (stated explicitly or implied) they believe are real, based on what works out best for them.

To some extent all abusers do this, but it seems very much a gendered phenomenon, with women especially being treated as probably being “in a mood” if we say something is un-ok. And any subsequent failures on our part to repeat this declaration are treated as our real position.

In fact, women are reared since birth to be kind despite our issues with others, and to minimize the impact on third parties (and on political causes especially) of our problems with individuals. So on many occasions we won’t vocalise our own needs in order to let other matters and others’ needs take precedence, without this meaning that we have changed our position. In addition, the constant ‘testing’ that we face of our boundaries, by those socialised to believe that this is reasonable of them, is wearing to us. Of course, this is very much the point of testing our boundaries and ignoring what we say – to wear us down [1]. Else our stated position would be treated as our position until we explicitly rescind it, without weird conditions such as “she only means it if she reaffirms it on X schedule, which we won’t tell her about” being applied.

The general societal trend is to combine
(a) a constant pressure on women to drop our boundaries in order to be “nice”,
(b) treating us as though this ongoing external pressure is absent, and as though we periodically say unfair things we don’t mean because hormones and unstable women.

This testing of boundaries, and selectiveness about which of women’s actions will be considered ‘the real boundary’, are manifested along the spectrum of abuse, with even more progressive people often acting obliviously in response. Such as a former ‘comrade’ who ignored my stated wish to minimise my contact with him by taking opportunities to insert himself into very small groups of people I was with at informal gatherings, to gauge my reaction (and probably also hear what was being said). On one occasion he acted as though he had to repeatedly pass well within a metre of me on a quiet street with no crowds, rain or traffic, in order to get phone reception. No reaction from the others I was with, who mostly knew the situation. On the more serious end, we have women who are deemed by socialists or anarchists to be “not real rape victims”, because their twitter comments in the days following the event did not notify all and sundry of the rape and they really didn’t sound upset enough.

That is all.

[1] Sometimes boundary-testers are aiming more at finding out how much we will allow them to get away with, as this piece on a growing phenomenon of online sexual harassment draws out.