Alternative Lifestyles

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 78–100 | Cite as

The ideology of “Sex Love” in postrevolutionary Russia: Lenin, Kollontai, and the politics of lifestyle liberation

  • Jerry C. Pankhurst


This paper examines the experience of the Soviet Union just after the Revolution of 1917 when there were official, although ambiguous and inconsistent, efforts to open up lifestyle options. These efforts were based in Marxian theory, especially Engels' work,The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State (1884), but most of the revolutionary Bolsheviks were not enthusiastic about activism in this area. The views of Marx and Engels, Lenin, and Aleksandra Kollontai (the leading Bolshevik exponent of lifestyle freedom), and the implications of their own lifestyles, are discussed in this paper as they interacted to form early Soviet family policy. The utopian vision of Kollontai was ousted from the official sphere with the ascendancy of Stalin in the USSR, and the discussion of the fate of these efforts provides the basis for delineating six dilemmas in developing ideology and policy in the area of the family and alternative lifestyles.


Social Policy Social Issue Private Property Family Policy Marxian Theory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anderson, T.Masters of Russian Marxism. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1963.Google Scholar
  2. Bryant, L.Mirrors of Moscow. New York: Thomas Seltzer, 1923.Google Scholar
  3. Clements, B.E.Bolshevik feminist: The life of Aleksandra Kollontai. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1979.Google Scholar
  4. Engels, F.The origin of the family, private property and the state (1884). Edited and with an Introduction by E.B. Leacock. New York: International Publishers, 1972.Google Scholar
  5. Farnsworth, B. Bolshevism, the woman question, and Aleksandra Kollontai.American Historical Review 1976,81 292–316.Google Scholar
  6. —— Bolshevik alternatives and the Soviet family: The 1926 marriage law debate. In D. Atkinson, A. Dallin, and G.W. Lapidus (Eds.),Women in Russia. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1977, pp. 139–165.Google Scholar
  7. ——,Aleksandra Kollontai: Socialism, feminism and the Bolshevik revolution. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1980.Google Scholar
  8. Feuer, L.S. (Ed.).Marx and Engels: Basic writings on politics and philosophy. Garden City, NY: Doubleday (Anchor), 1959.Google Scholar
  9. Field, M.G. & Anderson, D.E. The family and social problems. In A. Kassof (Ed.),Prospects for Soviet society. New York: Praeger, 1968, pp. 386–417.Google Scholar
  10. Friedrich, C.J. & Brzezinski, Z.K.Totalitarian dictatorship and democracy (2nd ed.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1965.Google Scholar
  11. Geiger, H.K.The family in Soviet Russia. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1968.Google Scholar
  12. Gsovski, V. Family and inheritance in Soviet law.The Russian Review 1947,7 71–87.Google Scholar
  13. Hindus, M. The family in Russia. In R.N. Anshen (Ed.),The family, its function and destiny. New York: Harper, 1949, pp. 111–124.Google Scholar
  14. Inkeles, A.Social change in Soviet Russia. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1968.Google Scholar
  15. Inkeles, A. & Bauer R.The Soviet citizen: Daily life in a totalitarian society. New York: Atheneum, 1968.Google Scholar
  16. Itkina, A. M.Revoliutsioner, tribun, diplomat [Revolutionary, Tribune, Diplomat] (2nd, Enlarged ed.). Moscow: Politizdat, 1970.Google Scholar
  17. Jancar, B. W. Women in Soviet politics. In H. W. Morton & R. L. Tokes (Eds.),Soviet politics and society in the 1970's. New York: Free Press, 1974, pp. 118–160.Google Scholar
  18. Kollontai, A. M.Communism and the family. San Francisco: n.p., n.d. (printed by The Richmond Record). Originally published in Russian asSem'ia ia kommunisticheskoe gosudarstvo [The Family and the Communist State]. Moscow: Kommunist, 1918.Google Scholar
  19. ——Red love. New York: Seven Arts, 1927. Originally published in Russian asLiubov' pchel trudovikh [The Love of the Worker Bees]. Petrograd: Gosizdat, 1923.Google Scholar
  20. ——A great love. New York: Vanguard, 1929. Originally published in Russian asZhenshchina na perelome [Woman at the Turning Point]. Moscow and Petrograd: Gosizdat, 1923.Google Scholar
  21. ——The autobiography of a sexually emancipated communist woman. New York: Herder and Herder, 1971. A shortened version was originally published in German asZeil und Wert meines Lebens. In E. Kern (Ed.),Fuhrende Frauen Europas. Munich: E. Reinhardt, 1926.Google Scholar
  22. --Izbrannye stat'i i rechi [Collected Articles and Speeches], Moscow Politizdat, 1972.Google Scholar
  23. ——Iz moei zhizni i raboty [From My Life and Work]. Moscow: Izdatel'stvo “Sovetskaia Rossiia,” 1974.Google Scholar
  24. Lane, C. Ritual and ceremony in contemporary Soviet society.Sociological Review May 1979, 27, 235–75.Google Scholar
  25. ——The rites of rulers: Ritual in industrial society—The Soviet case. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981.Google Scholar
  26. Liegle, L.The family's role in Soviet education. New York: Springer, 1975.Google Scholar
  27. Lenin, V.I.The emancipation of women. New York: International Publishers, 1966.Google Scholar
  28. Makarenko, A.S.The collective family: A handbook for Russian parents. Garden City, NY: Doubleday (Anchor), 1967. Originally published in Russian asKniga dlia roditelei [A Book for Parents], 1940.Google Scholar
  29. Mannheim, K.Ideology and Utopia. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1936.Google Scholar
  30. Marx, K., Engels, F., Lenin, V.I., & Stalin, J.V.The woman question: Selections from the writings of Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, V.I. Lenin, Joseph Stalin. New York: International Publishers, 1951.Google Scholar
  31. McDowell, J. Soviet civil ceremonies.Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 1974,13 266–79.Google Scholar
  32. Mindlin, I. The old in the new. In P. Hollander (Ed.),American and Soviet society: A reader in comparative sociology and perception. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1969, pp. 185–188. Originally published in Russian in the journalNovyi mir, December, 1964.Google Scholar
  33. De Palencia, I.Alexandra Kollontay: Ambassadress for Russia. New York: Longmans, Green and Company, 1947.Google Scholar
  34. Petersen, W. The evolution of Soviet family policy.Problems of Communism Sept.–Oct. 1956,5 29–35.Google Scholar
  35. Schlesinger, R.The family in the U.S.S.R.: Documents and readings. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1949.Google Scholar
  36. Stites, R. Kollontai, Inessa, and Krupskaia: A review of recent literature.Canadian-American Slavic Studies 1975,9(1), 84–92.Google Scholar
  37. Stites, R. Women and the Russian intelligentsia. In D. Atkinson, A. Dallin, and G.W. Lapidus (Eds.),Women in Russia. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1977, pp. 39–62.Google Scholar
  38. ——The women's liberation movement in Russia: Feminism, nihilism, and Bolshevism, 1860–1930. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978.Google Scholar
  39. Ulam, A.B.The Bolsheviks. New York: Macmillan, 1965.Google Scholar
  40. Valentinov, N. (N.V. Volsky).Encounters with Lenin. London: Oxford University Press, 1968.Google Scholar
  41. Venable, V.Human Nature: The Marxian View. Cleveland: Meridian Books, 1966.Google Scholar
  42. Wolfe, B.D. Lenin and Inessa Armand.Slavic Review 1963,22(1), 96–114.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jerry C. Pankhurst
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyThe Ohio State UniversityColumbus

Personalised recommendations