A Great Love (Part 2) - Alexandra Kollontai

A Great Love (Part 2) - Alexandra Kollontai

This week we're once again collaborating with our comrades from The Tolerant Left podcast to bring the second of our two part episode covering 'A Great Love' by Alexandra Kollontai.

The second half of the book deals with an intensification of Semyon's abuse, his neglect of her needs, the belittling of Natasha's intelligence, how Senya's actions provoke self doubt and anxiety in her, Natasha's frustration and eventual disillusionment with their relationship and how after becoming jaded with Semyon's incorrigibility she courageously asserts her autonomy and finally breaks free. We also chat about 'crazy ex-girlfriends', how women are kept as toys and why drunkenness isn't an excuse for misogyny.

In our first time discussing a work of fiction we found no lack of important subject matter to be gleaned from the text. Considered by many to be a representation of a relationship between Inessa Armand and Vladimir Lenin, this essential and heart-breaking text gives us a deep insight into the physical and emotional reality of women revolutionaries before the October revolution and the harmful and misogynistic behaviour of men which remains unchanged to the present day.

This book, set in the world of revolutionaries exiled following the 1905 revolution, tells us the story of Natasha, an intelligent and dedicated party organiser, and her relationship with Semyon Semyonovich, a highly respected but deeply abusive official within the same party. Drawing from biographical experiences and those of her fellow comrades Kollontai paints a vivid picture of the profound pain and frustration which women suffered and suffer through in left-wing organising circles. From emotional abuse, dismissiveness and the downplaying of achievements to the ideas of transactional relationships, control in the institution of marriage and more.

This episode features our amazing comrades from The Tolerant Left podcast, an essential voice for non-men on the left https://twitter.com/tolerantleftpod

This episode is part of our series on Marxist-feminists. As Mao and Thomas Sankara have said, “Women hold up the other half of the sky.” Red Book Club recognizes that including the voices of nonmen in our studies is not a niche activity, but is in fact an essential step in gaining the most comprehensive view of the material conditions of the past and present that we possibly can; therefore we’ve planned this series to amplify the ideas that nonmen have been bringing to the conversation for centuries. From Federici’s analysis of women as a means of primitive accumulation to Luxemburg’s essay of the benefits of revolution vs the impossibility of reform, each of these works confronts history and the movement for social change through the lens of the experiences of nonmen in society. Follow us on Twitter at @RBCpod and feel free to message us if you need links to companion resources or have any questions. You can also find us on our new site at www.rbcpod.wordpress.com  where you can find ebook copies of the works that we're covering and more.

If you'd like to join or support the book club, you can find us on Patreon as Red Book Club: https://www.patreon.com/redbookclub including access to our Red Book Club discord server, early access to our episodes and more.

Thanks to @NunezKeenan for the intro theme; you can find more of their  work here:  http://tiny.cc/keenan

Thanks to the Craig bot for helping us to record via Discord!

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Outro music: Tears Dry On Their Own - Amy Whinehouse

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