Laguna State Polytechnic University
Brgy. Bubukal, Sta. Cruz, Laguna
Reflection Paper on Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State (1884) by: Friedrich Engels
Submitted by: Reginald M. Monteser
Submitted to: Mr. Neil Galoy
This article argues that the first domestic institution in human history was not the family but the matrilineal clan. Engels here follows Lewis H. Morgan's thesis as outlined in his major book, Ancient Society. Morgan was an American business lawyer who championed the land rights of Native Americans and became adopted as an honorary member of the Seneca Iroquois tribe. Traditionally, the Iroquois had lived in communal longhouses based on matrilineal descent and matrilocal residence, an arrangement giving women much solidarity and power. When nonhuman primate society and earliest human society, identifying sexual competition and the "jealousy of the male" as the vital issue that needed to be overcome to allow the emergence of the oldest form of family involving "group marriage". Primitive communism was based in the matrilineal clan where women lived with their classificatory sisters – applying the principle that "my sister’s child is my child". This kinship solidarity empowered women to take action against uncooperative males. Engels identified the "world historic defeat of the female sex" – the switch from what he called "mother-right" to "father-right" – with the onset of farming and pastoralism. This shift from matrilocality to patrilocality manifested itself in men's increased control in the home. Engels wrote: "The man took command in the home also." The book begins with an extensive discussion of Ancient Society which describes the major stages of human development as commonly understood in Engels' time. In contrast to other contemporary essays on the subject, Engels emphasizes the importance not of primitive psychological development but rather of social relations of power and control over...
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