The Dawn of Humanity

Chris Knight in his review of David Graeber and David Wengrow’s The Dawn of Everything says the book is not about the ‘dawn’ of humanity but its ‘tea time’ around 30,000 years ago. It misses most of humanity’s first 200,000 years of hunting and gathering in Africa before the migration to Eurasia. Oh how boring. There is a reason for that. It erases the ‘first revolution’ won by mothers who used their sex strike to negotiate terms with men, socializing human reproduction to create egalitarian communes surviving many millennia. It projects private property and free market entrepreneurism back in history and cherry picks case studies to reinforce the bourgeois ideology that human nature is fixed for all time in the image of the possessive individual male.

Cave art depicting rhinoceros, Chauvet cave, France. 30,000-32,000 years ago.

Following Marx, Engels and Luxemburg, Marxists claim that women were the first revolutionaries who managed to create and defend the communal order on the basis of matrilineal kinship over many thousands of years. The overthrow of ‘mother right’ by the patriarchy established the first ‘class’ society.  As we fight to end all class society in a future communist society, women’s resistance to the rise of class society in defense of the commune for millennia, offers both inspiration and important lessons for our fight for socialism and the commune today.

Chris Knight comments on Rosa Luxemburg: 

“In her last book, Einfuhrung in die Nationalökonomie, she argued that “primitive communism, with its corresponding democracy and social equality [was] … the cradle of social development”. She went on to claim that “the whole of modern civilisation, with its private property, its class domination, its male domination, its compulsory state and compulsory marriage [is] merely a brief passing phase, which, because they first formed from the dissolution of primitive communist society, in future will become higher social forms … A communist and democratic society, even if in different and more primitive forms, embraced the whole long past of cultural history prior to present-day civilisation. In this way, the noble tradition of the ancient past, thus holds out a hand to the revolutionary aspirations of the future, the circle of knowledge closes harmoniously, and the present world of class domination and exploitation … becomes merely a minuscule transient stage in the great cultural advance of humanity.”

Chris Knight’s theory of ‘blood relations’ gives more substance to the contested social relations of Marx, Engels and Luxemburg’s concept of “primitive communism”. He argues that approximately 40,000 years ago women began a revolution in hunter-gatherer clans by organizing a sisterhood to protect their children from men. They synchronized their menstrual cycle with the full moon and went on a sex strike to compel their husbands to go hunting to provide for the children. This social relation allowed women to resist for many thousands of years the rise of the patriarchy. And, I would argue, it is that undying resistance that survives today in the emerging struggle against the Patriarchy especially in the form of trans-ideology which claims that men can become women.

This is an explanation for the recent emergence of trans-ideology today intensifying the backlash against second wave feminism just as capitalism slides into terminal crisis. The crisis this time is more extreme as Capital is destroying nature as the condition for its existence. Facing death Capital pulls out every dirty trick in the book to divide and rule the proletariat. This must include the neutralization of women as part of nature’s fightback against capital over control of children. It is here that we can see the postmodern, idealist and voluntarist reprise of the overthrow of ancient ‘mother right’ behind the trans claims to be ‘menstruators’ and ‘uterus bearers’. Just as the original patriarchs sought to neutralize women’s power in reproducing blood relations by staging men’s menstrual rituals, trans-activists today claim that women do not have the exclusive right to motherhood. (Blood Relations p36-37)

Since transwomen claim to be ‘women’ they insist the term ‘uterus bearers’ must include men. So the trans-cult is not just woke, or the commodification of sex by a profit-driven new industry, it is the patriarchy attempting to erase the solidarity of the sisterhood grounded in sexual reproduction, and to separate ‘sisters’ from ‘brothers’, to divide the proletariat with charges of transphobia and fascism, taking us all down the road to extinction.

The original sisterhood solidarity worked for millennia, supported by mother’s brothers and the maternal clan. It was disrupted by men to form the original class society, the patriarchy, which survives today in the continued exploitation and oppression of women as unpaid or underpaid reproducers and producers. We need the return of sisterhood solidarity as an integral part of the working-class struggle for permanent revolution.

The model of ‘mothers’ brothers’ role in the matrilineal clan relations (see Blood Relations p 26-29) can inspire the solidarity of men with women’s reproductive and productive rights. That means standing up for women as an historic sex class defending nature from capitalist destruction. It means uniting the working class to defend women’s spaces from men who want to invade them. We don’t dispute the right of trans people to identify as men or women. It is their insistence that gender identity replaces sex that attacks the legacy of the first social revolution today as part of the permanent revolution for the new commune.