Dominique Meeùs
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Eleanor Burke Leacock, « Introduction » to Engels’
The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, 1972

Eleanor Burke Leacock , Introduction to Engels’ The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, International Publishers, 1972, p. 7-67.

J'ai noté dans le train ou dans le tram un certains nombre de points sur lesquels je voulais revenir. Je les reprends ici en vrac, avant de perdre le bout de papier où je les avais notés, en attendant de les exploiter, de rédiger quelque chose à leur sujet.

P. 10-11. In the first full joint statement of their dialectical materialist theory of history presented in The German Ideology in 1846, Marx and Engels had outlined “various stages of development in the division of labor.” Etc.

Problème de la catégorisation en sciences humaines. P. 12. The categorization of successive levels in the integration of matter, as a step toward understanding, is taken more for granted in the natural than in the social sciences. … For example, it is taken for granted that the existence of forms intermediate between plants and animals does not invalidate the categories “plant” and “animal” but illuminates the mechanisms that were operative in the development of the latter from the former.

P. 12, bas. It used to be commonplace in American anthropology, following the anti-evolutionary empiricism associated with the name of Franz Boas, to question Morgan’s sequence of stages since many groups, including some Morgan gave as instances, do not really “fit” into a particular stage. However, Morgan himself knew the limits of his scheme, which he offered as “convenient and useful,” but “provisional.”

On pourrait dire qu'elle donne à The Origins le statut d'un programme de recherche au sens de Lakatos.

P. 13 ⅔. Engels accepted Morgan’s criteria, but he clarified and emphasized the major distinction between the periods of so-called “savagery” and “barbarism,” each taken as a whole. The former, he wrote, was “the period in which man’s appropriation of products in their natural stage predominates,” and the latter was “the period during which man learns to breed domestic animals and to practice agriculture, and acquires methods of increasing the supply of natural products by human activity.” This distinction is now commonly phrased by anthropologists as that between food gathering and food production.

Les stades comme une question et non une réponse. (Me fait encore penser à Lakatos.) P. 14 ¼. A rather simple but often overlooked confusion has plagued subsequent discussions of historical “stages.” There is a common failure to distinguish between the definition of stages as a necessary preliminary step to asking meaningful questions about a given period, institution or event, and stages seen as themselves the answers. “Stages” define major alternatives in the structure of productive relations; they afford a conceptual framework for the study of historical process. To place a society in a central or transitional position in relation to one or more stages is a necessary preliminary step to inquiry, not a straitjacket that limits it.[2] Note importante.

Besoin du capitalisme d'affirmer l'éternité de ses catégories, de nier toute évolution. P. 15-16.

P. 16 ⅓. Battles among adherents of the “historical” and “functionalist” schools, and between them and the remaining champions of “evolutionism,” often waged hot and heavy.

P. 16, bas. On a invoqué la grande diversité contre la théorie évolutioniste. Cependant les faits peuvent aussi éclairer l'évolution, p. 16-17 : Archaeological researches have yielded an undeniable picture of mankind’s development from “savage” hunters to “barbarian” agriculturalists and finally to the “civilizations” of the Ancient East, as made explicit by the British scholar V. Gordon Childe.[3] Longue note.

Straw man, on fait une caricature pour la vaincre alors facilement. P. 15 ⅝ : The usual practice is to set up as Marxist theory the straw man of economic determinism and then to knock it down. P. 18 ⅜ : the straw man of “unilinear evolution” ascribed to Morgan (and by implication Marx and Engels).

P. 18 ⅔. Communisme primitif comme mise en commun.

P. 19 ⅓. On a affirmé que des pistes ou territoires de chasse chez les Montagnais du Labrador étaient propriété privée. Mais, p. 19 bas, ce serait l'effet du commerce des fourrures avec les Occidentaux.

P. 21. Diverses réserves sur Morgan.

P. 23. Critique d'un livre sous la direction de Margaret Mead.

P. 25 ⅗. It is to the subject of the family in the primitive collective by comparison with that of class-based industrial society that we turn next.

Exogamie illusoire. P. 27 ½. The fact is that the widespread custom of “exogamy,” or marrying out of one’s kin group, often resulted in a specialized form of inbreeding. When kin is counted on one side only, certain cousins are outside one’s kin group and are not only eligible as marriage partners, but are often preferred.

P 28, haut. Elle reproche à Engels de suivre Morgan sur ces questions.

P. 28-29. Indications sur la période considérée et sur les difficultés.

P. 29 ½. Question difficile de la monogamie.

P. 30, haut. En limitant la discussion à matrilinéaire versus patrilinéaire, on a négligé d'étudier la situation concrète des femmes.

P. 32. Une population plus grande (agriculture) suppose plus d'institutions que dans une bande de chasseurs-collecteurs.

Différence entre couples pour faire des enfants et ménages comme unité économique. P. 33 ¼. The significant point for women’s status is that the household was communal and the division of labor between the sexes reciprocal; the economy did not involve the dependence of the wife and children on the husband. All major food supplies, large game and produce from the fields, were shared among a group of families.

Qui décide de quoi ? P. 34 ⅕, in primitive communal society decisions were made by those who would be carrying them out… P. 34 ⅓, the fact that men typically made decisions about hunting and warfare in primitive society is used to support the argument that they were the “rulers” in the Western sense.

P. 35 ⅕.It soon became clear that matriarchy, in the sense of power held by women over men comparable to that later held by men over women, had never existed.

P. 36 ⅓. To Service, it was the need for the “delicate coordination of several people” that led to the practice whereby closely related men stayed together as the core of a hunting band while women married into other bands. The case is, however, that some hunter-gatherers are matrilineal, and others have been so in the recent past.

P. 42, haut. Far more empirical documentation than Engels offers is needed to clarify the process of women’s subjugation…