Masculine and Feminine Marxism — Işık Barış Fidaner


The building block of capitalist production is the operation of engaging an effort by “selling labor-power” [1]. The labor-power is not present as a substance before the selling, at the moment of selling it is symbolized as a “resource” and at that instant emerges in the capitalist world [2]. Resume is the story that evidences this symbolic resource.

The engagement of the effort takes place in the field of authority-body complexes that constitute life [3]. “Selling labor-power” is a specific way of separating authorization and embodiment [4]: The boss assumes authorization, the worker assumes embodiment. The boss takes from the worker the will that (s)he (boss) needs as the ground of authorization and administrates it, the worker takes from the boss the system that (s)he (worker) needs as the ground of embodiment and manages it. Thus a symbiosis is formed between the authority-system of the boss and the will-body of the worker [5].

The question of how to constitute and relate the grounds of will and system that are needed for the job to work concerns the life philosophies (ideologies) of the boss and the worker and it forms the main topic of the job interview. We must distinguish masculine and feminine tendencies in establishing these grounds: The masculine tendency is the boss’s effort to separate his authority from the worker’s body and make it independent; in practice this is the boss’s effort to reduce the willful contribution that (s)he takes from the worker down to a low cost, the contract that’s put before the worker and the concept of “selling labor-power” follows this logic. The feminine tendency is the worker’s effort to make the boss acknowledge his/her dependency on the worker’s body; in practice this is the worker’s effort to master the system that (s)he takes from the boss (administering it instead of managing it), the possibility of workers’ unionization relies on this feminine tendency, the extreme point of this logic is the Marxist communist ideal that relies on the concept of “seizing the means of production”. Other authority-body complexes like unions and parties that were encouraged by the tensions in the authority-body complex of the boss and the worker have been quite effective in the 20th century.

We can speak of a masculine and a feminine tendency that constitute Marxism. The masculine Marxist tendency has pursued a communist ideal that was imagined to have proven its independence from commodity fetishism. Giant socialist countries like the Soviet Union and China rely on the ideologies produced by this masculine Marxist tendency in the 20th century. The feminine Marxist tendency, in contrast, practices ideology critique by evidencing how dependent people are on commodity fetishism [6]. The main vein of this feminine Marxism is formed by the Western Marxism and the Freudo-Marxism in the Frankfurt School. Laclau’s theory of hegemony and Žižek’s ideology critique continue this feminine Marxism.

Not the criticism of a certain ideology in the name of the opposite ideology but the question of “ideology critique” in the general sense is a subject of psychoanalysis because it’s about the connection between the desires that disrupt the will and the malfunctions that disrupt the system; this is the symptom [7]. Back to the initial topic, there is a connection between the desires that disrupt the will that the boss takes from the worker and the malfunctions that disrupt the system that the worker takes from the boss. A passive example of this is a system malfunction caused by a worker whose desires are neglected falling asleep at work. An active example is a system malfunction due to the workers who do not cede their desire going on strike. At the level of the society one can show that all systemic crises and malfunctions are connected to certain desires that belong to groups of people.


Işık Barış Fidaner is a computer scientist with a PhD from Boğaziçi University, İstanbul. Admin of Yersiz Şeyler, Editor of Žižekian Analysis, Curator of Görce Writings. Twitter: @BarisFidaner


[1] See “Effort is engaged labor-power”, “Knowledge-at-work is an Effort with Real Engagement”

[2] Just like “human resources”, “natural resources” get symbolized and appear in the capitalist world at the moment they are sold.

[3] See “Life, Philosophy, Psychoanalysis”

[4] See “Separation of Authorization from Embodiment”

[5] One can say a similar thing about a conservative husband-wife relationship. It’s a symbiosis between the man’s authority-system and the woman’s will-body. In more modern families the symbiosis develops in both sides. For example see “I’m a Cyborg But That’s OK: I’m Crazy But I’m Conservative”

[6] See “Proof is masculine, evidence is feminine”

[7] See “Desire and Malfunction”

Image source.


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