Social Scientist. v 29, no. 342-343 (Nov-Dec 2001) p. 88.


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BOOK REVIEW

Emancipation of Women

Rule, Ella (ed.), Marxism and the Emancipation of Women^ Harpal Brar, 2000,pp.538.

One of the lasting achievements of the twentieth century is the contribution of a melding of Marxist and feminist ideologies with the social dynamics of seemingly very different societies. The need to take cognisance of this fact is all the more today since the century, which began with an upswing of movements for social transformation with a view to advancing equality and democracy under the aegis of socialist forces, has ended with an apology for the cold war. The "demise5 of socialism has in fact been used to pronounce the very end of ideology. For social historians attempting to assess the achievements of the last hundred years and more, it is important that first the significance of gauging the contribution of Marxist ideology and praxis be recognised.

This book sets out to do this as a first step. However, it does so specifically from within the context of debates on-going in the British left in the 1970s. These were years when the political canvas of the reds was blazing with the challenge of the New Left, hence the vituperative exchange between the Maoists and the Trotskyists dominates the lengthy polemics. Since the collection is based on select speeches and writings of the period, it does not allow for a more objective or dispassionate critique of the exchanges or of the discussion on women's rights in Marxist theory. For those interested, the book offers a one-way nostalgic trip down the memory lane of hurling political abuse on the Trotskyist groupings, particularly on the International Socialist tendency for their 'revisionist-disruptive role.9 In the bargain, the more substantial point is somewhat lost: of how



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