Summer reading: Axel Honneth, The Idea of Socialism, 2017

Daisy models Axel Honneth's excellent (and short) book, The Idea of Socialism

For decades, despite a number of attempts at mutual rapprochement, the relationship between the socialist workers movement and the emerging feminist movement remained tense and unhappy. Although it became increasingly clear that women’s liberation not only required greater equality in terms of voting and labor rights, but also a more fundamental cultural change beginning with established forms of socialization if women’s voices were to be freed from the gender stereotypes imposed upon them, the worker’s movement remained blind to such conclusions, clinging instead to the priority of the economic sphere. How different the relationship between socialism and feminism could have been had socialists only been willing to take account of the functional differentiation of modern societies by interpreting the sphere of personal relationships as an independent sphere of social freedom. Had they done so, the moral standard of free cooperation in social attachments based on mutual love soon would have opened their eyes to the fact that the oppression of women begins within the family, where stereotypes are imposed upon them with open or subtle forms of violence, leaving them no chance to explore their own sentiments, desires and interests. The problem, therefore, did not so much consist in involving women equally in economic production, but in granting them authorship of their own self-image, independent of male ascriptions. The struggle for social freedom in the sphere of love, marriage and the family would have primarily meant enabling women to attain as much freedom as possible from economic dependency, violence-based tutelage and one-sided labor within the hatchery of male power. This would enable women to become equal partners in relationships based on mutuality, and it is only on the basis of free and reciprocal affection that both sides would have been capable of emotionally supporting each other and articulating the needs and desires they view as a true expression of their selves.
— Axel Honneth, The Idea of Socialism, 2017: 85-86
We are unable to anticipate social improvements in the basic structure of contemporary societies because we regard the substance of this structure as being impervious to change, just like things. On this account, the inability to translate widespread outrage at the scandalous distribution of wealth and power into attainable goals is due neither to the disappearance of an actually existing alternative to capitalism, nor to a fundamental shift in our understanding of history, but rather to the predominance of a fetishistic [and fixed] conception of human relations
— Axel Honneth, The Idea of Socialism, 2017: 4