Clara Zetkin: The Women’s and Women Workers’ Question of our Time

Translated and introduced by Ben Lewis, July 2023
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Bourgeois morality is the desert sand in which the ostrich buries its head when something unpleasant approaches; it must also serve as the last resort when it comes to defending keeping women tied to the household.’

In 1889, the communist politician Clara Zetkin began her meteoric rise to prominence within the international workers’ movement and published her first pamphlet, which is translated into English here for the first time. It outlines one of her most significant contributions to Marxist theory: a historical materialist understanding of the oppression of women and the theoretical justification for a ‘clean break’ between the bourgeois feminist movement of the ‘women’s rightists’ [Frauenrechtlerinnen] and the International Socialist Women’s Movement.

Translated and introduction by Ben Lewis

In his introduction, translator Ben Lewis calls for a critical Marxist (re)discovery of Zetkin’s rich life and work, the reception of which has been distorted almost beyond recognition by feminist, social-democratic and Stalinist historiography. Ben Lewis is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Leeds, where he is writing a book entitled Of Comradeship and Sisterhood: A Political History of ‘Die Gleichheit’ (1891–1917). He is the coordinator of the Patreon research project and podcast, Marxism Translated, which is dedicated to the translation and discussion of social-democratic texts from the period 1871–1945. He can be contacted at