A.K. 47 - Selections from the Works of Alexandra Kollontai

A.K. 47 - Selections from the Works of Alexandra Kollontai

Kristen R. Ghodsee reads and discusses 47 selections from the works of Alexandra Kollontai (1872-1952), a socialist women's activist who had radical ideas about the intersections of socialism and women's emancipation. Born into aristocratic privilege, the Ukrainian-Finnish Kollontai was initially a member of the Mensheviks before she joined Lenin and the Bolsheviks and became an important revolutionary figure during the 1917 Russian Revolution. Kollontai was a socialist theorist of women’s emancipation and a strident proponent of sexual relations freed from all economic considerations. After the October Revolution, Kollontai became the Commissar of Social Welfare and helped to found the Zhenotdel (the women's section of the Party). She oversaw a wide variety of legal reforms and public policies to help liberate working women and to create the basis of a new socialist sexual morality. But Russians were not ready for her vision of emancipation, and she was sent away to Norway to serve as the first Russian female ambassador (and only the third female ambassador in the world).In this podcast, Kristen R. Ghodsee – a professor of Russian and East European Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism: And Other Arguments for Economic Independence (Bold Type Books 2018) – selects excerpts from the essays, speeches, and fiction of Alexandra Kollontai and puts them in context. Each episode provides an introduction to the abridged reading with some relevant background on Kollontai and the historical moment in which she was writing.

Episodes

March 25, 2024 23 mins

Kristen Ghodsee speaks to Scott R. Sehon, a professor of philosophy, about his new book, Socialism: A Logical Introduction, and why we should use arguments to make a case for socialism and against capitalism. 

The first ten U.S.-based listeners to email Alexandra.kollontai.podcast@gmail.com with a name and address will get a free copy of Professor Sehon's new book. 

Mentioned in this episode:

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For International Women's Day, Kristen Ghodsee reads the Black Trinidadian activist and journalist Claudia Jones's speech for International Women's Day in 1950. This speech, (and the published version which appeared afterwards) led to Jones's arrest and eventual deportation from the United States. Jones was a member of the CPUSA, and believed that women's emancipation and civil rights required a strong stan...

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Kristen Ghodsee reads a profile of Alexandra Kollontai which appeared in the Washington Post on May 15, 1927 when Kollontai was serving as the Soviet ambassador to Mexico.

Mentioned in this episode: The hardcover of Everyday Utopia is on sale at Amazon.com for $14.99 (50% off)

Thanks so much for listening. This podcast has no Patreon account and receives no funding. If you would like to support the work being done here, pl...

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Kristen Ghodsee and her daughter share a conversation about Kollontai's pro-natalism and the current discourse about the BirthStrike. Are the relevant moral imperatives about having or not having children? And how does the climate crisis factor into people's decisions? We also discuss the future of the podcast and the newly discovered fact that it is listened to in 100 countries around the world. 

Thanks so much for listen...

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Kristen Ghodsee reads the final part of Alexandra Kollontai's 1921 essay, "The Labor of Women in the Evolution of the Economy" to explore Kollontai's arguments for the socialization of the family and the socialist uses of the maternal instinct. Although Kollontai is openly pro-natalist, and emphasizes that motherhood is a social obligation to help produce new workers for the world's first workers state, she...

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Kristen Ghodsee reads the second part of Alexandra Kollontai's 1921 essay, "The Labor of Women in the Evolution of the Economy" to explore Kollontai's arguments for the socialization of the family and the socialist uses of the maternal instinct. Although Kollontai is openly pro-natalist, and emphasizes that motherhood is a social obligation to help produce new workers for the world's first workers state, sh...

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Kristen Ghodsee reads the first part of Alexandra Kollontai's 1921 essay, "The Labor of Women in the Evolution of the Economy." A portion of this essay on abortion was discussed on the 6 March 2019 episode, but here Ghodsee digs in to Kollontai's argument for the socialization of the family. 

Mentioned in this episode:

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In this bonus episode, Kristen Ghodsee welcomes back her now almost 22-year-old daughter to discuss a theory of fun. What would a society look like if we prioritized the ability of everyone to have as much fun as they wanted (in whatever form that fun might take)? Rather than worrying about the fitness benefits of different human behaviors, maybe all we really need to do is focus on having a good time, and the rest will take care o...

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Kristen Ghodsee reads the fifth and final part of Alexandra Kollontai's 1921 text: "The Workers Opposition."

Mentioned in this episode are: 

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Kristen Ghodsee reads the fourth part of Alexandra Kollontai's 1921 text: "The Workers Opposition" and moans a bit about joining Instagram: @kristenghodsee

Mentioned in this episode are: 

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Kristen Ghodsee reads the third part of Alexandra Kollontai's 1921 text: "The Workers Opposition." 

Thanks so much for listening. This podcast has no Patreon account and receives no funding. If you would like to support the work being done here, please spread the word and share with your friends and networks, and consider exploring the following links:

Buy Kristen Ghodsee's new book now: Everyday Utopia<...

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Kristen Ghodsee reads the second part of Alexandra Kollontai's 1921 text: "The Workers Opposition." 

Check out these upcoming events:

Thanks so much for ...

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Kristen Ghodsee reads the first part of Alexandra Kollontai's 1921 text: "The Workers Opposition." 

Mentioned in this episode are these upcoming events:

...

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On the eve of a possible UPS strike in the United States, Kristen Ghodsee reads a 1968 introduction to Alexandra Kollontai's 1921 pamphlet written in support of the Workers Opposition. This was a fundamental critique of Bolshevism from within the Party ranks, which was squashed and ended Kollontai's political career in the USSR.

Mentioned in this episode: 

  • Total Liberation Podcast with Mexie (Livestream), “Bui...
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June 11, 2023 21 mins

Kristen Ghodsee reads Cathy Porter's 1980 translation of Kollontai's 1922 short story, "Conversation Piece," about a woman having to choose between the man she loves romantically and the man she loves intellectually and spiritually.

Mentioned in this episode:

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Kristen Ghodsee reads an April 25, 1982 review of a [then] new English translation of Alexandra Kollontai's collection, "A Great Love," translated by Cathy Porter. 

Mentioned in this episode are:

A list of utopian summer reading recommendations at Literary Hub.com.

A new podcast interview at Revolutionary Left Radio.

An excerpt of Everyday Utopia in Penn Today.

Thanks so much for ...

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Kristen Ghodsee reads an article about the creation in 2019 of the Kollontai Vodka Antisessista by a group of self-managed workers in Milan. Sales from this vodka are used to finance a autonomist literary cafe in Bari. The whole project is a wonderful example of the contemporary legacy of Kollontai and her continuing inspiration for feminists and activists around the world.

In Italy, buy Kollontai Vodka here (The proceeds ...

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Kristen Ghodsee reads the second half of a biographical article written by the American Katharine Anthony and published in The North American Review in September 1930. At this point in time, Kollontai was serving as the Soviet ambassador to Norway, and Katharine Anthony was introducing Kollontai to an American audience as a feminist and women's rights activist, and playing down her connections to the Bolsheviks.

Plea...

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Kristen Ghodsee reads the first half of a biographical article written by the American Katharine Anthony and published in The North American Review in September 1930. At this point in time, Kollontai was serving as the Soviet ambassador to Norway, and Katharine Anthony was introducing Kollontai to an American audience as a feminist and women's rights activist, and playing down her connections to the Bolsheviks.

Pleas...

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To celebrate International Women's Day in 2023, Kristen Ghodsee reads an abridged version of Clara Zetkin's article on the official establishment of March 8 as International Communist Women's Day. The article is from International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 18, published on 8 March 1922. 

Clara Zetkin was the leader of the women's section of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) of Germany, and a clo...

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