Alexandra Kollontai was the first woman to be a cabinet minister, and the first woman ambassador.
57 Facts About Alexandra Kollontai
The daughter of an Imperial Russian Army general, Kollontai embraced radical politics in the 1890s and joined the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party in 1899.
Alexandra Kollontai was appointed People's Commissar for Social Welfare in the first Soviet government, but soon resigned due to her opposition to the peace treaty of Brest-Litovsk in the ranks of the Left Communists.
In 1919, Alexandra Kollontai was a leading figure in the foundation of the Zhenotdel, the then-new women's department of the Central Committee that was aimed at improving the status of women in the Soviet Union.
Alexandra Kollontai was a champion of women's liberation, and later came to be recognized as a key figure in Marxist feminism.
Alexandra Kollontai was outspoken against bureaucratic influences over the Communist Party and its undemocratic internal practices.
Alexandra Kollontai retired from diplomatic service in 1945 and died in Moscow in 1952.
Alexandra Kollontai's father served as a cavalry officer in the Russo-Turkish War.
Alexandra Kollontai entertained liberal political views, favouring a constitutional monarchy like that of United Kingdom.
Alexandra Kollontai's marriage to Mravinsky was an arranged marriage which turned out to be unhappy, and eventually she divorced Mravinsky in order to marry Mikhail Domontovich, with whom she had fallen in love.
Alexandra Kollontai was a good student growing up, sharing her father's interest in history, and mastering a range of languages.
Alexandra Kollontai spoke French with her mother and sisters, English with her nanny, Finnish with the peasants at a family estate inherited from her maternal grandfather in Kuusa, and was a student of German.
Alexandra Kollontai sought to continue her schooling at a university, but her mother refused her permission, arguing that women had no real need for higher education, and that impressionable youngsters encountered too many dangerous radical ideas at universities.
Alexandra Kollontai's mother objected bitterly to the potential union since the young man was so poor, to which her daughter replied that she would work as a teacher to help make ends meet.
Alexandra Kollontai's parents forbade the relationship and sent Alexandra on a tour of Western Europe in the hope that she would forget Vladimir, but the pair remained committed to one another despite it all and married in 1893.
Alexandra Kollontai became pregnant soon after her marriage and bore a son, Mikhail, in 1894.
Alexandra Kollontai devoted her time to reading radical populist and Marxist political literature and writing fiction.
Alexandra Kollontai then paid a visit to England, where she met members of the British socialist movement, including Sidney and Beatrice Webb.
Alexandra Kollontai returned to Russia in 1899, at which time she met Vladimir Ilych Ulyanov, better known today as Vladimir Lenin.
Alexandra Kollontai became interested in Marxist ideas while studying the history of working movements in Zurich, under Herkner, later described by her as a Marxist Revisionist.
Alexandra Kollontai became a member of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party in 1899 at the age of 27.
In 1905, Alexandra Kollontai was a witness to the popular uprising known as Bloody Sunday at Saint Petersburg in front of the Winter Palace.
At the time of the split in the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party between the Mensheviks under Julius Martov and the Bolsheviks under Vladimir Lenin in 1903, Alexandra Kollontai did not side with either faction at first, and "offered her services to both factions".
Alexandra Kollontai went into exile, to Germany, in 1908 after publishing "Finland and Socialism", which called on the Finnish people to rise up against oppression within the Russian Empire.
Alexandra Kollontai was strongly opposed to the war and very outspoken against it, and in June 1915 she broke with the Mensheviks and officially joined the Bolsheviks, "those who most consistently fought social-patriotism".
The next place where Alexandra Kollontai tried to speak and write against the war was Sweden, but the Swedish government imprisoned her for her activities.
Alexandra Kollontai travelled twice to the United States to speak about war and politics, and to renew her relationship with her son Mikhail; in 1916, she had arranged for him to avoid conscription by going to the United States to work on Russian orders from US factories.
In 1917, upon hearing of the February Revolution, Alexandra Kollontai returned from Norway to Russia.
When Lenin too got back to Russia in April 1917, Alexandra Kollontai was the only major leader of the Petrograd Bolsheviks who immediately voiced her full support for his radical and nonconformist new proposals.
Alexandra Kollontai was a member of the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet, and "for the rest of 1917, [she] was a constant agitator for revolution in Russia as a speaker, leaflet writer and worker on the Bolshevik women's paper Rabotnitsa".
Alexandra Kollontai was the most prominent woman in the Soviet administration and was best known for founding the Zhenotdel or "Women's Department" in 1919.
In political life, Alexandra Kollontai increasingly became an internal critic of the Communist Party and, with an article published in Pravda on 28 January 1921, she publicly sided with the Workers' Opposition, a left-wing faction of the party that had its roots in the trade union milieu and was led by Shliapnikov and by Sergei Medvedev, both of working class extraction.
Alexandra Kollontai's language "conveyed much harsher criticism of the party and CC than did Shlyapnikov's language" in the official faction platform.
Lenin was very upset about Alexandra Kollontai joining the Workers' Opposition and, when he was given a copy of her pamphlet, he just 'leafed through' it and immediately castigated Alexandra Kollontai.
When 'Alexandra Kollontai attempted to speak before the Comintern Executive on 26 February 1922 on behalf of the views expressed in the appeal,' Trotsky and Zinoviev had her name removed from the list of orators and insisted that she should not take the floor.
Alexandra Kollontai was badly shaken by having teetered dangerously close to expulsion, and regarded the idea of being excluded from the 'revolutionary community of the elect' as a dreadful "nightmare".
In early 1924, Alexandra Kollontai was first promoted to Charge d'affaires and from August to Minister Plenipotentiary.
Alexandra Kollontai was a member of the Soviet delegation to the League of Nations.
Alexandra Kollontai discarded her feminist concerns and "offered no objection to the patriarchal legislation of 1926 and the constitution of 1936, which deprived Soviet women of many of the gains they had achieved after the February and October Revolutions".
Alexandra Kollontai waged many a battle against the "Lenin-Trotsky" regime, only to bow most movingly later on to the Stalin regime.
Alexandra Kollontai herself had, as it were, countered in advance, in her 1927 article through which she finally aligned herself, once and for all, with the Stalinists:.
Alexandra Kollontai died in Moscow on 9 March 1952, less than a month from her 80th birthday, and was buried at Novodevichy Cemetery.
Alexandra Kollontai was the only member of the Bolsheviks' Central Committee that had led the October Revolution who managed to live into the 1950s, other than Stalin himself and his devoted supporter Matvei Muranov.
Alexandra Kollontai has sometimes been criticized and even held up to contempt for not raising her voice during the Stalinist purges, when, among countless others, her former husband, her former lover and fighting comrade, and so many friends of hers were executed.
Notwithstanding, it should be pointed out that, even so, Alexandra Kollontai did not enjoy a full liberty of action and had to worry about the possible fates of her family.
Alexandra Kollontai is regarded as a key figure in Marxist feminism for her commitment to both women's liberation and Marxist ideals.
Alexandra Kollontai opposed the ideology of liberal feminism, which she saw as bourgeois.
Alexandra Kollontai criticized bourgeois feminists for prioritizing political goals, such as women's suffrage, that would provide political equality for bourgeois women but would do little to address the immediate conditions of working-class women, and was further distrustful that bourgeois champions of feminism would continue to support their working class counterparts after succeeding in their struggle for "general women's" rights:.
Alexandra Kollontai advocated for a transformed marriage that would be compatible with many other social relations, such as friendship.
Alexandra Kollontai felt that by liberating women and men from their traditionally hierarchical roles, communism would free marriage from the "conjugal slavery of the past", allowing spouses to thrive in egalitarian marriages grounded in mutual love and trust.
Alexandra Kollontai's saw domestic labour as an impediment to her ideal of the "universal family".
Rather than viewing the tasks that were traditionally reserved for women as productive labour, Alexandra Kollontai believed that housework stood in the way of industrialization and modernization and that under a fully realized communist society, industrial mechanization would ultimately replace so-called women's work:.
Unlike supporters of Wages for Housework who advocated for the integration of women into the public sphere, Alexandra Kollontai questioned the status of working women:.
Alexandra Kollontai has to work the same hours as her husband in some factory, printing-house or commercial establishment and then on top of that she has to find the time to attend to her household and look after her children.
Alexandra Kollontai viewed marriage and traditional families as legacies of an oppressive, property-rights-based, and individualistic past in which women were simultaneously subjected to both wage labour outside the home and unpaid maternal and domestic labour within it.
Alexandra Kollontai admonished men and women to discard their nostalgia for traditional family life.