Breaking down the family unit was a primary goal in Marxist strategy. Marriage was “private prostitution”, wrote Marx. Engels called for the abolition of the family, and the collective rearing of children, describing a wife as “a slave of (her husband’s) lust and a mere instrument for the production of children”.
This anti-family ideology was adopted with gusto by the post-revolutionary Soviets who passed decrees in 1917 which made divorce easy, recognised only civil marriages, abolished shared family property and banned adoption. In 1918 courts took over parental rights. “True liberation of women, true Communism comes about only when the masses rise up … against … small-scale households,” wrote Lenin in 1919.
You will find these ideas in every feminism and gender studies course in universities today. But you probably won’t find their real-life consequences, which were catastrophic for Russian society.
By 1920, divorces increased 100 fold, the birthrate plummeted, abortions skyrocketed, and 75 per cent of marriages lasted less than six months. Nearly seven million homeless children “roamed the streets, starving, dying of disease, and forming criminal gangs,” wrote Geoffrey Hosking in A History Of The Soviet Union.