Front Page Titles (by Subject) 6: Prostitution - Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis
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6: Prostitution - Ludwig von Mises, Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis 
Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis, trans. J. Kahane, Foreword by F.A. Hayek (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1981).
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The Communist Manifesto declares that the “complement” of the “bourgeois family” is public prostitution. “With the disappearance of capital” prostitution would also disappear.79 A chapter in Bebel’s book on woman is headed “Prostitution, a necessary social institution of the bourgeois world.” Here is amplified the theory that prostitution is as necessary to bourgeois society as “police, standing army, church, entrepreneurs, etc.”80 Since its appearance the view that prostitution is a product of Capitalism has gained ground enormously. And as, in addition, preachers still complain that the good old morals have decayed, and accuse modern culture of having led to loose living, everyone is convinced that all sexual wrongs represent a symptom of decadence peculiar to our age.
In answer to this it is sufficient to point out that prostitution is an extremely ancient institution, unknown to hardly any people that has ever existed.81 It is a remnant of ancient morals, not a symptom of the decay of higher culture. The most powerful influence against it today—the demand for man’s abstinence outside marriage—is one of the principles involved in equal moral fights for man and woman, and is therefore altogether an ideal of the capitalist age. The age of the principle of violence demands sexual purity only from the bride, not from the bridegroom also. All those factors which favour prostitution today have nothing whatever to do with private property and Capitalism. Militarism, which keeps young men from marriage longer than they wish, is anything but a product of peace-loving Liberalism. The fact that government and other officials can only marry when they are rich, as otherwise they would not be able to keep up appearances, is, like all other caste fetishes, a vestige of pre-capitalist thought. Capitalism does not recognize caste or caste customs; under Capitalism everyone lives according to his income.
Some women prostitute themselves because they want men, some because they want food. With many both motives operate. One may admit without further discussion that in a society where incomes were equal the economic temptation to prostitution would cease completely or dwindle to a minimum. But it would be idle to speculate whether or not, in a society without inequalities of income, other new social sources of prostitution could not arise. At any rate one cannot merely assume that the sexual morality of a socialist society would be more satisfactory than that of capitalist society.
It is in the study of the relations between sexual life and property, more than in any other field of social knowledge, that our ideas must be clarified and remodelled. Contemporary treatment of this problem is fiddled with prejudices of all kinds. But the eyes with which we look at the matter must not be those of the dreamer envisioning a lost paradise, who sees the future in a blaze of rose-coloured light, and condemns all that goes on around us.
THE ECONOMICS OF A SOCIALIST COMMUNITY
The Economics of an Isolated Socialist Community
[79. ]Marx and Engels, Das Kommunistische Manifest, 7th German ed. (Berlin, 1906), p. 35. Publisher’s Note: In English, see “The Communist Manifesto,” in Marx, Capital, the Communist Manifesto and Other Writings, ed. and introd. Max Eastman (New York: Random House, Modern Library, 1932), pp. 315-355. The reference to prostitution is on page 340 of this English edition.
[80. ]Bebel, op. cit., pp. 141 ff. Publisher’s Note: In the English edition cited earlier, see pp. 274 ff.
[81. ]Marianne Weber, op. cit., pp. 6 ff.