Witchcraft, Gender, & Marxism | Philosophy Tube | Summary and Q&A

October 26, 2018
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Witchcraft, Gender, & Marxism | Philosophy Tube


The witch hunts during medieval Europe had a significant impact on shaping society and establishing capitalism, ultimately leading to the oppression of women and the elimination of magical thinking.

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Key Insights

  • 🙅‍♀️ The witch hunts resulted in the execution of thousands of women, but the true impact on society goes beyond the numbers.
  • 🥺 The transition from feudalism to capitalism was a violent process that involved the suppression of resistance movements, including those led by women.
  • 🗯️ The witch hunts curtailed women's rights, restricted their access to medicine and midwifery, and tied them to a reproductive role.
  • 🖤 The witch hunts and the lynching of black Americans share similarities in their purpose of maintaining social order through violent means.
  • 🤦‍♀️ Modernity has not eradicated sexism and oppressive systems, as women are still tied to reproductive roles and face unequal treatment.
  • 👥 It is important to acknowledge the consequences of the witch hunts while also being cautious not to perpetuate transphobia or exclude marginalized groups.
  • 👫 Magic, despite being seen as superstitious now, once held power and significance, especially in the hands of women.


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Questions & Answers

Q: How many women were executed during the witch hunts?

The exact number is unknown, but estimations range from 60,000 to 100,000. However, the focus should not solely be on the numbers but rather on the impact it had on women's rights and society.

Q: Were the witch hunts a deliberate plot to establish capitalism?

No, the witch hunts were not a deliberate plot. However, they greatly changed the perception of women and cemented their subservient role in society, benefiting the capitalist order.

Q: How did the witch hunts compare to the lynching of black Americans?

Both the witch hunts and lynchings were acts of violence aimed at subjugating marginalized groups. The witch hunts targeted women, while lynchings targeted black Americans, but both were driven by a desire to maintain social order and dominance.

Q: Did the belief in magic decline after the witch hunts?

Yes, the belief in magic significantly declined, as the witch hunts served as a catalyst for the elimination of magical thinking and the rise of empirical science.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The witch hunts lasted for about 300 years, resulting in the execution of an unknown number of women, curtailed women's rights, and influenced the transition from feudalism to capitalism.

  • Marxist philosopher Silvia Federici argues that the witch hunts played a crucial role in shaping the modern world and should not be disregarded.

  • The witch hunts not only eliminated the belief in magic but also served to establish a society in which women were tied to a reproductive role and their options were greatly limited.

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