Maya Gonzalez and Caitlin Manning, “Political Work with Women and as Women in the Present Conditions: Interview with Silvia Federici”
“Political Work with Women and as Women in the Present Conditions: Interview with Silvia Federici”
Maya Gonzalez and Caitlin Manning
Reclamations #3, Dec. 2010. [link]
Maya Gonzalez and Caitlin Manning: You have written about university struggles in the context of neo-liberal restructuring. Those struggles responded to attempts to enclose the knowledge commons. Do you see the university struggles of the last years as a continuation of the struggles against the enclosure of knowledge? Or as something new? Has the economic crisis altered in some fundamental way the context of university struggles?
Silvia Federici: I see the students’ mobilization that has been mounting on the North American campuses, especially in California, as part of a long cycle of struggle against the neo-liberal restructuring of the global economy and the dismantling of public education that began in the mid-1980s in Africa and Latin America, and is now spreading to Europe—as the recent student revolt in London demonstrated. At stake, in each case, has been more than resistance to the “enclosure of knowledge.” The struggles of African students in the 1980s and 1990s were particularly intense because students realized that the drastic university budget cuts the World Bank demanded signaled the end of the “social contract” that had shaped their relation with the state in the post-independence period, making education the key to social advancement and participatory citizenship. They also realized, especially on hearing World Bankers argue that “Africa has no need for universities,” that behind the cuts a new international division of work was rearticulated that re-colonized African economies and devalued African workers’ labor.
In the US as well, the gutting of public higher education over the last decade must be placed in a social context where in the aftermath of globalization companies can draw workers from across the world, instituting precarity as a permanent condition of employment, and enforcing constant re-qualifications. The financial crisis compounds the university crisis, projecting economic trends in the accumulation process and the organization of work that confront students with a state of permanent subordination and continuous destruction of the knowledge acquired as the only prospect for the future. In this sense, today’s students’ struggles are less aimed at defending public education than at changing the power relations with capital and the state and re-appropriating their lives. Read more…
New York, Harper & Row, 1971.
1. Why We Must Disestablish School
2. Phenomenology of School
3. Ritualization of Progress
4. Institutional Spectrum
5. Irrational Consistencies
6. Learning Webs
7. Rebirth of Epimethean Man
“On the Woman Question: An Orientation”
Selma James [Sept. 3, 1951]
Selma James delivered this report on behalf of the Johnson-Forest Tendency. Selma James was an important figure in the Johnson-Forest Tendency, a co-author of the pamphlet, A Woman’s Place, during the Correspondence period. In the 1955 split with Dunayevskaya, she sided with C.L.R. James and married him after he divorced Constance Webb. She eventually separated from James and became a leader in the radical women’s movement in Britain in the 1970s. She was also closely associated with the Italian feminist Mariarosa Dalla Costa in the wages for housework campaign. She is involved now with the Global Women’s Strike organization (www.globalwomenstrike.net).
A new stage has been reached. We are finished with endless discussions on male chauvinism. We have no more time for individual attacks against individual men who are backward or against individual women who do not want to be “emancipated.” These people will reorient themselves and will be drawn into their own struggles.
Now for the first time we know where we are going. We did not develop accidentally. The ideas explicit in this document are the concrete manifestations of the movement of capitalism and the reaction of the masses of women today. It is this reaction that we shall attempt to concretize in this document.
Bebel and the other historians on the woman question have analysed women in other ages, other struggles, other cultures. But it is we who must express women in 1951, what they feel about their lives, what they want and how they plan to get it.
We counterpose this to any external plan of the bourgeoisie, put forth by social workers, magazine writers, psychoanalysts, and any section of women who place themselves not within the struggle of women but above it, and therefore in opposition to it. Read more…
“Against school: How public education cripples our kids, and why”
John Taylor Gatto
Harper’s [Sept. 2003]
I taught for thirty years in some of the worst schools in Manhattan, and in some of the best, and during that time I became an expert in boredom. Boredom was everywhere in my world, and if you asked the kids, as I often did, why they felt so bored, they always gave the same answers: They said the work was stupid, that it made no sense, that they already knew it. They said they wanted to be doing something real, not just sitting around. They said teachers didn’t seem to know much about their subjects and clearly weren’t interested in learning more. And the kids were right: their teachers were every bit as bored as they were. Read more…
Ericka Huggins, “The Liberation Schools, the Children’s House, the Intercommunal Youth Institute and the Oakland Community School”
“The Liberation Schools, the Children’s House, the Intercommunal Youth Institute and the Oakland Community School”
Ericka Huggins, 2007. [PDF]
The Oakland Community School (OCS) was one of the most well-known
and well-loved programs of the Black Panther Party. Point Five of the Black
Panther Party’s original 1966 Ten Point Platform and Program, emphasized
the need to provide an education that, among other things, taught African
American and poor people about their history in the United States. To this
end, the Oakland Community School became a locale for a small, but powerful
group of administrators, educators, and elementary school students whose
actions to empower youth and their families challenged existing public
education concepts for black and other poor and racially marginalized
communities during the 1970s and 1980s. Read more…
“Notes on the edu–factory and Cognitive Capitalism”
George Caffentzis / Silvia Federici, 2007. [link]
In the framework of the “edu–factory” discussion we want to share some reflections on two concepts that have been central to the debate: the edu–factory and cognitive capitalism. We agree with the key point of the “edu–factory” discussion prospectus: As was the factory, so now is the university. Where once the factory was a paradigmatic site of struggle between workers and capitalists, so now the university is a key space of conflict, where the ownership of knowledge, the reproduction of the labour force, and the creation of social and cultural stratifications are all at stake. This is to say the university is not just another institution subject to sovereign and governmental controls, but a crucial site in which wider social struggles are won and lost. Read more…
“Throwing Away the Ladder: The Universities in the Crisis”
Zerowork I, 1975
Strikes, sit-ins, mass demonstrations? The stuff of the Sixties have appeared on the campuses of the U.S. in the last year. But as the media have pointed out, there is a “hardheaded” economic character to these actions. No more psychodelic guerrillas dropping pig’s blood on the college president. In its place we have “student worker strikes” in Athens, Ohio; a sit-in to protest tuition increases in Cornell; the first statewide college teacher’s strike in N.J.; strikes and demonstrations protesting the cutting of student funds and teacher firings in New York City University of N.Y. The “political” demands of the late Sixties: end university complicity with the draft and war-research, end grading and “free speech” restrictions, institutions of “`alternative” courses, open admissions to all students (“end stratification”) have turned to the “economic” demands of the middle 70’s: no tuition increases, no productivity deals, no firings, wages for schoolwork. From day-glo politics to grey economics all in the space of four years? Read more…
“Women and the Subversion of the Community”
Mariarosa Dalla Costa
December 29, 1971 (html markup by Harry Cleaver) [PDF]
These observations are an attempt to define and analyze the “Woman Question”, and to locate this question in the entire “female role” as it has been created by the capitalist division of labour.
We place foremost in these pages the housewife as the central figure in this female role. We assume that all women are housewives and even those who work outside the home continue to be housewives. That is, on a world level, it is precisely what is particular to domestic work, not only measured as number of hours and nature of work, but as quality of life and quality of relationships which it generates, that determines a woman’s place wherever she is and to whichever class she belongs. We concentrate here on the position of the working-class woman, but this is not to imply that only working-class women are exploited. Rather it is to confirm that the role of the working-class housewife, which we believe has been indispensable to capitalist production is the determinant for the position of all other women. Every analysis of women as a caste, then, must proceed from the analysis of the position of working-class housewives. Read more…