“Human Capital or Toxic Asset: After the Wage”
Reartikulacija, 2010. [link]
This is a sequence of reflections on affirmation and negation, on identification and severance: determinate negation as strategic affirmation, the identification of concrete universals and severance from a defunct relation. These lines will be explored with reference to the current situation of the waged and unwaged working class, most proximately in Britain, as “debt” becomes the ideological white noise and the practical horizon of all social and political imagination. Household indebtedness is confused with the state deficit in the spontaneous ideology of the Conservative austerity agenda, as what remains of the crisis-riddled economy is sacrificed to the “debt” – as poor people to loan sharks, so Britain to the bond investors. The nationalist narrative of “we’re all in this together” eliminates any space for discussion as to who might bear greater responsibility for the crisis, and who should be paying for it. The announced cuts make it all too clear – it’s the bloated public sector and welfare payments which are responsible, and those that have the least shall have even that taken away, as the Biblical parable goes. Yet a fatalistic consensus prevails for now, transfixed by a menace beyond dispute: the “debt.” Read more…
“Just Do It! Bodies and Images of Women in the New Division of Labor”
“Representation needs to be contextualized from several points. The representation of texts and images does not reflect the world as a mirror, mere translation of its sources, but is rather remodeled, coded in rhetorical terms. (…) Representation may be understood as a visible formal ‘articulation’ of social order “.
Griselda Pollock, Vision and Difference, 1994
WORK> NON WORK: REDEFINITIONS FROM FEMINISM
“What do you do? What is your occupation?” Although every day we all reply quite easily to this apparently simple question, if we stop and carefully think what is our interlocutor demanding, we conclude that, in fact, what he/she really wants to know is the job we have or the activity or activities we make for a living and does not expect us at all to enumerate the wide range of actions, relations and productions that we unfold throughout the day.
Defining work and its limits in abstract terms at the present time, where the times and locations of production became blurred and extended, is not an easy task. However, experiencing its consequences on our bodies seems to be less complicated, especially if we consider a definition of work that goes beyond the economistic view (whether neoclassical or Marxist) and, especially, if we understand our sustainment of a daily life and our daily incorporation of personalities and social actions as spaces and (re)productive efforts. Everything that tires, that occupies, that disciplines and stresses our body, but also everything that constructs it, that takes care of it, that gives it pleasure and maintains it, is work. Read more…
“The Battle of all* Mothers (or: No Unauthorised Reproduction)”
Well Jeff, … the fact is that you have the luxury of knowing that you will never ever ever ever EVER be faced with the government bossing you around like a child, simply because you have a parasite living in your body.
– The Law Fairy, Feministing.com
By now people have forgotten what history has proven: that ‘raising’ a child is tantamount to retarding his development. The best way to raise a child is to LAY OFF.
– Shulamith Firestone, The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution, 1970
In what follows I wish to consider the effects of recent UK health and social policies on women and their children who are labelled ‘at risk’. Read more…
“Colonization and Housewifization”
Chapter Three, Patriarchy and Capital Accumulation on a World Scale: Women in the International Division of Labour, 1986. [PDF]
The Dialectics of ‘Progress and Retrogression’
On the basis of the foregoing analysis, it is possible to formulate a tentative thesis which will guide my further discussion.
The historical development of the division of labour in general, and the sexual division of labour in particular, was/is not an evolutionary and peaceful process, based on the ever-progressing development of productive forces (mainly technology) and specialization, but a violent one by which first certain categories of men, later certain peoples, were able mainly by virtue of arms and warfare to establish an exploitative relationship between themselves and women, and other peoples and classes.
Within such a predatory mode of production, which is intrinsically patriarchal, warfare and conquest become the most ‘productive’ modes of production. The quick accumulation of material wealth – not based on regular subsistence work in one’s own community, but on looting and robbery – facilitates the faster development of technology in those societies which are based on conquest and warfare. This technological development, however, again is not oriented principally towards the satisfaction of subsistence needs of the community as a whole, but towards further warfare, conquest and accumulation. The development of arms and transport technology has been a driving force for technological innovation in all patriarchal societies, but particularly in the modem capitalist European one which has conquered and subjected the whole world since the fifteenth century. The concept of ‘progress’ which emerged in this particular patriarchal civilization is historically unthinkable without the one-sided development of the technology of warfare and conquest. All subsistence technology (for conservation and production of food, clothes and shelter, etc.) henceforth appears to be ‘backward’ in comparison to the ‘wonders’ of the modern technology of warfare and conquest (navigation, the compass, gunpowder, etc.). Read more…
from Chapter Two, When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America. 1996 edition; first published 1984. [PDF]
In its infancy, slavery was particularly harsh. Physical abuse, dismemberment, and torture were common to an institution that was far from peculiar to its victims. Partly as a result, in the eighteenth century, slave masters did not underestimate the will of their slaves to rebel, even their female slaves. Black women proved especially adept at poisoning their masters, a skill undoubtedly imported from Africa. Incendiarism was another favorite method; it required neither brute physical strength nor direct confrontation. But Black women used every means available to resist slavery—as men did—and if caught were punished as harshly. Read more…
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…
“Health and Hospitals”
Chapter 9, The Young Lords: A Reader. Edited by Darrel Enck-Wanzer, NYU Press, 2010.
Adequate health care for the poor was one of the chief demands of the Young Lords. Faced with a health-care crisis on various fronts, the Young Lords (together with the Health Revolutionary Unity Movement) started lead poisoning and tuberculosis testing programs, took over Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx, and demanded equal treatment of all Third World peoples. Articles in this chapter cover the principles of their health program, describe the theoretical and historical rationales used in advancing their arguments, and document specific health initiatives the Young Lords launched in their communities.
Ten Point Health Program
(From the newspaper Young Lords Organization, January 1970, volume 1, number 5)
We want total self-determination of all health service at East Harlem, (El Barrio) through an incorporated community-staff governing board for Metropolitan Hospital. (Staff is anyone and everyone working in Metropolitan, except administrators.)
We want immediate replacement of all Lindsay and Terenzio administrators by community and staff-appointed people whose practice has demonstrated their commitment to serve our poor community.
We demand an immediate end to construction of the new emergency room until the Metropolitan Hospital Community-Staff’ Governing Board inspects and approves them or authorizes new plans.
We want employment for our people. All jobs filled in El Barrio must be filled by residents first, using on-the-job training and other educational opportunities as bases for service and promotions.
We want free publicly supported health care for treatment and prevention
We want an end to all fees.
We want total decentralization of health — block health officers responsible to the Community-Staff Board should be instituted.
We want “door-to-door” preventative health services emphasizing environmental and sanitation control, nutrition, drug addiction, maternal and child care and senior citizen services.
We want total control by the Metropolitan Hospital Community-Staff Governing Board of budget allocations, medical policy, along the above points, hiring and firing and salaries of employees, construction and health code enforcement.
Any community, union, or workers organization must support all the points of this program and work and fight for them or be shown as what they are-enemies of the poor people of East Harlem
POWER TO THE PEOPLE!
QUE VIVA EL BARRIO! FREE PUERTO RICO NOW!
New York State Chapter
Young Lords Organization Read more…