Revolutionary Feminism: Economic Transformation and Women’s Liberation – Comrade Stella B.

Second Version, July 2015

by Stella B.

The following document is part two in a two-part series: the first of which was “Super-exploitation of Women and Developing a Revolutionary Mass Line.”i  This is the second version of this particular document, which has been revised for the upcoming release of Volume #7 of Uprising.

In the “Super-exploitation of Women…” I critique the labour theory of value and limitations in the Marxist concepts of value, production, and exploitation from a revolutionary feminist perspective. That analysis centers the particular forms of gendered exploitation experienced by women. It is important to understand the process by which surplus value is extracted from both waged productive labour and unwaged reproductive labour. Exploitative social relations under capitalism mean the capitalist class appropriates wealth in a double-form: surplus drawn from the exploitation of wage labourers and surplus produced by the majority of women from oppressed nations who do the bulk of un-valued labour in society.

The intention of this second document is to contextualize super-exploitation within monopoly capitalism, patriarchy, and national oppression, and to focus in on the importance of a revolutionary feminism for achieving proletarian class unity in our context.ii This article has three sections. The point of departure is to question the assumption that the socialization of all forms of labour under capitalism is both a progressive and a necessary step toward socialist revolution.iii  The second section looks at how inequitable social relations are shaped by imperialism, or how the expansion of global monopoly capitalism uses patriarchal and nationally-oppressive economic and political mechanisms to maximize profitability. We must have some degree of agreement on understanding how these processes work internationally, for I believe building proletarian unity along fault lines of super-exploitation is necessary for the advancement of revolution in the 21st century. Finally, I conclude by proposing that revolutionary feminism has a great deal to offer toward organizing women who are strategically placed to envision new concepts of value that include reproductive labour and how we can build a society based on reciprocal relations of collaboration.

Part One: Socializing Labour versus Reciprocal Relations of Collaboration

What do we mean by socializing reproductive labour? 085_PG_03747

Marx predicted that capitalism, more than feudalism, would help speed the revolutionary project of socialism by bringing workers into socialized production. Socialized production in this case means that the working class is cut-off (dispossessed) from non-capitalist modes of production, no longer owning land or the ability to produce for their own needs on their own terms. In order to survive, the working class, as a class, must sell their labour to capitalists in exchange for wages. Labour is socialized in that the working class works together as a social class under similar conditions in factories and workplaces to produce commodities (clothes, etc.) or provide services (retail, etc.) for the economic benefit of the bourgeoisie. However, the reproductive work that goes into preparing labourers for the working day or raising a whole new generation of workers is seen as unproductive labour in that no commodities for exchange are produced. Under capitalism, reproductive labour is viewed as work only useful for individual families, and is performed by women in private homes. Since women who work in the home are not producing commodities through socialized labour as a class, women performing reproductive labour are not viewed as part of the proletariat: they are not selling their labour for a wage and therefore they are not considered to be exploited through this work. Many Marxist revolutionaries follow the line that entrance into socialized production, into waged labour “as a member of the working class,” is the main road to equality for women, for this is how women will be revolutionized.

Engels argued in Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State that if women left the home and got waged jobs this would proletarianize women as a class and create an impetus for women to be involved in class struggle. And since working for wages would reduce the time women had to provide private reproductive labour in the home, Engels thought that if women went to work in factories, the state would be required to provide some of the reproductive work women left undone, such as childcare or help with food production. Those who argued this position didn’t seem to grasp the scope and volume of women’s reproductive work, for it is true that “a woman’s work is never done.”iv  Second, it underestimates the reliance both of the bourgeoisie and the capitalist state on this work being done for free. Thirdly, off-loading unprofitable labour onto the state is not a solution to the problem of women’s exploitative double work burden. In our context, as elsewhere, the state provision of services under neoliberalism is moving in the direction of a regressive taxation that further hurts the working class, as in the current child tax credit system in Canada. Finally, Engels’ solution for the gendered division of labour overlooks the sheer volume of political will and class struggle that would be required to achieve substantive equality for women both in production and in the state provision of and/or funding for reproductive services.  The lion’s share of this class struggle is already done by women in political campaigning and class struggle as a ‘third shift.’v

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The situation today is no different. In Canada, women continue to be both segregated into waged “women’s work” in the service sector and to do the vast majority of the reproductive and supposedly “voluntary” labour. When reproductive work is socialized through the neoliberal state, it takes the form of super-exploited, cheap, and flexiblized labour, since the return on investment remains low. This means working class families must rely on poorly-funded, over-crowded daycares, schools, community programs, and elder care. Long wait-lists create a backlog of demand so great that families register their children for daycare before they are even born; and families have to predict when illness will strike an elder. Workers in the caring industry are disproportionally women, who not only are underpaid and overworked, but also often can’t afford to provide care for their own family members. It is only families from the middle-to-upper petty-bourgeoisie and bourgeoisie that can afford in-home and private care while women from oppressed nationalities comprise the bulk of the workers: for example, the highly exploitative Live-In Caregiver Program. Neoliberal attacks on publicly funded and socialized caring work (home care, child care, health care, and education, to name a few) leave women vulnerable to doing additional work for free. This is what Sylvia Federici calls the “enclosure of the reproductive commons”: the privatization and commodification of work formerly in the public sector.vi

Revolutionaries must investigate how the socialization of certain forms of labour generates a super-exploited workforce, both in the imperialist countries and the Third World.  A mechanical position that in order to be revolutionary women must first be exploited as workers overlooks how deeply dependant the necessary and continual expansion of capitalism is on women’s unpaid service work in private homes.vii  Further, women’s cheap and flexible productive labour is integral for not only for capitalism, but in sustaining production during the transition to socialism. Women from oppressed nationalities have borne the heaviest burden in these transformations.

What is are the limitations of state-provided or state-funded reproductive services?

Let’s look to an example from a revolutionary context. During the revolutionary process in China, great gains were made in the state provision of socialized reproductive services. More was done in the commune system in China to reallocate reproductive work than in any other revolutionary society. For example, “nurseries, kindergartens, community dining rooms, grain mills, etc., were set up. According to an estimate in 1959, 4,980,000 nurseries were set up in rural areas and 3,600,000 public dining rooms.”viii These are significant strides. The achievements of the commune system toward transforming exploitative social relations into reciprocal relations of collaboration were tremendous. However, looking deeply at women’s role in this process reveals that women were often segregated into lower paying service sector jobs, while men dominated the more lucrative industrial jobs. Relegating reproductive labour as a state responsibility under socialism as a form of social wage to support women workers continues to leave these services highly vulnerable to budgetary restraints. Collective advances were not sustained; reproductive services were first to be eliminated on the road to capitalist reforms.ix

Oppression or exploitation? Superstructural changes or changes in economic structuring?

Moving reproductive labour out of the home and into the State in bourgeois society has not only not been sustainable, but further it has failed to liberate women from the double-burden of work and has not tackled gendered divisions of labour build into the economy.x As Batya Weinbaum reflects on the process of proletarianization in China, “the relationship between the organization of consumption through the household and the sexual division of labor in production as it is organized on a social basis limits the nature of women’s relation to production from the start.”xi  So what does this mean? It means that women are screwed both at the point of consumption and the point of production. Family households are the basic unit of consumption under capitalism. It’s where we eat, rest, and play. The organization of consumption-based activities depends largely on women’s work.xii Because consumption is seen as a private affair outside of collaborative economic planning, the sexual division of this labour is largely untouched by socializing some forms of reproductive labour. At best, particularly within progressive communities, a sexual re-division or sharing of this labour between men and women is individualized and voluntary.xiii Women are also screwed at the point of production, paid less, segregated into highly demanding and yet flexible work that is heavy in the emotional service to others, such as childcare, nursing, etc. It’s a double-whammy since it is womenxiv who become the cheap labour in socialized reproductive work. The cycle of production and consumption within capitalism is based on a gendered division of labour. How can we possibly talk about women’s equality or the end of structural racism without talking about the overthrow of bourgeoisie? These roles are deeply engrained in economic structures.

Maria Mies gives an example of the interconnection of base and superstructure from China in 1950’s (pre-cursor to the Great Leap and the development of the Commune System):

The new Marriage Code of 1950 was combined with the Law on Land Reform. The Chinese leadership took the decision not to distribute land to families, which would have meant to male heads of households, but to those who de facto worked on the land. Thus, also women who worked on the land were given land titles. Even when families as a unit were given land rights, a special clause provided that women had the same rights as men, even the right to sell the land, which was a truly revolutionary measure because it rooted the emancipatory demands in the change of the basic production relations between men and women.xv

It wasn’t enough to free women from marriage by allowing divorce. What good is divorce if women don’t have a material basis for their survival? To enact divorce laws without this material basis would be in appearance only. To redistribute land to anyone who works the land, rather than by gender, is the material basis, the essence, of freeing women from the bondage of marriage and limitations imposed by gender.

Women can’t be sent to the front to fight for liberation, and then relegated back to the home once the military battle is won; we must deeply analyze what happened for women in liberation struggles such as Vietnam, where women were pushed out of industrial jobs and back into small crafts and caring work once the heavy fighting was over.  How are we going to change this? What are our demands as revolutionary women? Revolutionaries should neither call for the socialization of production while leaving reproductive labour (or women’s participation in other forms of subsistence non-capitalist productionxvi) in the realm of the superstructure nor call for the complete socialization of reproductive labour without insisting on transforming social relations. Both of these calls have the potential to lead women back into exploitation.

Does state ownership and expansion of production equate to communism?

Historical caricatures of Soviet socialism show smiling blue-clad male industrial workers and women agricultural workers cheerfully bringing in the harvest. At best we are taught to imagine massive mechanisms of centralized production and distribution of goods. Yet, the debate surrounding prioritizing rapid expansion of existing productive forces (as represented in these images) over transforming productive relations played a key role in both the diverging paths of China and the Soviet Union, and disagreements between Chinese revisionists and those who supported the advancement of the Cultural Revolution.xvii If we’re going to tackle the role of national oppression and patriarchy as sub-structural or super-structural forces that are in dialectical interplay with existing social relations of exploitation — which de facto take on the appearance of the source of the exploitative relation itself — then we’re going to require a fundamental reorganization of social relations in society.

Communism is about transforming the way we relate to each other as human beings at the core, and in order to do this we need to transform the material organization of society. If we continue to base our society on remuneration for productive work without challenging the basis of how we determine said productivity, dependence on unpaid and cheap labour is inevitable. If socialist societies simply socialize existing productive forces (both productive means and the people involved) without striving to conscientiously transform the relations of production, gains for women will be minimal. Marx argued that “for society to advance beyond its capitalist forms, new social relations would have to be formed that did not rely solely upon a crude, alienated formation of value.”xviii How do we decide as a collective what our needs are? How can we enact reciprocal relations of collaboration? As revolutionaries we must struggle with the tensions between developing the necessary forces of production, meeting the material needs of society, and transforming the relations through which those forces are organized: the shared ownership of the means of production, the equitable distribution of the products, communal consumption, and the reciprocal relations of those involved in production, distribution, and consumption. These are significant tasks.

Fired cleaners of the Greek Finance ministry have occupied the ministry’s entrance and shout slogans asking for the implementation of an Athens court ruling that ordered their re-hiring, in Athens, Greece, 22 May 2014. The court recently ruled that the jobs of 393 cleaners, who had lodged an appeal to keep their positions, were 'obviously necessary' and ordered their reinstatement, terming the procedure implemented for the women unconstitutional and therefore null.  EPA/SIMELA PANTZARTZI
Fired cleaners of the Greek Finance ministry have occupied the ministry’s entrance and shout slogans asking for the implementation of an Athens court ruling that ordered their re-hiring, in Athens, Greece, 22 May 2014. The court recently ruled that the jobs of 393 cleaners, who had lodged an appeal to keep their positions, were ‘obviously necessary’ and ordered their reinstatement, terming the procedure implemented for the women unconstitutional and therefore null. EPA/SIMELA PANTZARTZI

Part Two: Imperialism and the International Division of Labour

Looking at the global economic forces that push women into super-exploitative working conditions is a point of departure for devising a revolutionary strategy in the imperialist countries, and for breaking the ground to unify the super-exploited proletariat. Lenin’s work on imperialism helps us understand the global economic and political processes of capitalism, and remains critical today to enrich the loose political language of empire, insubstantial references to neoliberalism, and elusive cultural critiques of imperialism. Lenin is a good departure point for insights into how our lived experiences relate to the mechanisms of global exploitation under monopoly capitalism.

In April 2013, a building housing over 2500 textile workers collapsed, killing over 1200 of those workers in Savar, an industrial suburb of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.

Lenin defined imperialism in five components: capitalist monopolies that control world-scale industrial development; the merging of industrial capital with banks to facilitate the export and control over finance capital; the increasing export of finance capital over commodity capital and the suppression of national productive forces; the complete territorial division of the world and the highest form of national oppression through nominal independence and economic domination; and the growth of international monopolist capital associations for negotiation and control over markets.

Lenin’s definition of imperialism helps us see the mechanisms by which the bourgeoisie in the imperialist nations dominate and control Third World and Indigenous nations. The Los Angeles-based Program Demand Group wrote a description of imperialism that extends Lenin’s economic analysis of imperialism to describe how national oppression and patriarchy generate conditions of super-exploitation. I think it worthwhile to quote the Program Demand Group description in full here:

We understand imperialism to be an advanced form of capitalism in which all corners of the globe are integrated in an economy driven by finance capital to scavenge the globe and exploit every opportunity for maximization of profit and domination.

We reserve the term “imperialism” to refer to this late monopoly stage of capitalism as a global economic system when it is most far-reaching but also in crisis. Under imperialism, transnational financial oligarchies join together to monopolize not just national markets, but global markets as well.  In this integrated economy, imperialists seek superprofits. Under monopoly capitalism, the exploitation of the working class at home intensifies and the subordination of women into an invisible economy maximizes their superexploitation. As this system is driven to conquer foreign markets, exploitation takes the form of oppression of whole countries and the superexploitation of colonial and female labor in an internationalization of a shadow economy comprised of cheap labor, slave labor, and “free” labor.”xix

This description of imperialism captures both the mode of production of capitalism and the concept of exploited wage labour, but also how the continual expansion of capitalism requires special forms of super-exploitation which are guaranteed by oppressing entire nations, including colonies internal to the imperialist countries, and gendered violence against women, in particular Indigenous women, which creates the conditions for economic exploitation.xx

National oppression and patriarchy are two mechanisms the bourgeoisie use to expand and consolidate monopoly capital. This is an ongoing process that has included the enslavement of millions of Africans, the partitioning of Africa and Asia in favour of the European bourgeoisie, the colonization of the Americas and the murder and enslavement of Indigenous nations, millions of peasant and proletarian women burned at the stake in Europe and the Americas, the economic exclusion and persecution of women, and the legal and often violent enforcement of patriarchal social relations, including the rise of the nuclear family which continues to draw free labour from women and children. This chronology is significant to illustrate that the very foundation of the capitalist mode of production is reliant upon unpaid and slave-like devalued labour of oppressed nationalities and women.

We can see these processes at play in the world today, where the economy of entire nations like Bangladesh or the Philippines are brought under control of monopoly capitalists like the Walton family who own Walmart. Giant multinationals like Walmart rely on factories in oppressed nations such as Bangladesh to produce their clothes as cheaply as possible. These factories don’t buy their inputs, such as fabrics, from Bangladesh, but rather import them. The same goes for Coca Cola in the Philippines: they don’t use sugar cane syrup from Negros, but rather import corn syrup. Coca Cola just bottles their beverages in super-exploited conditions of assembly production.  All inputs are imported. This makes it almost impossible for national industries, such as the jute industry or the sugar cane industry, to compete; there is no longer a role for this industry. This type of situation leaves entire oppressed-nation economies dependent on the import of international finance and industrial capital in order to maintain productive industry and provide employment and a tax-base. In order to drive down production costs, textile industries such as those that produce American Rag and other Walmart brands hire women as a cheap and highly exploitable workforce that functions in a highly oppressive and patriarchal structure and environment. Build a factory, import all the necessary components of production from other countries, pay your workers next to nothing while threatening them, and the kicker, all the goods produced and the lion’s share of wealth leaves the country and winds up in the Walton’s and other bourgeois hands. Former jute and sugar cane agricultural workers move to the cities, crowded in urban poor slums to form the new super-exploited workforce, while those with class privilege migrate abroad.

Substructures of capitalism: national oppression and patriarchy

Developing an analysis of how national oppression and patriarchy underpin capitalism and generate these material conditions for the super-exploitation of proletarians, and proletarian women, is strategically significant for revolutionaries. Addressing the reliance of capitalism on national oppression and patriarchy is a necessary step in advancing proletarian unity.

While Marx himself makes reference in several places to the concept of substructure, he uses this term mostly to refer to the mode of production as the foundation for the ideological, political, and social superstructure. It seems as appropriate to apply the concept of substructure to critique how patriarchy and national oppression interdependently help the bourgeoisie extract super-profits through flexible, cheap, migrant, and slave-like labour through not only waged labour, but also through peripheral, informal, and unpaid labour, and through the state and the ideological superstructure. The bourgeoisie use their legal framework, which Marx refers to as the personification of the economic structures of capitalism, and the perpetuation of racist and sexist culture and ideology to divide the working class, avoid economic crisis, and sustain and justify their gross exploitation and subjugation of the masses of the world’s people.

Becoming proletarian is a two-fold occurrence. On the one hand, to be proletarianized people must be cut off from independent means of subsistence, which historically has meant being pushed off the land or dispossessed of independent means of survival. To be “freed” from the means of production in the Marxist sense meant free to be exploited, which is the second condition of being proletarian. In order to be a proletarian one needs to be free to sell labour power to the capitalists in exchange for a wage. But some people are less “free” than others. This is the importance of understanding how patriarchy and national oppression work to exert certain downward pressures or limitations on the freedom of wage labourers in order to extract maximum surplus. Exploitation appears as an economic fact and can be calculated mathematically, but exploitation is in essence a social relationship, and understanding forces that create conditions of privilege and domination within that social relationship are essential for figuring out our path to true liberation.

National Oppression

Historically, the last 500 years have been defined by conquest, colonization, partition, and exploitation of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, Asia, and Africa by the European and later white nations.xxi Thus the concepts of racism and national oppression are inseparable from our historical context. Racism, white identity and privilege, and national chauvinism serve to integrate the working-class of the oppressor nations into the ‘national project’ of national oppression through wars of aggression abroad and the ongoing colonization, occupation and exploitation of nations across the globe. This is reinforced by material benefits for the white working-class which trickle down from the ruling class, though these benefits vary greatly.

Without the historical processes of colonization, the use of slave labour to extract material wealth and the export of this appropriated wealth to the European nations, the capital necessary for the enclosure of the common lands, to drive former peasant labourers into wage-labour, and to stifle peasant rebellions would not have been realized. While it is true that in the later stages of the development of capitalism the land of the colonies was particularly important for the overflow of surplus labour out of Europe, in the early stages of development the slave labour in the colonies was decisive for the growth of capital.xxii

As industrial capital grew in Europe, bringing the colonies into the capitalist mode of production became integral to the export of surplus commodities. This is the premise of Rosa Luxemburg’s argument that capitalism generates self-destructive tendencies; in order for people to be able to consume commodities, they must be engaged in a market economy, which precludes the expansion of the use of slave labour. You need people to depend on a money economy, as with the peasants-now-workers in Europe. How this has played out on a world-scale is a matter of considerable debate.

However, a basic fact remains that the colonized are often forced into waged labour, and the conditions of allocating commodity value to labour power itself must remain favorable for the maximum extraction of surplus value. Marx states that this negotiation over how much value labour should be allocated is “a social process that goes on behind the backs of the producers, and, consequently, appear to be fixed by custom.”xxiii This is the material importance of racism and white supremacy; to ensure the lowest possible cost of production to maximize exploitation. As an extension of the economic necessity of maintaining white supremacy, white workers gain privileges over workers from the oppressed nationalities, both in the Third World and within the imperialist countries. This applies to Indigenous workers in Canada and the supposed ‘racial’ divisions between colonized and settler workers. Natalie Knight illuminates how systemic racism has broken the working class when she states “whiteness is not an identity; it is a power position that people get smoothly socialized into, one that produces individualism and non-action as well as unawareness to the lines of real class solidarity.”xxiv

Land

For the process of proletarianization to be fully realized requires people to be pushed off land; for free labour to exist at all, people must ultimately be dependent upon commodity consumption to sustain themxxv. Samir Amin estimates that there are over three billion people engaged in peasant farming and that their continual movement into precarious (and super-exploited) labour is forced by the steady rise of agri-business in the Third World driven by global capitalxxvi. This is not a process unknown to the imperialist countries, both in Europe, where the slow process of primitive land accumulation by the emerging bourgeoisie saw to the proletarianization of millions of peasantsxxvii, and in the Americas where genocide through war and disease gave way to genocide enacted in large through the continued appropriation of land and resources by capitalists with legal and political backing of the bourgeois statexxviii.

I witnessed first-hand in the Philippines how this ongoing process of pauperization and proletarianization is connected with the appropriation of land through violent dispossession: war and direct capital appropriation. It is women who bear the heaviest burden of both individual land dispossession and the break-up of communal properties, contributing directly to the feminisation of labour and the super-exploitation of women, as illustrated below.

Patriarchy

The patriarchal divisions of productive and reproductive labour, reinforced by the violent and gendered processes of capital accumulation, disproportionately locate women from oppressed nationalities amongst the super-exploited, bearing a grossly unequal burden of cheap paid labour and unpaid labour.

Common property resources are particularly critical for women, as we are the ones primarily responsible for providing for the day to day needs for our families. When common properties are appropriated for capital expansion, through agribusiness, mining, land speculation and the like, women are forced to traverse wider and wider scopes of terrain to seek water, fuel, fodder, and other necessary inputs. As this pool of available resources continues to shrink, women are increasingly dependent upon the market for immediate sustenance of their families and drawing into dependence on the cash economy which requires participation in some form of waged or paid labourxxix.

This highlights two material facts. The first is that women are involved simultaneously in paid work and unpaid subsistence work in a continuum, and not necessarily dependant exclusively on one or the other. In fact, the two often overlap, as is illustrated in Custers’ case studies of women’s labour and capital accumulation in Asian economies. Capitalists rely on women’s devalued, cheap labour to lower the price of commodity production

The second fact is that for countless marginalized women, the greater the reliance on waged labour, the heavier the burden of reproductive labour. When women are forced into a reliance on waged labour their work exacts lower wages; cheap labour increases capital appropriation of surplus value while increasing the amount of time a woman must work to sustain herself and her dependants. Being forced to work for low wages means women are less able to hire help to manage their own household and familial responsibilities, and are also less able to purchase labour-saving household devices. Furthermore, women are grossly disproportionately represented in paid reproductive work which is low-paid on the basis that surplus value is not generated and little skill above human caring is required. Indeed, the capitalist epoch sees a heightening of the sexual divisions of labour for working class women while opening opportunities for middle class and bourgeois women to lay the burden of their reproductive labour on a super-exploited and often migrant workforcexxx.

A mural in occupied Derry, Ireland.

Part Three: Revolutionary Feminism and Strategies of Resistance

The central political and strategic implications of the analysis presented above are that the super-exploitation of working class women and oppressed nations provides the grounds for a significant historic revolutionary unity. The strategic implication of this unity is that only with combined efforts will a revolutionary struggle for a classless and truly communal society be achievable. This is not just a theoretical intervention, but a strategic one.

Challenging Other Theories, Other Strategies…

Maoist Third Worldists point out that the level of comfort and security of waged labourers in the imperialist countries is appropriated through the super-exploitation of both waged and non-waged labourers in the Third World and internal colonies. Their arguments follow that this large pool of privileged workers is essentially bought off by capitalism to remain complicit with super-exploitation, including the passive condoning or the active participation in imperialist wars of aggression and counter-revolution. Hence, the prospects for revolution lie exclusively in the Third World. The weaknesses of this argument include the fact that super-exploitation exists in the imperialist nations as well, with significance in the Americas with ongoing colonization, exploitation, and genocidal policies toward internally-colonized peoples. In addition, capitalist growth relies on the super-exploited labour of migrant workers, including women who migrate to perform cheap and deskilled reproductive labour in private homes.

No One Is Illegal (NOII) theorists propose that an alliance of racialized migrant communities and Indigenous peoples’ has the potential to build a movement with enough power to decolonize Turtle Island. While this seems appealing on the surface, in essence the mechanics of this process and the end result remain extremely vague. Further, this strategy is almost completely devoid of a material analysis of bourgeois economic domination and the might of the bourgeois superstructure. A class analysis of the economic control of settler society no longer breaks down neatly on racialized lines: NOII is using race as a proxy for a deeper process they have yet to name. The focus on Indigenous solidarity in the practice of NOII is commendable. However, we need a substantive materialist analysis of class divisions in the totality of society, including within Indigenous communities. In my opinion the lack of substantive class analysis and the lack of strategy to build working class power across bourgeois-enforced racial divisions will fail to lead to any form of mass-based revolutionary struggle.

Is a revolutionary class alliance possible in Canada?

If our economic analysis of imperialism is international in scope and multinational at the material base, then so must be our analysis of revolutionary fault lines. The class structure of imperialism does not divide workers neatly on lines of oppressor/oppressed nation nor settler and Indigenous workers. In contrast to the Maoist Third Worldists and anarchists, I argue that the super-exploitation of working class women and oppressed nations provides the grounds for a significant historic revolutionary unity. In my opinion, both perspectives are accurate in dialectical fashion: privileged waged workers, who are predominantly white and men, are bought off, but that doesn’t mean that the conditions for revolutionary struggle do not exist in the imperialist countries or among any white workers. The working class is divided. But accurately identifying the fault lines of this division is critical for the formation of a truly revolutionary alliance in the imperialist countries and the provision of the sharpest weapon of solidarity to revolutionary movements in the Third World: hitting imperialism hard at home to generate the greatest disruption possible to the bourgeoisie, and ultimately advancing a movement for socialism in the imperialist center of Canada.

I believe a materialist economic analysis of capitalism points to a critical revolutionary fault line in the experience of super-exploitation and the existence of forms of appropriation over and above waged labour which divide the working class into two. This division is not based upon national lines, on mythical race lines, or on gender lines, but rather on a deeper analysis of the production and reproduction of super-exploitative capitalist relations.xxxi

We can’t just be “allies,” we have to be comrades. What is means to be a revolutionary feminist must be a commitment to total liberation from exploitation, and this demands an end to colonialism, national oppression, structural racism, patriarchal domination, and hetero-sexist structural violence. Revolutionary feminists stand for the creation of a society based on reciprocal relations of collaboration: communism.

We are bound together in the struggle for liberation. The material foundations of solidarity lie in our joint struggle.xxxii Women’s liberation is tied to the elimination of exploitative ongoing colonial and neocolonial relations, to the end of national oppression, and to the end of class exploitation and the transformation of the economic system reliant upon the super-exploitation of women and entire nations. Revolutionary transformation is a dialectical process, whereby the fruition of revolution builds on our interpretation and enactment of the wonderful, inspiring, and yet also troubled and often violently repressed revolutions and revolutionaries that precede us.  Communists have a momentous task, one which inspires great repression from the state, but also great feelings of passion, commitment, dedication, and love from the people. With all our heart and might we must press forward in this struggle, together and in true solidarity.

The Process of Revolutionary Feminism

First we must grasp that revolutionary feminism is not just a theory, but a vibrant collective process that involves all proletarian revolutionaries, not just women, or super-exploited racialized women. Petty-bourgeois individualism and the valorization of leaders over strong mass practice will fail us. Collective force is the power of the mass line; this must never be forgotten!

Principles of Revolutionary Feminism

Revolutionary Feminism:

  • Is necessarily internationalist and anti-racist
  • Is necessarily materialist and looks to the economic roots of how inequitable social relations manifest in the lives of the super-exploited
  • Functions on the basis that the super-exploitation of working class women and oppressed nations provides the grounds for a significant historic revolutionary unity

  • Builds a revolutionary movement that strives to surmount the barriers that super-exploited women face to their leadership in revolutionary struggle

  • Means that all revolutionaries must participate in mass survival and economic struggles of working class women and their communities, and they must continually strengthen our class analysis based on the material realities that surround us

  • Has as its ultimate goal the development of a society where those who are currently super-exploited are in power and benefit from an equitable distribution of wealth.

The Practice of Revolutionary Feminism

Building revolutionary organization and mass line practice are critical to revolutionary feminism. We move together through analyzing our experiences, synthesizing material reality and strengthening our theory, and applying this through mass practice for social transformation.

  1. Support, strengthen, and advance women’s political leadership

It is critical that we put exerted organizational efforts into strengthening the leadership of super-exploited proletarian women. Nationally-oppressed women must be in the leadership and engage in social investigation and class analysis of the material basis of super-exploitation and to propose campaigns that speak directly to those material realities. The way we do this has to be revolutionary in appearance as well as in essence. By this I mean that barriers to working class women’s participation must be honestly criticised and solutions collectively strategized, put into practice, assessed, and corrected as needed; this is an ongoing and dialectical process.

“What is difficult for us as compañeras is learning to talk, to decide, to state opinions, and to propose new things so that they may take us on a new path” EZLN, p. 7

“The questions to be clarified are not only whether women, after a national liberation struggle, have more access to political power than before, but also whether the socialist goal of a classless society was achieved and an abolition of an exploitative and oppressive sexual division of labour took place” Maria Mies, p. 177

As a revolutionary organization we must dedicate material resources towards working class women’s political involvement. We have identified that women’s leadership is critical; working class women, and especially Indigenous women and women from oppressed nationalities, should be prioritized to receive organizational material resources and subsidies. Women are often the primary breadwinners for their families, and carry the heaviest burden of paid (productive) and reproductive (non-paid, private) labour. Women need financial compensation as well as practical assistance to fully participate in political work: looking and thinking and analysing is political work, and women must be encouraged to participate in this work. Wages for organizational political work and childcare, food, and other financial / material subsidies will assist women in taking theoretical and ideological leadership.

These are pressing revolutionary tasks and difficult challenges; we must struggle to collectivize these challenges or our words turn to ash in our mouths.

  1. Launch sustained social investigation and class analysis

The current international division and feminization of labour demands immediate and sustained social investigation, class analysis, and mass work in the realm of the concrete economic and social conditions of working class women, with a particular emphasis on immigrant, migrant, and Indigenous women who form a mass base of super-exploited women. We must investigate and analyze where women are disproportionately represented in productive labour, what are the conditions of this work, and what are their current issues and struggles. We must simultaneously investigate the breadth and depth of women’s unpaid work under capitalism: in the home, in the community and within the supposed voluntary sector.

Revolutionaries must consciously and methodically engage with the writing, thinking, and organizational campaigns of Indigenous, anarchist, and radical feminists who hold critical insights into the material realities of oppressed and exploited women and the material basis of patriarchy.

We also require ongoing study, discussion, and revolutionary feminist analysis on the historical and current economic and social transformative processes of socialist and revolutionary movements. There are keen insights into the failures of socialist transformation to address the material foundations of women’s super-exploitation. There are also examples from current movements on how women are struggling to surmount these historical shortcomings.

  1. Engage with women where they are involved in class struggle

Women are already engaged in class struggle, against the feminization of poverty, against the flexibilization of labour, in defense of or for the expansion of childcare, in support of public services, in front-line anti-violence struggles, for the end to sexual commodification and exploitation, and for reproductive justice. Where women are concretizing women’s experiences of super-exploitation, we should be present in solidarity, learning with them and sharing our class analysis informed by our revolutionary social investigation of issues.

Radical and anarcha-feminist organizations have important contributions to make to our understanding of women’s struggles and have analysis which may be informed by years, or even decades, of involvement in autonomous women’s organizations. The lessons women draw from these years of social investigation should be analyzed through the lens of a revolutionary feminist analysis and a revolutionary and internationalist perspective promulgated through respectful dialogue and discussion in practice.

We must also simultaneously support women within the revolutionary organization to spearhead women’s mass organizations which take leadership in campaigns identified through sustained social investigation.

  1. Oppose ongoing colonial control of Indigenous territories an the appropriation and destruction of land and communal resources

This history of all peoples involves connection to land, farming, fishing, mining, animal domestication, and the many other forms of the transformation of nature to satisfy human needs and visions. The grotesque exploitation of the earths’ resources for limitless, grossly unequal, and unsustainable economic growth and development must cease. Increasingly both left and bourgeois scientists are documenting and popularizing the unsustainable nature of extraction and pollution, both intimately tied to capitalist plunder and the appropriation of land and resources from Indigenous nations.

Additionally, the expansion of land privatization and the accelerated proletarianization of Indigenous women must be exposed and opposed. a Mi’kmaq lawyer and academic Pamela Palmater’s analysis of the potentially devastating implications of the Nisga’a Treaty in British Columbia are worthy of study and analysis.

It is critical for revolutionary feminists to stand in solidarity with Indigenous women who call for the protection of their traditional lands against imperialist plunder, and to directly connect these experiences to both historical and current experiences of the proletarianization women internationally and a comprehensive materialist class analysis of how the bourgeoisie profits both from plunder of mineral and petroleum wealth, but also from the cheap labour of women as they are pushed off the land and literally to the factory doors and into a  dependence on cheap, flexible, and highly-exploited labour.

  1. Stand against all forms of sexual oppression and violence

Revolutionary feminism seeks to identify the material basis for the sexual oppression of human beings, and the important role that sexual oppression and patriarchal and heterosexual violence play in the perpetuation of the super-exploitation of women and nations. Through over a decade of research and study on the proletarianization of women and nations, Silvia Federici states, “sexual hierarchies, we found, are always at the service of a project of domination that can sustain itself only by dividing, on a continual renewed basis, those who it intends to rule.” xxxiii

As Marxists and materialists, we must reject any argument that limits gendered experiences of oppression to cultural, social, or ideological forms. We begin with an economic analysis of how capitalism reinforces gender norms and expectations of women’s traditional reproductive and productive roles as women. We identify how capitalism actively perpetuates patriarchy and gendered culture to propagate the super-exploitation of women to maximize of capital growth for an international bourgeoisie.

We must stand against the gross structural violence against women, and incorporate a strong analysis of the role that violence against women, in particular Indigenous women and nationally-oppressed women, plays in the continual expansion of capitalism.

As revolutionary feminists we reject a rigid gender binary and embrace true expressions of human love and sexuality that are non-exploitative and non-subjugating. We must stand against heterosexism and violence against LGBTQ individuals and communities.

However, we also analyze that sexual liberation and the dismantling of an oppressive and often violent gendered binary will not dismantle capitalism. Human sexual and reproductive freedom from subjugation and violence is necessarily bound to economic transformation. Our demands for sexual and reproductive freedom must be connected to a struggle for total economic and social transformation and for a society based on reciprocal relations of collaboration. As is demonstrated by this complex example of the interconnection of national oppression, patriarchy, and a fundamentally unjust global division of labour capitalism from Angela Gilliam’s article “Women and National Liberation”, where learning the physiology of the menstrual cycle as liberating knowledge is connected to a fundamentally unjust global chain of labour exploitation:

I want my daughter to take part in what is taking place in this country. If she gets married now, she will never participate in the change. I don’t want her to be like me. I am married to a good man. As you know, about 40 percent of Cape Verdian men are laborers in Europe, and my husband is in Holland. That house over there that we are building brick by brick right next to this little cabin is being made with the money he sends home. Every two years he gets one month’s vacation, and comes home to meet the baby he made the last time, and to make a new one. I don’t want that for my daughter. I’ve heard that it is possible to prevent pregnancy by knowing the calendar. Please teach our girls how to count the days so that they can control their pregnancies.xxxiv

Our demands as revolutionary feminists must include an analysis of the material basis of women’s subjugation. This is the first step in identifying and strategizing the revolutionary process.

  1. Stand against sexual commodification and sexual exploitation

Revolutionary feminists must recognize and speak out against the violent and super-exploitative nature of the sex industry, and oppose and expose the role that sexual commodification and sexual violence has in perpetuating proletarian women ås cheap and highly exploitable labour. A materialist and systematic analysis of the totality of, and class differentiated experiences within, the sex industry is imperative to counter the individualistic claims of autonomy for petty-bourgeois women in the sex industry that are promulgated by the forces who ultimately profit from the commodification of proletarian women and children in or from oppressed nations.

Revolutionary feminists can both oppose the criminalization of women in the sex industry and call for the abolition of prostitution and an end to the sex industry which profits from human trafficking, the sale of women and girls grossly disproportionately from oppressed nations, and close ties with the ability of the extractive industries and the military to recruit and retain their disproportionately male migrant workers. Structural violence against women serves only to benefit the capitalist classes, and we must speak out and challenge the notion that the sex industry is work like any other, for it is without a doubt that a thorough materialist analysis of the international industry as a whole will reveal very few, if any, benefits for working class women in stark contrast with an almost unimaginable history of violence, degradation, and death.

  1. Challenge bourgeois professionalism

Working class women, in particularly Indigenous and migrant women, experience very high levels of bourgeois and state management and control over every aspect of their lives, including from state-funded non-governmental organizations who claim to be advocating for marginalized women. Previously I have argued that any provision of use-function by the bourgeoisie by necessity contains an oppressive control function, and that building institutions of working class power and de-professionalizing politics, law, medicine and economic and social management is critical to revolutionary transformation.xxxv

Breaking bourgeois domination in our lives opens our eyes to our power and potential. Historical and current revolutionary struggles, in particular in Cuba and in Venezuela, put the lie to the claim that people are only motivated to gain highly specialized skills if a higher level of remuneration and social status will follow. Social relations must be consciously rebuilt as a collaborative practice before the mode of production can be revolutionized. Bourgeois and petty-bourgeois ownership and control over ideology, social organization, and science and technology must be opposed and all social relations radically transformed.

Further, the history of revolutionary economic transformation shows that allowing ongoing patriarchal and professional management over the collectivization of service and reproductive work guarantees that these elements of collectivization will be the first to be cut under neoliberal economic retrenchment.

Conclusion

There is a rich and diverse history of revolutionary feminist struggle that we must learn about and draw inspiration from as we struggle to engage working class women with revolutionary praxis in our own context and conjuncture. We strive to not repeat previous errors, but we do strive to surpass historical achievements. The mythical Greek goddess Hygeia is credited with the concept that the wound reveals the cure. We must comprehend the full depths of the wounds of imperialism before we can plot the most effective and strategic revolutionary response. It is only through the honing of the revolutionary feminist weapon of theory and unwavering dedication to organizing, uniting, and mobilizing the super-exploited working class toward communist revolution that we can achieve genuine women’s liberation.

Glossary:

Mode of production: The totality of the forces and the relations of production. The mode of production is the economic base of society “which determines the general character of the social, political, and spiritual (ideological) processes of life” (Marx).

Marx stated that … “history exists as a succession of modes of production” from primitive communism to feudalism, to capitalism, and through class struggle, finally to communism.

Forces of production: Consist of all of the elements necessary to generate wealth in society; under the capitalist mode of production, the forces of production are what are necessary to produce profits (or surplus value):

a. Labour Power: the working class who must sell their labour power to survive

b. Means of Production: capital assets, machinery, tools, factories, land, etc.

Relations of production: Relations of production are “the way people are formally and informally associated within the economic sphere of production, including as social classes” (Wikipedia). Under capitalism the relations of production refers to the relationship between the bourgeoisie who own the means of production and the workers who must sell their labour power.

Marx defined two forms of the social relations of production:

1. Relations of exploitation: a) slavery, b) servitude, and c) capitalist relationships; this is a very important point! Exploitation is a relationship!

Where workers are exploited, the bourgeoisie prosper!

2. Relations of reciprocal collaboration: relationships developing under socialism and realized under the communist mode of production characterized by the lack of domination and exploitation.

Social production: refers to production of commodities by labour power, which is social production in that it requires the working class sell their labour and produce commodities for the capitalists to get rich. Social production is very different from the type of individual reproductive labour that happens in individual homes and for free in the community.

National Oppression: National Oppression is a broad, historical and materialist analysis of the bourgeois subjugation of nations for the purposes of extracting wealth, acquiring land, and generating class exploitation through creating dependence on capitalist economy. This includes for example, American, Canadian and European oppression of the Third World through military intervention, colonization, and control over international trade institutions, debt peonage and corporate investment. It also includes the oppression and exploitation of entire peoples internal to the imperialist states (such as Indigenous people in Canada or Indigenous, Black and Latino/a people in the U.S.) as well as the oppression of people of colour generally within the ‘white’ nations.

Historically, the last 500 years have been defined by conquest, colonization and exploitation of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, Asia, and Africa by the European and later white nations. Thus the concepts of RACISM and NATIONAL OPPRESSION are inseparable within our historical context. Racism, white identity and privilege, and national chauvinism serve to integrate the working-class of the oppressor nations into the ‘national project’ of national oppression (war, colonization, occupation and exploitation). This is reinforced by material benefits for the white working-class which trickle down from the ruling class, though these benefits vary greatly.

Racism: the oppression and exploitation of people of colour based on the pseudo-scientific ideology of race.  Historically racism has been used to justify war, colonization, plunder, genocide, slavery, and a racialized class structure.

Within the imperialist countries racism makes the super-exploitation of communities of colour possible by concentrating working-class people of colour, particularly women of colour in the low-wage, unregulated and informal sectors of the economy. However, all people of colour, even those with class privilege are impacted by racism in the form of bigotry, discrimination, stereotyping and social exclusion. Racism manifests in both systemic and interpersonal forms:

Systemic racism: Policies of the state and major institutions which have a disproportionate negative impact on people of colour or disproportionate benefit to white people. Such policies are often not framed in terms of race but serve to perpetuate and exacerbate the exploitation of communities of colour based on their position in the class structure. For example, the cuts to night owl buses in 2001 was not consciously aimed at communities of colour but had a disproportionate impact on communities of colour because of the concentration of working class people of colour among low-wage night workers.

Interpersonal racism: The individual actions of white people which reinforce and perpetuate the oppression and exploitation of people of colour. This includes racial slurs, violent attacks, discrimination, prejudice etc.  In a racialized social and class structure where white people hold most positions of power and authority interpersonal racism also takes on a systemic character. For example discrimination in the areas of hiring, promotion, firing, grading, etc… have a cumulative negative impact on people of colour and reinforce existing patterns of oppression, exploitation and control.

Patriarchy: Patriarchy refers to the subjugation, objectification and domination of women by men based directly on the double (or super-exploitation) of women. Women’s gendered productive and reproductive labour provides the surplus value necessary to sustain imperialism. While the subjugation of women is based in the exploitation of women, and the need for reproductive and cheap labour, women experience as well discrimination, violence and exploitation that go beyond any economic rationale. Patriarchy is best conceptualized as a structural foundation institutionalized in capitalism based on the invisible labour and low wages of women reinforced by systemic and interpersonal violence, sexual commodification, denial of reproductive control, and exclusion from political participation.

Imperialism: “We understand imperialism to be an advanced form of capitalism in which all corners of the globe are integrated in an economy driven by finance capital [and backed by the imperialist states] to scavenge the globe and exploit every opportunity for maximization of profit and domination.” (L/CSC Program Demand Document) Imperialism is manifest in the intersection of capitalism, national oppression, and patriarchy whereby super-profits are extracted from Third World nations, working class people and oppressed nations within imperialist countries, in particular Indigenous peoples, and the subjugation of women. At its imperialist stage, capitalism is over-extended and profits must be maximized through neoliberal policies such as liberalization, deregulation and privatization.

Colonialism: Social, political and economic control of Indigenous land and people through the plunder of natural resources, land theft and genocide of Indigenous people by imperialist nations.

Forced Migration: the intersection of race and class rooted in the hegemony of imperialist nations over the Third World, exerted through neoliberal economic policies under the IMF/WB, WTO and the US military create the “push” factors causing people to leave their home countries to survive.

Primitive Accumulation: has been called “accumulation by dispossession” by feminists such as Sylvia Federici. Marx explained primitive accumulation as a “process by which large swaths of the population are violently divorced from their traditional means of self-sufficiency. This process, unlike the bloodless version told by classical political economists, was one where common lands were closed to those peasants who used them”. Feminists have applied the concept of primitive accumulation to women’s unpaid and unvalued work, and reference the “enclosure of the commons” in neoliberal attacks on public services which disproportionately impact working class women.

References:

  1. Amin, S. (2003). World Poverty, Pauperization, & Capital Accumulation. Monthly Review, October, 2003.
  2. Brown, H. (2014). Marx on Gender and the Family: A Summary. Monthly Review, June, 2014.
  3. Ching, P. (2012). Revolution and Counterrevolution: China’s continuing class struggle since liberation. Manila, Philippines: Institute of Political Economy.
  4. Curtin, K. (1975). Women in China. New York, NY: Pathfinder Press.
  5. Custers, P. (2013). Capital Accumulation and Women’s Labour in Asian Economies. New York, NY: Monthly Review Press.
  6. E.Z.L.N. (n.d.). Participation of Women in Autonomous Government: First grade textbook for the course “Freedom according to the Zapatistas”. Available here: http://dorsetchiapassolidarity.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/new-escuelita-textbook-now-available-in-english-participation-of-women-in-autonomous-government/
  7. Esquerra, S. (2014). Spain, Economic Crisis, and the New Enclosure of the Reproductive Commons. Monthly Review, April, 2014.
  8. Federici, S. (2004). Caliban and the Witch. Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia.
  9. Gilliam, A. (1995). Women’s Equality and National Liberation. In, C.T. Mohanty, A. Russo & L. Torres (Eds.) Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism. Indianapolis, Indiana: Indiana University Press.
  10. Gündüz, Z.Y. (2013). The Feminization of Migration: Care and the New Emotional Imperialism, Monthly Review, December, 2013.
  11. Knight, N. (2014). ‘Building rage’: Decolonizing class war. Available here: http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/mainlander/2014/06/building-rage-decolonizing-class-war
  12. Lee, B. (2006). People’s War… Women’s War? Two texts by Comrade Parvati of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) with commentary by Butch Lee. Montreal, Quebec: Kersplebedeb.
  13. Lotta, R. (ed). (1994). Fundamentals of Socialist Political Economy: the Shanghai Textbook. New York: Banner Press. Reprinted by Popular Book Store, Manila, Philippines.
  14. Marx, K. (1867). Capital Volume One: A Critical Analysis of Capitalist Production [1967 Edition]. Edited by F. Engles. New York: International Publishers.
  15. Mies, M. (1986). Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale: Women in the international division of labour. London, UK: Zed Books.
  16. Peller, B.C. (n.d.). Women in Uprising: The Oaxaca commune, the state, and reproductive labour. Available here: http://readthenothing.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/oaxaca-commune3.pdf
  17. Randall, M. (1975). Spirit of the People. Vancouver, BC: New Star Press.
  18. Stella B. (2012). The Institutions and Elements of Working Class Power. Available here: http://ri-ir.org/2012/10/25/the-institutions-and-elements-of-working-class-power/
  19. Stella B. (2014). The Super-exploitation of women and developing a revolutionary mass line. Uprising #5. https://revintcan.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/uprising-5-womens-leadership2.pdf
  20. Weinbaum, B. (1976). Women in Transition to Socialism: Perspectives on the Chinese case. Review of Radical Political Economics, 8(34), pp. 34-58).
  21. Young, H.P. (1996). From Soldier to Doctor: A Chinese woman’s story of the long march. Science & Society, 59(4), pp. 531-547.

i  Pages 9-15 in Volume 5 of Uprising.

ii  This analysis emerges through discussion and debate with RI comrades and is supported by intensive study of anti-capitalist feminist authors as well as over two decades of living with and struggling with working class women. In particular I acknowledge the contributions of Comrades Zoraya, Pierce, Selena, Zakiya, Azaad, Esprit, and Jameel. We must continue to build on our revolutionary social investigation and class analysis, rather than relying on dry academic theorizing that few can understand and even fewer relate to. I encourage other revolutionaries to make contributions to our collective understanding concerning the material basis of patriarchy and national oppression on Turtle Island and across the globe.

iii  See glossary for definitions of the forces of production and relations of production.

iv  Revolutionaries must be reading Marxist feminist theorists, frequently and seriously.

v  Thank you, Comrade Zoraya, for this excellent description of the material realities of working class women: first shift is paid labour, second shift is reproductive labour in the home and community, and third shift is our necessary engagement in class struggle for survival under capitalism.
vi  As quoted in Esquerra. The current economic system “does not recognize the production and reproduction of the worker as a social-economic activity, and a source of capital accumulation, but mystifies it instead as a natural resource or a personal service, while profiting from the wageless condition of the labor involved” (Federici p. 12). Maria Mies called this the “colonization of women’s generative capacities” (Mies, p. 25).

vii  Reproductive labour isn’t the only form of unfree labour capitalism has integrated into the economic system. For total economic transformation and the development of communism, these forms of highly exploited but yet supposedly non-exploitable labour must be investigated and better theorized.

viii  Croll, 1979, as quoted in Mies, p. 183.

ix  Ching, P.

x  Which is also the material basis for heterosexist gender roles. This means that without substantive changes in the organization of the economy we will never rid ourselves of a gender binary.

xi  Weinbaum, p. 41.

xii  Anyone who has spent significant time caring for children or running a household for a family will get what I mean. Think about consumption in your own households. Who organizes that? Who does the shopping? Not just food shopping, mind you. All the shopping. The economic activity of the household falls on women’s shoulders. We have a laugh in our women’s organization that men are seen as the economic head of the household, but under the surface there is the work of women.

xiii  Further, challenging gender norms or claiming to be gender-neutral in appearance does not go far enough. In essence, in the analysis of the totality of human society, women still form the basis of capitalist expropriation even as some supposed progressives are claiming that women as a category is no longer of relevance to our struggles. This is a reactionary view, in my opinion. True efforts toward ending gender-based exploitation is the real work of smashing hetero-patriarchy.

xiv  Some women, to be more specific. To be sure, bourgeois and petty-bourgeois women, who are disproportionately white, purchase their freedom through the super-exploitation of women from oppressed nations.

xv  Mies, M, p. 182. Marx recognized the patriarchal family as a form for the management and inheritance of private property, in particular in the Communist Manifesto. Italian feminists such as Dalla Costa critiqued the typical Marxist division of productive and reproductive labour by arguing that women are producing commodities for exchange when they reproduce labour power itself. Whether or not we adopt this position, the fact remains that the nature of capitalist social relations within as they pertain to the production of immediate use values in the family and the community is an integral area of social investigation and revolutionary feminist theorizing.

xvi  Women are involved in many forms of non-capitalist production which support their families and communities. For some examples of this, refer to Participation of Women in Autonomous Government: First Grade Textbook for the Course “Freedom according to the Zapatistas”

xvii “The development of the productive forces necessitates the destruction of old relations of production that are not compatible with their development and their replacement by new relations of production that are compatible with the development of the productive forces. But the process of disintegration of old production relations and the emergence of new production relations cannot be a smooth one.” The Shanghai Textbook

xviii  Ibid, p. 49.

xix  Program Demand Group, 2001, p.5

xx  See part one: Pages 9-15 in Volume 5 of Uprising

xxi  Credit for this paragraph goes to comrade Pierce and comrades in mass projects, thank you.

xxii  Federici, S.

xxiii  Marx, p. 50-51.

xxiv  Knight, N.

xxv  Rosa Luxemburg argued that capitalism was self-destructive in that while it relied on non-capitalist forms of production, such as peasant farming, to fuel its continual expansion, the process of exporting capital and commodities to the economic periphery in fact proletarianizes the peasantry, in a self-defeating and unsustainable cycle of destroying the material basis of economic expansion. What are the reasons this prediction has not fully materialized?

xxvi  Amin, S.

xxvii  Federici, S.; Mies, M; & Marx.

xxviii I am not arguing here that genocidal policies and practices are exclusively material, for it is most certainly an ideological, cultural, social and political process – often vicious and violent. Rather my point is that the ultimate goal is material appropriation without resistance. The extermination of Indigenous nations through death or treaty law has the result of ending any claim to land or resources.

xxix  Chapter 10 in Custers book Capital Accumulation and Women’s Labour in Asian Economies is an excellent discussion of the differential impacts of proletarianization on women, as well as the continuum of productive and reproductive work, and this section in my article draws heavily on his critique of the German Feminist School, as well as on my experiences with women’s work internationally.

xxx  For an overview of what Zuhal Yeşilyurt Gündüz refers to as global care chains, see The Feminization of Migration: Care and the New Emotional Imperialism, Monthly Review, December, 2013.

xxxi  Walia’s Undoing Border Imperialism reads as a description rather than an analysis of settler society, lacks any form of class analysis, and fails to explain the root of exploitation and oppression under capitalism. “If capitalism has been able to reproduce itself it is only because of the web of inequalities that is has built into the body of the world proletariat, and because of its capacity to globalize exploitation. This process is still unfolding under our eyes, as it has for the last 500 years” Federici, p. 17.

xxxii  We’re not just allies, we’re Comrades. We’re Revolutionary Feminists, and we’re committed to total liberation from exploitation which demands an end to structural racism, national oppression, patriarchal domination and violence. We stand for the creation of a society based on reciprocal relations of collaboration; we stand for communism.

xxxiii  Federici, S., p. 2

xxxiv  Gilliam, A.

xxxv  Stella B.

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