16th century street scene. (from The Ends of Life - Keith Thomas)
PERMANENT REPRODUCTIVE CRISIS: AN INTERVIEW WITH SILVIA FEDERICI
Access to the wage has not relieved women from unpaid labour nor has it changed the conditions of the ‘workplace’ to enable us to care for our families and enable men to share the housework. Those who are employed today work more than ever. So instead of the feminisation of waged work we could speak of the ‘masculinisation’ of ‘women’s labour,’ as employment has forced us to adapt to an organisation of work that is still premised on the assumption that workers are men and they have wives at home taking care of the housework.
Whatever the form of my exploitation this is not my identity, unless I embrace it, unless I make it the essence of who I am and pretend I cannot change it. But my relation to it can be transformed by my struggle. Our struggle transforms us and liberates us from the subjectivities and social ‘identities’ produced by the organisation of work. The key question is whether our struggles presume the continuation of the social relations in which our exploitation is inscribed, or aims to put an end to them
" ‘As a struggle between a clock operated by a punch card, which is Fox’s time, and an hourglass, which is ours. The dispute is over whether we bend to the discipline of the factory clock or Fox bends to the slipping of the sand. It will be neither the one nor the other. Both of us need to understand, we and he, that we have to assemble another clock by common agreement, that will time the rhythm of dialogue and finally of peace. We are on their terrain, the arena of power, where the political class is in its element. We are there with an organization that is perfectly ineffectual when it comes to playing politics, at least that kind of politics. We are gauche, stammering, well-intentioned. Opposite us are skilled players of a game they know well. This too will be a dispute, over whether the agenda will be dictated by the political class or shaped by our requirements. Once again, I think it will be neither one nor the other. When we waged war we had to challenge the government, and now in order to build peace we have to challenge not only the government but the entire Mexican State. There is no table at which to sit in dialogue with the government. We have to construct it. The challenge now is to convince the government that we need to make that table, that it should sit down and that it stands to gain by doing so. And that if it doesn’t, it will lose.’
Garcia Marques, Robert Pombo, ‘Subcomandante Marcos: The Punch Card and the Hour Glass, interview’, New Left Review, Vol 9, May-June (2001)
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