Life After Capitalism: Anarcha-feminist Economics
Jan 5 2007, 04:03 PM
quick! nohope don't go away or stop posting...I am going to catch up and then be active!
Dec 21 2006, 09:09 PM
Firefight at the Camino Real
Well, they had guns at least, and fired around 40 shots at us (a group of about 100, mostly Oaxacans) who had just taken, occupied, and searched a fancy hotel in central Oaxaca City. There may have been some shots from our side, but most of us -- unprepared for the news that the hated governor might actually be inside Oaxaca City, and inside this hotel -- had only thick sticks, expropriated police billy clubs, or just a little solidarity in our hearts.
The result: two wounded (on our side), several beaten (on our side), and two kidnapped (first quickly beaten, then shoved into cars). The battle took maybe 1 minute.
Nov 24 2006, 11:38 PM
What are the myths of capitalist economics?
C.1 What is wrong with economics?
C.1.1 Is economics really value free?
C.1.2 Is economics a science?
C.1.3 Can you have an economics based on individualism?
C.1.4 What is wrong with equilibrium analysis?
C.1.5 Does economics really reflect the reality of capitalism?
C.1.6 Is it possible to have non-equilibrium based capitalist economics?
C.2 Why is capitalism exploitative?
C.2.1 What is "surplus-value"?
C.2.2 How does exploitation happen?
C.2.3 Is owning capital sufficient reason to justify profits?
C.2.4 Do profits represent the productivity of capital?
C.2.5 Do profits represent the contribution of capital to production?
C.2.6 Does the "time value" of money justify interest?
C.2.7 Are interest and profits not the reward for waiting?
C.2.8 Are profits the result of innovation and entrepreneurial activity?
C.2.9 Do profits reflect a reward for risk?
C.3 What determines the distribution between profits and wages within companies?
C.4 Why does the market become dominated by Big Business?
C.4.1 How extensive is Big Business?
C.4.2 What are the effects of Big Business on society?
C.4.3 What does the existence of Big Business mean for economic theory and wage labour?
C.5 Why does Big Business get a bigger slice of profits?
C.5.1 Aren't the super-profits of Big Business due to its higher efficiency?
C.6 Can market dominance by Big Business change?
C.7 What causes the capitalist business cycle?
C.7.1 What role does class struggle play in the business cycle?
C.7.2 What role does the market play in the business cycle?
C.7.3 What else affects the business cycle?
C.8 Is state control of money the cause of the business cycle?
C.8.1 Does this mean that Keynesianism works?
C.8.2 What happened to Keynesianism in the 1970s?
C.8.3 How did capitalism adjust to the crisis in Keynesianism?
C.9 Would laissez-faire policies reduce unemployment, as supporters of "free market" capitalism claim?
C.9.1 Would cutting wages reduce unemployment?
C.9.2 Is unemployment caused by wages being too high?
C.9.3 Are "flexible" labour markets the answer to unemployment?
C.9.4 Is unemployment voluntary?
C.10 Will "free market" capitalism benefit everyone, especially the poor?
C.11 Doesn't Chile prove that the free market benefits everyone?
C.11.1 But didn't Pinochet's Chile prove that "economic freedom is an indispensable means toward the achievement of political freedom"?
C.12 Doesn't Hong Kong show the potentials of "free market" capitalism?
Nov 16 2006, 10:03 PM
“Maybe before the age of consumerism, but now it's human WANTS rather than "needs", wouldn't you say? At least in first-world countries.
And it would now be TO CREATE rather than merely "to meet" human needs/wants.”
Yes and no.
To the part about creating vs. meeting and wants vs. needs. I read what was written as including that. Though perhaps I shouldn’t give the author the benefit of the doubt.
In terms of living in an age of consumerism… I don’t think that much has really changed since 1850 or for that matter since 1750 in terms of the global economy. Yes things are faster but the over all mechanism is basically the same.
Further I would say that the capacity to have wants vs. needs is precisely what anarchist economics tries to address. Why is it that ten percent of the population are in a position to have wants while the rest of use are driven by our needs.
And yes I think you are right that the market creates new needs as well as meeting current needs. And I agree that we need to ask needs for what.
Walking through the graveyard this Halloween I was struck at the shortness of life in the 1800’s. Since I was mostly looking at larger stones I was probably looking at wealthier families. Expectation…. for instance life expectancy changes needs. To live longer you need more….
As for believing that the US is some haven of wealth and prosperity…. Well this isn’t Sweden… this is the USA… the third world or at least the second world…. The vast number of people living in America lives day to day and has needs not wants. And this situation is getting worse not better. If we just take illegal immigrants… that’s 11 million people… they are scraping by… living is hovels with no guaranteed rights…. Then there are the homeless, the truck stop prostitutes, the share cropping slaves…. Literal slaves….
The US censuses puts the number of people living in poverty at 15% out of 300,000,000 population they estimate 38 million have been in poverty over the last 12 months.
At the same time median income was 46,000. For a family with children in 2006 that does not represent a lot of discretionary spending. So I tend to think it is appropriate to talk about needs rather than wants at least when we are concerned with anarchist economics.
Wouldn't you agree?
Nov 15 2006, 09:31 PM
compiled by Jon Bekken
A casual observer of the anarchist movement, restricted to contemporary writings, could be forgiven for concluding that anarchists have no conception of economics. Several years ago a serious debate was carried out in the pages of the British anarchist paper Freedom in which it was argued that all wealth comes from agriculture - that the working class is merely a burden that peasants and other agricultural workers are compelled to shoulder. The only possible conclusion from this line of reasoning is that we should dismantle the cities and factories and all return to agrarian pursuits. One suspects that farmers - deprived of tractors, books and other useful items and confronted with millions of starving city dwellers cluttering up perfectly good farmland that could otherwise be growing crops - might take a somewhat different point of view.
On this side of the Atlantic, countless trees have been killed in furtherance of "arguments" for abolishing work, abandoning technology and turning to a barter economy (or, alternately, to local currencies) both as a strategy for escaping (I hesitate to use the word overthrowing) capitalism and as a principle for reorganizing economic life in a free society. Such approaches may have a certain appeal for lifestylists whose aim is more to reduce the extent to which capital impinges on their personal existence (a rather futile enterprise) than to abolish its tyranny over society, but they are simply irrelevant to those of us truly committed to building a free society.
Although anarchists are of necessity interested in the workings of capitalist economies, our attention is focussed on the class struggle. An anarchist economics might study the theft of our labor by the bosses, the squandering of social resources by the state, and the channels through which the bosses manipulate markets, finance and production to increase their profits and to pit workers in different parts of the world against each other. And, most importantly, an anarchist economics would address itself to the problems of maintaining economic activity in a revolutionary situation, and to the sort of economic arrangements which might support a free society.
We have been attempting such a study in the columns of our journal for several years. In our Winter 1991 issue (#10), Libertarian Labor Review (now Anarcho-Syndicalist Review) announced the anarchist economics project which continues to this day. As we said then:
Far too many anarchists nowadays have underestimated the importance of economics in their vision of social change, but this was not always the case. The classical anarchists, who always considered themselves part of the socialist movement, recognized the new economic arrangements created by the social revolution would determine its success or failure. Thus they were forced to create an economic "science," which although sometimes in agreement with capitalist or marxist economics on various points, must diverge from them to the same extent that it differed in its goals. The notion of a political anarchist who was an economic marxist or economic capitalist - a notion one runs across all too often today - would have struck the original anarchist thinkers as an absurd impossibility. It is our hope that this series will help to show why this is so, as well as to help bring anarchist economics up to date with current developments.
So far we expect the series to include discussions of the contributions made by Proudhon, Bakunin and the First International Workers Association, Kropotkin, the Spanish Anarchists and their practical experiences in the Spanish Revolution, as well as those of less-well-known anarchists. We also hope to add to this critiques of Marxist economics and modern capitalist economists such as Keynes and his neo-classical critics. Finally we will look at contributions made by modern economists such as E.F. Schumacher and the appropriate technologists, whose views have converged with those of the anarchist movement in several ways.
Due to the scope of the projected series, we are hoping to get contributions of articles and letters from outside our small collective. We extend an open invitation to all in our movement who are interested in taking part in this series along the lines we have mentioned to get in touch with us...
To date we have published articles on the economic theories advanced by Proudhon, Bakunin and Kropotkin; a translation of a major article by Abraham Guillen; a critique of Marxism; an analysis of the Mondragon cooperatives; and several articles on contemporary economic issues. Our plans for the future include critiques of neo-Marxist and Keynesian economics, and a series of articles building on the anarchist economic tradition to suggest ways in which we might organize production, distribution and consumption in a free society.
Economics is fundamentally the study of how to organize production and consumption to meet human needs most efficiently and satisfactorily. As such, it is inextricably bound up with questions of human values - with our sense of who we are, how we wish to relate to our fellow human beings and to our planet, and how we wish to live our lives. Bourgeois economists have made the mistake of confusing their (fundamentally anti-human) values with economic laws, asserting against all evidence the necessity and efficiency of mechanisms such as markets, wages and (in an earlier day) chattel slavery. Marx similarly seized on bourgeois economists' claims that the price of commodities is determined by the amount of labor socially necessary to their production for his Labor Theory of Value, a quasi-religious doctrine which cannot hold up to the slightest empirical scrutiny. Wage levels, like the price of all commodities, are set not by their cost of production or the amount of labor they require (though there are of course material constraints; few workers will be paid more than the revenues they make possible or less than it takes to feed them), but by the relative economic, military and social power held by the respective parties. KKropotkin's research demonstrated that shortages, economic crises and general distress are endemic to capitalism, but are wholly unnecessary. The means to meet all of society's needs were already at hand a century ago, but instead of doing so capitalism creates a peverse set of incentives encouraging chronic underproduction and deprivation.
Kropotkin argued for restructuring production to decentralize agriculture and industry, arguing that economies of scale and specialization are largely illusory. At the same time, he rejected the notion that it was possible to reduce labor to the individual - to isolate any one worker's contribution to social production. The simple act of manufacturing a shirt necessitates thousands of workers, from the farmers who grow the cotton (or the chemists who fabricate the nylon), to the makers of the sewing machines (and of the raw materials from which they are manufactured), to the sewing machine operators, to those maintaining the vast economic infrastructure (energy, roads, water, etc.) necessary to production. All production is social. We enrich each other - not only spiritually, but materially as well - as we work, think and play together; and without the efforts of society as a whole no one prospers.
Anarchist economics should begin not from the standpoint of production, but rather from the standpoint of consumption - of human needs. Needs should govern production; the purpose of anarchist economics is not so much to understand the workings of the capitalist economy but rather to study human needs and determine how they might be best satisfied. Every kind of human activity should begin from what is local and immediate, and should link in a cooperative network with no center and no directing agency (federation). Nor is it enough merely to meet people's material needs - we must also have the means to pursue our artistic, intellectual and aesthetic interests. These are not luxuries, but necessities.
It seems to me that any anarchist economics must begin from certain basic premises:
* No Markets: Everyone above all has the right to live, and so a free society must share the means of existence among all, without exception. All goods and services should be provided free of charge to all. Those available in abundance should be available without limit, those in short supply should be rationed on the basis of need.
* No Wages: The notion that people will not work without compulsion is provably false. Far from shirking work when they do not receive a wage, when people work cooperatively for the good of all they achieve feats of productivity never realizable through coercion. Efforts to arrive at "just wages" are necessarily artificial and arbitrary. Labor vouchers, consumption credits and similar schemes are nothing more than attempts to maintain the reality of the wage system while changing its name.
* What Work and Why? Despite dramatic increases in productivity over the last century, we work as many (and often more) hours as ever, while millions of our fellow workers languish without the means to support themselves. Enormous effort is squandered tracking the flow of money, encouraging people to consume, and making products designed to wear out quickly. Meanwhile, vitally important social needs go unmet. Many jobs can be eliminated, but other jobs (for example, cleaning up the environment or building a viable public transport system to replace our current auto-intensive one) will be created. Some effort will have to go to material assistance to our fellow workers in other parts of the globe to develop economies capable of sustaining themselves and the planet (this is a matter not only of human solidarity, but also of our own self-interest). Nonetheless, there is no reason why we cannot dramatically reduce the number of hours we spend at work, while simultaneously making that time less alienating and better meeting human needs.
* Self-Management: Under current conditions, too many workers spend long hours doing boring work under unhealthy conditions, while others have no work at all or do work that serves no socially useful purpose. Over-specialization, repetitive drudgery and the separation of manual and mental labor must be replaced with self-managed, cooperative labor.
Self-management necessarily implies federalist economic arrangements. Where "libertarian Marxists" such as Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel suggest a centralized economic planning bureaucracy (albeit under some form of democratic oversight) which would inevitably lead to a dictatorship of the "facilitator" class, an anarchist economics would clearly devolve most decisions to the local level and rely on free agreements to handle coordination. (Of course, difficult issues of how to balance, for example, ecological concerns with production and consumption needs would remain, and some method would have to be developed for addressing them in a way that simultaneously upholds the rights of those most directly impacted by the decisions and the broader social issues at stake.)
Expropriation, direct action, federalism and self-management are the means for making the social revolution and reconstrusting society. Ultimately, only the free distribution of necessities, in all their variety, on the basis not of position or productivity, but of need, is compatible with a free society.
As Kropotkin noted a century ago, production and exchange are so complicated that no government would be capable of organizing production unless the workers themselves took charge, "for in all production there arises daily thousands of difficulties that no government can hope to foresee ... only the efforts of thousands of intelligences working on problems can cooperate in the development of the new social system and find solutions for the thousands of local problems." (quoted in Dolgoff, Relevance of Anarchism to Modern Society)
The society we hope to build must necessarily be built on the basis of what presently exists - seizing the existing industries and goods to meet immediate needs, and as the building blocks from which we will construct a free society. To think otherwise is to build castles in the air. As Sam Dolgoff notes, "Anarchy or no anarchy, the people must eat and be provided with the other necessiities of life. The cities must be provisioned and vital services cannot be disrupted. Even if poorly served, the people in their own interests would not allow us or anyone else to disrupt these services unless and until they are reorganized in a better way..." So we need to think about how we would manage the transition from what is to what we want (it seems to me that revolutionary unions offer the best prospects). While it is not possible to spell out in every detail how a free society might operate, it is important to think about its general outlines in advance, so that we might build with a vision of where we are trying to go.
Published to Date in our Anarchist Economics Series:
Jeff Stein, "Proudhon's Economic Legacy," LLR 10 (Winter 1991), pp. 8-13.
Jon Bekken, "Capitalism is Criminal," LLR 10 (Winter 1991), pp. 14-19.
Jon Beken, "Kropotkin's Anarchist Critique of Capitalism," LLR 11 (Summer 1991), pp. 19-24.
Etcetera, "Dispersed Fordism and the New Organization of Labor," LLR 12 (Winter 1992), pp. 16-18. Translated by Mike Hargis.
Jon Bekken, "Peter Kropotkin's Anarchist Communism," LLR 12 (Winter 1992), pp. 19-24.
Jeff Stein, Revew: "Looking Forward," LLR 12 (Winter 1992), pp. 25-28.
Jon Bekken, "North American Free Trade," LLR 13 (Summer 1992), pp. 18-19.
Jeff Stein, "The Collectivist Tradition," LLR 13 (Summer 1992), pp. 24-29.
Jeff Stein, Review: "Market Anarchism? Caveat Emptor," LLR 13 (Summer 1992), pp. 33-34.
Michael Bakunin, "The Capitalist System," Champaign: Libertarian Labor Review, 1993, 15 pp. Translated by G.P. Maximoff and Jeff Stein.
Abraham Guillen, "Principles of Libertarian Economics," in three parts: LLR 14 (Winter 1993), pp. 20-25; LLR 15 (Summer 1993), pp. 24-30; LLR 16 (Winter 1994), pp. 18-23. Translated and with an afterword by Jeff Stein.
Mike Hargis, "The Myth of the Vanishing Working Class," LLR 16 (Winter 1994), pp. 2-3.
Jon Bekken, "The American Health Care Crisis: Capitalism," LLR 16 (Winter 1994), pp. 10-14.
Harald Beyer-Arnesen, "From Production-Links to Human Relations," LLR 17 (Summer 1994), pp. 13-14.
Jeff Stein, "Marxism: The Negation of Communism," LLR 17 (Summer 1994), pp. 20-26.
Noam Chomsky, "The "New' Corporate World Economic Order," LLR 18 (Spring 1995), pp. 6-11.
Mike Long, "The Mondragon Co-operative Federation: A Model for Our Times?" LLR 19 (Winter 1996), pp. 19-36. With a commentary by Mike Hargis.
Jon Bekken, "The Limits of "Self'-Management Under Capitalism," LLR 21 (Winter 1997), pp. 29-33.
Rene Berthier, "Crisis of Work, or Crisis of Capital?" LLR 23 (Summer 1998), pp. 19-24. Translated by Mike Hargis.
Jeff Stein, "The Tragedy of the Markets," LLR 23 (Summer 1998), pp. 30-37.
Jeff Stein, "Scamming the Welfare State," LLR 24 (Winter 1998-99), pp. 14-18.
Jeff Stein, "Freedom and Industry: The Syndicalism of Christian Cornelissen," ASR 28 (Spring 2000), pp. 13-19.
Jon Bekken, Review: "Campaigning for a Living Wage," ASR 28 (Spring 2000), p. 31.
Brian Oliver Sheppard, "Anarchism vs. Right-Wing 'Anti-Statism,'" ASR 31 (Spring 2001), pp. 23-25.
Jeff Stein, Review: "The Irrational in Capitalism," ASR 31 (Spring 2001), pp. 26-27.
Brian Oliver Sheppard, "Anarcho-Syndicalist Answer to Corporate Globalization," ASR 33 (Winter 2001/02), pp. 11-15.
Jeff Stein, Review: "After Capitalism," ASR 37 (Spring 2003), pp. 33-34.
Jon Bekken, Review Essay: "Work Without End, or Time to Live?" ASR 38 (Winter 2003/04), pp. 23-29.
Also of Relevance:
Frank Adams, "Worker Ownership: Anarchism in Action?" LLR 5 (Summer 1988), pp. 24-26.
Jon Bekken, Review Essay: "In the Shell of the Old?" LLR 5 (Summer 1988), pp. 36-39.
Sam Dolgoff, editor, The Anarchist Collectives: Workers' Self-Management in the Spanish Revolution. Montreal: Black Rose Books.
Sam Dolgoff, "The Role of Marxism in the International Labor Movement," LLR 5 (Summer 1988), pp. 27-35.
Sam Dolgoff, The Relevance of Anarchism to Modern Society . Chicago: Charles H. Kerr, 1989.
Peter Kropotkin, Fields Factories and Workshops . New Brunswick: Transaction. A condensed and annotated edition edited by Colin Ward is also available from Freedom Press under the title Fields, Factories and Workshops Tomorrow.
Peter Kropotkin, The Conquest of Bread . New York: New York University Press.
Gaston Leval, Collectives in the Spanish Revolution . London: Freedom Press.
Mike Long, "A Tale of Two Strikes: Education Workers in Hawai'i," ASR 33 (Winter 2001/02), pp. 19-30.
Mike Long, Review Essay: "Mondragon and Other Co-ops: For & Against," ASR 29 (Summer 2000), pp. 15-28.
G.P. Maximoff, Program of Anarcho-Syndicalism. (extract from his Constructive Anarchism, published in English in 1952; this section is not included in the only edition of the work now in print.) Sydney: Monty Miller Press, 1985
Pierre Proudhon, What Is Property? (B. Tucker, translator). New York: Dover.
Pierre Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century (J. Robinson, translator). London: Pluto Press.
Graham Purchase, "After the Revolution" (Review of D.A. Santillan's After The Revolution: Economic Reconstruction in Spain Today), LLR 20 (Summer 1996), pp. 38-39.
Nov 7 2006, 08:27 PM
By Blaine McKinley
No friend of the martyrs worked harder to keep their memory fresh than Lizzie Holmes, who made almost annual tributes to the men whose vision and comradeship continued to burn within her...
Born in 1850 into a freethinking family, Lizzie Holmes moved to Chicago in 1877, after the death of her first husband, to learn more about the labor movement. She worked as a music teacher and as a seamstress; the latter employment led to her pioneering efforts in the Working Women's Union to organize sewing women and to publicize the wretched conditions they faced. At first a member of the Socialistic Labor Party, she turned to anarchism in 1883.
Roediger, Dave, and Franklin Rosemont, eds. Haymarket Scrapbook. Charles H. Kerr Publishing Co., Chicago, 1986.
Oct 18 2006, 08:32 PM
Louise Michel, a French Anarchist Women who Fought in the Paris Commune
By Jayacintha Danaswamy
Louise Michel was born on 29th May 1830. She was raised by her mother and paternal grandparents. Her love and understanding of everything downtrodden, human and animal alike, developed from her empathy with her childhood world. Her compassion and sensitivity to suffering grew, as she grew. This, along with her instinct to rebel against social inequalities, led her along the revolutionary path....
...."It is not a question of breadcrumbs. What is at stake is the harvest of an entire world, a harvest necessary to the whole future human race, one without exploiters and without exploited".....
Oct 12 2006, 07:16 PM
Federica Montseny (1905-1994)
By Patricia V. Greene
For more than five decades, activist Federica Montseny contributed to numerous anarchist journals and newspapers, wrote novels and remained a powerful force within the Spanish anarchist movement until her death in 1994.
Oct 4 2006, 08:44 PM
Mollie Steimer: An Anarchist Life
By Paul Avrich
Sep 24 2006, 05:50 PM
Anarchism and American Traditions
By Voltairine de Cleyre
Voltairine de Cleyre - a biographical sketch
By Chris Crass
Sep 20 2006, 08:10 PM
ANARCHISM: WHAT IT REALLY STANDS FOR
by emma goldman
By Patricia McCarthy
Emma Goldman was a legend in her own lifetime. Born in Lithuania on 27th June 1869, she emigrated to the United States with her sister Helena in 1885. Like so many other East European immigrants, she found work in a clothing factory. The following year four Chicago anarchists were executed.
They had been prominent trade union activists leading the struggle for an eight-hour day. Framed for a bombing, the authorities hoped that this would scare off the emerging trade union movement, especially its anarchist component. The international outcry which followed these executions on trumped up charges helped to shape Emma's radical and anarchist ideals, which lasted throughout her long life.
Emma Goldman was a formidable public speaker and a prolific writer. Her whole life was devoted to struggle and she was controversial even within the radical and anarchist movement itself. She was one of the first radicals to address the issue of homosexuality, she was a fighter for women's rights, and she advocated the virtues of free love. These ideas were viewed with suspicion by those who placed their faith in the cure-all solution of economic class warfare and they were denounced by many of her contemporaries as "bourgeois inspired" at best.
To mainstream Americans, Emma was known as a demonic "dynamite eating anarchist". She toured the States, agitating and lecturing everywhere she went. She was hounded for much of her life by FBI agents and was imprisoned in 1893, 1901, 1916, 1918, 1919, and 1921 on charges ranging from incitement to riot to advocating the use of birth control to opposition to World War 1.
A self proclaimed anarchist, Leon Czolgosz, assassinated President William McKinley in 1901 and this event unleashed a massive wave of anti-anarchist hysteria throughout the States. Emma was blamed for his action and was forced into hiding for a time. She was deported from the United States, Holland, France, and was denied entry to many other countries. None of this daunted her, she began publishing 'Mother Earth' magazine in 1906 and was very active in the No-Conscription League.
She shared a life long friendship with her political comrade Alexander Berkman. Both of them were deported from the USA to Russia in 1919. At first, Emma was excited to see at first hand the revolution she had fought to bring about all her life. However, it did not take long for her to realise that the Bolsheviks were not lovers of freedom nor partisans of workers' control. What had been created was a massive dictatorship. The suppression of the Kronstadt rebellion by the Bolsheviks In 1921 was too much for Emma and Berkman, and they left Russia in a state of disillusionment.
She spent the next number of years moving from country to country and writing a long series of articles and two books about her experiences and struggles. She eventually lived in Britain for many years where she wrote her autobiography and continued supporting workers' struggles in different parts of the world. Suffering from grave illness, Alexander Berkman committed suicide in 1936. Just a week later an anarchist inspired revolution erupted in Spain. Over the next three years Emma committed herself to the support of the anarchists and their fight against fascism and Stalinism.
Her long and incredible life came to an end in 1940. Only after her death was she admitted back into America where she was buried in Chicago near the Haymarket martyrs who had helped to shape her life.
Sep 4 2006, 08:09 AM
Anarcha-Feminism - Thinking about Anarchism
Workers Solidarity #79
An important principle of anarchism and one that more than any
other differentiates it from other types of socialism is its emphasis
on freedom and non-hierarchical social relations.
anarchism is the rejection of any power hierarchy between men and
women. Anarchists believe that the liberty of one is based on the
liberty of all and so there can be no true anarchist society without
an end to all existing structures of domination and exploitation,
including naturally the oppression of women.
As anarchists we believe that the means determines the end. This
means that we do not wait for some future revolution to tackle the
problems of sexism but instead see that it is important to struggle
against it in the here and now. As anarchists we strive to ensure
that both our own organisations and also those campaigns we are
involved in are free from sexism and power-hierarchies and that all
members have equal decision-making power.
We recognise that the full participation of women within the
anarchist movement and social struggles of today is very important.
In order to shape the future society women must be involved in its
creation and, of course, without the participation of half of the
population there will be no social revolution. Just as we believe the
emancipation of the working class is the task of the working class
themselves, we also see that, essentially, women's development,
freedom and independence must come from themselves. Becoming
involved in political struggle is in itself an act of empowerment.
Many women in today's society do not believe that they could have
a role in fundamentally changing things. However by getting
involved, by assuming our place - agitating, educating and
organising- we begin to take control of our own lives in the process
of actively fighting to change the unjust society in which we live.
Only in an anarchist society will the basis for the oppression of
women cease to exist. This is because women, due to their
reproductive role, will always be more vulnerable than men in
capitalist society which is based on the need to maximise profit.
Abortion rights, paid maternity leave, crèche and childcare
facilities etc., in short everything that would be necessary to ensure
the economic equality of women under capitalism, will always be
especially relevant to women. Because of this, women are generally
viewed as being less economical than men to employ and are more
susceptible to attacks on gains such as crèche facilities etc.
Also, women cannot be free until they have full control over their
own bodies. Yet under capitalism, abortion rights are never
guaranteed. Even if gains are made in this area they can be
attacked, as happens with abortion rights in the USA. The
oppression of women under capitalism has thus an econom-ic and
sexual basis. From these root causes of women's oppression, stem
other forms of oppression like, for example, the ideological
oppression of women, violence against women etc. That is not to
say that sexist ideas will just disappear with the end of capitalism,
but rather only with the end of capitalism can we rid society of an
institutional bias that contin-ues to propagate and encourage
As an anarchist society will not be driven by profit, there, for
example, will be no eco-nomic penalty for having children or
wanting to spend more time with them. Childcare, housework etc.,
can be seen as the respon-sibility of the whole of society and thus
give women and men more options in general.
Anarchism/Anarcha-feminism* joins the fight against class
exploitation and that against women's oppression together. True
freedom, both for women and men, can only come about in a
classless society, where workplaces are self-managed, private
property is abolished and the people who make decisions are those
affected by them.
Clearly the struggle for women's freedom requires a class struggle
by the workers. And in turn, the class struggle can only be
successful if it is at the same time a struggle against women's
by Deirdre Hogan
Sep 2 2006, 06:17 PM
The idea of this thread is to create a place for me to talk about and post articles on my pet subjects, Anarcha Syndicalism, Anarcha-Marxism, Anarcha-Capitalism, Parecon, Autonomist Marxism, Anti-golobalism, Real Cost Economics, Bio-Regionalism, Work Place Democracy, Mondragon and anything else that i run into which I can't help but share.
so here is an interesting article I rcently found
Feminist Economics 101: The first half of Marilyn Waring's Counting for Nothing
Alright, so as you may notice i have not posted for a couple of days – partly out of mid-week fatigue and partly because i am finding it difficult to figure out exactly what to say about Marilyn Waring’s book Counting For Nothing, which i am now half-way through.
But first, before getting to that, a few technical notes, after two weeks blogging:
1. i am wondering if i made a mistake going with blogger rather than wordpress – seems a bunch of features i would appreciate (i.e. categories) require work-arounds which are a pain in the ass…
2. finally think i figured out the “post template” function, only it’s not as nifty as i had hoped. It basically just starts your posts out with some html code, you then have to fiddle with it
3. i have added a “read more” function to my template, so that those loooooong posts don’t completely clog up my main page.
OK, now on to Waring’s book…
As i mentioned in my post earlier this week, after having read the Introduction to the Second Edition, this book argues that there is a male bias in the way that countries calculate their National Accounts.
Seeing as i am only half-way through this book, what follows is in-a-nutshell how i see the core of Waring’s argument so far:
1. Countries figure out their “important numbers” (i.e. GDP, GNP, Consumer Price Index, unemployment rate, etc.) from a bunch of different surveys and censuses, and together these are called “national accounts” – these numbers are used by industry and government to set policy goals, pass legislation, work out their economic programmes, etc.
2. There are a number of “grey areas” built into the very concepts used in these accounts, the most noteworthy one being the so-called “productive boundary”, that dividing line between activities which count as work and those that do not. To deal with these grey areas, monetary values are imputed to various activities even though in practice they are either unpaid or paid in kind.
3. Under the present world economic system, these grey areas – which in and of themselves may be unavoidable and need not be instruments of oppression – are manipulated in such a way so as to grossly undervalue or even completely devalue women’s work. Thus, values are imputed to some productive activities but not others – and the ones that get counted tend to be activities done by men, while the ones that get relegated outside of the productive boundary tend to be done by women.
4. This manipulation of the national accounts, this hiding of women’s labour, is part of a conscious strategy by male accountants, statisticians and politicians to exploit women.
5. This process occurs in different ways, but is essentially the same in both the developed countries and the Third World.
6. If this situation were remedied “the repercussions would be felt in various fields of social policy: certain forms of social security would be extended to them [housewives], as would access to adult vocational training pogrammes presently restricted to the ‘working’ population, and a greater investment would be made in social facilities such as child care centres.” (p. 10)
7. Nevertheless, the question remains: “To what method level would this method be effective, and at what point would patriarchy reassert its power?”
OK, on points 1 to 3 Waring makes her case very well. She gives example after example of men’s unpaid labour being given a monetary value in the national accounts, and example after example of women’s work being denied any monetary value. This is even in the case of work that is often paid – her wonderful example being “when a man marries his housekeeper the GNP goes down.” (p. 61)
Now, i must admit that i am less convinced about Waring’s other points.
Point Number 4: Is there a conscious conspiracy involving a brotherhood of crooked accountants?
Sylvia Federici, in her book Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation, describes how in the early days of the capitalist system women were pushed out of the paid labour-force by a cross-class alliance of male workers and male rulers – now that was a conscious strategy… and it gave rise to an economic system – capitalism – which is thus congenitally and inherently patriarchal. As Maria Mies wrote in her book Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale: “Patriarchy thus constitutes the mostly invisible underground of the visible capitalist system.” (p. 38)
So again: are crooked accountants a feature of this system?
The question is difficult to answer, because it really depends on what one means by “crooked”. In terms of not being fair, of being exploitative, of stealing the wealth that people create, of encouraging parasitism… capitalism itself is “crooked”. But once that is said, it has to be added that within a capitalist system, an accountant or a statistician or a politician does not have to be at all crooked or dishonest in order to replicate the dishonesty and immorality inherent in the system itself.
There is a tendency to want to describe various problems as being due to “corruption” and “dishonesty”, and a great reticence to see them as structural aspects of a system. This is not only because structural problems may seem more daunting, but also because by personalizing an issue it becomes more interesting, it excites people’s imagination more, and in that way it is much more accessible. Waring – herself a former politician – may just be adept at playing to the crowd, or she may herself believe that she is up against a conspiracy by a cabal of highly-placed United Nations officials, but in the end this kind of personalistic explanation promises more than it can deliver.
The oppression of women, and the fact that so much of women’s labour is rendered invisible, are structural features of the capitalist system. Waring may identify many sexists within government, but no matter how many she exposes, it’s a safe bet there’ll still be many many more left for her to uncover, because their “sexism” – like the accountants’ “crookedness” – are features of the system. So in order to remedy this situation, a structural and historical analysis is necessary. Waring comes up short here – she is long on describing effects of capitalism but overly simplistic when describing causes.
I would recommend interested people read Maria Mies’ Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale, Sylvia Federici’s Caliban and the Witch: Women, The Body and Primitive Accumulation and Butch Lee’s Night-Vision: Illuminating War and Class on the Neo-Colonial Terrain, The Military Strategy of Women and Children on these questions.
Point number 5: In fairness, i believe Waring is going to try and back up this point more in the second half of her book, i will hold off on commenting on what i suspect her argument will be. Suffice it to say, that i am highly suspicious…
Point number 6 is pretty much obviated by point number 7. Essentially, Waring sees great changes potentially coming from a less sexist system of national accounts, but concedes the possibility that “patriarchy reassert its control.”
Whether or not this would be the case is indeed a good question, and one that all manner of left-feminists have mused over for some time now. How sexist does capitalism have to be, how great are the possibilities for a “post-patriarchal capitalism”?
There seems to be an implicit message in this book that the world economic system can become post-patriarchal without there necessarily having to be an anti-capitalist revolution. Waring seems somewhat taken by the belief in “male values” and “female values”, so i am guessing she imagines a world economy shorn of its male bias being one which would also be re-oriented towards human needs, less harmful of the environment, more egalitarian. At no point does she call for anything like socialism or communism or anarchism, and one gets the impression that she believes that women’s empowerment will simply cause some wider consequences that need not necessarily be spelled out…
…one almost has the impression of looking at a mirror image of the left-wing cliché that once capitalism is abolished other questions will sort themselves out. According to some comrades, no special programme is needed to deal with women’s oppression, because that’s already covered when we say “smash capitalism”!
I would argue a radically different, and more pessimistic, position that either Waring’s feminism or the clichéd left-wing anti-capitalism. Work by women like Maria Mies, Butch Lee and Sylvia Federici has convinced me that any struggle for human liberation “will have to transcend or overcome capitalist-patriarchy as one intrinsically connected system” (Mies, p. 38) and this means explicitly analyzing and fighting against all manifestations whether we see them as being primarily “capitalist” or “patriarchal”.
In this light, Waring’s plan to reform how the United Nations keeps its accounts seems somewhat trite and pedestrian - and i think this is part of why i have found it difficult to write about this book. While i find much of what Warin has to say to be interesting, i have repeatedly found myself muttering “who gives a fuck what the United Nations thinks!” – i mean this is not a system most of us conceive of being a part of any kind of liberated future, the national accounts would fade into history in a world of “no borders no nations”, never mind no classes, so what is a radical anti-capitalist supposed to be learning from this?
These questions have been popping into my head over the past few days as i have read Waring describe her run-ins and discussions with this government statistician and that economic advisor. I do have an answer in mind, but its still cohering on the edges of my mind, and i have only read half of the book so far, so i’m going to keep it under my hat for now…
Hopefully by this time next week i’ll have finished this book, and then i’ll let you know what i think!
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