Sunday, May 30, 2010

Just sayin'

One of the first women to challenge the view that domestic labor was not productive work was Maria-Rosa Dalla Costa, who wrote from Italy in 1972 that the housewife and her labor was the basis for the process of capital accumulation. Capital commands the unpaid labor of the housewife as well as the paid laborer. Dalla Costa saw the family as a colony dominated by capital and state. She rejected the artificially created division between waged and unwaged labor and said that you could not understand exploitation of waged labor until you understood the exploitation of unpaid labor

It is estimated that women make up 52% of the adults on this planet and do 75% of the work required to maintain 100% of the population. They earn less than 10% of the income and own less than 1% the world property.

Organizers of the Global Women's Strike assert that whoever is doing all this work has real power to effect change. But, as Maria Mies acknowledges in her book Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale, there must be solidarity between women in overdeveloped and underdeveloped countries if we want to make this change: "If one set of women tries to better its material condition as wage-workers, or as consumers, not as human beings, capital will try to offset its possible losses by squeezing another set of women."

Unfortunately, an underlying theme of some feminist literature seems to be that 1) women should have the "right" to exploit other workers, becoming overpaid capitalists, and 2) children should be mass-produced in daycare centers. Allowing both men and women an equal opportunity to be an oppressor is not a solution. Warehousing children so that parents can do jobs that exploit other people is not a solution.

Women who provide all this free labor in a capitalist system in which nothing else is free must stop being so nice. It makes us tired. And the logical consequence of being too tired is no special extras in the home and no volunteering at the school. Perhaps all volunteers should stop working for free, as it is the logical consequence of living under a market dominated value system. The only free work done should be revolutionary work. That includes raising aware children. All other free work only strengthens a system that is killing us and the planet.

Those who are most oppressed by the rules and rulers should "work to rule"-do the least amount of unpaid work as possible, then strike.

Unpaid labor is a taboo subject because acknowledging it would undermine one of the most important ideological foundations of capitalism. The owning class does not want to admit that they can only prosper by not paying for seventy-five percent of the true work of the planet.

From: Joanna Powers