I had the opportunity to check out lil guillotine’s new track “Spiffy Crimes” that just dropped on Soundcloud. I also had the opportunity to check out his website as well as lil guillotine’s facebook page and get an idea of the type of persona that lil guillotine is exhibiting. Overall it is very VIOLENT, and anti capitalist too. Lil guillotine seems to have a bone to pick with police and capitalist slimebags who are responsible for the most deplorable conditions in life. He is constantly hinting at revolution and of course, the name guillotine is a reference to the device used to decapitate eighteenth century French ruling class scumbags.
Where are you from and how did you get started?
Hey, I’m from Madison, hailing from Pittsburgh PA. I have been a fan of rap and hip hop since the boom bap. I grew up as a large fans of KRS One, DJ Premier, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Dr. Dre, Erika Baduh, Pharcyde, Tribe Called Quest, De la Soul, Cypress Hill, NWA, Ice Cube and of course WU-Tang Clan, especially Gravediggaz. About Twenty years back now I got in to hip hop dj’ing and a couple of my friends became rappers. I always threw down a little on the mic here and there but was always more interested in battle scratching, stunting, mixing and juggling wax on the ones and twos. It wasn’t until recently, after ten years of anticapitalist organizing, that I returned to music making through grassroots organizing opportunities. Due to my consistent and persistent love of hip hop dj’ing I proceeded to come up with a lefty radical revolutionary anticapitalist set, but it wasn’t until writing a song that I realized the true potential of rhyme writing to put forth meaningful messages that have the ability to spark lasting and effective change in society. After years of political writing, writing revolutionary raps was the one thing that satisfied the ability to put forth complex arguments that writing long essays about in-depth socio political philosophical subjects has.
The goal was to write a song about abolition of prisons, but then I couldn’t stop creating.,’
Why are you so violent in your lyrics?
Who’s violent? Asshat, this society is violent as fuck. Folks like you who would ask such a naive question as that are the same people who sit by and advocate the calling of cops on folks and for us to just vote for a democrat while hundreds of thousands of babies are slaughtered by our Imperialist forces and while our own babies starve in the street and die in our racially unequal medical system. White privileged folks talk big game about how they are pacifist and therefore morally superior to those who engage in violence but I challenge you to show me a single human being that wouldn’t throw a punch to save their life or the life of a loved one, non-violence doesn’t exist. The same folks talking that non-violence game are quick as fuck to call police on folks and snap respond with a “he had it coming” or “they were a criminal and deserved it” when those cops brutalize and murder innocent people, inhumane as fuck bullshit. Those same folks who are “pacifists” but aren’t down for abolition of police and are all about that anti-black racist status quo are violent as hell!
Okay… Well… What Is Your New Track, Spiffy Crimes, about?
Yes, thank you for asking, I just dropped this track and it was kind of rushed. I have multiple tracks entering the mastering phase so watch out for those to drop soon. Follow my soundcloud and my facebook and check out my website.
My new track is about robbing from the rich and giving to the poor, the Irish resistance movement and how bomb they have been with resisting colonialist police brutalizers, being anti racist and anti oppression and about revolution, ya know?
Are there any performances in the making for you?
I will be making a cameo at the Free The 350 Bail Fund Concert Fundraiser on February 3 at the Art In on East Washington at 7pm.
Check it out, a ton of great artist will be there and all the proceeds go to the bail fund, it’s an abolitionist organization that ultimately seeks to abolish prisons and in the short term, bail folks out who can’t afford to bail themselves out and who are sitting in Dane County jail simply because they are poor. Check out the bail fund’s website, facebook and twitter as well!
Oh yea, Trump is a shithole, but the system is a shit ABYSS! Focus on the system not the symptom!
On Tuesday June 21, at 5:20pm at the East Town Mall on Madison Wisconsin’s east side, Genele Laird was brutally beaten, tasered, had a bag put over her head (ostensibly to prevent her from spitting on officers, one would be remiss however, to not point out the extremely degrading and what appears to be, violent nature of the act of putting a bag over a human’s head after they have been subdued) and then carried like so many hog tied animals, to the back of an MPD squad car. In the now viral video, MPD officer Andrew Muir can be seen running on the scene to Laird already being aggressively restrained by the first cop on the scene who is having trouble getting Laird to the ground. Muir tries once to leg sweep laird to the ground unsuccessfully and then proceeds to knee Laird in the stomach and ribs, slams Laird down on the concrete, hitting her head on it. At about the 1:51 second marker of the video, Muir, after tackling Laird to the ground, and landing on top of her body with his, has Laird completely subdued, he has her arm completely under control and is putting all of his weight on it attempting to hyper-extend it and injure Laird. At this point the officers could have easily handcuffed Laird and ended the entire situation, instead, Muir decides to continue brutalizing Laird, revealing his desire to engage in inhumane behavior at that moment, revealing that his actions at this point are completely primal. Muir then knees Laird three more times in the ribs, punches her in the stomach, tasers her once in the ribs and then holds the taser down continuously for 58, undoubtedly excruciating, seconds on her leg. All of this happens while the cop is screaming “stop pinching me” and calling Laird a “bitch.” After putting the bag over her head, the police then made a point to use the door of the vehicle that was furthest from where Laird was picked up and man handled, without even a slight attempt to allow her to walk on her own, where they finally deposited the 18 year old, approximately 120lb Black woman. Whether the cops intended to do so or not, it all made for a thoroughly theatrical experience, currently being consumed by society at a vigorous pace. For some, the consumption of this wanton violence on Laird’s body may be, whether subconsciously or consciously, driven by the id, a sort of, uncoordinated instinctual trend of internalized thought which mainstream civil society has been responsible for molding.
Before the cops arrived on the scene, Laird, an assistant manager at Lids hat store in the mall, had her very expensive new phone stolen. Her coworker called the police in an attempt to get help retrieving the stolen phone from the person who stole it. Then, according to the mainstream media, Laird allegedly approached an employee at Taco Bell in the food court at the mall brandishing a knife and threatened their life if they didn’t return the stolen phone. At the moment this narrative is hearsay whereas the disproportionate and indiscriminate escalation of force that the Madison cops used on the young woman is factual. The fact that the police were called to assist Laird with her stolen phone can explain her resistant behavior with the cops when they first met, expecting the cops to help her and be on her side, when she was immediately met with force and aggressively handled, Laird was probably very confused.
The incident is now in the national eye. The responses to the incident are typical. Liberals and conservatives are quick to repeat the tired mantras; “you shouldn’t resist arrest, that is what you get when you do,” “it didn’t look so bad, what’s the big deal” and even “the Blacks should just stop being loud and cocky in public (read; be more white) if they want to not be victims of police beatings” to the more extreme “they should have killed her.” These pundits of the mainstream are all the while unaware of their roles as cogs in the ideological machinations of this repressive capitalist police state. All of these reactions from the gratuitous violence on Black bodies that are coming from the center left, the center, the right and the far right are indicative of an underlying societal paradigm in which mainstream civil society has a psychological dependence, defining what it is even, off of Black people suffering, a lingering effect of a society that for so many years brought family members and held jovial picnics amidst the lynching of myriad Black Americans. Many are no doubt familiar with the idea that videos like this are like racist porn for mainstream white folks.
We should be very skeptical of the narratives that the liberal and reactionary denizens and the mass media adopt and use in regards to violence against Black bodies in general. With careful attention you can notice the “neutral” language the media outlets use to give the appearance of being a “third party” with “no prejudices” but in reality employing the language most beneficial to the police and the state. After all, the government is a huge source of stories for these local news companies, why would they want to burn bridges with it? They would be fucking around with their own pay checks!
The question of was there “appropriate use of force consistent with state guidelines,” is and will be part of the mainstream conversation. The question is irrelevant from the perspective of people living in over and racily policed communities. The only question that those impacted by the racist and exorbitant policing should be asked is, are members of the community okay with the force continuum that was used. Why in the hell would we trust the racist capitalist state to define what’s acceptable police conduct in the community? We know very well who’s interest they have in mind!
When analyzing the incident, let’s not fall in to the trap of the rogue cop narrative. If you argue that this is not how police are taught to act, that it’s not their job to act like this, I would say you are incorrect. The police department, the chief of police, the courts and the fraternal order of police will all condone the officers’ actions. The conclusion should be that the action this “rogue cop” took can actually be considered procedure since it is being encouraged by the state institution by institution and on down the line by their silence. Much like when #MattKenney killed two different unarmed men, one a Black child of 19 years in the throes of a psychotic episode, RIP #TonyRobinson, and then the police go on to give him A MEDAL OF VALOR, a paid vacation and a position training new cops in Madison! How is that not the repressive police system saying the murdering of unarmed Black people is now an acceptable procedure? And so when the mother and grandmother of Tony Robinson suddenly become targets for police harassment, including being pulled over for going “too slow” and being questioned about whether her grand kids, who are Black, are actually hers because their skin color doesn’t match, to being unjustly charged with a felony after nearly being pushed in to the lake in her car, possibly by a racist white supremacist seeking revenge on her because she spoke up when MPD murdered her Black son, and then the police department is silent, even after numerous formal civilian complaints about the conduct, they have effectively condoned these “procedures.” All of this is happening while the family has filed a tens of millions of dollars civil suit in federal court against the Madison Police department for the murder of their beloved, is this a coincidence?
When the inspiring resistance that is arising after this brutal incident begins to figure out what its demands should be, we should take a deep look at the underlying mechanisms and systems at play here. In the words of Fred Moten; “I don’t think he [Muir] meant to violate the personhood of …[Genele Laird], he was… [beating] mobile black sociality …[asserting itself in] the street in a way that he understood implicitly, constituted a threat to the order that he represents and he was sworn to protect.” “Insurgent black social life constitutes a profound threat to already existing social order.” Looking at it through this lens, it follows that something other then having MPD conduct an internal review or having Laird go to restorative justice to be prosecuted for crimes she is clearly not guilty of, is in order.
Free Genele Laird and drop all charges against her, charges that were the result of the cops unnecessary escalation of force, indict officer Muir with felony assault, give the community meaningful lasting and effective control of the police and free the 350! The paradigmatic lens that sees violence against Black bodies as structural, dictates that the violence and racism won’t stop with just these reforms, although these reforms are a necessary and radical step towards justice, to end racism in this society we must aim for something much greater then them, we must smash the racist societal system and to do that we must smash capitalism!
In a recent piece in Jacobin magazine by fellow Marxist and scholar, Cedric Johnson, titled “Reparations Isn’t a Political Demand,” Johnson argues against reparations for slavery being a legitimate demand for a social movement. Such is not the case. We need a reparations movement in this country and socialists should support it.
Contrary to what Johnson argues, reparations are not an “abstract moral claim” but rather a concrete economic demand that aims to repair the very real damage to Black folks in America that has arisen from the material conditions and modes of production that are a part of this country’s history.
Let us not mistake the difference between economic and political demands. Economic demands can go a long way to solidarize revolutionary forces, and reveal the revolutionary potential of the masses.
V.I. Lenin’s pamphlet, Economic and Political Strikes, argues that “the economic and the political strike support each other, each being a source of strength for the other. Unless these forms of strike are closely interlinked, a really wide mass movement—moreover, a movement of national significance—is impossible. When the movement is in its early stage, the economic strike often has the effect of awakening and stirring up the backward, of making the movement a general one, of raising it to a higher plane.” Therefore, there is far more at stake with the reparations fight than merely moral suasion.
Reparations are not merely a moral demand and the demand is not just coming from the Black bourgeoisie, but rather from the Black working class, as Brian Jones argued in his recent piece in Jacobin magazine, “The Socialist Case for Reparations”. Johnson, however, argues:
“Jones’s claim that elites do not support reparations is simply not reflected in the past few decades of sporadic debate and attempts to operationalize the reparations demand. For example, Michigan congressman John Conyers, a founding member of the CBC, has been one of the foremost sponsors of legislation on reparations, and for much of its history, the CBC has consistently voted in support of more progressive labor rights and redistributive public policy than most of their congressional colleagues.
Randall Robinson, the founder of the foreign policy lobby TransAfrica, and the late Ronald W. Walters, longtime professor at Howard University and campaign manager for Jesse Jackson during his 1984 and 1988 bids for the Democratic presidential nomination,both advanced the reparations demand in their speeches and writings during the nineties. And in the early aughts, Harvard law professor Charles Ogletree championed one of the most practical approaches to the reparations demand: a flurry of lawsuits against Aetna, Fleet Boston, New York Life, and other corporations whose origins rested in profiting from the slave trade.”
I will point out that citing four examples of individual Black bourgeoisie advancing the demand of reparations is anecdotal evidence and not proof that it is a demand emanating solely from the bourgeoisie.
I wish to go further to point out Johnson’s failure to acknowledge one of the “major historical tendencies of capitalism,” rationalization of social relations. “Simply put, as capitalism developed, individual capitalists’ adaptations to the class struggle needed to be rationally organized and disciplined, a function beyond any individual capitalist but appropriate for the capitalist state.”1
Even if you can point to a few individual capitalists advancing reparations as a strategy in the class struggle, it doesn’t mean that it will be the strategy that the state will adopt. Individual capitalists have never been in complete consensus on what strategies to employ in the class struggle, but the state has always known what tactics to use or how to adapt the capitalist system to conditions that arise in times of crises.
In order to argue that the Black working class is not interested in reparations Johnson discredits a recent poll by YouGov as being irrelevant. The poll found that 59% of Black Americans support cash reparations. He claims that “only 119 Blacks were sampled, making the results of that survey completely useless for drawing conclusions about the sentiments of the national black population.” I recently ran across a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll conducted in February 2002 that found 55% of Black Americans support cash payments based on a similar number surveyed, 146.
At first glance it appears that this small number of Black people that were surveyed is insignificant when compared to the total population in the U.S., 45.7 million, I agree. Statistical science has more to offer than mere appearances, however. It turns out that a random sample of 119 from a population of 47.7 million can be used to reliably infer that there is majority support amongst Black Americans for reparations, 59% according to the YouGov poll, with a 9% margin of error. Similarly, the 2002 study conducted by reputable pollster, Gallup, along with CNN and USA Today, also shows that there is 55% support for cash reparations with an 8% margin of error. Although it may appear that these polls are dismissible, mathematics tells us otherwise.
One cannot help to take portions of Johnson’s argument as sounding, at least on the surface, if not a tad bit class reductionist, then a smidgen color blind. When Johnson states:
“We can all agree that at various historical junctures, the majority of blacks have been a hyper-exploited and submerged part of the working class.”
I say, “the majority of Blacks have been a hyper-exploited and submerged part of the working class,” not only at “various historical junctures” but specifically and continuously throughout the history of the United States.
And when Johnson asks:
“But if class struggle is the fundamental conflict, why then is there a need for the rhetoric of reparative justice?”
He is responding to what Jones wrote here:
“all profit is theft — if workers were paid the full value of their labor, there would be no profit. Reparations therefore must be targeted at the class of people who benefit from this theft.”
Jones is arguing that it is the bourgeoisie that should be responsible for paying reparations, not all whites. The emphasis on class over race in this case, is to argue against the post-modernist, identity politics driven idea that all white people are the source of racism, not the capitalist system; therefore whites should be the ones to pay reparations to Black folks. Jones is very clear, multiple times, that we are arguing for reparations for people of African descent, not the whole working class.
For readers who may pick up on these arguments and be tempted to put race to the background in the struggle against capitalism, I wish to say the following.
The American Communist Party program in 1921 states that the “…task (should) …be to destroy altogether the barrier of race prejudice that has been used to keep apart the Black and white workers, and bind them into a solid union of revolutionary forces for the overthrow of our common enemy.”
In the words of Marx; “In the United States of America, every independent workers’ movement was paralyzed as long as slavery disfigured part of the republic. Labor cannot emancipate itself in the white skin where in the black it is branded.”
Revolutionaries should be putting the fight against racism above the immediate fight against the capitalist class by the working class. Any other order will not work because a society plagued with racism has little chance of waging a successful struggle against a system that uses racism to divide the working class.
Looking at Johnson’s passage here:
“Activists have employed the language of reparative justice in the John Burge torture settlements, which awarded compensation to citizens whose civil rights were violated by the Chicago Police Department, and also in the legal cases that sought restitution for victims of the forced sterilization program in North Carolina.
These cases are not the same as the demand for slavery reparations, but rather, like the settlements paid out to the Japanese internment camp and Holocaust survivors after the Second World War, these cases sought renumeration for a defined legal category of victim. Reparations for slavery, in contrast, is based on a more complex scenario of repair for intergenerational offense, a matter that in all likelihood cannot be rectified through the same legal strategy”.
I would not advocate for a legal system campaign, but rather an on the ground grassroots campaign. Whether the reparations come from putting pressure on the legal system and/or legislatures or even a seizure is not as important as the need for the battle to be fought from the bottom up.
Furthermore, with a bottom up fight, “Actionable set(s) of proposals to organize around” are what will come out of organizing and fighting for the demand. By forming coalitions, coming together and debating about the way forward “actionable set(s) of proposals to organize around” will be conceived of.
Johnson makes a good point here, however, that reparations are “based on a more complex scenario of repair for intergenerational offense.” This is exactly why, from a Marxist perspective, reparations are such a powerful demand to pursue. The fact that reparations are a more complex scenario is because confronting the specific, continuous and lasting effects that racism and slavery has had on Black people in the United States requires one to look at how capitalism and racism here have always been, and still are, deeply intertwined. It requires you to question the entire capitalist system and how it operates. Winning a demand like this would result in hundreds of millions of Americans being able to clearly see capitalism’s contradictory, repressive and oppressive nature and making them question the system entirely. What was invisible will become visible.
If we ignore the continuous and lasting effect that slavery and racism have had in the United States, ie., the “intergenerational offense,” than we have failed to grasp the dialectical nature of how the racist and harmful culture prevalent in society has been influenced by our brutally racist history. As the Guinea-Bissau national liberation revolutionary, Amilcar Cabral, laid out, there are “strong, dependent and reciporical [sic] relationships existing between the cultural situation and the economic (and political) situation in the behavior of human societies.” And, “culture is the vigorous manifestation on the ideological or idealist plane of the physical and historical reality of …society.”2
Marx, in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon, said: “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.” Marxists should absolutely see racism today as intricately linked, and a result of, the country’s legacy of slavery and racism.
And so, when Johnson says that:
“We can’t go back in time and address slavery, dispossession, and debt peonage as they were unfolding. By default we are stuck with addressing oppression in our midst, which is descendant from this longer history but actively determined by contemporary processes.”
“Oppression in our midst” is not the result of solely “contemporary processes” and oppression is not merely “descendant from the longer history” but rather a direct result of it. If we fail to recognize how the reign of terror that has been the history of Blacks in America has affected the society that we currently live in then we fail to understand Marx’s philosophy of historical materialism.
Reparations are a powerful demand that will have a ripple effect in the consciousness of society that’s worth pursuing so when Johnson says:
“In other words, some black citizens may support reparations as an ideal, but in the everyday fight to protect and advance their lived interests, other issues like policing, rising housing costs, livable wage employment, and quality education may rightly take precedence over reparations, and form the core of their political commitments”.
I absolutely agree. I don’t agree, as I have already pointed out, with the assumption that only “some Black citizens… support reparations.” As C.L.R. James said, the independent Black struggle “is in itself a constituent part of the struggle for socialism,” and “the independent… [Black] …struggle, has a vitality and a validity of its own; that it has deep historic roots in the past of America and in present struggles; it has an organic political perspective…” Following from this is that it is not advantageous for socialists to dictate what the demands are for the “independent… [Black] …struggle”.
This brings up the inevitable question. How should socialists approach the demand for reparations while participating in the struggle for Black liberation? If it were the case that Black Americans are not calling for reparations, we would still be advocating for reparations as a sound demand but not by pushing the demand on the movement.
Joel Geier lays out in Socialists in Movements that, as socialists, we engage in movements and we vie for influence, not by being sectarian, pushing demands on it or reducing arguments to class, but rather by engaging in the struggle, offering sound tactics and concrete successes that flow from sound theory and creating space for mutual and democratic debate.
1.) Sidney L. Harring, Policing a Class Society, The Experience of American Cities, 1865-1915, 8
2.) Amilcar Cabral , National Liberation & Culture, Feb. 20, 1970, Translated by Maureen Webster
In a turn that conjures scenes from Seinfeld with officer Bookman, library cop, the Wisconsin state Assembly passed a bill that allows libraries to call the police on people who have late fees. The bill passed the WI assembly on Tuesday February 16 and it passed the senate last week. It now goes to the desk of Scott Walker to be signed.
Public libraries are a service that are paid for by everyone in society and a service that is meant for everyone in society. In a way, the dissemination of books among the public is exactly what the purpose of the library is.
Libraries are disproportionately used by women overall and disproportionately by Black folks and Hispanics for internet usage¹. This bill will disproportionately impact Wisconsin’s homeless, women, as well as Hispanic and Black residents.
The involvement of the police in library operation is an overreach and it is a recipe for disaster. As the Black Lives Matter movement has made clear over the last year, interacting with the police can lead to fatal conclusions, even more so when the interaction is between police and Black males, transgender and people with mental disabilities. Using the state apparatus that has the legal right to use force and to escalate situations quickly to collect on fines from somebody who is trying to better themselves but does not have the resources to buy all the books they need themselves, is a policy that is shortsighted and ignorant of the violent and repressive role that police play in this society.
Besides from being disastrously dangerous for the citizens of Wisconsin, this bill will put even more obstacles in the way of citizens who use the library’s book and internet services to better themselves, find jobs and make money on the internet. It will serve to further the income gap in WI, disproportionately among Blacks and Hispanics.
This attack on public services should be seen as part of the neo-liberal agenda of the Scott Walker government. This is yet another maneuver to put the burden of the financial crisis, that Walker has failed to address, on the backs of the homeless, poor, women, Hispanics and Black Wisconsinites. Although this would arguably do little to alleviate government spending and might even cost more than it saves, it is indicative of the neo-liberal ideology of austerity for the people and a nanny like relationship between the state and corporations.
If Wisconsinites are having trouble returning library materials then why punish them? What is so bad about a government, that we pay for, buying books for its citizens? If folks are in a position that they can’t return library materials, then the issue is not lack of punitive measures but lack of public infrastructure, we need better public transportation and a rail system that runs often and is cheap or free.
If people are truly stealing library material, the solution is to address the reason that they feel they need to steal books in the first place. If a Wisconsinite is in a position that they need to steal books to survive then the answer is not more punitive measures, it is an income inequality issue.
If libraries are strapped for cash and materials so bad that they need to use the police to collect, then the real solution is to give them more money. We need more social services, not more police!
1.) “Libraries at the Crossroads”, Chapter 1: Who Uses Libraries and What They do at Their Libraries. http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/09/15/who-uses-libraries-and-what-they-do-at-their-libraries/
The way the economy was setup in the middle ages resulted in different modes of production than today. The peasant would need to produce all of the things that the peasant needed to survive, without help from others. They needed to make sure there was a roof over their head and that they were producing enough food so they don’t starve to death and to pay off the local king or nobleman. This meant that the peasant would need to make their own buckets, shovels, pitchforks, candles, clothes etc.
In the modern capitalist economy, people don’t create what they need to reproduce themselves individually, such things are now produced collectively. We come together, albeit not necessarily by choice, and manufacture things like brooms, buckets, soap, food etc.
The production of things everyone in society requires to survive is done by everyone in society, the global workforce. This means that we all benefit from having people in society who work. We will ignore the fact that it is actually the capitalist class, the 1%, that benefit most from the labor of workers.
During the years of early capitalism the bosses would force displaced peasants to work morning day in night in deplorable conditions in hazardous conditions. The resulting average life span for an early worker was extremely small, they were being worked to death. This was profitable because the more hours a laborer worked in a day the more profit the bosses would make, a concept that Karl Marx explained with his Labor Theory of Value.
Capitalists worked early proletarians to an early death. This posed a problem for the bosses. The problem of an ever decreasing workforce. This turned out to be against the capitalist’s own interest because of the inherent need for the capitalist to expand production and expand business to be able to compete against other manufacturers on the free market. Expansion is a trait native to the capitalist economic system.
This conundrum, the need for an expanded workforce juxtaposed against the ability of the capitalist to profit more when a worker was forced to toil for long hours, meant that the bosses needed to rationalize their strategy going forward. The need of long work days and the need to expand in order to compete would need to be balanced. In addition, the capitalists now recognized the need for a living wage to be paid to the early proletariat, otherwise their workers would starve for want of food or freeze to death for want of shelter and not be able to come to work the next day.
It was clear that reproducing labor, reproducing the worker, was a fundamental need for the capitalist system. If the worker could not be reproduced, then the capitalist could not profit off of them. Social reproduction was necessary. Social because of the social nature of production we engage in under capitalism compared to earlier modes of production. Reproduction because workers need to feed themselves, shelter themselves and live a healthy life so they can return to work the next day.
One area of social reproduction work that interests this author is child care and household work. These are things that are a necessity for the economic system to continue. When mothers raise children, feed families, wash dirty laundry and all of the peripheral work associated with these jobs, they do it not for themselves but for the good of everyone in society. Everyone benefits from our socialized mode of producing useful commodities when compared to individual modes of production such as the peasant making all their tools from scratch.
In order to pass on the responsibility and the costs for these roles that are fundamental building blocks of the capitalist system, the ruling class have a need to create a narrative of personal responsibility. By creating a narrative that sees women’s place as being in the home, the system uses sexism to pass off the costs of social reproduction squarely on the backs of women. The personal responsibility mantra operating alongside the protestant work ethic that is prevalent in this country serve as a boon to the system’s need to socialize the costs of reproducing workers.
This is the reason for the rise of the ideology that sees mothers with children in public places as a nuisance and not as someone you have a social responsibility to help. One can see the personal responsibility ideology in full effect when you see people offering their opinions to mothers about how they should be raising their children without the slightest inkling of an effort to actually help mothers with their kids. Fallacies of personal responsibility are the reason why mothers are over worked and under appreciated in today’s society. It is why so many mothers are enslaved by the exorbitant amount of work necessary to raise children without any help from the very society that they are doing the work for in the first place.
It still takes a village, unfortunately the village has been indoctrinated with the ideology of personal responsibility to such a degree that they no longer see it as their responsibility, even though it most certainly is.
If you think about it, the nuclear family is a necessity of class society. Whenever human beings were first able to produce enough agriculture such that there was excess, there needed to be a fundamental re-configuration of traditional familial structures. This was needed so that accumulation of excess agricultural production was possible.
Traditionally, families were arranged communally. Whole communities were responsible for raising children, thus the phrase “it takes a village.” Entire communities did the sowing, maintaining, and harvesting of food from the land. The land was communally owned.
Due to the ingenuity and ability of human beings to come together in groups and rationally decide the best way to produce what was necessary for life, eventually, excess food was produced above and beyond what was required to keep everyone in the community alive. In these early societies women did not have as much opportunity to be involved in agricultural work because infant formula did not exist and biological circumstances dictated that they were in charge of child rearing. As humans became better and better at producing excess food, it was men who happened to be closest to this newly possible resource and therefore were in an advantaged position to take control of it.
Slowly, over time, excess began to accumulate, it was clear to the men who were in control of it that there was power in controlling it. Motivated by power, it became obvious that maintaining control of the excess would require an entirely different system to facilitate their desires for power.
In a communal family system where the land and familial responsibilities are shared equally with everyone, taking control of accumulated excess food production was impossible. Once you take control of the excess who do you spend it on? Where would the accumulated excess go once you died? Where would you get it from, the very land in which everyone owns together? Such a communal system was not conducive to seizing control of accumulated excess food production, something new was needed.
Thus the concept of the nuclear family and private property were born. The nuclear family was a necessary development of class society due to the need to be able to seize control of excess accumulated food that was produced. The nuclear family arose not because it is “natural” “holy” or the right way to order society but rather because it was needed as an economic unit to maintain control of excess, of wealth. Now a man could seize control of wealth and be sure that it would not be redistributed to society as a whole when they spent it and when they passed away. Instead of the wealth going to everyone in the community upon the passing of the man who seized control, it would only be able to go to members of the man’s nuclear family.
Along the same vein, it was now important that the man knew who his offspring were whereas in the past it was not important since everything was shared with everyone anyways. The need for men to possess women arose so that it was certain who were members of the nuclear family acting as an economic unit he was a part of. Along comes patriarchy and subordination of women as yet another necessary mechanism for maintaining control of wealth.
Finally, land would need to be taken possession of. Otherwise how would the man be able to claim that whatever excess was produced was indeed his? From communal land only communal goods can be produced, that needed to change.
The advent of excess agricultural production required a paradigm shift in the way society was ordered so that the possession of excess agricultural production, of wealth, was possible. This required the existence of a nuclear family, private property and a sexist patriarchal system of oppression of women.