by Eve Mitchell, originally posted on We’re Hir We’re Queer here.
I recently finished reading Michael Staudenmaier’s Truth and Revolution: A History of Sojourner Truth Organization 1969-1986. Sojourner Truth Organization (STO) was a majority white revolutionary group that worked closely with Black Nationalist and Black Power groups to build autonomist workplace, community, identity- and issue-based organizations. They are most known for their theoretical contributions including the white skin privilege analysis and theory of dual consciousness. Perhaps their most well-known writing (which was originally a speech) is “Black Worker, White Worker,” which describes their approach in building militant, fighting groups that organize on the demands of the most oppressed layers of the class. Concretely, in their time and in the spaces they organized, that meant the Black proletarian.
However, as Truth and Revolution describes, STO was involved in many forms of struggle including the early anti-nuke movement, the women’s liberation movement, some immigrant defense work, among other things. The sheer amount of work they accomplished with very few people and resources in the span of a 17 years is extremely impressive. This post will discuss some other reflections I have on their work. These reflections are relevant to me in this stage of my organizing and experience, having recently moved to New York City and attempted to help build the Florence Johnston Collective (aka Flo Jo), a group that organizes within and across feminized workplaces, alongside working to build Unity and Struggle, a small, national, left communist grouping for the last five years.(1) Obviously both of these tasks have been carried out in an extremely low movement time, in the wake of some interesting struggle globally and some upticks nationally and regionally. My comments may not reflect some of the broader lessons to be learned from STO; I recommend checking out Truth and Revolution itself to extract those.
1. Privilege Theory and STO’s Race Politics.
Elsewhere I have written substantial critiques of how today’s activists and the Left use privilege theory and identity politics. While I think this is qualitatively different from how STO used them, I agree with Staudenmaier when he writes that STO must bear some of the responsibility for how this theory continues to be applied.
Continue reading Reflections on Truth and Revolution: A History of Sojourner Truth Organization 1969-1986
en español aquí
In the United States, during the late 20th and early 21st centuries, a specific set of politics among the left reigns king. Today, you could go into any university, on any number of liberal-to-left blogs or news websites, and the words “identity” and “intersectionality” will jump out you as the hegemonic theory. But, like all theories, this corresponds to the activity of the working class in response to the current composition of capital. Theory is not some cloud that floats above the class, raining down thoughts and ideas, but, as Raya Dunayevskaya writes,”the actions of the proletariat create the possibility for the intellectual to work out theory” (Marxism and Freedom, 91). Therefore, in order to understand the dominant theories of our age, we must understand the real movement of the class. In this piece, I will look at the history of identity politics and intersectionality theory in effort to construct a Marxist critique of intersectionality theory, and a offer positive Marxist conception of feminism. Continue reading I Am a Woman and a Human: A Marxist-Feminist Critique of Intersectionality Theory
by Eve Mitchell and Tyler Zimmerman
Recently, Nat Winn, a member of Fire Next Time and Kasama weighed in on a discussion of Marxist-Feminism begun on the FNT blog originally by Ba Jin and ZoRa B’Al Sk’a and with a response by Eve Mitchell of Unity and Struggle. We welcome the energetic engagement by all parties including those commenting on the Kasama blog on what remains one of the most critical questions of our time: the content and forms of women’s liberation.
The scope of Eve’s response did not go beyond clarifying the relationship between Federici and James, and discussing broadly the Marxist-Feminist methodology, including the Wages for Housework campaign. Nat has challenged the practical implications of Wages for Housework which is supposedly linked to the political failings of Marxist-Feminism. Continue reading For Herself, and Therefore, for the Class: Toward a Methodological Feminism
The East Coast network Fire Next Time recently posted this dialogue between two of their members, Zora and Ba Jin, contrasting Silvia Federici and Selma James. The post argues that Federici’s Marxist-Feminist understanding of primitive accumulation in her book, Caliban and the Witch, forefronts global migration, colonization, and international connections among women and people of color. On the other hand, the post asserts, James’ Marxist-Feminist analysis centers on the U.S.-centric housewife role and only secondarily takes up the question of waged women’s work and Third World and Black Feminism. The post further critiques Wages for Housework as a liberal feminist goal, arguing that “it seems like a weird coexistence with capitalism.” In response to this post, I feel the need to clear a few things up and ask some questions in the spirit of comradely debate. Continue reading Marxist-Feminism vs. Subjectivism: A Response to Fire Next Time