This is the third in a four-part series on Patriarchy on the Left. This series is organized from the universal to the particular; it looks at large questions like “what is patriarchy?” in the first part and ends by discussing micro-level questions: How do we deal with particular instances of patriarchy in our everyday organizing and political milieus? What tools do we have to combat patriarchy on the left? The first two pieces, looking at the totality of patriarchy, and the particular expressions of sexism within left communities, were co-written with Jocelyn Cohn, another member of Unity and Struggle. This piece and the fourth installment of this project (written by Jocelyn Cohn individually) will look at specific methods for dealing with patriarchy on the left with some critiques and comments. Continue reading The Hammer in our Hamlets: Patriarchy on the Left Part 3 of 4→
Like everybody else, Unity and Struggle members have grappled with how to address abuse and patriarchal behavior in our society, and in left organizations including our own. We don’t have easy answers, but we’ve found it helpful to study the nature of abuse under capitalism and different responses to it. Below is the syllabus for an abuse study that some U&S members and friends are currently test-driving in several cities, based on interest. We hope other groups will take up the reading list, adapt it to their needs, and use it to craft responses to abuse in our movement and lives.
UPDATE 6/5/2016: We’ve added a few more discussion questions to this study guide, to reflect some of the themes that came up as we finished reading everything.
Abuse Study Guide
1. Defining Abusive Relations.
Objectives: (1) Gain empirical understanding of the broad range of physical and emotional abuse in intimate partnerships; (2) Explore relationship between objective social relations and individual experience of abuse, consent, trauma; (3) Develop our own definition of abuse;
En los Estados Unidos, al final del siglo XX y principios del XXI, domina un conjunto específico de políticas entre la izquierda. Hoy en día, podrías entrar a cualquier universidad, a cualquiera de los numerosos blogs progresistas-izquierdistas o a cualquiera web de noticias y los conceptos de “la identidad” y “la interseccionalidad” encontrarás como la teoría hegemónica. Pero, como toda teoría, ésta corresponde a la actividad de la clase obrera contestando a la composición del capital actual. La teoría no es ninguna nube flotando sobre la clase, lloviendo reflexiones e ideas, sino, como escribe Raya Dunayevskaya, “las acciones del proletariado crean la posibilidad para que el intelectual resuelva la teoría.” (Marxismo y libertad, 114). Por lo tanto, para entender las teorías dominantes de nuestra época, hay que entender el movimiento verdadero de la clase. En este texto, voy a repasar la historia de las políticas de la identidad y la teoría de la interseccionalidad con el fin de construir una crítica de la teoría de la interseccionalidad y ofrecer una concepción marxista positiva del feminismo.Continue reading Soy mujer y soy humana: Una crítica marxista-feminista de la teoría de la interseccionalidad→
This is the second part of a four part series that attempts to understand patriarchy in our current society. The first part, “No Lamps, No Candles, No More Light” explored the relationship between gender, patriarchy, and sexism broadly in capitalist society. This section will explore the expressions of patriarchy specifically in the “left” subculture. Parts three and four will look more specifically at recent attempts to deal with patriarchy on the left, some critiques and potential solutions.Continue reading No Safehouses: Patriarchy on the Left Part 2 of 4→
Many months ago, the two of us began writing a piece on dealing with patriarchy on the left. In the process of writing we began to realize that we did not have 100% agreement on the question. To us, this is very telling: no one has the answer and perhaps there is no one answer. We have thus decided to go forward in writing separate pieces on patriarchy on the left. This project was inspired by the combination of difficulties we have faced in our organizing, accountability processes we have been part of, as well as the attempts we have witnessed to address patriarchy on the left. We agree that the primary challenge facing many people in dealing with conflicts—especially those about gender—in left organizations and milieus is the confusion of the particular situation of individuals with the general conditions, creating situations where one person’s situation is taken to characterize all of society, thus leading to a solution which attempts to abolish a total social relation through a particular case. Similarly, we agree that none of us are able to deal with patriarchy as individuals, or as small groups of people operating outside of the transformation of total society.Continue reading No Lamps, No Candles, No More Light: Patriarchy on the Left Part 1 of 4→
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→
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→