- Capitalism and Alternatives -

You're right

Posted by: Stoller on February 25, 19100 at 11:18:08:

In Reply to: Footnotes? (better version) posted by MDG on February 24, 19100 at 11:13:50:

: You're the king of footnotes, Barry, so I'm surprised that you haven't cited any to back up your assertion that an economic recession created the ideology of women's liberation. That's a fine theory, but surely you have proof (or at least studies attempting to show the truth of this assertion).

You're right, I offered no proof. Perhaps the terms 'in my opinion' and 'as I see it' should have occurred earlier in my post. I intended such qualifiers to remind readers that what is being put forth is theory.

This theme requires a great deal of research before any proof could be called conclusive. The nascent 'service sector' appeared during this period along with capitalism's general economic downturn, and that needs to be investigated. Ditto the relationship between Department 1 (capital goods) and Department 2 (consumer goods) as influenced by the Vietnam War.

: Not that I'm a scholar on this, but it seems to me that women's liberation was a direct and logical outcome of the black civil rights movement, and that radical-minded women studied the black civil rights movement and applied it to the plight of women; ditto latinos, American Indians, Cesar Chavez, and the nascent environmental movement. Later years would bring us similarly-modeled movements, such as the disability Rights movement, and the (a drumroll, please) animal rights movement.

Recall that 'womenís liberation' has origins going back centuries without producing a tangible result. Ditto rights for blacks.

What I'm after here is the sense that such movements only come into being when they can be supported materially. As Marx observed: '[S]lavery cannot be abolished without the steam-engine and the mule and the spinning-jenny, serfdom cannot be abolished without improved agriculture' (Theories of Surplus Value volume two, Progress 1968, p. 372).

Concerning your observation about the civil rights movement, I would say that post-war affluence was materially able to support higher wages for blacks---and their leaders, sensing this, went after them. After some struggle, the ruling class assented not only with 'equality' for blacks but also bribed them with welfare state measures.

I believe the situation that produced 'women's liberation' was different. New jobs were created by the enlargement of the circulation sphere ('service sector'); second jobs were necessitated for working families in part because the new, lower-skilled work of the circulation sphere brought all wages down. These circumstances produced a need to put housewives at the disposal of capital, which produced a corresponding ideological expression.

Again, I have no silver bullet at this time; I am theorizing.

: I do wholeheartedly agree with you that the women's liberation movement has failed, in that it only succeeded in gaining for women the worst of what the system has to offer -- rat race jobs, less leisure time, more stress, etc. -- while not leading to a rethinking of how society should run. After all, one would think that with two incomes instead of one, people (at least couples) could afford to cut their work hours in half, but we know that the workweek has only gotten longer (while this last point may serve to bolster your assertion re: the origins of women's lib, it could also be argued that the system merely reacted to the greater number of workers by tightening the vice on our lives. Either way, it stinks).

'Women's liberation,' I am confident, failed for the same reason that the civil rights movement and other well-meaning reforms fail: they act to mitigate capital instead of acting to abolish it.


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