In Plan C, we talk a lot about socially-reproductive labour, the labour which makes and remakes people every day whether by feeding, washing, clothing and caring etc. We understand that this work is largely undervalued under capitalism, if paid at all, and strongly feminised and racialised. Under capitalism, reproductive labour fulfils the role of reproducing workers for waged work, or to raise children who will later themselves become workers. Instead of reproducing workers for capitalism, we must reproduce comrades for communism!
This festival has revolved largely around the idea of building autonomy: not from each other and our collective responsibilities, but greater autonomy from the conditions that the capitalist wage, the capitalist state and capitalist infrastructures enforce upon us. In building autonomy, we bring reproduction to the centre of the Left’s priorities. Not only has this been a stated aim for many in Plan C, but it signals a renewed focus on ‘bread and butter politics’ – the issues we all face in everyday life – issues which hold the potential to open up radical-left, communist politics to the masses.
“But!” we hear you say… “doesn’t a focus on reproduction take away our ability to fight?”
“Nonsense!” we reply. Reproduction is the key to building, intensifying and prolonging our capacity to struggle, and the ruling-class know this. Disrupting our ability to reproduce ourselves and each other has been a favoured tactic to bring rebellious populations to heel for millenia. Disrupting reproduction underpins the bourgeois strategies of the siege, the blockade, the embargo, strike-breaking and sanctions, exemplified by bourgeois strikes and hoarding in Allende’s Chile and Venezuela, the embargoes against Rojava and Cuba, the blockade on Gaza, and austerity, particularly in Greece. Austerity has already bitten hard in the UK, but what else will the ruling-class try with the likelihood of a Corbyn government?
Building our capacity to feed, house, care, clothe and educate ourselves is of the utmost importance if we are to struggle on a large scale and create a radically different world. This session takes inspiration from movements around the world and in history, looking at how reproduction can become central, and fuel revolutionary activity. How do we ensure that gendered and racialised divisions between reproductive labour and antagonistic activity aren’t replicated? Or put simply… how many men does it take to feed a girl-gang?
Cecilia Palmeiro – Ni Una Menos
Claire English – Women’s Strike Assembly UK
FS – from the autonomous warehouses of Athens