March 23, 2017

Civil war and free speech The US is in a civil war, a civil war that is at its core a class war. There are different terrains, forms of struggle and violence. Casualties come from different proximate causes -- police attacks, suicide, overdose, slow death from alcohol and despair, toxic environments, crashes and shooters -- but it's one war. Terrains of struggle include streets and institutions, workplaces and domestic spaces, bodies and bathrooms, science and museums, churches, media, prison, farms, libraries, hospitals, and universities. There is no space external to this war. The Left needs to defend whatever spaces we can. We have to make the cost of far right speech too high for them to continue it. The Right makes cultural gains by manipulating liberal ideas of tolerance and neutrality -- whether this is in the form of the white supremacism of Charles Murray and Milo or the climate denialist industry funded by the Koch brothers. Liberal condemnation of the students who push back against these speakers when they comer to their campuses legitimate these speakers' views as worthy of consideration, as matters worth debating because reasonable people may disagree. Not only do most of these condemnations confuse protests against white supremacist speakers with state action (suggesting that there are liberals who can only think from a police perspective), but they proceed as if we were not in a civil war, a class war. They proceed as if society were a seminar or courtroom, not a war zone where people are daily under attack...
Lenin: Capitalism and Female Labor (1913) Lenin: All the oppressed and exploited classes throughout the history of human societies have always been forced (and it is in this that their exploitation consists) to give up to their oppressors, first, their unpaid labour and, second, their women as concubines for the “masters”. Slavery, feudalism and capitalism are identical in this respect. It is only the form of exploitation that changes; the exploitation itself remains. An exhibition of the work of “women exploited at home” has opened in Paris, the “capital of the world”, and the centre of civilisation. Each exhibit has a little tag showing how much the woman working at home receives for making it, and how much she can make per day and per hour on this basis. And what do we find? Not on a single article can a woman working at home earn more than 1.25 francs, i.e., 50 kopeks, whereas the earnings on the vast majority of jobs are very much smaller. Take lampshades. The pay is 4 kopeks per dozen. Or paper bags: 15 kopeks per thousand, with earnings at six kopeks an hour. Here are little toys with ribbons, etc.: 2.5 kopeks an hour. Artificial flowers: two or three kopeks an hour. Ladies’ and gentlemen’s underwear: from two to six kopeks an hour. And so on, without end. Our workers’ associations and trade unions, too, ought to organise an “exhibition” of this kind. It will not yield the colossal profits brought in by the exhibitions, of the bourgeoisie. A display...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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