War has not only been a consequence of economic change; it has also been a means to produce it. Two objectives stand out when we consider the prevailing patterns of war in Africa, and the way in which warfare intersects with globalization. First, war forces people off the land, i.e., it separates the producers from the means of production, a condition for the expansion of the global labor market. War also reclaims the land for capitalist use, boosting the production of cash crops and export- oriented agriculture. Particularly in Africa, where communal land tenure is still widespread, this has been a major goal of the World Bank, whose raison d’être as an institution has been the capitalization of agriculture. Thus, it is hard today to see millions of refugees or famine victims fleeing their localities without thinking of the satisfaction this must bring to World Bank officers as well as agribusiness companies, who surely see the hand of progress working through it.
Silvia Federici, « War, Globalization and Reproduction » (2000) in Revolution at point Zero : Housework Reproduction and Feminist Struggle, p. 79
As the men migrate, or do not have the money to support a family, and as the state lacks or is presumed not to have funds to invest in social reproduction, a new patriarchal regime comes into existence, that places women in the “Third World” under the control of the World Bank, the IMF and the many NGOs that manage “income generating projects” and “aid” programs.
These are the new supervisors and exploiters of women’s reproductive work, and this new patriarchy relies on the collaboration of European and North American women who, like new missionaries, are recruited to train women in the “colonies” to develop the attitudes necessary to become integrated in the global economy.
Silvia Federici, « Reproduction and Feminist struggle in the new international division of labor » (1999), in Revolution at point Zero : Housework Reproduction and Feminist Struggle, p. 74-75
Similar considerations apply to the efforts that feminists have made to convince governments to criminalize domestic violence and the “traffic” in women. These initiatives do not go to the roots of the abuses perpetrated against women.
Can punishments remedy the situation of abject poverty that leads parents in some countries to sell their children into prostitution? And how can governments in Asia or Africa upgrade the condition of women when the World Bank and the IMF force them to cut all social spending and adopt the strictest austerity programs?47 How can these governments give women equal access to education or better health care when structural adjustment requires them to cut all subsidies to these programs? And will parents be likely to send their daughters to schools when their sons are unemployed after obtaining a diploma?
If international feminism and global sisterhood are to be possible, feminists must campaign against structural adjustment, the payment of the foreign debt, and the introduction of intellectual property laws, which are the means by which the new international division of labor is being organized, and the livelihood of the majority of the world population is undermined.
Silvia Federici, « Reproduction and Feminist struggle in the new international division of labor » (1999), in Revolution at point Zero : Housework Reproduction and Feminist Struggle, p. 73-74
Nothing, in fact, has been so powerful in institutionalizing our work, the family, and our dependence on men, as the fact that not a wage but “love” has always paid for this work.
Silvia Federici, « counterplanning from the kitchen” (1975), in Revolution at point Zero : Housework Reproduction and Feminist Struggle, p. 37
Capital’s use of the wage also obscures who is the working class and keeps workers divided. Through the wage relation, capital organizes different labor markets (a labor market for blacks, youth, women and white males), and opposes a “working class” to a “non-working” proletariat, supposedly parasitic on the work of the former. Thus, as welfare recipients we are told we live off the taxes of the “working class,” as housewives we are pictured as the bottomless pits of our husbands’ paychecks.
But ultimately the social weakness of the wageless has been and is the weakness of the entire working class with respect to capital. As the history of the “runaway shop” demonstrates, the availability of unwaged labor, both in the “underdeveloped” countries and in the metropolis, has allowed capital to leave those areas where labor had made itself too expensive, thus undermining the power that workers there had reached. Whenever capital could not run to the “Third World,” it opened the gates of the factories to women, blacks, and youth in the metropolis or to mi-grants from the “Third World.” Thus it is no accident that while capitalism is presumably based on waged labor, more than half of the world’s population is unwaged. Wagelessness and underdevelopment are essential elements of capitalist planning, nationally and internationally. They are powerful means to make workers compete on the national and international labor market, and make us believe that our interests are different and contradictory.23
Here are the roots of sexism, racism and welfarism (contempt for the workers who have succeeded in getting some money from the State), which are the expressions of different labor markets and thus different ways of regulating and dividing the working class. If we ignore this use of capitalist ideology and its roots in the wage relation, we not only end up considering racism, sexism and welfarism as moral diseases, products of “false consciousness,” but we are confined to a strategy of “education” that leaves us with nothing but “moral imperatives to bolster our side.”24
[…] As the struggles of black people in the 1960s showed, it was not by good words, but by the organization of their power that they made their needs “understood.” In the case of women, trying to educate men has always meant that our struggle was privatized and fought in the solitude of our kitchens and bedrooms. Power educates. First men will fear, then they will learn because capital will fear. For we are not struggling for a more equal redistribution of the same work. We are struggling to put an end to this work and the first step is to put a price tag on it.
Silvia Federici, “counterplanning from the kitchen” (1975), in Revolution at point Zero : Housework Reproduction and Feminist Struggle, p. 36-37
Wages for housework is only the beginning, but its message is clear: from now on, they have to pay us because as women we do not guarantee anything any longer. We want to call work what is work so that eventually we might rediscover what is love and create our sexuality, which we have never known. And from the viewpoint of work, we can ask not only one wage but many wages, because we have been forced into many jobs at once. We are housemaids, prostitutes, nurses, shrinks; this is the essence of the “heroic” spouse who is celebrated on “Mother’s Day.” We say: stop celebrating our exploitation, our supposed heroism. From now on we want money for each moment of it, so that we can refuse some of it and eventually all of it. In this respect nothing can be more effective than to show that our female virtues have already a calculable money value: until today only for capital, increased in the measure that we were defeated, from now on, against capital, for us, in the measure that we organize our power.
Silvia Federici, « Wages for Housework » (1975) in Revolution at point Zero : Housework Reproduction and Feminist Struggle, p. 20