Sunday, December 11, 2011

Marie Mies on capital accumulation and unpaid subsistence labor

The issue was: what does housework mean in capitalism? Why isn't this work seen as work? Why isn't it paid? Why is it non-paid labor? We recognized that in capitalism this work can't be paid, because if it were, the accumulation model would collapse...

And then we discovered...that the small farmers' work also has something to do with housework and both have something to do with the work in the colonies. Then this concept emerged, as all three of us were in the Third World for extended periods. I was in India for many years, my two friends were in Latin America, and so we realized: if entire countries hadn't been exploited as colonies for long periods of time, then there wouldn't be any capitalism. And if they were treated equally today, all of the work in the "colonies" - I still call them "colonies" - well, then there wouldn't be much to accumulate. And that's why we call all of these relations colonial relations. The man-woman relationship is colonial, the relationship between the small farmer and industry is also colonial, and naturally, the colonial relationships between metropolises and colonies are definitely colonial.

...with these activities - even if they take place at a very low level - people rediscover their sovereignty, their own authority to produce their lives, as we call it. That is no shortcoming, it is something very positive to discover, that we are entirely capable of collectively producing and organizing our lives together, with others. Naturally, you also need money. I don't want to deny that at all, but exclusively working for money is not the best thing - that is only one side of it. The other is that subsistence production, or subsistence orientation, satisfies needs in a much more comprehensive way than purchased products ever could.

- from P2P

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