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Marx for Today

A Socialist-Feminist Reading

Johanna Brenner

That we speak of production on the one hand and social reproduction on the other is, in part, an artifact of both the (masculinist) development of Marxist thought and the nature of the capitalist mode of production. In capitalism, the work done in households, although crucial to the reproduction of human beings, is separated off from the production and circulation of commodities. In comparison, with the exception of slavery, in pre-capitalist class societies, households organized through marriage and kinship were the basic unit for organizing the production of material goods as well as human care. As Marx pointed out, in capitalist production commodities (including commodified services) are both use values and exchange values. (MECW 35:45-46) That is, they meet a need (otherwise there would be no point in making them); but they are not produced in order to meet needs. Rather, they are produced to generate surplus value - or profit. From the point of view of the production of use values, waged and unwaged labor form a unified process which has, as its end result, the reproduction of human beings. The separation of what is, from the point of view of production of use values, an integrated process into two different types of labor (commodified and uncommodified) is a result of capitalist class relations of production, not a universal fact of human social life. This separation parallels the emergence of divisions between the public and private spheres, between family and work, between the state and the economy. These are also a hallmark of capitalist societies. These double separations - economy/household and economy/state - have shaped the history of gender relations and women's struggles to change them within capitalist societies.

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Overcoming Liberalism from Within

On Solidarity and American Socialism

Daniel Tutt

A helpful framework for thinking modern political struggles revolves around how political communities achieve the unmet demands of the French revolution: liberty, egalitarianism (equality) and fraternity. As the Japanese Marxist thinker Kojin Karatani argues, these demands form a dialectical knot of contemporary politics, where liberty stands for upholding the sphere of the market economy; fraternity represents the ideals of reciprocity (the nation); and equality stands for the redistribution of wealth and resources carried out by the state. Political philosophers have conceived of these names as receptacles of demands for social freedom, as a thinking of different organisms in search of homeostasis. For example, Hegel applied theories of living organisms to social spheres and Marx discussed the 'crisis free society' as a social organism. But liberalism, the reigning political philosophy of the post-French Revolution, has failed in achieving these demands. Why did liberalism fail? The primary opponent of liberalism in the post French Revolutionary period was civic republicanism that posed a two-way dialectic of social freedom between liberty on the market as the best means to producing the social conditions of fraternity. But civic republicanism radically excluded the sphere of equality in its conceptions of social freedom for fear of an ossification of state bureaucracy would impinge on personal individual liberties on the market. But what gave liberalism a particular hegemony is that it was able to achieve what civic republicanism could never dream of achieving by tempering demands for individual freedom by opening them to the fraternal dimension of political life.

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Boricuas Seek Support for Protecting Indigenous Sites

Threats to Bateyes in Jayuya highlight need for community vigilance

Liliana Taboas Cruz

On the morning of Friday 18th of January 2019, a call on social media was made by visiting Boricua archaeologist Dr. Isabel Rivera-Collazo asking for urgent help in protecting an archaeological site in Jayuya. The site, known as Bateyes Sonadero and Muntaner, is located in the Barrio Jauca in Jayuya. According to records at the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture (ICP), is known to contain a batey (Caribbean ceremonial plaza and ball court, outlined with stones which include monoliths), remnants of a village, ceramics, and lithic material. Archeologist who reported the land movements on site, Adalberto Alvarado, told local press "Ese yacimiento era de uno de los yacimientos que tenia menos impacto en el pueblo" (This archaeological site was one of the less impacted sites in the area.). Alvarado had been inspecting the known batey sites following hurricane Maria. The owner of the property used heavy machinery to clear land for agricultural purposes. In Puerto Rico, land removal requires permits to protect archaeological sites. The owner did not have proper permits to comply with the 112 law. Though the ongoing threat had been reported earlier in the week through formal channels, it wasn't until that Friday morning that the owner forced the archaeologists off the property and started the land removal despite warnings of the illegality of his actions. It was at this point that the social media call was made by Dr. Isabel Rivera-Collazo, who pleaded with the Institute of Culture and the general public to intercede. The call was answered by many native Puerto Rican and indigenous activists. Personal visits were made by a local Boricua archaeology students to the ICP office in Old San Juan, who informed that archaeologist Dr. Carlos Perez, head of the archaeology office at the ICP, would visit the Jayuya site..

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"A Free Palestine from the River to the Sea"

The Nine Dirty Words You Can't Say (on TV or Anywhere Else)

Bryant William Sculos

A rigorous and righteous critique of Zionism is not identical to a hatred or even criticism of Jews or Jewishness. There is plenty of evidence and argumentation from Jews themselves that unquestioning support for Israel itself does a disservice to the Jewish tradition and Jews worldwide, as well as those in Israel. This argument was made most recently by Cornel West in his defense of Marc Lamont Hill. The words in question are "a free Palestine from the river to the sea" - the latter four ostensibly being the genocidal dog whistle, a phrasing used by the Palestine Liberation Organization and Hamas (both organizations have been previously criticized by Hill for their use of violence in various contexts). If Hill's detractors had displayed any knowledge of anything about his politics, activism, or even the previous 99.9% of the U.N. speech, their outrage would be less disingenuous. If his detractors could show why his final statement, interpreted as a call for mass violence, was in any way consistent with any part of the rest of the speech or Hill's political or intellectual perspectives, they could be taken seriously, at least on a superficial level. This simply is not the case. Furthermore, I contend, it was not the last four words that people had a problem with; it was the first three: a free Palestine. A free Palestine for a free Palestinian people. Free and equal Palestinian people. This is the true source of the grievances, which led to Hill being fired from CNN - and since, Hill has been targeted by Temple University for possible censure and/or firing, despite the fact that Hill has an endowed chair and the ostensible protection of tenure (to say nothing for comprehensive free speech rights, which since Temple is a public university, are fully guaranteed by the oft-referenced and little-read U.S. Constitution).

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