dual systems (to Justin from Tom)

Justin Schwartz jschwart at freenet.columbus.oh.us
Sat Nov 12 08:48:02 MST 1994

On Sat, 12 Nov 1994 tgs at cunyvms1.gc.cuny.edu wrote:

> Justin,
> On your last post on this topic of exploitation and women's unpaid labor.:
> First of all, I for one did not think lulu's post at all tedious. I really
> wish you would resist your impulse for summary dismissal and derogation.
> It is not very constructive nor comradely.

I should not have said that. It was a bit long, but that's no big deal. It
exemplified a certain arrogance, however, of which I am not free myself
but that's no excuse for either of us, to which I was responding
inappropriately. We none of us understand this difficult material well
enough to be smug and complacent that our understandings are right and our
differences with others due to their ignorance, stupidity, or lack of
comprehension, rather than our own.

I have studied Marx for fifteen years, taught him for perhaps ten and on
the graduate level for five--no more, since I was canned--and published a
fair amount on him in major philosophy journals. And the more I know the
less I understand and the more humble I get about my own grasp on his
ideas and related ones. So Lulu, Paul, and Tom, and all you other folks
out there, I will try to restrain my own tendency to assume I know what
I'm talking about (and you don't if you disagree with me), but so should
you. We are all likely to learn more from one another if we do not
approach this in the spirit of one-ups-(wo)manship. This goes for me too.

> Secondly, it is the capitalists who benefit, most of all, from women's unpaid
> labor.

While this is true, or while it is true that capitalists do benefit from
it, it does not follow from that that men do not exploit women in the
sense of taking women's coercively extracted surplus labor.

 They benefit from it in the sense of exploitation: they make
>  surplus from it.

You cannot say this and agree with Lulu, since the unpaid labor in
question is extracted outside the market.

 Women's unpaid labor allows the capitalists to pay workers
> even less wages:

It does not follow from this that women are capitalistically exploited.
Lots of things might allow capitalists to pay workers lower wages. And
once again,. the fact that capitalists take advantage of women's unpaids
labor to capitalistically exploit workers does not mean that men do not
exploit woman in appropriating their surplus labor.

 it imposes upon the woman in the working class family an oner
> ous burden in the reproduction of labor-power: a burden which rightfully,
> within the capitalist system, ought to be paid by the capitalist (and
> shared equitable between men and women, no question).

Well, that "rightfully" is a bit a tricky. If you're going to be orthodox
about this Marx himself is quite clear that existing relations, including
especially those of capitalistic exploitation are just. Though obviously
he doesn't mean that they are morally OK. He objects on other grounds than
justice. Presumably he'd say something similar about women's exploitation.

If we want to reject Marx's relativism about justice, it's still not clear
that we should say that capitalists ought in justice pay for the
reproduction of labor power, rather than that this reproduction is a
collective burden which ought to be distributed and paid for in an
equitable way by all, but can't be under capitalism.
> You can dismiss this logic as dubious.  Fine.  The point is that I don't see
> any other ways of fitting domestic unpaid labor into Marx's scheme of
> exploitation.

I wasn't really trying to do that. I was considering whether men exploited
women in a sense relevantly analogous to the way Marx says capitalists
exploit workers. It seems to me that they do. The relations between the
kinds of exploitation are complex and ill-understood.

> So either way, men are not a class who exploit women.

This has never been an issue between us. I agree.

> we talk about market relations (which was what lulu, I think, was getting at),
> what you are doing is simply making analogies.

"Simply making analogies." Well, what a worthless thing to do. In fact that
is exactly what I have been doing. My thesis has been that women are not
capitalistically exploited by men in the way discussed by Lulu, though we
could quibble over details, but they are, we might call it,
gender-exploited by men in a way which is strikingly analogous, close
enough to deserve being called exploitation, an instance of the same sort
of thing.

> I don't believe that such analogies are spurious, by the way: I think they're
> very important, and that they have even historical significance.  Didn't
> Marx say that the division of labor has its roots within the "latent slavery
> of the family"?  Did not Veblen trace the ancient mode of production to the
> taking of FEMALE slaves?  It's incredibly analogous.  But that doesn't mean
> it's the same thing, by ANY means.




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