Build Base Communities

Doyle Saylor djsaylor at
Tue May 30 20:41:05 MDT 2000

Title: Re: Build Base Communities
Greetings Comrades,
   Marta writes,
Marta Russel,
However, I've been active in the disability movement long
enough to be wary of anything which does not have a specific disability
platform.  Workers have not always included disabled persons in their
visions.  For me to support such a plan, there would need to be an
understanding that "workers" include disabled persons (reasonable
accommodations as laid out  byt the Americans with Disabilities Act).
Neither  capitalist nor communist countries have integrated blind, deaf,
mobility and other impaired persons into their economies.  We have been
segregated and forced to live in poverty.  Much of this is due to a
medicalized approach to disablement which is perpetuated in paternalistic
ways but it has also been due to bureaucracies in the communist countries
and to capitalist business practices which force us out of the labor market.
I think this is an important point.  The key issue in this is a sense of what
the working class really is composed of.   The working class is often thought of
in terms of the shop floor and how one might organize that place.  Within that
concept is able-bodied theories of who works and who doesn't.  Primarily which
worker produces the most profit.
Access to work, that is work that does not restrict women, gays, minorities, and
the disabled has this in common, a sense of the whole of the class.  But in even
more detail from the concept of whole, it is a kind of realism of what the class
is.  This is an important Marxist concept, realism, compared to say for example
Post-Modernism.  A comparable concept is ecology, in the sense that the whole of
the environment is the basis for understanding nature.
One of the crucially centered issue in disability politics is the concept of
autonomous individuals we see arising in Europe through Enlightenment concepts.
 A disabled person has to be part of the community in order to be part of the
community.  A schizophrenic cannot be autonomous in the sense that we see in the
standard concept of the what the individual in an able bodied Enlightened voter
We see this in the attacks on the left against "sectarianism", "dogmatism", in
the sense that at their roots one assumes some sort of disability in cognition.
 In fact if we took seriously disability politics, we would question why an
attack against the left is fundamentally based upon an anti-disabled concept.
Access politics tells us that a cognitive disability has a right to be part of
the socialist whole.  In that case a much deeper understanding of what the whole
of the working class means must be faced.  It is a realism in the sense that one
cannot just assume an abstract concept of the "working class" without being
clear it can not be able bodied and be a whole of the working class.  And in
particular to examine and embrace cognitive disabilities that for historic
reasons are the brunt of blame against left politics, such as sectarianism,
dogmatism.  If the problem with dogmatism is not craziness, as is the natural
assertion in a climate of anti-disability, then what is the problem?  If a crazy
person has a right to access then the problem for socialist is not craziness but
something else.
The all around silence about disabilities, the attack against the left
surrounding dogmatism, sectarianism are fundamentally avoiding the concept of
access for disabled people.  Disability must be a part of the movement to make
the movement really advance the social structure.  For example, how can we
reject the attack against women as "emotional" unless we take into account the
issue of disability that are "mood" disorders.
in solidarity,
Doyle Saylor

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