Since Marx, it has been clear that capital rules and develops through the wage, that is, that the foundation of capitalist society was the wage labourer and his or her direct exploitation. What has been neither clear nor assumed by the organizations of the working class movement is that precisely through the wage has the exploitation of the non-wage labourer been organized. This exploitation has been even more effective because the lack of a wage hid it . . . Where women are concerned, their labor appears to be a personal service outside of capital. (2)
It is certainly not accidental that over the last few months several journals of the left have published attacks on Wages for Housework. It is not only that whenever the women’s movement has taken an autonomous position, the left has felt threatened. It is also that the left realizes that this perspective has implications which go beyond the ‘woman question’ and represent a clear break with their politics, past and present, both with respect to women and with respect to the rest of the working class. Indeed, the sectarianism the left has traditionally shown in relation to women’s struggles is a direct consequence of their narrow understanding of the way capital rules and the direction class struggle must take and is taking to break this rule.
In the name of ‘class struggle’ and ‘the unified interest of the class’, the practice of the left has always been to select certain sectors of the working class as the revolutionary agents and condemn others to a merely supportive role for the struggles these sectors were waging. The left has thus reproduced in its organizational and strategic objectives the same divisions of the class which characterize the capitalist division of labour. In this respect, despite the variety of their tactical positions, the left is strategically one: when it comes to the choice of revolutionary subjects, Stalinists, Trotskyists, Anarcho-Libertarians, old and new left, all join hands with the same assumptions and arguments for a common cause. [Read the rest of the article here]