CDN No 11: Domestic Work or the Reproduction of Labor Power

30thNov. × ’20

In these next pages we’ll try to approximate ourselves to the question of domestic work within capitalism. Just as it happens with all work, it is the intention of the dominant ideology to naturalize itself, to amalgamate to certain human activities when really we are speaking of activities that are socially and historically determined.

“It is difficult to come to an agreement on the definition of domestic work (it marks a political position, sometimes a very polemic one). The term “work” also lends itself to confusion because, in our society, it is renumeration (generally in the form of a wage) that allows an activity to be identified by work.

Domestic work is constituted by the tasks carried out in the bosom of the home and those that statists divide generally into domestic time (cleaning, cooking, washing clothes) and parental time (raising and nurturing). Some definitions, in particular those of certain feminists, include equally affective care or that of social bonds, the care of invalid family members, or that of “sex work”. This work, which concerns everything that touches reproduction, is majorly realized by women.” (Incendo nr. special Genres & Classes Proletarians of every country, who washes your socks?)

In this minimal definition we can find, as stated in Incendo, various polemics that we also want to tackle: The notion of work itself, the matter of wages, labor power, care work, sexism, raising children…

It is undeniable that this work is mostly assigned to women, and therefore realized by them. This doesn’t mean that the proletarian class live in the conditions presented by the cultural industry in soap operas or the way certain ideologies do in their “analysis”: a home that includes a housewife, a worker, and their offspring. The proletariat is shaped by more or less “ideal” families and by families that don’t live up to the idea, which is to say, by single mothers, by partners who don’t live together, by people without children, by heterosexual couples without kids, by queer couples with or without children, by solitary people, by people who share a home but have nothing in common but paying the same rent and by people who don’t even have a home because they live in the street or refugee camps… Nevertheless, the majority of these people have to reproduce their labor power. And without a doubt, when there is at least one woman present the most probable thing to expect is for her to “naturally” realize one of the important parts of that reproduction.

What we are saying about families is nothing new, proletariat women did not partake in wage labor until just some years ago. In 1845, Friedrich Engels described a situation like the following, and points out the supposed inversion that this bears on the home:

“In many cases the family is not wholly dissolved by the employment of the wife, but turned upside down. The wife supports the family, the husband sits at home, tends the children, sweeps the room and cooks. (…) It is easy to imagine the wrath aroused among the working-men by this reversal of all relations within the family, while the other social conditions remain unchanged.(The Conditions of the Working Class in England).

Beyond Engel’s moral considerations, let us return to actuality. In those cases in which matrimony is supposed to be more or less ideal one can easily explain how renumeration for domestic work is included in the wages of the proletariat (man), which isn’t pay for the work realized, but the cost of reproduction of labor power (the worker’s and his family). This model serves us to understand all other cases, where we are payed to reproduce our labor power, even if we don’t work in a factory or are the sweeping housewife waiting with a hot meal and simultaneously helping the children with their schoolwork. But even in cases where reality approximates this image, it is important to emphasize that domestic work within capitalism isn’t exploited by the husband, but by Capital.[1] We speak of a family unit that works for its reproduction, in and outside the home.That this situation puts the person who brings the wage to the hougbutse in a position of authority is another matter, not a minor one, but it is not another form of exploitation.

Nor are there few cases in which the feminist ideology reduces the exploitation of women to exploitation as women. To reduce the totality of the exploitation of women to its sexist aspect (“patriarchal”, others will say) is to reduce them to a mutilated human being, to reduce them only to their sex as the most basic machismo does. When victim feminism, or rather victimizing, presents women as victims of men in general, it turns to the collective of women to face this situation, but also to salaried work, companies, NGOs, large corporations, mass media, if not directly to the State. While in short all these elements organized by the State and Capital have been and are the structural supporters of the current sexism. Perpetuating the sexual division of society, ignoring that this is a class society also sustained by the sexist division.

“Although every society has some sort of division of tasks by sex, the assignment of any particular task to one sex or the other varies enormously. In some groups, agriculture is the work of women, in others, the work of men. Women carry the heavy burdens in some societies, men in others. There are even examples of female hunters and warriors and men performing child-care tasks. Levi-Strauss concludes from a survey of the division of labor by sex that it is not a biological specialization, but must have some other purpose. This purpose, he argues, is to ensure the union of men and women by making the smallest viable economic unit contain at least one man and one woman. (Gayle Rubin, The Traffic in Women. Notes on the “political economy of sex”)

It would seem like patronal and governmental to present “the woman” as a victim of the home, of pregnancy, of their partner, of their children, but not as someone exploited by Capital, as opressed by the State. This is what feminism often does, divert all the attention to the malaise at home and the family, which of course is not false and which we must precisely end. But with this alibi the businesses and governmental offices are safeguarded, protecting the capitalist social relationship.
And to be clear, begging businessmen and politicians to do their jobs better is also safeguarding them in their function and reinforcin a whole social relationship.

“(…) when thousands of proletarians around the world insist on saying “Down with Work!” we arent proposing we waste away in starvation, but that we must fight to constitute a community in which our needs like food and shelter, like joy and creativity, are made common without being an alibi for profit and quantification. Although it may seem strange in this unmoving time of Capital, which seems like an eternal present, the greater part of the existence of our species was not lived in this manner. It becomes evident that this mode of production also has its days numbered.

Another myth necessary to prop up capitalist normality is presenting domestic work as a natural attribute of women, whom are supposed to, by nature, be good cooks, lovers, clothes washers, sensitive, weak, and overall dependent. It isn’t any coincidence that the first step of domestication is the creation of dependence.

A dependence that is just as economic as ideological, based on the myth that it was always the wage earner who brought the bread home. By myth we refer to a situation which, escaping the eurocentrist image dominant since the 20th century, implies a historic process broader than the golden decades of capitalism and encompasses the reality of millions of women who simply because of the time and place in which they were born they were confined to jobs with less pay than men and were additionally saddled with the work at home. It is therefore a bourgeois myth, an ideal of the bourgeois family imposed on the whole world.” (Boletin La Oveja Negra nro.46, Abajo el Trabajo Doméstico!)

Apart from the visceral rejection of social inequality between men and women, domestic work is a central category in comprehending the capitalist mode of production and the construction of sexist designations in current society.

“The very category of woman is organized within and through a set of social relations, from which the splitting of humanity into two, woman and man – and not only female and male – is inseparable. In this way, sexual difference is given a particular social relevance that it would not otherwise possess. Sexual difference is given this fixed significance within class societies, when the category of woman comes to be defined by the function that most (but not all) human females perform, for a period of their lives, in the sexual reproduction of the species. Class society thus gives a social purpose to bodies: because some women ‘have’ babies, all bodies that could conceivably ‘produce’ babies are subject to social regulation. (Maya Gonzalez, Communization and the Abolition of Gender)

“The human species is reproduced within the social reproduction. A woman who gives birth is not only a woman who gives birth; she is also a mother, with all that motherhood imposes, according to country and time (things are very different in Sweden and in Yemen, for example). The biological act of giving birth is as social as it is natural. Social reproduction determines the conditions of the reproduction of human beings. This does not mean that it conditions it completely, or that the latter is simply an effect of the former. Therefore it is the capital/wage-labour division, and not the (nonetheless real) man/woman division, that structures capitalist society.” (Gilles Dauve, Conversation with Constance)

Assuring control of natality is a necessity for capitalism, for which growth, or at least renovation, of labor  power is a condition of its existence.  The same way in which, like we pointed out in our previous issue, bodies, sexualities, and the upbringing of children must also be controlled. The control of women becomes essential and permits the control of the entire species, since the control of women controls a nodal point of its reproduction.

 The reproductive capacity of our species, just like the labor power commodity are inseparable from their carrier. The proletarianized human must sell their labor power and with it their body, their vital energy, their life…[2] Therefore, a human being is a commodity, although not only that. Labor power is not just the person, but also not just a disembodied commodity.

But what is labor power? In the first book of Capital, Karl Marx elaborates:

“By labour-power or capacity for labour is to be understood the aggregate of those mental and physical capabilities existing in a human being, which he exercises whenever he produces a use-value of any description.”

He adds further on that:

“Labour-power, however, becomes a reality only by its exercise; it sets itself in action only by working. But thereby a definite quantity of human muscle, nerve. brain, &c., is wasted, and these require to be restored.”

This means that what we mean as labor power is not simply a natural human quality that exists in Capitalism and before it. They are historical conditions which determine that we must sell our labor power, and that it must exist! We were and are deprived of the means to produce our lives plainly. We are then limited to offer in the market our only commodity: our labor power. Sell it or bust, because it is impossible to accumulate it, that is our choice, that is our liberty. [3]

But its particularity comes as well because the use-value of the labor power commodity acquires a quality which no other commodity possesses: it is a creator of value. In that sense, it is important not to confuse labor power as the capacity of labor with the power or capacity of work put into movement. 
While the first is the commodity which the proletariat sells, the second is its consumption as a use-value in the productive process. That it is necessary to spend 4 hours to maintain labor power well and alive does not mean that such labor power can’t be used for 8, 10, 12 or even 18 hours. The costs of its daily maintenance and its daily output are magnitudes in difference. In this difference, the difference between the value of labor power and the value it produces, the secret of surplus value is condensed, of capitalist exploitation and appropriation.[4]
It is essentially our labor power that interests Capital, the same way that it is interested in the reproductive capacity of women and therefore their sexuality and reproductive capacity is reified into a commodity. The distinction is important because, due to the fact that we come attached to it, it presents the bourgois with a problem that is sometimes impossible for them to sort out.
“When I want a pair of hands they bring me a human being” Henry Ford said. What interests them is our productive and reproductive functions. 
In the same way, we want to end bourgeoisie because of their socially exploitative function, although our objective is Capital and not the capitalist.

We can then determine that domestic work is more precisely the production or reproduction of labor power, including the future one, in other words procreation. We can even distinguish between the production of labor power and the production of commodities.

What is required to reproduce labor power is determined partly by the biological necessities of the human organism, by the physical conditions of the place where one lives, and by cultural tradition as Gayle Rubin points out, following Marx who affirmed that beer was necessary for the reproduction of the working class in England just as wine was necessary for the French. We could just as well point out how internet access is necessary in so many cities across the world.

“The number and extent of his so-called necessary wants, as also the modes of satisfying them, are themselves the product of historical development, and depend therefore to a great extent on the degree of civilisation of a country, more particularly on the conditions under which, and consequently on the habits and degree of comfort in which, the class of free labourers has been formed. [3] In contradistinction therefore to the case of other commodities, there enters into the determination of the value of labour-power a historical and moral element.”(Karl Marx, Capital)

“It is precisely this “historical and moral element” which determines that a “wife” is among the necessities of a worker, that women rather than men do housework, and that capitalism is heir to a long tradition in which women do not inherit, in which women do not lead, and in which women do not talk to god. It is this “historical and moral element” which presented capitalism with a cultural heritage of forms of masculinity and femininity. It is within this “historical and moral element” that the entire domain of sex, sexuality, and sex oppression is subsumed. And the briefness of Marx’s comment only serves to emphasize the vast area of social life which it covers and leaves unexamined. Only by subjecting this “historical and moral element” to analysis can the structure of sex oppression be delineated.” (Gayle Rubin, The Traffic of Women. Notes on the “Political Economy” of Sex)

Tithi Bhattacharya, one of the many driving forces behind the March 8th strikes, in her article “How Not To Skip Class: Social Reproduction of Labor and the Global Working Class” picks up labor power after Marx:

“Marx introduces the concept of labor power with great deliberation. Labor-power, in Marx’s sense, is our capacity to labor. “We mean by labour-power or labour-capacity,” Marx explains, “the aggregate of those mental and physical capabilities existing in the physical form, the living personality, of a human being, capabilities which he sets in motion whenever he produces a use-value of any kind.” In several passages Marx refers to this with the savagery that such a mutilation of self deserves: “The possessor of labour-power, instead of being able to sell commodities in which his labour has been objectified, must rather be compelled to offer for sale as a commodity that very labour-power which exists only in his living body.

Further, we can only speak of labor power when the worker uses that capacity, or it “becomes a reality only by being expressed; it is activated only through labour.” So it must follow that as labor power is expended in the process of production of other commodities, thereby “a definite quantity of human muscle, nerve, brain, etc.,” the rough composite of labor power, “is expended, and these things have to be replaced.” 

How can labor power be restored? Marx is ambiguous on this point:

If the owner of labour-power works today, tomorrow they must again be able to repeat the same process in the same conditions as regards health and strength. Their means of subsistence must therefore be sufficient to maintain them in their normal state as a working individual. Their natural needs, such as food, clothing, fuel and housing vary according to the climatic and other physical peculiarities of his country. On the other hand, the number and extent of their so-called necessary needs (as a worker), as also the manner in which they are satisfied, are themselves the product of history, and depend therefore to a great extent on the level of civilization attained by a country; in particular they depend on the conditions in which and consequently on the habits and expectations with which, the class of free workers has been formed. 

Here we falter and sense that the content of Marx’s critique to be inadequate to his form. There are several questions the above passage provokes and then leaves unanswered.

Social Reproduction Marxists and feminists, such as Lise Vogel, have drawn attention to the “production” of human beings, in this case, the worker, which takes place away from the site of production of commodities. Social Reproduction theorists rightly want to develop further what Marx leaves unexamined. That is, what are the implications of labor power being produced outside the circuit of commodity production, yet being essential to it? The most historically enduring site for the reproduction of labor power is of course the kin-based unit we call the family. It plays a key role in biological reproduction – as the generational replacement of the working class – and in reproducing the worker, through food, shelter, and psychical care, to become ready for the next day of work. Both those functions are disproportionately borne by women under capitalism and are the sources of women’s oppression under the system.

But the above passage needs development in other respects as well. Labor power, for instance, as Vogel has pointed out, is not simply replenished at home, nor is it always reproduced generationally. The family may form the site of individual renewal of labor power, but that alone does not explain “the conditions under which, and…the habits and degree of comfort in which,” the working class of any particular society has been produced. What other social relationships and institutions are comprised by the circuit of social reproduction? Public education and health care systems, leisure facilities in the community, pensions and benefits for the elderly all compose together those historically determined “habits.” Similarly, generational replacement through childbirth in the kin-based family unit, although dominant, is not the only way a labor force may be replaced. Slavery and immigration are two of the most common ways in which capital has replaced labor within national boundaries.”



The submission of great masses of human beings to labor has been fundamental to capitalism, which included brutal control over natality and therefore sexuality.[5]

Today, it is imperative that Capital guarantees a rational control of labor power or at least, its renewal. In fact, in vast areas a disproportionate increase in the labor force is less necessary, and what is necessary is quickly solved with immigrated labor. In this manner, the state politics of natality and immigration must be planned conjunctly. While some countries encourage birthing children, others don’t or even discourage it. This could mean sterilization, forced or not in some countries, as well as the penalization of abortion in others, which in each case expresses self control over the bodies of women.[6]

If it is difficult to comprehend the chores of domestic work, it is much more difficult to affirm that having children is in itself a production of children. It is easier to understand when these functions leave the familial sphere and immediately have a price in the market. Even children have a price in the black market!

The sexual division of work in capitalist society is conditioned by the the capacity of women to gestate human beings (aside from feeding them for another period of time during their lactation). For Capital, proletariat women play a central and unsubstitutable role, as “gestating bodies”, in the creation, development, and reproduction of the labor force. When Capital expresses itself through the citizen’s mouth, it incites women into being mothers to complete their being. On the other hand, the offense hasn’t been much better. From at least Simone de Beauvoir to cyborg feminism a contempt for the female is expressed by other means. “The entire female organism is adapted to the servitude of maternity” the author of The Second Sex claimed, “gestation is a fatiguing task of no individual benefit to the woman but on the contrary demanding heavy sacrifices…” Our time, and especially the social movements with which we find ourselves involved or close to, is decided between the most rigid mandates of Capital (“Be a mother and be silent”) and the mandates of the individual capitalist (“If maternity or paternity is an obstacle in my personal development I’ll pass “). 

Today, in countries with a highly developed technoscientific apparatus and productive forces, Capital seems to seek to emancipate itself from local women and/or externalize the reproduction of labor power, displacing it to poorer women of the proletariat. Like the example of surrogate gestation, wombs for rent, where proletariat become impregnated in exchange for money, see the gestation to its end and give birth to a child, all of that for another person or couple, who become the child’s progenitors.

 The historic process of subsumption of the creation of human life to Capital displaces live labor, using evermore dead labor, utilizing more and more technology. At home, with all types of cleaning and cooking apparatuses, and even ones to displace lactation ; or apparatuses that “care” for the newborn in place of a mother’s and close familial contact. This historic process would reach its corollary with the total automatization of the life creation process regarding women which is until now unconcluded and does not seem likely to conclude even in the great megacities of the planet. As much as the technophiles and cyborg-feminists fantasize about it.

On the other hand, this productive process is ever so integrated in every social process of reproduction where the family cedes this creation of labor force to the social forces of Capital, initially with births at the hospital, later daycare since birth, schools, personified by businesses or the state. At the margins of all of this, what is clear is that while men are free to amply dissociate themselves of this question to better serve other types of valorization, women must always assume an integral role in the creation of the labor force, independent of the fact of them performing other types of labor outside the home.

Over the long history of capitalism, women’s participation in the labor market has followed a distinct ‘M-shaped’ curve. Participation rises rapidly as women enter adulthood, then drops as women enter their late 20s and early 30s. Participation slowly rises again as women enter their late 40s before dropping off at retirement ages. The reasons for this pattern are well known. Young women look for full-time work, but with the expectation that they will either stop working or work part-time when they have children. When women enter childbearing years, their participation in the labor force declines. Women who continue to work while their children are young are among the poorer proletarians and are super-exploited: unmarried mothers, widows and divorcées, or women whose husbands’ incomes are low or unreliable. As children get older, more and more women return to the labor market (or move to full-time work), but at a distinct disadvantage in terms of skills and length of employment, at least as compared to the men with whom they compete for jobs.(Maya Gonzales, Communization and the Abolition of Gender)

Today there is a great number of countries in which many woman are dedicating more time towards wage labor and less time having and raising children, there has been a reduction in the shape of an M-curve in their participation in the job market. Before the promise of a life of work supposedly equal to that of men some women choose not to have children or to postpone their one and only child.

In actuality, Gonzalez points out, the fecundity index reaches numbers of 1.2 children per women in Italy and Japan, and in almost all parts of the west it is lower than 2. Throughout the whole world fecundity has dropped from 6 children per women in 1950 to 2.5 currently. We could add that in Argentina such index was in 2016, 2.29 children per woman, while in Brazil and Chile reached values of 1.77 and 1.73 respectively.

The average rate of birth in Argentina in 2015 was high: 17 born per 1,000 people. However, in the 60’s the average rate of birth was 24 per 1,000. The rate of birth peaked around 40 years ago, in 1977, when it ascended to 25. But just like the other countries, from that moment it decreased slowly and descended year after year.

Returning to the relationship between women and wage labor, whatever the similarity of their aptitudes, women and men are not and will never be the same to Capital. The difference supposes the natural possibility of gestation and is precisely what explains their disadvantage before the labor market and thus the subordinate role of women.[7]. The problem certain analysis stumble with again and again is that, as they try to understand women’s subordinate role, they analyze a series of isolated problems, of “symbolic order” or they speak of a manner in which to envisage the world. But it is necessary, just as Marx and Engels pointed out in The German Ideology, to part with real premises: “The premises from which we begin are not arbitrary ones, not dogmas, but real premises from which abstraction can only be made in the imagination. They are the real individuals, their activity and the material conditions under which they live, both those which they find already existing and those produced by their activity”.

“Markets, as the locus of exchanges of equivalents, are supposed to blur concrete differences in a pure comparison of abstract values. How then can this “sex-blind” market reproduce the gender difference?[8] Once a group of individuals, women, are defined as “those who have children” and once this social activity, “having children”, is structurally formed as constituting a handicap, women are defined as those who come to the labour-market with a potential disadvantage.

(…)Therefore, because capital is a “sex-blind” abstraction, it concretely punishes women for having a sex, even though that “sexual difference” is produced by capitalist social relations, and absolutely necessary to the reproduction of capitalism itself.

The definition of women as “those who have children” presupposes a necessary link between 1) the fact of having a biological organ, the uterus 2) the fact of bearing a child, of being pregnant 3) the fact of having a specific relation to the result of this pregnancy. Conflating the three obscures:

  1. On the one side, the mechanisms that prevent, favour, or impose the fact that somebody with a uterus will go through pregnancy, and how often that will occur.21 These mechanisms include: the institution of marriage, the availability of contraceptives, the mechanisms that enforce heterosexuality as a norm, and (at least for a long time and still in many places) the interdiction/shame associated with forms of sex that do not risk leading to pregnancy (oral/anal sex, etc.).
  1. On the other side, the changing definition of what a child is and what level of care a child necessitates. While there was a period in which children were considered as half-animal, half-human creatures who only had to be cleaned and fed until they became small adults — that is, able to work — the modern reality of childhood and its requirements often make “having children” a never-ending business. (End Notes 3. The Logic of Gender)

In capitalist society there is no way to resolve this contradiction between the exaltation of motherhood and the consideration of motherhood as an obstacle because resolving it would mean constructing a world based on human needs and not the ones of Capital.

It is not just about gestation and lactation. The authors of the collective 1976 text Conciencia de Explotadas highlight:

It is not possible to imagine a society in which it is not necessary to raise and educate proles, cook their meals, keep their living spaces clean. These (next to the production of the means of subsistence) are the presupposed elements for life and the existence of individuals. What is not in any way “natural” or indisputable is that this work of immediate and fundamental utility has to develop inside the frame of the current private family and consequently trusted exclusively to women. It is understood, generally, to give no importance to this work, or to insist that the electrodomestic industry has made it practically nonexistent, or in whatever case superfluous.

Electrodomestics have been presented as symbols of feminine liberation even by catholicism. In its March 2009 issue, the Vatican diary, L’Osservatore Romano, titled an article: “The Washing Machine and the Emancipation of Women. Add detergent, close the lid, and relax.” It affirmed:  “In the 20th century, what was the most influential thing for women’s liberation? The debate remains open. Some say it was the pill; others, the liberalization of abortion, or even waged labor. However, some go further (and propose): the washing machine.”

To believe electrodomestics are in any way tied to the emancipation of women you have to be somewhat credulous of religious lies and business advertisements. The development of the electrodomestics industry does not signify any contribution to emancipation, on the contrary, it is a mayor compromise with Capital.

We have to understand why these technological leaps which we refer to here occur. Those same ones that raise such optimism, even between those who refuse or find themselves discomforted by the dominant order. The research and development of these technological advancements were never about satisfying our needs and desires, rather, they were about amplifying and reproducing the dominant order.” (Cuadernos De Negación nro.8, Tecnología y Ganancia)

During the year 1920, the number of North Americans with electricity increased from 25% to 80%. Big companies like General Motors, General Electric, or Westinghouse, sensed the opportunity to create a massive market for electrodomestics, incentivized by electric generation companies (more appliances meant higher bills.) These first mass produced electrodomestics were clothes irons, stoves, and washing machines. These constituted what some call the “industrial revolution at home”.

A bourgeoisie myth is that these machines serve human needs. It is precisely the opposite. The automatization of fabrics, for example, has not meant less work for any worker, it has only meant working more intensely and producing more. In other words impoverishing themselves even more. The same way, electrodomestics are modern instruments of slavery, generally of women, giving the illusion of liberty. Everything must be cleaner, hotter or colder, ironed better, shaved better, vacuumed better. The ones benefiting from all of this are not women, but neither is it their husbands, or their kids. It is the capitalists of the industry in question and the bourgeoisie in general which reap the benefits.

Electrodomestics are also elements of atomization, subjection to the living space and family unity, as well as symbols of status. Their implementation relates to the the dismemberment of collective living. In many regions, clothes washing spaces were points of contact for prole women outside the family unit.

In issue no. 7 of Cuadernos de Negación we recalled examples of diverse ways living which were conceived and, generally, constructed by the State with the idea of limiting all contact between tenants. Open stairways and rest areas were considered extensions of public roads, and were as such prohibited and reduced rigorously, just as like many public walkways and patios. The plan was the separation of a community into families and then the separation of one from the other. That was and is the necessary condition of all the state politics of prole living spaces.

Mr. Claudius-Petit, having asked developers to build living spaces in which, instead of anticipating spaces for the installation of washers and dryers in each of them, to attempt to create a washing space-laundromat-clothesline for everyone in the property; was advised that it would not be prudent to bring the housewives together, due to a risk of the development of political propaganda and the provocation of a mayor adherence to worker’s associations. (Phillipe Meyer, El Niño y la Razón del Estado, 1981)

The prevalence and sophistication of electrodomestics is a major success of the family, of the nation, and of Capital.



[1] We understand Capital here as a social relationship and not solely as a way to accumulate money, means of production or commodities and property owned by bourgois. Capital is value in movement and transformation, value valorizing itself. And we go even further: it is the subject of this society. Because through the transformation of human activity in an activity alienated from from the human being, an alien force subjugates us. The inversion of human activity proper of capitalism, where the object presents itself as the subject and the subject as an object, where human activity presents itself as an exteriorized force that does not belong to it and submits it, is precisely what permits value to dominate society.
If human beings come to treat one another like objects it is because they are already treated as such by the capitalist mode of production, the society which we form part of. By reducing ourselves as objects and negating ourselves as subjects is how Capital accomplishes to erect itself as the subject of society.

[2] We’ve sometimes summarized the notion of the proletariat as someone who only has their labor power and must sell it to reproduce their life. We can specify: we are proletariats who have our labor power and not the means of production to reproduce our life. And that labor power may or may not find a direct purchaser.

[3] The “free worker” of whom Marx speaks of in Vol 1 of Capital is not synonymous with an “a free or independent worker” – a small producer, or a freelancer. It is a figure by which Marx characterizes the salaried capitalist, man or woman, in contrast to the figure of a slave or servant. It is free in a double meaning. They are dispossessed from the means of production and own only their own labor power which they sell as a commodity. (Antoine Artous, A Proposito del Libro de Silvia Federici: Caliban y la bruja)

[4] Previously we have explained labor power in Cuadernos de Negación nro. 11. See page 3. (Note 1), pg. 12 and especially pg 18.

[5] See Mujeres y acumulacion originaria in the previous issue. [untranslated]

[6] An example in this respect: Between 1960 and 1970 while abortion was a crime in France, in their overseas department located in the Indian ocean, in La Reunion, the french republic submitted between 6,000 to 8,000 women per year to abortion and/or non consensual sterilization. This is a concrete example of a colonial state, however, at a broader scale, Capital imposes bans or obligatory abortions according to the region and the profit need, grappling with the traditions of each region.

[7] We are talking expressly about capitalist society. Pregnancy does not explain the supposed weakness of one sex among the other in some previous societies. Pregnancy does not weaken women before men, it does not oppress them. Explaining the utility of women to capitalism is one thing, and to hold that utility as the genesis of oppression of women is another very different thing.

[8]Note from CUADERNOS DE NEGACIÓN: This is the same trap that bourgeois democracy lays for all proletariat. How can a market of equals reproduce difference in class?

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