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Sunday, 13 May 2018

Accelerationism and wages for housework

In my course on Whitehead and Deleuze we're discussing the Anti-Oedipus. Discussing accelerationism (it is hard to read the book without seeing it coming from more or less everywhere) lead us to compare Deleuze and Guattari's emphasis on the limits to schizophrenization that capital has to maintain - it is not a body without organs and the Oedipus separates it from a full schiza - with the idea, that Land (and others) have defended, that capital is the ultimate decoder of flows and therefore that the limits of capital can only be overcome by capital itself. The main issue is then whether the Oedipus - nuclear family-oriented desire, private life, the individual, reproduction placed outside the socius where production and distribution takes place - is really a limit of capitalism (D&G talk about relative limits...). This is the main contention that separates their position from a full-blown capitalist accelerationism (or unconditional accelerationism) that understands that decoding the flows is what capital itself is. In other words, the Oedipus is the difference between a capitalist and an anti-capitalist accelerationism (or left and right accelerationism...).

Silvia Federici's book Caliban and the Witch offers, in my view, a compelling view of capitalism that is thoroughly anti-accelerationist (or, rather, non-accelerationism). Yet, the movement for wages for housework that she championed in the 1970s could be seen as an interesting accelerationist strategy against capitalism if we consider it with the idea that the Oedipus is the limit of capital in mind. The idea is to place the reproduction of labor back to the socius, back to the domain of capital. To do that, it is asked from capital (i.e. the bosses) that pay wages to women doing the reproduction work. That entails a decoder of flows - what was flowing within codes alien to capital becomes a flow of capital - but one that makes the capital extend beyond its limits - the Oedipus. It would enter family life and by doing that it would deterritorialize something that according to the Anti-Oedipus, it needs to keep in place. If families are decoded, there is nothing to assure capital's concentric structure: it can flow and never come back. To be sure it is at least a strategy to derange the established structure of a structure for reproduction - the family - outside capital that is crucial for capitalism to maintain the limits that define it as an unchallenged territorial machine.

2 comments:

  1. is a non-familial capitalism really unthinkable? think of automated reproduction (a baby factory, say) or something like zaibatsus, isn't that completely outside the nuclear family, and still definitely capital?

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  2. yes. but the issues then are a) whether capitalism can objectively sustain paying for all the costs of the reproduction of its needed labor - it looks like capitalism wants to make these costs external by all means necessary and b) whether the subjectivity of these future workers will be appropriate to capitalism assuming they will have no Oedipus, they won´t dream and plan and desire in terms akin to the nuclear family.

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