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After a month of nonstop developments, protests have continued in the island

A Duel of Dreams

Naomi Klein’s The Battle for Paradise (Haymarket, 2018) describes a duel of dreams for post-Hurricane Mar’a Puerto Rico. On the one hand, networks of resistance and resilience sprang up around the island in the wake of the collapse of not just trees and houses, but infrastructure and government. On the other, a small group of super rich speculators and futurists were poised to cash in on what Puerto Rico’s then-Governor Ricardo Rossell—ó described as an opportunity to “sort of restart and upgrade” a nation he shamelessly called a “blank canvas.” Rossell—ó— was forced out of office on July 24, 2019, by mass protests, in large part thanks to the networks of resistance and resilience that came to life when the government essentially disappeared after the 2017 hurricanes. | more…

2019, Volume 71, Issue 05 (October 2019)
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Monthly Review Volume 71, Number 4 (September 2019)

September 2019 (Volume 71, Number 4)

This special issue of Monthly Review honors the fiftieth anniversary this month of Margaret Benston’s landmark “The Political Economy of Women’s Liberation.” The essay sparked a revolution in Marxian thought, the full implications of which are only now being perceived in contemporary social reproduction theory. We have reprinted Benson’s pieces together with contributions by Silvia Federici, Martha E. Gimenez, Selma James (interviewed by Ron Augustin), Leith Mullings, Marge Piercy, and Lise Vogel, all of whom have played leading roles since the 1970s in the development of feminist historical materialism. | more…

2019, Volume 71, Issue 04 (September 2019)
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Monthly-Review-Volume-21-Number-4-September-1969-PDF.jpg

The Political Economy of Women’s Liberation

In sheer quantity, household labor, including child care, constitutes a huge amount of socially necessary production. Nevertheless, in a society based on commodity production, it is not usually considered “real work” since it is outside of trade and the market place. This assignment of household work as the function of a special category women means that this group does stand in a different relation to production than the group men. Except for the very rich, who can hire someone to do it, there is for most women, an irreducible minimum of necessary labor involved in caring for home, husband, and children. Household work remains a matter of private production. | more…

2019, Volume 71, Issue 04 (September 2019)
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Capitalism also Depends on Domestic Labour

“She Was My Kind of Scientist”

In the late 1960s, the North American women’s liberation movement was reaching a highpoint of activity, its militancy complemented by a flourishing literature. This was the environment into which Margaret Benston’s 1969 Monthly Review essay, “The Political Economy of Women’s Liberation,” struck like a lightning bolt. At the time, many in the movement were describing women’s situation in terms of sociological roles, functions, and structures—reproduction, socialization, psychology, sexuality, and the like. In contrast, Benston proposed an analysis in Marxist terms of women’s unpaid labor in the family household. In this way, she definitively shifted the framework for discussion of women’s oppression onto the terrain of Marxist political economy. | more…

2019, Volume 71, Issue 04 (September 2019)
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What Is Intersectional Feminism?

Women, Class, and Identity Politics

The question of the oppression of women, the critique of which constituted feminism as an academic and political pursuit, has been feminism’s enduring source of strength and appeal, yielding numerous critical theories and perspectives. This has produced continual conceptual shifts defining an evolving feminism, such as the shift from women to gender and from inequality to difference. It has also involved shifts from theorizing the general conditions of women’s experience—oppressed at home and in the workplace, while juggling the conflicting demands of both—to theorizing the implications of the claim that, while gender may be the main source of oppression for white, heterosexual, middle-class women, women with different characteristics and experiences are affected by other forms of oppression as well. A possible way for Marxist feminism to remain a distinctive theoretical and politically relevant perspective might be to return to class, in the Marxist sense, theoretically reexamining the relationship between class and oppression, particularly the oppression of working-class women, within capitalist social formations. | more…

2019, Volume 71, Issue 04 (September 2019)
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A Wages for Housework march in 1977

On Margaret Benston

Margaret Benston’s “The Political Economy of Women’s Liberation” appears as both a return to the past and, at the same time, if not a “watershed,” as described by Peter Custers, certainly a new turn. On the one hand, she reiterated the classic Marxist-Leninist argument concerning the precapitalist, premarket character of domestic work. On the other, she so strongly insisted on the importance of this work for the stability and perpetuation of the capitalist system that she not only anticipated some of the theses later argued by theorists in the Wages for Housework Campaign, but often fell into apparent contradictions. | more…

2019, Volume 71, Issue 04 (September 2019)
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Kathleen Cleaver, Black Panther Party Headquarters 1969

Mapping Gender in African-American Political Strategies

Gender is not just about women; it is about the social relationship between men and women and the dialectical, reciprocal, and cultural construction of femininity and masculinity. Recognition of a unique historical experience concerning gender informs the perspectives of African Americans of various political persuasions. This history incorporates a land of origin with certain common principles about gender and family. It also encompasses the African-American experience in the United States where the denial of many “protections” offered by gender roles and indeed sometimes inversion of such roles was a means of maintaining control. Hence asserting the right to assume gender-based roles of husband, father, wife, and mother paradoxically was an act of resistance. The manner in which African-American people have envisioned relationships of gender in light of that history has expressed itself in markedly different forms. | more…

2019, Volume 71, Issue 04 (September 2019)
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