Logic or History? The Political Stakes of Marxist-Feminist Theory
When I first started writing this series of remarks in Italian (Riflessioni degeneri), subsequently collected into a single piece for the English version, my aim was twofold. The first was to make a complex debate – one that has unfolded over the course of several decades – accessible to a public of activists and people interested in gender, race, and class politics. The second was to contribute toward reopening this crucial debate about how we should conceptualize the structural relationship between gender oppression and capitalism. This is why I am deeply grateful to Oksala, Farris, and Manning for accepting to respond to my piece and for articulating powerful and illuminating critiques, and which have helped me think through these complicated matters more carefully and rigorously. Specifying the relationship between the logical and historical dimensions of capitalism is one of the most controversial problems in Marxist theory, and one about which I am very uncertain. But, as this is the point of contention between Oksala, Farris, Manning and myself, I will address a set of concerns pertaining to this problem which is relevant to the central issues at stake: whether or not we can claim that gender oppression is a necessary feature of capitalism and, if so, at what level of abstraction can we make that claim. While there is an array of further criticisms in their responses to my essay, this issue is the focus of all three. Hence I will spend most of the limited space at my disposal addressing it. In the appendix, I will respond to two of Manning’s misrepresentations of my position. It is likely that these misrepresentations are misunderstandings caused by the ambiguity of some of my initial formulations. However, as they are connected to political issues, it is important to clarify them for the sake of advancing our discussion and marking the real points of dissent.