Synopses & Reviews
Branching off Marxs theories of class struggle, this impressive collection of essays on workers rights as they pertains to womens rights aims to educate and inform those interested in radical feminist labor theory. Arguing that class struggle manifests itself as the conflict between the reproduction and survival of the human race, the general theme of the collected essays leans left and warns of market exploitation, war, and ecological disaster. Spanning nearly six decades and compiling essays that have appeared in anthologies or are selections from Selma James' books—some printed here for the first time—these selections preach equality in wages for men and women alike, especially in nontraditional work environments.
"It's time to acknowledge Jamess path-breaking analysis: from 1972 she re-interpreted the capitalist economy to show that it rests on the usually invisible unwaged caring work of women." Dr. Peggy Antrobus, feminist, author of The Global Womens Movement: Origins, Issues and Strategies
In 1972 Selma James set out a new political perspective. Her starting point was the millions of unwaged women who, working in the home and on the land, were not seen as "workers" and their struggles viewed as outside of the class struggle. Based on her political training in the Johnson-Forest Tendency, founded by her late husband C.L.R. James, on movement experience South and North, and on a respectful study of Marx, she redefined the working class to include sectors previously dismissed as "marginal."
For James, the class struggle presents itself as the conflict between the reproduction and survival of the human race, and the domination of the market with its exploitation, wars, and ecological devastation. She sums up her strategy for change as "Invest in Caring not Killing."
This selection, spanning six decades, traces the development of this perspective in the course of building an international campaigning network. It includes excerpts from the classic The Power of Women and the Subversion of the Community which launched the "domestic labor debate," the exciting "Hookers in the House of the Lord" which describes a church occupation by sex workers, an incisive review of the C.L.R. James masterpiece The Black Jacobins, a reappraisal of the novels of Jean Rhys and of the leadership of Julius Nyerere, the groundbreaking "Marx and Feminism," and more.
The writing is lucid and without jargon. The ideas, never abstract, spring from the experience of organising, from trying to make sense of the successes and the setbacks, and from the need to find a way forward.
About the Author
Selma James is the founder of the International Wages for Housework Campaign and helped launch the Global Womens Strike. She is the author of numerous publications, including The Power of Women and the Subversion of Community, Strangers and Sisters, and Wageless of the World. Marcus Rediker is a professor of Atlantic history at the University of Pittsburgh. He is the author of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, The Many-Headed Hydra, and Villains of All Nations. He lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Nina López is an author and joint coordinator of the Global Womens Strike. She is the coauthor of The Milk of Human Kindness.