Research Journal

  • March 11, 2021

    Towards a multispecies union: notes and terms


    In order for a union to form and have power, what must be recognized in order to be resisted? Who asserts a form of confidence- power exerts confidence by delineating and then controlling the boundaries of the given system; it does so by playing a confidence game of telling you this is “inexorable,” a teleological present (all roads led to… best for humanity)

    What is this Multispecies Union demanding? and to whom?
    (Look for precedents: IWW, et al)

    Labor is not organized in ways that can speak of “true” or complete volition (needs definition- self-enclosed agency?). There is no way for an organism, species or ecosystem to systemically (or systematically) account for the entangled, unknown effects and influences that comprise the earth. Latour, in writing about Lovelock’s notion of a Gaian “democracy” — states that “there is no living or animated thing that obeys an order superior to itself, and that dominates it, or that it just has to adapt itself to, and this is true for bacteria as much as lions or human societies. This doesn’t mean that all living things are free in the rather simple sense of being individuals, since they are interlinked, folded, and entangled in each other. This means that the issue of freedom and dependence is equally valid for humans as it is for the partners of the above natural world.

    Lovelock wrote that “The Gaia hypothesis implies that the stable state of our planet includes man as a part of, or partner in, a very democratic entity.”
    To which Latour responds that “taking on board such a world had nothing to do with ecology, but quite simply with a politics of living things.

    Labor (production) produces artifacts.
    The accumulation of those artifacts is held within a complex set of systems – held as value, held as detritus, and must be dealt with and processed. Perhaps as many as (or more) of those artifacts are actually undesirable, and unproductive: the model of “the human production of artifacts through labor” produces detritus: the dross, chaff, refuse we cannot refuse, the excess or waste that must be discarded, ignored, disassembled, decomposed, or reused? (see Jennifer Gabrys and the Waste scholars fellowship at CENHS).
    – Are fungi and some bacteria laboring as decomposers, cleaning up waste?
    – Examples of species who produce artifacts (both productive and incidental to production?)

    Human Labor power is not the only power Capitalism needs to operate
    As I learned (and believe) earlier, women labor to give birth to laborers and are uncompensated. This reproductive labor might be seen as a “natural” supply, in the “natural” order of things-that-can-be-harnessed.

    Elements of the more-than-human world also labor and are unrecognized. A laborer differs from a natural resource, with its implication of inertia. Watch a movie like Honeyland, or watch leaf-cutter ants farm, or check ou the assemblages that afford traditional methods of rice production to move with, not against, seasonal and species constraints and flows (see Rice Child by Elaine Gan for instance).

    William Cronon in his book “Nature’s Metropolis” outlines two forms of nature, a first nature that is operating without human engineering/interventions. First nature has an intrinsic value to the “accumulation of capital”, and is far from simply ecosystem services. Its value derives from this first nature (soil riches for instance) not second nature (intervened, unimpeded by intensive human processes). Nature is labor, not resources, not inert.
    [John: am i correct in interpreting this as an extension of the traditional notion of economic capital?

    Cronon argues that you cannot tease out the history of “first” (natural) nature and “second” (human-constructed) nature, and that the two were melded together largely via the connections of a capitalist market. The demands of the market necessitated a new order to be grafted onto “first” nature, one that established Chicago in a spatial web of connections between the city itself, its hinterland, and markets in the east. Crucially, this process depended on transforming natural material into tradable commodities, one of the many ways in which capital served to suppress and hide the reality of the very connections and processes on which it relied. LINK

    A General Strike vs Collapse as a Form of Resistance
    Multispecies Strike. Already happening. No work. Bees, bats, frogs: not working. Rivers, streams, salmon: blocking and blocked. A waning of reproduction because of endocrine disruption from plasticizers.

    Ecological collapse and its connection to general strikes, organized resistance. The relationship to time, and expectations of temporal speed without consequences.

    Accelerated temporality, violent insistence that capitalism imposes on all beings, biologically, socially, etc.


    for money, reproductive labor, the work of molecules, agentic forces that “work” on a planetary scale
    Work /wərk/
    Old English weorc (noun), wyrcan (verb), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch werk and German Werk, from an Indo-European root shared by Greek ergon .
    1. activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.
    2. a task or tasks to be undertaken; something a person or thing has to do.
    3. something done or made.
    4. a place or premises for industrial activity, typically manufacturing.
    5. the operative part of a clock or other machine.
    6. (military) a defensive structure.
    6. (physics) the exertion of force overcoming resistance or producing molecular change.
    7. (informal) everything needed, desired, or expected.
    1. be engaged in physical or mental activity in order to achieve a result; do work.
    2. (of a machine or system) operate or function, especially properly or effectively.
    3. (of a plan or method) have the desired result or effect. (i.e. “work miracles”)
    4. bring (a material or mixture) to a desired shape or consistency by hammering, kneading, or some other method.
    5. move or cause to move gradually or with difficulty into another position, typically by means of constant movement or pressure. (i.e. “work out the knots”
    6. bring into a specified state, especially an emotional state. (i.e. “worked himself up”)

    to toil, to exert
    Middle English: from Old French labour (noun), labourer (verb), both from Latin labor ‘toil, trouble’.
    1. work, especially hard physical work.
    2. (in the UK or Canada) the Labour Party.
    1. work hard; make great effort.
    2. have difficulty in doing something despite working hard

    Labor is the amount of physical, mental, and social effort used to produce goods and services in an economy. It supplies the expertise, manpower, and service needed to turn raw materials into finished products and services.
    In return, laborers receive a wage to buy the goods and services they don’t produce themselves. Those without desired skills or abilities often don’t even get paid a living wage
    Many countries have a minimum wage to make sure their workers earn enough to cover the costs of living.
    Labor is one of the four factors of production that drive supply (Labor, Land, Capital, and Entrepreneurship)
    Labor is measured by the labor force or labor pool. The labor force is the number of people who are employed plus the unemployed who are looking for work. The labor pool does not include the jobless who aren’t looking for work.
    (The Balance, economic terms)

    an actor in the world
    a·gent /ˈājənt/
    late Middle English (in the sense ‘someone or something that produces an effect’): from Latin agent- ‘doing’, from agere .
    1. a person who acts on behalf of another person or group. (i.e. spies, negotiators, brokers)
    2. a person or thing that takes an active role or produces a specified effect. (i.e. chemicals, change-makers)

    a joining, a yoke, coming together in agreement
    late Middle English: from Old French, or from ecclesiastical Latin unio(n- ) ‘unity’, from Latin unus ‘one’.
    1. the action or fact of joining or being joined, especially in a political context. (marriage, agreement, harmony)
    2. a club, society, or association formed by people with a common interest or purpose.
    3. (British, historical) a number of parishes consolidated for the purposes of administering the Poor Laws.
    4. a political unit consisting of a number of states or provinces with the same central government.
    5. (mathematics) the set that comprises all the elements (and no others) contained in any of two or more given sets.
    6. a pipe coupling.
    7. a part of a flag with an emblem symbolizing national union, typically occupying the upper corner next to the staff.
    8. a fabric made of two or more different yarns, typically cotton and linen or silk.
    9. (usa) a building at a college or university used by students for recreation and other nonacademic activities.

    to coordinate purposefully
    late Middle English: from medieval Latin organizare, from Latin organum ‘instrument, tool’ (see organ).
    1. arrange into a structured whole; order.
    2. make arrangements or preparations for (an event or activity); coordinate.

    those who stand together because of convergent interests
    mid 19th century: from French solidarité, from solidaire ‘solidary’.
    1. unity or agreement of feeling or action, especially among individuals with a common interest; mutual support within a group.
    2. an independent trade union movement in Poland that developed into a mass campaign for political change and inspired popular opposition to communist regimes across eastern Europe during the 1980s.

    mul·​ti·​spe·​cies |  ˌməl-tē-ˈspē-(ˌ)shēz
    1940s; earliest use found in Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club.
    composed of, containing, or involving two or more species and especially biological species

    Multispecies (ethnographies)
    Multispecies ethnography is a rubric for a more-than-human approach to ethnographic research and writing rapidly gaining discursive traction in anthropology and cognate fields. The term is deployed for work that acknowledges the interconnectedness and inseparability of humans and other life forms, and thus seeks to extend ethnography beyond the solely human realm. Multispecies investigations of social and cultural phenomena are attentive to the agency of other-than-human species, whether they are plants, animals, fungi, bacteria, or even viruses, which confound the species concept. This entails a challenge to the humanist epistemology upon which conventional ethnography is predicated, specifically its ontological distinctions between nature and culture, human and nonhuman, subject and object. Multispecies ethnography must thus be seen as a part of a larger quest in the social sciences and humanities to replace dualist ontologies by relational perspectives, to overcome anthropocentrism by pointing to the meaningful agency of nonhuman others, and to highlight the intersections between ecological relations, political economy, and cultural representations. Multispecies ethnography however, not only acknowledges that humans dwell in a world necessarily comprising other life forms but also contends that their entanglements with human lives, landscapes, and technologies must be theoretically integrated into any account of existence.

    Multispecies as an ethos that de-emphasizes the individual
    The holobiont (Lynn Margulis et al) as discussed so well by Anna Tsing (for instance in this interview)
    The microbial//human intra-actions for instance; the ways plants, soil, microbes, fungi are mutually influential (see the work of Elizabeth Henaff)

    General Strike
    gen·er·al strike/ˈjen(ə)rəl strīk/
    a strike of workers in all or most industries.

    general strike (or mass strike) is a strike action in which a substantial proportion of the total labour force in a city, region, or country participates. General strikes are characterised by the participation of workers in a multitude of workplaces and tend to involve entire communities. General strikes first occurred in the mid-19th century and have characterised many historically important strikes.

    In the fourth chapter of Black Reconstruction, entitled “The General Strike“, Du Bois makes the argument that after the war escalated, slaves in the Confederate states engaged in a general strike wherein they stopped work and sought to cross enemy lines.

    Social Unionism vs Business Unionism

    The Union as a transformative force
    as a path toward liberation
    James Boggs, Gracely Boggs

  • March 4, 2021

    Facing Gaia: Latour (and Battistoni on Latour)

    The earth is undergoing a Mutation, not a Crisis; in the midst of a speedy, planetary regime shift (video explainer by Oonsie Biggs). He goes further though to state that “you might expect us to feel that we had shifted from a mere ecological crisis into what should instead be called a profound mutation in our relation to the world.” Except we (we?) do not seem to have done so, or even noticed that we should.

    Gaia– not an engineer but an artifact, the evidence of forces and actions.

    At 98, James Lovelock is a very old man. His thinking is all the more important in that it avoids the academic, and he was the first to theorize what in ecology and Earth sciences is called the “Gaia” hypothesis, which I can provisionally summarize at this stage of my inquiry: the Earth is a totality of living beings and materials that were made together, that cannot live apart, and from which humans can’t extract themselves.

    At first glance there is nothing simpler than the Gaia hypothesis: living things do not reside in an environment, they fashion it. What we call the environment is the result of living things’ extensions; their successful inventions and apprenticeships. This is not proof that the Earth is “living,” but rather that everything we experience on Earth is the unforeseen, secondary, and involuntary effect of the action of living organisms. This goes for the atmosphere, the soils, and the chemical composition of the oceans. We see it in termite mounds and beaver dams, which are not living in themselves, but without living organisms there would be no mounds or dams. So, the Gaia idea does not involve adding a soul to the terrestrial globe, or intentionality to living things, but it does recognize the prodigious ingenuity in the way living things fashion their own worlds.

    …with the Gaia theory one can grasp the “power to act” of all the jumbled-up organisms without immediately integrating them into a unity that is superior to them and which they obey.

    despite the word “system,” Gaia doesn’t act in a systematic fashion, or at least it isn’t a unified system. Lenton has shown that the regulation can be very strong or very lax, depending on the scales of space and time. The homeostatis of an organism and the more erratic regulation of the climate are not of the same type. The Earth is not an organism. Unlike all living things, it lives off itself in a way, through continuous recycling with very little help from external matter (apart, of course, from solar energy). One cannot even say that Gaia is synonymous with the globe or the natural world because, after all, living things, even after several billion years of evolution, only are in charge of a thin skin of the Earth, a sort of biofilm, what the researchers with whom I am working at the moment call “critical zones.”

    Latour article in LA Review of Books, 2018

    Alyssa Battistoni, in Material World, reflects on on Latour’s recent work and his shift toward politics:
    Having lost faith in the long-promised world of prosperity, and recognizing that the planet cannot support all of us, elites have deregulated the economy and dismantled the welfare state while lavishly funding the denial of climate change.”  Amitav Ghosh’s The Great Derangement devastatingly describes the false promise of world-wide fossil-fueled prosperity)

    On a Ghosh-related epic story note: I just listened to a great podcast by Marie Mutsuki Mockett (Thirteen to One, New Stories for an Age of Disaster) at Emergence Magazine; it’s about Japan’s lost words for “nature” (only one being left: Shizen), and what (Shinto) animism offers us as a way of connecting, with attention on the giant earth-quaking catfish Ōnamazu…

    Marie Mutsuki Mockett Recalls the Myth of the Giant Catfish Ōnamazu ‹  Literary Hub

    Battistoni goes on to write that
    On this planet, what we humans do matters immensely…
    what we do affects what everything else does. We are constantly manipulating our environment, but so too are the earthworms in the soil, the plankton in the sea. Without them we would not only not have, say, trees and dolphins—we would not have an atmosphere or oceans at all.

    Gaia, that is, muddles our very notion of what the environment is. The air is not just a medium that surrounds us—it is literally made by living beings, ourselves included. From this view, seeing the Earth as a collection of “natural resources,” as inert matter, is absurd. All the world is reactions: chemical, biological, geophysical. It is preposterous to think you could take millions of tons of long-buried dead matter, burn it, and leave the rest of the world as it is. What have we undergone in the past few decades but the realization that we share the world with a set of previously ignored actors—the untold carbon molecules invisibly and gradually accumulating without so much as a peep?

    If the Earth is reacting to what we do all the time, Latour argues, we must figure out how to react to it in turn rather than fruitlessly attempting to control it. We must figure out how to conduct our collective lives in a way that represents all these agents. This, he thinks, means reimagining what we expect from politics. 

    To face the Terrestrial we must rework our politics. Latour disdains the traditional poles of left and right: “You have never been a leftist? That doesn’t matter, neither have I, but, like you, I am radically Terrestrial!” 

    As Latour sees it, the “social question” that has animated traditional left politics has prioritized class antagonism in relation to ostensibly material issues, but the world of the Terrestrial has increasingly fallen out of the picture. Environmentalists, by contrast, have long claimed that focusing politics around the Earth disrupts familiar ideological categories—claiming “neither left nor right, but in front”; not red but green; and so on.

    …why should we have to pick either the social question or the climate crisis? According to Latour, we don’t. “We don’t have to choose between workers’ wages and the fate of some little birds,” he admonishes, “but between two types of worlds in which there are both workers’ salaries and little birds, but associated differently in the two contexts.”

    who today doesn’t want to live in a world where workers’ salaries and little birds coexist happily? Teamsters and turtles joined up against the WTO two decades ago; “green jobs” have long been the watchword of the environmental movement. But simply insisting that social and ecological politics don’t have to be at odds is only the first step, and by far the easiest one. Figuring out how exactly they should be associated has been considerably harder; harder still has been getting to this other world where we don’t have to choose. Today’s climate activists will not defeat the corporations who tell us it’s either jobs or a habitable planet by lecturing them on the bifurcations of modernity.

    Marxist materialists’ “definition of the material world was so abstract, so ideal, not to say idealistic, that they have never had a firm grip on this new reality,” Latour argues—and he has a point. (Feminists like Shulamith Firestone similarly argued that Marxism had not gone far enough in its material analysis, failing to consider how bodies shaped the division of labor.) 

    At some point, though, the thrill of realizing you live in a material world wears off. Though we are living in an age whose politics validates Latour’s analysis, the era of his theoretical dominance has passed. In light of the 2008 financial crisis and its long aftermath, Latour can seem a bit frivolous. Microbes? In this economy?

    Being more material than thou simply can’t explain it all. Marxists have typically followed not science but capitalism in action, and capitalism cannot survive without abstracting away from the materially real world. For example, capitalism does not care much for territory. Giovanni Arrighi rewrote Marx’s famous M-C-M1 (money is exchanged for commodities in order to get more money) as M-T-M1: territory is only an intermediate link between capital and more capital. Capital grabs land when it needs to, and abandons it just as quickly.

    Schmitt’s fundamental question: who is your friend, and who is your enemy? And like Schmitt, Latour believes that politics goes all the way down—that there is no foundation of truth or right on which to ultimately rest one’s appeals. 

    Latour often sounds like is Chantal Mouffe, another thinker who has sought to revive Schmitt for a post-Marxist left. Since the 1980s, Mouffe has sought to describe a political subject that can replace the Marxist proletariat, suggesting that left collectives must be radically democratic and “anti-essentialist,” forged out of disparate social concerns rather than a taken-for-granted universalism (“workers of the world, unite!”). Latour, in turn, imagines collectives so non-essentialist that they can include nonhumans, and pays a surprising amount of attention to the process by which they might be composed. What Latour has in recent years called “compositionism*” aims to rebuild a common world that has been almost demolished. It is a project that “takes up the task of searching for universality but without believing that this universality is already there, waiting to be unveiled and discovered.”

    What he offers, then, is not a program (“no political lie is more brazen than proposing a program”) but a method. Radical humility is called for, he argues: no one has faced climate change before; no society has ever existed alongside 9 billion other people who share a planet and a world. We must start not from a position of certainty but by describing the world differently: by describing where we live, with who, and what we need to live there. By looking at the world anew, perhaps we can begin to see it in common.

    Latour has always liked description as method. As an epistemology, the approach is proudly naïve and radically democratic. Why would intellectuals think they know more about a factory or a laboratory than the people who work there? Why not take what they say at face value, if not that alone? It’s also not a bad way of doing politics in a populist moment. So Latour wants to start simply by asking questions. “What do you want? What are you capable of? With whom are you prepared to cohabit? Who can threaten you?” Who, and what, do you need to survive—and who, and what, needs you? Who is your friend, and who is your enemy?

    The obvious problem is that we may not like the answers. 

    *Note on compositionism:
    (Even though the word “composition” is a bit too long and windy, what is nice is that it underlines that things have to be put together (Latin 474 new literary history componere) while retaining their heterogeneity. Also, it is connected with composure; it has clear roots in art, painting, music, theater, dance, and thus is associated with choreography and scenography; it is not too far from “compromise” and “compromising,” retaining a certain diplomatic and prudential flavor. Speaking of flavor, it carries with it the pungent but ecologically correct smell of “compost,” itself due to the active “de-composition” of many invisible agents . . . .

  • February 25, 2021

    Bibliography on Feminism / Environment / Labor

    Future bibliography:

    A politic that is not human-centric?
    Facing Gaia, Bruno Latour
    1st, 7th, 8th lectures

    Readings at intersection of feminism, multispecies, labor, care:

    Ecofeminism: an overview, science direct
    mary mellor, ariel salleh, giovannah di chiro, vandana shiva,

    Alyssa Battistoni:
    Material World (on Latour)

    Rights and personhood

    Systems-centric early ecofeminism

    Technoecologies of Borders: Thinking with Borders as Multispecies Matters of Care. Barla, Josef; Hubatschke, Christoph. Australian Feminist Studies , Dec2017, Vol. 32 Issue 94, p395-410
    Reading Félix Guattari’s concept of ecology through feminist accounts of care and solidarity, and vice versa, in this article, we propose the concept of feminist technoecology as a speculative mode of thinking with borders. Rather than considering borders as lines on maps or primarily as physical arrangements, we argue that feminist technoecology allows for an understanding of borders as multispecies matters of care where cuts that matter are enacted, and precisely therefore calls for transversal solidarity and care that goes beyond the human. Turning to two stories revolving around the naturalisation of borders, bodies, and territories, we demonstrate that a technoecological take on borders not only fundamentally questions an a-priori distinction between technology, ecology, geology, politics, bodies, and a more-than-human world, but also foregrounds different modes of attentiveness with regard to questions of care, nativity, and mattering.

    A Feminist Posthumanist Multispecies Ethnography for Educational Studies. Lloro-Bidart, Teresa. Educational Studies , May/Jun2018, Vol. 54 Issue 3
    The “animal” or “more-than-human” turn in the humanities and social sciences has challenged nature/culture binaries in the fields of environmental education and early childhood studies, yet the field of educational studies has yet to confront its humanist roots. In this article, I sketch a nascent conceptual framework that outlines how multispecies ethnography, as a methodology informed by critical strands of feminist posthumanism, can begin to address and redress both social and species injustices in educational studies. To do this, I first provide a brief overview of educational humanism to situate the article within the “animal” and “more-than-human” turns in education. I then define multispecies ethnography and briefly review educational multispecies ethnographic research. Next, I sketch the conceptual framework, which is guided by feminist posthumanist theories of performativity and intersectionality, providing ethnographic examples from my own research projects and the research literature. I conclude by drawing out the implications for educational studies, with a consideration of how animal performativity and intersectionality open up new lines of inquiry to explore animal concerns, as well as social ones.

    Traces “we” leave behind : toward the feminist practice of stig(e)merging. Rogowska Stangret, Monika. In: Ecozon@ [Ecozona]: European Journal of Literature, Culture and Environment. 2020 11:178-186
    As Serpil Oppermann has stated “the Anthropocene has come to signify a discourse embedded in the global scale vision of the sedimentary traces of the anthropos” (“The Scale of the Anthropocene” 2). In the following article we wish to revisit the practice of leaving traces through thinking with wastes as traces human beings leave behind and lands of waste that co-compose today’s naturecultures (Haraway, Companion Species). Situating our research in the context of Polish ecocriticism, we would like to think-with an art project by Diana Lelonek entitled Center for the Living Things, in which the artist gathers and exhibits waste that “have become the natural environment for many living organisms” (Lelonek). Following the ambivalent and chaotic traces of wastes, we offer a concept of stig(e)merging to rethink the “unruly edges” (Tsing 141-54) of capitalist wastelands. We fathom stig(e)merging as a feminist methodology that relies on reacting to changes and alterations in the milieu, as well as the actions and needs of others, and on participating in the common work of reshaping the un/wasted world together with them. 

    More-than-human emotions: Multispecies emotional labour in the tourism industry. Dashper, Katherine. GENDER WORK AND ORGANIZATION; JAN 2020; 27; 1; p24-p40
    The concept of emotional labour has been subject to critique, evaluation, development and extension over the last 35 years, but it remains firmly anthropocentric. This article begins to address this shortcoming by illustrating some of the productive potential of extending the concept of emotional labour to include more‐than‐human and multispecies perspectives. Organizations are not solely human phenomena, but research usually fails to consider the role of non‐humans in work in contemporary capitalism. Using the example of trail horses in tourism, I argue that some non‐human animals should be considered workers, and that they do perform emotional labour in service to commercial organizations. More‐than‐human and multispecies perspectives capture some of the complexities of everyday organizational practices, and can inform feminist research attuned to the experiences of marginalized others, human and non‐human.

  • February 25, 2021

    Environmental / Social Reproduction Theory

    Can we tease out ways in which the environment is a part of (social) reproduction theory: what in the environment provides the conditions for production, and is generally ignored or theoretically suppressed?
    – equitable access to what we get “for free” such as clean water and air
    – knowledge of complex systems (not ecosystem services, irreducible only to $$ metrics)
    – what i’ll call “bounce:” What’s good for the shorebird is good for the human.
    – metabolic flows (cf Hanna Landecker in this video interview). We (the multispecies “we”) are interwoven with pollutants; they have metabolic consequences — endocrine disruption for instance – across species.
    – what would it mean for workers (multispecies) to be in solidarity?

    Criteria for the possibility of a multispecies solidarity
    – What is a multispecies politic?
    – Can we organize?
    – What are we struggling for?
    – What is equity? Do we have shared values, or tolerance for differing values?
    – How do multiple species participate within this form of solidarity?
    – What does multispecies participation look like

  • February 24, 2021

    Social Reproduction Theory

    Summary: This range of readings covered a key precedent text, and contemporary theorizing around the tangle of social reproduction theory and (neo)liberal feminism in capitalist frameworks.


    Key to social reproduction theory (SRT) is an understanding of the ‘production of goods and services and the production of life are part of one integrated process’, or in other words: acknowledging that race and gender oppression occur capitalistically. SRF (social reproduction feminism) explores the ways in which the daily and generational renewal of human life (and thus of human labour power) is absolutely essential to the decade-over-decade tenacity not merely of inequality, but of capitalism.

    What is SRT? Tithi Bhattacharya Video link

    Wages Against Housework, Sylvia Federici, 1974

    “Every miscarriage is a work accident.”

    It is not enough to view housework as a matter of wages. When you don’t consider housework as part of a systemic political perspective, you “miss its significance in demystifying and subverting the role to which women have traditionally been confined,” and in capitalist society, to simply talk about money for labor is not enough of a shift.

    Housework: a given. naturalized. Part of a contract of subjugation. Not optional. My role, as “the wife” or feminized position in a relationship of dominance.

    Hidden labor: “By denying housework a wage and transforming it into an act of love,” capital has collapsed many interdependencies into one neat bundle. The masculine position is also trapped as wage-earner, his working body belonging to the “external” (outside, “real-world”) forces of labor, churning out stuff to keep the gears of capital moving.

    The “essence of our socialization” is contingent on the wageless condition of homeworkers. Federici argues (rightly IMO) that there’s no comparison between a man (legitimate worker) demanding higher wages, and a woman “(homeworker) demanding wages; the former is still within the systemic order of wage-earning and capital while the latter is “revolutionary” and threatens to upend the necessary conditions (free labor at home) that keep the capitalist system going.

    For homeworkers (née homemakers) are a resource to be exploited, positioned to accept that, in order to lube the socioeconomic gears.

    It goes beyond the home; it is the space of affective and emotional labor—caring for the emotional states of others, in part by anaging one’s own emotional states. Federici writes that, as in home-work, the jobs women were getting (and still are)—nursing, teaching, housekeeping, secretarial— produce the same “isolation, the fact that other people’s lives depend on us, or the impossibility to see where our work begins and ends, where our work ends and our desires begin.”

    I (of course) keep jumping to the positions capital has schematized, in which black and brown and “third world” bodies are less-than white bodies. Slavery, were it still possible, would be a favorable condition along related (not the same) lines as “unliberated” women held in place in the home? And by this logic, how far could we extend our thinking, to consider exploited “resources” that are other species, or even forces in the world?

    The struggles of others are OUR struggles.
    We want and have to say that we are all housewives, we are all prostitutes and we are all gay, because until we recognize our slavery we cannot recognize our struggle against it, because as long as we think we are something better, something different than a housewife, we accept the logic of the master, which is a logic of division, and for us the logic of slavery.”

    Crisis of Care? On the Social-Reproductive Contradictions of Contemporary Capitalism,
    Nancy Fraser, 2016

    video lecture here
    “Crisis of care:” Time poverty, social depletion, work-life balance…
    Crisis -tendency or contradiction in every form of capitalism,
    the social-reproductive contradictions of financialized capitalism, as every form of capitalism tends to destabilize the very social-reproductive schema that is part of its foundation.
    Care deficits: care is foundational (support), and also ignored. It is extra-market, and little of it takes wage labor, but it’s intrinsic to the functioning of economic productivity. Reproductive labor, whose “social importance was/is obscured,” is structurally subordinate, even though it’s a precondition to wage labor.

    Summed up as a paradox:

    In general, then, capitalist societies separate social reproduction from economic production, associating the first with women and obscuring its importance and value. Paradoxically, however, they make their official economies dependent on the very same processes of social reproduction whose value they disavow. This peculiar relation of separation-cum-dependence- cum-disavowal is a built-in source of potential instability. Capitalist economic production is not self-sustaining, but relies on social reproduction. However, its drive to unlimited accumulation threatens to destabilize the very reproductive processes and capacities that capital— and the rest of us—need.

    From Social Reproduction Feminism to the Women’s Strike,
    Cinzia Arruzza, 2018

    How women’s strikes & marches internationally helped movements around abortion, male violence, wages.
    Why USA liberal feminism fails to speak to the larger body of women: it is a “juridical and rights-based definition of feminism” that encompasses reproductive rights and gender discrimination, but leaves out class, race, and environmental inequality, which leave working women in the dust (“Equal pay and the end of gender discrimination in the workplace, for example, are certainly worthy causes, but…they have little tangible effect on the lives of working-class women if decoupled from demands for a minimum wage or for income redistribution.“)

    Liberal feminism is corporate feminism.

    Trump’s election win signaled “an impasse for liberal feminism” and opened a space for alternative feminist politics: “a class-based, antiracist feminism, inclusive of trans women and queer and nonbinary people

    A strike call. For social reproduction and also inclusive of capitalist concepts of labor. As unionization halved in the last 30 years because of neo-liberal anti-union legislation etc.

    Note that “Class struggle, however, should not be conflated with labor struggle in the workplacemanifestations of the class as a political actor and an agent of conflict often take place in the sphere of social reproduction, where these struggles have the potential to attack capitalist profitability” i.e mobilizing as Black Lives Matter, around US/Mex border issues, Muslim ban.

    Women’s strike provided “visibility to labor organizations where the majority of workers are women, such as the ROC and the New York State Nurses Association, and to instances of local labor organizing and workplace struggles led by women and queer people

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  • February 10, 2021

    interlocutors on a multispecies labor union

    Thought we could start a list of people to speak with.

    Brian Michael Murphy (Bennington) – yes
    Ron Broglio (ASU, animal studies)
    Una Chaudhuri (NYU)
    Beka Economopoulos (Not an Alternative, Natural History Museum)
    Timothy Morton or Dominic Boyer (CENHS, Rice)
    Just transition expert
    Union organizer (visionary)

  • February 10, 2021

    just transition updates

    what’s the latest on just transition?

    Salient notes from this Feb 2021 article, regarding California’s plan to phase out oil production:

    80 organizations sent a letter today to the EPA, NRDC, Office of Planning and Research, Labor and Workforce development) asking them to conduct a robust public process for each report, and produce documents that genuinely incorporate emerging community concerns.

    The letter makes five specific recommendations regarding the substance of the reports, pertinent to the needs of all communities but refinery communities in particular:

    • Wage and benefit support for workers.  The letter points out the need for the Roadmap to focus on how to replace lost wages and benefits, such as health insurance, for not only the refinery workers who lose their jobs, but all the indirectly employed workers who will suffer as well – like the guy at the local deli who makes the sandwiches where the workers have lunch, and the maid at the hotel where visiting contractors and company officials stay, that sort of thing.  It is not enough to just talk about retraining workers, or eventually developing other industries for them to work in – they will need help right away.
    • Focus on community needs.  Although the Roadmap is being drawn up at the state level, it must recognize that a solid transition on the scale necessary for a refinery community needs to be fully community-based – grounded in ideas that arise organically in the community, directed by community leaders, and reflecting the community’s diverse needs and interests.  A top-down just transition strategy will not work.
    • Focus on site cleanup needs.  It is hard to talk about transition and revitalization for a community that’s saddled with an enormous contaminated site in its midst. While the issue of abandoned infrastructure is most relevant to the action plan report, the Roadmap report needs to also consider the need to clean up contaminated refinery (and other) industry sites as part of helping communities find their new economic direction.
    • Close scrutiny of crude to biofuels transitions.  It is important that the action plan report ask the right questions about the announced plans (and others that may emerge) to turn crude oil refineries into biofuel refineries.  A poorly executed biofuels project is not a just transition solution – it risks perpetuating some of the same problems that attend crude refining, and creating new ones.  Our recent comments submitted in the Contra Costa County environmental review process highlights some of the possible unintended consequences that CalEPA and the Natural Resources Agency need to take a good close look at.
    • Ensuring financial support for transition from industry.  In the end, ensuring a just transition means having the funds to pay for it.  And certainly in the case of refinery community transitions, those funds should come substantially from the industry itself, which has for decades burdened vulnerable communities with its presence there.
  • February 10, 2021

    Admit you have a problem

    1. we depend on oil for everything.
    2. he admits we need to admit it’s a problem, because of climate change:
      • As we accept our responsibility to address this awesome generational obligation, and as we work to put in place policies that balance our need for bold action with the more modest day-to-day needs of working people, it would behoove us to keep in mind the story of this precious resource, to consider how it connects us each to the other, and to contemplate, not only what we must sacrifice, but also what we stand to gain by greatly reducing our reliance on it.
    3. he tells the story of oil’s first drilling, and subsequent rise
    4. he offers his personal story (credentials) of working in oil fields, and in a kind way, discredits the claims that banning / reducing oil would cause enormous job loss:
      • it’s hard work, it’s boom and bust
      • I’ll just say that I’d find it easier to view arguments around job loss in good faith if the people making them had tried to make these jobs safer, more secure and better paying to begin with.
    5. he outlines ways legislators can come together over plans, and supports Biden’s plans to cap wells, and hist tacit approval of fracking (no mention of a ban)
    6. he extolls the rural people who are more self0sufficient (and correlates that to less concern about climate change than urban folks
      • my conservative pals in rural America live much less carbon-intensive lives than the liberal city dwellers I know who obsess over global warming. It may not be a coincidence that the less-concerned folks tend to have better skills to survive a collapsing world: They hunt, they fish, they’re handy with guns, some of them have experience growing their own food. But I find it hilarious that for my liberal pals interested in sustainability, their best teacher might just be that conservative cousin with the gun rack in the back of the truck.
    7. as citizens of the world, we must begin to treat petroleum with the respect it deserves. We must value it, like our very lives, as a precious, almost magical, but certainly finite resource. 

    OK. so that was a confusing ride. I appreciate/support that the Times is publishing a diversity of opinions, but that diversity needs to be better edited when it’s contained within a single essay? what is he saying? what are the main messages?

    As an argument in support of the voices of rural, hard-working and resourceful people, it’s great. The (too-subtle) dig at lack of safety on oil fields should have been pointed out as symptomatic of exploitative tactics by the powerful, who abuse both land AND people as expendable, replaceable, limitless resources, and a necessary corollary to (the abstraction known as) “growth.”

    Reading the comments: they reflect the fractured nature of the op ed. Some loved it because the anecdotes about real people were strong portraits (oil field workers, farmers). But there is NOTHING in here that serves as a provocation. Many urbanites took offense at his sloppy inferences about their larger urban carbon footprints, and their zealotry regarding climate change.

    My favorite comment:

    Americans are not addicted to oil; we are obese. People who are desperately overweight are not addicted to food, but as a rule they are ingesting more than they are designed to process efficiently. Telling someone they are ‘Taking more than you need’ is considered an insult. Taking more than you are designed to efficiently handle, it’s all about the engineering, is demonstrable. Krishna told Arjuna that “All is clouded by desire — like a fire by smoke or a mirror by dust.” If your mirror is too dusty to see that your aren’t being efficient, dust it off and act accordingly. Rumplestiltskin is the story of what infinite loss can be expected if you remain unconscious. Once you have the name, ie, become conscious of your problem you can begin to do something about it, if you want to. Our real problem, our addiction if you will, here in America is that we are addicted to money. So, repeat after me (it’s the first step): We are powerless over money and it is making life on this planet unmanageable. So, what’s the Higher Power in this case? The sun, which also makes the wind, hasn’t missed a day in 4 billion years. We can stop fretting about running out of fossil fuels (capital) and live off our income, aka Renewable energy. What’s not to like? Rumplestiltskin starts with an old man, with rumpled skin, who can’t get enough gold. It’s the oldest story in politics (and war). Knowing his name is only the first step, but the most important one.

  • December 7, 2020


    Thanks to Kenny Bailey of ds4si, i now know something about Collapsology.

    In an open letter published in the Guardian today, 246 international scholars write that

    efforts to cut emissions and naturally drawdown carbon are essential, researchers in many areas consider societal collapse a credible scenario this century. Different views exist on the location, extent, timing, permanence and cause of disruptions, but the way modern societies exploit people and nature is a common concern.

    Link to the original post and resources here.