Liberalism Won’t Save us From Work

Disarm it by arming ourselves.

Disarm it by arming ourselves. (Photo taken from here)

I want to, as organically as possible, work in the terrifying world that I feel like I am living right now. I don’t want to make every post somehow about Trump or about fascists or about how liberals are totally inadequate to deal with these challenges as they have always been. Much like other projects I do such as the podcast Technologically Unemployed (which just did an episode last night all about the election) I want it to stay focused to its main intent.

The main intent of this blog, is, of course, to advocate the abolition of work.

On the other hand it should come as no surprise that the nation state historically and contemporaneously depends on a valorization of work and also depends on would-be reformers trying to see the good in all of it. But the more realistic picture of the oppression we face everyday is that it’s never been able to be meaningfully changed by the ballot or bullet.

The biggest changes have come from technology, from people building better tools that can outpace the growth of fascism in this country in people’s personal lives. Just looking at a lot of the resources I gave in my last post (which was got a lot of traction because of some folks sharing it, thanks!) many of them come from technologies and our ways of circumventing the damage that the state and other brutal systems of oppression such as white supremacy enforce.

To be more specific we have ways to browse more privately, chat more securely, call out to each other for mutual aid and support, create files that are easily edited and shared amongst ourselves and much more. None of it is perfect and some of it is even owned by giant corporations that we should certainly move away from, but it’s a great start.

So when I strike back against work, I consider it a strike against whatever enables it too and that certainly includes white supremacy, fascism, patriarchy, adult supremacy and many other forms of systematic and structural oppression. Forms of oppression that I haven’t rallied against hard enough on this site, I fully admit. But I hope to rectify that now, as best as I can by speaking loudly that these systems are real problems for those who say they are affected.

An example of all of this intersecting (which I’ve written about here and here) is the way that women who have been surveyed, report that they are burdened much more heavily with housework than their male partners. Work in the household is still generally underappreciated, segregated by gender and notably unpaid despite the fact that it can take so much of our time and energy.

Now, this wouldn’t be as big of an issue if it was shared more equally and of course I’ve anecdotally hear from some women that they genuinely do enjoy this kind of work and prefer doing it. And I have no issue with folks doing what they enjoy and am not about to tell them to do otherwise. I believe that there are situations where folks can take on certain stereotypical roles and have those roles be positive, healthy and liberating for themselves.

Not to get on my pedestal too much but the benefits of feminism, for me, is that folks can create their own individual identities that can work against and, yes, sometimes even reinforce certain stereotypes. It comes down to folks individual preferences, what is best for their own self-interest and what makes them feel the most free within a horribly unjust system. A system that affects all of our lives and not just the lives that we have back at the factories or warehouses.

I live in an entirely non-male household with myself being trans, a queer woman, a trans woman and a cis woman. It’s not some sort of feminist paradise or anything (far from it) but we do have a chore system. It helps people clean the dishes a bit equally and do the rest of it more equally as well, if that’s needed. Mostly what we focus on are the dishes but sometimes folks decide to clean the bathroom or the living room because they need to or it needs to be cleaned.

And that didn’t come from anything except trial and error and realizing that we needed explicit ways to organize the household so it would be a bit more equal in effort. Before we had it on a very implicit system of “who ever is near the sink when it’s full should do it”. But of course you can always have plausible deniability and who really wants to do the dishes anyhow? It isn’t the worst task in the world, but it isn’t exactly the most pleasant thing either for most of us.

But after a few weeks of doing the chore schedule and folks adapting to it, one of my roommates who used to get very upset and stressed about the dishes recently told me that she feels better about it these days. And this is just from a simple chore sheet pinned to the refrigerator that is color coded and date orientated. We’ll have some weeks where folks have to do two days in a row but generally people get an equal amount of time for the dishes, the trash, etc.

All of which is to say that there are voluntary and collective (or cooperative) ways to solve these issues of domestic labor. It isn’t like no one has ever thought of the system that we have implemented in the apartment and it isn’t like anarchist collectives are the only folks who could do this sort of thing. We’re not even a totally anarchist house anyways.

It isn’t liberalism that is going to save us. Reforming the system has failed to work and it’s only lead us further down the path of centralized, hierarchical and bureaucratic organizations being at the forefront of society. If we want to resist society and the way it pushes us around (and particularly marginalized folks) then one of the easiest things we can do is change our lives and the ways we live amongst our friends and loved ones. I’m not saying these changes are going to cause The Great Anarchist Revolution of 2016 (then again, have you seen 2016 lately? anything can happen, I guess).

My point is that it can marginally improve our lives in real and concrete ways that we’ll remember when we try to call for social change on a much more developed level. We’ll stop trying to coddle the fascists and white nationalists with elections, peaceful protests that are governed by permits and police escorts, and impeachment.

Fascism is here and liberalism has never saved us and it won’t save us now. It’ll only continue to bury its head in the sands to the real consequences of the current culture and government or it’ll only stay as an accomplice until its absolutely necessary. Liberals (and I know I am brushing with broad strokes here) are more likely to side with the government then with us in the long-run. So the work we as radicals have is to learn from our mistakes (for those who were radicals back then) during the George W. years and tried to court the authoritarian left on being less so.

This is the case whether we’re talking about fascism or the way that it valorizes work.

And if we can focus on ourselves and our communities as well as the powerful effects of technologies on our abilities to treat oppressive systems as damage and route around, then maybe we have a fucking chance.

If anyone is curious, me talking about “identity politics” isn’t ending anytime soon and it didn’t help elect Trump either.


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8 thoughts on “Liberalism Won’t Save us From Work

  1. Hi Nick. I’d be interested in reading some more of your feminist orientated pieces, these were probably what I enjoyed most when I read through your site a year or so ago.

    I had to look up cis woman. Maybe you could include a hyperlink on that to something you’ve written, or someone else, or just wiki- for others who might not be familiar with it.

    thanks

    • Hey, Hugh. Always glad to hear from you and I am glad you enjoyed those pieces!

      I want to definitely write more feminist stuff and will keep your interest in mind for the future. 🙂

    • As for the cis thing, I think it is a fairly accepted and well-known phrase in the circles I travel but I can add parenthetical explanatory notes for the future.

    • I must admit I am not sure which site you are talking about, could you be more specific?

      In any case, CATO does some good things sometimes and sites that operate independently from it should be judged on their own merit as well.

      I am not of the opinion that we can’t cite useful things just because we don’t agree with their general ideological bent.

      • libertarianism.org

        there are problems with that article other than that; that particular article cites an article claiming that planned parenthood being defunded wouldn’t damage access to abortion. “Only bans and restrictions are real assaults on women. Calling defunding warfare is crying wolf, delegitimizing arguments against real legislative threats to women’s health and safety.” Ignoring that federal funds can’t go towards abortion in the first place, defunding a major provider of abortion and other services is de facto a restriction on those, functioning as a use of state power(!) to deny

        OTOH, it does accept the idea of patriarchy as an oppressive force, which is unusual for something written by a right-libertarian…

        OTTH, it basically implies that all socialists are statists, but that’s hardly that much of an error taking in to account right-lib viewpoints…

        and why did you cite it, since it doesn’t really appear to be about feminism and individual identities, at least as I read it.

        • Hey, Cyan.

          Thanks for clarifying.

          I don’t necessarily 100% agree with any individual article I share, let alone articles that the articles themselves share.

          As for the author, Sharon Presley is a noted member of the Association Libertarian Feminist which dates back to the 70s. The title also explicitly mentioned feminism and Presley has helped release much of Voltairine de Cleyre’s writings who was certainly not a right-libertarian.

          All of which is to say you are presuming someone’s ideological bent or ideas because of who they write for rather than what they actually say.

          Also, I can assure you with reasonable certainty that Sharon doesn’t want to defund PP first in a struggle against the state or patriarchy.

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