Interview with Silvia Federici
By Lisa Rudman and Marcy Rein
As a feminist activist, writer, and teacher, Silvia Federici engages and inspires students of all ages to fight for the liberation of women and all beings. In 1972, Federici cofounded the International Feminist Collective, which launched the “Wages For Housework” campaign. While teaching and researching in Nigeria in the 1980s, she observed the specific impacts of globalization on women—and their similarities to the social disruption caused by the enclosure of the commons in the earliest days of capitalism. She became active in the anti-globalization movement and the U.S. anti-death-penalty movement, and cofounded the Committee for Academic Freedom in Africa. From 1987 to 2005 she taught international studies, women’s studies, and political philosophy at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. Her books and essays span philosophy, feminist theory, women’s history, education, and culture, and more recently, the worldwide struggle against capitalist globalization and for a feminist reconstruction of the commons. Caliban and the Witch: Women, The Body and Primitive Accumulation, perhaps her best-known work, argues that capitalism depends on a constant supply of women’s unwaged labor. Federici sat down for this interview while she was on a tour to promote her new book, Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle (Common Notions), a collection of essays written over the last forty years. In conversation, Federici moves smoothly between history, theory, and present struggles, hardly stopping for breath, almost vibrating with concern and indignation.
Interview with Silvia Federici
New York, NY – The Russell Sage Foundation published a ground-breaking book today by sociologist Becky Pettit that calls into question the prevailing assumptions about black progress in the United States. Invisible Men: Mass Incarceration and the Myth of Black Progress examines the hidden ways incarceration impacts our perception of African American advancement in mainstream measures of voter turnout, educational attainment, and employment.
Jobs paying less than $50,000 a year make up the majority of Silicon Valley’s projected employment growth, according to a 2012 report, and that means many more workers will commute long distances because they can’t afford to live in the valley.
In a housing market inflated by high-salary technology jobs, the median price of a single-family residence in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties remains at nearly $700,000.
The cost of renting is often out of reach as well. The report, released by the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California and Urban Habitat, shows that the average Silicon Valley bank teller, paramedic, waiter or retail employee falls well short of the annual salary needed to afford a two-bedroom apartment: $69,560 in Santa Clara County and $82,400 in San Mateo County.
As a result, 98,000 cars commute to and from the valley each day, and more than one-third of the workers driving them earn less than $40,000 annually, the report said.
Some commute from Stockton or Modesto (both almost two hours east of Silicon Valley), others from Hercules (more than an hour north). Even though housing is much cheaper there, these long-distance commuters pay in other ways: They spend a big chunk of their income on transportation and also lose time with their families.
The much-debated plan to let low-income kids in San Francisco hop aboard Muni for free apparently died Wednesday as the Metropolitan Transportation Commission narrowly voted against giving the plan $4 million in regional transportation funds.
The commission voted 8-7 against a motion to fund the 22-month free Muni plan, give $1 million to a two-year reduced- fare plan for low-income adults in Santa Clara County, and contribute $500,000 to an Alameda County student pass plan with a possible $2.5 million later. The vote split along regional lines with commissioners from San Francisco, the Peninsula and the South Bay favoring the program and East Bay and North Bay representatives opposed.
The MTC vote leaves Muni's $9.4 million plan, which was to start on Aug. 1, $5 million short. Municipal Transportation Agency officials declined to declare the free-fare program dead, but have said repeatedly that they can't afford to contribute any extra money.
Raquel Nunez (lvejo.org) is a youth organizer for Little Village Environmental Justice Organization.
My passion for environmental justice is ever growing. By the age of 19, I was working to organize around various social justice issues. Over the last eight years, I have created several bodies of artwork with a central focus on social change and youth rights. My goal as an adult ally of the youth at Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) is to continue to grow and sustain an environmental justice youth leadership program. We organize youth by creating a curriculum that we share with high schools and have an open-door policy for anyone who would like to become involved and learn more.
Like what you are reading and seeing here? Want to keep up to date with frontline analysis of the social movments of our time? Keep this movement making resource alive for you! Donate $2, $3, $5, $10, $25. . . Donations over $50 receive a full-color printed printed edition delivered to you at a postal address and more.