Good post: “Oppression is always tied to resource extraction”

This post makes a very nifty point, though I don’t agree with all of it. Complexes of oppression that exist around gender are not abstractions; they serve the concrete needs of capital for what the author terms “resource extraction”.

Those who condemn materialists for focusing on so strongly on capitalism often say that we miss forms of oppression other than class. There are a lot of things you can say in relation to this and I’ve previously blogged a few such points. But one important point to make is that if we consider capitalism as the mechanism for maintaining the relative and absolute privileges of the rich, class and labour generally are not the only levers capitalism has for extracting resources (material and immaterial) from that vast majority of the population which it does not treat kindly. For those who benefit from capitalism, gains made through racism, sexism, queerphobia ecterta need not be mediated by class relations, but are sometimes immediate.

From women for example, capital seeks the production of a new generation of workers, thus it aims to maximise reproduction in part by outlawing and restricting abortion. But, as the author points out, this is not all it gains by suppressing abortion. It also gains relative/positional privilege for those at the top of the pyramid by forcing women to cope with the economic consequences of unplanned pregnancy. In my view there is more than enough good reasons to think that part of what capitalists are seeking is relative power, a position at the top of the hierarchy. They gain this, and often other more absolute benefits as well, directly through almost every form of oppression you care to name. Often class does not even come into the picture. Analysis of domination under capitalism is not equivalent to the analysis of domination in terms of class structure, let alone reduction to class structure. Definitely class is pretty closely connected to capitalism, moreso than other forms of domination, but it’s important not to slip back and forth too quickly between “analysis in terms of class” and “analysis in terms of capitalism”.


About timothyscriven

I study philosophy at Sydney University. In the grand scheme, I'm not very important.
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One Response to Good post: “Oppression is always tied to resource extraction”

  1. Nobody says:

    Okay, given that this: “capital seeks the production of a new generation of workers, thus it aims to maximise reproduction in part by outlawing and restricting abortion” is not part of the mainstream abortion debate, which of the following is true:

    1. Pro-life advocates *consciously* believe the above, but keep that particular animus hidden for strategic reasons.


    2. Pro-life advocates do not *consciously* rationalise their beliefs in that manner, though is *unconsciously* affects their reasoning.

    I mean aren’t you ignoring entirely the strong religious element to the abortion debate? Secular individuals (at least in the United States) are slightly less likely to be pro-capitalist but overwhelmingly more likely to be pro-choice. I personally consider myself pro-life because, for religious reasons I believe that ensoulment occurs at conception and, for secular reasons, because all points of human development subsequent to conception are innately arbitrary in terms of the emergence of personhood, the potentiality of all too soon-ended life is an objectively important concern, plus a Rawlsian spin on the golden rule.

    Overall, from someone who’s spent several years in the movement, I find these almost psychoanalytical interpretations totally alien. All this business about ‘relative privilege’ and ‘future workers’ have the strong stench of interpretations foisted on a phenomenon rather than allowed to emerge naturally from it. Indeed, the fact that women are all-but just as likely to be pro-life as men strongly hints against the notion of the pursuit of gendered power imbalance.

    Applying the Razor, isn’t it a superior hypothesis that the pro-life movement is made up of people who happen to believe, for whatever reason, that natural rights emerge at conception, rather then *insert Marxist word-soup here*?

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