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Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle
Written between 1974 and the present, Revolution at Point Zero collects forty years of research and theorizing on the nature of housework, social reproduction, and women’s struggles on this terrain—to escape it, to better its conditions, to reconstruct it in ways that provide an alternative to capitalist relations.
Indeed, as Federici reveals, behind the capitalist organization of work and the contradictions inherent in “alienated labor” is an explosive ground zero for revolutionary practice upon which are decided the daily realities of our collective reproduction.
Beginning with Federici’s organizational work in the Wages for Housework movement, the essays collected here unravel the power and politics of wide but related issues including the international restructuring of reproductive work and its effects on the sexual division of labor, the globalization of care work and sex work, the crisis of elder care, the development of affective labor, and the politics of the commons.
“Finally we have a volume that collects the many essays that over a period of four decades Silvia Federici has written on the question of social reproduction and women’s struggles on this terrain. While providing a powerful history of the changes in the organization of reproductive labor, Revolution at Point Zero documents the development of Federici’s thought on some of the most important questions of our time: globalization, gender relations, the construction of new commons.”
—Mariarosa Dalla Costa, coauthor of The Power of Women and the Subversion of the Community and Our Mother Ocean
“As the academy colonizes and tames women’s studies, Silvia Federici speaks the experience of a generation of women for whom politics was raw, passionately lived, often in the shadow of an uncritical Marxism. She spells out the subtle violence of housework and sexual servicing, the futility of equating waged work with emancipation, and the ongoing invisibility of women’s reproductive labors. Under neoliberal globalization women’s exploitation intensifies—in land enclosures, in forced migration, in the crisis of elder care. With ecofeminist thinkers and activists, Federici argues that protecting the means of subsistence now becomes the key terrain of struggle, and she calls on women North and South to join hands in building new commons.”
—Ariel Salleh, author of Ecofeminism as Politics: Nature, Marx, and the Postmodern
“The zero point of revolution is where new social relations first burst forth, from which countless waves ripple outward into other domains. For over thirty years, Silvia Federici has fiercely argued that this zero point cannot have any other location but the sphere of reproduction. It is here that we encounter the most promising battlefield between an outside to capital and a capital that cannot abide by any outsides. This timely collection of her essays reminds us that the shape and form of any revolution are decided in the daily realities and social construction of sex, care, food, love, and health. Women inhabit this zero point neither by choice nor by nature, but simply because they carry the burden of reproduction in a disproportionate manner. Their struggle to take control of this labor is everybody’s struggle, just as capital’s commodification of their demands is everybody’s commodification.”
—Massimo De Angelis, author of The Beginning of History: Values, Struggles, and Global Capital
“In her unfailing generosity of mind, Silvia Federici has offered us yet another brilliant and groundbreaking reflection on how capitalism naturalizes the exploitation of every aspect of women’s productive and reproductive life. Federici theorizes convincingly that, whether in the domestic or public sphere, capital normalizes women’s labor as ‘housework’ worthy of no economic compensation or social recognition. Such economic and social normalization of capitalist exploitation of women underlies the gender-based violence produced by the neoliberal wars that are ravaging communities around the world, especially in Africa. The intent of such wars is to keep women off the communal lands they care for, while transforming them into refugees in nation-states weakened by the negative effects of neoliberalism. Silvia Federici’s call for ecofeminists’ return to the Commons against Capital is compelling. Revolution at Point Zero is a timely release and a must read for scholars and activists concerned with the condition of women around the world.”
—Ousseina D. Alidou, Committee for Academic Freedom in Africa (CAFA), Director of the Center for African Studies at Rutgers University and author of Engaging Modernity: Muslim Women and the Politics of Agency in Postcolonial Niger
About Silvia Federici
Silvia Federici is a feminist writer, teacher, and militant. In 1972, she was cofounder of the International Feminist Collective, which launched the Wages for Housework campaign internationally. With other members of Wages for Housework, like Mariarosa Dalla Costa and Selma James, and with feminist authors like Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva, Federici has been instrumental in developing the concept of "reproduction" as a key to class relations of exploitation and domination in local and global contexts, and as central to forms of autonomy and the commons.
In the 1990s, after a period of teaching and research in Nigeria, she was active in the anti-globalization movement and the U.S. anti-death penalty movement. She is one of the cofounders of the Committee for Academic Freedom in Africa, an organization dedicated to generating support for the struggles of students and teachers in Africa against the structural adjustment of African economies and education systems. From 1987 to 2005, she also taught international studies, women’s studies, and political philosophy courses at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY.
Her decades of research and political organizing accompanies a long list of publications on philosophy and feminist theory, women’s history, education, culture, international politics, and more recently on the worldwide struggle against capitalist globalization and for a feminist reconstruction of the commons. Her steadfast commitment to these issues resounds in her focus on autonomy and her emphasis on the power of what she calls self-reproducing movements as a challenge to capitalism through the construction of new social relations.
Published by PM Press in 2012