Autonomist response to the question “what is to be done?”
Both Costa and James were active in the 60s-70s. Costa was present in the Italian
Marxist-feminist movement, and James worked in the US, focusing primarily on
uniting the women's liberation struggle with the worker's struggle.
Capitalism did not initiative the subordination of women, but rather converted it
into a particular form: the housewife.
Thus, getting out of capitalist domination is not getting out of all domination.
Whatever the liberation is for which we currently struggle, it is not the final
liberation (Holloway). But that doesn't mean the current struggle is without merit,
nor does it mean that the stage of liberation for which one currently struggles is
Costa and James: capitalism depends upon the housewife.
This puts the housewife in the position of a revolutionary agent. They have power,
which is deployed in the refusal to work, in the refusal to do the actions which
currently make capitalist production possible.
Costa and James are not seriously calling for wages for housework in this article;
they are calling for the refusal for housework (although James does later endorse
the wages for housework position.)
To provide wages to women for housework is a means to an end; the end is an
unification and identification of the women's movement with the worker's
Holloway's notion of fetishizing “doing” into “work.”
It is a fiction that one is paid for work. The “extra” work, the work that one still does
but is not renumerated, is what constitutes the profit of the boss, the surplus value.
Therefore, the exchange of money for labour is actually a “bait and switch.”
The fact that women are not paid a wage also disguises the fact that women have
time that is not work, that is free time, just like men when they clock out and come
home for dinner.
This disguised free time is time that the women could have spent fomenting
Thus, to extend wages to women for housework both multiplies the fronts of
struggle, and intensifies the worker's struggle (whose wages would immediately
drop following the granting of wages to women, and thus be more incited to revolt.)