The revenge of everyday life: Marxism and social reproduction theory

10am-5pm, Saturday 3 November
Student Central (formerly ULU), Malet Street, London WC1E 7HY
£20 solidarity – £10 waged – £5 unwaged
Organised by rs21

Free childcare • After-party

Karl Marx said that all human society was built on labour – the physical and mental work through which we transform the world around us. For generations, Marxists have seen struggles over work as central to any kind of revolutionary movement: campaigns for higher wages, fewer hours, and better labour conditions. Struggles to transform everyday life were often seen as separate, and sometimes less important.

But a divided understanding of the world leads to divided movements, with labour struggles and liberation campaigns keeping their distance from each other. Today, activists from a range of campaigns see the need for a joint understanding of how exploitation and oppression are constituted together, and demand unity in the struggles against them.

Building on the work of activists and writers involved in movements for women’s liberation, trans liberation, and against racism, Marxists are developing ideas such as Social Reproduction Theory to break down these divisions.Our lives outside of waged work are rich and complex, full of mental, physical and emotional labour which takes place in our homes, on the street, in our virtual worlds and in our everyday interactions. More than ever, we purchase our ‘free’ time from other people, saving time by paying someone to deliver our shopping, plan our meals and find us compatible romantic partners. All this work – our own and other peoples’ – contributes to crafting us into skilled, curated and well-adjusted individuals who enter the labour market as valuable commodities.

Join this one day conference to explore how Marxism can help us make sense of and transform everyday life. We’ll be talking about education, gender, racism in our cities and borders, and the pervasive neoliberal pressure of personal branding.

“The revenge of every day life…” is a one day conference that will bring together anti-capitalists from a range of revolutionary perspectives to discuss how capital is changing the world around us, and how to fight back.

Speakers

Tithi Bhattacharya

Tithi Bhattacharya

Editor, Social Reproduction Theory

Pat Stack

Pat Stack

Activist, writer, rs21 member

Neil Davidson

Neil Davidson

Author of How Revolutionary were the Bourgeois Revolutions? and rs21 and RISE member

Kate Bradley

Kate Bradley

Writer, activist and rs21 member

Camille Barbagallo

Camille Barbagallo

Plan C, feminist, militant, mother and researcher

Mark Bergfeld

Mark Bergfeld

Trade unionist

Nisha Kapoor

Nisha Kapoor

Sociology lecturer, author of Deport, Deprive, Extradite

Jules Gleeson

Jules Gleeson

Gender phemonologist, Londoner

Rachel Eborall

Rachel Eborall

Health worker and trade unionist, rs21

Anindya Bhattacharyya

Anindya Bhattacharyya

Writer and anti-fascist activist

Katya Nasim

Katya Nasim

Housing activist

Mona Dohle

Mona Dohle

Journalist

Timetable

10:00 am

An introduction to social reproduction theory
Speakers: Kate Bradley & Estelle Cooch

In our capitalist economy, labour is just another commodity to be bought and sold – and produced. But unfortunately for capitalists, labour is firmly attached to human beings, who are complex and unpredictable. Social reproduction theory is about making sense of how human beings are ‘produced’ in the broadest possible sense, from the fulfilment of our basic needs to the emotional and mental skills we need to navigate the world.

11.15

Workshops

  • Healthcare and immigration: social reproduction in crisis
    Speakers:  Rachel Eborall & Nisha Kapoor
    In the early days of capitalism, there was a choice between spending money on health care to look after the workforce, and finding new sources of labour to exploit. Today health care and immigration are intricately connected: the NHS was built by migrant labour, and yet health workers are under pressure to deny care to undocumented migrants, and government immigration policy threatens to restrict the supply of trained doctors and nurses. Why are health and immigration so tangled up?
  • The political economy of urban crisis: housing and the city
    Speakers: Katya Nasim & Ruth Lorimer
    Money flows through London from all over the world, making it one of the wealthiest places on earth, and one of the most unequal. Last year, as council housing blocks all over the city were found to unsafe in the wake of the Grenfell fire, plans in the City for a new skyscraper taller than the Shard were announced. How is this unequal urban reality produced? And how much more unequal can the city become before it begins to break down?
12.45 pm

Lunch

1.45

Workshops

  • The production and reproduction of the self: identity in capitalism and struggle
    Speakers: Anindya Bhattacharyya, Jules Joanne Gleeson & Mark Bergfeld
    How are we complicit in the process of turning ourselves into marketable commodities? Through the curation of our online identities, to the expression of our gender and the self-exploitation we endure to further our careers, to what extent are we doomed to conform to market pressures in our own self-development?
  • The social reproduction of neoliberalism: are we all capitalists now?
    Speakers: Neil Davidson & Mona Dohle
    As well as workers and commodities, capitalism needs the production of a stable financial climate in which to operate, made up of institutions, regulations and norms of behaviour. Ten years after the global financial crisis, what state is this climate in today?
3.15

Break

3.45

Social Reproduction, the Global Women’s Strike and the future of revolutionary theory
Speakers: Tithi Bhattacharya & Camille Barbagallo

In this closing session, we ask – what’s next? Where does all this take us as Marxists, activists and organisers? If Marxism can be a tool for understanding how exploitation and oppression are linked through the production of labour, what does this mean for those of us trying to challenge both?

6.00

After-party

After-party at the Fitzrovia Belle with art and poetry from the reproductive rift, curated and presented by Red Wedge magazine.

Questions?