Patriarchy and commodity society



A new Marxist-feminist theoretical framework

In the 1980s, after the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, culturalism and theories of difference became especially prominent in women's studies courses, a discipline since largely transformed into gender studies. Marxist feminism, which until the end of 1980 had determined the debates in this field, was being left in the background. Recently, however, the growing delegitimization of neoliberalism, connected with the current economic crisis, has produced a resurgence and growing popularity of a diverse set of Marxisms.

To date [2009], however, these developments have barely had an impact on the fields of feminist theory or gender studies – beyond some critical debates about globalization and specialist scholarship interrogating topics such as work and money. Deconstruction is still a lead singer in the chorus of universal feminism, especially in gender theory. Meanwhile, assertions of the need for a new feminism (in particular one that once again includes a materialist plane of analysis) have become commonplace. The popular argument of the 1980s and 1990s that we are confronted with a “confusion of the sexes” is rapidly being deflated. On the contrary, it is becoming clear that neither the much-professed equalization of genres nor the deconstructivist game has yielded convincing results.

The “rediscovery” of Marxist theory, on the one hand, and the insight that feminism is by no means anachronistic or superfluous, on the other, even if it can no longer be continued in those forms that have become characteristic of past decades, lead me to consider a new framing [framework] Marxist-feminist theorist able to consider recent developments since the end of really existing socialism and the onset of the current global economic crisis. It should be clear that one cannot seamlessly connect traditional Marxist concepts and analyzes with XNUMXst century issues.

Without a critical innovation, direct application is equally impossible for those frameworks [framework] theorists upon which I will base what follows, such as Theodor Adorno's critical theory, yet his investigations have provided us with an important foundation for a critical theory of patriarchy in the present. The feminist debates of the last twenty years that were grounded in critical theory, as well as in Adorno, can inspire us, but they too must be modified. I can't work it out here[I]. Instead, I would like to present a few facets of my theory of gender relations, or value-dissociation theory, which I have been developing through engagement with some of the theories alluded to above.

As I will show, asymmetrical gender relations today can no longer be understood in the same sense as “classical” modern gender relations; however, it is essential to ground its origins in the history of modernization. Similarly, postmodern processes of differentiation and the relevance of cultural symbolic levels that have emerged since the 1980s must be considered. The cultural-symbolic order should be understood here as an autonomous dimension of theory.

However, this autonomous dimension is to be thought of simultaneously with value-dissociation as a basic social principle beyond an understanding of Marxian theory as purely materialist. Such a theory is much better equipped to grasp the totality in so far as cultural-symbolic as well as socio-psychological levels are included in the context of a social whole. Economy and culture are, therefore, neither identical (as an “identity logic” that violently seeks to subjugate differences to the same common denominator), nor can they be separated from each other in a dualistic sense. Rather, its identity and non-identity must be conceived as the conflicting incompatibility that shapes commodity-producing patriarchy as such: the self-contradictory basic principle of the social form of value-dissociation.


Value as a basic social principle

In addition to the aforementioned critical theory of Adorno, the primary theoretical references are a new fundamental critical theory of "value" and "abstract labor" as refinements of the Marxist critique of political economy, of which the most prominent theorists of recent decades are Robert Kurz and Moishe Postone.[ii] I intend to give her texts a feminist twist.

According to this new approach to the critique of value, it is not surplus value – that is, it is not exclusively the externally determined exploitation of labor by capital as legal property relations – that remains at the center of the critique. On the contrary, the criticism starts at an earlier moment, namely with the social character of the commodity producing system and, therefore, with the particular form of activity of abstract work. Work as abstraction develops for the first time under capitalism alongside the generalization of commodity production and therefore should not be ontologized.

Generalized commodity production is characterized by a key contradiction: under the imperative of value valorization, individuals in capitalist enterprises are highly networked and yet paradoxically engaged in non-social production, while socialization itself is only established via market and exchange. As commodities, products represent past abstract labor and therefore value. In other words, commodities represent a specific amount of human energy expenditure, recognized by the market as socially valid.

This representation is, in turn, expressed in money, the universal mediator and simultaneously an end in itself of the form of capital. In this way people appear as asocial and society appears as being constituted through things, which are mediated by the abstract quantity of value. The result is the alienation of society's members, while their very sociability is only bestowed on them by commodities, dead things, thus entirely emptying sociability in its social form of representation of its sensible and concrete content. This relationship can, for the time being, be expressed by the concept of fetishism, keeping in mind that this concept itself is still incomplete.

Opposed to this position, in pre-modern societies goods were produced under different relations of domination (personal as opposed to relations reified by the commodity-form). Goods were produced in the countryside and in the workshops primarily for their use, determined by specific guild laws that prevented the pursuit of abstract profit. The very limited pre-modern exchange of goods was not carried out in markets and competitive relations in the modern sense. It was therefore not possible, at this point in history, to speak of a social totality in which money and value became abstract ends in themselves.

Modernity is consequently characterized by the pursuit of surplus value, by the attempt to generate more money from money, not as a matter of subjective enrichment, but, on the contrary, as a tautological system determined by the relation of value to itself. It is in this context that Marx speaks of an “automatic subject”.[iii] Human needs become negligible and labor power itself is transformed into a commodity. This means that the human capacity for production has become externally determined – not in the sense of personal domination, but in the sense of anonymous and blind mechanisms. And it is for this reason alone that productive activities in modernity have been forced to take the form of abstract labor.

Finally, the development of capitalism marks life globally through the self-movement of money and abstract labor, which emerge only under capitalism and appear transhistorically [ahistorically] as an ontological principle. Traditional Marxism only problematized a part of the system of correlations, namely the legal appropriation of surplus value by the bourgeoisie, thus focusing on unequal distribution rather than commodity fetishism. His critique of capitalism and the imagination of post-capitalist societies are consequently limited to the goal of an even distribution [of surplus value] within the commodity-producing system in its unsurpassed forms. Such critiques fail to see that the resulting suffering of capitalism emerges from its own formal relations, of which private property is just one of many outcomes.

Consequently, the Marxisms of the workers' movements were limited to an ideology of legitimizing improvements and developments immanent to the system. Today, this way of thinking is inadequate for a renewed critique of capitalism, as it absorbed (and appropriated) all the basic principles of capitalist socialization, in particular the categories of value and abstract labor, misunderstanding these categories as conditions transhistory of humanity.

In this context, a radically value-critical position considers past examples of really existing socialism as value-producing systems of recuperative modernizations.[iv] bureaucratically state-determined in the East and the global South, which, mediated by global economic processes and the race to develop productive forces against the West, had to collapse into the post-Fordist stage of capitalist development in the late 1980s. the West engaged in the process of withdrawing from social reforms in the context of crises and globalization.


Value-dissociation as a basic social principle

The concepts of value and abstract labor, I argue, fail to account for the basic form of capitalism as a fundamentally fetishistic relationship. We also have to take into account that under capitalism reproductive activities arise which are mainly carried out by women. Consequently, value-dissociation means that capitalism contains a core of femalely determined reproductive activities and affects, characteristics and attitudes (emotionality, sensuality and feminine or maternal care) that are dissociated from value and abstract labor. Feminine relations of existence – that is, female reproductive activities under capitalism – are therefore of a different character from that of abstract labor and that is why they cannot be frankly subsumed under the concept of labor.

Such relationships constitute a facet of capitalist societies that cannot be captured by Marx's conceptual apparatus. This facet is a necessary aspect of value, although it still exists outside it and is (for that very reason) its precondition. In this context I borrow from Frigga Haug the notion of a “time saving logic” that determines a side of modernity that is generally associated with the sphere of production, what Robert Kurz calls “logic and utilization (vernutzung) of business administration" and a "logic of spending time" that corresponds to the field of reproduction. Value and dissociation, therefore, are in a dialectical relationship with each other. One cannot simply be derived from the other. On the contrary, both emerge from each other simultaneously.

In this sense, value-dissociation can be understood as a theoretical macro-structure within which the categories of the value-form function micro-theoretically, allowing us to examine fetish socialization in its entirety, rather than just value. It should be stressed here, however, that the sensibility which is usually falsely perceived as a beforehand Immediacy in the fields of reproduction, consumption, and their corresponding activities, as well as needs that need to be satisfied in this context, have historically emerged against the background of value-dissociation as a total process.

These categories should not be misinterpreted as immediate or natural, notwithstanding the fact that eating, drinking and loving are not just connected to symbolization (as vulgar constructivism might claim). The traditional categories available for the critique of political economy, however, are lacking in another respect as well. The value-dissociation implies a particular socio-psychological relationship. Certain devalued qualities (sensitivity, emotionality, deficiencies in thinking and character, and so on) are associated with femininity and are dissociated from the modern masculine subject. These gender-specific attributes are a key feature of the symbolic order of commodity-producing patriarchy.

Such asymmetrical gender relations should, I believe, as far as theory is concerned, be examined by focusing only on modernity and postmodernity. This is not to say that these relations do not have a premodern history, but to insist that their universalization has endowed them with an entirely new quality. The universalization of such gender relations in early modernity meant that women then became responsible for the least valued (as opposed to male, capital-producing) fields of reproduction, which could not be represented in monetary terms.

We must reject the understanding of gender relations under capitalism as a pre-capitalist residue. The small family nucleus as we know it, for example, only emerged in the eighteenth century, just as the public and private spheres as we understand them today only emerged in modernity. What I claim here, therefore, is that the onset of modernity not only marked the birth of capitalist commodity production, but that it also saw the emergence of a social dynamism that rests on the basis of value-dissociation relations.


Merchandise-producing patriarchy as a civilizing model

Following Frigga Haug, I assume that the notion of a commodity-producing patriarchy should be considered a model of civilization; however, I would like to modify Haug's statements by taking dissociation-value theory into account.[v] As is well known, the symbolic order of commodity-producing patriarchy is characterized by the following assumptions: politics and economics are associated with masculinity; male sexuality, for example, is usually described as individualized, aggressive or violent, while women often operate as mere bodies.

Man is therefore considered human, man of intellect and transcendent to the body, while women are reduced to a non-human status, purely to the body. War carries a masculine connotation, while women are seen as peaceful, passive, devoid of will and spirit. Men should aspire to honor, courage and immortalizing deeds. Men are thought of as heroes and capable of great deeds, which requires them to productively subdue nature. Men are all the time in competition with each other. Women are responsible for the care of individuals as well as humanity itself. However, their actions remain socially devalued and forgotten in the theoretical development process, while the sexualization of women is the source of their subordination to men and guarantees their social marginalization.[vi]

This notion also determines the idea of ​​order underlying modern societies as a whole. More than that, the ability and willingness to produce and the rational, economical and effective expenditure of time also determine the civilizational model in its objective structures as a totality of relations – both its mechanisms and history and the maxims of individual agency. A provocative formulation might suggest that male gender should be understood as the gender of capitalism, bearing in mind that such a dualistic understanding of gender is, of course, the dominant conception of gender in modernity. The commodity-producing civilizational model that this requires has its foundation in the oppression and marginalization of women and in the simultaneous disregard for nature and society. Subject and object, domination and subjugation, man and woman are thus typical dichotomies, internal antagonistic counterparts to commodity-producing patriarchy.[vii].

However, it is important to avoid misunderstandings in this regard. Value-dissociation is, in this sense, something to be understood as a meta-concept, since we are concerned with theoretical exegesis at a high level of abstraction. This means, for singular empirical units or subjects, that they are neither capable of escaping socio-cultural patterns nor of becoming part of these patterns. Furthermore, as we shall see, gender models are subject to historical change. Therefore, it is important to avoid simplified interpretations of value-dissociation theory that resemble, for example, the idea of ​​“new femininity” associated with the feminism of difference of the 1980s or even the “Eve principle”, currently being propagated by German conservatives.[viii].

What we must bring to the forefront in all this is that abstract work and housework, along with familiar cultural patterns of masculinity and femininity, simultaneously determine each other. The old “chicken or egg” question is meaningless in this context. Yet such an undialectical approach is characteristic of deconstructivist critics who insist that masculinity and femininity must first be culturally produced before a gendered distribution of activities can take place.[ix]. Frigga Haug also starts from the ontologizing assumption that cultural meaning is tied throughout history to a previously defined division of labor in terms of gender.[X]

Within the modern commodity-producing patriarchy, a public sphere develops again, which itself brings together a number of spheres (economics, politics, science, and so on) and a private sphere. The private sphere is mainly attributed to women. These different spheres are, on the one hand, relatively autonomous and, on the other hand, mutually determined – that is, they are in a dialectical relationship with one another. It is important, then, that the private sphere is not misunderstood as an emanation of value, but rather as a dissociated sphere.

What is required is a sphere to which actions of care and love can be deported and which is in opposition to the logics of value, saving time and its morality (competition, profit, performance). This relationship between the private sphere and the public sector also explains the existence of male alliances and institutions that were founded, through an affective division, against everything that is female. As a result, the very basis of modern state and politics, as well as the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity, rest on the foundation of male alliances since the eighteenth century.

This is not to say, however, that patriarchy resides in the spheres created by this process of dissociation. For example, women have always been active to some extent in the sphere of accumulation. Yet the dissociation becomes apparent here as well as, despite the success of Angela Merkel and others, the existence of women in the public sphere is generally devalued and women remain largely barred from upward mobility. All this indicates that value-dissociation is a universal formal social principle which is located at a correspondingly high level of abstraction and which cannot be mechanically separated into different spheres. This means that value-dissociation effects penetrate all spheres, including all levels of the public sphere.


Value of dissociation as a basic social principle and the critique of identity logic

The value-dissociation as a critical practice prevents critical identity approaches. That is, it does not allow for approaches that reduce the analysis to the level of structures and concepts that subsume all contradictions and non-identities, both in relation to the attribution of mechanisms, structures and characteristics of commodity-producing patriarchy to societies that do not produce commodities, as well as to the homogenization of different spheres and sectors within the commodity-producing patriarchy itself, ignoring qualitative differences.

The necessary starting point is not only value, but the value-dissociation relationship as a fundamental social structure that corresponds to universalist androcentric thinking. After all, what is important here is not just that average labor time or abstract labor determine money as an equivalent form. More important is the observation that value itself needs to define itself as less valuable and dissociate domestic work, non-conceptual, and everything related to non-identity, sensitive, affective and emotional.

However, dissociation is not congruent with the non-identical in Adorno. More precisely, the dissociated represents the hidden side of value itself. Here, dissociation must be understood as a precondition that guarantees that the contingent, the irregular, the non-analytical, that which cannot be understood by science, remains hidden and unilluminated, perpetuating a classificatory thinking that is not able to register and maintaining particular qualities, inherent differences, ruptures, ambivalences and asynchronies.

Conversely, this means for the “socialized society” of capitalism, to borrow an expression from Adorno, that these levels and sectors cannot be understood in relation to each other as irreducible elements of the real, but that they too must be examined, first, in its internal objective relations corresponding to the notion of value-dissociation as a formal principle of the social totality that constitutes a given society at the level of ontology and appearance. However, at all times value-dissociation also recognizes its own limitations as a theory.

The self-interrogation of value-dissociation theory here must go far enough to avoid positing itself as an absolute principle of social form. That which corresponds to its concept cannot, after all, be raised to the status of the main contradiction, and the dissociation theory of value can, like the theory of value, not be understood as a theory of unitary logic [logic of the one]. In its critique of the identity logic, therefore, the value-dissociation theory remains true to itself and can persist only to the extent that it relativizes and, at certain times, disavows itself. It also means that value-dissociation theory must make equal room for other forms of social disparity (including economic disparity, racism, and antisemitism).[xi]


Value-dissociation as a historical process

In line with the epistemological premises of the formation of value-dissociation theory, we cannot resort to linear analytical models when examining developments in a variety of global regions. Developments generally determined by the commodity form and the associated form of patriarchy do not take place in the same way and under the same circumstances in all societies (especially in societies that were previously characterized by symmetrical gender relations and which have not fully adopted gender relations). from modernity to the present day).

Furthermore, we must foreground alternative paternalistic relationships and structures that, while largely superimposed by Western patriarchy in the context of global economic developments, have not entirely lost their idiosyncrasies. Furthermore, we must consider the fact that throughout Western modernity's own history ideas of masculinity and femininity have varied. Both the modern conception of work and the dualistic understanding of gender are products of and go hand in hand with the specific developments that lead to the domination of capitalism.

It was only in the XNUMXth century that what Carol Hagermann-White calls the modern "dual gender system" emerged, which led to what Karen Hausen calls the "polarization of gender characteristics." Before that, women were widely regarded as just another variant of men, which is one of the reasons why historical and social sciences have over the past fifteen years underscored the universality of the single-gender model upon which pre-bourgeois societies were based. Even the vagina was, in the context of this model, often understood as a penis, inverted and pushed towards the lower part of the body.[xii].

Despite the fact that women were widely regarded as inferior, before the development of a large-scale modern public sphere there still existed for them a variety of possibilities for gaining social influence. In pre-modern societies and at the beginning of modernity, man occupied a largely symbolic position of hegemony. Women were not yet exclusively confined to domestic life and motherhood, as they have been since the eighteenth century. Women's contributions to material reproduction in agrarian societies were considered to be equally important to men's contributions.[xiii].

Although modern gender relations and the characteristic polarizations of gender roles were initially restricted to the bourgeoisie, they quickly spread to all social spheres with the universalization of the nuclear family in the context of the rise of Fordism until its predominance in the 1950s.

Value-dissociation is therefore not a static structure, as a number of sociological structuralist models claim, but should instead be understood as a process. In post-modernity, for example, the value-dissociation acquires a new value. Women are now widely considered to be what Regina Becker-Schmidt calls “dual socialized”, meaning that they are equally responsible for the family and the profession.[xiv]. What is new about this, however, is not this fact itself.

After all, women have been active in a variety of professions and businesses. The particular feature of postmodernity in this regard is that the dual socialization of women over the last few years has illuminated the structural contradictions that accompany this development. As indicated above, an analysis of this development must begin with a dialectical understanding of the relationship between individual and society. This means that the individual is never entirely subsumed within objective cultural and structural patterns, nor can we assume that these structures are in a purely external relation to the individual. In this way we are able to see clearly the contradictions of dual socialization that are connected to the increasing differentiation of the role of women in postmodernity, which emerge alongside the trends towards individualization characteristic of postmodernity. Current analyzes of films, advertising and literature also indicate that women are no longer seen primarily as mothers and housewives.

Consequently, it is not only unnecessary, but in fact highly suspect, to suggest that we must deconstruct modern gender dualism, as the theory claims. queer and its lead voice, Judith Butler. This strand of theory sees the internal subversion of bourgeois gender dualism through repeated practices of parody that can be found in gay and lesbian subcultures as an attempt to reveal the "radical incredulity" of modern gender identity.[xv]. The problem with such an approach, however, is that those elements that should be parodied and subverted have already become obsolete in a capitalist sense. For some time now we have been witnessing the really existing deconstruction, which becomes visible in the dual socialization of women, but also when we examine fashion and the transformed habits of men and women.

However, this has happened without fundamentally eradicating the gender hierarchy. Rather than criticizing both classically modern and postmodern and flexible gender imagery, Butler ultimately merely asserts postmodern (gendered) reality. Butler's purely culturalist approach cannot offer answers to current questions, and indeed presents us with the very problem of hierarchical gender relations in postmodernity in progressive guise as a solution.


The dialectic of essence and appearance and wildness[xvi] of commodity-producing patriarchy in the era of globalization

In an attempt to analyze postmodern gender relations, it is important to insist on the dialectic between essence and appearance. This means that changes in gender relations must be understood in relation to the mechanisms and structures of value-dissociation, which determine the formal principle of all social plans. Here it becomes apparent that, in particular, the development of productive forces and market dynamics, both of which depend on value-dissociation, undermine their own precondition insofar as they encourage the development of women beyond their traditional role. .

Since the 1950s, increasing numbers of women have been integrated into the abstract labor and accumulation process, accompanied by a range of processes of rationalization of domestic life, more options for birth control, and the gradual equalization of access to education[xvii]. Consequently, women's dual socialization has also undergone changes, and now resides at a higher level of the social hierarchy and, similarly, generates higher levels of self-worth for women. Even though today a large percentage of women have been integrated into official society, they are still responsible for domestic life and children, they have to fight harder than men to ascend the professional hierarchy and their salaries are, on average, significantly lower than those of men. men.

So the value-dissociation structure has changed, but the principle is still very much alive. In this context, it may not be surprising to suggest that we seem to be experiencing a return to a single-gender model, but one with the same familiar content: women are men, just different. However, as this model also went through the classic modern process of value-dissociation, it manifests itself differently than in pre-modern times.[xviii].

Traditional bourgeois gender relations are no longer appropriate for today's “turbo-capitalism” and its rigorous demand for flexibility. A range of compulsory flexible identities emerge, but these are nevertheless still represented as differentiated by gender.[xx]. The old image of women has become obsolete and the doubly socialized woman has become the dominant role. Furthermore, recent analyzes of globalization and gender relations suggest that, after a certain period in which it seemed that women would finally be able to enjoy greater freedoms immanent in the system, we also witness a growing savagery of patriarchy.

Of course, here too, we must consider the variety of social and cultural differences that correspond to a variety of global regions. Likewise, we must observe the differently situated position of women in a context where the logic of winners and losers still dominates, even if the winners are under threat of disappearing into the abyss opened by the current destruction of the middle class.[xx]. As well-off women are able to pay for the services of low-paid immigrant workers, we are witnessing a redistribution of, for example, personal care, elderly care and children within the female plane of existence.

For a large part of the population, the savagery of patriarchy means that we can expect conditions similar to those in the black ghettos of the United States or the slums of Third World countries: women will be, in the same way, responsible for money and survival. Women will be increasingly integrated into the world market without having the opportunity to ensure their own existence. They raise children with the help of women in the family and neighbors (another example of redistribution of personal care and related areas of work), while men come and go, move from job to job and from woman to woman, who periodically you have to support them.

Men no longer occupy the position of provider given the growing precariousness of employment relationships and the erosion of traditional family structures[xxx]. The growing individualization and atomization of social relations proceeds against the background of forms of existence without guarantees, and continues even in times of severe economic crisis without mainly eradicating the traditional gender hierarchy, parallel to a broad eradication of the Welfare State Social Security and compulsory crisis management measures.

Value-dissociation as a formal social principle, consequently, merely retreats from the static and institutional constraints of modernity (in particular, family and work). The commodity-producing patriarchy, therefore, experiences a growing wildness without abandoning the existing relations between value (or rather, abstract labor) and the dissociated elements of reproduction. Here too we need to point out that we are currently experiencing a corresponding rise in male violence, ranging from domestic violence to suicide bombings.

With regard to the latter, we should also note that it is not just fundamentalist Islam that attempts to reconstruct “authentic” patriarchal religious gender relations. Indeed, it is the Western patriarchal model of civilization that must be the focus of our critique. Simultaneously, we are also confronted with a transition on a psychological level. In postmodernity, a “gender affective code” emerges that corresponds to the traditional male affective code[xxiii]. Still, old affective structures necessarily continue to play an important role as they ensure that, even in times of postmodern single-gender relationships, women continue to assume dissociated responsibilities, enabling the universality of women with many children who still manages to be a doctor, scientist, politician and much more. This can take the form of a return to traditional female roles and ideals, particularly in times of great crisis and instability.

While turbo-capitalism demands flexible gender-specific identities, we cannot assume that corresponding postmodern gender models, such as the model of the dually socialized woman, are permanently capable of stabilizing reproduction in the context of today's capitalist crisis. After all, the current stage of capitalism is characterized by the “collapse of modernization” and an associated reversal of rationalism into irrationalism.[xxiii]. The dual socialization of the individualized woman must in this context (apparently paradoxically) be understood as serving an important and functional role to the commodity-producing patriarchy, even as the latter is slowly disintegrating.

Organizations dedicated to crisis management in Third World countries, for example, are often led by women (although it must also be recognized that reproduction activities in general have increasingly played a subordinate role). Exemplary of the development in the West in this respect is Frank Schirrmacher [conservative journalist and co-editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung] In his 2006 book Minimum he describes “the fall and rebirth of our society”, a context in which Schirrmacher wants to attribute to women the role of administrators of the crisis, believing that they play an important role as women of the rubble [trummerfrauen] and as cleaning and decontamination personnel.[xxv] As a way of justifying such statements, Schirrmacher mobilizes shallow biological and anthropological lines of argument to explain the generalized collapse of social and gender relations and to offer alleged solutions to be carried on women's backs.

In order to avoid pseudo-solutions, it is necessary to analyze current social crises in relation to their social and historical contexts, as the value-dissociation theory emphasizes. Starting from this base, it is also possible to ask what important theoretical and practical conclusions should be derived from the dilemmas of the socialization of a value-dissociation that today increasingly reduces man and nature to the most basic levels of existence and that can no longer be addressed with old-left or Keynesian reformist programs.

In the same sense, deconstructivist and postcolonial approaches, which for example interpret racism in a purely cultural way, are incapable of dealing with the current crisis, as well as post-operaist approaches that completely refuse to deal with the general problem of the socialization of the value-dissociation and instead seek refuge in religious notions of the multitude and act as if this concept includes responses to racism and sexism[xxiv]. What is required here, therefore, is a new turn towards a critique of political economy.

Such a critique, however, can no longer be carried out in its traditional form focused on an androcentric-universalist methodology that makes an ontology of work, but, on the contrary, must include a turn towards the radical theory of value-dissociation and its epistemological consequences.



What I have tried to demonstrate schematically in this essay is the need to think about economy and culture in their contradictory and non-identitarian identity from the (itself contradictory) perspective of value-dissociation as a basic social principle. Value-dissociation, then, must also be understood not as a static structure, but rather as a historically dynamic process. This approach refuses the temptation of identity criticism to forcibly subsume the particular within the general.

Rather, she deals with the tension between concept and differentiation (without dissolving the concept into the indistinct, the infinite) and is therefore able to speak of the current process of homogenization and differentiation in ways that can also address related conflicts, including the male violence.

It is important to note that value-dissociation theory, insofar as the latter constitutes a basic social principle (and therefore is not solely concerned with gender relations in a strict sense) must sometimes deny itself, insofar as where it must make equal room, alongside sexism, for analyzes of racism, anti-Semitism, and economic disparities, avoiding any claims towards universality. Only by relativizing its own position and role in this way will the value-dissociation theory be able to exist in the first place.

*Roswitha Scholz is a Marxist theory, linked to the group that edits the magazine Exit!. Author, among other books, of Homo sacer and the gypsies (Antigone).

Translation: Daniel Manzione Giavarotti & Clara Lemme Ribeiro.

Proofreading: Ana Carolina Gonçalves Leite.

Originally published in the book Marxism and critique of value



[I] See, for example, SCHOLZ, Roswitha. Das Geschlecht des Kapitalismus. Feministische Theorie und die postmoderne Metamorphose des Patriarchats. Unkel: Horlemann, 2000, pp. 61 and later, 107 and later, 184 and later*, and SCHOLZ, Roswitha. “Die Theorie der geschlechtlichen Abspaltung und die Kritische Theorie Adornos”. In: KURZ, Robert, SCHOLZ, Roswitha and ULRICH, Jörg (eds.) Der Alptraum der Freiheit. Perspektiven radikaler Gesellschaftskritik. Blaubeuren: Verlag Ulmer Manuskripte, 2005.

Translators' note: cf. translation of excerpts into Portuguese. SCHOLZ, Roswitha. The sex of capitalism [excerpts]. Available in:

[ii] KURZ, Robert. The collapse of modernization. Rio de Janeiro: Peace and Land, 1992; KURZ, Robert. Kapitalismus: ein Abgesang auf die Marktwirtschaft. Frankfurt: Eichborn Verlag, 1999; POSTONE, Moishe. “Anti-Semitism and National Socialism”. Minus sign, year 4, number 8, 2012, pp. 14-28; POSTONE, Moishe. Time, work and social domination. São Paulo: Boitempo editorial, 2014.

[iii] Editors' Note: See MARX, Karl. “The general formula of capital”. In: MARX, Karl. The capital, v. 1, t. 1. São Paulo: Abril Cultural, 1983.

[iv] Translators' note: we suggest replacing this expression with another one, that is, “latecoming modernization”, already adopted when the book was published.The collapse of modernization by Robert Kurz (1993) in Brazil, in order to reiterate the idea that such modernizing efforts never managed to reach the capital productivity levels of the central countries, always remaining in an irremediably backward position in relation to them.

[v] HAUG, Frigga. Frauen-Politiken. Berlin: Argument, 1996, pp. 229 and later.

[vi] Translators' note: we register here our annoyance with the absence of any mention of the process of racialization inherent to the imposition of patriarchy as a civilizational model, which is also understood as a form of manifestation of dissociation, as the author herself states in the conclusion of this article and in others of your essays. It is open, on the other hand, the critical treatment of this problem in the light of the author's argument that invites us to consider the crisis that the modern commodity-producing patriarchy has been triggering in the pattern of reproduction of practices and characteristics historically attributed to men and women , which is also manifested in racialization processes. Although Achille Mbembe speaks of a “becoming-black of the world” (2018), a thesis that confirms the procedural character of racialization and its modification in the crisis, there seems to be no doubt that blacks and whites experience the latter in different ways.

[vii] Ibid

[viii] HERMAN, Eve. Das Eva-Prinzip. Munich: Pendo, 2006.

[ix] GILDMEISTER, Regine and WATTERER, Angelika. “Wie Geschlechter gemacht werden. Die soziale Konstruktion der Zwei-Geschlechtlichkeit und ihre Reifizierung in der Frauenforschung”. In: Traditionen Bruche. Entwicklungen feministischer Theorie. Freiburg: Kore, 1992, pp. 214 and following.

[X] HAUG, Frigga. Frauen-Politiken, pp. 127 and beyond.

[xi] Since the focus of the investigation at hand is modern gender relations, I am not able to discuss these other forms of social disparity in detail. For a more substantial analysis, see SCHOLZ, Roswitha. Differenzen der Krise — Krise der Differenzen. Die neue Gesellschaftskritik im globalen Zeitalter und der Zusammenhang von “Rasse”, Klasse, Geschlecht und postmoderner Individualisierung. Unkel: Horlemann, 2005. Translators' note: cf. translation of the index into and article summarizing the argument of the book in

[xii] LAQUEUR, Thomas. Inventing sex: body and gender from the Greeks to Freud. Rio de Janeiro: Relume Dumara, 1990.

[xiii] HEINTZ, Bettina and HONEGGER, Claudia. “Zum Strukturwander weiblicher Widerstandsformen”. In: HEINTZ, Bettina and HONEGGER, Claudia (eds.) Listen to the Ohnmacht. Zur Sozialgeschichte weiblicher Widerstandsformen. Frankfurt: Europäische Verlagsanstalt, 1981, p. 15.

[xiv] Translators' note: in countries of late modernization such as Brazil, the doubly socialized woman was a constant figure in the reproduction of urban working families although, following Roswitha Scholz's reasoning, this did not mean an overcoming of the value-dissociation as a basic formal principle of social experience.

[xv] BUTLER, Judith. gender problems. Rio de Janeiro: Brazilian Civilization, 2003.

[xvi] Translators' note: the idea of ​​a wildness of patriarchy does not seem adequate to us, given that it reiterates an Enlightenment conception of the civilizing process as opposed to a wild and therefore violent state of nature. We prefer to think of it as a process of recrudescence of patriarchy caused by the crisis of capital and work.

[xvii] BECK, Ulrich. risk society. São Paulo: Editora 34, 2011. p. 147 and beyond.

[xviii] HAUSER, Kornelia. “Die Kulturisierung der Politik. 'Anti-Political-Correctness' als Deutungskämpfe gegen den Feminismus”. In: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung: Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte. Bonn: Beilage zur Wochenzeitung das Parlament, 1996, p. 21.

[xx] Compare with SCHULTZ, Irmgard. Der erregende Mythos vom Geld. Die neue Verbindung von Zeit, Geld und Geschlecht im Ökologiezeitalter. Frankfurt: Campus Verlag, 1994, pp. 198 and following and WICHTERICH, Christa. Die globalisierte Frau. Berichte aus der Zukunft der Ungleichheit. Reinbeck: Rowohlt, 1998.

[xx] Compare with KURZ, Robert. “The last stadium of the middle class”, Folha de São Paulo, September 19, 2004. Available at:

[xxx] Compare with SCHULTZ, Myth, pp. 198 and beyond.

[xxiii] Compare HAUSER, “Kulturisierung”, p. 21.

[xxiii] For a more detailed analysis of the current stage of capitalism and its departure from classical forms of modernity, as well as the origins of the term “modernization collapse”, see KURZ, The collapse of modernization. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Paz e Terra, 1992.

[xxv] Editors' Note: Women who helped clean up the wreckage after World War II – literally: “women from the rubble”. See also: THÜRMER-ROHR, Christina. “Feminisierung der Gesellschaft. Weiblichkeit als Putz- und Entseuchungsmittel”. In: THÜRMER-ROHR, Christina (ed.) Vagabundinnen. Feministische Essays. Berlin: Orlanda Frauenverlag, 1987.

[xxiv] Cf. HARDT, Michael and NEGRI, Antonio. Empire. Rio de Janeiro: Record, 2001 and SCHOLZ, Differenzen der Krise — Krise der Differenzen, pp. 247 and beyond.

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