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Issue 39-40 | 2020


Verónica Gago2

Translator (Spanish to English): Liz Mason-Deese3

Verónica Gago discusses the theoretical and practical implications of the feminist strike in Argentina which she has actively been part of organizing. Gago presents her observations within the strike in an analytical manner and offers a framework for the feminist movement to revisit itself based on these observations. According to Gago, the strike can be taken as a lens to understand and articulate significant issues that the 21st-century feminist movement has to respond to. Gago renders understanding and articulating feminist practices essential for theorization which she defines as a historical responsibility for activists.

“Let the Chicago Boys tremble. Long live the feminist movement.”
(Graffiti in front of the Catholic University of Chile, 2018.)

In Argentina, since 2016, the strike has successively taken on several names: national women’s strike; international strike of women, lesbians, trans and travesties; and finally: the international and plurinational feminist strike and even a feminist general strike. It has been woven together as a saga, somehow crazy and relentless in its force and continuity. The strike is not an isolated event, it is structured as a process. In that sense, it continues being open. In the space of less than three years (from October 2016 to March 2019), the strike became the tool driving the movement of women and dissident bodies in a new way at the international level.

That movement was fueled by the slogan #NiUnaMenos that convened the first, and massive, mobilization in June 2015 against femicides, that a year later grew in the heat of “#NiUnaMenos We want to be alive and free!” The strike, however, brought a historical accumulation of previous struggles to the stage. But the strike produced a qualitative leap: it transformed the mobilization against femicides into a radical, massive movement, capable of linking and politicizing the rejection of violence in a new way. Half a million person came out to each of the marches that followed the women’s strike in 2017; 800,000 were on the streets for International Women’s Day in 2018 and in 2019; and massive and sustained mobilizations for the legalization of abortion also took place throughout 2018. But one of the most important innovations of the feminist movement in recent years is that it became a global phenomenon and it emerged from the south. It has strong roots in Latin America (here and there known as Abya Yala), in multiple layers of histories, struggles, movements, and organizations. Based on that, it has nurtured an internationalism that disrupts the scales, scope, and forms of coordination of a movement that continues expanding without losing its strength, precisely because it is situated.

In what sense does the contemporary feminist movement –in the multiplicity of struggles that it participates in and leads today– express an anti-neoliberal dynamic from below? How does it initiate political forms that are new while also inscribed in genealogies of discontinuous temporalities? I want to propose eight theses that demonstrate its novelty.

What I am attempting to construct here is an analysis situated in a sequence of struggles, street parties, experiential tremors and resonances of the shout #NiUnaMenos. There is an underlying premise to this method of working and writing: the desire has a cognitive potential. When we say #DesireMovesUs (#NosMueveElDeseo), I understand that this movement is the collective intellect and multitudinous expression of an ongoing investigation, with its moments of shaking things up and moments of retreat, with its variable velocities and intensities.

I refer to a feminist potencia. Potencia, as the notion going from Spinoza to Marx and beyond, never exists detached from its place of rootedness, from the body that contains it. Therefore feminist potencia is the potencia of the body that is always individual and collective, and that also always exists in variation, that is, as singular. But additionally, feminist potencia expands the body due to the ways in which it is reinvented by women’s struggles, feminist struggles, and the struggles of sexual dissidences that time and time again update that notion of potencia. Potencia does not exist in the abstract (it is not potential in Aristotelian terms). Feminist potencia is desiring capacity. This implies that desire is not the opposite of the possible, but rather the force that pushes what is perceived as possible, collectively and in each body.

This text was written in the heat of events in recent years that have given the feminist movement a new type of protagonism. And it was written from a particular position: from within the organizational dynamic. This is a living record of discussions that took place while we were carrying out the tasks of preparing for the strikes, of marching, of debating in assemblies, of having dozens of meetings and hundreds of conversations, of coordinating and exchanging with other compañeras around the world. It is a record of a political process that remains open. My writing is situated there. And it is carried out in a key of militant research.

Of course, what I write here is knotted together with political and theoretical concerns and exchanges which I have been engaged in for a long time in a very wide network of friendships,

complicities, and also quarrels and controversies. This situation is made up of a machine of conversations with compañeras, experiences, and texts from many places and many eras. Like all writing, multiple voices act and can be heard within it, and lines of force are drawn.

In this sense, I propose the strike as a lens, as a specific point of view to read and frame some of the current problematics being raised by the feminist movement. I am inspired by Rosa Luxemburg’s idea that each strike has its own form of political thought and that we have the historical task of theorizing the strike that we have led. In this sense, the international feminist strike functions as a threshold, an “experience,” something that is crossed, after which one cannot go back to having the same relationship with things and with others. Many of were transformed in and by this process.

  1. The tool of the feminist strike maps new forms of the exploitation of bodies and territories from a perspective that is simultaneously that of visibilization and insubordination. The strike reveals the heterogeneous composition of labor in a feminist register, recognizing tasks that have historically been disregarded, showing its current imbrication with generalized precarization and appropriating a traditional tool of struggle to overflow and reinvent it.

The international strike opened up a feminist perspective on labor. Because the feminist perspective recognizes territorial, domestic, reproductive, and migrant labor, it broadens the very notion of the working class, from below. Because it starts from the recognition that 40% of the workers in our country are involved in diverse modes of the so-called informal economy, vindicated as the popular economy. Because it makes visible and values work that has historically been ignored and devalued, that is how we affirm that #AllWomenAreWorkers.

Yet there is an even more radical element: the feminist strike places us in a state of applied investigation. What do we call labor from the living and working experiences of women, lesbians, trans persons, and travesties? Beating to the rhythm of the question of what it means to strike, we are, in an applied way, mapping the multiplicity of tasks and intensive and extensive working days that are not paid, or are badly paid, or are remunerated under a strict hierarchy. Some of those tasks were almost not even named, others named in ways that belittled them.

The feminist strike is strengthened because of its impossibility: the women who cannot strike but desire to do so; those who cannot stop working for even one day and want to rebel against that exhaustion; those who believed that it would be impossible to strike without the authorization of the union hierarchy and yet they called for the strike; those who were able to imagine a strike against agrotoxins and finance. All of those women and each one of us pushed

the frontiers of the strike. At the conjunction of impossibility and desire, a radical imaginary emerges about the multiplicity of forms the feminist strike can take, moving it to unexpected places, displacing impossibility and desire through in its capacity to include vital experiences, and being is reinvented by bodies that are disobedient to what is recognized as labor.

With the strike, we made visible the differential of exploitation that characterizes feminized labor, in other words, the specific subordination involved in community, neighborhood, migrant, and reproductive labor, and we showed how its subordination is related to all forms of work in the everyday. We showed that there is a concrete place where that differential starts: the reproduction of life, from its meticulous and constant organization that is exploited by capital at the cost of it being an obligation, free, or poorly paid. But we went even further: from reproduction –historically negated, subordinated, and tied to processes of domestication and colonization– we constructed categories to rethink waged labor, unionized or not, traversed by ever greater levels of precarization.

By interlinking all the modes of value production (as well as exploitation and extraction), we mapped the concrete imbrication between patriarchal, colonial, and capitalist violences. This makes clear, yet again, that the feminist movement is not external to the class question, even if it is often presented as such. Nor can it be separated from the question of race. There is no possibility of “isolating” feminism from those fabrics where the combat against renewed forms of exploitation, extraction, oppression, and domination is situated. Feminism, as a movement, displays the historical character of the class as by the systematic exclusion of all who are not considered white waged workers. Therefore there can be no class without understanding racialization. In this way, it becomes clear to what extent narrative and organizational formulas were modes of systematic subordination of feminized and migrant labor and, as such, the cornerstones of the sexual and racial division of labor.

The strike also exceeds and integrates the labor question because we are striking against the structures and the mandates that make capital valorization possible. Those mandates (from the heteropatriarchal family to forced maternity, from clandestine abortion to sexual education) are not merely cultural or ideological questions. Those mandates respond to the imbrication itself of patriarchy, colonialism and capitalism. Elements considered to be “non- economic” are key to feminist economics as an expanded and radical critique of the patriarchal notion of the “economy.”

In this sense the strike is turned into a vector of transversality: it goes beyond being a specific tool whose legitimacy and use is prescribed for waged and unionized sectors, associated with the “policelike materialism” of some unions, as Rosa Luxembourg put it, to become a formula of insubordination for realities and experiences that are supposedly “excluded” from the labor

world. The transversality thus challenges the supposed impossibility of the strike and demonstrates possible uses starting from its displacement to other territories, vindicating a legitimate strangeness and a new practical potencia.

  1. With the strike, we produced a new understanding of violence: we escaped confinement to the limited sphere of domestic violence by connecting it to economic, labor, institutional, police, racist, and colonial violence. In this way, the organic relationship between sexist and femicidal violence and the current form of capital accumulation becomes clear. The anti-capitalist, anti-colonial, and anti-patriarchal character of the feminist movement comes from establishing and disseminating that analysis in an applied way.

The strike simultaneously produces a point of view that considers resistance to expropriation,

insubordination to labor, and financial disobedience.

This allows us to investigate the relationship between conflicts in territories against neo- extractive initiatives and sexual violence; the nexus between harassment and power relations in workplaces; as well as the way in which the exploitation of migrant and feminized labor is combined with the extraction of value by finance; the plundering of public infrastructure in neighborhoods and (formal and informal) real estate speculation; the clandestine state of abortion and the criminalization of Indigenous and Black communities. All of these forms of violence take the bodies of women and feminized bodies as the spoils of war. This connection between the violence of dispossession and sexual violence is not only analytical: it is practiced as a collective elaboration to understand the relations of subordination and exploitation in which femicides are made intelligible, as well as to chart a strategy of organization and self- defense. In this sense, the feminist movement practices a popular pedagogy through an interpretation that connects violence and oppression and does so from a place of contempt for both. On this point, escaping from the totalizing narrative of victimization, is what enables the interpretation of violence avoid translation into a language of pacification or pure mourning and lament. It is also repels the institutional responses that reinforce the isolation of these problems and that seek to resolve them through a new government agency or program. Institutional instruments can be important as long as they are not part of a tutelage that codifies victimization and encloses violence as exclusively domestic. The interpretation of the intersectionality of violence that has been made possible through the strike opens a new site of enunciation, opening, building and expanding the organizational horizons of movement. The vast map that this has enabled us to chart widens our view and goes to the roots of the connections between patriarchy, capitalism, and colonialism, converting it into the construction of a shared common sense.

In this sense, recognizing the pluralization of violence is strategic: it is a concrete form of connection that creates intelligibility and, therefore, enables a displacement of the totalizing figure of the victim. Pluralizing it not only about quantifying, making a list of, different forms of violence. It is much denser: it is a way of mapping its simultaneity and its interrelation. It connects imploded homes with lands razed by agribusinesses, with the wage gap and invisibilized domestic work; it links the violence of austerity and the crisis with the ways in which these are confronted by women’s protagonism in popular economies and it relates all of this with financial exploitation through public and private debt. It ties together the ways of disciplining disobedience through outright state repression and the persecution of migrant movements with the imprisonment of poor women for having abortions, the criminalization of subsistence economies as well as the way in which the poorest women are imprisoned for having abortions, and the racist imprint on each one of these forms of violence. Nothing in this web of violence is obvious: to trace the modes of connection is to produce meaning, because it visibilizes the machinery of exploitation and extraction of value that involves increasing thresholds of violence that have a differential (and therefore strategic) impact on feminized bodies.

This work of weaving (for which the strike is a fundamental tool for its deployment) functions precisely like a spiderweb: only by producing a political cartography that connects the threads that make different forms of violence function as interrelated dynamics can we denounce that their segmentation seeks to enclose us in isolated cells. Connecting types of violence implies overflowing the confines of “gender-based violence” to link gendered violence with the multiple forms of violence that make it possible. In this way, we escape the “corset” of pure victims with which they seek to pigeonhole us, to inaugurate a political language that not only denounces violence against women’s bodies, but also opens the discussion to other feminized bodies and, moreover, moves from a single definition of violence (always as domestic or intimate, and therefore secluded) to understand it in relation to a web of economic, institutional, labor, colonial, etc. violence.

In this political fabric we can also collectively evaluate how it differentially impacts women and each one of us. Understood in this way, violence is not an enormous capital-letter word, that produces another equally enormous, equally abstract, capital letter word: victim. This is the second new point in respect to this way of redefining violence: the forms of violence against women’s bodies and feminized bodies are read from a singular situation, based on each body, and from there a comprehension of violence as a complete phenomenon is produced. Each person’s body, as a trajectory and experience, thus becomes the entry point, a concrete mode of localization, from which a specific point of view is produced: how is violence expressed, how does it take a particular form in each body, how do we recognize it, how do we fight it?

3. The current feminist movement is characterized by two unique dynamics: the combination of massiveness and radicality. It achieves this because it constructs proximity between very different struggles. In this way, it invents and cultivates a mode of political transversality.

Feminism makes explicit something that does not seem obvious: that nobody lacks a territory, thus disproving the metaphysical illusion of the isolated individual. We are all situated and, in that sense as well, the body can begin to be perceived as a body-territory. Feminism ceases to be an external practice related to “others,” and is rather taken as an interpretative principle for understanding conflicts in each and every territory (domestic, affective, labor, migrant, artistic, campesino, urban, marketplace, community territories, and so on). This allows an inter-generational mass feminism to unfurl, because it is appropriated by the extremely diverse spaces and experiences.

How is this composition, which we can characterize as transversal, produced? By starting from the connections between struggles. But the web constructed between diverse struggles is neither spontaneous nor natural. Rather, in relation to feminism, the opposite was true for a long time: feminism was understood in its institutional and/or academic variant, but historically dissociated from processes of popular confluence. There are fundamental genealogical lines that have made the current expansion possible. We can trace four in Argentina: the history of human rights struggles since the 1970s, led by the Mothers and Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo; the more than three decades of the National Women’s Gathering (now the Plurinational Gathering of Women, Lesbians, Trans Persons, and Travestis); the emergence of the piquetero movement, which also had a feminized protagonism when it came to confronting the social crisis at the beginning of the 20th Century; and a long history of sexual dissidences movements, ranging from the legacy of the Homosexual Liberation Front (Frente de Liberación Homosexual) in the 1970s to lesbian militancy for autonomous access to abortion to trans, travesti, intersex, and transgender activism that revolutionized the bodies and subjectivities of feminism against biologicalist limits.

The transversality achieved through the organization of the strike updates those historical lines and projects them into a feminism of the masses, rooted in concrete struggles of popular economy workers, migrants, cooperative workers, women defending their territories, precarious workers, new generations of sexual dissidences, housewives who refuse enclosure, those fighting for the right to abortion involved in a broad struggle for bodily autonomy, mobilized students, women denouncing agrotoxins, and sex workers. The feminist strike

creates a common horizon in organizational terms, and this horizon functions as a practical catalyst.

It is powerful how, by integrating this multiplicity of conflicts, the mass dimension is redefined based on practices and struggles that have historically been defined as “minoritarian.” The opposition between the minoritarian and the majoritarian is thus displaced: the minoritarian take up the mass scale as a vector of radicalization within a composition that does not stop expanding. This challenges the neoliberal machinery of minority recognition and the pacification of difference.

This political transversality is nourished from the diverse territories in conflict and it builds a common affect for problems that tend to be experienced individually, as well as a political understanding of different forms of violence that tend to be encapsulated as domestic. This complicates a certain idea of solidarity that supposes a level of exteriority that establishes distance with respect to others. Transversality prioritizes a politics of the construction of proximity and alliances without ignoring the differences in intensity among conflicts.

After the strike, the multiplication of assemblies, the connection with social conflict, from layoffs in factories to evictions of the Mapuche community, gave the movement a capacity of transversality that no other political actor could achieve. This implied having the skill to include conflicts that until recently were not considered part of feminism’s concerns, reinventing feminism itself, but above all, transversalizing a mode of action and feminist problematization in all political spaces. The affirmation of the strike as a process accumulates practical references because it delineates a feminism that is constructed as popular and anti- neoliberal.

  1. The feminist movement deploys a new critique of political economy. It includes a radical denunciation of contemporary conditions of the valorization of capital and,  therefore,  it  updates  the    notion    of    exploitation.    It    does    so by broadening what is usually understood as the economy.

In Argentina in particular there is a crossroads that allows for a new critique of political economy. This is due to the practical encounter between popular economies and feminist economics. Popular economies as reproductive and productive webs express an accumulation of struggles that opened the imagination of the feminist strike. That is why in Argentina the feminist strike manages to deploy, problematize, and valorize a multiplicity of tasks based on a map of work in a feminist register, since it is connected to a piquetero genealogy which problematized waged labor and forms of “inclusion.” It is these experiences that are at the

origin of popular economies and that persist as an insurgent element that is summoned once again by popular feminisms.

The dynamic of organization of the feminist strikes sparks two processes in popular economies. On one hand, the politicization of reproductive spheres beyond the home functions as a concrete space for elaborating the expansion of the labor that is valued by the strike. On the other hand, a feminist perspective on those tasks makes it possible to highlight the patriarchal and colonial mandates that naturalize them and, therefore, that enable the deployment of logics of exploitation and extraction over them.

The feminist strike, on initiating a reading based on defying inscription into reproductive tasks in family terms, challenges the permanent moral augmentation imposed by social subsidies and produces an intersection between feminist economics and the popular economy that radicalizes both experiences.

Through the strike, the feminist movement produces figures of subjectivation (trajectories, forms of cooperation, modes of life) that escape the neoliberal binary that opposes victims to entrepreneurs of the self (even in the pseudo language of gender that speaks of entrepreneurial “empowerment”). Feminisms have become anti-neoliberal by taking responsibility for collective organization against individual suffering and denouncing systematic policies of dispossession.

The current feminist movement proposes a precise characterization of neoliberalism and, therefore, opens up the horizon of what we call anti-neoliberal politics. Due to the type of conflicts that it maps, visibilizes, and mobilizes, a complex notion of neoliberalism unfolds that is not reduced to the binary of the state versus the market. On the contrary, feminist struggles point to the connection between the extractive logic of capital and its imbrication with state policies, determining how value is exploited and extracted from certain body-territories. The perspective of feminist economics that emerges from here is therefore anti-capitalist.

  1. The feminist movement takes the streets and builds in assemblies, it weaves power in territories and elaborates interpretations of the conjuncture: it produces a counterpower that articulates a dynamic of achieving rights with a radical horizon. Thus, it dismantles the binary between reform or revolution.

With the strike, the feminist movement constructs a common force against precarization, austerity, layoffs, and the violence that those involve. Above, we highlighted the strike’s anti- neoliberal element (challenging the business rationality as the order of the world), affirming its class-based nature (that is, that does not naturalize or minimize the issue of exploitation),

and anti-colonial and anti-patriarchal character (because it denounces and defies the specific exploitation of capitalism against women and feminized and racialized bodies). This dynamic is key: it produces a practical intersection between race, class, and gender, and it generates another rationality for reading the conjuncture. This means that the parliamentary debates (affirming that there is no right or force of law that is not first formulated in social protest) and the radicalization of the popular organization of feminisms resist being reduced to a “quota” or a “sector.”

This dynamic of the feminist movement is two-fold: it constructs its own institutionality (autonomous networks) and, at the same time, it interpolates existing institutionality. In turn it creates a strategic temporality that simultaneously acts in the present with what exists and with what also exists in the present but as virtuality, as a still open, not yet realized possibility. The feminist movement does not exhaust its demands or its struggles within the horizon of the state, even if it does not ignore that field of action, it decidedly does not believe the state is the place where violence can be resolved. This is a utopian dimension that nevertheless has effectiveness in the present and not in the postponement of a future and distant final objective. Therefore the utopian dimension also manages to operate amid existing contradictions without waiting for the appearance of fully liberated subjects or ideal conditions of struggles, nor trusting in a single space that totalitizes social transformation. In that sense, the feminist movement appeals to the power, la potencia, of rupture contained in each action, and it does not limit rupture to a spectacular final moment of a strictly evolutionary accumulation.

This, again, is connected with the power, la potencia, of transversality, which grows due to the way in which feminist activism has turned into an available force that is put into play in different spaces of struggle and life. In this way, it goes against the “sectorization” of the so- called gender agenda and against the infantilization of its political practices. In other words, transversality is not only a form of coordination, but also a capacity to make feminism into its own force in its each place, not limited to a logic of specific demands. This is not easy to sustain because it involves the daily work of weaving, of conversation, of translations, and of the expansions of discussions, of trial and error. But what is most powerful today is that that transversality is felt as a need and desire to open up a temporality of revolution here and now.

  1. Contemporary feminism weaves a new internationalism. It is not a structure that abstracts struggles and makes them homogeneous so as to take them to a “higher” plane. It is perceived, to the contrary, as a concrete force in each place. It drives a dynamic that is made transnational based on situated trajectories and bodies. Therefore the feminist movement is expressed as a coordinated force of

global destabilization whose potencia, notably, is rooted in and emerges from the south.

Contemporary feminism is an internationalism based on territories in struggle. That is what makes its construction more complex and polyphonic: it includes increasingly more territories and languages. It does not depend on the framework of the nation-state and therefore it already overflows the name ‘internationalism.’ Rather than international, it is transnational and plurinational. Because it recognizes other geographies and traces other maps of alliance, encounter, and convergence. Because it includes a radical critique of the national enclosures that seek to limit our struggles, because it is connected based on migrant trajectories and because it approaches landscapes that recombine urban, suburban, campesino, Indigenous, neighborhood, and community elements, and thus multiple temporalities are folded into it.

Feminist transnationalism involves a critique of the neocolonial advances against body- territories. It denounces different forms of extractivism and demonstrates their connection with the increase in sexist violence and forms of labor exploitation that take the maquila as their emblematic scene on this continent.

The feminist strike constructs an unstoppable transnational web because it maps, against the grain, the world market that organizes the accumulation of capital. However, these transnational links are not organized according to a calendar of meetings of large agencies at the service of capital. Based on the feminist strike, the movement adopts the form of a coordinator on the one hand, and of a committee on the other, of the encounter of struggles in the here and now of initiatives that break boundaries and cross borders. It is a transnationalism that pushed the global motto of the strike and thus forged a new type of coordination: “if we stop, we stop the world.”

The force of destabilization is global because it first exists in every home, in every relationship, in every territory, in every assembly, in every university, in every factory, in every market. In this sense it is the inverse of a long internationalist tradition that organizes from above, unifying and giving “coherence” to struggles based on their inscription to a program.

The transnational dimension composes the collective as an investigation: it is presented both as self-education and as a desire of articulation with experiences that at first are not close. This is quite different from taking collective coordination as a moral a priori or an abstract requirement. Feminism in neighborhoods, in bedrooms, or in households is not less internationalist than feminism in the streets or in regional encounters, and that gives it its powerful politics of place. It comes from its non-disjunction, its way of making internationalism a politics of rootedness and as opening territories to unexpected connections.

Then, how is internationalism expressed in the feminist movement? The internationalist dimension does not require the abstraction of struggles in favor of programmatic unity or by adhering to a structure. The internationalism that we are practicing qualifies each concrete situation: it makes them richer and more complex without having to abandon their rootedness; it makes them more cosmopolitan, without paying the price of abstraction. It broadens our political imagination at the same time as it creates a practical ubiquity: that feeling when we shout “we are everywhere!”

There are two moments to the construction of this new internationalism. A first moment that I will call a moment of “resonances:” that is, there is an effect of diffusion, of echoes that have repercussions and that produce, as sound effects, amplifications from the body itself. Resonance is an image that condenses an idea-force that can be a slogan even if it does not seek to summarize an ideological consistency. It is the ability to open a shared meaning based on affection. But it is not an affection in the passive sense: “the affected by,” as they tend to name those who suffer from catastrophes or the collateral effects of some phenomenon. Affection has to do with a capacity to be moved, not simply receiving an effect.

The potencia of the resonance of the protests and calls, particularly the call to strike, has to do with the capacity to connect at a distance and with the mobilization of meanings instigated by the circulation of images, slogans, actions, and gestures. The strike, as it is broadened, opens up a new space of enunciation, to be invented. But that capacity for resonance has to do with the subjective displacement that I have been talking about: a concrete action that enacts, puts in practice, the abandonment of the position of the victim; and at the same time it is taken up as a research-question in each place: what does it mean to strike in each territory? What does the strike mean in each work and living situation? What are we striking against? Who recognizes that we strike? What hidden bosses are we striking from?

After these resonances, forms of coordination have been developed, that combine virtual spaces and material spaces of encounters between bodies, inaugurating circuits and reusing other already existing ones. Networks, exchanges, meetings, encounters, and contacts between diverse experiences, collectives, and countries have been created. Resonance and coordination together weave clues for feminisms’ collective investigation, they mark differences and divergences, they accumulate a common language produced through practice.

  1. The global response to the transnational feminist force is organized as a triple counter-offensive: military, economic, and religious. This explains why neoliberalism now needs conservative policies to stabilize its mode of government.

The fascism that we are seeing regionally and globally is reactionary: a response to the force deployed by the transnational feminist movement. The feminisms that have taken the streets in recent years to form a capillary concrete force in all social relations and spheres have called into question the subordination of reproductive and feminized labor, the persecution of migrant economies, the naturalization of sexual abuse as a means of disciplining a precarious labor force, the hetero-family norm as a refuge against that same precarity, domestic confinement as a site of submission and invisibility, the criminalization of abortion and of practices of sovereignty over one’s body, and the poisoning and dispossession of communities by corporations in cooperation with the state. Each one of these questioning practices made the normality of obedience tremble, shaking up its everyday and routinized reproduction.

The feminist strike woven as a political process opened up a temporality of revolt. It expanded as a revolutionary desire. It left no place untouched by the tide of insubordination and questioning. Now neoliberalism needs to ally itself with reactionary conservative forces because the destabilization of patriarchal authorities puts capital accumulation itself at risk. We could put it like this: capital is well aware of its need for articulation with colonialism and patriarchy in order to reproduce itself as a relation of obedience. Once the factory and the heteropatriarchal family can no longer maintain discipline and once securitized control is defied by feminist forms of managing interdependence in eras of existential precarity, the counter-offensive intensifies. And we very clearly see why neoliberalism and conservatism share the same strategic objectives of normalization.

Since the feminist movement politicizes the crisis of social reproduction in a new and radical way as a crisis that is both civilizational and a crisis of the patriarchal structure of society, the fascist impulse launched to counteract it proposes economies of obedience in order to manage the crisis. Whether by religious fundamentalisms or the paranoid construction of new internal enemies, what we are witnessing are attempts to terrorize the forces of destabilization rooted in a feminism that has crossed borders.

  1. The feminist movement today confronts capital’s most abstract image: financial capital, precisely the form of domination that seems to make antagonism impossible. By confronting the financialization of life, that which occurs when the very act of living “produces” debt, the feminist movement initiates a dispute against new forms of exploitation and extraction of value.

Debt appears as an “inverted” image of the productivity of our labor power, of our vital potencia, and of the politicization (valorization) of reproductive tasks. The feminist strike shouts “we want ourselves alive, free, and without debt!” making finance visible as a conflict and therefore in defense of our autonomy. It is necessary to understand the mass indebtedness,

which has taken root in feminized popular economies and in domestic economies as an everyday “counter-revolution,” as an operation in the very terrain where feminisms have shaken up everything.

By taking finance as a terrain of struggle against generalized impoverishment, the feminist movement practices a counter-pedagogy in respect to the violence of finance and the abstract formulations for the exploitation of bodies and territories. Adding the financial dimension to our struggles allows us to map flows of debt and to complete the map of exploitation in its most dynamic, versatile, and apparently “invisible” forms. Understanding how debt extracts value from domestic economies, non-waged economies, and from economies historically considered not to be productive, enables us to see financial apparatuses as true mechanisms of the colonization of the reproduction of life. It also allows us to understand debt as a privileged apparatus for laundering illicit flows and, therefore, to comprehend the connection between legal and illegal economies and the increase of means direct violence against territories. What debt seeks is precisely an “economy of obedience” in the service of the most concentrated sectors of capital, within which charity is used to depoliticize access to resources.

All of this gives us, once again, broader and more complex possibilities for interpreting the multiple forms of violence that claim feminized bodies as new territories of conquest. A feminist response to the machinery of debt is necessary, one which acts against the machinery of guilt that is maintained by heteropatriarchal morality and the exploitation of our vital forces.

1 This text is part from The Feminist Revolution (La potencia feminista), to be published in English by Verso Books in 2020.

2 Verónica Gago is a member of #NiUnaMenos, co-founder of Colectivo Situaciones, and a professor of Sociology at the National University of San Martín. She is the author of Neoliberalism from Below: Popular Pragmatics and Baroque Economies (Tinta Limón, 2014; Duke University Press, 2017).

3 Liz Mason-Deese is an independent researcher, translator, and feminist activist based in Buenos Aires. She is also a member of the Viewpoint Magazine editorial collective.

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