As I said I would deal with your points on the family spearately

I origionally wrote:
> > What I actually said was that  'point of the family in bourgeois 
> > society should IDEALLY be one that puts up with the worker's long 
> > hours and difficult conditions and to selflessly (and at little or no 
> > cost to capitalism) maintain and reproduce the worker.' That the 
> > present crisises of capitalism make it more and more difficult to 
> > maintain such an institution (even with the help of the Church) is 
> > merely demonstative of its structural decline. Also I think you will 
> > find that, far from an atomised society maintained by packaged 
> > homecare utilities, for the most part many couples still have one 
> > person who works as well dealing with the household maintanence. For 
> > all the talk of 'new men' this role is still generally performed by 
> > women working in low-paid part-time evening work and whatever form it 
> > takes it is rarely paid for directly by capitalism. 

and Simon replied: 
> Hmm... I accept that that may be the position today. What I was saying is
> that the family is continuing to fragment, and capitalism's own raison
> d'etre supports that. The family would ideally do all the things you
> mention, but then again ideally the workers would reproduce their labour as
> work units in the cheapest manner possible. Capitalism has no particular
> use for the family unless it cheapens reproduction of labour, and I would
> say that it probably doesn't.

Have you ever tried maintaining yourself alone. To clean a kitchen, 
bathroom etc used by just one person is not much less effort than for 
a a number of people. To make a meal for several is proportionally 
far cheaper and easier than to make one each. The same is true of 
housing, to a limited extent clothing (depending on who the group 
is!), heating etc.

I just cannot see anyway in which capitalism could benefit if people 
all lived in separate units - feeding, cleaning and maintaining 
themselves - all working in the labour market or recieving direct 
state support.On top of that, as part of the reserve army of labour, 
it will always be more efficient that the worker devotes all their 
time and efforts to working for the capitalist and have their 
reproductive (in the widest sense) need supplied by someone outside 
the capitalist labour market. It is the weaknesses and contradictions 
within capitalism, not because it is in a position of strength, that 
the institution of the family is breaking down. Nor is it a new 
phenomena we saw it is Weimar Germany with mass prositution, a 
significant gay culture and the loss of many of the traditional 
head-of-the-household who were killed or mutilated in the 1st 
Imperialist War.

I have only one qualifier to what is a pretty standard position 
(shame there are not more women or people fromthe feminist tradition 
on this list as these are really very old arguments, presently thrown 
into sharp relief) and that is that my understanding of the family is 
not that it need be biologically or religiously constituted. Only 
that some form of division of labour be present to allow some to work 
for capitalism and some to work for free to maintain the workforce 
(with the added advantage of allowing the latter to be called upon to 
swell the ranks of the working class in times of need). The call for 
wages for housework has never been one capitalism has been able to 
concede to.

I could go on but i think for the time being it is best to leave it 
there as for many this will be a familiar argument within Marxism.

John Walker

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  • M-T... George Pennefather

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