This is not a whinge or a rant, but a question posed as openly and ingenuously as it’s possible to do. It won’t be long, but I thought it was worth writing about.
In the Space Project, a temporary education and organising space in Leeds, people have been running a reading group on (The) Crisis – discussing and learning about this current depression and why, when and how crises of capitalism occur. It’s been ‘successful’ in terms of the fact that quite a lot of people have come (between 20-35 at each session) and some interesting conversations have been had, people are sharing knowledge and experiences and questions and occasionally arguing. Yesterday, it was the fourth session, ‘Feminist Perspectives on Crisis’, which I was helping facilitate. Three of us involved in the reading group were there. Three others came. And there we were, the six of us.
I am not going to mount a defence of why a feminist analysis is relevant to our understanding and reactions to the crisis, but I nevertheless hope it’s illustrated by the following outline of the hour-or-so long discussion we had, which was one of the best conversations I’ve had the pleasure of having.
Reading E.P. Thompson’s ‘Time, Work-Discipline and Industrial Capitalism’ (1991) and a new piece by Escalate Collective, Salt, it occurs to me that to talk about time is hard, though perhaps it doesn’t always seem so. Note how often you mourn the passing of time, your lack of it, as though it is what it does, rather than what we do - by choice or compulsion- that makes it run so quickly, or so slowly. These days, people speak of ‘the times’ a great deal; or perhaps we always did. It’s the times that are hard, one might say, displacing blame. We often think of our time as personally hard-won and wrested (‘I took a 3-day weekend’) but not of collective, often violent struggles to do so – it was only recently that I was introduced to the phrase ‘Anarchism: from the people who brought you the weekend’ (NB: the term’s first recorded usage is in 1879).