S. Federici, CALIBAN AND THE WITCH

“A history of women an reproduction in the “transition to capitalism” must begin with the struggles that the European medieval proletariat-small peasants, artisans, day laborers- waged against feudal power in all its forms. Only if we evoke these struggles, with their rich cargo of demands, social and political aspirations, and antagonistic practices, can we understand the role that women had in the crisis of feudalism, and why their power had to be destroyed for capitalism to develop, as it was by the 3 century long persecution of the witches. From the vantage point of this struggle, we can also see that capitalism was not the product of an evolutionary development bringing forth economic forces that were maturing in the womb of the old order. Capitalism was the response of the feudal lords, the patrician merchants, the bishops and popes, to a centuries long social conflict that, in the end, shook their power, and truly gave “all the world a big jolt”. Capitalism was the counter-revolution that destroyed the possibilities that had emerged from the anti-feudal struggle—-possibilities which, if realized, might have spared us the immense destruction of lives and the natural environment that has marked the advance of capitalist relations worldwide. That much must be stressed, for the belief that capitalism “evolved” from feudalism and represents a higher form of social life has not yet been dispelled.” -P. 21-22

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