As social services are cut back, more and more work is relocated to households, according to Silvia Federici. Especially women are often overworked, as they have to do both: wage labour and care work. The life expectancy of women with low incomes has declined by five years over the past decade. Also children are heavily affected. According to statistics, one out of four children in the US is suffering from a mental disorder. But "hyperactivity", "attention deficit" and "depression" are medical masks for a social issue, says Federici: Children, being deprived of their childhood and lacking attention, are being sedated by drugs. At the same time the care for the elderly is often sourced out - even to foreign countries - to save time and money.
Silvia Federici, professor emerita for Political Philosophy at Hofstra University, Long Island, NY; political activist and author of several books, including "Caliban and the Witch"
Kontext TV: You already mentioned the crisis of reproduction and usually when we think about the financial crisis or the fiscal crisis we think of factories closing down people losing their jobs we think of a crisis of production but what do you mean by a crisis of the process of reproduction?
Federici: Crisis of reproduction means the fact that more and more people find it extremely difficult to reproduce themselves at all levels, the most obvious of course is the lack of resources. We are losing our home, losing jobs we don't have access to monetary income where so much of what we need now has to be bought at the market. So this is very evident. The other forms of crisis of reproduction have to do for example with overwork. Women still are doing most of the housework in the home - most of the unpaid work and at the same time many of them have jobs outside of the home so they are consumed by overworked and it is really a myth that because so many have wage jobs, the housework, the unpaid labor in the home has disappeared or significantly diminished. In reality because of the cuts in social services so much housework has come back to the home. In the United States the reform of hospital care for example the fact that people after surgery stay less and less in the hospital has meant that much of the therapies that were once provided by clinics and hospitals today are being done in the home. And women are expected to know or they are being trained to know when the patient is dismissed how to pick up the therapy. So there is a tremendous amount of housework that is coming back. And the crisis, we see it also with children. The fact that for example the women now have a lot of hours working outside the home means, that the whole issue of childcare has become a terrain of crisis. We have a terminology, a word in the U.S. called latchkey kids. These are kids are about 6, 7, 8 years old and have a key around the neck because they come back from school and the mother is not there. And in this conjunction I want to speak about the fact that a very symptomatic sign of the crisis is the fact that according to the U.S. Center for disease control today one out of four children in the US has a mental disorder. Either hyperactivity or attention deficit or even depression. So we have children very young four five even younger than four already given medication. We have a whole generation of children who are being sedated. And I have a great skepticism about the reality of those diseases. But I think what we are facing is a medicalization of a social issue. A medicalization, an attempt to hide the fact that the schools, that the programs in the schools are continuously capped. And less and less the schools are providing programs that are effective to children that are creative and the children are bored stiff. The schools if anything are becoming prisons and not places that are really nourishing for children. The home, the parents are under tremendous stress. And therefore that attention for children is not there. And there is also a level of pressure on children that is coming from the state and from the different institutions, that is amazing. They are really now trying to capture children and form them for the labor market, as young as four or five. I discovered to my horror, that in the U.S. at least - I don't know in Germany - but they are now giving attitude tests to children that are very young - four or five years old, to see what kind of attitude. So children are being denied their childhood. And the response to their dissatisfaction is now sedation. Similarly a similar crisis you can find when we look at the elderly. Even more in a way, because there is more attention to children. Children are the future, whereas the elderly they represent those who are on the way out. So there is even less visibility and concern. But we find that many elder people now resources for them have been cut. They live in great poverty. They live very alone. And the kind of aid, for example nurses, aides, going to visit them, to bring them some food, to help them with some housework, enabling them to continue to stay in their home which is what most of them want, all of that is now diminishing. And I understand there is a big crisis in Germany too. I don't know if it is true, but I heard that for instance there has been a kind of move to outsource elderly people, particularly those with Alzheimer, I don't know if it is true, which would mean that elderly families are now making provisions for their elderly relatives to go to other countries because they find that caring for them in Germany is too burdensome or too expensive. This is where you can see that we definitely need the Commons. And I want to add one more thing. To talk about the data that are signals of the crisis. In the United States statistics have shown that over the last 10, 15 years, proletarian women, women with low income and with low levels of formal education are now expected to live five years less than their mothers. So the life expectancy is declining. But it's particularly declining in the case of women. And it clearly has to do with the tremendous amount of overwork, anxiety, that they have. And also another statistic that is revealing is the increase of 700% since the seventies of women in jail. That also has to be connected with the crisis of resources. Because most of the crimes for which these women are in jail are crimes that are consensual, nonviolent, having to do with outlawed means of survival the women are forced to resort to.