This essay, while siding with the position that emphasizes the importance of Althusser’s theory of reading, seeks to examine both the possibilities the text opens up for a feminist reading of Marx via the use it has been made by feminist theorists since its publication, but also to point to oversights of the text itself, particularly concerning the concept of social reproduction.
As the last vestiges of the welfare state all but disappear in the UK, we are faced with the paradoxical situation of those most opposed to “the state” (either as anarchists or as revolutionaries committed to its “withering away”) being forced to defend elements of it against those who are in the process of privatizing it into oblivion. Of course “the state” is not simply a vanishing safety net or a real but ignored set of obligations, but also prisons, police, courts, and multiple other forms of coercion, punishment, control, and violence. Can we defend the “good state” against this other one without falling into political contradiction or practical confusion? Can we separate out the state and capitalist production?