July 23, 2016

Musicians Are Not Capitalists, So Stop Shitting on Kathleen Hanna (Or Any Other Musician) For Selling Their Labor

I just saw The Julie Ruin in Portsmouth NH, and it was amazing. This is the first time I've ever seen Kathleen and crew live in person, and it was the closest thing to a religious experience I've had in a long time. Kathleen has been a huge inspiration for me politically and musically since I was in high school 17 years ago.

One thing that struck me though, was that Kathleen was saying that she'd been getting shit from people for making money selling her music and saying she's a capitalist and therefore "out of the feminist club."

That's really shitty that people are sniping her for paying her bills, and really shitty politics.

Kathleen was like, "well guess what, we live in a capitalist country" and went on to talk about how she is justified to make money creating and selling music.

Every musician who makes a living performing and recording is totally is justified in making money, but making money and being able to pay your bills doesn't make you a capitalist. There is no contradiction between being anti-capitalist and selling your labor to survive. In fact, the two go together quite often.

Capitalists are capitalists because they don't make their money through their own labor.
They make their money by owning and controlling and exploiting the labor of other people.

Musicians are directly involved with the creation of their art, and their labor is the thing they sell when they get on stage, just like every other working class person, just like people who sell their labor working for minimum wage at McDonalds. When musicians make money doing their craft, that's not making money exploiting the labor of another person, they are laborers. It's not being a capitalist, it's being a worker.

Now hardcore marxists might to say that musicians aren't really working class, because they aren't really exploited by the ruling class capitalists in the same way as factory workers or service workers are, and that because musicians are full owners of their own labor, they are more like artisans or petite bourgeois. I think that confuses the issue for no good purpose. They are laborers. To me, they are in the working class.

Those who trash talk Kathleen for surviving under capitalism (and spreading her ideas while she's at it) don't even understand what capitalism is. To say that a person is "selling out" for making money is totally messed up and moralistic-- as though a single mother working at McDonald's to support herself and her child is somehow immoral because she's working for an evil corporation to survive a system that would readily put her on the street without batting an eye?

Nope. That's bullshit. There is no such thing as "ethical capitalism," and people absolutely have a right to make money to survive --by any means necessary, until capitalism is overthrown and things like food and housing are human rights. Moralizing people for the way they choose to survive their way through capitalism is just totally backwards and destructive to working class solidarity. We need to lift one another up, and recognize our shared solidarity as workers, not tear one another down.

It's only when people don't do any of the work and survive entirely by exploiting the labor of other people that they become capitalists.

So rock on. And if you happen to pay your rent while doing so, more power to you. It doesn't make you a capitalist or anti-feminist.

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