Since autistic activist Judy Singer coined the term ‘neurodiversity’ some twenty years ago, it has facilitated a great enlightenment and a progressive new approach to the experiences and rights of autistic and other neurologically atypical people.
Theoretical articles, notes and events from the perspective of working-class self-emancipation.
Autistic, dyspraxic, dyslexic and other people with atypical brain wiring have particular experiences under capitalism. These experiences have positive and negative aspects, and for many people include distress and disadvantage. What are the roots and the causes of this experience? Can we develop the positives while removing the disadvantages? Can we resolve the negatives by tweaking the current system?
Listen to Janine speaking at Momentum's The World Transformed event at Labour Party conference on 24 September 2017.
On Thursday, the women cried Bread, Peace and Land
On Friday, the workers walked out, joined their stand
On Saturday, more marched, a whole city spanned
On Sunday, the Tsar made the Duma disband
By Monday, Provisional and Soviet command
He went too far
Legged it quick
And now he's off -
When the shepherd can't whistle
and the sheep will not herd
The alarm couldn't sound
and when nobody stirred
When the owner growls Sit!
and the dog won't stay
The conductor drops the baton
and the orchestra won't play
That's when the revolution comes
When the piper can't pipe
and the children won't follow
When the lenders can not lend
and the borrowers won't borrow
Can Marxism can help us to understand autistic experience in modern capitalism? How might Marxism inform our struggles for equality and liberation?
There are different approaches to understanding autism. Perhaps the dominant approach is a medical one: seeing autism as a disease or tragedy, and autistic people as being broken and needing fixing. Over recent years, a more progressive approach has developed. It stresses acceptance of autistic people rather than simply “awareness”, and demands rights, equality and support rather than abusive “treatments”.
This approach is based on the concept of neurodiversity: the recognition that the human species is neurologically diverse; that different people have different brain wiring. But this more progressive approach, while welcome, does not necessarily locate autism and neurodiversity within the social, economic and political structures of society. It is important to do this — firstly, because all disability exists in a social context; and secondly, because autism is largely an issue of how people interact socially. We are all expected to follow social rules, but who makes those social rules, and how?
A 20-minute PowerPoint presentation discussing whether Marxism can help us to understand autistic experience in modern capitalism, and how it might inform our struggles for liberation.
Janine read through the notes from the previous meeting, and reported on the process to draw up a Labour Party autism/neurodiversity manifesto. Discussion followed, and included: