Marxism and Autism

There is a spectrum haunting Europe ...

Neurodiversity under Capitalism and under Socialism

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?

Marxism and Autism: matters arising

Some notes from recent discussions on Marxism and autism (two meetings and some online exchanges):

  • There is a capitalist market in products aimed at autistic people and their families. These range from useful resources through to fake and even abusive 'treatments' and 'cures'. As well as commodifying autistic people's needs, this also exploits the fears felt by autistic people and particularly by parents of autistic kids.
  • The mass production brought about by capitalism has had the effect of 'standardising' human beings, pushing us into a narrowly-defined 'normal', in contrast with the more individual, craft-based systems of production that preceded it. On the other hand, mass production has brought major advances and increased living standards. Can socialism combine the advantages of mass production and a renewed scope for individuality and diversity?

Marxism and Autism

Published in Solidairty 434, 29 March 2017:

 

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?

Autism and Marxism

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.

Marxism and Autism: Newcastle

05/04/2017 - 19:00

Janine introduces a discussion on Marxism and Autism. Can Marxism help explain the autistic experience under capitalism, and contribute to our fight against oppression?

Venue: Broadacre House, Market Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 6HQ

Informal Discussion on Autism and Marxism, Leeds

20/09/2016 - 19:00

In a pub somewhere near the Lovell Park Autism Hub. Meet outside the Hub at 7pm or text 07957-217639 to find out where we are! Janine will give a take about Marxism and Autism, then we'll chat about it. Can Marxism explain the social position and experiences of autistic people? Are there specific Marxist theories that are useful? Is capitalism both developed and disabling? What's class got to do with it?

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