Faculty Writing: On the Normalcy of Russian Capitalism, Momfluencers and Momrades, and the Uneven Toll of the “Green” Transition

Writing in LeftEast magazine, Olena Lyubchenko urges a rethinking of the polarizing narrative that juxtaposes the political ideology of Putin’s Russia against Western liberal democracy, private property, and human rights—or risk misunderstanding the invasion of Ukraine as a deviation, rather than a “feature,” of Russia’s “neoliberal regime of accumulation.” And risk misunderstanding capitalism itself: “By contrasting Russian predatory capitalism, characterized by close political and personal ties to the state, with the supposedly rational private property relations of (usually Western) liberal democratic capitalist states, we risk reproducing an idea of capitalism stripped of oppression and expropriation, with ‘extra-economic’ violence associated exclusively with historical moments or particularly backward regions.”

Then, in Signs journal, Sophie Lewis responds to Sara Peterson’s book Momfluenced. As Lewis frankly remarks, contemporary “Mommy Influencers” practice a marketing tactic “that dates back to the nineteenth century: namely, the use of an always-already racialized, patriarchal ‘motherhood’ ideology as a means to sell purchasable experiences (and tangible products) to middle-class women by emotionally manipulating the image of ‘the good life.’” But, asks Lewis, what would it take to look at mothering differently—to pit the “collective labors of life-making” against the privatization of care, to make “momrades” of “momfluencers”?

Lastly, in Dissent, Alyssa Battistoni sits down with writer and scholar Thea Riofrancos to discuss a seeming contradiction in the “green” transition to electric vehicles: the environmental and social toll exacted by rare mineral extraction—the impacts of which are anything but equally distributed among the planet’s population: “Activists in Portugal, Spain, Nevada, Argentina, and Chile all see commonalities not just in terms of the harms of extraction, but also in terms of who—marginalized and often, but not always, Indigenous people—pays the environmental and social price.”

 

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