In October 1862, a sixteen-month-old baby died from an opium overdose in East London. Her baby plagued by a cough, the mother secured a prescription from a local chemist, who inadvertently and fatally doubled the dosage. Another doctor concluded that the baby died from narcotic poisoning and moreover suggested opium should never have been prescribed for this ailment.
Cases of opium-induced deaths of children, both accidental and intentional, circulated frequently in 19th century English newspapers. An 1853 death in Cambridgeshire was blamed on a mother giving her child “a piece of crude opium to suck.” The mother, the New York Daily Times reported, from a family of opium eaters, “spent four shillings a week on the drug” despite being “laboring people.” Increasingly aware of child opium deaths, critics focused on low-income populations whose “local knowledge of opium” allegedly made them comfortable giving their children liberal doses to keep them quiet while they worked. The medical officer of the Privy Council remarked, “The mothers—namely, the agricultural gangwomen—appear often to be very reckless whether children live or die. The children are an encumbrance to them.”
Marx famously wrote that religion “is the opium of the people” and […]
By Maya Singhal|2024-02-14T05:41:26-05:00Feb 13, 2024|Categories: Blog article|Comments Off on Karl Marx Is for the Kids: Opium, Infanticide, and the Family
Over the academic year 2020-21, with the world in a state of limbo owing to the COVID-19 crisis, a group of Marxist scholars and activists at the University of Toronto came together to set up a reading group. The initiative may not seem like an unusual or a remarkable occurrence. After all, the isolation caused by the pandemic forced many of us to conjure new modes of comradeship, of thinking and working together. With our usual avenues for scholarly exchange restricted, it became necessary to envisage what was to be done next.
The urgency of thinking with a Marxist worldview was intensified in this case by the repression of the Left by the state and state-adjacent actors in South Asia in the preceding years. The stream of arrests and torture of Leftist activists in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, to name a few instances, clarified the importance of this task. Driven by the belief that Marxism as an intellectual project allows the possibility to continuously stretch out its frames of knowledge, our group began to explore a healthy collaboration for scholars who either come from or work in South Asia. As a collective, we urged each other to think of scholarly contributions that […]
We stand in unwavering solidarity with the Palestinian people. Since October 7th, 2023, over two million people have faced a brutal onslaught by the Israeli military and state. They have been forced to flee with nowhere to go as homes, shelters, evacuation routes, border crossings, hospitals, places of worship and entire neighborhoods have been bombed.
We mourn civilian deaths in both Israel and Palestine. Israel’s retaliation for the October 7th incursion continues, however, and over 11,000 Palestinians have been killed in the ongoing assault so far. The estimated number of women and children among the casualties is over 8,000. Even reporters have been threatened with violence or killed.
Since the Nakba 75 years ago, the Palestinian people have endured profound suffering, forced displacement, and a brutal 16-year-long inhumane siege and blockade in Gaza. Human rights organizations have characterized Gaza as ‘the largest open-air prison’.
We also condemn the role of the U.S. state in supporting the ongoing siege in Palestine, its support for the horrors inflicted on Gaza, and its refusal to support a humanitarian ceasefire. It is imperative that we do not turn our backs on the devastating impact of this violence on people’s lives. The fight for Palestinian liberation and a fair, enduring peace in the […]
A majority of the world’s workers lack formal jobs. Yet, in the popular imagination, and among many contemporary Marxist scholars, the idea of the working class and the labor movement largely revolves around traditional conceptions of workers as formalized wage workers engaged in commodity production or some other supposed relatively structurally significant job. As a result, informal workers, especially informal workers in Africa, have been largely overlooked as working-class actors and as labor movement participants.
By Joshua Lew McDermott|2023-11-21T20:53:09-05:00Nov 21, 2023|Categories: Blog article|Comments Off on Informal Workers in the Global South and the Global Labor Movement
On September 6, 2023, the United States military reportedly assisted the Somali government in an deadly counter-terrorism operation that killed five civilians. For many Americans, their immediate thought to hearing of this news is probably something along the lines of: I had no idea the US was militarily active in Somalia! What are they even doing there? […]