cover image Lean on Me: A Politics of Radical Care

Lean on Me: A Politics of Radical Care

Lynne Segal. Verso, $29.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-804-29294-5

In this hopeful treatise, philosopher Segal (Radical Happiness) draws on recent decades of feminist theory and activism to present a corrective vision of the human condition as based not in individual autonomy, but rather in mutual dependence. Arguing that economies and societies should be structured around “collective care”—as should the political activism that makes these goals possible—Segal traces the socialist feminist theory in which she grounds her critique from its heyday in the 1970s, through the period when it was largely sidelined by an “aspirational feminism” more focused on giving some women better access to capitalist power (which effectively outsourced much care work to poorer women of color), to current-day revivals of more militant and activist feminism, especially in the Global South. She touches on other care-related topics, including motherhood, aging, and environmental concerns (she cautions that the idea of nature as aligned with women’s inherent nurturing allows both to be more easily exploited). Segal arrives at a guarded hopefulness that what she frames as care-based movements, such as Black Lives Matter and prison abolitionism, will nudge society toward “placing care and kindness at the heart of our politics.” Throughout, Segal provides intriguing historical insight onto radical feminist politics alongside visions for its potential future. The result is an optimistic and invigorating take on a popular strand of leftist thinking. (Nov.)