cover image Abolish the Family: A Manifesto for Care and Liberation

Abolish the Family: A Manifesto for Care and Liberation

Sophie Lewis. Verso, $16.95 trade paperback (128p) ISBN 978-1-83976-719-7

Queer feminist theorist Lewis (Full Surrogacy Now) delivers an excoriating takedown of the family unit as a “disciplinary, scarcity-based trauma-machine” that provides false guarantees of belonging while undergirding the exploitative dynamics of patriarchal capitalism. Claiming that abolition of the family system is a “decolonial imperative,” Lewis notes that Indigenous Americans and emancipated African Americans “pursued heterogeneous, anti-propertarian versions of kinship.” Her “non-comprehensive whistle-stop tour” of the history of family abolition includes the socialist utopianism of Charles Fourier, Alexandra Kollontai’s politics of proletarian reproductive liberation, Shulamith Firestone’s “messianic” feminism, the radicalism of the Wages for Housework movement, and Ellen Willis’s 1979 Village Voice article “The Family: Love It or Leave It.” Elsewhere, Lewis claims that the family system arbitrarily puts children under the control of a small number of adults and effectively turns them into property; notes that the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated the problems of unhoused and marginalized people due to a “dearth of alternatives” to the family; and promotes a broad kith/comradeship model of care and connection. Though nonacademic readers may find themselves adrift in a sea of theory, Lewis builds a harsh yet well-grounded portrait of familial dysfunction. This provocation stings. (Oct.)