Sunday, November 1, 2020

THE CARE MANIFESTO, a short read but an intense and inspiring one

THE CARE MANIFESTO: The Politics of Interdependence

Verso Press
$9.99 Kindle edition, available now

Rating: 3.75* of five

The Publisher Says: We are in the midst of a global crisis of care. How do we get out of it?

The Care Manifesto puts care at the heart of the debates of our current crisis: from intimate care—childcare, healthcare, elder care—to care for the natural world. We live in a world where carelessness reigns, but it does not have to be this way.

The Care Manifesto puts forth a vision for a truly caring world. The authors want to reimagine the role of care in our everyday lives, making it the organising principle in every dimension and at every scale of life. We are all dependent on each other, and only by nurturing these interdependencies can we cultivate a world in which each and every one of us can not only live but thrive.

The Care Manifesto demands that we must put care at the heart of the state and the economy. A caring government must promote collective joy, not the satisfaction of individual desire. This means the transformation of how we organise work through co-operatives, localism and nationalisation. It proposes the expansion of our understanding of kinship for a more 'promiscuous care'. It calls for caring places through the reclamation of public space, to make a more convivial city. It sets out an agenda for the environment, most urgent of all, putting care at the centre of our relationship to the natural world.


My Review
: A pamphlet in length, a Bible in heft, and very British in tone, this is a cri de coueur and a call to arms at one and the same time. There is no one thing in the text that is or could be made into an action item, so activists take note. The purpose of this work is to examine the failures of our present end-stage capitalist system of delivering "care" to its consumers. Spoiler alert: it's a shambles, with horrific social and economic costs.

Then, after wasting exactly no words on belaboring (!) their point, the contributors outline theoretical bases for extending the concept of care, starting with feminist thinker Joan Tronto's formulation of types of care. First there is caring for, the step-one state of all care, the delivering care from one person to another. Next comes caring about, the empathetic connection that leads us to extend our hand to others, often strangers to us. And caring with, the hardest stage of care that Tronto identifies...the urge to act, to make one's ideas and suggestions work in the wider world, for example the people who join Greenpeace or Doctors Without Borders.

The contributors use this ingenious and simple system of ideas about caring to offer some blissfully utopian suggestions for enabling "promiscuous care," which sounds a lot racier than it is. I hoped for something louche; I got the idea that a truly well-run planet would be promiscuously cared for, about, and with because the Collective urges on us a paradigm shift into drawing no distinctions between the needy and caring. Animals, ecosystems, all are in need of care; souls and minds and bodies, no matter whose or what's bodies and souls we're talking about, should be able to expect care. Simply for existing.

If that does not make your heart swell and your eyes leak a bit, you're dead inside.

How this should be accomplished and what enforcement regime will be in place, plan this blissfully Right can be that precise. I did not come away from this read equipped with solutions, but I darn sure came away with answers that I want to summon into existence. And that is a great place to start thinking through the "what comes next" part of the Revolution that capitalism's collapse will bring.

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