Abolish the Family

Abolish the Family:A Manifesto for Care and Liberation

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What if family were not the only place you might hope to feel safe, loved, cared for and accepted?

What if we could do better than the family?

We need to talk about the family. For those who are lucky, families can be filled with love and care, but for many they are sites of pain: from abandonment and neglect, to abuse and violence. Nobody is more likely to harm you than your family.

Even in so-called happy families, the unpaid, unacknowledged work that it takes to raise children and care for each other is endless and exhausting. It could be otherwise: in this urgent, incisive polemic, leading feminist critic Sophie Lewis makes the case for family abolition.

Abolish the Family traces the history of family abolitionist demands, beginning with nineteenth century utopian socialist and sex radical Charles Fourier, the Communist Manifesto and early-twentieth century Russian family abolitionist Alexandra Kollontai. Turning her attention to the 1960s, Lewis reminds us of the anti-family politics of radical feminists like Shulamith Firestone and the gay liberationists, a tradition she traces to the queer marxists bringing family abolition to the twenty-first century. This exhilarating essay looks at historic rightwing panic about Black families and the violent imposition of the family on indigenous communities, and insists: only by thinking beyond the family can we begin to imagine what might come after.

Reviews

  • Sharp, engaging, and bursting with intellectual energy, Abolish the Family is a triumph. Whether you come to this book as a critic of The Family or as its most ardent supporter, you're sure to find something within its pages to move, challenge, or provoke you. It's a joy to read, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

    Helen Hester
  • I am consistently dazzled by Sophie Lewis's work, which is both intellectually capacious and heart-expanding. Abolish the Family is a liberatory demand and a world-making project proposed here with revolutionary love and inimitable style. Without fail, Lewis clarifies, disrupts and inspires.

    Natasha Lennard, author of Being Numerous: Essays on Non-Fascist Life
  • The idea of family abolition tends to provoke skeptical reactions: Can't families be a source of solidarity? Without families, who would we count on when things get tough? Shouldn't we protect vulnerable families, ostracized families, separated families? Sophie Lewis faces up to the hard questions without flinching, while ultimately steering us towards different ones: How else could we live, and who else could we be? Abolish the Family is a rigorously utopian, radically compassionate, unapologetically revolutionary manifesto, by equal parts thrilling and sobering. We all deserve better than the family, Lewis argues, and it's up to all of us to build new forms of solidarity and care that reach beyond biology or even kin, even if we don’t know quite what they'll look like. Abolish the Family will make you want to find out.

    Alyssa Battistoni