Premilla Nadasen, "Care: The Highest Stage of Capitalism" (Haymarket Books, 2023)


During the COVID pandemic, billions of dollars in relief aid was sent out to help us ride out the storm, although many people who struggled through it might scratch their heads at such a number, having seen little of it make any concrete impact in their own lives. This discrepancy is indicative of the underlying problem with the contemporary care economy, a series of federal and state programs, healthcare facilities and NGO’s, all trying to bend the needs of those under their care to the mechanisms and incentives laid out by capitalism. The result is a massive apparatus that regularly fails to fulfill its supposed intentions, leaving workers and those in need of help in precarious and often dangerous situations. 

This apparatus is untangled and explained in clear detail by Premilla Nadasen in her book Care: The Highest Stage of Capitalism (Haymarket Books, 2023). Informed by both her work as a historian and as a political activist, she manages to untangle and explain why the massive apparatus regularly fails to fulfill its purpose. She also outlines offramps, forms of resistance that workers and activists have taken to develop alternative anticapitalist forms of care that might someday allow us to truly flourish together.

Premilla Nadasen is a professor of history at Barnard College, Columbia University. She is the co-director of the Barnard Center for Research on Women. She is also the author of Welfare Warriors: The Welfare Rights Movement in the United States and Household Workers Unite: The Untold Story of African American Women Who Built a Movement.

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