Review by Michael Dunford in Midwest Book Review
Revolutionary Love: A Political Manifesto to Heal and Transform the World by Michael Lerner. Published by University of California Press.
From social theorist and psychotherapist Rabbi Michael Lerner comes a strategy for a new socialism built on love, kindness, and compassion for one another. Revolutionary Love: A Political Manifesto to Heal and Transform the World proposes a method to replace what Lerner terms the "capitalist globalization of selfishness" with a globalization of generosity, prophetic empathy, and environmental sanity.
Rabbi Lerner challenges liberal and progressive forces to move beyond often weak-kneed and visionless politics to build instead a movement that can reverse the environmental destructiveness and social injustice caused by the relentless pursuit of economic growth and profits.
Revisiting the hidden injuries of class, Rabbi Lerner shows that much of the suffering in our society (including most of its addictions and the growing embrace of right-wing nationalism and reactionary versions of fundamentalism) is driven by frustrated needs for community, love, respect, and connection to a higher purpose in life. Yet these needs are too often missing from liberal discourse. No matter that progressive programs are smartly constructed -- they cannot be achieved unless they speak to the heart and address the pain so many people experience.
Liberals and progressives need coherent alternatives to capitalism, but previous visions of socialism do not address the yearning for anything beyond material benefits. Inspired by Herbert Marcuse, Erich Fromm, and Carol Gilligan, Revolutionary Love offers a strategy to create the "Caring Society." Lerner details how a civilization infused with love could put an end to global poverty, homelessness, and hunger, while democratizing the economy, shifting to a twenty-eight-hour work week, and saving the life-support system of Earth. Rabbi Lerner asks that we all develop the courage to stop listening to those who tell us that fundamental social transformation is "unrealistic".
Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, Revolutionary Love: A Political Manifesto to Heal and Transform the World is enhanced for academia with the inclusion of a six page Bibliography, six pages of Notes, and a twenty-nine page Index. A wonderfully visionary and impressively timely contribution to our current and on-going national dialogue arising from the deep seated political divisions, the erosion of civic discourse, and the growing hostility exacerbated by a pandemic, economic collapse, and the outgoing Trump Administration, Revolutionary Love: A Political Manifesto to Heal and Transform the World is deserving of the widest possible readership.
While especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library systems, collections in general, and Comparative Political Science supplemental curriculum studies lists in particular, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of political science students, academia, political activists, governmental policy makers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that Revolutionary Love is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.05).
Editorial Note: Rabbi Michael Lerner is the author of the national bestseller The Left Hand of God: Taking Our Country Back from the Religious Right. He is also the editor of Tikkun, one of the most respected intellectual/cultural magazines in the Jewish interfaith and secular worlds, and rabbi of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue in Berkeley, CA. His podcast, "Imagine with Us" with Cat Zavis is available here. To read other reviews of the book click here.
MBR Bookwatch: January 2021
James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
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