A searing analysis of health and illness under capitalism from hosts of the hit podcast “Death Panel”
In this fiery, theoretical tour-de-force, Beatrice Adler-Bolton and Artie Vierkant offer an overview of life and death under capitalism and argue for a new global left politics aimed at severing the ties between capital and one of its primary tools: health.
Written by co-hosts of the hit “Death Panel” podcast and longtime disability justice and healthcare activists Adler-Bolton and Vierkant, Health Communism first examines how capital has instrumentalized health, disability, madness, and illness to create a class seen as “surplus,” regarded as a fiscal and social burden. Demarcating the healthy from the surplus, the worker from the “unfit” to work, the authors argue, serves not only to undermine solidarity but to mark whole populations for extraction by the industries that have emerged to manage and contain this “surplus” population. Health Communism then looks to the grave threat capital poses to global public health, and at the rare movements around the world that have successfully challenged the extractive economy of health.
Ultimately, Adler-Bolton and Vierkant argue, we will not succeed in defeating capitalism until we sever health from capital. To do this will require a radical new politics of solidarity that centers the surplus, built on an understanding that we must not base the value of human life on one’s willingness or ability to be productive within the current political economy. Capital, it turns out, only fears health.
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About the Authors
Beatrice Adler-Bolton is an artist and writer, currently completing an MA in CUNY’s Disability Studies program. She is disabled and chronically ill, a subject position which made clear to her how untenable the American left’s approach to healthcare legislation was.
Artie Vierkant is an artist and writer.