Available for pre-order. This item will be available on October 18, 2022.
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.
“This book changed the way I think about health, power, state capacity, extraction, social welfare, and resistance. It is an immensely useful tool for wrestling with the most urgent questions facing our movements in these terrifying times. Readable and filled with concise histories and clear examples to illustrate nuanced analysis, it will no doubt become required reading among those struggling against the death cult that is racial capitalism.”
“Beatrice Adler-Bolton and Artie Vierkant bring us a galvanizing proposition: Unlike the rest of us, capital is not alive; it merely animates itself through our host bodies. This book shares the impressive truth that we are all surplus in the political economy of health, whether we are presently 'healthy' or 'sick.' Adler-Bolton and Vierkant teach that our shared condition of vulnerability is ever ready to transform into our collective strength.”
“Beatrice Adler-Bolton and Artie Vierkant have been a lifeline for many during the COVID-19 pandemic through their Death Panel podcast, deconstructing the failed American response with a knife that cuts like truth. Here, they do something even more remarkable: imagine a better future. Health Communism doesn’t tinker around the edges. It makes a direct assault on the idea that health can survive under capitalism, where the sick are simply disposable, while the system making a killing along the way. No one talks like Adler-Bolton and Vierkant do - those in public health and medicine are too deeply embedded in the status quo to even acknowledge the searing logic of their words. They stake out the far edge of what is possible and remind us that only the journey towards that horizon will make us free.”
“Health against health! I can’t remember the last time I learned so much in under 200 pages. Nor can I imagine a more needful book for the pandemic we are still in, let alone the pandemics yet to come. This exquisitely researched 'surplus manifesto' made me cry tears of rage, but demonstrated powerfully to me that our collective illness can be ‘turned into a weapon.’ In my view, everyone new to disability liberation should read this text. Everyone who wants to stop the destruction of their bodies by capitalism should join the Death Panel community. If we let them, Beatrice Adler-Bolton and Artie Vierkant will teach the left how to really understand capitalism, at the cellular and somatic levels. So, if you are holding this book, congratulations. Here is deep wisdom to arm a struggle towards forms of human embodiment as yet undreamed-of; inspiration for a million insurgencies of communist health.”
“I could not help but cheer as I read Health Communism. The most analytically sharp analysis of the relations between capitalism and disability since the pioneering work of Marta Russell, this powerfully explicative work is a rousing manifesto for the sick and becoming-surplus to unite.”