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Health Care Under the Knife: Moving Beyond Capitalism for Our Health


“I’ve still got my health so what do I care?” goes a lyric in an old Cole Porter song. Most of us, in fact, assume we can’t live full lives, or take on life’s challenges, without also assuming that we’re basically healthy and will be for the foreseeable future. But these days, our health and well-being are sorted through an ever-expanding, profit-seeking financial complex that monitors, controls, and commodifies our very existence. Given that our access to competent, affordable health care grows more precarious each day, the arrival of Health Care Under the Knife could not be more timely. In this empowering book, noted health-care professionals, scholars, and activists—including coordinator Howard Waitzkin—impart their inside knowledge of the medical system: what’s wrong, how it got this way, and what we can do to heal it.

The book is comprised of individual essays addressing the “medical industrial complex,” the impact of privatization and cutbacks under neoliberalism, the nature of health-care work, and the intersections between health care and imperialism, both historically and at present. We see how the health of our bodies in “developed” countries is tied to the health of the bodies of the labor force in the Global South, and how the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are linked strangely, inextricably, to our physical well-being. But this analysis would not be complete without the book’s final section, which delivers invaluable guidance for how to change this system. Recounting case studies and successful efforts for creating a more humane community, this book ultimately gives us hope that our health-care system can be rescued and made an integral part of a new and radically different society.

It takes courage to challenge core concepts that everyone around you accepts as a given. This book does exactly that.

—Sandro Galea, Dean and Robert A. Knox Professor, School of Public Health, Boston University

Bravely calling out capitalism as a key obstacle to health equity in the U.S. and globally, this timely volume by Waitzkin and colleagues offers fresh insights into the … ties between social justice and the people’s health.

—Nancy Krieger, Professor of Social Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

This book shows how medical care has turned into a privileged field of capital accumulation and super profits at the expense our health.

—Asa Cristina Laurell, Former Secretary of Health, Mexico City

The incisive essays included here unravel the deep institutional roots and serious flaws of this failing system and indicate directions that can lead to establishing decent health care as a fundamental human right.

—Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Laureate Professor, University of Arizona

This tour-de-force opens up space to forge new dreams.

—Charles Briggs, Alan Dundes Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley; author, Making Health Public

The authors provide a valuable vision of how health care could be reorganized to serve the needs of the people of the world.

—Christopher Chase-Dunn, Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Director, Institute for Research on World-Systems, Department of Sociology, University of California, Riverside

Indispensable for understanding how we, participating in political and social networks at the grassroots level, can outflank the capitalists. The diagnosis of these good doctors and experts? Put the system out of its misery; create new, non-capitalist networks of good health, through community organizations and national programs that advocate free and comprehensive health care for all.

—Steve Brouwer, author, Revolutionary Doctors: How Venezuela and Cuba Are Changing the World’s Conception of Health Care

This excellent and powerful book … is a must-read, given the capitalist assault on the public’s health and well-being.

—John Marciano, Professor Emeritus, SUNY Cortland; author, The American War in Vietnam: Crime or Commemoration?

Waitzkin and colleagues provide a trenchant analysis of health care and population health under neoliberal capitalism. The breadth of coverage and the depth of analysis are excellent. A light bulb for health care workers looking for new directions.

—David G. Legge, People’s Health Movement, Australia

The evidence is overwhelming that putting the interests of capital over all other considerations leads to an authentic disaster, which is what is happening today. It is time for that to change. This book will help end the silence.

—Vicente Navarro, Professor, Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health and Johns Hopkins University-Pompeu Fabra University Health Policy Center

A welcome and invaluable contribution to our national dialogue about fixing a broken health care system both locally and nationally, Health Care Under the Knife is an extraordinarily informed and informative study that is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Health & Medicine collections and Health Care Policy supplemental studies lists.

—Midwest Book Review

Praise for Howard Waitzkin’s Medicine and Public Health at the End of Empire:

Health-care reform is a lively and contentious topic, but, as Waitzkin shows in this informative study, our debates on reform are too narrowly framed. His thoughtful analysis raises important questions about conventional assumptions of doctrine and practice, scrutinizing alternatives—among them notably the record of social medicine in Latin America.

—Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Howard Waitzkin is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of New Mexico and Adjunct Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Illinois. He has been active for years in the struggles for national health programs in the United States and Latin America. He is the author of Medicine and Public Health at the End of Empire, among other books.

Format Clear
SKU: mrp6745 Categories: , , , Tags: ,
Topics: Health Places: United States

Number of Pages: 336

Publication Date: March-18

eBook ISBN: 978-1-58367-676-9

Cloth ISBN: 978-1-58367-675-2

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-58367-674-5