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SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19

COVID-19 and Circuits of Capital

COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the second severe acute respiratory syndrome virus since 2002, is now officially a pandemic. As of late March, whole cities are sheltered in place and, one by one, hospitals are lighting up in medical gridlock brought about by surges in patients. | more…

Health Care Under the Knife Moving Beyond Capitalism for Our Health

Health Care for Profit (Not Health)

A Sick System

This article will be released in full online April 27, 2020.

Health Care Under the Knife, a collection of essays under the editorship of Howard Waitzkin, presents a vigorous critique of health within the context of capitalism, examining the extent to which the economy and its relations of production determine how health is socially distributed, the conditions of medical practice, and the structural organization of health systems. Rather than considering health as primarily a biomedical phenomenon and health systems as autonomous institutions, the volume recognizes the intricate fundamental relationship between health and the wider political, economic, and sociological context. | more…

Mental Health

A Theory of Mental Health and Monopoly Capitalism

As an exposition of capitalism’s contradictions, Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy’s Monopoly Capital remains one of the most influential treatises in Marxist political economy produced in North America. Among Baran and Sweezy’s sociological investigations, they identified the negative consequences of capitalism for mental health, drawing attention to the manner in which the organization of capitalist society conflicted with the essential needs of the individual. | more…

Karl Marx on Alienation

The Quality of Monopoly Capitalist Society: Mental Health

When Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy’s Monopoly Capital was published by Monthly Review Press in 1966, two of the chapters originally drafted for the book were left out of the final volume: what was to have been Chapter 9 in the original plan for the book, entitled “Some Theoretical Implications,” and what was intended as Chapter 11, “The Quality of Monopoly Capitalist Society: Culture and Mental Health.” In July–August 2012, “Some Theoretical Implications” was finally published in Monthly Review. This was followed by the publication of the first part, approximately two-thirds of the whole, of “The Quality of Monopoly Capitalist Society: Culture and Mental Health,” titled “The Quality of Monopoly Capitalist Society: Culture and Communications,” in the July–August 2013 issue of the magazine. The section on mental health was left out on the grounds that it was incomplete. We finally publish it here. | more…

superbugs

Superbugs in the Anthropocene

A Profit-Driven Plague

The promise of a world without disease has been replaced by warnings of evermore virulent pathogens, created by the very drugs that were supposed to save us. Scarcely a day passes without more news of people contracting infections or infectious diseases that cannot be cured by the strongest medicines available. Antimicrobial Resistance is a global health crisis driven by two major factors: the spectacular ability of bacteria to adapt to threats, and a pharmaceutical industry and health care system that puts profit before people. In addition to devastating climate change, the Anthropocene may be defined by epidemics that medicine cannot cure. | more…

Cuban Health Care: The Ongoing Revolution

Forthcoming in June 2020

Quiet as it’s kept inside the United States, the Cuban revolution has achieved some phenomenal goals, reclaiming Cuba’s agriculture, advancing its literacy rate to nearly 100 percent—and remaking its medical system. Cuba has transformed its health care to the extent that this “third-world” country has been able to maintain a first-world medical system, whose health indicators surpass those of the United States at a fraction of the cost. Don Fitz combines his broad knowledge of Cuban history with his decades of on-the-ground experience in Cuba to bring us the story of how Cuba’s health care system evolved and how Cuba is tackling the daunting challenges to its revolution in this century. | more…

Neoliberalism is creating loneliness

Capitalism and Mental Health

The psychoanalytical framework developed by Marxist Erich Fromm strongly challenges the dominant biological and individualistic explanations of the mental-health crisis that is now sweeping the globe. Fromm emphasized that all humans have certain needs that must be fulfilled in order to ensure optimal mental health. It follows that capitalism is crucial to determining the experience and prevalence of mental well-being, as its operations are incompatible with true human need. | more…

Cuban Doctors Provide Vaccinations in Senegal in 1973

Cuba’s First Military Doctors

In the 1960s and the context of mushrooming popular movements across the globe, the brutality of U.S. imperialism, the unreliability of the Soviet Union as an ally, and the Latin American Communist Parties’ focus on the urban working class, Cuban leaders felt beckoned to help revolutionary projects in Africa. While Cuba sent soldiers, they also sent doctors. By the end of the 1960s, when the Cuban revolutionary government had been in power for only ten years, doctors had been involved in four different African political projects. Cuba’s deployment of military doctors to Africa left profound impacts, both on the host countries and on the Cuban doctors, who were bound to secrecy and only began sharing their stories decades later. | more…

Healthcare workers celebrating in Cuba

The Birth of the Cuban Polyclinic

During the 1960s, Cuban medicine experienced changes as tumultuous as the civil rights and antiwar protests in the United States. While activists, workers, and students in western Europe and the United States confronted existing institutions of capitalism and imperialism, Cuba faced the even greater challenge of building a new society. | more…

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

Forthcoming in March 2018

“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. | more…