If you like to keep up on the latest COVID-19 news (the real stuff, not the manufactured minimizing stuff) and your politics lean very far left, here's a podcast you must listen to. The Death Panel podcast describes itself this way:
Politics, culture, and public policy from the left. Medicare for All now. Solidarity forever. Stay alive another week. Hosted by Beatrice Adler-Bolton, Artie Vierkant, Phil Rocco, Jules Gill-Peterson, and Abby Cartus. The Death Panel is independent, ad-free, and fully listener-supported.
I'm late to the Death Panel game but I am absolutely loving it. It provides exactly the kinds of smart, critical analyses of COVID-19 and other social, cultural, and political issues that there's too little of, and that we desperately need. I'm currently working my way through the COVID-19 episodes, including one of the latest, "COVID Year Three," which provides a deep dive into what they call the "sociological construction of the end of the pandemic." So many people believe and act like the pandemic is 'over'—well, that's not by accident. Instead, it was a conscious plan enacted by politicians, news media, and more. The episode painstakingly details "the major social and political developments that worked to normalize covid in 2022," and they bring receipts.
We look back at how such a basic intervention as masking during a pandemic became increasingly scrutinized, undermined, and ultimately stigmatized in mainstream discourse over the last three years.
And if you want even more of this critical political analysis of the (mis)handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, two of the hosts, Beatrice Adler-Bolton and Artie Vierkant, just published a book called "Health Communism." Publisher Verso describes the book as "a searing analysis of health and illness under capitalism." They continue:
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.