“Post”-pandemic Capitalism: Reform or Transform?; Comment on “Ensuring Global Health Equity in a Post-pandemic Economy”

Document Type : Commentary


Health Sciences Center and Department of Sociology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, USA


This commentary expresses appreciation for Professor Labonté’s work, along with some hopefully constructive suggestions. Professor Labonté’s editorial shows ambivalence about reforms within capitalism. Such reforms remain contradictory and unlikely to prevail. Transformation to post-capitalist political economies is an exciting focus of moving beyond the hurtful effects of capitalism. Can “the state … mitigate capitalism’s inherent inegalitarianism”? Problematically, government resides in the capitalist state, whose main purpose is to protect the capitalist economic system. The state’s contradictory characteristics manifest in inadequate measures to protect health, as during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Social determination,” referring to illness-generating structures of power and finance, is replacing “social determinants,” referring mainly to demographic variables. Problems warranting attention include: capitalist industrial agriculture causing pandemics through destruction of protective natural habitat, structural racism, sexism and social reproduction, social class structure linked to inequality, and expropriation of nature to accumulate capital. Transformation to post-capitalism involves creative construction of new solidarity economies, while creative destructions block smooth functioning of the capitalist system. 


Main Subjects

  1. Labonté R. Ensuring global health equity in a post-pandemic economy. Int J Health Policy Manag. 2022;11(8):1246-1250. doi:34172/ijhpm.2022.7212
  2. Jameson F. Future city. New Left Rev. 2003;21:65-79.
  3. Inequality Kills: The Unparalleled Action Needed to Combat Unprecedented Inequality in the Wake of COVID-19. January 17, 2022. https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/inequality-kills. Accessed January 11, 2023.
  4. Fisher M. Capitalist Realism: Is There no Alternative? Hampshire, UK: Zero Books; 2009.
  5. Marx K, Engels F. Manifesto of the Communist Party. London, UK: Penguin; 2002.
  6. Gaffney A, Muntaner C. Austerity and health care. In: Waitzkin H, ed. Health Care Under the Knife: Moving Beyond Capitalism for Our Health. New York: Monthly Review Press; 2018. p. 119-136.
  7. Harvey D. Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism. New York: Oxford University Press; 2014.
  8. Waitzkin H, Pérez A, Anderson M. Social Medicine and the Coming Transformation. New York: Routledge; 2021.
  9. Offe C. Modernity and the State: East, West. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press; 1996.
  10. Breilh J. Critical Epidemiology and the People's Health. New York: Oxford University Press; 2021.
  11. Labonté R, Ruckert A. Health Equity in a Globalizing Era: Past Challenges, Future Prospects. New York: Oxford University Press; 2019.
  12. Wallace R. Dead Epidemiologists: On the Origins of COVID-19. New York: Monthly Review Press; 2020.
  13. Fanon F. The Wretched of the Earth. New York: Grove Press; 2004.
  14. Foster JB, Clark B. The expropriation of nature. Monthly Rev. 2018:69(10):1-27.
  15. Waitzkin H. Rinky-Dink Revolution: Moving Beyond Capitalism by Withholding Consent, Creative Constructions, and Creative Destructions. Ottawa, Canada: Daraja Press; 2020.
  16. Mészáros I. Beyond Leviathan: Critique of the State. New York: Monthly Review Press; 2022.