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.