At Lux, Natalie Adler discusses two new books about disability: Health Communism by Beatrice Adler-Bolton and Artie Vierkant, and The Future is Disabled by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha. Both books, Adler explains, “share the underlying assumption that capitalism makes us sick.” Adler surfaces a number of interesting points that the authors lay out in Health Communism, like how we’re conditioned to view health as an end goal — something we could one day have, namely by paying for it — and disease as something temporary, or repairable with money. “I’ve come to realize that the bifurcation between the sick and the well, the disabled and the able-bodied, is capitalism’s intervention,” writes Adler. “In reality, there are just bodies, just us.”

Likewise, in The Future is Disabled, Piepzna-Samarasinha urges us to look beyond the binary between sickness and health, but is also focused on the mutual aid, community, and connection between disabled people and disability activists. “Disabled people are already weathering the end of the world and are keeping each other alive,” writes Adler, “and so disabled knowledge and skills are exactly what we need to survive the future.” Adler goes on to say that both of these books challenge us to view everyone’s lives as vulnerable. Only then can we overhaul, and adapt to, an unjust system.

We now live in a time where we could deal with or even cure many of our ailments, but we are priced out of care or don’t have the time to access it — or we choose not to seek it, because interacting with the medical establishment can be a degrading experience, marred by medical racism and sexism and ageism and homophobia and transphobia and fatphobia and more. So perhaps it’s more accurate to say that capitalism keeps us sick.

Cheri Lucas Rowlands

Cheri has been an editor at Longreads since 2014. She's currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.