In this conversation, Beatrice Adler-Bolton—disability justice advocate and co-host of Death Panel Podcast—says something twice:
"Under capitalism, you’re only entitled to the survival you can buy."
Her forthcoming co-authored book is called, provocatively, Health Communism. Part of its argument is that we have to imagine a society in which everyone is entitled to the survival we can share.
How disquieting it is that the natural instinct we have as individuals to ask: "What is this going to cost me?" is microcosmic to neoliberal obsessions—austerity, productivity, and dreams of a better future purchased with moral sacrifices in the present. It’s microcosmic to the brutal decisions our societies are now making about who is worthy of protection and who isn't, and which political constituencies we can't afford to piss off by appealing to the small amount of generosity and humility it takes to wear a mask.
We're living in a culture of What is it going to cost me? And that's not really a culture at all.
If we don't do better, then how exactly are the conspiritualists wrong? Not about the details, but about the existential condition. They imagine a Cabal at the top of everything, making nefarious decisions, and this is easy to dismiss. Less easy to dismiss is the feeling they articulate, that many of us share: that unseen and impersonal forces are working against the spirit of human generosity. They know that sometimes we all feel ourselves participating in that process, which means we have to do something—perhaps as radical as waking up. Not to the magic of turmeric, or the realization that we’re starseeds. Something far more radical than that, and much more mundane: that we can organize ourselves in more fair and loving ways.
Beatrice Adler-Bolton is a blind/low vision and chronically ill artist, writer, and disability justice advocate. Beatrice studies radical patient groups and the capitalist political economy of health as an independent researcher and is earning a master's in Disability Studies at CUNY. She is the co-host of the Death Panel podcast with Artie Vierkant and Phil Rocco.
Note from Beatrice:
If you'd like to give your listeners a little more info on Disability Justice (DJ), I would recommend this link from Sins Invalid, which is a short and foundational DJ text and a really quick primer on what it is written by Patty Berne and Sins Invalid: tinyurl.com/DJ10Principles.