How Modern Capitalism is Destroying Our Health
Nicholas Freudenberg in Conversation with Andrew Keen on Keen On
The coronavirus pandemic is dramatically disrupting not only our daily lives but society itself. This show features conversations with some of the world’s leading thinkers and writers about the deeper economic, political, and technological consequences of the pandemic. It’s our new daily podcast trying to make longterm sense out of the chaos of today’s global crisis.
In this episode, Andrew is joined by Nicholas Freudenberg, the author of At What Cost: Modern Capitalism and the Future of Health, to discuss the extent to which modern capitalism has contributed to public health crises like the coronavirus.
From the episode:
Nicholas Freudenberg: Because of some of the internal dynamics of capitalism, of the growing role of the financial sector, because of the increasing globalization of supply chains, it’s become more damaging to health. And that is what concerns me, and that’s what I try and talk about in the book. I’m also particularly interested in how those changes affect our day-to-day lives. And the book is organized around what I call the six pillars of health: food, health care, education, transportation, work, and social connections. And in each of those cases, the changes in capitalism have made it harder for people to get what we need to stay healthy, to survive and thrive. I think we’re on a collision course with being able to leave a survivable world for our children and grandchildren if we leave things as they are today. The climate emergency is just perhaps a very stark illustration, and I think highlights Alice Walker’s quote that it’s not just consumption, but it’s a pattern of consumption that focuses on increasing corporate profits no matter what the cost to human well-being. That’s what we need to worry about.
Nicholas Freudenberg, DrPH, MPH, is Distinguished Professor of Public Health at the City University of New York Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, Director of the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute, and Founder of Corporations and Health Watch, a website that monitors the impact of corporations on health. Dr. Freudenberg is the author or co-author of five other books and more than 100 scientific articles. His work has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Open Society Institute.