Global Capitalism, Racism, and Social Triage during COVID-19


  • Matthew B. Flynn



The theory of global capitalism offers useful tools for understanding the socio-structural determinations that result in enduring global health inequities. The theory’s conceptual framework highlights the role of transnational corporations, financialization, consumerism, transnational social classes, and the transnational state in affecting the production and distribution of economic resources, spread of cultural ideologies, and exercise of political power. To understand the health consequences and economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the theory of global capitalism offers a holistic approach for understanding the current geopolitical order as well as its inherently contested nature. However, the approach often elides questions of race and gender while privileging class analysis. To understand the intersectionality in the reproduction of capitalist globalization, the concept of social triage offers an organizational level of analysis to interrogate how bureaucratic decision-making leads to racial and gender health inequalities at the global and national levels. The examples of essential workers, immigration detention, and disparate access to medical technologies reveal the necropolitical reality of an anti-Black pandemic, contributing to current debates about racial capitalism.