In The Already Dead, Eric Cazdyn examines the ways that contemporary medicine, globalization, politics, and culture intersect to produce a condition and concept that he names “the new chronic.” Cazdyn argues that just as contemporary medicine uses targeted drug therapies and biotechnology to manage rather than cure diseases, global capitalism aims not for resolution but rather for a continual state of crisis management that perpetuates the iniquities of the status quo. Engaging critical theory, philosophy, and psychoanalysis, he explores the ways that crisis affects perceptions of time and denies alternative ways of being and thinking.
To resist the exploitative crisis state, which Cazdyn terms “the global abyss,” he posits the concept of “the already dead,” a condition in which the subject (medical, political, psychological) has been killed but has yet to die. Embracing this condition, he argues, allows for a revolutionary consciousness open to a utopian future. Woven into Cazdyn’s analysis are personal anecdotes about his battle with leukemia and his struggle to obtain Canadian citizenship during his illness. These narratives help to illustrate his systemic critique, one that reconfigures the relationship between politics, capitalism, revolution, and the body.