Thursday, 10 April 2014

A Manifesto for Health Fascism


The Lancet, once a respected medical publication but now a cheerleader for New Puritanism, has put out what it calls a 'manifesto for planetary health'. It is a comprehensive presentation of Health Fascism and we should thank The Lancet for publishing since we are now much clearer what we are fighting against.

This manifesto for transforming public health calls for a social movement to support collective public health action at all levels of society - personal, community, national, regional, global, and planetary. Our aim is to respond to the threats we face: threats to human health and wellbeing, threats to the sustainability of our civilisation, and threats to the natural and human-made systems that support us.

The authors move on to present the usual litany of 'progressive' political tenets - overconsumption, environmental catastrophe, inequality and rejection of 'unconstrained progress'. And we get the most bizarre of paragraphs capturing the mission of this Health Fascism:

An urgent transformation is required in our values and our practices based on recognition of our interdependence and the interconnectedness of the risks we face. We need a new vision of cooperative and democratic action at all levels of society and a new principle of planetism and wellbeing for every person on this Earth - a principle that asserts that we must conserve, sustain, and make resilient the planetary and human systems on which health depends by giving priority to the wellbeing of all. All too often governments make commitments but fail to act on them; independent accountability is essential to ensure the monitoring and review of these commitments, together with the appropriate remedial action.
What we have here is a proposal that denies any individual or personal choice - it is subsumed into the 'wellbeing of all', a well-being that isn't determined through markets or even government but via an unspecified 'independent accountability'. We can only assume that the "special part to play" that our authors ascribe to 'public health' is to provide that 'independent accountablity' and 'remedial action' - regardless of the democratic choices made by people and the politicians they elect.

Others have pointed out that better health is a consequence of our civilisation - we live longer, happier and healthier lives because of that evil capitalism and wicked neoliberalism. For me there is a much more fundamental issue here - I am not (and neither are you) a part in some societal machine run by great minds. I am a free man with free will and the chance to make my own choices, good or bad. This manifesto would deny me that choice.

It is truly the Manifesto for Health Fascism.


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