“Economic freedom” and “personal choice” are therefore the explicit enemies of the ‘public health’ movement. No wonder, then, that ‘public health’ has become a base from which discredited socialist ideas are reframed as quasi-medical issues. All the old targets are present and correct—capitalism, individualism, advertising, American corporations, income inequality—all served up with a dash of genuine puritanism. In the hands of academics such as Richard Horton, Richard Wilkinson and Michael Marmot, antediluvian leftism has been unashamedly injected into the discourse of health, while the words and deeds of such figures as Gerard Hastings and Martin McKee display a quite staggering degree of undergraduate Marxism. Throw a rock in the air at any public health conference and you will hit a member of the loony left.
Please use a large rock.
The Lancet has recently published a 'manifesto' which rather proves my point. It contains no policies or targets about health and disease, but instead calls for a "social movement to support collective public health action at all levels of society - personal, community, national, regional, global, and planetary." Since its authors include unreconstructed leftists like Richard Horton and Martin McKee, this technocratic utopia can only be achieved by overthrowing the existing economic order, ie. capitaism.
The discipline of public health is critical to this vision because of its values of social justice...
'Social justice' just means socialism, as far as I can tell. Thomas Sowell says that it should really be called 'cosmic justice' because its dream of total equality of income, personal characteristics and opportunity can never be achieved without some higher power. Any attempt to achieve it (eg. communism) can only lead to "arbitrary power and shameless lies" (which not a bad description of the 'public health' scam).
Planetary health is an attitude towards life and a philosophy for living. It emphasises people, not diseases, and equity, not the creation of unjust societies.
It really isn't about health, is it?
We have created an unjust global economic system that favours a small, wealthy elite over the many who have so little.
It would be interesting to know what people like Horton and McKee earn. I'll bet you a pig to a pork scratching that they are in the top 0.1 per cent globally.
The idea of unconstrained progress is a dangerous human illusion...
This typically means that we should accept lower living standards in the search for income equality.
Our tolerance of neoliberalism and transnational forces dedicated to ends far removed from the needs of the vast majority of people, and especially the most deprived and vulnerable, is only deepening the crisis we face.
'Neoliberalism' means free markets and 'transnational forces' means globalisation, ie. free trade between countries. These are the main factors that have led to the extraordinary reduction in poverty in developing countries since 1980. The world suffers less from an unequal distribution of wealth than it does from an unequal distribution of capitalism. Countries which have resisted free market reforms have suffered greatly as a result.
We need a new vision of cooperative and democratic action at all levels of society and a new principle of planetism
In the context of public health, 'cooperative and democratic action' means unelected organisations like the World Health Organisation telling citizens of the world how to live.
The voice of public health and medicine as the independent conscience of planetary health has a special part to play in achieving this vision. Together with empowered communities, we can confront entrenched interests and forces that jeopardise our future.
"Planetary health"? What next, galactic health? How about focusing on genuine public health issues such as outbreaks of scarlet fever?
This evening, Richard Horton will be chairing a debate about economics, a subject that he demonstrably knows nothing about, alongside Martin McKee who knows as much about it as he does about e-cigarettes. Details here.
This, from a story about obesity on the BBC website, is apropos:
Dr Mark Temple, a member of BMA Cymru's Welsh Committee for Public Health Medicine, told BBC Wales: "I know that the Welsh Medical Committee suggested to the Welsh government that they had to response [sic] to the obesogenic environment...
"The free market is not a good idea," he added.