Marxism: The Key to Health?

The Lancet is a once-respected medical journal that has been taken over by leftists, in a sad illustration of O’Sullivan’s Law. Its contents now alternate between respectable articles on technical medical subjects and leftist propaganda like this article, by the Lancet’s editor in chief, Richard Horton. Horton argues that Marxism represents the best path forward for medicine.

Of course, Marxism wasn’t the route to good health for the 100 million who were murdered by Marxist governments, or by the countless millions who were reduced to abject poverty by various Marxist regimes, most recently in North Korea and Venezuela. The North Koreans who try to survive by eating grass and the Venezuelans who hunt rats to eat for dinner would no doubt view Horton’s claims for Marxism with disbelief.

Horton writes:

Who would dare today in the West to praise Karl Marx as the saviour of our wellbeing? Marx is long dead. He died physically on March 14, 1883. He died metaphysically in 1991, as the Soviet Union ebbed away into a newly independent Russian state. The Communist experiment had stuttered, faltered, and finally failed. It’s [sic] legacy? As Michel Kazatchkine wrote in The Lancet last month, the health system in the Soviet era “rapidly deteriorated” in its later years, leading to “inadequate availability of medical drugs and technologies, poorly maintained facilities, worsening quality of health care, and falling life expectancy”.

Horton should have stopped there, but he didn’t.

[M]ore and more people, especially younger generations, believe that economies based only on free markets are not necessarily the best means to deliver fairer or healthier societies.

These would be young people who have never actually lived under socialism.

As Terry Eagleton argued in Why Marx Was Right (2011), Marxism isn’t about violent world revolution, tyrannical dictatorships, or unachievable utopian fantasies.

That is true, actually. Marxism is about stealing other people’s money while asserting power over their lives. The great discovery of late-20th Century Marxists was that revolution and war–risky businesses at best, which often ended badly for Marxists–were unnecessary. Theft and power-grabbing can be accomplished by mostly peaceful means, through the collaboration of useful idiots.

Horton offers three reasons why Marxism can be the salvation of medicine:

First, Marx offers a critique of society, a method of analysis, that enables explication of disquieting trends in modern medicine and public health—privatised health economies, the power of conservative professional elites, the growth of techno-optimism, philanthrocapitalism, the importance of political determinants of health, global health’s neoimperialist tendencies, product-driven definitions of disease, and the exclusion of stigmatised communities from our societies.

It would be hard to write a more incoherent sentence. Among many other things, I look forward to finding a country that has “conservative professional elites.” I might want to live there. And I love “techno-optimism” and “philanthrocapitalism.” That’s the great thing about being a socialist: you don’t need to make any sense whatsoever.

Second, Marxism defends a set of values. The free self-determination of the individual, an equitable society, the end of exploitation, deepening possibilities for public participation in shaping collective choices, refusing to accept the fixity of human nature and believing in our capacity to change, and keeping a sense of the interdependence and indivisibility of our common humanity.

Actually, Marxism defends none of those values, as anyone who has lived under a Marxist dictatorship will tell you. Marxism explicitly repudiates “the free self-determination of the individual.” Horton either knows nothing about Marxism, or he is a Goebbels-level propagandist.

Finally, Marxism is a call to engage, an invitation to join the struggle to protect the values we share.

Really? What values are those? Mass murder? Totalitarianism? Rule by a criminal elite? A rigid class system in which a few ruthless and politically connected thugs prosper, and everyone else starves?

This isn’t Richard Horton’s first venture into indefensible political propaganda. In August 2014, the Lancet published, under his direction, “An Open letter for the people of Gaza” which was an attack on Israel authored by a group of Palestinian propagandists. The piece was so false, and so vicious, that Horton eventually apologized for publishing it. In the meantime, Jake Simons wrote:

[A] cache of emails openly available in Google groups show that two of the authors, Dr Paola Manduca and Dr Swee Ang, have sympathies with the views of David Duke, a white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard.
In another email, Dr Manduca forwarded a message alleging that the Boston marathon bombings were in fact carried out by Jews. “Let us hope that someone in the FBI us smart enough to look more carefully at the clues in Boston and find the real culprits behind these bombings instead of buying the Zionist spin”, it said.
David Duke has been delighted by the apparent support of these respected doctors. “The latest group of people to join the ranks of those who have broken the chains of Zionist censorship have been a brave group of medical professionals,” he wrote on his blog.

These are the people whom Horton published in the once-respected pages of the Lancet. Professor Sir Mark Pepys, director of the Wolfson Drug Discovery Unit at UCL, wrote:

“The transparent effort to conceal this vicious and substantially mendacious partisan political diatribe as an innocent humanitarian appeal has no place in any serious publication, let alone a professional medical journal, and would disgrace even the lowest of the gutter press.”

He accuses Dr Horton, the Lancet editor, personally: “Horton’s behaviour in this case is consistent with his longstanding and wholly inappropriate use of The Lancet as a vehicle for his own extreme political views,” he says. “It has greatly detracted from the former high standing of the journal.”

But Horton the Marxist was unrepentant:

In response, Dr Horton said: “How can you separate politics and health? The two go hand-in-hand.”

They do, actually. Free societies produce prosperous, healthy citizens. Socialist societies produce a huge underclass of impoverished, undernourished and maltreated subjects, living under the boots of a small overclass of well-fed sociopaths. Horton’s suggestion that Marxism is positively associated with human health is, to put it as politely as possible, a lie.

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