< >

Chapter 4 -- continued

< --- Chapter 4, Section 1

Analyzing the Co-Optive, Imprisoning Power
of Our "Common Narrative"
" . . . I have never been a whistleblower, and yet I've felt like one all my life. In my family, no one ever spoke the truth, so I thought I must. Of course, it wasn't the truth, just my truth, but that counts for something. In my profession, people tell lots of tiny truths, and so it seemed important to me to try to tell big ones, even if that makes it harder to get it right. The big difference between my situation and that of the whistleblower is that I work in a remarkably tolerant profession, practicing it in a remarkably accommodating academic department. I can say almost anything and be ignored. Perhaps this is why I became so interested in what whistleblowers learned when their truths were taken so seriously, when, in other words, their truths were experienced as a threat to power."
C. Fred Alford 1
While imprisoned in Beaumont, I spent quite a number of hours contemplating how to replicate in the reader of Meditopia my own experience. That is to say, "How can I internalize, for the reader, the intellectual intensity, the clarity, of the experience of our world, our culture, as nothing we have been lead to believe? What tools can I use to get the reader to break through the bondage of our common understandings, the 'propagandistic fog,' and see that we truly DO live, imprisoned, in a kind of 'Matrix'?"
It was not until I was later exposed to the work of C. Fred Alford that I found the missing piece that would seamlessly connect my experiences with a new vision, presentable to the reader in such a way that all the diverse elements of my observations, when placed juxtapost the absurdities of the Medical Industrial Complex and its monolithic set of deconstructable mythologies, would fit together. In this way, with the cognitive disonance of our culture exposed and removed, I could take my reader to a new place, with a new vision of the world.
Instead of presenting Book I of Meditopia as an Epiphany in my own life -- with the reader acting as passive observer, I could assist the reader in having one of his own. I wanted to be able to provide an experience that was as potent and as life-altering AS my own.
This would be an awesome challenge.
I understood this.
It would be like the authors of books I had read on the experience of botanical entheogens (like peyote, ibogaine, or ayahuasca . . . what the uneducated on this subject call psychodelics) attempting not merely to report their "other worldly experiences," but actually impart that experience to the reader!
How would or could you even attempt such a thing?
To achieve this we will have to momentarily digress to a place where others, such as myself, have been allowed (again, using the language of The Wizard of Oz) to "see the man behind the curtain."
Our next stop on the journey to Meditopia takes us to a place with which all are vaguely familiar, but only few truly understand. This is because the vast majority of world citizens are like television travel hosts, who talk about places they have never been. Their knowledge of things is only surface deep, and much of it incorrect.
We're talking now about whistleblowers.

"Hell, I wasn't against the system. I was the system . . . I just didn't realize there were two systems."
Bob Warren 2
C. Fred Alford is a Professor of Government at the University of Maryland, a respected teacher and political scientist, and prolific author, primarily dealing in what he fashions to be "moral psychology."
In 2001 he published Whistleblowers: Broken Lives and Organizational Power, which deals with his own experience with people who "blow the whistle" on corrupt, illegal activities: on the part of the government, large corporation, or other large organizational entity. In the vast majority of cases, it isn't money or fame or adventure that causes the whistleblower to step into the limelight. It is the deep affront against conscience that inaction would initiate, born of the most primitive sense of moral obviousness.
The impetus behind the book was that Alford's experience with whistleblowers was consistently contrary to the common myths that have been generated about them -- so contrary, in fact, that he was compelled to investigate how and why this disconnect originates in the first place.
On the one hand you have "almost twenty books on whistleblowing . . . available through Amazon.com, and more than a hundred articles . . . on the topic," he writes. [ 3 ] These largely represent a homogenous view of whistleblowers, as a group, and whistleblowing, as a phenomena, which reflect and reinforce our common mythology on the subject: that whistleblowers are noble people with strong morals "who stand up for what is true and just. They suffer substantial retaliation, and while most are vindicated, a few are not. But even those who are not triumphant in the end know they did the right thing. They are richer and better for the experience, even if it will always pain them. Almost all would do it again." [ 4 ] What resides in the common mythology of whistleblowing is that good usually wins in the end, the Rocky-esque figure rises above overwhelming obstacles, David beats Goliath, Phoenix rises from the ashes, Job beats the Devil, the Turtle beats the Hare, Count of Monte Cristo gets his revenge, Gladiator kills the evil Emperor (in hand-to-hand combat, no less), the sheriff in the white hat beats a hundred bad guys wearing black hats -- with one hand tied behind his back -- and justice wins the day. The proposterously improbable only seems improbable -- so take heart, noble citizen!
Moreover, this archetype saturates Modern Civilization at every level: the leading religion of our culture may have helped make Christmas (the birth of a Savior) its most prized commercial event, but its most compelling message is that the Creator of the Universe sent his only progeny to earth to blow the whistle on original sin, and even though he was crucified on a cross, he resurrected into Heaven and now reigns supreme, offering eternal redemption to all accepting souls who scurry forth on bended knee . . . This isn't insouciant insolence by an Unbeliever, it is Christianity stripped bare to this overwhelmingly ubiquitous archetype, loaded as it is with inspiration and hope, but largely co-opted for mass consumption and manipulation at ever other level.
This construct may be good (or convenient) for maintaining social order and generating good feelings among the citizenry, but none of this comports with Alford's own investigations, and none of it squares with my own parallel experience, having seen "behind the curtain" of our common narrative.
Instead of conjunction with this archetype, what Alford found was that whistleblowers are deeply shattered by their experience, unable "to assimilate the experience, unable, that is to come to terms with what they have learned about the world. Almost all say they wouldn't do it again -- if they had a choice . . . " Alford presents you with a variety of diverse examples: the inordinately large percentage of whistleblowers who lose their spouse and children and find themselves bankrupt; those that consider committing suicide; the majority -- who almost always find themselves having so short-circuited their career by "doing the right thing" that they make a fraction of their former, pre-whistleblowing paycheck; and then there are the unforgetable stories that shock the conscience (like the physicist who blew the whistle to prevent a nuclear disaster and has been so hounded by forces more powerful than himself that his life has been reduced to that a pizza delivery boy).
Even at this point, the reader should be able to see the connection between the cracks of the myths generated by the Medical Industrial Complex and those perpetuated about whistleblowing. And yet even close friends of mine were perplexed when I told them about Alford's findings. After all, aren't there hundreds of laws protecting whistleblowers against retaliation? Oh sure, there are. All believeable mythology requires props. And Alford recounts a sampling of these laws. [ 5 ]
The problem is that, like the rest of the crown molding that lines the edges of our culture -- even democracy itself, which I address in the adjacent sidebar -- such window dressing exists for show. It has no substance. Whistleblowers have, for instance, won only four of almost ten thousand cases to reach the federal courts under the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 -- a dismal record when one considers that the very purpose of the act was to protect those who come forward with evidence of government or corporate wrongdoing. [ 6 ]
Alford details the many tools that large organizations have to destroy the lives of those who even attempt to let their wrongdoing be known outside the workings of the "inner circle." One only becomes acquainted with these tools and tactics AFTER they have crossed the line and entered into another world -- a kind of "Through the Looking Glass" dimension that only whistleblowers share.
This is what Maurice Blanchot calls knowledge as disaster. "Not knowledge of the disaster, but knowledge as disaster, because it cannot be contained within existing frames and forms of experience, including common narrative." [ 7 ]
To come to terms with what the whistleblower uncovers in his life and in his world, he would "have to give up what every right-thinking American believes in." And just what must the whistleblower forsake in order to "hear his own story?"
  • "That the individual matters.
  • That law and justice can be relied on.
  • That the purpose of law is to remove the caprice of powerful individuals.
  • That ours is a government of laws, not men.
  • That the individual will not be sacrified for the sake of the group.
  • That loyalty isn't equivalent to the herd instinct.
  • That one's friends will remain loyal even if one's colleagues do not.
  • That the organization is not fundamentally immoral.
  • That it makes sense to stand up and do the right thing. (Take this literally: that it 'makes sense' means that it is a comprehensible activity.)
  • That someone, somewhere, who is in charge knows, cares, and will do the right thing.
  • That the truth matters, and someone will want to know it.
  • That if one is right and persistent, things will turn out all right in the end.
  • That even if they do not, other people will know and understand.
  • That the family is a haven in a heartless world. Spouses and children will not abandon you in your hour of need.
  • That the individual can know the truth about all this, not become merely cynical, cynical unto death."
Alford closes this litany by stating, "Not only is it hard to come to terms with these truths, but when one finally does, it seems that one is left with nothing . . . What is the satisfaction in being right if as a consequence one has to give up everything one believed in?" [ 8 ]
It is difficult to put into words what this transition feels like, if you've never been through it. I remember in February, 2004, while I was still imprisoned in Lafayette, awaiting to see what kind of charges the Federal Government would come up with, my wife sent me a letter from the Business Advisory Council, an arm of the National Republican Congressional Committee. In it, the announcement was made that I had been "chosen as Louisiana Businessman of the Year," and that, as such, I was to be honored and presented "with your award at a special ceremony . . . in Washington." Along with this came a four-color, signed, frameable picture of President and First Lady Bush, a copy of an "agenda," and other Republican Party paraphenalia.
Now, of course, everyone knows that such gimmicks are part and parcel of political fundraising. This isn't unlike getting nominated for inclusion in a Who's Who in America, or some similar "vanity publication." I could have just insouciantly brushed it off, or maybe passed a joke to my "cellie" about "finally earning a weekend furlough outta here" (never happen), and in any other situation, something equally non-chalant would have been my response.
But it wasn't.
I was having to deal with something I wasn't prepared for. I spent the next twenty minutes after that mail call sitting on my prison bunk, going over the materials from that letter, attempting to come to grips with these new feelings, as if I were reading correspondence that belonged to somebody else -- as if I had confiscated somebody else's mail and were naughtily reading the interception. It wasn't that I just couldn't relate to the disconnect between the way the leading political party -- what had been MY party, in MY country -- was treating me juxtapost the outrageous events that lead me to prison. It FELT like I was another person. It FELT like the damage to any faith I had in the common narrative had been so fully demolished that any reference to the person that lived in my body PRIOR to my imprisonment wasn't even addressing itself to me. I was not the same person. I would never be the same person. And no matter how hard I tried, I could never go back.
However, there has been concilation in knowing that I am not the only one to have this experience.
For those who find themselves in the crosshairs of the Medical Industrial Complex, as I did, or Jason Vale, Michael Forrest, James Kimball, Mike Witort, Dr. Marilyn Coleman, or any of my other friends and acquaintances who, as a result, have "seen behind the curtain," there's a new reality that is equally as challenging to reconcile with the common narrative as it is for Alford's whistleblowers. It leads to an internal conflict that is no less harrowing. And what must WE forsake in order "to hear our own story?" To understand the truth about health care in the modern era, one must be willing to accept . . .
  • That making money is the primary objective of health care, and even the most ennobling acts are filtered through the prism of a hidden profit agenda;
  • That orthodox medicine, like most of the offspring of modern scientism, has been, will be, and must be resistant to empiricism and all reasonable attempts to make it truly "evidence-based";
  • That modern medicine has maimed, poisoned, and killed more people than it has ever healed, with iatrogenesis being a leading cause of death in the West;
  • That modern medicine is NOT superior, more cost effective, or more efficacious than a wide variety of alternative approaches it has sought to marginalize, criminalize, or just write off as "pure quackery" -- nor could it ever be.
  • That suppression of treatment systems -- indeed, the suppression of entire fields of scientific inquiry -- which it cannot control or sufficiently profit from, is modern medicine's most enduring legacy.
  • That modern medicine lacks any self-correcting feedback loops that would lead it to reform itself, or that it is utterly incapable of rising to anything higher than a sophisticated system of financial servitude.
  • That rather than controlling the self-serving excesses of a select medical elite, the U.S. Government, and to a lesser extent, most other governments of the industrialized Western World, do little more than serve as their favorite five-star brothels.
  • That there is no such thing as Truth if it interferes with Business and its constructs of Power. Or speaking more broadly and in Alford's words: "Modern society is marked by multiple centers of meaning . . . (and) meaning tends to follow power." [ 8b ]
  • That medical science, research . . . or any intellectual derivatives that a normal human being would consider distillable into commonly agreeable FACT, are molded around the objectives of business. Never the reverse.
  • That the History of Medicine as taught throughout the industrialized world is a farce: it presents an agreeable version of the past that is persuasively told from the Medical Establishment's point of view, and not the patients (victims) who lived it.
Co-Opting Our Human Need
for Purpose and Meaning
"How could these things actually be true?" you might ask.
It is not the case that if Power actually functioned in this way it would be too difficult to conceal from the Masses?
Hideous and morally repulsive, though it be, Power works to harness our own basic need to find positive meaning and purpose against us. For those who understand mind/body connection, it goes without saying that the health of an individual is integrally connected to his "sense of purpose" -- that good mental health is upheld by a deep-seated "meaning of life." It is this basic need -- essential to healthful, human living, that those in Power exploit and co-opt. They know that it is possible to create mechanisms of power and control that the People will be disinclined to believe exist, even if they see it with their own eyes. This is what makes it so easy to create a Matrix -- a field of human energy that exists to be harvested by a select few.
Victor Frankl - Man's Search for Meaning The importance of finding "meaning" in one's life is brought to life in the account of Dr. Victor Frankl, whom we touched upon in Chapter 3. Frankl, the famous psychiatrist who lived through the Auschwitz Concentration Camp during World War II, was struck by the one common thread that marked all those who survived: they all had a strong and enduring sense of purpose. They knew that they would survive because their lives had meaning.
Frankl went on to found "The Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy" (behind those of Freud and Addison), known as Logotherapy, based on his lifelong personal and clinical findings. The most basic tenet of logotherapy is that the striving to find a meaning in one's life is the primary motivational force in man -- in fact, our main motivation for living is our will to find life's meaning. [ 8c ]
On the surface, this may seem self-evident. A more cynical mind might suggest that "meaning in life" is the stock-in-trade of the world's religions and most of its philosophical systems. But even Freud -- an avowed atheist -- wrestled with this question and came up with "love and work," as the meaning of life. It is this position that Alford uses as his key to unlock the barred door that the Halls of Power attempt to keep closed: for "what happens (thusly) when the world (around us) becomes unloveable and our work impossible?", he asks. "If love is not just a psychic discharge but a way of being in the world, then that way of being 'demands that the world present itself to us as worthy of our love . . . If love is not just a feeling but the force that makes the world go around, as Freud speculated . . . then loving the world and being able to love the world because the world is lovable are two sides of the same coin. We make the world meaningful with our love, and the world makes our lives meaningful by being lovable. When one partner fails, both do. The meaning of life depends on our ability to remain in a love affair with the world. Like any long-term love affair, this means that the world must love us back, even if this only means remaining worthy of our love." [ 8d ]
Only when one has seen "behind the curtain" does one learn that the world which a select Elite has created is not worthy of our love. To what extent will the Common Man go to cling to a vision of the world that is artificially created -- full of worn cliches, feel-good slogans, and heartfelt, misleading political sound bites -- all intended to co-opt man's need for meaning?
Very, very far . . . so far, in fact, that even whistleblowers, who have seen first-hand what lies behind the theater curtains, are loath to believe in their own perceptions, to "hear their own story."
Such is man's ability to exclude from his field of vision that which would deny him a psychologically healthy sense of the world.

When Christopher Columbus first approached what is, today, the Bahamian islands, his men were surprised to learn that the local Arawaks could not see their ships. There was nothing wrong with their vision. They did not approach in the dead of night. The impediment was mental: the very existence of such sailing vessels was so out of touch with the natives' "common narrative" that they literally failed to see the ships. They weren't trying not to see them. They just didn't see them. [ 8e ]
As it relates to the current volume, my contention is that most citizens of the Western World are no different than the Arawaks: they cannot face what Modern Medicine really is. For contained therein are "vessels" that do not comport with their fabricated vision of what the world is supposed to look like. The soil of Elite power out of which such a hideous vine grows is not compatible with a healthy sense of meaning. Even worse, it suggests incorrigible perversions in the very foundations of our Western culture, the close examination of which requires a stoutness of intellectual, emotional, and spiritual courage which, I believe, few possess.

Confronting the Defects in
Our Cultural Operating System
Cultures are molded over time, and the course they take is determined by those best predisposed to make changes upon the passively -- or perhaps not so passively -- concensual. In our era, such individuals are those who have best taken advantage of those assymetrical systems of accumulation such that a select minority can determine what is best for the majority.
Cash is king.
And yet I find such an obvious conclusion distasteful and even unhelpful, and not because I fear the wrath of those who might say that such language has unsavory political overtones. Somehow, I find that a deeper understanding is required that demands that we examine the roots if we really want to know why the flowers are dying.
Such a quest must be thoughtful and not given to jump to conclusions. If you consult with the anarcho-primitivists, they will tell you that the defect lies in civilization itself -- (see sidebar). [ 9 ]
I don't rule out that such arguments are not weighty. They simply do not serve our purpose.

While in prison, I happened to come upon Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States: 1492 - Present. [ 10 ] It isn't the tome provided by Barzun, documenting 500 years of decline in the West [ 11 ]; nor does it exist to provide a vision of doom we get from Spengler [ 12 ]. This is not to say that Zinn wastes time with pleasantries: he begins the book straight away by recounting the atrocities of Columbus and his men -- and his fellow Spaniards who followed. Mass genocide. The expunging of entire cultures, peoples, languages. The enslavement of entire populations of indigenous peoples.
Exploitation is central to accumulation.
Immediately, if you are not familiar with the work of de las Casas or other non-revisionist historians of that era, you are caught -- like our whistleblowers -- in a conflict with the "common narrative," for nothing Zinn presents is designed to feed a common mythology, with its blessed discovery of America and the consequent "civilizing" of two continents of barbarian hoards.
"History is the memory of states," Zinn states, stopping to quote Henry Kissinger and lay the foundation for the rest of his book. And then he lays forth his purpose.
"My viewpoint, in telling the history of the United States, is different; that we must not accept the memory of states as our own. Nations are not communities and never have been. The history of any country, presented as the history of a family, conceals fierce conflicts of interest (sometimes exploding, most often repressed) between conquerors and conquered, masters and slaves, capitalists and workers, dominators and dominated in race and sex. And in such a world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people . . . not to be on the side of the executioners." [ 13 ]
It was at this point that I realized that any journey through Meditopia must take into account that the common narrative of medicine in our time is reinforced by a history that is the "memory of the Medical State," and we, indeed, cheat ourselves if we "accept it as our own."
What would happen if the History of Medicine were not told by the point of view of its financial promoters? What would it look like if it were told by the point of view of the patients? How much different would the History of Medicine look if those recounting it were those who were footing the bill for the last few thousand years, instead of those pocketing the money?
I came to the conclusion that no reconcilation with this massive "Tear in the Matrix" could come about without providing a historical perspective for my most imporant conclusions, and this is the subject of our next section.
However, before we being a study of "A People's History of Medicine," I feel it is important to bookend this chapter with one specific historical case that ties together the important lessons just covered: the richness of the "suppression pattern," the refusal of orthodox medicine to accept the best therapeutic approach(es) when it threatens it power, profit, or privilege; the co-optation of indigenous healing techniques, and the final acknowledgement of the TRUE CURE only after the Truth is so self-evident to the Public that further suppression can only be counter-productive.
We examine first the perverse common narrative on what, as school children, we were taught about another ailment with which there are numerous parallels to cancer: "scurvy."

Chapter 4, Section 3 >>

  1. C. Fred Alford, Whistleblowers: Broken Lives and Organizational Power, p. 3.
  2. Ibid., p. 49.
  3. Ibid., p. 1.
  4. Ibid., p. 1.
  5. Ibid., p. 108.
  6. Ibid., p. 110.
  7. Ibid., p. 50.
  8. Ibid., p. 48-51 . . . 8b: p. 6 8c: Victor E. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, p. 119-157 ("Logotherapy in a Nutshell") 8d: Whistleblowers, p. 52. 8e: Candace B. Pert, Ph.D., Molecules of Emotion, p. 148. I have seen reference to this historical fact more times than I care to remember. At the time of writing this book, I could not find the proper reference within Columbus's own writings, though it's frequency of presentation by notable authors would suggest that is hardly a whimsical creation. I use Pert's reference here because she provides a biological basis for the phenomenon.
  9. An good introduction on this line of thinking can be found in John Zerzan's Running on Emptiness: The Pathology of Civilization (2002) -- one of his more recent works, which I highly recommend. The opening, by Theresa Kintz, p. viii-xviii, is as eloquent, concise, and comprehensive as any I have seen on the major polemics of the anarchist movement. I don't agree with all their positions, but I do believe that you cannot be a well-rounded intellectual in any of the social sciences today and be unfamiliar with the anarchists' arguments.
  10. Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States: 1492-Present.
  11. Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence (1500 to the Present): 500 Years of Western Cultural Life.
  12. Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West (Abridged Edition).
  13. See #10, p. 8-9.
  14. See #1.
  15. The book cited is John Zerzan's Running on Emptiness: The Pathology of Civilization (see Note #9, above); also pictured is the cover from a prior work that covers his major theses: Against Civilization: Readings and Reflections.
  16. Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States : 1492 - Present. See Note #10.
  17. Ibid., p. 97
  18. William Greider, Who Will Tell the People: The Betrayal of American Democracy.
  19. Ibid., p. 11.
  20. Christopher Hitchens, see: www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110006950. Tuesday, July 12, 2005. The cited work is his, Thomas Jefferson: Author of America.
  21. Derrick Jensen, The Culture of Make Believe, p. 580. This quote is part of an interview between author Derrick Jensen, a leading author in the anarchist movement, and Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General during the Johnson administration. See pp. 576-584. The interview itself has been published elsewhere (an example is available online, courtesy of Derrick Jensen and Sun Magazine). It is a worthwhile read, and I highly recommend it, particularly to my friends in the U.S.
The parallels existing between the "mythology" of whistleblowers (who report organizational malfeasance) and that of organized medicine are numerous and form the backbone of this page's content. [ 14 ]
The standard story line -- that brave, high-minded individual fights soulless corporation or government entity, is persecuted, yet triumphs in the end is "seductive and pervasive."
Here's the parallel storyline by organized medicine and its military arm at the U.S. Food & Administration:
brave, high-minded medical authorities fights soulless alternative practitioners and their allies who are only out to make a buck and bill you for their quack medicine. The quacks may win temporarily, but ultimately organized medicine wins and justice prevails. Hurray for the good guys!
Sound familiar?
It's complete rubbish.

Peter Rost Dr. Peter Rost (The Whistleblower: Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman) is a good example of a whistleblower who has yet to "hear his own story." His situation is worth examining, first, because most of his professional findings are consistent with the current volume, but secondly, because he has had one of the BEST outcomes of a whistleblower I have ever heard: as a result of disclosing criminal activities by his employer first Pharmacia . . . then Pfizer, he got what most whistleblowers only dream of: plenty of time to testify on Capital Hill [sic - mine], media exposure by the tonnage, accolades and words of praise from legislators, mainstream journalists and thousands of adoring fans, and honorable mention on too many internet blogs to mention. The outcome? (Keep in mind this is about as good as it gets). He got slandered, then demoted, then fired by his employer. His book sits at #2,300 on Amazon -- admittedly better than Alford's #103,000 rating, but still a far cry from his paying all the bills. The Department of Justice has refused to take his highly meritorious case, and . . . he's without medical insurance (says he can't afford it), unemployed, and will probably never work in the pharmaceutical industry again. (Okay . . . my mistake -- maybe his life IS ending on a upbeat note.) And the cause for which he made this great sacrifice? The right of U.S. citizens to have drug reimportation? Whatever happened to that?
The very goal for which Rost gave up everything is not one inch closer to becoming a reality.
The book itself ends reviling the current system as "not what our founding fathers envisioned," a slide from a democracy in to a "kleptocracy", and offers a prediction of the coming of a second American revolution. He does, of course, fail to see the current system is a result of the first revolution, or that the current system is EXACTLY along the lines of what the Founding Fathers envisioned: plenty of class stratification, exactly where it belongs.
Living on $13,000 a year unemployment, instead of his original $600,000 a year salary as a V.P. of Pfizer, Rost is one of the few whistleblowers who will tell you that "he'd do it again." (And, yes, I question the 84% figure in a "study of 233 whistleblowers" who say they would blow the whistle again. So opens Rost's book.)

Running on Emptiness Our libraries are filled with books that touch upon the fraud, greed, and corruption that saturate modern civilization at every level. The present volume touches upon that slice of the pie where the saturation impinges on health care. And even to this point the reader can see that my approach is more reformatory -- at least as it relates to working with a civilized, social structure. So are most of these other forementioned works. What is sought is a complete transformation; not across the board annihilation. Or, to put it another way, the sweeping away of an unfixable system of medical care is not the same as advocating the destruction of civilization in toto. Few health care reformers would sign on to this.
Not so with the anarcho-primitivists, from which I believe that John Zerzan is currently the most eloquent spokesman. [ 15 ]
For them reform is out of the question. You cannot have transformation of civilization without co-optation. And why would you even attempt it? Civilization, when examined with a cool, unbiased mind has brought nothing positive qualitively to human evolution that rises above the life quality of early hunter / gatherers -- worse: its contribution is socially and ecologically subtractive in the extreme.
Not just our civilization.
Any civilization.
While the rest of us wrestle with issues of transformation, the anarchists have already made up their minds. They've thrown in the towel.
Reformers, like me, are naive, they would say.

Against Civilization I take issue with the anarchists on several fronts, but I am far more predisposed to giving them the respect they deserve than are my fellow brethren in the reformatory community. In fact, I go much farther: I do not believe that you can examine the reform of health care without taking into account the weight of their arguments. They bring a "gravitas," a hard edge to their polemics, backed by a strong, factual foundation, that makes it difficult for thinking people to dismiss them out of hand. I have recommended the work of Zerzan to all of my associates, for I feel that if the positive goals addressed by the anarchists do not find themselves in the calculus of a final solution to our current crisis, the result will be temporary, co-optable patches that only delay the inevitable.
It is far more dangerous to ignore the anarchists than it is to seriously consider their diagnosis, even if you don't agree with their treatment. To consider another course could be the most serious suppression of all -- intellectually dishonest and morally reprehensible.
The necessity of this approach is reinforced by elements that are evident in the current chapter -- more times than not I find myself unwittingly reinforcing the anarchists' arguments. In fact, if we restrict ourselves, for a moment, to this chapter's presentation, it is easy to be lead to ask : when HAS civilization -- as it has manifested itself in modern medicine -- given more to humanity than it has taken away from more primitive, uncivilized human existence? That even I cannot come up with arguments that conclusively defeat their position shows how daunting the problem is. We are dealing with solutions on the level of some semblance that COULD exist, but haven't existed. We are dealing with civilization as something that COULD be unexploitative, but hasn't been -- as something that COULD be healthy to man's ecology: internal and external, but hasn't been. We are making recommendations that exist in theory, but have never existed in practice. Thus, we find ourselves -- or I find myself -- in the uncomfortable position of having to deal primarily in a theoretical framework, the same mindset to which I accuse medicine of excessively resorting. It will be up to my critics, and those who follow me to help implement the recommendations that come later in this book, to determine not only if a Meditopia has been achieved . . . but if it were ever possible for our species in the first place -- at least in our current state of (under)development.

A People's Historyof the United States If Alford can be credited with decisively demonstrating that the "common myth" concerning whistleblowers is proposterously out of touch with reality, then Zinn should be credited with something even larger: [ 16 ]
His deconstructive approach takes the reader to a place where he realizes what an outrageous crock the conventional view (read : "the version they teach you in the American educational system") is concerning the History of the Americas. Euphemistic, self-serving, biased to the Elite; suppressive of the extent to which minorities, indigenous peoples, the working poor, and immigrants have been mistreated -- these define the character of our "common narrative" as it relates to our history. We cannot be honest with the world, because we cannot be honest with ourselves.

Who Will Tell The People One of the things that most struck me about Zinn's book was the degree to which, on close examination, democracy has been, throughout history, little more than a tool to control the public and provide some forum for deceptively convincing the common man that he has some control over his life. That government didn't simply exist to serve a privileged few.
That democracy exists to "serve the people," turns out to be as mythological as the notion that Modern Medicine exists to serve the patient. In the U.S., to grasp the Truth of the matter the serious investigator must return to the crime scene: the founding of the Country and the creation of the Constitution. "When economic interest is seen behind the political clauses of the Constitution, then the document becomes not simply the work of wise men trying to establish a decent and orderly society, but the work of certain groups trying to maintain their privileges, while giving just enough rights and liberties to enough of the people to ensure popular support." [ 17 ]
This is why one can read something like William Greider's otherwise excellent volume, Who Will Tell the People: The Betrayal of American Democracy, and unless they have seen "the man behind the curtain," they will miss the point. [ 18 ] Greider opens his introduction by making clear the ubiquitous perversion of democracy. "The decayed condition of American Democracy is difficult to grasp, not because the facts are secret, but because the facts are visible everywhere," he says. [ 19 ] Greider then spends the majority of the next 400 pages showing just how head-spiningly grotesque representative government has become in America. But clearly Greider misses the point; a point that Zinn understands far more clearly.
Democracy is not failing to live up to its potential. In fact, today it is PERFECTLY living up to its potential. Democracy is doing exactly what it was designed to do: deliver the bounty to a select Elite and provide an "outlet" to the masses to deter revolution.
Greider, and millions of reform-minded people like him, believe in reform. They want to fix Democracy. But this isn't possible. You can't fix something if it is functioning precisely in the manner in which its designers intended. There isn't anything to fix.

Normally, one in the West associates this kind of dialogue as forged on the anvil of Marxist thought. And if it has anything to do with that merry band of leftist thinkers, there couldn't possibly be any truth to it, could there? And yet, even the most conservative, capitalist papers will occasionally fail to filter out the obviousness of this reality. I remember while I was in prison, I had my subscription to the Wall Street Journal mailed to me. In July, 2005, an article appears in the Op-Ed section, entitled, "The Export of Democracy. Written by Christopher Hitchens, the piece drew, no doubt, from the research of his own recent book, Thomas Jefferson: Author of America. [ 20 ] The disdain -- even contempt that the founding fathers had for true democracy is revealed therein. And in quoting this piece, please keep in mind that Jefferson was probably the most "liberal-minded" (and I use that term in the 21st and not the 19th century sense of the term) of his fellow founding fathers. (The reader may remember Jefferson's quote about the sorry state of medicine in his time on a previous page). And yet, as Hitchens points out, it is simply ludicrous to associate Jefferson with democracy:
"If hypocrisy is the compliment that vice pays to virtue," says Hitchens, "then the frequent linkage of the name 'Jefferson' with the word 'democracy' is impressive testimony, even from cynics, that his example has outlived his time and his place. To what extent does he deserve this rather flattering association of ideas?
"To begin with, we must take the measure of time. The association would not have been considered in the least bit flattering by many of Jefferson's contemporaries. The word 'democratic' or 'democratical' was a favorite term of abuse in the mouth of John Adams, who equated it with populism of the viler sort and with the horrors of mob rule and insurrection. In this, he gave familiar voice to a common prejudice, shared by many Tories and French aristocrats--and even by Edmund Burke, often unfairly characterized as an English reactionary but actually a rather daring Irish Whig. 'Take but degree away, untune that string,' as it is said in Troilus and Cressida, 'and hark what discord follows.' The masses, if given free rein, would vote themselves free beer and pull down the churches and country houses that had been established to show the blessings of order. I cannot find ANY non-pejorative use in English of the Greek word 'democracy' until Thomas Paine took it up in the first volume of The Rights of Man and employed it as an affirmative term of pride [in 1791]." (emphasis added)

"We're not a democracy," former U.S. Attorney General, Ramsey Clark, has stated, "It's a terrible misunderstanding and a slander to the idea of democracy to call us that. We're a plutocracy in the Aristotelian sense. We're a government of wealth. Wealth has its way. The concentration of wealth and the division between rich and poor is unequaled anywhere." [ 21 ]
This is not a recent development.
It goes back to the beginning of America's founding.
Perhaps to its Hellenic roots.
Or maybe anarchists are right after all: it began with the founding of civilization itself.
The evidence for it is, to borrow from Greider, "everywhere." We have only to look : it confronts us for the "embarrassment of riches" that it is.
If there is no true democracy, then in society's manifestations of health care there can be no political symmetry between those who provide care and those who receive it.
In such a society, medicine is incapable of ever rising above exploitation. Such a system cannot be fixed. It can only be overturned.