CPGB-ML » Posts in 'Health' category

Not enough water in the West Bank? Think again!

Click on the image to see the full-sized pdf version

Click on the image to see the full-sized pdf version

Horse meat and revolution

Corporations pay scientists to perfect recipes that are focused on addiction rather than nutrition.

Corporations pay scientists to perfect recipes that are focused on addiction rather than nutrition.

What I found, over four years of research and reporting, was a conscious effort — taking place in labs and marketing meetings and grocery-store aisles — to get people hooked on foods that are convenient and inexpensive.

If there’s one thing the horse meat scandal shows, it’s that we can’t trust capitalists to produce our food. The food industry is just that – an industry. Under conditions of capitalism, every food company will look for market advantage and ways to cut corners and gain consumers.

The fact that our food is what keeps us alive, and is also what determines to a large extent the quality and length of our lives, is and always has been totally irrelevant to the corporate executives who direct the majority of the world’s food production.

Food contamination was rife in the 19th century (chalk in the flour; dust in the tea; cat and rat in the beef mince) – the poorer you were, the more likely it was that your food was contaminated. Modern marketing and packaging has given us the impression that all that was in the past, when in fact it has been raised to a fine art and made more endemic and systematic.

Business is business, and MAXIMISING PROFIT is what determines all practice – in food production as in any other industry.

But surely it is obvious to anyone who cares to think about it that food is too important to be produced according to such motivations. Health and vitality, mood and perception, even clarity of thought can be affected by the general state of your physical health – which is fundamentally determined by the fuel you put into your body.

To take a single example: if you consistently consume hydrogenated fats instead of the omega oils your brain needs to build cells, your body will try to build a brain out of those instead. But don’t expect it to be a brain that functions well!

Many diseases and conditions that we used to think of as ‘mental’ are turning out to have physical and dietary roots. Alzheimer’s is now being referred to by some scientists as ‘type 3 diabetes‘. ADHD, which affects a growing number of children, is most likely a result of exposure to a cocktail of environmental and food-related toxins, as is much unexplained infertility and any number of other complaints.

That old saying ‘you are what you eat‘ is turning out to be far more true than we ever realised.

Meanwhile, the food companies are employing scientists whose job it is to make sure we are addicted to the crap that is destroying our brains and our bodies - encouraging us to ‘treat’ ourselves and our children to their poisonous rubbish.

As usual, it’s the working class that suffers the most. No amount of ‘education’ about food and health will change the fact that the cheapest and easiest way to feed your family is on this rubbish.

Decent food will not arrive as a result of consumer choices by the few who are lucky enough to make them, but as a result of workers kicking out the capitalists and taking charge of food production in the interests of all.

Defend the NHS

This motion was passed unanimously at the recent CPGB-ML party congress

This congress reaffirms the party’s commitment to a comprehensive and easily accessible health service available to all and free at the point of access.

Congress notes that our National Health Service (NHS) did not suddenly spring out of nowhere in 1948. It was given to us as part of a welfare bribe to keep the British people away from the path of revolution and was itself modelled on the Soviet system that workers all over the world were admiring and asking why they had no access to such a health service.

Congress further notes that since the collapse of the Soviet Union successive British governments have felt confident enough to tear great chunks from the NHS to cut costs or to allow private companies to exploit health provision to the detriment of working-class patients.

Congress notes that the representatives of the bourgeoisie who take it in turns to form the British government – Labour, Tory and LibDems – not only lead the attacks on the NHS, but also make sure that it is their representatives who are leading the ‘opposition’ to such attacks. In this way, they are able to head off the various anti-privatisation campaigns into regionalist blind alleys where people from one region try to save their services at the expense of people from another region.

This congress believes that such representatives of the class that is attacking our health service will fight tooth and nail against any national coordination to oppose cuts and will always argue for campaigns to stay strictly within the confines of the capitalist/parliamentary system. Gentle protests, petitions and Early Day Motions in the ‘House’ are the blunt and useless ‘weapons’ they champion – along with accepting the ‘democratic’ outcome when these ‘weapons’ fail.

This congress therefore resolves to fight to defend the NHS by pointing out that the entire NHS needs support and to oppose the pitting of one hospital or service against another.

Congress further resolves to expose the representatives of the ruling class who seek to mislead all those who are sincerely campaigning to defend the NHS, as well as to appeal to both health workers and health service users not to let themselves be divided.

Congress resolves that, while engaging in the campaign to defend the NHS, we will also take every opportunity to demonstrate to workers that, ultimately, if they wish to defend and improve the NHS in a real way, they must work for the overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of a socialist Britain.

The right to choose death

The article below is an opinion piece written by a CPBG-ML member as part of a wider discussion. The party does not currently have an official policy on this issue.

As far as I am concerned the right to choose to die is on a par with the right to abortion. It should be there but nobody should be required to opt for it.

As someone fast approaching the infirmity of old age, I neither want to spend months in useless agony that can only end in my dying naturally anyway nor to sit around in some appalling nursing home that stinks of people’s unchanged soiled garments and costs £3,000 a month that should be going to the education of my grandchildren.

I don’t have the right to choose, but I jolly well should have. Which is not to say that it would be a choice I would exercise except in extremis.

We support the right to abortion because we recognise the reality that capitalism drives people to it. With abortion a young new life is being terminated. With voluntary euthanasia an old and no longer useful life is being terminated. No contest.

OF COURSE there would be attempts to use it as a cost saving measure and grasping relatives who try to pressurise people into it, but there is plenty of that surrounding abortion too. Were voluntary euthanasia to be legalised there would have to be serious safeguards built in.

But so long as capitalism is there to heap misery upon misery on the elderly, then I support the right to die.

For an alternative view on this topic, read Viva la vida.

Viva la vida

The article below is an opinion piece written by a CPBG-ML member as part of a wider discussion. The party does not currently have an official policy on this issue.

You may not have bothered with the item, but the News today is full of a terminally ill woman called Geraldine McClelland who went to Dignatas in Switzerland where she died by ‘assisted suicide’.

Before she “shuffled off this mortal coil”, Geraldine McClelland wrote an open letter demanding a law change so we can all commit suicide on the NHS. It would, after all, save the government a lot money if, when we got ill and unable to work, we all just killed ourselves.

Just think of the savings. Not only to the NHS, but dead people don’t get paid pensions (or DLA or ESA); they don’t need any of that expensive palliative care or home helps … the list of potential savings just goes on and on.

Geraldine didn’t put it in those terms; thinking only of her own situation she innocently talked about the right “to choose to take medication to end my life if my suffering becomes unbearable for me, at home, with my family and friends around me”.

It all sounds so very reasonable, so reasonable that a lot of otherwise apparently sensible and well-meaning people have been taken in by it. Who after all, wants anyone to suffer unbearably? Surely Geraldine McClelland is the only person who should decide if her life is unbearable?

No, she isn’t. Because Geraldine McClelland is not some fictitious Robinson Crusoe. She had, like we all do, responsibilities to other people as well as herself.

Send not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.” (John Donne)

In our current bourgeois society it is no accident that Geraldine McClelland is paraded in the media; yet another in a long line of terminally and/or gruesomely ill demanding ‘the right to die with dignity’. It is part of a pincer movement with the ultimate aim of making the impoverished, no longer working, working class choose death.

On one side of the pincer, the ideological offensive to make suicide appear as a legitimate, even responsible ‘choice’. On the other, the steady erosion of benefits until poverty itself makes the old, weak, ill and vulnerable choose death because the alternative is hunger, cold and misery.

Geraldine McClelland would not recognise this scenario, as she was a middle-class woman with a good BBC job. To date, all the wannabe suicides coming forward on the media demanding the ‘right to die’ have also been middle-class and, to cut to the painful quick, too wrapped up in their own personal dramas to see beyond themselves to the wider social implications.

Harsh as it sounds when talking of the ill, middle-class wannabe suicides are the useful idiots of the bourgeoisie, and however sorry we may be at their individual physical plight, it must never blind us to the principle. Communists demand the right to live, not to die.

If I remember correctly, the cry Viva la meurte (Long live death) was one of the nasties screamed out by Franco’s troops in the Spanish Civil War. Our cry must always be Viva la vida (Long live life) and we must oppose all the arguments and moves to legalise euthanasia or assisted suicide under capitalism, where it will always be open to abuse and where killing people off makes economic sense.

For an alternative view on this topic read The right to choose death.

Cuba sees lowest ever child mortality rates last year

Via Xinhua.

HAVANA, Jan. 2 (Xinhua) — Child mortality rates in Cuba dropped to 4.7 out of every 1,000 newborns in 2008, the lowest in history, the Health Ministry said Friday.

The figure places Cuba among the nations in the world which have the lowest death rates for children under one year of age.

According to the ministry, there were 122,556 births in 2008, 10,184 more than in 2007 when the mortality rate was of 5.3 out of every 1,000 newborns.

A total of 579 newborn babies died in Cuba last year, due mainly to perinatal causes, congenital anomalies and infections.