It says a lot about the innate conservatism of the medical profession that it chose to call the bad guys ‘Free Radicals’. We had friends for supper the other night, and one bloke said he thought I was a free radical. Then his wife asked, “What, you means he ages people? If they read the Slog every day, I’m bloody sure they do age”.
All very fair comment. So I decided after much rumination that what I really wanted to be when I grew up is an Antioxidant. But here again, another feature of medics – being eternally naggy and pessimistic – comes through. The very stuff we breathe – oxygen – is also the very thing that must kill us all in the end, because apparently it acts like rust on the body. So they recommend we all eat lots of, if you like, anti-death.
An antioxidant is defined as ‘in opposition to, or corrective in nature, when it comes to arseholes who talk bollocks, decreasing their destructive power. Antioxidants can also help repair damage already sustained by society as a result of these jerks’. You may have noticed I added a few of my own explanatory terms in there; but even having done that, it doesn’t really work does it? I neither want to be anti everything oxygenic, nor do I want to beat up people called Free Radicals: the people I’m after are the anti-freedom Establishment.
Maybe what I need to be is a Probiotic. Forty years ago it was hip to be an antibiotic, but they turned out to be men of straw in the end, your antibiotics. That’s why we had to find the probiotics. Probiotics, it seems, are ‘live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host’. This doesn’t cut it at all. First of all, I’m not very good live, as the few who have suffered my guitar accompanied singing will attest. Second, I think microorganism sounds like an insult – ‘Lord Mandelson, you are a depraved microrganism’ – and third, as a guest I have never conferred anything other than toxic ramblings upon the host. Last but not least, it makes me sound like the Director of the Health & Safety Executive – an organisation to which I would gladly administer a lethal injection.
What I’m saying here in my usual roundabout way is that no medical analogy or term works for Sloggers. Their chief desire is, I think, that the good things about returning to the naturally human way of life should prevail. And the entire medical profession these days is about stopping the natural from happening. It started seventy years ago with antibiotics, and it continues with antioxidants and the HS&E. There are too bloody many of us already, and we are all going to die: so medicine should stop exacerbating the ‘too many’ dilemma, and focus instead on making people happier during the three-score and ten.
Practised wisely, medicine is the greatest calling of all in my view, because it has more potential than any other single action or policy to produce Bentham’s ‘greatest happiness of the greatest number’. Jeremy B thought material wellbeing and education would achieve that end, and in some ways they have made some people happier. But nothing I know of can replace your health. Healthier people are almost without exception happier people. Contemporary medical practice, however, has lost sight of that goal.
Nag somebody uphill and down dale about their drinking habits, and it removes a lot of the undeniable pleasure of altering the consciousness. The same goes for cutting out smoking, eating less fat, avoiding complex carbohydrates, drinking a gallon of water a day, and piling one’s plate high with bland vegetables. All this advice does is prolong a miserable life.
My solution would be to let people do what they want, and offer humanely enjoyable ways to make an exit once the roue’s life catches up with them. This would present a worthwhile challenge to those in medical research, and also act as a strong antidote to the average doctor’s God complex. The task would be to heighten the enjoyment of leaving the mortal realm in a manner never previously imagined….not to be in search of the elixir of immortality. There is no such thing in a Time-based Universe, and there never will be. (I can see the Government ad campaign now: ‘Immortality is forever, not for you’).
This approach would divert massive funds away from the pointless time and money expended on aged care, slowing the destruction of ageing cells, liposuction, colonic irrigation, and all the rest of the bollocks. Instead, more would go towards treating blindness, deafness, indigestion, post-nasal drip, depression, and mental ill-health generally…for all these things degrade one’s quality of life dramatically. Osteoporosis, rhuematoid arthritis, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis: there are thousands of chronic illnesses not often life threatening, but terribly life-destroying. Eradicating these would increase contentment without much discernibly negative effect on the population total – that is, it would produce fewer of us, not more.
It all sounds terribly harsh, and I have no doubt that at least one Guardian troll will say on the comment threads for this piece, “Yeh, right – and I suppose you want to be the one to decide who lives and who dies, right?” To which my reply would be, “If necessary chum yes, because somebody has to”. The core problem with those who claim to put ‘human rights’ at the centre of their Mission is that they have no solutions to dilemmas, merely a purity that allows them to blather a lot without actually doing something. Their hearts bleed all over carpets the length and breadth of the land about the Syrian opposition, for example, but they have no desire to deal with the most likely replacement to the arsehole Assad: more radical Islamism.
The search for Utopian solutions has produced more death, destruction, loss of liberties and wasted human endeavour than everything else put together. To those who continue to search, I say this: Life is not perfect because we are not perfect: get over it – and instead, deal with the problems we have.
The problems of our island culture today could easily be the basis for an Encyclopaedia of Disaster: fractured communities, lousy parenting, dysfunctional education, inward-turning technology, State surveillance, poor manufacturing base, growing youth unemployment, braindead and cruel media presentation, anti-social indiscipline, political apathy, multiculturalism, eroding business ethics, sclerotic and corrupt politics, process triumphing over creativity, massive overpopulation, and an economic model that can never hope to employ and feed everyone. That’s more than enough to be going on with: demanding Nirvana is just a distraction – a way for the clueless suit to say one thing, and then do nothing.
Dealing with these kicked-half-to-death cans of the West requires the approach I’ve chosen to adopt for the positive aim of The Slog beyond bollocks deconstruction: Radical Realism. Some of its ideas may not sound very pretty. But twenty years hence, the only solution left will be shooting the folks with glasses, euthenasia for everyone over 75, and draconion birth control legislation. We must take the tough option now if we want to avoid the unthinkably obligatory later.