It is tiring to be accused of being ‘far-Right’ by people doing (however unwittingly) the bidding of the corporations and investors who recently made a killing on Covid. It is particularly irritating that such people, whilst deriding low-income workers and the ‘uneducated’, have convinced themselves that they are somehow being virtuous. They call themselves ‘Left’, but so do I. We either need to re-think or ditch these outdated epithets, or be more honest about our positions.
As explanation, the following is a list of some actual ‘Left’ policies I have always supported. They lean towards public health issues, as this is relevant to the times. They include:
- An emphasis on human rights, bodily autonomy and freedom of movement.
- An effort to limit inequality in wealth distribution.
- Decolonisation, i.e., large rich countries and the corporations in them (or that run them) should not dictate to, or extract wealth from, smaller and poorer countries.
- Community-based influence or control on local policy and resources, particularly healthcare.
- A publicly funded health system that ensures reasonably equal access to good basic care.
- Free and equal opportunity for education, to reduce poverty and improve gender equality.
- Constitutional democracy, where governments exist on the will of the people, and inviolable rules protect minorities.
- Free speech (essential to stop dictators from entrenching themselves and to ensure progress).
- Willingness to stand your ground for the above principles, even at some personal cost.
The list could go on, but generally this is where I was, and remain. This is why, ignorantly or not, I have always voted that way. Working in global health, I had thought that was where most of my colleagues were, though I was fine with those that differed. However, with notable exceptions, nearly all have actively supported the following list of antithetical policies during the past few years:
- Mandated face coverings and injections, and vilification and exclusion of individuals and minorities who refused (note: ‘exclusion’ is the opposite of ‘inclusion’, so the opposite of DEI).
- Desperation to defend the largest concentration of wealth in the history of humankind, with ‘Left-wing’ media lauding the recipients (and sponsored by them).
- Imposition of global policies geared to ensure broad uptake in low-income countries of Western health products to address a Western problem (e.g. ‘No one is safe until everyone is safe’), at the cost of deterioration of the health issues that actually impact low-income countries most.
- Increasing centralisation in international public health policy, with the World Health Organisation (WHO), ‘philanthropists’ and a parrot-like sponsored media pushing the same policies onto young mothers in Nigerian villages that they push on aged-care centres in Seattle.
- Restricting healthcare access across much of the globe, from chemotherapy for NHS cancer patients in Britain and basic birthing support for young mothers in Kenya.
- Advocating for school closures that will ensure increased poverty for the next generation, widening gender inequality, promoting child marriage and child labour.
- Rule by emergency decree, because the public may choose differently from the Government. Then planning for a transfer of powers to WHO for any health event, or even the threat of one, that WHO staff in a comfortable Swiss city deem to call an ’emergency’.
- Development of a whole new concept called an ‘infodemic’. This involves people who are losing their right to show their face, work or visit family, questioning the regime that is removing these rights. The same regime that is profiting from their confinement. In an ‘infodemic’, the people asking the questions are deemed to be the problem, not the regime. (Remember when raging against the machine was a thing?)
Support for these actions requires an abandonment of any inclination to stand for those principles that we (the ‘Left’) once believed in. Perhaps to hide this weakness from themselves, many now label human rights advocates and free-speech defenders as ‘anti-whatever’ or ‘whatever-denier (insert the latest thing, it is usually incoherent, or use the derogatory ‘free-dumb’ instead).
If someone cannot see through this piece of Orwellian double-speak played out in the media and in life, benefiting the few at the expense of the many, then the behavioural psychology is working as intended. They won’t recognise reality until they snap out of it. But for those who agree with the first list above, but still persist in closing down debate and name-calling, self-reflection might bring a return of strength.
People can change their minds. Intelligent people do as they learn new things and find time to think.
Which brings us to the obvious conclusion. The new movement of cancellation, vilification, exclusion and abuse is not a Left or Right movement. It promotes a form of totalitarianism closer to fascism than anything else, whilst calling others ‘fascist’ for valuing free thought and free association. Fascism is not a synonym for freedom; it has a different and unpleasant meaning.
We live in a divided society. The divide is political. It is between those who value democracy, equality and intrinsic human worth and those who think it virtuous to deride them. Those who still recognise these values as worthy should stop calling people stupid names and start asking, and allowing, questions. Inclusiveness is not a dogma; it is fundamentally the opposite. There is strength in diversity, not in subservience to another’s uniformity.
Dr. David Bell is a clinical and public health physician with a PhD in population health and background in internal medicine, modelling and epidemiology of infectious disease. Previously, he was Programme Head for Malaria and Acute Febrile Disease at FIND in Geneva and coordinated malaria diagnostics strategy with the World Health Organisation. He is a member of the Executive Committee of PANDA.