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How I became a bodily-autonomy maximalist
Health is a supremely personal issue; let no one come between you and your doctor, pandemic or not.
I had a health issue which persisted for awhile. The details are not so important for this discussion; let’s just say it fell within the realm of brain chemistry. I did the rounds, as one does, trying various approaches, to no avail. Finally I found a practitioner (in Weert, photo of the magnficient cathedral above) of what is known as functional medicine who was able to do something for me. She undertook a very detailed intake, ordered some highly specialized tests, analyzed the results, and came up with a therapeutic approach which I found helpful. It was, you might say, all about me.
The experience drove home for me, in a visceral way, how supremely individual health and healthcare is. In the past, I had a casual, intuitive understanding of this, but the grotesque, catastrophic spectacle of the global Covid-19 response over the past two years, combined with this recent personal experience, has converted me into a fervent bodily autonomy maximalist. I don't adhere to many absolutes, but this is one of them, perhaps the only one; in any case the most important. There are no exceptions; our erstwhile public heath officials don't get an Eboba exception or any kind of other special powers or get-out-of-jail-free cards.
Apropos of all this, I loved this recent rant by Maajid Nawaz, especially the analogy with (rather rare) peanut allergies:
One of my favorite writers on Substack, Toby Rogers, frames it this way in various of his posts: he has, he says, become a "single-issue voter”: bodily autonomy. Amen to that; as a recovering Left voter, I will never vote again for a politician who comprises on this issue. One of the most depressing spectacles of the past two years was to see how quickly the contemporary Left capitulated on mandates and vaxx passports. Their supposedly robust understanding of corporate power and predatory capitalism instantly evaporated when confronted with the machinations of Pfizer (etc), and craven complicity of the wholly captured regulatory system, the opportunistic academic hacks, and the corporate media. Appeals to article one of the Nuremberg Code they laughed off as quaint and obsolete, if not outright offensive. Here's a comment made on Facebook by Doug Henwood, card-carrying member of the contemporary American Jacobin Left:
We once knew better, right? Since the time of Hippocrates, we understood the relationship between doctor and patient was sacrosant. Only in our profoundly destructive neoliberal age has our obssessions with rationalization and efficiency resulted rigid treatment protocols and all the rest of the assaults on individual discretion, wholistic understanding, and bodily autonomy.
In light of all this, the recent attempted power grab by the World Health Organization is a supremely stupid exercise in futility; these power-crazed health bureaucrats may yet do untold damage, but they will fail in the end in their efforts to impose a global top-down public health regime. People in Africa have figured it out; now we need to as well.