Ivan Illich (1926-2002) was a Austrian priest and philosopher who used the term “institutionalization” to describe what happens in several fields of knowledge, when these fields are monopolized by a subset of that knowledge. For instance, he saw schools and universities claim a monopoly on education, and doctors and hospitals (medicine) claim a monopoly on health care.
This is both utter nonsense and at the same time widely accepted. In reality, your education comes from everywhere around you, family, friends etc., and schools can merely add a layer to it. While medicine is sick care, not health care: it fails almost entirely in preventing your health from deteriorating (see the food most people eat) and focuses only on “curing” you once you’re already sick. Case in point: covid patients are left to their own “devices”, and no prophylactics are used until it’s time for a respirator. It’s a dangerous monopoly. But people accept it as some god-given truth.
Someone linked to a 2020 piece on Illich recently by David Cayley -see below-, and though it’s good -albeit very long- I think we can do better than that, in light of what Illich’s words mean in our current predicament. Illich said the monopoly claims in various fields would lead to “counterproductivity”, aka diminishing returns, indicating that at some point not only do additional steps no longer lead to progress, they cause regression.
This is very much what we see today when people like Anthony Fauci, politicians across the globe, Big Pharma, the MSM, talk about “The Science”, and don’t you dare question it, because they have the monopoly on it. There is one truth only, and it consists of facemasks, lockdowns and very poorly tested vaccines, and anyone questioning that is a danger to the entirety of mankind.
The reality is we can’t afford not to ask questions, and we can’t afford to stifle questions and dissent. We need every voice. The efficacy of masks and lockdowns is shaky at best, look around you, and so is the efficacy of the vaccines, while the latter raise many new questions about blood clots, heart inflammation, spike proteins accumulating in ovaries and testes etc etc. We’d be crazy not to ask questions.
In terms of Illich terminology, the concept of “The Science”, which cannot be questioned, means we have reached institutionalization on steroids, runaway institutionalization. And given the variety of severe adverse reactions to the vaccines, including 1000s of deaths, we also appear to have reached diminishing returns on steroids; in children, for instance, the vaccines appear much more dangerous than the virus they are supposed to fight.
While at the same time, “The Science” monopoly rejects any and all other approaches, vitamin D, ivermectin, HCQ etc. They do that because there are still laws and protocols in place that date from before “The Science”, and spell out procedures that have to be followed to get a novel approach, or drug, approved or even authorized. One of which is that if there is any other effective method for the purpose the vaccines are developed for, there can be no approval.
And that leads to regression in medicine. It also leads to media bans, scientists who are “cancelled”, the works. There is no logical reason to ban certain medicines, and use only certain -new- others. Well, other than money, that is. It would better for mankind to try everything we can, but not for The Science, which revels in its monopoly. And Ivan Illich saw all that coming.
Meanwhile, the list of very competent medical professionals who are getting banned, deleted, ostracized, keeps growing. There’s Kary Mullis, the inventor of the PCR test, who said before his death in 2019 that it was unfit for the purpose it’s presently used for. There’s Robert Malone, one of the inventors of mRNA vaccines, who’s very critical of how these are used today and recently said: “What happens to confidence in public health and USG if ivermectin turns out to be safe and effective for COVID, and the genetic vaccines turn out to have significant safety issues? This looks like a very plausible scenario from where I sit.”
Then we have former Pfizer Chief Scientific Officer Michael Yeadon, who said about mRNA vaccines: “There is something very, very bad happening and if you don’t pay attention, you will soon lose any chance to do anything about it. And don’t say you weren’t warned.” as well as “I’d pay a vaccinated person to shop for me before getting vaccinated myself.” We have Nobel Prize virologist Luc Montagnier, we have Roger Hodkinson, and of course FLCCC member Pierre Kory, a fierce advocate for ivermectin. And Peter McCullough:
In no uncertain terms, Dr Peter McCullough sets out his medical authority on COVID and COVID vaccines, and IN HIS EXPERT OPINION based on inside information, the true extent of vaccine-related deaths. #WeKnowYouAreLying #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/H7DATRfkWu
— Joel Smalley 🌸 (@RealJoelSmalley) June 15, 2021
Take all of them together, and I’m sure I forget a few, and you start to realize how insane it is that these people are banned from the discussions and policy decisions. All that expertise that is discarded in favor of a few opinions, it can not be a positive thing. And it’s not science, either: science requires constant questioning and discussion. Yeadon: “There is something very, very bad happening and if you don’t pay attention, you will soon lose any chance to do anything about it.”
Here’s from David Cayley’s April 2020 piece on Ivan Illich:
At the beginning of his 1973 book Tools of Conviviality, Illich described what he thought was the typical course of development followed by contemporary institutions, using medicine as his example. Medicine, he said, had gone through “two watersheds.” The first had been crossed in the early years of the 20th century when medical treatments became demonstrably effective and benefits generally began to exceed harms. For many medical historians this is the only relevant marker – from this point on progress will proceed indefinitely, and, though there may be diminishing returns, there will be no point, in principle, at which progress will stop. This was not the case for Illich. He hypothesized a second watershed, which he thought was already being crossed and even exceeded around the time he was writing.
Beyond this second watershed, he supposed, what he called counterproductivity would set in – medical intervention would begin to defeat its own objects, generating more harm than good. This, he argued, was characteristic of any institution, good or service – a point could be identified at which there was enough of it and, after which, there would be too much. Tools for Conviviality, was an attempt to identify these “natural scales” – the only such general and programmatic search for a philosophy of technology that Illich undertook.
Two years later in Medical Nemesis – later renamed, in its final and most comprehensive edition, Limits to Medicine – Illich tried to lay out in detail the goods and the harms that medicine does. He was generally favourable to the large-scale innovations in public health that have given us good food, safe water, clean air, sewage disposal etc. He also praised efforts then underway in China and Chile to establish a basic medical toolkit and pharmacopeia that would be available and affordable for all citizens, rather than allowing medicine to develop luxury goods that would remain forever out of reach of the majority.
But the main point of his book was to identify and describe the counterproductive effects that he felt were becoming evident as medicine crossed its second watershed. He spoke of these fall-outs from too much medicine as iatrogenesis, and addressed them under three headings: clinical, social and cultural. The first everyone, by now, understands – you get the wrong diagnosis, the wrong drug, the wrong operation, you get sick in hospital etc. This collateral damage is not trivial. An article in the Canadian magazine The Walrus – Rachel Giese, “The Errors of Their Ways, April 2012 – estimated 7.5% of the Canadians admitted to hospitals every year suffer at least one “adverse event” and 24,000 die as a result of medical mistakes. Around the same time, Ralph Nader, writing in Harper’s Magazine, suggested that the number of people in the United States who die annually as a result of preventable medical errors is around 400,000. This is an impressive number, even if exaggerated – Nader’s estimate is twice as high per capita as The Walrus’s – but this accidental harm was not, by any means, Illich’s focus.
What really concerned him was the way in which excessive medical treatment weakens basic social and cultural aptitudes. An instance of what he called social iatrogenesis is the way in which the art of medicine, in which the physician acts as healer, witness, and counsellor, tends to give way to the science of medicine, in which the doctor, as a scientist, must, by definition, treat his or her patient as an experimental subject and not as a unique case. And, finally, there was the ultimate injury that medicine inflicts: cultural iatrogenesis. This occurs, Illich said, when cultural abilities, built up and passed on over many generations, are first undermined and then, gradually, replaced altogether. These abilities include, above all, the willingness to suffer and bear one’s own reality, and the capacity to die one’s own death.
The art of suffering was being overshadowed, he argued, by the expectation that all suffering can and should be immediately relieved – an attitude which doesn’t, in fact, end suffering but rather renders it meaningless, making it merely an anomaly or technical miscarriage. And death, finally, was being transformed from an intimate, personal act – something each one can do – into a meaningless defeat – a mere cessation of treatment or “pulling the plug,” as is sometimes heartlessly said. Behind Illich’s arguments lay a traditional Christian attitude. He affirmed that suffering and death are inherent in the human condition – they are part of what defines this condition. And he argued that the loss of this condition would involve a catastrophic rupture both with our past and with our own creatureliness. To mitigate and ameliorate the human condition was good, he said. To lose it altogether was a catastrophe because we can only know God as creatures – i.e. created or given beings – not as gods who have taken charge of our own destiny.
Medical Nemesis is a book about professional power – a point on which it’s worth dwelling for a moment in view of the extraordinary powers that are currently being asserted in the name of public health. According to Illich, contemporary medicine, at all times, exercises political power, though this character may be hidden by the claim that all that is being asserted is care. In the province of Ontario where I live, “health care” currently gobbles up more than 40% of the government’s budget, which should make the point clearly enough. But this everyday power, great as it is, can be further expanded by what Illich calls “the ritualization of crisis.” This confers on medicine “a license that usually only the military can claim.” He continues:
Under the stress of crisis, the professional who is believed to be in command can easily presume immunity from the ordinary rules of justice and decency. He who is assigned control over death ceases to be an ordinary human…Because they form a charmed borderland not quite of this world, the time-span and the community space claimed by the medical enterprise are as sacred as their religious and military counterparts. In a footnote to this passage Illich adds that “he who successfully claims power in an emergency suspends and can destroy rational evaluation. The insistence of the physician on his exclusive capacity to evaluate and solve individual crises moves him symbolically into the neighborhood of the White House.” There is a striking parallel here with the German jurist Carl Schmitt’s claim in his Political Theology that the hallmark of true sovereignty is the power to “decide on the exception.”
Schmitt’s point is that sovereignty stands above law because in an emergency the sovereign can suspend the law – declare an exception – and rule in its place as the very source of law. This is precisely the power that Illich says the physician “claims…in an emergency.” Exceptional circumstances make him/her “immune” to the “ordinary rules” and able to make new ones as the case dictates. But there is an interesting and, to me, telling difference between Schmitt and Illich. Schmitt is transfixed by what he calls “the political.” Illich notices that much of what Schmitt calls sovereignty has escaped, or been usurped from the political realm and reinvested in various professional hegemonies.
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