Was I not copied in on the email that said socialism and homeopathy were intrinsically linked? I wouldn’t have listened but it would have been nice to know. Though I suspect there is no such email knocking about. Which is all the more disturbing. Why do some socialists support this stuff?
My mate Dr Amanjit Jhund yesterday reported for Labour List that the Socialist Health Association have come out in support of homeopathy. As he said:
On a facebook post yesterday the Official SHA account stated “Homeopathy does no harm and its cheap. NHS wastes money in much worse ways”.
The argument, not denied to be authored by SHA director Martin Rathfelder, is a non-starter. Many things can do no harm and be cheap, but is it worth it? And of course it is true that the NHS wastes money in worse ways, but does this justify spending on homeopathic treatments? No of course it doesn’t.
What can be said about homeopathy is that often it is better than extremely terrible news; if it is found that nothing can be done for a patient, to prescribe them something can offer some semblance of hope. While it is clearly unethical to deceive people, I might be able to understand the instinct to offer a noble lie if it means that an individual will have something to hold on to.
This is a concern for some health professionals, awkward about telling someone that essentially there is nothing more they can do. I do have some sympathy for this and I don’t think many could not. But there are surely better ways. Good counselling should be something that calms and prepares, come what may. What it really doesn’t call for is the systematic buying in of various different treatments that don’t stack up with good science.
Though this is my bugbear of homeopathic “cures”. My concern here is about socialist appeals to it. Benoît Jules Mure was probably the socialist with the most justification for it. A French traveller and medic, after contracting tuberculosis he himself decided to try and cure it. During his attempt he became adept to homeopathic practices which he was able to practice in places like Sicily and Malta, before settling in Brazil in 1840, then dying 12 years later in Cairo, Egypt.
His interest and practice of it was born out of the desperation to rid himself of a potentially lethal disease. But what are the excuses of socialists today? An Early Day Motion in 2010 in support of NHS homeopathic hospitals was signed up to by John McDonnell, Alan Simpson and Jeremy Corbyn. As the A Very Public Sociologist website asked at the time: “What possible motive could these otherwise well-respected socialists have for backing this quackery?”
I ask the same question today.