The Scientists for Global Responsibility forum took me in a totally unexpected direction today. What started out as an endorsement of Dr Ben Goldacre’s recent book ‘Bad Pharma’ ended up in the realisation that (as Slavoj Žižek said)
It’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.
I can thoroughly recommend that you read Dr Goldacre’s book, which does an excellent job of highlighting how the pharmaceutical industry deliberately puts dangerous and useless drugs on the market. But, as Media Lens points out, not only does the book not go far enough, its author seems unable to accept the logical conclusion of his own argument. And ‘We are not the beatiful’ hits the nail squarely on the head:
If regulation of the pharmaceutical industry were actually competent, as Goldacre wants it to be, it would prevent capitalism from working (actually it’s not working well anyway but effective regulation would be another drag on profits). A 2009 UN report found that a third of the profits of the world’s biggest 3,000 companies would be wiped out if firms were forced to pay for the use, loss and damage to the environment they cause. In other words, truly effective environmental regulation would render capitalism impossible.
For years now, I’ve felt that there was something badly wrong with our society, without being able to put my finger on what, exactly, the problem was. I felt like a square peg in a round hole, unable to move. More recently I’ve come to believe that the entire system is broken, and needs fixing. What this examination of the drugs industry has done, for me, is to highlight not just that there are endemic problems but that we are inextricably mired within them.
I’m not a square peg stuck in a round hole; I’m a round peg sitting uncomfortably in a hexagonal one, spinning on the spot, trying to fit but going nowhere.
We’re stuck in a cycle of inaction that costs us more every day; but in the final analysis the cost of inaction is nothing, because without civilisation, there is no money. QED.