(From The Anti-Vivisection Journal)
“My dear LYTTON: Beware of the experts, they are dangerous fellows. According to the theologian no one is innocent; according to the doctor, no one is wholesome; according to the soldier, no one is safe. The strong wine of the experts needs diluting always with the insipid water of common sense”.
(In a letter form the late LORD SALISBURY to the late LORD LYTTON, in 1877.).
THIS age will surely be dubbed by posterity that of the tyranny of the expert. In all walks of life, from the cradle to the grave, the ordinary citizen finds his freedom encroached upon by those who claim to know how he should order his life, or, more correctly, how he should allow them to order it. These encroachments come with such subtlety that the experts in most cases get away with it; only in a very small minority are the cases where the average citizen asks himself whether these, indeed, are wise guardians or are the “dangerous fellows” against whom Lord Salisbury warned his fellow statesman so many years ago.
Nowhere is this domination more powerful than in that section of medicine which particularly concerns itself with public health. When we view the growth of bureaucratic control which this has achieved within the present century, we can see how insidiously such things make their way, helped on alike by political opportunist and biased expert.
The obsession with that germ-theory of disease which the chemist Pasteur thrust upon medical science, thus leading to the usurpation of power by the bacteriological laboratory, has proved the ideal foundation for a system of medicine which should hand the citizen over to the bureaucrats, whose activities may range from peaceful persuasion to downright persecution.
No one denies that in our complex present-day civilization there must be certain ordered measures for the preservation of public health. But we have to come down to fundamentals and ask – what is meant by public health. To the lay man it may mean one thing and to the “expert” another. Among the more pushing of the experts to-day it obviously means, in the main, the fallacious doctrine that health can be guarded and disease prevented by artificial “immunization”; if one comes across any article on public health in a printed journal, be it medical or lay, it is ten to one that it will be about the advantages of such “immunization”, in one form or another.
There is always, in all classes of “experts”, a section which sees compulsion as a desirable method, and in medical matters particularly is this to be observed, as witness the history of vaccination. Later evidence is not wanting that the same point of view exists in regard to diphtheria “immunization”, and that the apathy of the public to the blandishments of the immunizers is deplored, if not indeed deeply resented, by those whose idea of a really well-ordered community is one immunized, from cradle- days onwards, against all and sundry diseases.
During the past year or so the situation has been rapidly developing on account of the great diphtheria-immunization drive which has been carried out, with official sanction and active support, in practically all parts of the country and the position demands the most serious and urgent attention of all who oppose these futile and dangerous practices.
The most recent development, and the most serious, is the action taken by the British Medical Association in regard to “immunization”.
In 1933, at the Annual Representative Meeting of the Association, a resolution was passed expressing the “emphatic belief” of that Body in the efficacy of vaccination against smallpox and suggesting the investigation of methods to extend the practice, and so forth.
In 1934 the Council set up a special Committee to deal with the matters covered by the Resolution.
But though the Representative Body had thus signified its intention never, never, to desert Mr. Micawber, it must surely have seemed that vaccination as a subject must partake of the nature of a purely academic discussion. On the other hand, in 1934 the diphtheria-immunization campaign was being prosecuted with vigour. Whether or no this view occurred to the Council we obviously do not know, but anyway, it decided to add a further reference to the terms of the Committee, thus:.
“To consider the desirability of preparing a practical scheme for informing the public generally regarding the protection afforded by various methods now available of immunization against diseases”.
We have before us the Report of this Committee (its title is The Committee on Immunization, including Vaccination) in the British Medical Journal Supplement of June 22nd.
The very formation of this Committee is based on a fallacy- namely, that by the injection of substances of dubious origin the healthy body may be protected against the possibility of future attacks of disease. The report covers “immunization” against diphtheria, measles, scarlet fever, typhoid and smallpox, the last-named being given “special consideration”. We may later take the report to pieces and examine the bits, but for the moment we confine our attention to the broad issues of the Committees conclusions.
We will take vaccination against smallpox first. This presents a very serious situation. Certainly the Committee suggest that the removal of the present compulsory regulation is advisable; it is, however, quite obvious that this is in no wise to be constructed into any disbelief in the efficacy of vaccination, but as the report says, because compulsion “is evidently unwelcome to a large proportion of the people.” We can quite see that if the compulsory regulation is removed, vaccination can be brought into line much more effectively, from the orthodox view-point, with other “immunization” schemes. And we would draw attention to this very sinister paragraph, in reference to the possibility of epidemic smallpox:.
“The power of the Minister to make regulations, contained in Section 130 and 134 of the Public Health Act, 1875, appears to enable him to impose compulsory vaccination and re-vaccination, either locally or nationally, in such a contingency, and such regulations could be made much more effective than the present law of vaccination for this purpose. If there is any legal doubt on this point the Minister should be given this power in the event of the present vaccination Acts being revoked”.
Are these experts “dangerous fellows”, or are they not, whose idea of clearing up the vaccination laws is to give more definitely autocratic powers to the Minister of Health, or in plain words, to the pro-vaccinists. And the layman had better not get the idea that it does not much matter, on the ground that compulsory powers would only be effective in a smallpox epidemic, a situation therefore not likely to arise. Epidemic is a wide term – particularly where smallpox is concerned. And if this move towards clearer compulsory powers for the Ministry of Health, is allowed to succeed in the case of the rare smallpox, how long will it be before compulsion is mooted for the more prevalent diseases, diphtheria, for example?.
We observe with interest that when the B.M.A. Council was discussing the Report in question one of its members depreciated the recommendations about compulsion, which, as he very truly said, was “no business of the medical profession”. He proceeded to say further:.
“The value of vaccination and the consequence of neglect of it were topics on which the medical profession as such might take steps to provide education for the public, but whether citizens should or should not be vaccinated under compulsion was purely political question”.
(B.M.J. Supplement, June 15h.)
If by this he means that the question is no one lying between the electorate and the State it may serve a double purpose, reminding the firebrands of medical officialdom as to the boundaries of their duties and reminding the layman of his responsibilities. The latter is particularly important and urgent.
The Report in question has definite and clear-cut proposals for subjecting the whole of the community to an intensive propaganda campaign in favour of all these “immunizations”, largely through the local authorities; a “public education” of which we have already seen the beginnings in the efforts of the diphtheria- immunizationists in recent months, when exhortations written and printed were thrust upon parents in profusion. Says this Report in its final words, after suggesting that the individual practitioner should play prominent part:.
“The organization, however, of the necessary for machinery for placing immunization at the disposal of the public and bringing its benefits prominently before them is a function of the local authorities, under the co-ordinating influence of the Ministry of Health. Such an organization should be of a kind which can readily undertake the advertising and carrying out of immunization against each disease as it becomes widely applicable, and also the enforcement of compulsion if it should remain, in the case of vaccination, or become necessary from time to time under regulations to that end”.