The medical system as a wear and tear-regulator and as crisis prevention

From: SPK-Documentation Part I


The system-stabilising function of medicine in late capitalism consists in restoring the sick people for the work process in order to produce surplus value again. To the worker it is tantamount to destruction in low doses. Crises of the capitalistic system, manifesting themselves in over-production, were once coped with by the radical destruction of goods and labour forces. In the presence of a more effective crisis management, the system can pass from total annihilation into wear and tear in doses; the wear of goods is accomplished by the pressure to consume, that of the labour forces by gradual destruction = illness. That’s because, in capitalism, the commodity labour force is subject to the same laws, all the other commodities are subject to. … Medicine plays the central role of a wear and tear-regulator. Any medical action is thus only a preventive measure in the interest of a crisis-proof capitalist economy. Moreover, medicine, by guaranteeing permanent wear and tear, establishes the arrogated justification and legitimation for the state-operated coercive measures of regularly extorting social security contributions. It is almost superfluous to mention that the sum total of the social security contributions, which exceed by far the government’s spending on the social sector and which are withheld from the wages of the labourers, only serve the profit and thus the maintenance and perfection of the capitalist system or, with other words, the perpetuation of the exploitation of the masses. …

If you comprehend this, you will have to realise that every single day you are your own murderer, that means you destroy yourself by your own work every day. If you disregard the possibility of revolutionary action and confine your view only to the existing conditions, then, suicide is the most consistent reaction to these conditions.

From what has been said to this point, follows: No longer just the conditions at the workplace, but especially the illness necessarily produced there can become the starting point of a revolutionary overthrow. Alienation at work and in the interpersonal relationships in late capitalism meanwhile has proceeded so far that it appears natural and as a matter of course. One no longer belongs to oneself, one is no longer oneself. One comes to this world already expropriated of one’s primary needs and possibilities of development – even before birth, one has been sold already.

All public authorities and institutions are engaged with the utmost doggedness to protect this state of things. Man or woman is by no way conceived and created by a mother, but by the health machinery, respectively the illness machinery. At first, he is still adapted to fit in, but sooner or later illness becomes manifest. And this disturbs. It gives rise to discontent. And, as known, discontent is the most effective focus of revolution. For the sick people, therefore, there can be only one appropriate respectively causal fight against their illness, namely the elimination of the illness-producing patriarchal society based on private property. … Which are the methods used by this medicine to eliminate, in the interest of the ruling class, this focus of discontent that is illness, so dangerous to the existing social order, so that the sick people won’t take any initiative at all? This begins already with the so sacredly handled medical obligation to secrecy. As known, in this society anything that involves shame, guilt and weakness is concealed. Medical obligation to secrecy, therefore, implies nothing but the fact that illness is something you should be ashamed of or feel guilty about. The mystery of the obligation to secrecy alone, that constitutes a cardinal pillar of medicine, plays an important part in the disguise of the true illness-producing causes by leading the patient to find the blame for his illness in himself. Moreover, isolating the patients from each other, it discourages them from showing solidarity and organising themselves. …

The sick one, from whom is taken away everything he produces in the production process, is now by the ruling medicine also robbed of his illness and so he is also deprived of the possibility of recognising his own powerlessness that is the general societal context. This has developed to the extent that, in the end, he is even deprived of the right to decide over his own body. The already all-too-well-known experiments on humans prove it. The patient becomes literally a serf. Already wrecked he enters the clinic and there he is mutilated completely. At first they fiddle around with his body and exchange a few stereotyped phrases with him, which already initiate his dismemberment (anamnesis, weight, appetite, sleep, stool etc.). Then his disintegration is continued in the urine lab, blood lab, by X-ray, ECG, etc. This dismemberment, however, is indispensable for the division of labour in the capitalist valorisation and exploitation process. Because the general societal context must not be comprehended. What should become a human being, becomes a debris field. In the technical jargon, this is called healing. Because all of this is done for the heal of capitalism. That the health care system has become a central pillar of the system and that the self-organisation of the patients is extremely dangerous to this system is demonstrated alone by the panic that the executive board of the clinic, the hospital management and the Ministry of the Interior were seized with, when the patients, recognising these connections, had engaged in political activity. The expulsion of the patients from the psychiatric polyclinic, the termination of the employment without notice and the ban on entering the clinic for a doctor were the effects. Only the organisation of the sick and their permanent collective struggle against the illness-producing society can front causally what subjectively appears as disturbing and annoying symptoms of illness. Because only by this practice the patient can effectively counteract the process of enforced dismemberment.

Socialist Patients’ Collective, July 6, 1970


Translation: MFE Greece, MFE craencStw

Patients’ Front / Socialist Patients’ Collective, PF/SPK(H), 02.11.2017


The State of the World Is Illness. What Is to Be Done?

The Complete Concept of Illness

What we wanted to revolutionise so far?
Answer: the revolution, from our first beginnings up to the present day.