February 20th Launch Post

In Pathologies of Power, Paul Farmer quotes Jon Sobrino in saying “there is no doubt that the only correct way to love the poor will be to struggle for their liberation.” “This liberation,” he continues, “will consist, first and foremost, in their liberation at the most elementary level- that of the simple, physical life, which is what is at stake in the present situation.” This passage very clearly states that those in poverty must be liberated from their current situation, in which they do not have the necessary things for their survival. I would tend to agree with Farmer that the world needs to change, but his steps towards this improval are, unfortunately, lacking and left for interpretation. Are we supposed to redistribute all of the resources and wealth of the world so that the poor will no longer die from starvation? Is this liberation of the poor that Farmer calls for in fact a push for a form of Marxist socialism in which all of the resources of the world are produced to satisfy human needs? Also, even if this liberation of the poor does not reach the extreme of a socialistic society, how far must we push for the needs of the poor? In my eyes, Farmer has simply accused ever person in the world that is not starving to death of killing those who are by not doing anything, yet he offers no tangible steps towards righting this wrong.

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2 Responses to February 20th Launch Post

  1. ardenscor says:

    I think you’re right: Farmer often is somewhat vague. But I don’t think we can hold this against him. The purpose of this article is to provide some principles from liberation theology that can help those concerned with social justice. Farmer is not trying to give an answer that will end poverty; instead, he focuses on some considerable changes in attitude that may help reduce social inequality. And his principles seem better than those they oppose: blaming the poor, accepting disease as inevitable, etc.

  2. yellow63 says:

    I agree that Farmer’s approach to solving the problem of healthcare, or lack thereof, in the world is a bit vague. However, I attribute this to the nature of the article. We learned that when one is writing, it is important to consider the audience. From my observations, Farmer is writing this to an audience of people in scholarly disciplines, for in his opening paragraphs he seems to be addressing peers or people in academia. The reactions to his work, however, I am not sure about; they could be sympathetic or hostile. He claims on page 138 that “medicine is a service much more than a science.” With this is in mind, I think a less obvious form of action that Farmer is calling for is for physicians to be educated in “social theory…in order to resocialize their understanding of who becomes sick and why, and of who has access to health care and why” (138). I don’t think that Farmer is calling for a form of Marxist socialism, and I don’t think that Farmer holds resentment against those of us who are blessed enough to have access to care. In my opinion, through his “observe, judge, and act” model, he is calling physicians and those capable of providing this care to reevaluate where exactly their concern lies. Perhaps it is too much to ask of a doctor who is sitting in debt that is up to their eyeballs, but I think he is calling for a deep, internal reflection on why a physician is a physician, a tangible enough step for me.

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