Feburary 20th Launch Post

Paul Farmer’s Pathologies of Power makes a connection between human rights and health care. Liberation theology is the tie between the two. Liberation theology borrows from many different ideologies. It finds roots in Latin American Catholicism, Marxist-Socialism, and a hint of Universal Secularism. Structural foundation for applying liberation theology remains muddled, at least the vein Farmer works with. The only instructions bound to the liberation theology package are three words “observe, judge, act”. Farmer claims these three things will “build a different social order”. To the reader such propositions sound preposterous. How could such subjective qualifications equate to a new world order? Especially one that seeks to rid the world of poverty? Poverty cannot be fixed only with subjective materials, but in coordination with objective calculations. Real progress must be made; Farmer should be familiar considering his understanding of medicine. The scientific process cannot be forgotten. Farmer seems to understand this criticism. Farmer argues that the world considers scientific calculations in such a way that subjective reflection cannot be allowed. All the structural analysis like the Puebla document confirms the radical divide of the rich and poor. The only way to start the progress toward progress is through internal understands. Just like Farmer suggest dealing with the small communities, and changing the social order through small, but solid concentrations, liberation theology starts with the individual. That important first step allows for “consciousness-raising” and a breakthrough from the static reality Westerners perceive the world. In Farmer’s argument, this would move the individual away from the selfish motivations supported by current political-economic systems, to systems of governance that support equality on a universal scale. The socialist-Marxist system Famer supports, or version of it he argues with, can deliver those needs on the scale Famer deems necessary. What Farmer does not consider, and what the current capitalist model can provide, is funds. Medicine and health care need the proper funds to grow. So, can there be a compromise between the two separate ideologies?

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One Response to Feburary 20th Launch Post

  1. Farmer does indeed seem to be advocating for a version of Marxist-socialism in Pathologies of Power. Farmer’s ideas, however, are idealistic and hardly executable. As pointed out – socialism lacks the funds necessary to be carried out sufficiently. Socialism has and continues to exist and the result has always been a country with a low standard of living with the exception of the leaders in power. Is that preferable to a capitalist society such as America where yes, there is a high concentration of power in one class, but the standard of living is high and has the tendency to increase with time? Farmer says at one point that he is not interested with overall statistics – does he expect to be able to help every single person in existence? Farmer’s allusion to Marxist-socialism has already been done – the result was not as planned. Also – to answer the question – no, there most likely cannot be a compromise between the two ideologies.

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