Greed is good…but
only for cancer
Don’t be bad with 1%, don’t accuse them for having it all
and doing nothing to earn it. 99% firmly believes that a greed is
good… Spoiling mood, but being good for your food, as it should?
** ** **
Amidst the many maladies of today’s global
society, a tide of optimism brought by the latest cancer research
news reflects a defiant response to one of the biggest challenges
facing humanity. But although massive investments that involve
venture capital companies and funds may be necessary for the pursuit
of current and future large-scale scientific projects and ambitions,
it is still sensible to ask the following questions: To what extent
should capitalism be credited for rapid progress in cancer research
and treatment? Moreover, can the profit motive, being an essential
feature of capitalism, justify future investments in bioscience and
American-born British politician Boris Johnson draws attention to
the importance of these questions, as much as he draws attention to
himself, as he visits the US for second time in three months. The
charismatic London mayor and Conservative Party politician who will
be returning to the Commons as an MP in May this year is a staunch
defender of capitalism who is also very much keen to promote his
image as a global statesman in the run-up to this year’s British
general election. During his visit to Boston a few days ago he
states that ‘capitalism is essential if are to meet the biggest
challenges facing the human race’, including fight against cancer.
Boasting patriotically about the British scientists’ recent
achievements he complains that they are not making any profit from
their work, that this is not justifiable and that we need venture
capital to cure cancer. Speaking from what has been described as a
life-science Mecca given its world’s top research institutions, big
pharmaceutical companies and clinical collaborations, Mr Johnson
does a very good job at promoting Britain as ‘the place to come and
invest’. However his enthusiasm not only smacks of morbid
excitement, it also entails an absurd logic as well as dangerous
Mr Johnson’s claim has, of course, an important connection with the
relevant facts. Cancer is on the rise. In the UK for example, in
1992, the proportion of people who got cancer was 32%. This
increased to 44% in 2010, and according to Macmillan this figure
will continue to rise, reaching around 47 between 2020 and 2030.
Similarly, Cancer Research UK most recent analysis shows that one in
two people who were born after 1960 will be diagnosed with cancer.
This prognosis is chilling enough. On the positive side of things,
cancer survival in the UK has improved a great deal; it has doubled
since the 1970s through earlier detection and improved treatment,
and the records show that half of those diagnosed with cancer will
survive for at least 10 years. The increase in efficient cancer
treatments is thus quite encouraging; in 1992, only 21% of those who
had cancer did not die from the disease, while in 2010 this
percentage rose to 35% and by 2020 this will rise to 38% surviving
cancer and dying from another cause.
The implication of these figures and forecasts is that our society
needs more resources and investments to cope with the challenges
ahead. Since more people are likely to survive cancer, more people
will need public health services. A major worry for the UK is that
the National Health Service (NHS) – introduced by the post-war
Labour Government in 1946 – will soon be brought to a standstill and
unable to cope with the big increase in demand for services.
Therefore whoever wins the next general election in the UK will have
to do some very careful health care planning. Here is where Boris
Johnson leaps in. The conservative London major who in 2013 said
that economic inequality was useful because it encouraged people to
work harder, argues that the Labour leader Ed Miliband suffers from
‘intellectual failure’ because he allegedly fails to grasp the fact
that the profit motive can be both good and necessary for progress.
Clearly, for Johnson, income inequality and the fact that the UK is
the only G7 country where wealth inequality increased between 2000
and 2014, this being caused by the richest part of the population,
is not a big problem.
One of Johnson’s points of inconsistency is that he also says in the
same breath that capitalism is ‘compatible with satisfying the wants
of the poorest and neediest in our country’. This means, to follow
Johnson’s logic, that people like him – an upper-class Oxford
graduate – are those who know best what the poorest people in a
society really want and need. And this is absurd. High business
acumen is good for business, however it does not follow that this
disposition determines or that it is even compatible with one’s
capacity to empathise let alone understand the poor. And anyway,
what are the wants and needs of the poorest members of a society?
Are they fundamentally different from the needs of those who are not
poor? In thinking that the human needs are solely determined by
their wealth and social status, Johnson exemplifies what Karl Marx
once described the condition of ‘alienation’ in which people are
divided from others, their world, their own activity and even
themselves. And this goes for all people, whether workers or
capitalists, poor or rich. Then, we may ask if it is Johnson who
suffers from intellectual failure - capitalism-induced detachment.
Now even those who do not subscribe to the Marxist analysis of human
nature and social conditioning could still appreciate the
plausibility of the view that at least as far as health care is
concerned, a major motivational drive is or should be altruism.
Unless we are very sceptical, we might think that some form of
practical philanthropy would exist in the absence of capitalism,
motivated by motives other than profit making. Or at least, we have
a good reason to believe that the profit motive will always be
difficult to reconcile with our concept of morality. We need go no
further than Michael Moore’s film Sicko which sends a powerful
message that ‘we should have no talk of profit when it comes to
helping people who are sick’. Johnson, on the other hand, whilst
thinking that Britain could have ‘great and glorious future’ outside
the EU, recommends that in terms of future heath care projects, we
need to be ‘more ambitious, more tycoon-like, more ready to build
vast commercial empires: in short, to be more American in our
To add the twist, if not ambiguity, Johnson also believes that
venture capitalists who invest in cancer research are not motivated
by the profit motive only; they are also ‘fired by a desire to
better the world’. Who is such a better world aimed for? This
question lends itself to Johnson’s most dangerous contention. The
makers of the glorious future Johnson envisages are people like
scientists and successful businessman, in other words those with
high IQ who, according to him, stand a better chance of being
wealthy. We should therefore be ploughing more resources into
helping those with higher IQ’s. We cannot deny the fact, he goes on,
that people with IQ’s below 85 are destined to be less wealthy. Now,
we can spell out Johnson’s contention more clearly: the needs of the
poorest members of a society are modest because they can never
achieve much anyway. However capitalism, he thinks, even with its
good old-fashioned profit motive, is best placed to respond to the
needs of the poor. And once again, what are the needs of the poor?
Do they need to be cured from cancer as much as the rich people do?
Do they need to eat healthy food, stop smoking, moderate their
alcohol intake, play tennis and relax in art galleries? Are they
even capable of appreciating art? And if the answers to these
questions are ‘no’, in what sense is Johnson’s better world better
for such people also?
This line of questioning could force Boris Johnson to make himself
clear as a proper Nietzschean fancying himself a hero from Ayn
Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged who represents ‘the men on strike
against an altruist-collectivist society’. In the meantime, his
competence with the monoclonal T-cells coupled with his fuzzy logic
and dangerous views leaves the British voters and the world at any
rate puzzled about his blazing advertising of capitalism as a cure
for cancer. Some will also wonder whether Johnson’s clumsiness
amount to no more than a desperate cover-up for the fact that
capitalism itself is in the stage of cancer. And why not think this
way; the very characteristic of cancer – its invasive growth – is
what is has in common with modern capitalism. Like cancer,
capitalism threatens to break down our society’s immune system,
reversing also all the progress that has been made toward social
equality and stability.
The facts that scientists world-wide, those who are devoted to
revealing the secrets of human life and how we can be protected from
the most vicious diseases, need sufficient funds to support their
research does not imply capitalists’ rightful ownership of their
noble cause. Neither does it imply that capitalism helps cure
cancer. Boris Jonson and his, and he calls them, transatlantic
friends must be discouraged by a political environment they fear
most: the environment that is sneery enough and depreciating about
the very idea, if this means their idea, of suffering elevation and
wealth creation. And not just in order to prevent absurdity, but
more crucially to prevent a deceptively benevolent stroll down the
Nietzschean road. We have been there once before.
Amna Whiston is a London-based writer specialising in moral
philosophy. As a PhD candidate at Reading University, UK, her main
research interests are in ethics, rationality, and moral psychology.
70 years after
Auschwitz – deliberate attempts to rewrite history
MD Editorial Board
last week’s Auschwitz ceremony marking 70 years since the notorious
death camp’s liberation had a huge turnout. Three hundred survivors
of the camp attended. Given the age of Holocaust survivors, the
importance of passing their story on to new generations has never
been greater. Comparing politicians to Hitler or countries to nazi
Germany has become a commonplace insult. But the unspeakable horrors
unleashed by history’s most vicious regime bear no comparison.
The Holocaust marked a systematic effort to exterminate entire
ethnic groups — most prominently the Jews but also the Roma and
Sinti — alongside the slaughter of homosexuals and the disabled.
Millions of prisoners of war from the Soviet Union, Polish civilians
and political and religious opponents of the nazis including
communists, trade unionists, Freemasons and Jehovah’s Witnesses were
The world anti-fascist war which defeated the nazis resulted in
efforts to ensure such atrocities would never happen again. But the
collapse of the Soviet Union — which played by far the greatest part
in defeating the fascist menace, as well as being the liberator of
Auschwitz — has seen a deliberate attempt to rewrite history.
The European Parliament sponsors a Day of Remembrance for Victims of
Stalinism and Nazism, a pernicious attempt to equate communism with
fascism. As Russian communist Il Melnikov said yesterday, virulently
anti-Russian regimes in the Baltic states openly celebrate Waffen SS
Read more on the next page:
of a love triangle – India, Russia and the US
Written by the MD’s Board Member Rakesh Krishnan Simha
The Modi-Obama romance
won’t last as India’s relationship with the US does not have the
kind of strategic dimension and weight that marks New Delhi’s ties
is a country with which India has had a strategic relationship for
decades. America is a place where Indians migrate to for a better
lifestyle. That is how Indians view the world’s two leading powers.
It’s as simple as that. US President Barrack Obama’s recent visit to
India will not change that reality, and those speculating about
dramatic changes in India's foreign policy are either fools or
amateurs – or both.
“Good relations with the US reflect aspiration, ties with Russia are
hard reality,” says Bharat Karnad, professor of national security
studies at the Centre for Policy Research. “No substantive shift in
policy is on the anvil, certainly nothing at the expense of India's
relations with Moscow, especially because, unlike the US, Russia has
partnered, and continues to partner, India in strategically
sensitive technology projects ranging from missiles, ship
submersibles, ballistic, nuclear submarines to the Fifth Generation
Fighter Aircraft,” he told Defense News.
Over the decades a clutch of US presidents has visited India.
Likewise, Indian prime ministers have been to America. But the
dynamics of the India-US relationship hasn’t changed much. And why
would it? The US is the leader of the western world whose prosperity
largely rests on the domination of the rest of the world. India, on
the other hand, is a member of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India,
China and South Africa) grouping that aims to end the American-led
Read more on the next page:
Europe of the human
face… with a little help from Greece
by Dimitra Karantzeni
after the last parliamentary elections, something is eventually
moving in Greece. People are hesitant and restrained, do not want to
get too excited. However, one can see that a humble smile, between
hope and faith, is on faces of Greeks. For the first time in the
post-dictatorship period, a leftist government took over the
leadership of the country, insisting on its pre-election commitments
to overthrow the corrupt political system and reverse the economic
During the pre-election campaign, voters were bombarded with
terrifying messages concerning the day after Syriza’s victory,
describing more or less a socio-economic chaos, with banks with no
liquidity, a paralyzed public sector and markets out of stock.
However, the overall propaganda of terror and intimidation of
citizens by the predominant political Parties not only failed to
limit the social impact of SYRIZA’s actions, but it also seems that
the will of determination of the new government somehow managed to
positively affect the rest of Europe.
The negotiation process is still ongoing but what Syriza has
achieved so far is that its well prepared anti-austerity plan today
gives the impression not of just a grand-standing utopic program but
of a specific project built on realistic bases.
What is of high importance though is that this political change in
Greece has stimulated a great wave of active support from various
European leftist political parties, helping Syriza to immediately
avoid the risk of diplomatic isolation. Furthermore, for different
reasons of geopolitical importance both the US and Russia have a
very positive attitude towards the new Greek government,
strengthening its negotiating power against EU lenders. On the one
hand, a closer cooperation between the two orthodox countries would
benefit the development of Greek energy sector, even set Greece as a
major strategic player in the international negotiations field about
energy and at the same time provide Putin with a valuable European
ally. Besides, Greek refusal to approve an EU statement aiming to
expand sanctions against Moscow is a first good step in that
direction. On the other hand, Washington couldn’t but respond to
this diplomatic game by supporting the end of austerity, recalling
US bad fiscal experiences and expressing its concerns about EU,
which is currently lacking a tangible plan for growth in Europe.
Read more on the next page:
The International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies
(IFIMES) in Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses events in the
Middle East and the Balkans. IFIMES has analysed the current
situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina in view of the delayed process
of setting up the government following the general election that
took place on 12 October 2014. The most interesting sections from
the analysis entitled “Bosnia and Herzegovina: German-British
initiative overshadowed by party political games” are published
German-British initiative overshadowed by
party political games
JOINT ACTION BY SNSD AND SBB
A delay in setting up the government in Bosnia and Herzegovina
following the general election that took place on 12 October 2014 is
mostly the result of obstructions caused by Milorad Dodik's Alliance
of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) from Republika Srpska (RS)
and Fahrudin Radončić's Union for a Better Future (SBB) and the
Social Democratic Party (SDP) from the Federation of Bosnia and
Herzegovina (FBiH). While SNSD is aguishly trying to enter the
government at the state level, SBB – being excluded from the
post-election coalition forming – is concocting plans to get hold of
power, even using its Avaz daily newspaper to create a negative
political atmosphere in Bosnia and Herzegovina, inciting riot among
the citizens and preparing last year's February protests scenario.
Clearly SNSD and SBB are making a joint action - their delegates
carried out a joint attempt to overthrow the President of the House
of Representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and
Herzegovina Šefik Džaferović (SDA). Moreover, analysts have related
the activities of the outgoing Vice President of the Federation of
Bosnia and Herzegovina Mirsad Kebe with attempted obstructions aimed
at slowing down or preventing the formation of government by SDA-HDZ-DF-Alliance for Changes, thus promoting the formation of
another parliamentary coalition composed of SNSD, SBB and even SDP.
Read more on the next page:
January 31, 2015
On history and humility: What students need to know ?
Lao holds a doctorate in Comparative and International Education
from Teachers College, Columbia University and is currently teaching
BANGKOK – Not so long ago, some Thai university students used
Hitler image as the poster child for superhero and just recently,
the Thai state used Nazi symbol in their propaganda for education.
This short documentary intends to promote the 12 values of
education. These values include respect seniority, desire for
knowledge and understand democracy.
Democracy and Hitler?
To make things worse, the director of the film gave public interview
seeing nothing wrong with it.
Kulp Kaljaruek, the director, said to Khaosod, one of the Thai
newspapers that “ I didn't think it would be an issue. As for
Hitler's portrait, I have seen so many people using it on T-Shirts
everywhere. It's even considered a fashion. It doesn't mean I agree
with it, but I didn't expect it to be an issue at all."
The Ambassador of Israel to Thailand, His Excellency Simon Roded,
issued a public statement on the 10th
of December 2014. It read:
“I was surprised that throughout the screening
process this movie must have gone through to be approved for public
broadcast, none of the smart, well educated people checking it had
identified it as being problematic and offensive.”
In an interview with Thailand's renown historian, professor Thanet
Aphornsuwan, the problem that has happened reflects an endemic
problem in Thailand.
Read more on the next page:
January 24, 2015.
GLOBAL MARKETS OF MISERY
– Szuhai Ilona
The global humanitarian system in
transition? If so, what are the key issues b – Before the 2016 World
"Today's needs are at unprecedented levels and without more support there simply
is no way to respond to the humanitarian situations we're seeing in region after
region and in conflict after conflict."
António Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees
The international community is preparing for the World
Humanitarian Summit. The United Nations will host the event in Istanbul, in
2016. Before the meeting, regional consultations are held in several parts of
the world. Expectations are high since the historical moment of changing the
twenty-five-year-old humanitarian system is approaching. Growing conflicts
demand growing funds for humanitarian action. The change in the trends of
conflicts demands more effective humanitarian solutions. 2014 was a dramatic
year in the number of people affected by conflict and of being forced to flee.
Unprecedentedly, more than 100 million people became dependent on humanitarian
aid for their survival. This rise is reflected in the inter-agency strategic
response and regional response plans as global financial requirements to cover
humanitarian needs rose to the highest amount ever requested in a single year.
The study forecasts how the EU can continue the donor activities in the future.
Read more on the next page:
January 24, 2015.
Human rights violations inside EU
What is the Ostrich Protocol?
H.E. Dr. Walter Schwimmer
How the EU member states play ostrich when it comes to
human rights violations inside EU?
H.E. Dr. Walter Schwimmer -
Vice Chair of the Modern
Diplomacy Advisory Board, Former Secretary General of the Council of
Chairman of the International Coordinating Committee of the World
Public Forum – Dialogue of Civilizations
Treaty on the European Union, in its current format also known as
the Lisbon Treaty, as well as the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights
claim to establish an area of freedom, security and justice, founded
on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy,
equality, the rule of law and the respect for human rights.
That sounds perfect. After centuries of inhuman treatment of people
very often by their own governments, culminating in the tyrannies of
communism and Nazism in the 20th century, EU citizens should be able
to feel safe from brutal attacks and illegal operations of a violent
state, if not ....If they are not refugees from another EU member
state and they do not try to look for protection because they were
subject in their own state to political persecution, inhuman
treatment or even torture.
The Geneva Convention about status of and asylum for
refugees, persons subject to political persecution, is one of the
great international achievements in the field of human rights. The
European Union as a successful project of peace, freedom and justice
promises in Art.18 of its Charter that "the right to asylum shall be
guaranteed with due respect for the rules of the Geneva Convention.."
But why is this guarantee denied when the asylum seeker comes from
an EU country?
Read more on the next page:
January 19, 2015
FUTURE OF DAVOS IS IN
Francesco Brunello Zanitti,
Southern Asia Research Program’s Director, and one of the Scientific
Directors of the Italian Institute for Advanced Studies in
Geopolitics and Auxiliary Sciences (Istituto di Alti Studi in
Geopolitica e Scienze Ausiliarie – IsAG, Rome). Member of Editorial
Committee of “Geopolitica” (IsAG’s journal) Rome.
Is the new Russian
approach towards China and India, vector for a multipolar world
order? Will the new Davos – gathering between vanity fair and summit
of the mightiest – in future take place in Kyrgyzstan – Central
Asian country surrounded by the most prosperous and promising