A note on social vulnerability

The reality for me is a sudden onset of old age and its vulnerability. Nurse Mike at Queen Mary gave it to me straight. My secondary problem of sciatica is degenerative and progressive although it can be delayed by reasonable activity. I may never run again.

Cancer per se is not curable because the ultimate cause is not known beyond the fact that errors occur in DNA/RNA transcription: but we have no hard scientific theory as to why the errors occur, only statistical associations that only prove soft statements such as “smoking hmm seems to make errors occur”. We know pragmatically that “smoking causes cancer” and can explain this by way of the fact that smoking uses combustion which concentrates carcinogens in floating microballs of “tar” gunk but even today there’s apparently no grand unified theory as to the link between what’s in the tar and the transcription errors. A known cause would imply the design of nano-biological technology which would “always” correct errors (where “always” could be a number, such as the “six sigma” of industrial engineering, close to unity).

As the doctor said, what I have is incurable owing to metastasis (assuming we find the source in the PET scan I shall now pay the private price for, previous scans yielding no evidence of tumors so far as they are studied). My favorite theory is mere wishful thinking, that somehow a tumor developed, released cells gathered in the lymph nodes and then was destroyed by my immune system somehow; but I dare not trust this. My search for the source alongside the doctors (where the Patient is a Subject as well as an Object) has to be thorough, and include the expensive Pet scan.

So I am “feblit with infirmitie” and I read history in a different light: from the standpoint of a patient in a city that’s been invaded. From the standpoint of the newly vulnerable.

In Hong Kong after the Japanese invasion, there were deliberate assaults on medical staff and patients, on the vulnerable at hospitals by the Japanese. This rather resembles the Republican assault on public and private health in the USA, for the Japanese “frightfulness”, manifest in so many ways throughout Asia, was an overcompensating, post-Enlightenment reaction to specific historical events as is Republican “frightfulness”: the Republican assaults on women, on teachers, on women teachers, on health, on women’s health, on gay people, on the health of gay people in an ever widening gyre, almost mathematical in character are, like the Japanese atrocities, the result of fear of inner weakness.

According to the BBC documentary “Horror in the East”, Japan, which had had a period of rapid westernization and genuine enlightenment (not so much western as Japan’s own version) during the Meijii period of the 19th century but this was sharply reversed using mass media in the 1920s.

When Japan’s lack of raw materials exposed Japanese to the brute facts of international rivalry, and when the United States idiotically forced Britain to abandon its naval alliance with the Japanese in 1924, Japanese men were told by media that Western civilization, especially the changing role of women, was unmanning them.

Horror in the East includes a Japanese film of the 1920s in which a woman dressed in Western fashions is scolded on the tram.

The result was a complete change in Japanese military training and behavior: the Japanese soldiers of WWI who’d mainly fought the Germans in Tientsin and the South Pacific treated POWs well, to the extent that many German POWs decided to stay in Japan. Whereas the Japanese atrocities of WWII towards POWs alone (Bataan “death march”, Hong Kong) and towards civilians (Hong Kong and most tragically, Nanking in the 1930s) were close to the Nazis’ atrocities.

This was caused by military training that emphasized the abuse of recruits such that once released from restraints and his own abuse by officers and non-coms, the Japanese ranker had a tendency to go wild. This was controlled and massacres thereby prevented by good generals like Yamashita, “The Tiger of Malaysia”: POWs in Yamashita’s conquest of Singapore were well-treated inside Singapore itself but mistreated in prison camps which obviously, in wartime, would be commanded by fourth rate men, Tough Babies.

The reaction is one of a false strength to weakness such as a patient in hospital: if he’s of military age, the war criminal thinks he’s a malingerer or a terrorist. This is post-Meijii for part of the pre-Meijii Samurai code was the separation of society into combatants and non-combatants (including combatants hors de combat), whereas Klaus Theweilt’s “soldier male” (cf. that author’s book Male Fantasies) is post-enlightenment the only “real” man.

But in the Dialectic of Enlightenment as it applied to Japan post-Meijii, the Samurai distinction is lost for anyone might be an enemy in an aura of universal knowledge and universal suspicion.

Adorno’s “Tough Baby”, unlike the Samurai, needs to win at any costs because Job One is not showing weakness which validates attacks on women, from the vicious name-calling that goes on in American state legislatures when reproductive choice is on the agenda, to attacking a fashionable woman on a tram in Tokyo.

Feminism helps the process along in some ways by refusing to admit that women’s job in reproduction is more complicated than that of men resulting in a male instinct to protect women in reproduction. To some feminisms, “chivalry” was merely a tool of oppression, which of course ignores the fact that enough men believed in it to save some women’s lives during the general mayhem of the Middle Ages.


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