“So you start off in charge, you’re an independent operator, you don’t work inside the system, but then you figure out the system thinks it includes you, some moron must have slipped in that clause while you weren’t looking, so you go talk to him, and it’s a pretty congenial meeting, although he does come across like a company man, and then later on you get an engraved invitation to come to a party.
The food is very good and the people seem reasonable in a sort of washed-out way, but the upshot is, you can come in out of the cold if you want to.
They’ll take you in.
You can sit in an office and make twice as much as you were making on your own.
That’s what they tell you.
The only thing is, you have to sign a piece of paper that says you were never born and you’re actually a desk ornament.
They assure you it’s just a formality and they’ve signed the same paper, and look, it hasn’t hurt them…”
— The Magician Awakes
When I was running for a Congressional seat in 1994, I was also in the middle of a fight to preserve access to alternative health care, against FDA attack-and during that process, I was enlightened through meeting various members of the Pod People species, who had their own ideas about what health freedom meant.
These were high-IQ idiots who had some sort of access to politicians and academics.
They were expert compromisers and sell-out artists, who saw their mission in life as something on the order of “integrating” everything they could get their hands on.
In coming years, they would become hangers-on at Center for Alternative Medicine (CAM) (later renamed to Center for Complementary and Integrative Health), the new office of alternative health established at the National Institutes of Health.
Think “seedy tout at the racetrack.”
CAM was, for many people, the realization of a wet dream.
Finally, the federal government, gripped in a new cloud of Love, was going to admit that alternative medicine existed and could be “integrated” into “real medicine.”
A new day was dawning.
A day of recognition.
A big gold star would be pinned to chests of chiropractors and naturopaths and acupuncturists.
“You like me! You really like me!”
In these meetings with the Pods, I observed their loafers, their pressed jeans, their safari jackets, their carefully arranged thinning hair, their casual smiles. Holy shit, these were recent incarnations of the frat boys I had gone to college with:
“Everything’s good. All we have to do is craft language the politicians and bureaucrats can understand and accept, and they will reach their hands across the divide, because, in the final analysis, all that separates people is a diversity of background and experience. We can integrate that.”
The sub-text was:
In the coming years, alt. medicine will be recognized.
Professorships and bureaucratic jobs and positions at hospitals will spring up out of tax money, and we can dig into that stash and find cushy work, if we play our cards right.
But don’t rock the boat.
Don’t attack the feds.
Don’t go after the FDA.
Don’t be “negative.”
Love may not conquer all, but it can worm its way into government budgets.
And that was right and true.
These days, the professions of chiropractic and naturopathy and acupuncture have, at the highest levels, sold their souls to allopathic medicine and federal regulators.
Therefore, for them, the fight for health freedom is over.
They think they’ve actually won.
In the 1960s, this whole process was called co-opting.
Government or big business would find ways to absorb (“integrate”) its opposition.
Whereas, once upon a time, the naturopaths were tough seasoned fighters who were holding government at bay and plowing ahead with the work of healing, now they have their own bureaucrats cashing checks and enlightening the young dewy-eyed generation of practitioners on how the game is played:
“Hey, it’s all legal now, baby.
Don’t sweat it. (cough, cough)
I mean, we are in conference with major players at NIH, and a task force has been created to elucidate the work of two prior study groups, and in this regard we have secured ex-officio membership on a sub-committee to examine the psychological effect, on medical doctors, of reading published studies on minimal supplementation with extremely low-dose Vitamin C during the first five hours of head colds which were preceded by a tingling sensation at the back of the throat and a genital twitching in rabbits…in fact, and you’ll really like this, at the new complementary-medicine wing of a hospital in Northern Alaska, some of our fourth-year students here at the naturopathic college will be able to apply for positions as interns applying a citrus concentrate to toilets in the men’s rooms on the third floor, to assess the results, vis-a-vis germ eradication, against the old toxic cleaning solutions…”
And that about sums up what will happen to the chiropractors and the naturopaths and the acupuncturists up the road.
Chiros will adjust the spines of hard cases in homeless shelters who refuse Thorazine and then publish their findings on government-issued toilet paper.
Gradually, the great golden promise of integration will come true, only not in the way this new brand of alt. practitioner expects.
I have news for the New Age Pod alt. bureaucrats.
Once you’re in with the government, you’re all the way in.
You take the scraps they leave on the table.
You learn how to love the scraps.
You primp and pump up your pretended achievements and cash your checks.
That’s your role.
When you’re called on to sell out further, you do it with a smile.
You kiss the ring.
And you come to realize your profession of natural healing has become a cartoon of itself.
You live in that cartoon and you make your little speeches and mount your plaques on the office wall.
When you want more money, you stand in line at the federal trough and wait.
Bullshit is thy name.
What the Pods never learned is that, when you negotiate with your your opponents, you are you and they are they.
Since that is the case, especially when you are coming from a position of relative weakness, your “victories” are wholly a function of who your opponents are and what they really want and what they are willing to do to get it, in the long, long run.
Can I make it any simpler?
In this context, integration means you will eventually find yourself in quicksand holding a long stick, and the person on the other end of the stick will be your enemy.
Then, he can re-negotiate everything. Immediately.
Yes, Virginia, there are enemies.
They aren’t just an illusion fostered by “old discredited modes of thought.”
You don’t make them vanish through some puerile trick. For starters, you don’t put any stock in their promises.
Instead, to begin with, you make public their bad deeds.
Come on. Wake up.
This strategy goes back to the cave men.
The first time it was used, a guy stopped his girl friend from marrying some oaf when he said, “Hey, Oaf Dude rolled four boulders we use for bonfires into his own cave. I’ve got him in the act on video. Look.”
This was my strategy when I was running for Congress.
I went on the offensive against the FDA.
The material at my disposal then, as now, was voluminous.
It’s in the public record.
The Pods castigated me for my approach.
They saw this as a hindrance to, yes, integration.
They told me we were in a new age, and now the preferred method was extensive negotiation.
One night in 1994, a few months before the passage of the so-called Health Freedom Bill in Congress, which I was assured would protect us against the FDA forever, I sat in a last-ditch meeting with a dozen other people.
We wanted to draft an amendment to the Bill that would nail down the protections we really needed.
A towering hack from UCLA, whose specialty was apparently Brainstorming and Conflict Resolution, a fat domehead who was as interested in health freedom as a scuttle fish is interested in the orbit of the moon, chaired this meeting. He had been invited in as an expert.
So he asked us all to introduce ourselves, one by one, and after that little excruciating exercise, he said he would write, on the blackboard behind him, each of our ideas about why this amendment was important.
Well, of course, we already knew why it was important.
Otherwise, we wouldn’t have come to the room in the first place.
I saw he was going to take a couple of hours, moving us through his hoops, to get to the heart of the matter, so I said, in my usual gracious style, “This is stupid.”
He looked at me. He tried to smile.
I said, “Let me summarize. We’re here to draft an amendment to the Hatch Bill that will give us more guarantees.
We can write this sucker in twenty minutes.
I will write it.
Does anyone in the room want to go off and write his version?
Then we can compare.”
One hand was raised.
“Good,” I said. “Do it. I’ll go into this next room here and type out mine. Let’s take a break and come back in twenty minutes.”
So that’s what happened, and we did hash out an amendment, and of course nobody in Washington wanted to give it three seconds of time, because all the elements of the Hatch Bill had already been agreed upon, behind closed doors.
After our meeting, a man in the room who knew the UCLA hack came up to me and said, “You were pretty harsh there.”
“Really?” I said. “If we’d followed his little Chinese torture technique, it would have taken us six hours to come to the same place we are now. Who did he think he was dealing with, second graders?”
The man frowned.
“That’s not the point,” he said. “Brainstorming has its own style, and we needed to follow that.”
“Why?” I said. “We already knew what we needed. We’re not building a rocket ship here.”
“Okay,” he said, “but this meeting was supposed to be about integrating our ideas, so that, in Washington, the same spirit of integration might prevail and get us what we wanted.”
“By osmosis?” I said. “That’s quite a leap of logic. Do you have a church?”
I looked him over.
He was lean and bronzed.
I imagined he did push-ups under a tanning lamp in his home gym.
He was crinkled around the eyes, probably from forced smiling, a practice I don’t normally advocate.
His combover seemed to be threaded with minor extensions.
I couldn’t be sure. He was wearing one of those bush jackets with the many pockets.
His nails were done with transparent polish.
He wasn’t smiling now.
“I sense a church here,” I repeated. “With a doctrine derived from As So Above, So Below. If we’re nice here tonight, ‘Washington’ will mystically pick up the vibe and be nice. Anyway, you don’t remember me, but I was with you at a meeting last month, and you were pushing for a committee to study the amendment, which would have put us so far behind schedule the Bill would have passed before we got our pencils correctly sharpened.”
The man blushed.
“Don’t worry,” I said. “You’re winning. You’re going to get a gig in whatever structure comes out of this war we’re waging. You’ll always be the good guy in the room. The folks in Washington like that.”
And by God, he did get a gig.
Within the swelling bureaucracy of alt. medicine.
A series of gigs.
I was told he’s a brainstorming expert, and when he holds meetings of his minions, he bores them so greatly a few of them want to push him out a window.
But he’s simultaneously for health freedom and for “sensible government regulations,” and he’s for cooperating with the FDA and he’s for integrating medical drugs and nutrients-judiciously, of course-and he’s for increased government inspections of organic farms and he’s for genetically modified food, with some (again, “sensible”) restrictions, and he’s for 15 rather than 49 doses of vaccines for babies, and he’s for bringing naturopaths and chiropractors and acupuncturists into the fold, and drafting new “standards of practice and external monitoring” for them.
I believe he calls himself, on occasion, an ex-hippie who still applies the lessons of his youth to the exigencies and realities of our time.
I’m thrilled. (Integral integration with integrity.)
With Pods like this working for us, our job is complete.
We can take heart and look forward to a new century of love, during which our great-great grandchildren will be birthed in organic oak vats where, synthetic genes imparted, they’ll bathe in a solution that delivers 60 or 70 vaccines at the moment of emergence into the world.
A chiropractor with an advanced degree will clean out the vat and dump the contents into a drain, mop the floor, and take out the garbage.
Outside the baby factory, a fully licensed government naturopath will be raking the leaves on the lawn.
A PhD acupuncturist who’s done post-doc work at the Mayo Clinic will be smoothing out the sand and picking up candy wrappers in the kiddies’ playpen.
They’ll stop working and look up as the hospital dietitian, who researches processed-food injectables, rolls by in her Mercedes.