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What are some ways a diabetic (or a similarly-afflicted person) could survive in an anarchist society?

0 votes
Take my word that I'm asking this question in good faith:

I hear from a lot of people (ranging from green anarchists to nihilists) that the question of "who would work the silicon mines" or whatever is a moot point because it assumes preservation of modern technology. My question is, how can a diabetic be a self-interested anarchist?

As it stands, diabetes is monitored through some fairly complex devices that calculate the milligrams of glucose per deciliter of blood in someone's body. Synthetic insulin is manufactured by genetically modifying certain organisms to produce human-compatible insulin; the old method of creating insulin was to extract it from the pancreases of pigs (who were killed beforehand).

Substitute diabetes for any other disability or affliction that requires some fairly specific and complicated forms of care.

I suppose what I'm asking is how some people envision a world that could be simultaneously anarchist and capable of caring for people who require complex medicine - or, whether this is a possibility at all.
asked Jan 1, 2014 by Rice Boy (10,100 points)
Can you help me understand this, how does having a government help with complicated forms of care?

edited to make into a comment.
From my perusing of the questions and responses on this site, I think the OP is referring to the notion that technology wouldn't necessarily exist or continue to exist as it does now.  I believe it's been explicitly stated here that a lot of the modern amenities and technologies that we presently have wouldn't exist in an ancom world.  

In any case, I don't think the question must imply that having a government does help with complicated forms of care.  However, we presently do have complicated forms of care and that care is available only in places where governments exist.  So having a government doesn't prevent complicated forms of care.  

Anyway, I'm interested to see what answers might be offered to the OP.

3 Answers

+1 vote
Okay, I'll let you in on a little trade secret. By the way, this isn't just for the ATR situation but also if you're somehow stranded in the wild without your insulin shots, here's what you do. If you can't find a pig, you set a trap to catch a non-diabetic human (use sweets as bait!), then simply extract the pancreas (you'll need a knife) and eat it. Works like a charm.
answered Jan 1, 2014 by anok (19,530 points)
Hi! I'm a diabetic and I would like a better answer than this one.
+1 vote
I admit that this is a primarily a comment, but: one thing I find really unpleasant is how eagerly some people will dismiss difficult or annoying questions because they feel that there's some kind of ideological motivation behind it.

All I want to know is how I can be a self-interested anarchist rather than undertaking a long and difficult struggle toward my own suicide.

I understand that a lot (if not practically all) of people have to die or live in misery in order to keep this civilization alive, but I don't really have an interest in sacrificing myself for the greater good either.

My only real answer to this question is "make an attempt to keep enough technology in existence to support those who require complex medicine" - and I think that's fine, because I'm okay with vague answers. But then I hear some anarchists arguing that there can be no anarchist future that allows for the existence of computers or modern medicine, and suddenly I feel like we're not on the same side at all.
answered Jan 7, 2014 by Rice Boy (10,100 points)
Well, today, insulin is created via genetically modified e. coli bacteria which are grown in labs and secrete synthetic insulin. I think some people are experimenting with getting a certain variety of plant to secrete insulin.

The old method was extracting insulin from the pancreases of pigs. Prior to that, type 1 diabetes was an immediately fatal disease.

Since type 1 diabetics entirely lack insulin in their bodies, there's not really any alternative besides getting insulin from somewhere else - or, possibly, a pancreas transplant, although I think those tend to go very poorly and there's a high risk of infection assuming your body doesn't just reject the new organ outright.

And that's the thing! I'd like to explore how it might be possible to have an anarchic life and society without it meaning my immediate death, but it seems like some people (not referring to anyone here, specifically!) have taken it as a foregone conclusion that all modern tech and medicine need to be done away with, and I don't get the impression that there's any room for compromise there.

But anyway I appreciate what you're saying! I really hope there is actually a way to integrate my desire for anarchy with my ability to experience it.
Your last line sums up my hopes as well.

At this moment, I don't think all modern medicine and tech needs to be done away with. Or at least, if it does, it surely wouldn't disappear overnight any more than automobiles, cell phones, or this internet connection we're now using. Many things could likely still be salvaged, scrapped together, repaired, etc., as mass production began to cease.

Synthetic insulin is obviously not something that falls into those categories (use, res-use, cobble together, repair), but the idea that it is here today, gone tomorrow, is unlikely in my view. I realize that my answer is more philosophical than practical, but to me one of the beautiful aspects of anarchy is the notion that there are possibilities for everything currently unimagined in the hierarchical, money-based, separated society. I wish I could see more clearly the path from here to there, but I try to keep in mind it is not a linear one, and that seems to help a little. I've found that believing in anarchy and working toward living it is fraught with contradictions and conflict, and this particular situation you've described is similar in that regard. I suppose those of us who have chosen this view are drawn to and appreciate that conflict in some way, as difficult as it may be.

My wife was a pharmacist in our previous life, so perhaps she has some more tangible ideas than me on the specifics of diabetes...I'll talk to her and respond again later.
rb: i completely get your dilemma, and i think it is awesome that you are grappling with it.  

although i definitely have a critique of technology (including around how the problems it seeks to solve are almost always problems born of it), it is an unavoidable part of our world, until it is not. i have no problem using whatever is available to suit my needs, and i'd expect no less of anyone else. if civilization came crumbling down tomorrow (which would make me leap for joy), there is no question i would use whatever i could from its detritus (is that the correct use of that word?) for as long as i could. and i would be looking very hard at what alternatives i could come up with for when those things were no longer available.

it sucks that what you need to stay alive currently requires systems and processes that you and others see as oppressive. it is an extreme example of the particular kinds of conflict and contradiction made inevitable (even within ourselves) by the modern world.

"I guess I'm just trying to sort out what kinds of anarchists I can even theoretically work with, and that list seems to be getting smaller and smaller."

i hope you don't exclude too many folks too soon. keep in mind that anarchists who disagree on one or more issues often work together. i would think that trust and common objectives on any given project would trump overarching ideological purity. or have i misunderstood? for me, what creates anarchy is how people relate to one another. there is always going to be disagreement and conflict, and those are great opportunities to practice relating anarchically.
R.B. - ten million is one hell of a big syndicate.
And though we (probably) wouldn't replicate the genetic engineering, it should be trivial to bribe a wage-slave to 'liberate' an existing culture and propagate it in a safe place.  And (though i'm not talking to your specifics) i'm continually amazed at how simple and 'low-tech' most industrial processes are to those who work with them everyday, but seem shrouded in mystery to we ignorant masses - culture, filter, pasteurize ... um, were you making beer or smallpox vaccine?

[As an aside, the UofA in Edmonton was working on eyelet transplants, rather than whole pancreas, initial results were promising but that was a few years ago...]
cb: good points! the perception of "specialists" and what they do is often shaped by the very premise of specialization, which is intended to make things seem inaccessible to the "average" person. but the reality can be quite different.

rb: i would add to my previous comment that a huge number of humans alive today (of which there are far too many, imo) could not survive without industrial technology, for everything from clean water to food provisioning to medical treatments etc. you and your fellow diabetics are barely the tip of the iceberg. that is the reality of the world we live in; and it is that same world that created those dependencies, which is one big reason i want it GONE.
–1 vote
You would be HIGHLY motivated to watch what you eat and are more likely not never get diabetes in the first place. The current surge is all chronic diseases is strongly correlated with Western capitalist ideology, consumption, and life set up.

If your question is what if this happened right now, your options may be limited and would come back down to watch what you eat.
answered Oct 4, 2016 by Medical_Nemesis (220 points)
Rice Boy mentioned above that they have type 1 diabetes, which is genetic and not dependent on what they eat. Telling them to watch what they eat doesn't solve their issue and applies to people with type 2 diabetes. So, while type 2 diabetes is preventable, the type of diabetes (type 1) Rice Boy has is not.
My bad. I missed the Type 1 diabetes. I apologize.


A rapid change in incidence within a genetically stable population implies that nongenetic factors are active and that the influence of genes is relative to population, time, and place. It suggests that something has changed in the environment our children encounter or in the way they are reared.

Not to say this is definitive. Possibly these children died in early infancy before anybody could detect symptoms and describe the disease. But something to think about and look into for people with Type 1 diabetes.

They wrote it in the comments. I've read that the environment also plays some sort of part into diabetes type 1. I wonder if the reasons for the rise type 1 diabetes is more because people now have easier access to doctors and better tests to see, while in the past, they did not. I'm no scientist, so I'm not gonna ponder this for long. I'm not the one that down voted you.