The Secret to the Ill-Health of Nations

On January 8, 2016, I was moved to make contact with Professor John McMurtry, after starting to read his book, The Cancer Stage of Capitalism: From Crisis to Cure‘ (CSC-2). What I read provided context for a better understanding of an article I wrote entitled, ‘The Secret to a Healthy Nation‘ (SHN). CSC-2 provided the ultimate root cause of the chain of causal factors that was responsible for all of the physical, mental, social and environmental diseases that plague us today.

What I endeavor to accomplish in the following series of posts is to provide a framework of understanding to hopefully connect the dots for my medical colleagues and health policy makers, especially locally and regionally, and if possible internationally. The ultimate aim is not to make disparaging remarks about the political and financial establishment of “which they know not what they were/are doing,” but to raise them up to a higher standard of awareness and appreciation of the global system determinants of health. I fervently hope to show how through their laws, treaties and policies, and by their omission of life-value, and by their commitment to maximising profit-value above all else, they have unwittingly undermined the individual and collective health of their nations.

What I have reproduced (with corrections to typos) [and clarifications], with permission from Professor John McMurtry, are my first contact with him on January 8, 2016, and his critique of my paper (SHN) on January 29, 2016, showing how it connects with his life’s work (CSC-2). Hopefully you would be able to get a sense of where I am coming from and to where I will be going.

On Friday, January 8, 2016 5:24 PM, Bichara Sahely <> wrote:

Subject: Human Rights versus Corporate Rights: Life Value, the Civil Commons and Social Justice

Dear Prof McMurtry:

I have recently come across your articles at, and I am currently reading your book, The Cancer Stage of Capitalism: From Crisis to Cure. Doing some more research on the theme of your articles, I came across, that referenced your article in the Subject of this email .

I was moved by the article as like you I have recently realized that we have a system that profits off of other people’s diseases, addictions, disabilities and sufferings instead of investing in their health promotion and maintenance, and our legal system has betrayed the best interest of the public in terms of natural justice, and has morphed into an institution that protects the vested interests of the money-sequencing, as you call it. 

I am an Internist by profession, and seeing the meteoric rise of obesity and the non-communicable diseases in my nation and seeing similar rises in developed countries made me question the political and economic establishments of our time.

I have given a talk at a national level on what I have discovered so far, and I have posted an indepth article on my blog site at: which I hope would be of some interest to you and your colleagues. I admit my analysis and synthesis does not go as deep as your insights, as your work has provided the missing link to understanding it all: i.e human rights versus life-blind corporate rights.

What perplexes me is why the international communities, especially the WHO, and the UN, and UNESCO (despite your contribution to the Life Encyclopedia), are not taking your analysis seriously and trying to make this a talking point and agitating for change, especially with regards to changing our international legal system to reflect the life values you talked about so as to make our system whole again? The investor-protection “trade” agreements are so blatant in their machinations even a blind person can see, and the international organisations are not even touching this with a 10-foot poll!

This boggles my mind to the extreme, why our legal institutions around the world are not taking you seriously here!!

If you can enlighten me and/or point me to a list of articles (yours or other articles) that deal with this most pivotal issue, it would be deeply appreciated. If you are hopeful that things would change for the better, I would for one would help in disseminating your insights in my sphere of influence and concerns.

Thank you so much for being a beacon of enlightenment in this most vexing issue for me. Humanity owes you a debt of gratitude.

If you think the quality of my blog article is worthy of reproduction on, I will be guided accordingly. Any criticism would be welcome.

Best regards,


On Friday, January 29, 2016 8:53 PM, John McMurtry <> wrote:

Subject: Moving forward from your ‘Secret of the Health of Nations’

Dear Bichara,

Although prior deadlines have slowed the process, I have now studied your article SHN in depth. Your article is a tour de force and is superior to the other works sent to me with whose various methods I am familiar. Your method is medical, and most importantly, comprehends social determinants of health as the key to understanding how to steer human well-being rather than ill-being at the local and global level.

Others do not have this proven life-value metric and map as framework of analysis at social and value system levels. That is why I said at the start: “Your medical training and vocation make it [this letter and article from you] especially significant”. But medical science seldom moves to the reigning economic system as determining health or illth, or considers these values at a comprehensive and principled level.

Onto your article SHN which moves into these second-order spheres of fuller understanding. I use caps for clarifying emphasis of the most basic points. Everything said is in light of reading and annotating your rich paper.

You summarize in a way I fully agree with when you say (caps added): “This brings us to the ROOT CAUSE OF ALL OF THE CAUSES and it is here where we will find the GEOPOLITICAL AND SOCIOECONOMIC DETERMINANTS OF HEALTH.” (p. 26)

Here I would exactly target conceptualization with, more exactly, “GLOBAL SYSTEM DETERMINANTS OF HEALTH”. ‘Global system’, in turn, is primarily THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL SYSTEM ULTIMATELY REGULATED BY THE PRIVATE MONEY-SEQUENCE MULTIPLIER which increasingly pervades all domains of life and life conditions to grow only itself and override life needs and means to do so. CSC-2 (the book) is the spelling out of this meaning, with the money sequence multiplier ($—>Life as Means—>More $ with superscript indicators as found in CSC-2). This SYSTEM DETERMINANT AS ULTIMATE REGULATING LAW OF GLOBALIZATION (hereafter TMSS = transnational money sequence system) IS the root cause of all causes of all growing pathologies in the world SHN identifies. This is THE GENERAL SYSTEM LAW that completes your SHN diagnosis, and can be tested and explained in any case. 

This “root cause of all the causes” is behind and selects for/determines all of the SET OF DEFINED, ONE-WAY AND DEGENERATE TRENDS identified in CSC-2, but also in your article SHN at the organic level. Its increasingly absolute regulator is what has been masked and unseen not by conspiracy but by a-priori system life-blindness.

When you say: “This is illustrated by an iceberg model of non-communicable disease (NCDs) where what we see is only the end result of the causal chain of influences (the tip of the iceberg), where at the very base we find poverty, illiteracy, urbanisation and globalisation, which interact with each other and serve to create, maintain and sustain unhealthy lifestyle choices, metabolic complications and eventually the non-communicable diseases (Figure 5.1)., p. 26” we remain in full agreement. But the common cause, the system cause of all causes at work here, needs to be defined and named as above or it remains preconscious, the system ‘immune deficit’, and keeps on invading more widely and deeply beneath recognition. 

I suggest the same is true of the cause of specific diseases of individual agents. You rightly say: “If we look at the non-communicable diseases like heart attack, stroke and gangrene, we realise that they are the complications of a process that took many decades to develop. If we want to find the root cause of these diseases, we have to identify the upstream determinants of these processes.” Where we disagree by shortfall is when you say “these diseases are the end result of the LIFESTYLE CHOICES we make like unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol”. I argue that these CONSUMER CHOICES THEMSELVES ARE SOCIALLY PREDISPOSED TO BY SYSTEMIC STRESSORS OF the TMSS making, producing, distributing and promoting the disease factors involved (INCLUDING DISLOCATION of individuals as well as ECOLOGICAL DISINTEGRATION throughout). The TMSS is THE CAUSE OF CAUSES WHICH REMAINS THE MISSING LINK AND BASELINE of today’s understanding across the relevant fields. 

We also agree when you say: “We measure the disease burden by disability-adjusted-life-years, which are the aggregated number of years of disability due to infirmity or disease, and which represents the lost potential of our people to contribute to the growth and development of our families, communities and nation”. But further, we need to bring the causal chain back to the TMS-System itself which selects for all of it at a systemic level, not yet now even defined in any of the literatures. This includes at the individual level “destructive and compulsive behaviours being substituted for these disconnections”. OBSERVE ALL ARE MONEY-SEQUENCING DISCONNECTIONS AS COMMON CAUSAL MECHANISM. “These addictive tendencies are not only in the use of illicit drugs, but also in the abuse of legal substances such as tobacco, alcohol, fast food, and extends to other activities such as shopping, gambling, sex, the acquisition of more and more wealth and even more and more power, and in their wake, the unintended consequence is a host of physical, mental and social maladies.” Yes we agree up to the point of the missing common cause. You say “Given that psychosocial dislocation is the root cause“, but in truth “psychosocial dislocation” is itself an effect of the TMSSystem. (The fallacy of COMMON CAUSE is a limit of the age induced by its operations). 

You go on to say: “(the funda)mental unit of production, growth and development in our nation are not individuals, yes but relationships, and links”. Yes. But these are VAGUE CONCEPTS WITHOUT TRACTION AND DO NOT DISTINGUISH IN PRINCIPLE BETWEEN LIFE-ENABLING VS. LIFE DISABLING “RELATIONSHIPS AND LINKS”.


You go on with more vague categories: ” between the QUALITY of our social relationships – – – – and NEGATIVE outcomes”. QUALITY OF ANY X IS DECIDED BY LIFE-ENABLING VS. DISABLING [NATURE AND] CONSEQUENCES OF IT. [Please see Note 1].

You bring up a key concept with “MENTAL CAPITAL”, we agree again, but it too is without criterion. To situate and define it at once, it is the humanly basic subclass of LIFE CAPITAL whose GAIN, LOSS OR REPRODUCTION IS THE YARDSTICK OF ALL LIFE VALUE CALCULATION THROUGH TIME. LC in turn = LIFE WEALTH THAT PRODUCES MORE LIFE WEALTH WITHOUT LOSS AND CUMULATIVE GAIN THROUGH TIME (eg., your healthy brain). These criteria are applicable to all objective health/illth on individual or social planes. (Theoretical aside : This is the basic concept of life-value onto-axiology of which modern medicine is the best practice without knowing why.)

LIFE CAPITAL IS THE CATEGORY AND MEASURE to capture all “physical, mental and social negative outcomes, communities, and ultimately responsible stewardship of our biosphere and lithosphere which have been gifted to us and have supported and nurtured us for billions of years.” [Please see Note 2].

LC – THE MORE COHERENTLY INCLUSIVE IN ENABLING LIFE THE BETTER – is the definition of ANY “more wholistic approach to health promotion and preventative health maintenance.” It is the substance of life value of all kinds. 


At this point, Bichara, I am going to give you a chance to process what I have written. It is meant to apply to the rest of your paper too. But before I sign off, let me briefly respond to the “universal dislocation/addiction” problem. All of this is recognised by the LIFE-VALUE FRAMEWORK explained above and at length in CSC-2. There is no disagreement so far as this well-marked problem goes. Yet analysis understandably remains at the individual level of disease/s without the ecological life-host to which it does not apply, and, moreover, it has no clear criteria of what is a dislocation, or an addiction is : when, in contrast, life-value/life capital measure can spell out all of this to the finest degree of life capacity being enabled/disabled through time in its thought/felt being/action.

This set of concepts/categories, I suggest, applies to all you write, and further, supplies that [which] is always missing from all other accounts, an ULTIMATELY REGULATING PRINCIPLE OF GOOD/BAD/HEALTHY/ILL, BALANCED/UNBALANCED, and so on. At the second-order level of universal principles of value, we are otherwise lost. We are helplessly submerged in a private money-value system so absolute and preconscious that all parties in charge presuppose it as given to grow more.

Back to your words : “as our system now stands, the physical, mental and social wellbeing of our households and its members, and the ecological health of our planet and its other sentient inhabitants, are less valued than the financial health of the man-made legal entities known as markets, firms, and transnational corporations” YES. Now the instituted value-system decider, comes into general view as the common cause of all the disease causes. Finally we are forced to comprehend the life-value ground and measure of all health and illth to know the way out.

A good exercise for us might be for you to consider where disagreement or shortfall of conception arises that is not answered by the above or the CSC-2 text. (The caps could have been italics, but this was written for direct e-mail text.)

Very best regards,


John McMurtry Ph.D (University College London)
Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada
Professor of Philosophy
University Professor Emeritus
University of Guelph
Ontario, Canada NIG2W1
Philosophy and World Problems
Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS)
UNESCO, Paris-Oxford

Note 1. “X is value if and only if, and to the extent that, x consists in or enables a more coherently inclusive range of thought/feeling/action than without it”, which is the Primary Axiom of Life-Value Onto-Axiology.

Note 2. The primary capital of any society or economy is Life Capital (LC –> LC1 —>LCn), the wealth of means of life that produces more wealth of means of life in cumulative yield through time (eg., species/ecological, social, technological or knowledge capital which reproduces and grows through time in carrying capacity of life-means).