How should one characterize the following situation? One out of every two men, and two out of every three women will at some point in their life develop cancer. In other words, over 58% of the total population - over 150,000,000 people - are statistically doomed to develop some type of cancer. To be sure, some forms of cancer are relatively easy to deal with. When Ronald Reagan developed skin cancer on his nose, for example, it was easily treated. Of course, Reagan was a wealthy and powerful man with a top-notch insurance plan. He probably didn't even have to pay a large deductible!
Many people with similar pathological conditions - most, in fact - will not only not have access to a good insurance plan, they won't have access to any health insurance. In all likelihood, this hypothetical skin cancer sufferer won't have the condition diagnosed before it has metastasized into more serious territory. Hypothetical patients, and hypothetical cases, however, are simply that. So, let's just consider a statistic: one in four deaths in the United States are caused by cancer.
Returning to the question that started this entry, how should one characterize a situation in which cancer is at such levels? Should it be conceptualized, as it tends to be, as just millions of individual problems? To be sure, people may have genetic predispositions toward developing cancer; but a predisposition is merely that. What causes these predispositions to manifest malignantly at such rates is the toxic, disposable and stressful consumer/capitalist society we inhabit. After all, each and every one of us has a genetic predisposition to develop cancer - one only needs to be exposed to enough carcinogens. And such is indeed the case. Just look at all of those frogs with six legs. That said, it might be a fairer characterization to say that it is this society that has cancer. And it isn't confronting the situation very well.
Back during the Nixon Administration a war was declared on cancer. Those were the days. There was a war on cancer on one front, and a war on poverty on another. And had these wars not been abandoned, it is very likely that those fighting would have discovered that they were actually at odds with not two distinct but one multi-faceted enemy. For the society that creates the sundry toxins that cause cancer does so in a manner that creates and reproduces poverty, and vice-versa. That is, this society has cancer. As such, those fighting it were fighting themselves. No wonder they quit. Or did they?
The maxim salus populi suprema lex esto , which maintains that the health of the people is the supreme law, is understood to function as a metanorm in US law. As such, all laws and practices must comply with this maxim or lose all validity. As void laws, they are merely phantoms of law - however, phantoms are known for their ability to control people.
Because peoples' health requires certain conditions to be present, and certain conditions to be absent, a society's legitimacy - according to the maxim - rests on its ability to create and reproduce these conditions of health. As the prevalence of cancer in this society indicates, our society preponderatingly creates conditions of disease. As such, its practices are in actuality outside of the law, mere phantoms of law, replete with armies of enforcers, all masquerading as legitimate.