lördag, februari 27, 2010

César et un Prophète

Tonight the films and actors of France and other countries has been rewarded - or not - a César for the best film, best actor, best actress and so forth.

In the category Best Film, the César was rewarded the film by Jacques Audiard:
Un Prophète.

We saw this film in La Châtre (Cinéma Lux) and I must say that even if it was a quite 'ordinary' 'prison film', it wasn't bad at all.
The acting is very good, not least by the main character - Malik El Djebena (Tahar Rahim), the young and promising actor.
Niels Arestrup in the role as César is - as often - very good and he is not Danish at all, or almost at all!
Born in France by Danish parents yes, but when it comes to Danish, he only know one sentence after what I've heard, namely: I Love You ('Jeg elsker dig')
The different problems, possibilities and intriques is depicted in a very realistic and unglamourous way.

The Billionaires and James Petras

The Billionaires and How They Made It. Meet the Global Ruling Class
By James Petras

This book is not new and it has been commented many times before.

However it's a book with a great deal of contemporaneity, seen in relation to both the so called economic crisis in the economically more developed countries, the actual crisis under which poor countries in the world suffer meaning starvation, death caused by diseases that could have been cured and death caused by unstable political circumstances.
It's also a book that deals with the economic growth in China and India and other fast growing economies in the world.
As I haven't read this book myself I rely on the different articles I've read commenting this book.

One of Petras cornerstones is that there in the world today (and 'yesterday' to some extent, depending on the historical perspective) are individuals with such great economical power, that they could - if they decided to do so - eleviate the poverty by giving away 90% of their fortunes (or more) and still live in extreme wealth for rest of their lives.
The book also deals with the question about the power these people hold just through the fact that they are rich (not a new insight).
According to Petras the number of billionaires grew from 793 in 2006 to 946 in 2007.
Today we have 2010 and I guess that the number of billionaires has increased, in spite of the 'crisis'.

India had (when this book was written in 2007) 36 billionaires and thereby being the country in Asia with the highest number of billionaires. Their total wealth amounted to $91 billion.
China had 20 billionaires with $29,4 billion.

In spite of these facts, the number of people being poor in these two countries is still very high and constitutes a major problem.
When talking about China and India, I feel that we often focus on the major cities in these countries, cities where the economical development has gone faster than on the countryside and the middle class is growing stronger and stronger.
By doing so we forget that this is the two largest countries in the world when talking about inhabitants.
This means that those living in small communities or on the countryside to a lesser extent are affected by the economical progress.

According to Petras the wealth of what he calls the "global ruling class" grew by 35% per year with its peak in 2007 (when his book was published) at $3,5 trillion!
At the same time he claims that income levels for the lower 55% of the worlds 6 billion (or 6,5) people declined or stagnated.
He rephrased it as if one hundreth millionth of the world's population owned more than over 3 billion people.

More than half of the billionaires (523) came from 3 countries: USA, Germany and Russia.
He also states that the 35 per cent increase in wealth mostly came from speculation on equity markets, real estate and commodity trading, not from technical innovations, investments in job-creating industries or socials services.

He focuses to some extent on the youngest and most fast-growing group of billionaires, namely the Russian oligarches, today in their forties, starting - many of them (67%) - their concentration of wealth in their mid to early twenties.
This was made possible during the infamous 1990's and the quasi-dictatorial rule and corrupt leadership in Russia at the time.
The whole of Russia - almost - was put up for sale and the 'political prize' - as Petras calls it - was far below its real value, 'thanks to' gangster tactics, assassinations, massive theft and seizure of state resources, stock manipulations and buyouts.
Petras means that the, then, future billionaires stripped the Russian state of over a trillion dollars worth of factories, transport, oil, gas, iron, coal and other formerly state-owned recources.
Almost all the billionaires initial sources of wealth came from other operations than such as building, innovating or developing new efficient enterprises.
It was all very closed followed by and supervised by 'free market' Western 'consultants' (Gaidar/Chubais), showing these oligarchs to come how to profit from a weak national-political system.
Mafia methods were used by university graduates who capitalized on corrupting, intimidating or assassinating senior officials in the state, among other things.

Over a hundred billion dollars a year was laundered by the mafia oligarchs in the principle banks of New York, London, Switzerland, Israel and elsewhere,­ funds which would later be recycled in the purchase of expensive real estate in the US, England, Spain, France as well as investments in British football teams, Israeli banks and joint ventures in minerals.
Petras further points out other parts of the world where the same mecanisms has been used to augment the fortune of a few.
In Latin America for example, Petras claims that Mexico and Brezil are the two countries with the greatest concentration of wealth and the rise of the Latin American billionaires.

Personally I can say that at least Mexico, from different reports and informations, seems to be one of the most corrupted states in the world.
Brezil is a c country being more respectable - at least on the surface.
These two countries has also privatized the most lucrative, efficient and largest public monopolies, according to Petras and hereby gained there wealth.
The wealth of 38 families and individuals exceeds that of 250 million Latin Americans; 0.000001 per cent of the population exceeds that of the lowest 50 per cent. In Mexico, the income of 0.000001 per cent of the population exceeds the combined income of 40 million Mexicans.

In the articles the ideas of Petras also include the fact that:
"If we add to the concentration of $157 billion in the hands of an infinitesimal fraction of the elite, the $990 billion taken out by the foreign banks in debt payments and the $1 trillion (one thousand billion) taken out by way of profits, royalties, rents and laundered money over the past decade and a half, we have an adequate framework for understanding why Latin America continues to have over two-thirds of its population with inadequate living standards and stagnant economies."

The content and aim of this book is to show that the wealth of these multi billionaires has been made possible by illegal methods, weak governments, dependance on the more wealthy nations, the latter meaning that when asking for loans the less rich governments, in all these countries, had to comply to some demands including denationalization of enterprises, selling out of industries and so on and so forth.
To this can be added other forms of external involvment in the internal affairs of these countries, not only from the powerful USA and other Western countries but also the IMF and similar organizations and institutions.

Of course Petras book is biased to some degree as he has an agenda of his own, as have we all but on a general basis I agree with him concerning the fact that poverty in the world could be solved if money was used in a more altruistically and productive way.

It's not a question wether it's possible or not to solve world poverty more a question concerning the lack of will, cowardly or corrupt politicians or rather both cowardly and corrupt politicians and a detached public, that is to say you and me.

The world is facing a lot of problems that could be solved by using the total amount of fortune in a more useful way but as the capitalist, market economy-countries to a large extent is governed by anti-intellectuals, like economists and 'professional' politicians, it's not likely that this will happen.

We have to change the structure of society, meaning that economists and other market-liberals have to be put aside when it comes to deciding how to run the economy and the states.
Today politicians in all countries listen less to philosophers, historians, sociologists and other representatives of the Humanities and this has lead and will lead to recurring problems in the world concerning economy and the distribution of wealth.

Economists and other representatives of the so called free market economy are not interested in the poor world, their only interest is to accumulate money with them who already have a surplus.

The free market economy isn't free either as we all know. It's governed by multi national corporations and companies with their enormous lobbying power, more or less dictating the political agenda.

The 'invisible hand' that was supposed to regulate the market, was a theoretical model and has never existed in the market economy of the 'real life', lived here and now.

The primary data for the essay from wich I'm extracting my information is drawn from Forbes Magazine 's "List of the World's Billionaires" published March 8, 2007.

"Behind every great fortune is a great crime." (Honoré de Balzac).

(Photo James Petras copied from: http://radiouniversidad.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/jamespetras.jpg)

söndag, februari 14, 2010

St Valentines Day

It's also St Valentine's Day!
We are going to celebrate it - Aurore and I - at the Chinese restaurant in town!
Valentine and the Chinese New Year! Eclectic!

The Year of the Tiger

Today - the 14th of February - the Chinese New Year begin and that means that New Years Eve has been celebrated in several places all over the world.
This year it's the year of the Tiger, meaning that we have left the year of the Ox behind us.

It's the most important traditional Chines holiday, by English speaking sometimes called 'the Lunar New Year'.
This celebration is most common in countries with a Han population.
It implies both religious rituals, special clothings, a lot of food and different kinds of festivals with all kinds of mythical figures parading in the streets.
As the Chinese population in Paris is quite numerous, there has been festivities in the town, something French tv reported on.

In New York - Manhattan - and some other North American cities we have the so called China Towns, as we all know, where the Chinese population is numerous and where the celebration will be visible for all and everyone.
Manhattan has one of the largest ethnic Chinese communities outside Asia, if not the largest.
Even in Stockholm the Chinese New Year has been celebrated for some years, though in a more modest way outside the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, this year was no exception.

torsdag, februari 11, 2010

Alexander McQueen dead

The English fashion designer is dead and according to some sources it was a suicide.
This is perhaps of less interest for those interested in fashion.

Alexander McQueen (Alexander McQueen - official web site) was born in 1969 outside London, son to a taxi driver.
According to different information he early on started to make clothes and notably dresses for his sisters, stating that he had the ambition becoming a fashion designer.
He got an apprenticeship at Savile Row (Savile Row Bespoke) and other fashion centras.
When working at Savile Road he had clients like the former Sovjet leader Mikhail Gorbachev but also Prince Charles.

He later on applied to and got approved for London's most prestigious fashion school Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design (1994).
He received his master and went on to become 'l'enfant terrible' or 'the hooligan of English fashion' because of his reputation of being controversial and somewhat shocking in his style.

He came to Givenchy (succeeding John Galliano) in 1996 before he finally started his own label/brand, becoming very influential, though still somewhat controversial. Later on Gucci bought 50% of his collection (if I remember right) and he continued working in cooperation with them. Puma was another brand for which he created a sports collection.

It was during his time at Givenchy that my wife saw him in Paris in the 8th arrondissement in 1996 or 1997. Personally his name was known to me but I can't say I was to familiar with where he had worked and what he had done and I wouldn't have recognized him in the street.

(Photo Alexander McQueen copied from: http://www.smh.com.au/ffximage/2005/10/09/alexandermcqueen.jpg)

torsdag, februari 04, 2010

L'identité nationale - The National Identity

In 2007 the French government created a special ministry - Le ministère de l'Immigration, de l'Intégration, de l'Identité nationale et du Développement solidaire - for questions concerning the French National Identity.
This was - among other things - an initiative in order to make possible a discussion concerning what it meant being a French today.

The reason for this discussion to a certain degree emanates from:
1. the fact that France is a country with a great number of immigrants,
2. of which some are regarded not following the customs of the country.
This last assumtion is however somewhat troublesome.

It's also a mean to discuss what values should be regarded as important in a nation and to try to unite the population around these sets of values.
Is this however possible?
President Sarkozy renewed this debate in 2009 and since then this issue has been recurrently discussed in television, radio, on internet and in newspapers.

One benchmark is the values expressed in the national motto of the French republic:
Liberté, égalité, fraternité (Liberty, equality, fraternity/brotherhood).
From this standpoint one trie to deduct other moral and national values.
Starting with the identity and what is significant for a certain society, this has of course changed throughout the history of man.
-What constitutes a certain country and its inhabitants?
-Are there any clear and obvious bonds linking a people together?
-Are there values around which most inhabitants - or all - can unite?

In so called democratic countries we appreciate democracy - more or less. Most people seem to regard democracy as the 'least bad system' in comparison to dictatorships, theokraties, plutocracies or other more or less totalitarian systems.

The idea about 'the people ruling the country'/'popular rule' (at least formally) is something most of us in the 'free world' take for granted, linking a majority of people together - also the French.
This ruling system has of course not always been the normative.
In France - as in Sweden and other countries around the world - a totalitarian rule under an authoritarian emperor, king or any other ruling dynasty has sometimes prevailed. In a European perspective often with the help of the Christian church, sanctioning the 'worldly rule' and sometimes opposing it.

One can, without exaggerating, state that some of the French presidents have been acting in a very emperor-like style, though being elected.

A state/a country is however a geopolitical unity created through bloodshed and wars.
This means that different parts of a country (as we know them today) in different historical epochs sometimes emerged sometimes desintegrated, meaning that strict boundaries with a more or less ethnically homogenic group constituting the 'real' France (with the 'real French') or the 'real' Sweden (with the 'real' Swedes), came about rather late in history.
In some parts of the world this is still an ongoing process.
Not even in small communities the ethnical homogenity has always been strict.

Countries always have consisted of different ethnic groups even though some countries, during a certain period in history have had a superficially very homogeneous population.
Of course we have minority groups living together with less interaction with the majority society - e.g. the Samis or Lapps in Sweden - but they are still a part of Sweden and the Swedish society and also influenced by other groups of people migrating in and out of their community.

What are the national traits of the French republic?

The official french language is of course a common denominator but historically people have spoken different languages and dialects in this country as well as today when some dialects almost could be regarded as a specific language apart from french.

As a Swede, living only six months in France one might say that it's somewhat immoderate making comments about the 'national traits' of this country but I find it hard to deduct any special characteristics more than the overall theories, mentioned above, about democracy, liberty, to some degree equality and brotherhood. These mottos emerging rather late in the history of France, however.

Already when we talk about these three 'foundation pillars' it's hard to state that this constitutes France more than it constitutes any other democratic country in the world.

Liberty/freedom is of course to some degree implemented but 'total freedom' (whatever this would be) is not possible or maybe not even desirable.
I write "maybe" as there are ideologies arguing for 'total freedom' in a society whereby laws would be superfluous and conflicts solved on an individual basis.
Some people have more freedom than others, often due to the fact that they occupy powerful positions in society, considerable wealth or both.
This means e.g. that 'equality before the law' only exists 'on the paper', not in reality, neither in France nor elsewhere.

Are there more freedom in France than in other democratic countries?
Maybe in some fields but from a general point of view, I can't se that this would be the case.
I now talk about the exterior freedom, not the interior.
Of course it's possible for an individual to feel free even if he or she is sick, poor and lacking societal power but this is more a question of the spirit or the soul of every individual and this is not what I'm discussing here.

Freedom of speech and freedom of the press, are democratic values shared by all democratic nations, in some with a higher degree of transparency in others with less.

Equality is, as we know, a very nice, compelling but very complicated expression.
Are all people equal and if so in what way?
We are all individuals with different personal gifts, abilities, characteristics and comptences making us unequal in many ways.
The general idea is often related to human rights and that no one should be denied what is being codified as human rights, as defined in different international documents.
I do agree that noone should be denied there human rights refering to exterior characteristics like ethnicity, sex or sexual orientation (hetero-, homo- bi- or transsexuals), religious or political views but apart from this there are great differences between people, to some degree making it appropriate to differentiate between humans, acknowledging that we are not equals.

This does not mean that we are going to create a society with superior and inferior people as the different abilities and skills all are needed in different situations.

Today however, differences in how people are being treated and dealt with by society is not based on any intellectual, rational or 'common sense' considerations, only exterior dito like the ones mentioned above (fortune and societal position, inherited or not, sexual preferences and the like, ethnical belonging and so forth).

This is the case in France as well as in all other democratic countries, again with some specific differences in details.

How about 'brotherhood' (fraternité)?
Well how about it? What does this mean and why is there no 'sisterhood'?
This term was of course a mean used by the revolutionary groups under Robespierre, Danton et consortes to unite the nation, making the French feeling like a huge family.
The idea was that there shouldn't be any boundaries between people linked to societal ranks and positions, all citizens were 'brothers and sisters' in a national or global community.
This idea does have some traits of Christianism and other religious thoughts, not making it a solely atheistic idea, as might have been the ambition.

Similar ideas emerged in Sweden when the social democrats during the first half of the 20th century wanted to create a 'Folkhem' ('People's Home'/'Volksheim!).

This was however more based on creating a common agenda concerning what should be considered 'good' and 'bad', 'healthy' and 'unhealthy' both on a societal as well as a individual level, very much like the Nazi's during the 30's and 40's in Germany relating to a 'blood- and soil-relation' between citizens.

I think all these words and ideas are very vague and very hard to implement even if one have the ambition to do so.

Concerning the French national identity one should also ask oneself at what moment in the history of France, one are able to define the 'specific French nation' with a specific identity.
I believe that most French politicians and people in general prefer starting with the French revolution, others with the Gauls, again others with another historically well known episode.
This has always constituted a problem in all states when trying to define themselves in relation to historical events and here we can mention Israel and Palestine as two very well known examples.

A considerable minority of the population in France are muslims (5 millions) and Islam is the second largest faith in France after Catholicism.
The last ten-fifteen years of muslim extremism connected to Al-Quaida/Al-Qaeda or groups supporting their ideological stance is, I believe, one among many reasons creating a fear of what might happen in France.

This is of course also true for other countries in the world, who after 9/11, very strongly focused on islam and muslim extremism.
This combined with the troubles and uprising in the suburbs of Paris, has lead to a more profound identity crisis among many Frenchmen and French politicians.

Among this diversified group of people with a muslim faith there are a small number of women and men who regard the wearing of the Burqa (burka/voile intégral), Niqab or Hijab being something constituting an essential trait of the muslim faith.
There are other clothings for muslim women besides these, but the above are the most well known in the West.
The burka has caused a great deal of confrontation between people of different opinions concerning this kind of clothing.
Many politicians have officially stated that the burka can never, what so ever, be regarded as an acceptable clothing in France and a special commission has investigated the issue and now finally published their results. The work of this commission could lead to a legislation banning the Burqa or similar clothings in public.
I haven't read this report in any detail but normally the arguments against the use of Burqa or the like in public, are the following, namely that wearing a burqa conflict with:

1. The 'principles' of most Western - more or less - open societies, namely that one can't be anonymous in public life.
It must always be possible to identify oneself and this is of course somewhat troublesome if a muslim woman regard it blasphemous to show any part of herself - not even the face or eyes - in public.
2. the rules concerning hygiene at hospitals or other workplaces and that people want to see with whom they interact.
3. the idea of 'free and independent women'. Western women often regard the burqa as hostile and degrading towards women. This has been stated very clearly from many French politicians, not least female.
The burqa has - according to them - no place in the French society.

Personally I think that one could find a way of 'identifying' muslim women when needed.
This by using finger prints or any other device displaying the identity of a muslim woman.
The technological development should be able to give us the tools to do so.

Concerning the question about hygiene, I do agree with those who state that this is incompatible with wearing clothings like the burqa, seen in relation to the laws and rules in the field of hygiene at hospitals and other institutions where the hygienical rules are - or should be - rigorous.
Even if it's sometime - with some right - said that our hygienical standards in the Western countries are to rigorous, I don't find it appropriate to work in domaines where hygiene is essential, wearing clothes covering you totally. Maybe one could find a solution to this problem too?
However, I don't think that this causes any major problems for muslim women, who well understand this.

When it comes to idea of 'independant women' and being a clothing 'degrading' women, I think that these arguments emerges from a very narrow minded and 'Western' point of view.
First of all there are muslim women who claim that they regard themselves being more 'free' than Western women, when wearing a burqa or niqab (or any other veil-like clothing).
This because they are not forced to wear make up or dress themselves nicely as Western women often feel themselves forced to do.
The muslim women argue that Western women make great efforts trying to please the eyes of men - and women - in the street. Certain Muslim women find it more important to please their husbands, showing herself in all her splendour in front of him. This is at least used as an argument from some muslim women.

This idea might be hard to understand but I totally follow their way of thinking.

On the other hand most muslim scholars and other intellectually critical and initiated persons
(I don't regard myself as being that initiated even if I have studied theology), state that the burqa, niqab or any other veil is not a part of the genuine muslim faith but a tradition that has emerged long after the muslim faith first was codified and acknowledged by the surrounding world.
I do agree with this stance seen from a historical point of view and logically reasoning, gives us the same answer.
I believe that God/Allah is to some degree logic and that woman (if one believes in creationism) wasn't created wearing a burqa! God/Allah had no problem looking at naked men and women, obviously.
If the question about not displaying oneself in public was really a 'divine' idea, this should of course also apply to men. There is a risk that women could get attracted to men who show themselves in public only wearing trousers and a shirt and this is of course, in that case, as serious as the reverse, seen from a believers point of view.

The truth about this - if there is one - is however more connected to the inability of men in all times to controle their sexuality.
This is true not least in societies where rigid religious practice has created a lot of rules around our behaviour, stigmatizing some and hailing others and women have most often had to submit to harder regulations, not least in patriarchal religions like Judaism, Christianism and Islam.

If however a muslim woman, by her own choice, not forced by the men around her, well aware of that this is not a divine prescription, decides to wear a burqa or niqab, this shouldn't be denied her.
Again it's the question about how to identifiy oneself in an open society that has to be resolved.

Does the burqa or any other clothings fit into the 'National Identity'?
Most people would say 'no' and this referring to the fact that the burqa has had no place in the French society before muslims became as numerous as today.
Historically though, muslims have fought on French soil even though not being in possession of parts of the country for a longer period of time.

The muslims and people with other faiths are however a part of the French society today and has been so for a long time, whereby I think one could say that their habits and traditions today is a part of 'L'Identité Nationale'.

We also have to remember that the discussion around the burqa concerns the very few women in France wearing this clothing. I don't remember the exact figure but I think there are between 1000 and 1500 in the whole of France!
If this is true it also make this discussion look somewhat exaggerated and rather ridiculous.

As with other countries in the world I can't find any specific national identity that would exclude others from the French community/brotherhood/sisterhood and therefore I think the discussion concerning the French identity is somewhat superflous.

On the other hand it's of course important - or rather essential - that people coming to France - like myself - try to adapt to the French society by learning the French language, the laws and rules of this society and doing their/our best to become a member of this big 'French family'.
Other 'loyalties' are not necessary, in my opinion.
I live, work and pay my tax here and I therefore should do my best to work hard and earn my living and follow the laws, rules and regulations, of the country but this is sufficient.

As being born and living all my life in Sweden -up till now - I have never had any deeper 'roots' connecting me with the Swedish society. I don't feel obliged to neither support nor promote what could be regarded as typical Swedish traits.

The debate concerning a specific 'national identity' often emerges - so it seems - in periods of societal-economical crisis.
When the world and the different power centers of the world are changing, earlier 'golden years' are evoked, in order to unite the citizens around a 'glorious past' and I think this is both unintelligent, very romantic and dangerous.
The latter as the so called golden years is a construction, often 'invented' many years after the events, forgetting the negative aspects for some people during such an epoc.

(Picture 'Marianne' by Delacroix copied from: http://www.morbleu.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/liberty.jpg)
(Photo Al-Qaeda-leaders copied from: http://www.africapresse.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/al-qaeda.jpg)
(Photo Twin Towers World Trade Center copied from: http://www.lepoint.fr/content/system/media/2/20070416/2007-04-16T123504Z_01_NOOTR_RTRIDSP_2_OFRTP-USA-FRANCE-AL-QAIDA-20070416.jpg)
(Foto 'Folkhemsfamilj' kopieriad från: http://www.to-life.se/folkhem2.jpg)

Kulturen och hälsan

I en bok med namnet Kulturen och hälsan. Essäer om sambandet mellan kulturens yttringar och hälsans tillstånd (Santérus förlag), diskuterar ett antal vetenskapsmän och konstnärer, som i sin professionella gärning kommit i kontakt med dessa begrepp, kulturens betydelse för just hälsa och välbefinnande.

Har inte läst denna bok (som utkom i början av 2009) men med utgångspunkt från Merete Mazzarellas recension i Svenska Dagbladet - Ingen vill väl bada bubbelbad hela tiden - tycks det som om alla skribenter utgår från WHO:s defintion på begreppet hälsa:

”Hälsa är inte bara frånvaro av sjukdom och handikapp utan fullständigt fysiskt, psykiskt och socialt välbefinnande.".

Denna definition är dock otroligt vittomfattande och dessutom dunkel, nästintill odefinierbar.
Vad innebär "fullständigt fysiskt, psykiskt och socialt välbefinnande"?
Kan man överhuvud veta om man uppnått ett sådant tillstånd och är det mätbart eller talar vi här om en känsla som korresponderar mot detta tillstånd?
Oavsett om det rör sig om ett 'mätbart' tillstånd eller endast en känsla, kan det aldrig röra sig om annat en ett synnerligen efemärt stadium i en människas tillvaro, eftersom det förutsätter en teoretiskt sett 'perfekt' - eller för att använda ett populärt uttryck - optimal situation, ett fullständigt ekvilibrium.
Dessutom är en definition av detta slag underkastat subjektiva värderingar, varför det mer låter som en utopisk bild, ett mål att sikta mot, trots att det är ouppnåeligt ('sikta mot stjärnorna för att nå trädtopparna').

Likheterna med, inte minst socialdemokratins önskan att skapa A-barn och med social ingenjörskonst forma det 'perfekta samhället', lurar här bakom hörnet och vi vet att denna ambition skapade världens första rasbiologiska institut.

Det är av dessa och många andra skäl som WHO:s definition länge kritiserats.
Dels därför att - som jag ovan skrev - detta tillstånd är ouppnåbart dels därför att det utgör en subjektiv eller i bästa fall intersubjektiv definition dels därför att det skulle förutsätta en hälso- och sjukvård av en omfattning som skulle sluka alla resurser i ett samhälle dels därför att det åsidosätter alla faktorer som har med enskilda människors livsföring att göra, miljö- klimat-, sociala- ekonomiska- samt genetiska faktorer.

I tidningsartikeln citeras Karin Johannisson i det att hon skall ha yttrat:
”Hälsobegreppet har alltså kommit att definieras kulturellt, som ett värde.”.
Ett värde för vem, vilka eller vad kan man fråga sig? Jorden, ekosystemet, staten, den enskilde, de omgivande grupperna i form av närstående, vänner, arbetskamrater etc?

Läkaren Christina Doctare föreslår en annan definition:
”Hälsa är balans mellan kropp och själ och ande och att leva i frid med sig själv och i fred med andra.”

Denna definition är en aning mer flexibel och öppen för enskilda tolkningar.
Den implicerar också den trikonomi som finns representerad i olika tankesystem men som av naturvetenskapliga forskare oftast förnekas eftersom begreppen själ och ande hänvisar till entiteter vars existens inte med naturvetenskapliga metoder kan bevisas.

Dock talar man även inom naturvetenskapen om ett 'holistiskt synsätt' där andra faktorer än de rent mätbara, skall vägas in i synen på en människa och hennes hälsa eller ohälsa.

Hur denna balans mellan de olika 'delarna' hos en människa skall uppnås är en annan fråga som även den fordrar individuella bedömningar och dito lösningar.

För den enskilde individen är hälsobegreppet självfallet något som måste definieras utifrån dennes/dennas egna erfarenheter av hälsa/ohälsa; välbefinnande/obehag.
Dessa erfarenheter är präglade inte bara av den enskildes rent subjektiva känslor utan av hur denne låter sig influeras av samhällets eller närståendes definitioner av och uttryck för hälsa/ohälsa.

Sett i relation till de individuella erfarenheterna leder detta att alla kommer att se på hälsobegreppet ur lite olika perspektiv och i många fall med användande av helt olika definitionsmässigt innehåll.
Inget nytt alls men trots detta något som många bortser från tycks det mig.

Det värde som skall tillmätas detta högst individuellt upplevda tillstånd, kan därefter kalibreras utifrån användande av olika parametrar.

Sett ur den enskildes perspektiv är frågan alltid: Vad är viktigast?
Att jag känner ett välbefinnande trots att jag kanske lever ohälsosamt genom att äta för mycket fet mat, dricka alltför mycket alkohol, röka eller att avhålla mig från allt det som skänker mig denna - om än momentana - njutning?

Nu kanske någon frågar sig om det inte går att finna en medelväg mellan dessa båda eller om jag inte som enskild både kan träna, vara i god fysisk (och psykisk) form samt äta gott, dricka alkohol och kanske också till viss del röka och jag ser inte att detta skulle vara omöjligt.
Vi känner väl alla någon eller några människor som både håller sig i god fysisk (och kanske psykisk) form men som samtidigt äter och dricker gott samt kanske även nyttjar tobak till viss del, även om det stora flertalet forskare skulle säga att detta sista inte ingår i en god livshållning.

I andra fall tycks det vara antingen-eller.
Antingen äter och dricker man excessivt (Jan Stenbeck) eller så håller man en 'regim' som ibland kan leda till en viss överdrift i den andra riktningen, där varje kalori räknas minutiöst.

Danmark brukar ofta framhållas som ett land där befolkningen äter alltför fet mat, dricker stora mängder alkohol men samtidigt har ett stort mått av välbefinnande - i internationella studier alltid i toppskiktet vad gäller denna sista parameter.
Är det då inte bra?

Återigen: Ur den enskildes perspektiv måste självfallet välbefinnandet vara det viktigaste.
Man kan fråga sig om den enskilde vid livets slut om och när sjukdom drabbar denne - sjukdom kanske orsakad av detta leverne - fortfarande anser att han/hon valt rätt?
Den frågan har dock inget givet svar.

Ur ett samhällsperspektiv kan man se detta ur ett ekonomiskt perspektiv.
Ju sämre hälsa - orsakad av ett 'osunt' leverne bland befolkningen - desto större omkostnader för hälso- och sjukvården. Detta dränerar pengar från andra sektorer.
Om orsakerna anses stå att finna i att människor själva orsakat sig dessa sjukdomar, kan det anses oförsvarligt.

Nu är sambanden inte så enkla eftersom genetiska, sociala och ekonomiska faktorer - bland andra - spelar samman för hur en människas hälsa utvecklas.

Min namne använde i en artikel för många år sedan jämförelsen mellan Winston Churchill och Jim Fixx (den s.k. 'joggingprofeten' i USA).

Förstnämnde var kraftigt överviktig, rökte kopiöst, drack alkohol och levde under stor psykisk och kanske också fysisk press. Dock blev han 91 år gammal och var nog ganska nöjd med sitt liv, sett i retrospektiv. James 'Jim' Fixx idrottade och var inte minst känd som löpare och löparcoach kring vilket han skrev en bok som kom att bli löpningens 'bibel' (The Complete Book of Running). Han dog vid 51 års ålder av en hjärtattack. Vid obduktion fann man en kraftigt utvecklad arteroskleros. Detta stod att finna i 'dåliga gener', om man nu skall använda det uttrycket. Bland männen i släkten fanns flera liknande fall och fadern drabbades av sin första hjärtattack när han var 35 och dog av den andra vid 42 års ålder.

Vi ser här hur komplicerat det kan vara att försöka utsäga något om människors framtid i ett hälsoperspektiv. Detta innebär inte att man skall propagera för ett excessivt rökande och drickande utan endast inse att det inte finns några patentlösningar kring hur hålla sig frisk och leva länge.

Det brukar alltid vara roande att höra gamla människor som uppnått hundraårsstrecket förklara varför de blivit så gamla, eftersom denna ointelligenta fråga alltid kommer upp till ytan i samtal med dessa.
I vissa fall har man levt, som man anser, 'sunt', i andra fall beror det på ett måttligt eller mer än måttligt intag av alkohol, i ytterligare andra fall - som med en god väns gamle farfar som blev 102 år gammal - fanns ingen förklaring men däremot hade han rökt sedan 13 års ålder! Till saken hör att hans bröder båda blivit 104 och 106 år gamla.

Samtidigt kan det vara viktigt att konstatera att ju sjukare människor blir - eller av det 'terapeutiska samhället' anses bli - desto mer växer den sektor som sysslar med forskning och utveckling av läkemedel, desto större behov av fler läkare, sjuksköterskor och undersköterskor och medicinsk-teknisk utrustning, vilket kan leda till vissa samhällsekonomiska vinster och inte minst, storvinster till läkemedelsföretagen.
Sistnämnda en synnerligen tveeggad 'vinst', om vi ser till dessa bolags metoder för att maximera sina vinster.

"Hälsotillståndet i det moderna västerländska samhället är alarmerande", säger Gunnar Bjursell, professor i molekylärbiologi och ordförande i den nationella styrgrupp som i ett första skede kommer att driva projektet Kultur och hälsa, i en artikel i Göteborgs universitets publikationer (som i skrivande stund jag inte kan länka till).
Vidare säger han i samma artikel:
"Vi har aldrig haft större möjligheter att behandla sjukdomar men samtidigt förmodligen aldrig varit sjukare. Vi vet vad det beror på. Vi äter och lever oss sjuka. Vi vet också att vi inte kan fortsätta med det. Vi måste finna vägar till ett friskare liv och en högre grad av välbefinnande. En sådan väg är kulturen. Sambandet mellan kultur och hälsa blir allt tydligare".

Området kultur-hälsa är därför i den internationella forskningen föremål för stor uppmärksamhet.

Gunnar Bjursell talar också om forskning i Storbritannien och USA där studier av våra känslor och belöningssystem kunnat visa att vår hjärna reagerar positivt på beröring, konst och musik. Det tycks vara fråga om effekter som låter sig användas såväl preventivt som terapeutiskt. Med kultur kan man med andra ord både förebygga och bota.

Att kultur i vid bemärkelse har en rad positiva effekter, det kan vi nog vara överens om.
Även här skulle man dock behöva definiera vad man menar med kultur men om vi generellt talar om musik, litteratur, film, konst i alla former kan det nog räcka som en avgränsning i detta fall.
I samband med att jag arbetade vid psykiatriska kliniker i Stockholm, märkte jag det självklara att alla ovanstående kulturområden hade positiv inverkan på patienterna, de som orkade ta till sig detta utbud.

Viktigt var även fysisk träning.
Dock tror jag att det är långt mer väsentligt att hålla hjärnan levande via att stimulera den, än att hålla sig i god fysisk form.
Återigen: Inget hindrar att man odlar dessa båda funktioner.

Generellt tror jag att läsning, musiklyssnande, konstupplevelser och film har en otroligt viktig roll att fylla, inte bara för att komma tillrätta med ohälsa utan generellt för att motverka intellektuell avtrubbning, tillbakabildning av hjärnans funktioner, vidgade kunskapshorisonter m.m.

Jag ser dock inte kulturen som något instrumentellt utan som det mest essentiella för ett samhälles och dess medborgares utveckling.
Kulturen är inte underhållning, även om den kan vara det också, kulturen är själva livsnerven i ett samhälle, det som mer än annat skapar ett 'mervärde' om än ej ekonomiskt.
Detta mervärde består i medborgare som utvecklas till att bli mer kritiska och kunniga om andra människors och kulturers tänkande och funktioner. Kulturen kan få oss att se bortom oss själva och vår trånga horisont, få oss att bli influerade av och förstå mer av vilka vi är, varför vi vandrar här på jorden, vart vi kan vara på väg och varför.
Den kan stimulera oss till att se det som sker bakom det som synes ske, både i den kulturella upplevelsen i sig men även omvandlat i hur vi ser på vårt och andra samhällen, vår och andras kultur, historia och traditioner.
När jag ser en film, läser en skönlitterär bok, lyssnar på musik, ger det mig olika impulser av intellektuell och känslomässig karaktär, impulser till att vilja läsa, titta och lyssna mer och att se hur detta kan spegla livet på jorden, för mig som individ och för hela det kollektiva människosläktet - och inte minst viktigt - andra levande varelser.

Kulturella uttryck av skilda slag säger alltid något om oss som människor och vår relation till världen, allt annat levande och den mänskliga existensen i stort.
Kulturen är viktig för hälsan men det skall inte stanna vid denna instrumentella funktion.
Man skall inte läsa, lyssna på musik, se på film eller konst, uppleva taktila sensationer för att primärt uppnå en god hälsostatus, man skall göra det för att utvecklas som individ på alla plan; intellektuellt, emotionellt, kunskapsmässigt (i ordets vidaste bemärkelse, inte bara 'rent kognitivt') och mognadsmässigt.

Detta behöver sedan inte utmynna i annat - som exempelvis en mer 'produktiv individ' eller ens en mer socialt välfungerande individ - det räcker att 'fylla på' förrådet av upplevelser, utan att man kan se någon annan funktion än själva välbefinnandet.
Känslan av att exempelvis ha en hög grad av allmänbildning är i sig en välbehagskänsla som inte behöver annan motivering än dess egen existens i sig.

Kultur är säkert bra för hälsan men en kulturellt vidsynt och allmänbildad människa, kan säkerligen också klara ohälsa bättre än den kulturellt handikappade.

(Photo Gunnar Bjursell copied from: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/37/Gunnar_Bjursell.jpg/180px-Gunnar_Bjursell.jpg)
(Photo Winston Churchille copied from: http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1953/churchill.jpg)
(Bild hjärnan och belöningscentrum kopierad från: http://www.glaxosmithkline.se/Images/rok-img1.gif)