Saturday, April 11, 2015

October 1940's Waves of the Future : Henry Dawson's vs Anne Lindbergh's

No book - not even Hitler's Mein Kampf or Stalin's Foundations of Leninism - so outraged Dr Martin Henry Dawson as early October 1940's The Wave of the Future by the quasi Christian author Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

Perhaps even enraged him enough to advance his team's planned first injections of  penicillin into human patients by three months - so his own 'wave of the future' would compete with her 'wave of the future'.

And in the end, he won.

To the extent that any of us know of Dawson's wartime efforts or recall Lindbergh's horrible book, we would all universally applaud him and disdain her.

That is because 'we are all Dawsonites nowadays', to adapt future King Edward VIII's famous 1895 quip.

Anne Lindbergh writes off the small and the weak

Lindbergh argued that the entire 1940 world was at truly 'at war' , but intellectually, not militarily.

 At war intellectually but not in the expected sense of capitalism versus nazism and communism.

No, it was a war between the ancient (small) staid past and a bold dynamic new (big) future ---- with the future to inevitably win.

Overlook, Lindbergh urged readers, overlook the small temporary horrors currently being inflicted on small countries like Belgium, Denmark and Latvia as they were overrun by their giant neighbours while neutrals like America just watched.

See the big picture, instead, as from Laplacian heights.

All this mere temporary pain and horror was but the inevitable consequence of rigid jaw flesh was being broken through for the first time by emerging baby teeth.

WWII reduced to a baby's temporary teething problem.

The bigger and the newer was always better - evolutionary progress was on the side of the ever bigger battalions : the dogma of Lindbergh's Edwardian era high school science teachers.

In the long run, more accurate science chases out less accurate science

But Dawson had uncovered evidence that reality didn't always work that way.

Yes, on some measures, the last were last - but on others they were first - and everything in between, depending on the attribute being measured.

Dawson's compassion having been given wings by his new science, he resolved to use the wisdom of the microbial last to give history's first life-saving injections of penicillin - to save some members of the last in human society.

A gentle, but firm, rebuke to the Anne Morrow Lindberghs of his world.

Originally, Allied wartime penicillin intended only for the first, not the last

The unofficial Allied plan had been to first synthesize penicillin 100% pure and then patent it, to make it so expensive that only the peacetime rich could afford it.

 But meanwhile, during wartime, to underproduce it and thus justify the giving of it to only the moderately infected among the Allied frontline troops - so as they may more quickly return to battle, instead of their stay-at-home neighbours.

Dawson thought that naturally grown, semi-purified, penicillin would cure just as well and was available much quicker and much much cheaper --- available for all in need of it.

He wanted all in that heartless unforgiving wartime world - the last as well as the first, the 'unfit' as well as the 'fit', enemy as well as friend - to have cheap abundant penicillin, if it alone could save them from needless death from the infections it could stop.

And so it was thus - his small wave of the future, rather than Lindbergh's big wave, became our present : Obamacare is hardly what the President and medicine-for-all advocates wanted, but it is a good start ...

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