Material World: TCM – Cheaper and Nastier

Many practitioners of ‘complementary and alternative medicine’ such as homeopathy claim and seek that the state should support those treatments financially. One such unorthodox medical model was in fact sponsored by a government, not due to a proven track record but inspired by political necessity. Mao Zedong explained his support for Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in a 1950 speech:

‘Our nation’s health work teams are large. They have to concern themselves with over 500 million people [including the] young, old, and ill. … At present, doctors of Western medicine are few, and thus the broad masses of the people, and in particular the peasants, rely on Chinese medicine to treat illness. Therefore, we must strive for the complete unification of Chinese medicine’ (From Kim Taylor’s Chinese Medicine in Early Communist China, 1945-1963: A Medicine of Revolution).