By James Martin “Never underestimate the power of jealousy and the power of envy to destroy. Never underestimate that”- Oliver Stone When a political party closes down government functions because it disagrees with a policy that offers, at the most, ve …
By James Martin
“Never underestimate the power of jealousy and the power of envy to destroy. Never underestimate that”– Oliver Stone
When a political party closes down government functions because it disagrees with a policy that offers, at the most, very limited healthcare, it should not, in my view, be allowed to call itself a political party, for me it is a danger to the state. It feels like I have barely blinked since my last article and yet we have had another week of right wing lunacy. In a week that has seen the right in the United States close down government functions, in the UK freeze healthcare workers’ wages and demonise a World War II veteran as unpatriotic for holding Marxist views and in Greece the government finally began to move against a far-right party. It’s yet another week of right wing manoeuvring.
It’s incredible to me that the post-war settlement ever happened. The belief in part being that after years of bloodshed, people would begin to seek the betterment of society instead of waging endless war. Money didn’t matter; a society that looked after itself would prosper together. Regrettably, it seems the so called ‘Spirit of ‘45’ has in fact become quite spirit-like itself, deceased in non-unionised society. The trade union movement has always believed in this collectivism, the term trade union does exactly what it says on the tin after all. In the UK, our National Health Service was born out of that very principle, a healthcare system in which privilege did not govern your ability to remain healthy, where profit was the simple thank you to the doctors, surgeons, nurses that may just have saved your life, knowing that everyone paid in to the system. It seems for the right wing nowadays is so low in the UK that the dignity of a decent wage has been abolished, after all why pay anything more to NHS workers when you are trying to privatise the entire service?
I wouldn’t suggest for a moment that socialised healthcare is in anyway a transatlantic phenomenon, we in the UK were the first to nationalise health care, but to the rest of the world it must seem as bizarre as it did to those looking inwards to the British Empire, hogging resources to the plutocratic few. Skip ahead 50 years, from Empire to Plutonomy, when the richest country on the surface of the planet is institutionally shut down because of a sliver of a step towards socialised healthcare, we need to question the kind of global society we are moving towards.
Why doesn’t the USA have a National Health Service? Simply because it has too many vested interests in that sector, money can be made and usually for the union hating right wingers, or the Tea Party as they now call themselves. That same resurgent right wing is determined to return us to a kind of iPhone loving Victorian era social condition. When I say ‘us’, it’s an ‘us’ that transcends national boundaries. When basic healthcare is needed in 4/5ths of the planet’s continents, what kind of hope does the developing world have when looking at the top of the economic ladder?
The US Government as it shuts down over offering a health insurance policy to the needy, where the NHS in the UK is quietly sold off to the friends of the ruling classes? I haven’t yet mentioned the US problem of the so called ‘fiscal cliff’ (the closest we have in the UK is Cliff Richard, just as depressing). There is a very real threat that the Republican Party may force the US to default on its debt commitments. Though the US defaulting on its debt would cause significant financial problems, if every country defaulted on its debt, we could cancel all debt, maybe our path back to the ‘Spirit of ‘45’ would begin.
Time to reboot?
In Greece, matters are much more dire. The idea of social healthcare has become a dream of a now previous generation. As the country has its finances governed by the Troika in the way pocket money is given to an errant child, the birthplace of democracy, the rise of political parties offering an ‘alternative’ has led to the fascist Golden Dawn party rising to as high as 23% in opinion polls. Things changed last week. The brutal killing of Pavlos Fyssas by apparent Golden Dawn supporters finally spurred the Greek government into action, as hundreds of thousands marched against austerity in that country, they did so in protest against the murder of a DJ that happened to share our views, though I’m not sure why his political view matters when it comes to murder.
The Greek government acted too late, his death needn’t have happened if action had been taken sooner to curtail the rise of the fascists. Mainstream was never going to oppose the Troika, fascism is never the answer. It seems that action was only taken to arrest the bile filled Golden Dawn MPs when there was political, not societal advantage, it seems anti-austerity marches meant little to the Greek government. Again, when Greek unions went on strike to combat austerity, warning that cuts would facilitate the rise of fascism in that country, the Unions as they are in many countries, were simply ignored like a clock on a mantelpiece, yet despite their warnings from history (Depression era Germany as an example), it seems that history has a cruel way with memory.
Meanwhile, In the UK, the father of a political leader was demonised by a newspaper renowned for its support of fascism especially in the run up to the Second World War. The paper claimed that he was unpatriotic – for being a foreign national that fought for the UK during World War II, simply because he wished to see parliamentary socialism in the country, they quoted a diary entry from when he was 17. Whilst a majority of the UK seems to be appalled by the article, I have to tell you, I see this as the beginnings of a new kind of war, one fought by populist ideology. I don’t often do predictions, I don’t have a tarot deck in front of me – but I suspect the full onslaught of neo-conservatism will come to fruition, through press and privilege, the war against the left is about to begin. They have done it before. This is a warning. It’s time we unite, because the future they have in store for us is not the hope that society established post 1945, like I said, history has a cruel way with memory.
“We will not allow a bunch of greedy bastards from public schools to take it away from us” – Len McCluskey on the NHS, Manchester 2013
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