NHS

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David UK
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Dec 6 2007 13:43
NHS

Does the Anarchist Federation oppose the privatisation of the NHS (in principal)?

If so, whats the AFs proposed solution? Does it want it to go back into state control? Union (unison) control?

I work for the NHS but let's say I wasn't a member of the AF already. How would you answer this question, and get my support for the Af and it's politics?

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Steven.
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Dec 6 2007 15:56

i'm not in the AF, but we, libcom, wrote this approach to the health service:
http://libcom.org/thought/health

would appreciate any thoughts you have on that

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Joseph Kay
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Dec 6 2007 15:59

our solfed local just wrote something brief on this as we have an article on public sector cuts in our freesheet, but i'll let the AF speak for themselves wink

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little_brother
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Dec 6 2007 17:15

Well I am not 'the AF' but I am another member!

The bottom line is anarchists should support a principle of free and equal access to healthcare for all, who need it, which is what the NHS and other public health providers are kindof set up to give to a greater or lesser extent (although it's called equity which is not quite the same). Obviously some of NHS treatment is not free, only subsidised like dental care and prescriptions, and due to increased numbers of private practices it can be hard to find a NHS dentist.

Plus the NHS is severely rationed (massively cut under Conservative rule, especially), which means that the quality of the service is limited, and new and expensive treatments are judges on a cost-benefit basis. so this still provides a big incentive for people to decide to 'go private' as an individual. Some of NHS is already privatised or outsourced in an attempt to save money in short term but PFI building programme is clearly going to cost more in the long term. And in reality there is a lot of inequality in the system.

Whatever, more privatisation is certainly not going to give us equality/equity since there will be increased incentive for richer people to pay for better quality treatment. We are left with the choice of letting the NHS fall apart or continue to support the closest thing to a free and equal service. So I see there is no contradiction in saying that we oppose privatisation of NHS and that the state continues to provide our healthcare. As far as AF's politics are concerned we don't want states but we are not (anarcho-capitalist) libertarians either, so until capitalism is got rid of we are stuck with something like NHS. Not only that, we should take collective action to insist for a better quality service. This action does not have to be through trade unions.

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Joseph Kay
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Dec 7 2007 08:33
little_brother wrote:
Well I am not 'the AF'

you can't pull the wool over my eyes that easily lb, i heard about your coup black bloc wink

fwiw the freesheet i was on about is now here (see the 'where we stand' box on the bottom right page)

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little_brother
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Dec 7 2007 10:37

Hi Joseph. Thanks for the link. As you say the downgrading of hospitals and the farming out of parts of the NHS to private sector (e.g. treatment centres for routine hip operations) are a real problem. What is amazing is these treatment centres get paid by NHS in advance for a quota of operations, and they get paid for these whether they actually do them or not (protecting them from 'patient choice' whereby patients might decide to wait to have their operation in a proper hospital with an A&E). This guarantee is a huge incentive to the private sector. So much for the free-market.

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Joseph Kay
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Dec 7 2007 10:48

yeah the free market talk is pure ideology (not least because an actual free market in healthcare is more impossible than in most other sectors). i saw something, can't remember where - might even have been george monbiot or someone - comparing adam smith to the adam smith institute, quite amusing as smith himself thought the market incapable of adequately providing public goods such as education, while the ASI pretty much have the nuanced position of 'privatise everything!!!'

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little_brother
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Dec 7 2007 11:34

Indeed. Wouldn't surprise me if it was Monbiot as he's going around equating anarchism with neo-liberalism - what an idiot.

David UK wrote:
Does the Anarchist Federation oppose the privatisation of the NHS (in principal)? If so, whats the AFs proposed solution? Does it want it to go back into state control? Union (unison) control? I work for the NHS but let's say I wasn't a member of the AF already. How would you answer this question, and get my support for the Af and it's politics?

Anyway, David, are you convinced that we can make an anarchist argument for trying to save the NHS?

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Joseph Kay
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Dec 7 2007 11:39
little_brother wrote:
Wouldn't surprise me if it was Monbiot as he's going around equating anarchism with neo-liberalism - what an idiot.

did you see his dismissal of anarchism based on what some primmo tribal-fetishist told him up a tree at newbury in 'the age of consent'? he then devastatingly dismisses marx and all marxists on the basis of the communist manifesto. idiot doesn't quite cover it, he's smart enough to know what he's doing - writing liberal bourgeois propaganda. his book on PFI is well-researched though.

(i'll stop derailing now, sorry)

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little_brother
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Dec 7 2007 12:40
Joseph K. wrote:
idiot doesn't quite cover it, he's smart enough to know what he's doing - writing liberal bourgeois propaganda. his book on PFI is well-researched though.

Yes, he's not an idiot (I just wanted to be insulting) but definitely the enemy...

David UK
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Joined: 5-09-04
Dec 7 2007 13:26

I aksed for the AFs view, not yours tongue

'little brother' I may ask for your help as an individual for the fight against privatisation in my workplace, but unless the AF can help I'm just going to throw my support behind a statist group of campaign, and I think this will be the responce of most of the British working class.

The AF talks about workers taking over the means of production, and society in general, and yet can't seem to apply that to the current day.

I know the AF doesn't have a position on the NHS, though I'm glad to see solfed and Libcom do. I'm just bored at work and though't I'd play devils advocate.

nastyned
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Joined: 30-09-03
Dec 7 2007 13:56

I'm a bit confused here. Are you saying there are people in the AF who are against the NHS or is it that because we don't have a collection of position paper we don't have a position on the NHS?

David UK
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Dec 8 2007 13:13

Well as far as I know pretty much everone in the AF, well versed in Anarchist-communist theory, agrees, but if by some freak chance a normal person wants our support, how the fuck is s/he going to know what our position on it is.

Should we tell them to read about Spain 1936 and work out him or herself how to apply it to today?

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little_brother
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Dec 8 2007 14:47

Sounds like you had a bad week David!

Individual AF members have supported some of the marches, Keep NHS public or Save NHS. There's actually an article in Freedom (Nov 17) about a recent march with a quote from an AF member. The article also mentions the problem of Unison not wanting to embarass Brown because of the health leader's intention to stand as a Labour candidate.

If you want to initiate and want help from other AF members to produce propaganda for a struggle you are involved in that would lay out an anarchist perspective on the NHS, that's what the organisation is for, but we don't need to have a written position on everything, nor does the AF as a whole have to get involved since we are a federation. We can of course, agree at conference to that it would be good for AF to prioritise engagement with a struggle if appropriate. Currently noone has proposed that we do this for NHS privatisation. Even if we did agree that it would be a good idea to prioritise, we are not platformist so groups and individuals still decide their level of engagement.

There have been several articles in Resistance (mainly covering the planned NHS patients records database), and other aspects in some local bulletins e.g. by Sheffield and Hereford, the latter referring directly to the problem of privatisation. In my opinion getting involved with a relevant local struggle and covering it with your group's propaganda is a better way of getting anarchist ideas across. You don't have to have an organisation-wide 'position' to do that, but the organisation can be used to share experiences from which a wider strategy might emerge. Plus by getting involved at the local level, it means that people get to know what the AF thinks and does by seeing our direct practical engagement.

magnifico
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Joined: 29-11-05
Dec 11 2007 00:10

i kmow someone who monbiot used to babysit.

the way i explain the nhs is that it's part of the 'social wage', which i intend to defend just as i would defend my actual wages. this doesn't mean that i believe in state capitalism, or wage slavery, but that this is the best deal on offer at the moment.

i think it was chomsky said something like 'we know we're in a cage - but if we can't break out of it yet then we want to keep the cage as big as possible'

scottie
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Joined: 26-01-08
Jan 26 2008 21:51

Well not being a member of the AF i can't speak for them but personally i think in the long run it would be better for health care to stay in state hands because privte sector wants to make make money otherwise it wouldn't invest in healthcare if it didn't think it could money back and make a prophet out of it so state control and funding probably would be better for health care and workers in the long run to protect workers and patiencent rights

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RednBlack
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Jan 28 2008 19:51

And also by fighting to defend what we do have now, we strengthen the position of workers in the NHS.

sandy_ash
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Joined: 14-10-13
Oct 14 2013 10:47

Hi folks,
this subject is very close to my heart as being a life long anarchist/libertarian communist and after suffering serious illness this year and beating cancer 3 years ago, its true to say, without exaggeration, that I owe my life to the NHS. Both times the care was exceptional and even under the pressures of privatisation, long hours for little money, poor morale and job losses that are rampant in this institution, all the health workers I encountered were nothing short of fantastic. Since leaving hospital and recovering my health I have launched headlong into the campaign to save the NHS, from leafleting, attending local meetings, getting petitions signed (yeah I know, I've never done that before - I've always prefered more direct action, but by any means possible and all that!) to travelling the country going to various demos. I have noticed a lack of anarchist/libertarian communist involvement in this campaign and this is coming from a well known south coast city famous for its (A) community - although tbf there were a small number of IWW present at the recent demo in Manchester. This leads on to my question - could an NHS work in a federal anarchist society? Would the localised ideas of cooperation and mutual aid be enough to sustain what should be a national organisation. I think, although I could be wrong, that having independent local health services wouldn't work any near as well as having a national organisation for many reasons - one being the sale and distribution of life saving drugs would be more efficient and cheaper if purchased nationally and another being one health service in one area could work loads better than a neighbouring one leading to the former being overstretched. So what do people think the answers are? Is a fully functional health service, even as good as the one we have at present, possible under a libertarian communist society?

Spikymike
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Joined: 6-01-07
Oct 15 2013 14:59

sandy_ash,

Before your question gets lost thought I'd say that a 'health-service' can be better organised than now on the basis of mutual-aid and voluntary co-operation locally, regionally and world-wide in a libertarian communist society, but that healthy human beings depend more on the healthy lifestyle that would come from living in a genuine world human community without the alienating conditions and poverty associated with wage-labour and commodity production.

By the way have you had a look at the 'Angry Workers of the World' bulletin No2 on Capitalism, Health and the NHS etc in the library here, about 50 of which I gave out at the Manchester Demo you mentioned?

Spikymike
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Oct 15 2013 14:59

Sorry double post.