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The gall is strong with this one

Iagree with Will Hutton that the essence of socialism is fellowship, and it’s easy to show what that can mean in practice (“Socialism isn’t a dirty word. It’s simply about wanting to make a fairer society”). The NHS is essentially a system of mutual medical aid with state funding, paid for by income tax – the more you earn, the more you contribute – which means it is firmly rooted in the socialist principle “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”. It has been the most popular institution in the country for almost 80 years. People may complain about its performance (largely caused by Tory attempts to dismantle it), but how many of them criticise it for being socialist?

I’d like Labour politicians to pledge to apply the principles of the NHS to other state bodies. And if the Tories and the rightwing press scream that this is socialism, Labour should ask people how bad the socialism of the NHS has been for them.
Charles Osborne
Prague, Czech Republic

Prague, eh?

The Czech Republic has a universal health care system, based on a compulsory insurance model, with fee-for-service care funded by mandatory employment-related insurance plans since 1992.[1] According to the 2018 Euro health consumer index, a comparison of healthcare in Europe, the Czech healthcare is ranked 14th, just behind Portugal and two positions ahead of the United Kingdom.


25 thoughts on “The gall is strong with this one”

  1. Bloke in North Dorset

    (“Socialism isn’t a dirty word. It’s simply about wanting to make a fairer society”)

    They all have their own version of socialism which hasn’t been tried yet and it will definitely be different to every other attempt at socialism which ended up with the citizens being at best poorer and at worst dead at the hands of authoritarians.

  2. “the socialist principle “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”.

    This isn’t a socialist principle, it is Marxism.

  3. “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”.

    It all sounds so reasonable until the rationing starts and everyone’s on the sick. Still, you can always blame the Tories, eh?

  4. I’ve just read a comment about a survey that suggests that 75% of us would go private if we needed an operation. I can’t find it now unfortunately. I don’t know how true this is but, given that even minor operations are pretty expensive, that shows a distinct lack of faith in the NHS as far as I can see. Mrs. S. and myself are not rich by any means but we get by comfortably well. Both of us have recently had minor procedures, mine was a dental implant, and we both paid to have it done privately. In the case of Mrs. S. there was an unexpected delay but she had her own nurse keeping her updated on what was going on. This is in contrast to being left sitting in a chair wondering if you’ve been forgotten about.

  5. Adam Smith said something about the “benevolence” of butchers and bakers, I remember.

    Likewise the NHS works for the benefit of the NHS. And because it’s a quasi monopoly it can treat its customers as inconvenient impediments to the real goal of importing the global majority.

  6. Nobody idolises the NHS as much as those who don’t need to use it.

    I avoid it like the plague. People go in a little bit unwell and come out dead.

    Doesn’t sound very “Healthy” to me.

  7. Socialism = serfdom. You and your output are owned by the State; you will give and receive as directed.

    – “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”. –

    No central authority can know what the means and needs of each member of society are, so this is assumed and then imposed.

    The NHS is not a mutual since not everyone who takes out pays in, otherwise it would be funded by private insurance schemes as healthcare was prior to 1911. It is a compulsory socialised cost.

    The problem with the NHS, inter alia, is increasingly too many are taking out who pay too little or nothing in to fund growing demand.

  8. “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” –

    Whenever I come across this phrase I’m always obliged to ask the speaker how their needs and abilities will be defined, because they sure as hell won’t get to define their own.

  9. the essence of socialism is fellowship
    Haven’t noticed much fellowship amongst socialists. At each other like rabid rats, most of them.

  10. The NHS is worshipped because of the fluke that its start more or less coincided with widespread availability of antibiotics. So for the first time ever doctors were likelier to do you good than harm.

    (This theory is all my own, and a bloody good one if I may say so.)

  11. “…that the essence of socialism is fellowship…”

    Gee, and I always thought fellowship was getting together with like-minded people. Not having an economic system jammed down my throat. If you want to experience the fellowship of socialism, bugger off to a commune and leave me alone!

  12. Remember Captain Tom.

    Lived until he was 100.

    Went into an NHS hospital and came out dead.

    Let that be a lesson.

  13. “It’s simply about wanting to make (insert adjective) society”

    So, they admit it. It’s about controlling society. It’s irrelevant what the adjective is, it’s about control.

  14. I agree with Will Hutton that the essence of socialism is fellowship

    So he wants to abolish the NHS and go back to medical services being supplied by charities, insurance companies and friendly societies?

  15. El Reg article:
    “Oh Yes! Permission to spend your own money in a foreign land was required”

    In a lot of early Asimov there are many plots where a character wants to research x,y,z, but “couldn’t get permission”. When I read that I was so bemused. Why on earth do you need “permission” to think about something. You just……. do it. And it’s not just a one-off, it’s a recurring theme in so many stories, it made me wonder what on earth sort of society Dr. A. thought was “normal”.

  16. The essence of socialism is corruption of mind, body and soul and concomitant evil on a scale Satan himself could never have dreamed of. All the more insidious because of attempts to present it as ‘good’.

    To take three concepts currently ‘front and Center’

    – DIE

    – LGBT Alphabet Soup and Big Trans

    – Net Zero

    All spring from Socialist ideology – all threaten all life on Earth and all are unspeakably evil. Three for three.

  17. I sneeze in threes

    I misread the name of the person who wrote the article and thought it was George Osborne. Then thought, well he was a shit conservative so I’m not surprised he’s gone this far to the left. Then I reread the pice and realised my mistake. Then I thought again, was I actually correct in my first reading?

  18. DM – good observation. A lot of the NHS’s successes have little to do with medical doctoring, and a lot to do with pharmacy.

    VP – any one of those insane luxury beliefs is catastrophic on its own.

    We used to wonder how come China never followed through on its early scientific and technological lead over the barbarian West.

  19. “Socialism isn’t a dirty word. It’s simply about wanting to make a fairer society” except that’s not true. It is far more than a want. It is also a general method for pursuing that want. And it has a poor record in achieving it, especially when compared to free market methods.

    “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”. That is the principle of slavery. Slaves have everything they produce taken away and are given the bare essentials, with their owner keeping the surplus. If you claim that that is how society should work, who gets the surplus?

    @jgh – “Why on earth do you need “permission” to think about something.”

    Remember that Asimov was American. In the Land of the Free you need lots of permits for things. Though there is a widespread growing need to get prior ethical approval for ever more types of research.

  20. @Charles
    Asimov was an academic. So for permission read “someone to pay you for doing it”.

  21. Some of my best friends

    Good article Tim, until you assume Singapore’s system would be equally efficient here.

    Singapore has a huge population of migrant workers, who are not allowed to bring dependents into the country, not allowed to stay in the country when they stop working, and not covered by government-funded healthcare. But do contribute a lot to GDP.

  22. It is a LIE that “Socialism is from each according to his ability …” – even at its unattained best it’s from each ccording to his*recorded* income regardless of ability so it allows a clever skiver pays no more from ten hours a week of work than a honest but dull guy working fifty or sixty hours to support his family and it habitually fails to estimate, let alone measure, genuine need: an OAP with a bed-ridden spouse gets no more support than a healthy OAP couple who can grow frsh fruit and vegetables in their garden/on their allotment.
    Please, Please point out that this sloganis a LIE whenever you encounter it.
    I am not even going to start on the inability of bureaucrats to administer the benefits system competently, let alone tackle the range from petty corruption in the best bureaucracies to the inherent endemic massive corruption in socialist states (I view that of the Glasgow Labour Party as being the principal springboard for SNP’s rise to power).

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