If anyone is naive enough to believe that this neoliberal UK Tory government will suddenly reform its ways and invest more in the NHS because of this ‘pandemic’, think again!
Having an NHS is based on the idea that everyone deserves health care regardless of who they are or how much they have.
Neoliberals really believe (against all good science by the way) that being poor or rich is a matter of innate ‘character’, of whether ‘you’ve got’ what it takes to succeed or not. ‘Success’ of course is measured by how much money you have. Neoliberals essentially believe that rich people are better quality humans than poorer people. If we leave it to them to steer their own idea of social Darwinism, they would do everything possible to gradually eliminate all the poor who are ‘poor quality’ people and leave only the rich who they think are a better version of humanity.
Of course rich neoliberals couldn’t give a hoot about whether poor people get health care or not, in fact if they have to pay taxes to fund universal health care that benefits people on low income, they’d rather not… After all it leaves less money in their pockets and without benefit directly to them, only to poor people they don’t rate anyway. They do not care about the public good, only their own personal good. Margaret Thatcher specifically said that ‘there is not such thing as society’…
We have had this already. England in the 19th Century and before come to mind as an example, with gross inequality and appalling poverty of the majority while the upper class lived in their separate compounds ignoring everything else. Back then the poor were blamed for their own appalling living conditions as if it was their fault. In that world, it was who you happened to be born to and where that determined your fate and your prospects. The Tories would love that back in a heartbeat.
The reason things have improved is not because of right-wing conservative governments but because of progressive Labour policies and increasing protest about a variety of social and economic justice issues that eventually led to some reforms that improved the quality of life of more people, stopped child labour, created compulsory education and enabled voting rights for women among other things. If it were up to Tories, children would still be in mines and people would be dying of hunger in our midst. Every public good achievement we have ever had is always under threat. We always have to fight for what so many have learned to take for granted and are mistakenly associating with neoliberals and Tories who have no hesitation taking credit for things they didn’t do.
Being wealthy in a neoliberal society is a result of carving more of the collective pie of resources for oneself by being ruthless or by being fortunate to work in an industry that neoliberals remunerate generously such as entertainment, including professional sport and the financial sector and all its offshoots and manifestations. Of course you can also be wealthy if you are fortunate enough to have inherited from previous generations.
Neoliberal philosophy is very fond of the ideas of Milton Friedman. When I studied economics and political science I remember reading one of his articles where he argued that there is nothing wrong with a free market economy because everyone has the freedom to engage with the market or not as they see fit. I was able to spot the major fallacy in that argument immediately. Can you?
The only people who have a choice about whether or not to engage with the market are those who do not need to sell their labour in order to live. As soon as you have to sell your labour (that is to work) for a living, you do not have a choice. Neoliberalism loves to tout ideas like choice and freedom. But they are spinning these words and people have been buying it for four decades now.
The only ones who genuinely have a choice about whether or no to engage with the market are those who are independently wealthy and can afford to not work or not work for long periods of time, and still live and get everything they need.
Milton Friedman was a fraud of the highest magnitude and a disgusting, immoral human being. But he nonetheless received the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his research on ‘consumption analysis, monetary history and theory and the complexity of stabilisation policy’. This of course makes the institution of the Nobel prize highly suspect. It looks like neoliberals awarding prizes to their own mates. But it appears respectable and everyone buys it. People need to wake up and stop buying neoliberal philosophy. It’s fraudulent and it is not a force of nature, it is something we, humans, have created.
The NHS was on its knees before this latest virus was discovered. Even if this was a real pandemic (as of yesterday the global death rate was 0.000324% that is ~250,000 out of 7.7 billion), the NHS was in no condition to deal with it and provide good quality service to the population. The government’s own 2016 Cygnus exercise told them this in no uncertain terms. Behind the smokescreen of a pandemic and the general stupor fulled by fear and a draconian lockdown, the Tories are selling out the NHS in England.
Neoliberal ideology is not good for human beings, it is also unscientific. If everyone is now so keen on listening to scientists then listen also to the science of human development that tells us that it is nurture not nature that makes us what we are. It is not our ‘innate character’ that determines what we are able to do or whether we can fulfil out potential. It is the environment and the opportunity and relationships it offers us. You want science? That’s science for you.
The Tories and their neoliberal religion have to go. The only philosophy that has any merit now is a combination of socialist ideas, some free market and all need to be under an umbrella of green/sustainable environmental policies. I would like all human society to be organised not around the principle of physical survival (of the most worthy) but around the principle that all human beings should be enabled to fulfil their potential. For that we need society to be safe, organised to provide good quality of living for all, an education system that helps young humans discover what they are passionate about and systems that help them find a way to fulfil that passion. We need it all to be within an environment that is looked after and that is healthy for its own sake and for us too. We need to make sure all children grow up in safe families and that trauma and abuse are a thing of the past. War too has to be banned and any disputes between nations or countries need to be solved through cooperation and through putting human potential at the centre of everything.
Human beings can survive almost anything but what state we want to be as human beings is what we want to ask ourselves.