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Medicare for All, Americans Anyway
August 5, 2018
by William P. Meyers

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Medicare for All, Americans Anyway: International v. National Socialism

Medicare for All is the new slogan for Universal Health Care, or Single Payer. The preferred Republican term is Socialized Medicine. I have no problem with that, and I think we have reached a point where socialist is not a bad word for most American voters. What we want is cheaper but better health care, and the " free market has consistently failed to deliver that to the American people.

Socialism. One word seems to mean one thing. So we often add modifiers to show what we really mean. Democratic Socialism, New Deal Socialism, Marxist Socialism, Leninist Socialism. They may have something in common, but for practical purposes they are very different.

Then there is national socialism. The left-of-center spectrum puts national socialism in an entirely different category. What leftist really like is to pretend that national socialism has nothing to do with other socialisms, that it is a capitalist ideology where the state forces everyone to obey a dictator appointed by capitalists. Unfortunately, that pop-picture of national socialism does not hold up to honest scrutiny. It is in denial of the historic facts.

National socialism and fascism developed in parallel and did blend into one another. The three most important examples are fascist Italy, national socialist Germany, and fascist Spain. In Spain it manifested as a more traditional, military, Roman Catholic, authoritarian regime, not at all socialist. In Italy the leader Mussolini, a former Socialist leader, sought to have the government split the difference between labor unions and capitalists, to gain labor peace while pursuing making Italy great again, all with the blessing of the Pope. Only in Germany was national socialism poised against international, Marxist socialism. The socialist wing of the National socialist party basically argued that Germany should to it alone with socialism, building a state that would serve German workers, breaking the power of the capitalist class.

I will argue that national socialism, before Hitler turned it into extreme nationalism with some crumbs thrown to the working class, as a generic term, should mean socialism within one nation, rather than socialism combine with extreme nationalism. Noted that is not the usual definition. It could be a subset: national democratic socialism, national New Deal socialism, etc. In fact I would argue that New Deal socialism was national New Deal socialism.

International socialism, of whatever stripe, is characterized by seeing the working class, proletariat, or whatever group is socialist, as being international. Marxism, at least at first, was meant to be international. As more countries built more factories, the proletariat was expected to expand globally and then take power and set up socialism on a global basis. Again, flavors are available.

So back to health care.

If socialized medicine for America is a good thing, should not global socialized medicine be a good thing? If being poor in America should not mean that you get inferior medical care, should that principle not apply to poor people around the world as well?

Bernie Sanders and other national socialists have criticized the American pharmaceutical industry for charging less for drugs in poor nations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America than is charged in America. But as socialists, should we not support that the poor pay what they can afford, and the rich pay what they must?

I want people to think more about Medicare for All. How do private doctors or hospitals relate to the government run Medicare program? How can pharmaceutical research be funded without the hundreds of billions of dollars investors have risked to develop new, improved drugs? Are we willing to help sick people in poorer countries, or are they just out of luck with their own underfunded healthcare systems?

Never let a slogan full you into thinking something is simple in the real world. That oversimplification is typical of the thinking of Donald Trump. We need to do better.

In case you had not guessed it, I favor international over national socialism. I favor the spectrum between New Deal socialism and Democratic Socialism over more totalitarian socialist systems. I also favor the syndicalist variety of socialism, where workers own their industries, rather than the government.

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